Whispers of Fire Ch6 bit – Negotiations

Maybe there’d been more than one reason Rashid had never asked for his ally’s help in finding Alibaba. However the boy had grown up before Rashid had taken him in, the mere fact that he’d survived it meant he probably had more brains than the pair of his elder brothers put together.

The fact that he disappeared should be proof, Sinbad thought wryly. No one sane would walk back into this palace to stay. Not without chasing the courtiers out with a whip, first.

Ah. Abhmad was finally winding down from the flowery deflections of actual fact. Sinbad kept his face intent, as if he’d been listening all along.

“-I cannot restore trade with Sindria while Balbadd is torn with internal strife!”

He was not going to laugh in Abhmad’s face. “I’d think that would be the best reason to restore trade. People busy making money aren’t causing trouble.”

Well, that wasn’t always true, as Rashid would undoubtedly attest if he were here. But the principle did hold for most people who weren’t afflicted with either crowns, Djinn, or an unquenchable thirst to change the world.

Of course, if you had all three, you were pretty much doomed to be trouble. Or so his Generals had told him. Many times.

“Huh! Making money,” Abhmad sniffed, nose in the air. “I’m talking about thieves and smugglers, breaking the law!”

Somewhere in the rukh, Sinbad was sure Rashid was suppressing an urge to strangle his oldest son. Had the youngster paid no attention to his history lessons? Balbadd had been founded by the biggest smuggler of them all. There were reasons they called the great Silver River of stars the Straw Thief’s Way. What most nations considered theft, a desperate Balbadd native would call aggressive asset relocation.

“Thieves and smugglers,” Sinbad said neutrally. “There must be quite a lot of them, to thwart Balbadd’s loyal guards.”

“Not so many at first,” Abhmad said darkly. “The Fog Troupe used to be about forty pickpockets from the slums, led by a murdering scum called Cassim. They stole the treasury three years ago, leading to the death of our beloved father… now they’re terrorists, dealing with the smugglers! This Merhdad-” Abhmad’s teeth ground, “-we can’t even find out his real name! No one from Partevia will admit who he might be.”

He might not even be from Partevia, Sinbad thought wryly. Harun wasn’t a Balbadd name, either. But if Abhmad hadn’t even thought of that- ah well. It looked like they were going to have a lot of investigating to do down by the docks. Especially in the taverns. Especially those with ladies smiling for honest and not-so-honest sailors….

Er. He could feel Ja’far’s glare boring into the back of his head. And he hadn’t even done anything!

26 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch6 bit – Negotiations

  1. That’s the best time to glare at you, Sinbad! The better to keep you from further shenanigans. But, yes. There is much reason to avoid the palace of Balbadd. And I couldn’t help but snigger over the ‘aggressive asset relocation.’ Really, Abhamd reminds me of something I think Terry Pratchett wrote in a Discworld book once, “The founder of the family fortune was far enough back that his actions were no longer politically relevant.” Paraphrasing of course, the idea was that a thief for a grandfather was something to be ashamed of, but a rogue six or more generations back was something to be proud of.

    Alibaba as a smuggler king, that’s going back to your roots. And a great call back to Alibaba in the desert, musing on the names of the stars from Sinbad! Who proves that he can do the logic thing, and the puzzle thing. And do it better then any noble is currently admitting to.


  2. more brains than the pair of his elder brothers put together.

    It might be uncharitable but my first thought was ‘not that is very difficult.’

    Of course, if you had all three, you were pretty much doomed to be trouble. Or so his Generals had told him. Many times.
    A day. Everyday. Each.

    Er. He could feel Ja’far’s glare boring into the back of his head. And he hadn’t even done anything!
    You were thinking about it and out of self-preservation, Ja’far has learned to be pretty decent at reading your mind.

    Add “did not pay attention to history lessons” to the list of other things Abhmad apparently paid no attention to. It’s a bad, sad sign when a foreign person seems to know your own country’s culture and history better than you do.

    And with that no one from Partevia will admit who he might be?
    first, there is possibility that he isn’t from Partevia at all
    the people from there aren’t interested in telling you that for various sundry reasons. Like the King of Sindria originally from Partevia standing right in front of you.


    1. Not very hard, indeed. *Wry G*

      And yes. Ja’far has finely-honed “Sinbad is heading for trouble” instincts. Like a Jedi sensing a disturbance in the Force….

      *Nod* If Abhmad had read history much at all, you’d think he’d have realized he was walking straight into a Bad Idea.

      And yep. Might not be from Partevia, people might not want to admit it, people think you deserve it….


      1. And yes. Ja’far has finely-honed “Sinbad is heading for trouble” instincts. Like a Jedi sensing a disturbance in the Force….


        And my brain decided to paraphase the film Milo and Otis
        “Sinbad, get back here!” Ja’far yelled. It seemed to Sinbad that Ja’far yelled a lot.


  3. “Aggressive asset relocation” reminds me very much of a Jedi’s aggressive negotiations. It also sounds like the type of term Hondo Ohnaka would take to with glee, much to the Jedi’s consternation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was the idea, yes. There’s also the fact that canonically, Alibaba doesn’t have a problem with people stealing to survive. He still considers it wrong, but he doesn’t have the same kind of shock, horror reaction a more law-abiding type might….


      1. He probably doesn’t react with shock and horror also because he’s probably been that hungry at time or two.

        Also he understands that survival takes precedent over a lot of other considerations. I think Alibaba would rather be rude and alive than polite and dead. (He isn’t the only one with that mindset either).

        Also given its history, Balbadd might not considering taking what you need to survive to be stealing. To them, that’s just survival. Now taking what you don’t need is stealing. Also depends on their concept of ownership – because it isn’t taking something that isn’t yours when the thing in question is considered communal or free to anyone who needs it through if you have skills or coins to trade with the producer, you’re supposed to . . .

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Or ten or a hundred, yeah. Growing up in the slums wasn’t easy.

        *G* I still love that smile in ep 2 when Morgiana’s staring at him Back From the Dead. “I’m immortal!”

        Hmm. I imagine they still think it’s stealing – after all, they definitely call the Straw Thief a thief! And canon, Alibaba absolutely intends to pay back Budel for the watermelons, and the wine. (And does!) It’s just, priorities. Alive beats dead. Straighten out the details later.


      3. That makes sense . . . still considering stealing, still call a thief a thief but with the understanding that survival trumps other proprieties . . .

        Probably stealing and being a thief doesn’t have quite the stigma attached to it as it does in other cultures.

        Not considering stealing a right thing to do or a thief to be, especially if you don’t have to, but maybe a necessary thing to do or be. And because it was necessary, it’s almost acceptable or at least understandable.

        Being traders and merchants but also the descendants of thieves and other desperate people, they probably consider it much worse to steal simply because you are too lazy or something to put in a honest day’s work than to steal because you are starving and had no other choice.

        Hmm . . . I wonder if by Balbadd standards, some of what Abhmad has been allowing Kou to do is considered to be the worst kind of theft . . .


      4. Eh, I think what Abhmad’s doing is lousy by anyone’s standards. But yes; Cassim isn’t allergic to hard work, canon. And he wasn’t averse to Alibaba staying out of thieving. He just needed better options than canon got him.


  4. Eh, I think what Abhmad’s doing is lousy by anyone’s standards.

    Oh aye. He is. Certainly. Seems to be the only thing he’s good at – doing lousy.

    (And yet it is Alibaba who thinks of himself is a massive screw up.)

    I was thinking more of the perception of his actions.

    Kou most likely thinks he’s stupid too but his stupidity is their boon. It’s a convenience for them so they probably view his actions more positively. At least from achieving their goals stand-point.

    The more moral ones probably dislike it and some of them probably don’t like it because they are a warrior culture and many of those are honor cultures and these kind of tactics aren’t honorable by most standards.

    The bulk citizens of Balbadd cannot be nearly so positive about his stupidity. And even some of the nobles (likely the bright ones who took to their heels for the islands or elsewhere after it became clear that Abhmad was not only stupid but wasn’t going to listen to them) wouldn’t see it as good because they can see the cliff Abhmad is racing them toward.


  5. I’m really kind of disappointed in Abhmad and Sabhmad. Surely the mangaka could have done SOMETHING to make them just a little bit better than complete wastes of space? Abhmad in particular is just… so stupid and evil, it’s hard to fathom. I know they were supposed to have undergone personal growth later, but it’s all off-screen.

    They even have really weird proportions, so much that they stand out from all the other main characters and kings, who are all handsome and interesting.


      1. I think the author got a bad case of “must do horrible things to underdog main character!” without factoring that you need a win once in a while!

        *nods* Yes, you need to use the carrot too, not just the stick. And actually give the main character the carrot. Don’t dangle it in front of them and yank it away at the last moment like Lucy with the football every single time. Once in a while is fine. All the time is mean.


  6. >aggressive asset relocation.>
    The main difference between a thief and a merchant is that the latter generally doesn’t manage to relieve you of all your money and/or possessions quite as fast.


    1. >Right. Because the merchant wants you to come back so he can get more!😉>
      And as people who fish a good deal, Balbadd is familiar with the idea of catch and release.

      If you do it right, you’re likely to get a bigger fish hooked the second time around.


  7. Yet. Hadn’t even done anything //yet//.

    What’s Ja’far’s vice of choice? Because I get the feeling he’s going to need a lot more of it now then he did post canon fiasco.


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