A/N: RL is kicking my butt. No two ways about it. If I didn’t have these chapters already written up, I’d be in a world of hurt. As it is I’m hoping more sleep will make the world easier to deal with tomorrow.
“Balbadd’s so big.” Aladdin slumped. “Where do we even start?”
“With the Fog Troupe,” Morgiana said plainly. “People will know where to find robbers. Or know who will know. Smugglers… they could be on ships, other islands, and we’d never know where to look.”
“Not a bad plan,” Sinbad allowed. Very straightforward. Would make excellent use of a Fanalis’ skills at violence. He’d use it himself, if he didn’t have a better option. “But Ja’far overheard the dock-master tell everyone who came to witness the execution that the pirates claimed to have privateer’s privileges, yet they were enslaving citizens of Balbadd-”
“Covering for his masters,” Ja’far said darkly.
“Well, yes, anyone who hired pirates in the first place won’t take kindly to finding out they failed,” Sinbad agreed. “But how did they fail? Dock-Master Shahidi doesn’t have a coast guard. And yet he had pirates – pirates whose guilt he didn’t doubt in the slightest – delivered to his front door.”
“You mean, the smugglers brought them,” Aladdin realized, stepping back to lean against Ugo’s comforting solidity. “They brought people to be executed, that’s really scary….”
“You say Shahidi worked fast.” Morgiana looked between the three Sindrians. “The smugglers are still here.”
Masrur nodded. Glanced at Ja’far. “Merhdad?”
“He’s the one we need to find,” Ja’far agreed. “The rumors weren’t definite – but people believe he’s in port. Now. We have to catch him before his ship sails again.”