Sinbad wrapped his hands around a hot drink; the night had been surprisingly cold, and none of them had been willing to sleep until Ja’far finished his report. “So you left the magi with Merhdad. Who is… Alibaba.” Which should have been worth a minute’s stare all on its own, after meeting the elder sons he’d had no hope that anything of Rashid’s genius was left in the world….
Only the plan Ja’far had gleefully outlined had already used up all Sinbad’s staring in shock for at least the next hour. Use the Empire’s own Fan to buy Balbadd’s debts back? It was audacious. It was ridiculous.
…It just might work. If Al-Thamen weren’t avidly stirring the pot. Meaning leaving a young magi alone in Balbadd wasn’t exactly safe.
“You didn’t see him catch Aladdin.” Ja’far took a deep sip of his own steaming cup, looking into memory. “Aladdin wouldn’t stay with us while he’s worried about his friend. For the moment, they’re safer looking after each other.” He paused. “And Alibaba is leaving something important out of his story. He’ll be more likely to talk to them.”
“He didn’t say anything about magic,” Masrur noted.
“Exactly.” Ja’far looked up from his cup. “No one said anything about magic. Alibaba was holding that mob of smugglers together with just reason and words. And it worked.”
He’d expect that, out of Rashid’s son. The man could talk sense even into a Dungeon Capturer. “But you think they do have it,” Sinbad stated.
“From how you describe Cassim, they’d have to,” Ja’far said frankly. “The man wouldn’t accept a partnership with someone of lesser power. Foster brother or not.”
“Which implies that it’s Alibaba who has the power,” Sinbad concluded. “And, given you expect him to talk to them when none of the smugglers are talking… you think Aladdin and Morgiana already know about it. Interesting. I wonder what he found, wandering three years away from Balbadd?”
Masrur gave him a look, of the you are ignoring the man-eating hyena variety. “Enough to know Kou is targeting you.”