“Aladdin’s made it back here all the way from the edge of the Kou Empire,” Alibaba nodded. “Hakuei’s one of the minor princesses, if our info is right. Daughter of the last emperor. Which means that the Prince and General Kouen Ren we’d identified as their Metal Vessel User… isn’t the only one.”
“Damn.” Cassim’s voice sounded oddly light, even as his lieutenants looked aghast. “It just keeps getting better.”
“Balbadd’s pretty much screwed,” Alibaba agreed. “If we let them fight on their terms.”
“Fight smart,” Cassim said, half to himself. “Yeah. Going after the General of the Left with that coming down on us… wouldn’t be the best call.” He let out a long breath. “How’s it feel to be right and wrong, oh fearless smuggler Merhdad?”
“Terrifying,” Alibaba said wryly. “But this isn’t impossible. It’s not.”
Cassim’s fingers drummed near his hilt. He glanced at Morgiana.
“It’s not,” she affirmed, quietly confident. “A person with a Djinn has great power. But they’re still one person. They still bleed.”
“And just because they have a Djinn, doesn’t mean they have all its power,” Aladdin said soberly. “The Djinn are people, too. Maybe they chose to serve the king who cleared their dungeon, but they still have minds of their own. Maybe we could talk to them.”
“Maybe we could….” Cassim trailed off, looking between Aladdin and Alibaba as if they’d sprouted octopi in their hair. “Seriously? You can talk to Djinn?”
“I can,” Aladdin nodded, blue eyes dark and serious. “It’s not easy, and I have to be pretty close. But I can do it.”
Cassim blinked at all of them. “You plan to talk Djinn out of conquering Balbadd.”
“Worst that can happen is they say no, right?” Alibaba grinned.