The whole canal crashed over her in a wave, dark and drowning. Zainab bit her lip, desperately aching to breathe, stabbing her Fogblade down into the cobblestones to try and hold against that sucking pull….
Air. Fish-dank and tainted with smoke, but air.
Hassan and a bunch of others were choking behind her, coughing up water. The monkey-warrior-
Zainab blinked, wondering if there was still water in her eyes. No; that was Alibaba dancing on a tilted table, waving flames gaily at the princess as a veiled giant monkey screeched in the middle of the canal. “Missed me!”
Rubbing flash-blinded eyes, Kougyoku visibly steamed. “Stay still, you lousy merchant!”
“That’s no way to make a profit-” Alibaba cut himself off, paling.
The princess’ eyes gleamed, eager for the kill as she drew another water-serpent out of night and fog. “Oh, I’m not falling for that!”
Even with waterlogged ears, Zainab caught the patter of a dozen boots, the rattle of weapons; saw the gleam of oncoming torchlight as white-turbaned city guards ran for the scene of destruction.
And right into the middle of a mob of apes, drugged fog scoured off their fur by canal waters.
“Stop in the name of King – auugh!”
Damn it! Zainab hauled herself to her feet and started hacking at sharp-clawed apes. Guards or not, they were still Balbadd. She’d be damned if she let Kou monsters tear them apart!
If she had a choice. Every bit of flesh she slashed seemed to flow back together. The monsters were laughing at her as they pounced, bearing her down in a flood of dank fur, fangs and claws wet with the blood of guards and thieves alike….
A wall of flames smashed into the screeching horde, tearing them off Zainab in a rush of searing heat. She choked on it, praying Jahan’s scaly under-tunics were as good as Alibaba said they were. Though better burned than being torn apart-