A/N: …They definitely didn’t resort to enough of it the first time.
“Judar’s probably at the palace with the rest of their delegation.” Alibaba took a deep breath. “And so is Cassim.”
Hassan tensed, swearing; Zainab put a hand on his arm before he could try to pulverize anyone. “We don’t know that.”
“Right. That’s why I think he’s there.” Alibaba ran a hand through his hair, absently realizing his hat had been lost somewhere between Vinea’s wave and here. Drat. He could almost feel Morgiana’s eager twitch, as she contemplated pouncing that betraying lock of hair. “Look, we know Cassim. If he could get loose on his own, nothing would keep him away from the Troupe. So he can’t.”
Hassan scowled, but subsided as Zainab kept a grip on him. “Go on,” she said, voice hard.
“If he can’t get loose, someone’s got to be holding him,” Alibaba obliged. “He’s not exactly unknown. If he were locked up anywhere normal in Balbadd, either he’d get free or we’d hear about it.”
“So he has to be somewhere we don’t have ears listening.” Hassan scowled harder.
Alibaba couldn’t blame him; the Fog Troupe had invested a lot of time and money into making sure they had people to talk to across the city. It was half the reason they’d stayed free this long. “More than that. They took Cassim and his Fogblade. So they can handle magic. That’s got to be either someone else in the Kou party, or Judar still has him. My money’s on Judar.” He shivered.
Warm fingers touched his shoulder. “Magi can bleed,” Morgiana said quietly. And if it bleeds, that scarlet gaze said, I can kill it.
Alibaba gave her a shaky smile, and wished he had half that confidence. It had to be nice, knowing a lot of your problems really could be solved by hitting them hard enough.