Whispers of Fire Ch12 – Known Unknowns

“But the best card I have is… you don’t know Alibaba.”

“Oh, I don’t?” Judar sniffed. “You’re the one who said I was like him.”

“Yeah.” Cassim’s grin showed even more teeth. “So what would you do, if someone was trying to invade your hometown?”

Silly question; he didn’t have a hometown. Still, to give the man the benefit of the doubt… if the Empress’ mystic lackeys had ever made a more blatant move toward the king candidates he’d nurtured into their powers, especially Kougyoku-

I’d slaughter the low-powered ones, but that might just set me up for the powerhouses to flatten me, Judar allowed. So… assume I have to be sneaky. Which I have been. What do I do to make people ever regret laying hands on what’s mine…?

Judar arched a curious brow, truly intrigued. “What’s he got set to go off in the Kou Empire?”

Cassim chuckled, and sighed. “I don’t know. Want to find out the hard way?”

Oh, this was going to be good. “It’s got to be something truly nasty,” Judar thought out loud. “Something that’d keep the entire Empire too busy to tackle one stubborn port city. He knows we have Djinns, so… probably something that doesn’t require magic. And he knows we’re trying to kill him, so… something that can still get set off if he’s dead.” He stared at the gang-leader. “What on earth could he do?”

“I don’t know,” Cassim repeated, utterly confident. “But I know he’s set up something. Probably a lot of things; Alibaba never did trust that one trick would work.” Dark eyes glittered with bitter humor. “Maybe he’s a prince, and too trusting, and way too soft. But he’s not a liar.”

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31 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch12 – Known Unknowns

  1. *Evil squeals of joy*

    Oh, Cassim… You are more correct than you know. Because not only is everything you’re saying true, but Alibaba’s already hit the ‘it’s honestly more important that they’re stopped than that we win’ point at least a few months ago if earlier snippets are anything to go by.

    Now on top of that Alibaba’s found himself forced into playing Xanatos Speed Chess with/against not only Al Thamen in the form of Ithnan on-site in Balbadd, but also Sinbad. Sinbad, who Alibaba is recognizing could very well be as dangerous an ally as an enemy. And as recent bits of this show, when Alibaba is forced to improvise under pressure things tend to just get /even more interesting/.

    This? Is a lesson on why you /don’t/ corner Alibaba.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yep. *EG* Alibaba found out enough this time, soon enough, to determine he was going to have to take drastic measures. Measures bad enough that just about everyone he’s drawn into setting them up does not know the whole plan.

    (Jahan knows most of it. Jahan also knows when it goes down, he’d darn well better not be in Balbadd proper because things might get ugly very quickly.)

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    1. … I gotta ask… Level with me:

      Is it really as fun setting up a corrupt world superpower to collapse in on itself as it looks from the outside?

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      1. *G* Oh, yes.

        Not that the Empire will go down easily. Or possibly at all; Alibaba only had about 5 months to work with, he couldn’t infiltrate his countermeasures everywhere – and knowing the risks were high that some of it might get discovered early, he didn’t try. But the parts of the Empire near Balbadd? Yeah. They’re going to be having problems.

        There’s a problem with seeing a kingdom just as a stepping stone to take over other nations. People do not like getting stepped on.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. May not collapse but their advancing front-line is going to grind to a halt. And if the real world history of Ancient Rome taught me anything it was that a Empire that has spent a great deal of time setting itself up so that their entire infrastructure relies on continuous aggressive expansion, when that grinds to a halt /very bad things happen to that empire/.

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      1. Then it all gets /extra funny/ when all the Dungeon Capturers start talking to themselves and getting yelled at by their djinn.

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      2. Then it all gets /extra funny/ when all the Dungeon Capturers start talking to themselves and getting yelled at by their djinn.

        Why do I have the feeling that some of them are going to be arguing with what looks to the outsiders the air?

        Anyone who doesn’t already think* a Dungeon Capturer is crazy will change their minds.

        *Whereas we already know that they are crazy. I maintain that no one enters a Dungeon who isn’t desperate or has at least a touch of the crazies or both. Often both.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. The fun part is that when the other kingdoms see what Alibaba pulled on Kou, they might decide to pull the same stunts. Not the counterfeit Fan of course, but everything else is probably fair game.

      I can hear the Kou economy cracking like spring ice from this side of the 4th wall.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, Cassim’s issues haven’t blinded him to the fact that Alibaba might be gentle in nature but can and will be vicious when cornered. Especially when while cornering him, you harm what is his.

    Besides we all know – and I think Judar knows – that no King Candidate will react positively to someone harming what they call theirs.

    Like he himself doesn’t react well to people actually trying to harm what is his. Or what he would like to be his.

    Through since Judar is more attached to certain people in it than the Kou Empire itself, he might just think the whole thing is very fun. And that maybe he underestimated just how fun that particular King Candidate could be. Maybe he’s not as strong as some of them but . . . *grin*

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      1. All that talk about making things up as he goes along brings to mind Macgyver (grew up watching the original) and one heck of a thought. Macgyver with Magic. On the one hand he has the knowledge of Science!Engineering! and then you give him the power to essentially change the landscape…
        Probably wouldn’t mesh well but it is still a fun thought.

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      2. …and before you know it he would be welding, blowing up buildings, freezing and breaking things….and still making bombs from a turban, a stick, and some clay.

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      3. Recently, there’s been image moving around of a thread on Tumblr discussing Star Trek interpreted as Starfleet’s human engineering culture being singularly insane. (Which I kinda want to rip off for my naval focused Halloween World AU bunnies. Except every concept seems to conflict with my design intent, I guess over thematic issues.)

        Notable is the use of the apparent misspelling MacGuyver.

        Guyver is an eighties action/horror sci fi manga, and the powers are not a good match for a pacifist. (Manga, the armor has automatics that take over when Sho is unconscious. One of the live action movies makes it sound like the user has a presence in his mind influencing him.)

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      4. *Nod* From what I’ve read, yes, the armor has its own intelligence and would act on its own to protect its host.

        Though, never forget Mac’s canon background is in EOD – Explosives, Ordinance, Demolition. Which he went into so he didn’t have to use a gun.

        MacGyver isn’t a pacifist. He just doesn’t want to kill people. It’d actually be interesting to watch him argue the armor into “no, let’s do something else….”

        Liked by 1 person

      5. The AI is in the control medal. If the control medal is removed or destroyed, the suit eats the host and, I guess, self destructs. When the host is killed, the control medal takes over for a while, until it goes off and rebuilds the host.

        With standard setting assumptions about Chronos sending Zoanoids after the Guyver hosts, not killing people is not an option. If not fought efficiently, Zoanoids can kill the host enough to let the AI take over. Especially when it is friends or family turned into an Enzyme type. Zoalords can mind control Zoanoids so that they will fight to the end.

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      6. It has been going on for maybe thirty years, with a fair amount of hiatus. If the problems the storytellers built up were easy to resolve, they could have ended the thing already. (I’m way out of date, but last I heard there apparently were some clues that the aliens who had replaced the dinosaurs with humans were going to show up again.)

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  4. Judar: On the one hand, that sounds so very *interesting* – I’d love to watch it go down, but on the other hand, the Old Men will whine *so much* if their plans get messed up… meh.

    Why do I have a feeling that Judar’s favorite card game is watching other people play 52-pickup? (Well, that or Tournament Fizbin.)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s one of the few things Sinbad will agree with Judar on.

        Alibaba /wanted/ to like Cards Against Humanity, especially when his first game had Morgiana’s first round as Card Czar with ‘She’s beauty, she’s grace, she’s [blank]’ and /he/ won that round with ‘a can of whoop-ass’ (Judar’s troll of ‘licking things to claim them as my own’ and Sinbad’s ‘my sex life’ were also appreciated, but ultimately didn’t play to Morgiana’s tastes well enough to select them. She did think Judar’s was a good second choice though. No one was surprised Aladdin played ‘pictures of boobs’). But then Alibaba’s turn as Czar came around and everyone used his ‘How did I lose my virginity?’ result to mock him. Sinbad played ‘Waking up half-baked in a Denny’s parking lot’, Judar’s ‘the inevitable heat death of the universe’ was just mean, and Aladdin’s ‘drinking alone’ was unexpectedly cruel. The card that won (by group consensus after Alibaba objected to all options) was ‘Vikings’. Alibaba’s face achieved a bew level of red when he realized it was Morgiana’s card. And when Aladdin piped up after Alibaba handed over the black card to mark Morgiana’s point – Aladdin using his most childish and innocent voice – to ask if this meant ‘Morg was taking Alibaba’s virginity?’ Alibaba just plain fainted. At that the game was called – much to Sinbad’s frustration.

        For all that Sin enjoys CAH he’s never actually /won/ a game, Jafar or Masrur always crush him. He was hoping with neither participating in this game he might finally win.

        Liked by 1 person

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