The city guards were happy. The sharks were happy. The kids… well, at least their choices were theirs, now. And Cassim slept a lot better at night. Even if he did grit his teeth and try to bury Miriam’s memory, because what would she think of her murdering big brother? He’d never, ever told her what he’d done, he couldn’t bear to see that horror in her eyes-
Only… Kougyoku adored her big brother. He could see that in how pink eyes had sparkled, how pale yellow silk had shimmered over her bosom as she drew deep breaths to explain how Cassim looked like one of the people she loved most in the world. He could even hear it in what she hadn’t said; not one word to try and paint Kouha as anything but a killer who looked after his people. She was proud of him.
If I’d told Miriam… if I told Alibaba….
Solomon, being in the palace was twisting up his brain. Princesses, magi, empires; he had no place here. He just had to string the Kou officials along long enough to get out of here.
Right. Get out of here. She’s a princess and she’s pretty. She’s still the enemy.
Though maybe an enemy he could get to pack up and go away, instead of slitting her throat and letting her blood run in the streets. That’s what the Fog Troupe wanted from the Empire: to go away and leave Balbadd alone, so he could wipe out the nobles on his own schedule.
Killing their princess won’t make them leave us alone, Cassim decided. Getting her into position so she comes out on top when the rest of the Empire’s reeling from Alibaba’s scorched earth – that’ll keep them busier, playing their noble politics with each other instead of us.