Whispers of Fire Ch14 Ficbit – It’s a Trap

No, this can’t be a trap. Balbadd wouldn’t dare, even with Sinbad backing them. They’d have to kill or buy off every ambassador here. Someone would talk, and then they’d have all the nations against them.

Not that any assassination attempt would stand a chance against Vinea’s power, much less Judar’s. But Balbadd had no Dungeon Conqueror, no Magi. They might underestimate Kou power, and make a fatal mistake.

No Conqueror except Merhdad. Kougyoku sighed. I almost wish you’d had more time. I want a fair fight.

Creak almost lost in the crowd’s roar, the palace gates opened.

There he is!

The king of Sindria, magnificent in white, gold, and that odd sky-purple; why did he favor that over the rich blood hues of Reim and the Kou….

And there was Merhdad, walking beside the king like a free man instead of a prisoner facing death. Much less impressive, especially since he’d hidden that striking gold hair under yet another of those ridiculous Partevian hats.

The Partevian ambassador squinted his way, then huffed. “Balbadd.”

“Oh?” Drawled the noble from Reim, the pressed folds of his toga shifting as he crossed his arms. “Not yours after all?”

“That blond? More likely one of yours.”

Blond makes a difference? Kougyoku wanted to ask. The Kou Empire had at least a dozen different peoples in it. Reim was an empire, and Partevia had been, once; surely they had just as many?

But there wasn’t time. Sinbad and his prisoner weren’t alone. There was a small mob of merchants and porters striding in their wake, from a barefoot redheaded girl in a simple servant’s tunic to merchants with silk scarves to no few men rough and ready as Kouha’s newest recruits. No weapons in sight, beyond the daily knives all of Balbadd seemed to carry, but the hoard of chests, trunks, boxes…. “What is the meaning of this?”

29 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch14 Ficbit – It’s a Trap

  1. oh my god are they hauling in boxes of Fan? hahaha

    poor kougyoku truly doesn’t know how things can be traps in ways that AREN’T fights… well, she’s about to get a hard lesson now.

    I also find it kinda cute that the reim and partevian ambassadors are like. bantering over who gets merhdad. although they both somewhat agree that merhdad is probably balbadd native instead, haha.

    thank you for the ficbit!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. They are indeed. *EG*

      And yes. Kougyoku is about to find out “choose your weapon!” can be interpreted… many, many different ways.

      Edit: The ambassadors are savvy enough to know that if Sinbad’s here, something is going to go south. Spectacularly. They just want to know how.

      …It’s going to take them a little bit to catch on, too. Though the guy from Reim miiiiight have a bit of an edge.

      Hint: The Reim ambassador spent time in Napolia.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. /No, this can’t be a trap. Balbadd wouldn’t dare, even with Sinbad backing them. /
    Mistaken but understandable. She hasn’t been dealing with true examples of Balbadd audacity/insanity very much. It is a trap, just not in the way she’s thinking.

    /but the hoard of chests, trunks, boxes…. “What is the meaning of this?”/
    I hope she’s up to speed on the financial aspects of their agreement with Balbadd . This is going to be fun.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. True, but the details that spawned that particular oneshot were very much canon. Not to mention, very, very true for RL, as well.

        (I believe the comic book artist Fred Perry put it best: “When stabbing a back, watch your own.”)

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh! Aha ha! Let me guess, the first item Alibaba is going to list wanting to buy back are the Marine Rights. With someone waiting in the back to rush off and tell the rest of Balbad that they got the Marine Rights back the second Alibab does so? He’ll probably work his way down the rest of the list from there. And of course, the rest of the nations are going to know Balbad bought back all that stuff (or that Kou isn’t willing to sell it back even when Balbad has enough money)…

    Sinbad must be laughing his head off at the whole thing…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Okay, I missed this in my last read-through, but Sabhmad reported an unspecified secret to Sinbad and Alibaba the previous chapter, although he didn’t know that Merhdad was Alibaba so I’m not certain what the secret was . . .

    It was stated earlier that they can’t get enough Fan to buy back everything, so Ali admitted to Morg that he was planning some counterfeiting. Did they find . . . bloody hell, Fan is translated as ‘huang’ half the time in the english Magi fansites, no wonder it’s so friggin’ hard to find details on the stuff!

    Anyway, did the Banker have a printing press with which to provide paper money to the nobles? I know they were frantically looking through the treaties the Banker had, to locate the loopholes that Kou would find it embarrassing to reject in front of international witnesses, but without enough Fan to make up the difference how is Alibaba actually going to buy the rights back, once Kougyoku concedes that he’s allowed to try?

    (Answers would be nice, although if you want to wait until the chapter release I won’t complain at all.)

    -Albert

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One additional possibility is a bit “Merhdad” was working on for a while now; collecting data on Kou & Al Thamen trading elsewhere. It’s possible (tho unlikely) that he could show that they were doing what banks have gotten in trouble in the real world for doing, “using” the same “money” twice, by arranging more contracts than they can actually prove they have the resources to redeem. “They’re trying to call in our debts, because they can’t honor their own, if their own are all called in simultaneously.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, yeah, but he wasn’t around when Cassim found the documents attesting that Alibaba was the chosen heir, because he was already fainting at seeing his little brother show up. Was he aware that those documents were there to be found?

        -Albert

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah. That bit of backstory about the difference in how Balbadd was created, and how its government has traditionally worked? “The king doesn’t actually own the kingdom, everyone just works with him because it makes things easier and allows better trade deals.”

        Liked by 1 person

    2. From what I remember, Alibaba is counterfeiting Fan and sending the counterfeits back to the Kou Empire… And the Empire hasn’t figured out that the counterfeiting is going on yet. The real Fan he’s having people stealing is being kept… somewhere, probably so that he can at least have Fan on hand to make a case for buying certain rights back legally… at least according to the Empire.

      Thing is, I remember Alibaba saying counterfeiting is a bid deal in Balbad because they’re traders. We’re talking “will get you legally executed” big deal here. So it’s a good thing there’s no way Alibaba is the legal Prince of Balbad while this is going on. People would never be able to trust Alibaba if they found out he was behind the counterfeiting because who knows what other currencies he would be willing to counterfeit for Balbad to get ahead?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Er, okay, this part is what I missed. I thought Alibaba was going to start counterfeiting Fan, not that it was already in progress.

        _How_ is he counterfeiting Fan? Is block printing a thing in-setting, did he just need to copy samples as carefully as possible? Who does he have running the counterfeiting operation? If he’s making enough to create the surplus he needs by switching them out with real Fan, he’s got to have someone printing off a _lot_ of copies, and his flinch when confessing it to Morg implies that he’s trying to keep it close to the chest as much as possible.

        (Again, I don’t mind if I have to wait for an in-story reveal, as long as the reveal takes place.)

        -Albert

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Block printing is probably going on. If the Kou Empire is printing as much Fan as they are (enough paper money for it to be the legal currency of an expanding empire), printing has to be known of somewhere. And that means there’s probably someone willing to trade technology ideas for something. Alibaba has plenty of stolen Fan lying around, so getting the designs for it is probably the easiest part. Once someone thought up how printing worked, the technology spread ridiculously fast since the concept of printing isn’t all that crazy when you really get down to it.

        Keep in mind that all the other countries use metal coinage that is actually worth it’s weight in metal. That’s why moving to the “nail” coinage works: it has a given value just by being made out of the material it’s made out of and everyone in Balbad knows what that value is and is willing to trade in it. Fan has only has value because the Kou Empire says it has. Now if everyone knows the Kou Empire says the Fan has value, but the Empire itself doesn’t want to trade in it for things… *evil grin*

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah, woodblock printing is excellent if you have a lot of skilled carvers and good inks. Balbadd is a dye town, so they’ve got the good inks, and presumably they’ve got skilled artists. It’s a bit easier with steel tools than with bronze, but even some stone tools can do a good job. Copper plates last longer and you can etch faster with acid than carve with tools, but copper is more expensive, so there is a tradeoff.

    Balbadd also is a fabric town, so they can make rag paper. Fan might be on mulberry paper, instead of rag paper, but there are ways around that. (And it’s more likely to be rag paper, because mulberry paper is not as durable for daily use, even though it lasts a long time in a library.)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Interesting thing I found out about real-life Chinese paper money — not all merchants wanted to accept government paper, so during some administrations, they opened government liquor shops to make sure that employees paid in paper would have a place to spend their paper.

    Also, Persia tried to do their own paper money and promptly crashed their economy.

    Liked by 2 people

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