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?”