Whispers of Fire Ch14 Ficbit – Jugular

“You are a smuggler!” Kougyoku declared. “You took cargoes through Kou waters!”

Merhdad… smiled.

It was friendly. Honest. Determined.

Kougyoku’s blood froze.

“Citizens of Balbadd! Noble ambassadors!” The blond swept the assembled crowd with a look of fire, not even deigning to glance at the royal balcony. “As a merchant of Balbadd I come to lay an injustice before you. For by the documents that have come into my hands, King Abhmad has sold the marine rights of Balbadd!”

A hush spread over the plaza. Kougyoku could hear her own breathing, pulse a drumbeat at her throat. She’d heard this kind of hush before. Felt it.

Ka Kobun heard it too, and moved to her side, fan at the ready. His face was set in a way that told her no, she wasn’t imagining things, yes this was about to become a mob and even if ordinary humans couldn’t possibly win they still might try to tear all of the Kou delegation apart-

The blond straightened, drawing the crowd’s eyes like a magnet. “This is an illicit bargain!”

Keep talking! We’ve come this far. We can’t lose to bloodshed now!

“How dare you!” Abhmad was on his feet, black eyes glittering with rage. “Lowborn cur! I am the king of Balbadd. All of it is mine! To keep, to sell, to do as I wish!”

Eldest Brother, your timing sucks.

Deep breath. You knew you’d have to fight him too.

“Not the marine rights,” Alibaba stated. Breathe. Don’t let your voice shake. “The rights to the sea are the lifeblood of Balbadd. To sell those rights is to sell our own people – and no citizen of Balbadd is a slave!”

The crowd roared behind him, and for one blinding moment of grief and hate he wanted to let it go. What they’d found in the Banker’s papers, what his eldest brother had planned to do….

19 thoughts on “Whispers of Fire Ch14 Ficbit – Jugular

  1. Kou princess feels this is about to be a riot, and knows to be weary of it.
    this weariness should help prevant escalation of violance.

    did they have a riot and mob depose a king in their history?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Of course, in most places in that kind of setting, citizens are by definition not slaves… because inhabitants of a settlement often are not automatically regarded as citizens/burghers.

    In the historical example of the Germanies around the 17th century or so, there was a clear delineation between those who were citizens of the town, and those who were only accorded the allowance to reside in the town (and could under circumstances be evicted).

    The nearby communities beyond the walls often had/sought contractual rights to seek protection behind the walls in times of danger, because otherwise the gates might well be closed to you, especially if the marauders were at your back…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But for a long time in the Middle East, even conquest basically made your tribe a member of the foreign king’s tribe. Covenant instead of treaty or law. (One-sided and imposed, but still an adoption covenant.)


  3. damn, alibaba… this might turn out really bad, if he lets go. but I know he won’t because he’s not that kind of character. and abhmad is so stupid right now…. too stupid for his own good. /facepalm

    thank you for the ficbit!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …I don’t think I worded that right. Or finished the thought. But if all of Ahbmad’s ‘citizens’ are slaves, then he has no one to be king of, and is no king. The people are all owned, by someone else. Including the nobles.

      And if he’s not a king, then he’s just another person- a lowlife, by that point- with delusions of grandeur.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. The Sally clouds on radar seem to have moved past Alabama/North Florida.

    Five foot, I want to say storm surges were mentioned, so clean up and restoration of power may be a bit difficult.

    Clouds are up in the Carolinas now, where we also have commentators. That storm system seems to still be producing tornadoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right now it’s just really heavy constant drizzle. Not quite fast enough to beat the rate of soil absorption, so the ditches in the yard are still empty, but otherwise I’d call it a fast light rain.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. One key point here is that *Kougyoku* actually gave Alibaba the proof he needed (and was probably steering her towards) — she said “Kou waters”, but since everyone knows he was being accused of smuggling into *Balbadd*….

    I’m thinking that Alibaba was betting he could steer Kougyoku into it, b/c she doesn’t *get* how Balbadd *works* — the king sold Kou the rights, that’s it. I don’t think she realized until just now that Abhmad was exceeding his authority as king (either legally or by ironclad custom). She’s used to *subjects*, not *citizens*.

    Abhmad shooting off his mouth (into his foot, which was firmly inserted between his teeth) was more than Alibaba expected. Or wanted, really — getting people mad enough for Kougyoku to decide backing off (as opposed to enforcing the treaty by Force Of Djinn) was the wiser move is one thing. People getting riled up enough to play French Revolution with Abhmad would probably give Kougyoku a *casus belli* to intervene “in the name of maintaining order.”

    This is practically a case study in different ways “elites” can be disconnected from ground truth — Abhmad is just self-absorbed and has his head buried in his own privilege. Kougyoku, OTOH, is *not* a pampered entitled princess, but her worldview was built in a society of top-down power. Balbadd has a lot more bottom-up power going on.

    Liked by 3 people

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