Sinbad and his brother, Jamil are in Basra and making a living while up to no good. Sinbad pretends to lose in a fist fight, so his brother can get excellent odds , then suddenly turn the fight around to fleece a bookie. A simple con – but it doesn’t end simply as his opponent bangs his head at the end of the fight. He seems to recover, Sinbad and Jamil leave, but then (under the menacing gaze of the sorceress Taryn) he slumps and died.
In the market, they indulge in some pickpocketing with the help of a friendly corrupt guard, stealing a case from Nala and her father (wealthy visitors to the city) – though inside the case there is only an odd, hairy totem.
Of course, since Sinbad is a hero, he has been indulging his crooked ways for good purpose – to support his elderly grandmother and his catatonic mother –because you can’t have a hero who is a thief through greed or even to save himself – he has to be stealing for other people to make him a redeemable character. Bonus points if the people he’s stealing for are elderly, children or helpless.
But it catches up with him – first with his grandmother having a vision from the coins that the money is blood money – money earned through killing (which is a surprise to Sinbad who didn’t know he’d killed his opponent). And then by the guards battering down their door, chasing them across the city and eventually capturing them.
Lord Akbari, the father of Sinbad’s dead opponent, is grieving for his son, being supported and comforted by his brother, the Emir, making a him powerful man one does not want to annoy. Lurking around is also the Sorceress Taryn (she who cast her magic eyes on the fight) who laments that they don’t have the magic to bring the dead back any more, since the Emir is encouraging science instead of magic.
He wanders down to the cells to tell Sinbad that his opponent in the fist fight is dead, and surprise, he was Lord Akbari’s son! And the Emir has very kindly let Lord Akbari decide how justice will be done in this case, how very nice. Realising how well and truly screwed he is, Sinbad begs for his brother’s life – accepting his fate. So Lord Akabari… has Jamil killed and makes Sinbad watch; killing Sinbad’s loved one to make up for Sinbad killing his.
Sinbad isn’t without his tricks and, during the night, he manages to overcome one of the guards and escape home – where his grandmother watches over his brother’s dead body. His grandmother is grieving – and blames Sinbad for his brother’s death. Through tears she curses Sinbad to drift so he cannot spend more than a day on land – so he can learn and find atonement. She binds the curse in a locket around his neck, just as his friend the guard shows up to help him leave the city.
At the docks he stows aboard a ship where he runs into Rina, also sneaking about below decks to steal – who is very upset at them setting sale before she can escape. And he runs across Anwar, the ship’s doctor who is near incapacitated with sea sickness. The earnest and good doctor goes to get Sinbad some medicine, conscientiously mentioning to the Captain that one of his passengers is injured and in the hull.
Who promptly has him dragged out the hold to explain his presence, and offers him a coin toss, the result of which means Sinbad gets to remain as part of the crew, on minimum rations and comfort, until they reach the first port. Something Nala, one of his passengers, objects to – since she was the one he pickpocketed in Basra (not blessed with the best luck, is he?) which ends up with Sinbad in a cell instead.