Aladdin and the girls braced themselves as Alibaba then recounted how he had been lead to a ragged tent, and he lifted the flap to enter and confront Cassim.

'... Is that you, Alibaba?' Cassim had asked, shocked to see him again.

"And there was Cassim, who I hadn't met in a long time."

"Cassim!" Morgiana said angrily, furrowing her brow with a frown.

"I hope you greeted him with a rocket punch," Faith quipped.

"You're mistaken," Alibaba told them earnestly. "Although Cassim's actions sounded like those of a villain, and I sound like a victim who was fooled repeatedly, It's not all Cassim's or the 'Fog Troupe's' fault... From Cassim, I heard how the country itself had been treating the people in the slums. And so, I found out I hadn't known anything at all... that he'd actually had his difficulties, too," he said, squeezing his hands. "He revealed the truth to me. That, after I had left the slums, inhumane restrictions had been set on the slums' inhabitants. Among others, restrictions had been placed on usage of residential areas, access to goods and what activities were allowed by the residents. Simply put, people in the slums no longer had access to the daily necessities. Except for doing labor work provided by the government, there was no way out of the slums. In short, they became a prison." Faith and Hope frowned as they continued to listen to all the details that Alibaba had learned from Cassim.

According to Cassim, during the second year after Alibaba left, and there was an outbreak of infectious disease in the slums. Not only did the palace offer no help, they even locked down the slums to keep the disease from spreading to them. Without any doctors or medicine, the residents of the slums died one by one... including Cassim's younger sister, Mariam. Cassim had been forced to watch helplessly while she suffered a slow and painful death.

'... I couldn't... I couldn't do anything at all...!!' Cassim had cried, on the verge of breaking down just thinking about it.

'... How can that be!?' Alibaba asked, shocked and horrified by this revelation. 'Didn't you tell me before that... everyone had been moved to a different area and was doing fine?'

'It was the only answer I could give you!!' Cassim shouted miserably, grabbing him by the front of his shirt. 'You kept asking all that with that foolish grin on your face, not knowing anything!!'

'!!' Alibaba gasped when he saw the tears threatening to fall from his old friend's eyes.

'At that time, I'd already decided... no matter what would happen, I'd fight to save the slums!' Cassim swore grimly, trembling with anger and frustration as he gritted his teeth, letting go of Alibaba so he could raise his fist in the air. 'And to accomplish my goal, I need 'power'!! That's why I created the Fog Troupe! Fortunately, I heard from you about your tunnels... that attack on the palace's treasury allowed our Fog Troupe to become stronger! We gathered more subordinates, bought new weapons, and finally have enough power to fight the armies of the hated Ahbmad Saluja!! But we're still missing something!!' he said, slamming his fist against the table. 'No matter what, we're just a group of people from the slums... Even if this continues, we'll eventually be eliminated as a group of thieves...'

'Cassim...'

'...' Cassim fell silent, then raised his head to look at Alibaba. '...! Haha...' A laugh escaped his lips when he was struck by an idea.

'?' Alibaba was confused.

'Haha... Right... That's right!!' Cassim said, surprising Alibaba as suddenly he grabbed him by the shoulders. 'Alibaba!! Join the Fog Troupe!!' he said desperately. 'No... why don't you use your identity as prince and be our leader instead!? This way... the Fog Troupe... will never be 'mere thieves' again!!'

Magi: The Tale of Faith and HopeWhere stories live. Discover now