- "Yes, but then things changed. I give you my oath that if you don't buy them at forty somebody else will."
- —Ali Ibn Zephier to Florin d'Artaud.[1a]
Ali Ibn Zephier is an Arabyan merchant residing in Swamp Town, described as having plump cheeks whilst wearing a baggy sleeved shirt and broad turban. He has been at his trade long enough for fear to give way to caution, and for caution to give way to a careless fatalism. In this, at least, the sharpness of his wife's tongue had been a help. Despite this, his singsong accent is rich with professional charm.[1a]
A seller of gunpowder, as well as 'Cathayan bombas', Ali finds demand for his wares skyrocket whenever new arrivals step ashore. Prices are quickly raised even after an agreement is made a week in advance, though he is not above the art of haggling. At times, however, he loses patience with buyers, seeing them as barbarous for showing a lack of manners.[1a]
- According to Ali, Cathayans use bombs to hunt dragons. It is unclear if this is true, or a ruse to better sell merchandise.[1a]