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Olgy and Incher and black-tongued Ewards, each selling coke to burn blue in your stove; at the foot of the Furnace they’re bastard dukes. But each must answer to the Coal King.

“I asked,” booms the King, “where’s my real share.”

“Oh!” babbles Coker Ewards, dangling from the King’s grip above the Curbin Street well. “I hadn’t counted pieces of coke I sold multiple times but I see now that was wrong!”

The Coal King bobbles his belt for a second; a squeak echoes down the abyss.

“Afraid of the dark?” chuckles the Coal King, whose name, once, was Nat.