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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.


Down among the struts of Raccoon Furnace live the cokers, parsing out scraps of stolen fire. From Coker Inchard you can get it cheap and risk burning granite; Olgy will trade it for a hump in his tent. But from Ewards you can get a magic word.

Pay dearly, take his coal and his whisper and run to the old well down Curbin Street. Throw a piece from your bucket, and wish.

It worked for somebody’s sister’s friend’s lover. It could work for you.

That night Ewards will collect all the wet cold chunks, and dry them, and sell them again.