Help

“Don’t you move a muscle,” said the voice as something hard pressed into the small of Nicholas’s back. “You’re gonna empty your pockets, nice and slow.”

There was a slight mechanical whirring whenever he spoke. He probably had his jaw replaced. A Land Pirate then. Not good for Nicholas. Standard criminals he could handle, with their poor health and improvised weapons, but Land Pirates usually had some mechanical body parts and always carried real guns. He palmed his obsidian coin, the most valuable item in his possession, and raised his hands slowly so as not to be a threat.

The Pirate reached into the lower left pocket of his longcoat. Dammit. Nicholas had hoped that wouldn’t be the first one. He pulled out the only item inside. “A fuckin’ wand?” he shouted at Nicholas’s back. “No wonder you look so rich. You’re one of them magic users.” Nicholas nodded and then there was a snap. His wand breaking. Nicholas winced. It would be expensive to replace, but there was no way he could’ve used it before the Pirate shot him. “Won’t be needing that no more,” the Pirate said with a chuckle. “Now, let’s see what else ya got in there.”

Nicholas hoped he wouldn’t check in his hands. He could suffer the breaking of his wand, but he couldn’t lose that coin. The Pirate moved to the right side and Nicholas caught movement in the shadows. Something was in the alley ahead and off to his left. He rubbed the coin for luck. At this point, it could’ve been anything. He just hoped it wasn’t more Pirates.

The Pirate forced him around and Nicholas saw his face for the first time. He was definitely a Pirate, and a gruesome one at that. His entire jaw had been replaced, steel with copper piping going in and out. It release a silent jet of steam every now and then on the right side of his face, leaving it raw and red.

The mechanical whirring began just before he opened his mouth to speak. The teeth on his artificial jaw were gleaming and razor-sharp. Nicholas had no doubts about what they were meant for. “You got anything else on ya, magic man?” Whatever was in the alley slipped into the shadow of the building next to them.

Nicholas swallowed and shook his head. The Pirate narrowed his eyes and started patting him down. First, his torso, then down both legs. He grabbed his arms to do the same and Nicholas tried to pull away.

The Pirate held his arm still and snatched the coin from his hand, faster than Nicholas could react. A cloud of steam ejected from his shoulder as he held the coin up for inspection. “Ay, what do we have here?” he asked, eyeing Nicholas. “Been keeping secrets, have we?”

Nicholas lunged at the Pirate, but he was ready. He sidestepped and Nicholas stumbled forward, smashing his face on the bricks of the street. He picked himself up just in time to see the shadow detach from the building and rush the Pirate. The Pirate reacted just as fast as he had before, but he wasn’t fast enough. It bowled him over in a cacophony of clanging metal and breaking glass. The thing bared down on the Pirate. It had the vague shape of a wolf, shadow made solid. Just as Nicholas had hoped, the coin, his most prized possession, had summoned an otherworldly demon to his aide.

It pinned the Pirate to the bricks and snarled, revealing very real teeth that seemed to glow inside of the shadowy creature. The Pirate took a swing at the thing, but his fist passed harmlessly through. It bit down on the Pirate’s throat and a bubbling, wet, hiss filled as steam escaped through newly spilt blood. The Pirate was dead.

The coin! Nicholas had to get it back. He dove beside the dead pirate and searched the street for his lost coin, but only found black shards among the bricks.

No.

It couldn’t be.

The coin.

Couldn’t be destroyed.

Impossible.

He slowly raised his head and saw the teeth standing out from the shadow.

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