CHAPTER TEN: FUGITIVE (2/4)

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The creature in the doorway was no more than five feet tall. It had rough, grey skin and long arms that dangled past its short legs and almost touched the floor. It was very gaunt, though it had a bulbous pot belly, and was dressed in a skin of brown leather. Its head was large with a squashed nose and a wide mouth, out of which jutted a row of small, sharp teeth.

"You'd better come in," said the creature called Harg as he waddled back into his cell.

While Kito and Goone ventured in after it, Sol remained frozen to the spot. Harg was a monster. His sharp teeth looked perfect for shredding flesh.

"Sol," said Kito, who had stopped in the door. "You coming?"

Against his better instincts, Sol followed her in and found Goone lying flat on his back.

Harg squatted beside him and sniffed his face. "His wounds are cursed..."

"That's what I thought," said Kito. "Is there anything you can do?"

"It is spreading quickly. It might be kinder to kill him."

"We're not killing him. Just do what you can."

"Hmm... In that case, I will need silver."

"How much?"

"Just a small piece. A coin might do it."

Kito thrust her hand into her pocket and produced a single silver coin. She tossed it to Harg who caught it and sniffed it.

"Yes," he said. "This should work." He waddled over to the corner of the room where he picked up a rusty metal bucket filled with fish bones. He turned it upside down, scattering the bones in a pile, then dropped the coin into the bucket. He clicked his fingers and suddenly the bucket was filled to the brim with blue fire. "Give me your belt, too," he said.

Kito didn't ask why; she removed the thick leather belt from around her waist and tossed it to Harg. He caught it with one hand and pointed at Sol with the other.

"Human. I need you to kneel by his head."

Sol hesitated, not wanting to go any closer to the strange creature, but he knew Goone needed him and did as he was told, dropping to his knees beside the detective's shoulders.

"Hold his head," said Harg. "I need him to be still."

"He is still," Sol said.

"Not for long."

Feeling more and more uneasy, Sol put his hands on either side of Goone's head and held it firmly in place. Harg slipped Kito's belt between Goone's teeth like a bit in a horse's mouth.

"Can't you just put him to sleep?" asked Kito.

"No," said Harg, picking up the burning bucket. "For this to work, the pain must be felt. It is the best way to drive a curse out." He rolled the fire around inside and held it over Goone's face.

"Wait," Sol said. "What are you going to—"

"Hold him tight," said Harg, and he tipped the bucket over.

The tiny amount of silver dripped like syrup onto Goone's face. It sizzled and cracked. Sol caught a whiff of burning flesh and held his breath. After a couple of seconds, he felt Goone's head twitch. The detective's eyes opened wide as a scream whistled through his clenched teeth, stifled by the leather belt.

"Hold him tight!" said Harg. Sol was doing the best he could, but Goone was twisting like a pinned snake trying to break free. The veins in his neck were turning jet black.

"You're hurting him!" Sol shouted.

"I'm saving him!" spat Harg.

By now the silver had bled fully into Goone's wounds and disappeared. Large blisters were rising over them, bubbling up to the surface by the dozen. Goone's screams dwindled as he sucked in breath after deep breath. When his body finally started to relax, Goone spat out the leather belt in two pieces.

"Let go... of me...!" he panted.

Harg nodded, and Sol released Goone and backed away. The detective tried to sit up but the effort cost him too much pain and he slumped straight back down, exhausted.

"You need to rest," said Harg.

"Goblin..." said Goone.

"Your eyes still work. That's a good sign..."

"What did you... do to me?!"

"Harg just saved your life," said Kito, stepping beside Sol.

"Kai?"

"Hello, Arthur."

"What's... Where am I?"

"Marseille. Sol got you to me just in time. You'd been cursed."

Goone raised a hand to his face to touch it, but Harg slapped it away.

"No touching," said Harg.

"Get off me!"

Harg turned to Kito. "Do you want me to put him to sleep now?"

"No!" shouted Goone. "Kai, why is there a Goblin here?!"

"He's a friend of mine," said Kito.

"Friend?! But it's a Goblin!"

"Yes, I think we've established that," said Harg. "Clearly I've upset your expectations. Would you feel more comfortable if I ate part of you? An ear or a toe, perhaps?"

"Get away from me!" yelled Goone as he reached for his sleeve, only to find something missing. "My wand! Where's my wand?!"

"Where did you last have it?" asked Kito.

Goone's eyes darted from side to side as he searched his memories.

"Central Park..." he whispered. "I must have dropped it when..." He sat bolt upright with a wince, but the pain was no longer important. "I have to go back to New York!"

Kito knelt beside him. "You're not in any state to go anywhere."

"You don't understand!"

"Then make me understand. What happened?"

"Wendy..." he said, more to himself than to Kito. "That was what killed Pan Magal..."

"Wendy? Who's Wendy?"

"Not who," said Harg with a sinister smile, already up to speed. "What. What exactly was it that attacked you, detective?"

Goone looked at Sol as he replied. "A Wendigo."

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