Pyle's Dueling PiratesMalvin’s hands were at his neck again, the man’s hot breath reeking of wine and the stench of something Sylvan thought to be illness—a lingering, pungent odor. But there wasn’t much time to categorize scents at the moment, as he saw sparkles of light dancing before his eyes and the clammy fingers pressed harder at his neck. Breathing was becoming impossible.

He couldn’t make it look like there had been a struggle—but he couldn’t very well let Malvin kill him. The old Captain may have outnumbered him by a few decades, but Sylvan thought he would have made up for his lack of experience with brute force.

“You made the wrong choice, DeLoire,” growled the Captain. His eyes were bloodshot, tears streaming down his rugged face, and down into his grizzled mustache. “I can’t… let you live…”

Sylvan felt panic for the first time in his life. His knife was gone—his guns were out of reach. And Malvin was winning. A few more moments, and his brain would begin shutting down. Already his thoughts were moving too slowly, churning down to a stop.

That smell again. Spicy, almost fecal.

As the world threatened to close in on him again, Sylvan reached up his hand to Malvin’s chest. The man had been caught unawares in his bedchamber, and was wearing no shirt. Skin to skin, palm to breast.

Malvin’s eyes shot open, and his grip loosened. He tried to roll of of Sylvan, but he seemed attached at his hand.

Sylvan could feel the man’s heart beating in his chest. Tha-thump, tha-thump, tha-thump…

“Gods alive,” wheezed Malvin. “Seidcrafter… you… you bring death.”

“Only to those who ask,” Sylvan said. He flexed his fingers, as the heart began to slow under his palm. He could swear he actually held it for a moment, the chambers slick under his fingers, the veins and arteries pulsing and quivering in his grasp. Then, a voice in his head, a command: Stop.

Tha-thump… tha-thump… tha-thump…tha-

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