“I told you. I’ve got nothing to confess.”
In the fiery interrogation room, Pok Gukgak leaned over the cold metal chair he was bound in, letting the blood in his mouth drip down onto the gray, concrete floor. His hands were bound with rope behind him, and wrapped around his shirtless chest was a rusted metal chain with massive spikes every few inches, the width of a golf ball and long enough to skewer him from any angle. At the moment they were digging about halfway into him, blood pouring out of his newfound wounds onto his pants. The demon before him, red and aflame, held the other end of the chain that was wrapped around him. In a winding, nasal voice, it asked, “Are you certain of that?” and tugged the chain.
Each of the spikes went about an inch deeper, Pok letting out an agonized groan as another wave of blood spilled from his lips. He gritted his teeth, just barely maintaining his composure. “I… did… nothing,” he snarled, and bared his sharp teeth, “I was doing my job. I don’t regret that. You can torture me all you want. I’ve got nothing… to confess!” With that he lifted his head, bloodied hair falling out of his face, and spat blood at the feet of the demon. The great, winged behemoth grinned.
“Oh… Pok Gukgak… when will you see that there is no mercy for you?” it mused, “Your integrity means no-” Pok’s act broke just for a moment, his eyes going wide as he watched the front end of a crossbow bolt go directly through the demon’s brain, before a massive shining scimitar cleaved its head clean off and sent it rolling to the other side of the room. Just as swiftly there was the rush of a crossbow bolt to the security camera in the corner of the room. By the time Pok looked back it had fallen to its knees and collapsed, and behind it was a horrible, terrible, deformed human. He had a hook for a hand and a cannon for the other, a burning coal in the eye that wasn’t covered by a tattered eyepatch, and a long, red and black captain’s coat, still flickering as he stepped into the room. As he stepped in, he grinned, revealing a set of sharp golden teeth and black, bloodied gums.
“Pok Gukgak, you old son of a bitch, how are ya!” roared the incredible beast. The sound of chaos outside soon became clear, shouting and fighting and the clanging of swords. Pok, overcome with relief, dropped the act entirely, flicking his hair out of his face.
“Bill!” he delighted, “It’s been ages, how are you?”
“Never been better, old man!” he said, and kicked the door shut behind him, dimming the sounds of chaos. “Wish I could say the same about you!”
“You’ve got that right. Would you mind?”
“Not at all!” Bill Seacaster sheathed his sword and took the edge of the chain from the demon’s hand, stepping forward and unwrapping it from Pok’s chest. As the spikes pulled from the bloody wounds the goblin winced.
“Careful, careful please,” he pleaded gently. Bill hardly slowed his pace as he undid the rest of the chain until the last spike had fully dislodged itself, and it lay in a bloody heap on the floor. He then drew his sword and swiftly sliced through the rope binding his hands. Pok Gukgak let out a sigh of enormous relief, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and touching a hand to the massive holes in his chest. He pressed his shoulders forward, and stretched his neck. “Oh, thank you,” he sighed, “That’s much better.”
“Anytime, old lad,” Bill assured him, “You look like shit, how are you?”
“Oh, about how you’d expect,” he admitted, and brushed the hair out of his face, “I spent all of last week having my fingernails pulled off so frankly the spike chain is a nice change of pace.”
“Aye, I can see that,” said Bill, widening his eye and nodding, “Ah! But I have good news!”
“Been getting word from the outside! Your boy was not sacrificed at the hands of the devils and is now traveling comfortably with the rest of his friends.”
Pok let out a second sigh of relief, his head falling and hitting his chest. “Oh, thank God,” he breathed, “That is very good news, let me tell you, if Riz showed up in Heaven and I wasn’t there, I don’t even…”
“If he makes it in,” added Bill with a grin, “I still wonder how you got in the pearly gates yourself, Gukgak. You’ve done violence and the like.”
He cast him a serious look. “For a good cause,” he informed him coolly, “And don’t even joke about that. I’m having a hard enough time in Hell myself, don’t make me picture my son here.”
“I don’t know, I think he’d do quite well. I’d have him on me crew, let him be the cannonball!” Bill suggested, and roared with laughter.
“Hilarious,” Pok answered, totally deadpan, “Don’t make me kill you.”
The massive pirate chuckled and took a seat on the ground, right beside the body of the demon he’d just dropped. Even on the ground, he was a little taller than the goblin in his chair. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Pok, wouldn’t dream of it,” he sighed, and for a moment let his weary shoulders fall. He pulled a flask from his side, and drained half for it. He held it up to Pok. “Thirsty, angel?”
“Not for what you have to offer,” he answered with a smirk.
“Aye…” muttered Bill, and downed the rest.
Pok sat up in his seat, and cocked his head. “Are you quite alright Bill? Seem a bit pensieve. Any bad news?”
Bill nodded. “Aye, I’m afraid there is. Nothing you’d have to worry about. It’s a matter of me boy.”
Pok’s eyebrows creased with sympathy. “Oh, Bill, I’m sorry. And so young.”
“Oh, he ain’t dead yet, he’s still on land, that much is true,” he answered, “No, you ask me he’s worse off. Dead man knows where he is.” He sighed heavily, staring off at the wall, ember of his eye flickering softly in its blackened socket. “No… my darling boy is lost, I’m afraid.”
“Aye. Lost his way,” elaborated Bill, “I knew the time would come when he’d make the mistake every young pirate makes. Went off without his crew and killed a hundred men that weren’t his own. He’s been a damn fool and he knows it. He don’t know who he is any longer… and that’s a right shame. I can only hope he finds out again ‘fore his luck runs out.”
Pok nodded wisely, humming softly in understanding. “I see,” he said, “Underestimated the enemy?”
“A fatal mistake.”
“Aye, that it was,” agreed Bill, raising his eyebrows, “Just not for him.”
“Who is it that died?”
Bill shrugged. “Some… followers of mine, a small army at his hands who figured he spoke for me. I’ll tell you, they came to my crew this morning and they’d like to see my boy’s blood, they would!” he exclaimed, his voice getting loud, “If I were them, I’da wanted it too. It’s a fool who fights alone when he’s got those who respect him. The feat o’ being respected, o’course, is much harder to go about than taking down a thousand men, let alone the hundred men of the bastard Captain Whiclaw. I never did manage it myself.”
“I would say, you command respect, Old Bill. You’ve got a crew, don’t you?”
“You listen here angel,” Bill insisted. His voice went serious with a sudden burst of intensity, as he pointed a finger. “There’s respect, and then there’s fear. Fear gets you any man you like, but only respect lets you weed out the good ones. Me boy’s friends respect him. That’s why when he came home, disgraced and bloodied, they put him up and tended to his wounds. If they’d’a feared him? Then they’d’a seen his weakness and ripped his heart out of his chest to show him how little it was worth!” This he shouted wildly, slamming a massive, flaming fist against the floor.
Pok did not appear remotely phased, and didn’t flinch at the sound of the bang. All he did was judgmentally raise an eyebrow and cordially comment, “Family can be difficult.” Bill, seeing the lack of a reaction, immediately deflated again.
“Aye, that it can,” he agreed, shoulders lowering, “He’s got a good heart in him still, my only hope is that he finds it again.” He tucked away his flask, and then pointed at Pok, “You’d be glad to hear that your boy was a perfect gentleman, much like yourself,” he said, only a subtle tone of mockery to his voice.
“How do you mean?”
“Stayed in Fabian’s room overnight, saw to it he was unharmed. Slept in the chair by his bed’n all.”
Pok smiled wistfully, leaning back in his chair. “Did he?” he asked, with a knowing look, “Yes, Riz has quite a fondness for your son. Based on the sheer amount that he’s told me about him I’d say he’s got it bad.”
Bill laughed heartily, and slammed the floor again. Once again, Pok didn’t even begin to flinch. “I assure you, Gukgak, the feeling goes both ways!” he roared through his laughter, “Aye, you’ve never seen me boy spend so much time looking for just the right Solstice present. Usually it’s just hard cash but he went on saying he was looking for something special, something specific. Landed on a diamond tie pin worth more than me first vessel!”
A small laugh erupted from Pok’s lips, the first he’d had in weeks. It felt good - not physically, of course, in fact, he winced at the movement as the holes gushed with another wave of blood. But in a different way, it felt good. “Yes, you did say you were filthy stinking rich, didn’t you? And all that’s left to your wife and to Fabian?”
“Aye, every penny,” agreed Bill Seacaster, “Filthy and stinking as they come, lad!”
“Maybe Riz will be the first Gukgak to do well for himself,” Pok half-joked optimistically, “I’m sure Sklonda wouldn’t mind the retirement money.”
Bill leaned back and grinned. “I hope you’re not implying my son would serve as some sort of shallow, sugar daddy to yours, would ya?” he said, strongly emphasizing the words as he leaned forward again, hands on his knees. Pok cast him a sly smile.
“Wouldn’t dream of it, Bill,” he answered coyly, then more honestly went on, “But if I was, it wouldn’t be shallow. It’s like you said. They adore each other.”
“Aye, that they do,” Bill said wistfully, the coal in his eye twinkling affectionately, “You’re a good man, Pok Gukgak, and you’ve raised a right good boy.”
“Yes, well, I didn’t do much raising. He’s done all that on his own. With help from his mother, of course,” He sighed and then, glancing towards the door, said, “As for your son, I know he’s a good, kind boy, on his way to becoming, if he isn’t quite already, a good, kind man.” He flashed a sly smile, and then went on, “And as for you Bill, you are a demonic, horrific, dastardly scoundrel who I firmly believe deserves no more than the hottest pits of Hell.”
Bill fully roared with laugher, louder than he had in all the time they’d talked. “ And don’t you forget it Gukgak!” He shouted, and leapt to his feet, drawing his sword. “Now, I can still hear the fighting going on, so might I suggest to preserve your clever little angel deal you run as fast as you can while I shoot at you and act as though I’ve just done some demonic, horrific, dastardly things!”
“Good idea,” Pok said lightly, and rose to his feet, rolling back his shoulders. “And Bill?” Bill Seacaster, already readying his cannon, turned back to look at him. “Do stop by more often, will you?”
“For a conniving, backstabbing, twisted double agent like yourself? Anytime you like!” he promised, and flashed a golden grin. He then shouted, loud enough for everyone around to hear, “Now get out of my sight before I turn you into into a nice, green pair of sailing boots, you filthy, scurvy dog!”
There was a blast of a cannon that turned half the room to rubble, the door immediately catching fire and falling off its hinges, stone crumbling and the chair turning to ash, but by the time it happened Pok had already disappeared into the shadows.