Featuring new cover art: “Kaybor Gate” by Alex Ries.
Besides the hat, however, the thing wore no real clothes, so the circular stamp reading VULCAN IRON WORKS—WILKES-BARRE, PENNA. was perfectly visible on its boiler-like torso next to a W.C.T.U. badge. Below, a chain-link skirt preserved some amount of modesty, swaying and rattling awkwardly around its legs with every awkward step. Its thick metal arms were jointed and riveted, and it gripped a formidable hatchet in its clenched and rigid hands.
Unlike street performances Senjam had witnessed, the charmer did not wave his pungi from side to side as he blew. Neither did the cobra sway. With eyes fixed on the old man, its only movement was an occasional flicking of the tongue. As Senjam watched, the charmer’s left hand blurred out and seized the snake behind the head. He thrust the creature into a wicker basket and placed a lid over it, all the while continuing to play with his other hand.