“Oh.” Kat nodded.

“The natives have a strange power over the land. They can cause it to do things an example of that would be the volcano, the elves drew it forth as light but they stopped it from every erupting and killing them but the elves in their lust for the female humans have practically deluded themselves and their power. The average elf can hardly conjure a rock from the ground. The dragons have power that we’re not quite sure of but since they drink from the volcano to get their fire they are the only one of the natives that can survive in your air.”

“Yes, Skipper told me about that, how Emmlia can’t leave to see Gword.”

“Yes, a cruel trick, Stratagus is very clever.”

“So…would that make dragons the strongest of the natives?” Kat asked after a pause.

Toby nodded.

“The strongest but not the most powerful, that would be the fireflies as they are still connected to the power of the land and they are mentally clever. The dragons are simple minded beasts won’t attack humans unless they are provoked…they feed on the fireflies.  The fireflies made a deal with the new elves, saying they wouldn’t eat the elves if the elves controlled the dragons. So the elves controlled the dragons and the Hall of promises was created; now fireflies only eat when the elves pay them to. And trust me they’re not starving.  It’s really smart if you think of it, the fireflies are being protected and paid and they still get to eat people. Sometimes if they are over populated and running out of food the queen will feed the excess population to the dragons.”

Kat raised her eyebrows aghast.

“Their nature is a cruel one.”

Kat shook her head in disbelief.

“Your land is crazy.”

Toby shrugged.

“I didn’t create it.” He said, pulling the cork out of the bottle. Kat held out the glasses and Toby filled them. He secured the wine bottle between his feet before accepting his glass from Kat.

“What about the wolves you haven’t mention them yet, aren’t they part of the natives?” Kat asked.

Toby shook his head becoming very preoccupied with recorking the bottle.

“Well what are they then?” Kat asked.

“They have several names, Wers, slaves, scum, dirt, filth, grunts, slaves…did I mentions slaves?”

“I get it.” Kat said, misreading the anger in his voice. 

“What do you want to drink to?” Toby asked, holding his glass up.

“I dunno, sanity…how about freedom.” Kat said, meeting his glass.

“Freedom.” Toby echoed, he took a great big swig off his wine. Kat sipped hers and nearly choked. She gagged before spitting it out of her mouth. Toby laughed, his crooked smile breaking the solemn expression on his face.

“To cheap wine.” He laughed harder, raising his half empty glass and drinking down the rest. Kat was unable to hide her disgust.

“You just need to get passed the first glass and then it tastes better, I promise.” He insisted pouring himself another glass. Kat looked at him skeptically.

“To freedom?” Toby asked holding up his glass.

“No...” Kat said meeting his glass. She held her nose and threw back the wine. She managed to choke it down but it left the worst taste in her mouth.

“Congratulations have another.” Toby said, pouring Kat another glass. “This is the good one now.” Kat took a sip. The wine did not taste any better. But this time she did not spit it out.
“This tastes horrible.” Kat said, to Toby.

“You believed me?” Toby laughed.

“You tricked me!” Kat gasped, swinging and hitting him in the arm. Toby sniggered into his glass of wine.

“Like all things in Devil’s Helmet it doesn’t get any better Kat, you just stop minding after a while.” He said, finishing his third glass. “Come on I’m beating you.”

“What is this even made from?” Kat asked examining the thick liquid in her glass.

Toby shook his head.

“There is an unspoken rule in Devil’s Helmet, don’t ask questions because you don’t want to know the answer.”


“nope. I asked once for the ingredients of my favorite meal and only once…I don’t eat that meal anymore.” Toby said, filling her glass.

“No thanks.”  Kat laughed putting down her glass.

“What is it like where you come from?” Toby asked.

“I don’t know actually.” Kat said, thinking back to her home, the more she thought about it the harder she found it to describe.

“Have you forgotten already or have you simply been living with your head in a box?” Toby asked with a laugh. “How do you not know?”

“Well I know but I just don’t know how to explain it. I mean you guys already have trouble understanding the moon, just wait until you see the consolations. They say if you follow the northern star long enough it will lead you to the edge of the world!” Kat said.

Toby raised his eyebrows.

“The world has an edge? Have you seen it? What does it lead too?” He asked.

Kat shrugged.

“I’ve never been there but I want to…I imagine it would be pretty scary…it might just be the point where the sky meets the earth and you can touch the stars.”

“Wow.” Toby breathed looking thoughtfully ahead.

“Hey!” Kat said, turning to him. “Why don’t you come! You and Skipper? If we save my father we’re going to have to get out of here somehow and there’s no point in you and Skipper not coming I mean it’s not like with Emmlia I mean you guys can leave right?”

“Well, yeah but…I..I don’t know.” Toby mumbled suddenly unsure.

“What do you mean you don’t know, don’t you want to leave here?!”

“What if…I’ve never been anywhere else...and I don’t know.” He shrugged.

“Oh.” Kat said, her smile fading.

Toby jammed the cork back into the bottle.

“Maybe we should head home, we have a cage to redesign.”

Kat nodded, following him quietly back to the door. They walked through the pub in silence, Toby seemed preoccupied with something, he seemed to have forgotten Kat as with him. She couldn’t find anything break the awkward silence so she walked quietly beside him. They made their way through in drunk and nearly incapacitated crowd and stepped out onto the street. As they made their departure they were some consumed with their own thoughts neither of them noticed they were being watched by a cloaked figure melting into the shadows cast by the pub.






The End

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