Rising the stakes.

"Flawless."Toby replied.

"Ask him about the placement." The general instructed.

Stratagus cast him resentful look.

"Don't you have orders to carry out?" It was not a question but a warning.

The general bowed himself out quickly.

"What is he complaining about?" Stratagus demanded.

"The placement." Toby answered shortly.

"What about the placement?"

"He believes it's too close to the north tunnels."

"And what do you believe?"

"It's perfectly centered in the square." Toby explained.

 Stratagus looked him over coolly.

"And if Adrian escapes through the north tunnel?" He asked.

"Are you suggesting that's possible?"

"It's a theory."

"If he does." Toby began choosing his words carefully. "You can kill me, I'm sure you will."

Stratagus smiled at the idea.

Toby took this moment to push a little further, adopting his sleek persona of a salesman he raised the stakes.

"I have never created a cage so secure, I will move this cage even closer to north tunnel if you like. Because no matter what comes and what goes neither Adrian or that bug are leaving this cage until you order it. It's not possible."

Stratagus looked him over calculatedly.

Toby knew he was risking a lot but if he didn't play reckless there was a chance Stratagus could simply take away everything thing they'd worked so hard for.

"And if he escapes?" Stratagus asked.

"He won't." Toby promised.

"Not even a doubt?" Stratagus prodded.

"I have no doubt in your power my lord nor your punishments and I would not promise you anything I could not guarantee."

Stratagus could not hide his pleasure at this statement.

"Move it where you like."

"As you wish my lord." Toby said with a bow.

"But...I want to see this whole festival. This massacre; or, what you will..." Stratagus began, reaching out a hand and tracing the edge of Toby's eyebrow. Toby fought hard against the instinctual urge to pull back.

"...From. Your. Big... Blue ...Eyes." Stratagus' nail traced down the side of Toby's face running alongside his right eye.

Toby tried not to let his disgust show but it was a losing battle.

"So you sit with me, yeah?" Stratagus said patting Toby roughly on the shoulder.

"My...my lord..." Toby stammered, still shaken from Stratagus' touch he didn't know how to answer so him simply nodded.

Stratagus smiled at his obvious discomfort. "Lovely." He stated with finality, and strode away as if dismissing the existence of Toby. Toby turned away and shivered in disgust. He quickly ran his hand over the right side of his face trying to wipe away Stratagus' fingerprints from his skin.


The End

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