Spoiler alert: Read after Chapter 7 of deception.
Toby and Mahgi had saved the city of River’s Edge from a horrendous storm. The others had helped too, Toby supposed, if not quite as much as he had. And saving lives really worked up an appetite. And seeing the Slipwrench’s home scorched to charred coals had been disheartening, which also apparently worked up an appetite. Well, just about anything worked up Toby’s appetite. He was just happy there was a kitchen aboard the Cloud Catcher.
Apparently Mahgi was nearly as hungry as Toby had been, and for good reason. His seasonal hibernation had ended early, a number of times actually, and each time he’d woken up hungry and he’d done nothing to remedy the situation. It would seem that Toby expected to keep him up for the remainder of the afternoon, if not for the remainder of the season.
Toby’s stories about a giant bug which roamed his homeland made the escudo all the hungrier. He no doubt could have eaten at least three. Alas, giant bugs were nowhere to be found in Ress Janoa. Toby had let Mahgi sniff his lucky shirt which somehow had gotten covered in the guts of the giant bug. “But no licking,” Toby said. Mahgi groaned, but his stomach groaned louder. That had been cruel indeed.
Toby had found two full boxes of ready-make pancake batter. And though Toby could have eaten them entirely by himself, Mahgi was his friend now, so he supposed he would have to make certain sacrifices. Among the other discoveries of this kitchen were a half eaten jar of peanut-butter and an unopened jar of beruta preserve. And given Toby’s knack for discovering sandwiches, he created the first quintuple-decker PB&J pancake sandwich. It was—how did Jendra say it?—“a little slice of paradise”. Yes. That seemed adequate.
He also made a quadruple-decker sandwich for Mahgi. It wasn’t quite as impressive as Toby’s sandwich. But Toby had saved the same city from obliteration twice today. Surely he deserved the best. And Mahgi didn’t seem to notice.
“This good,” Mahgi repeated over and over between bites.
“Well, it’s not my best sandwich, but I came as close to it as I could.”
Mahgi peered at him curiously in a way that begged Toby to indulge him with juicy details. “Okay, picture this.” Toby had to clear his throat. This was going to be good. “First, you take the biggest, floppiest fish you can find. I prefer gemfish. They have an exquisite flavor fresh-caught, so I eat them like sushi.”
“Sushi?” Mahgi asked.
“No cooking,” Toby explained. “It would take the juice out. Plus, I like to leave the head on, so the fish can appreciate it’s been put to good use.”
Mahgi groaned contemplatively.
“Then, I take this same batter from these pancakes, and I press it in a machine that creates little tiny pockets, so I can alternate the mayonnaise and the mustard.”
“Why?” Mahgi asked.
“Because it’s a flavor explosion fit for a commander!”
“No,” Mahgi said. His mouth watered. “Mahgi mean ‘Why me no eat that?’”
“I didn’t have the right ingredients,” Toby replied. “But someday. I promise.”
Mahgi sighed contentedly.
It was nice to know Toby’s creations could be appreciated by someone else besides him. Everyone else had always thought he was crazy. Leon didn’t even give him a chance. And he’d always thought Leon was his friend. But Mahgi was the first one who ever truly understood him.
“Mahgi,” Toby said, “you’re my best friend.”
Mahgi thought about that. “Mahgi best mahgi?”
Toby grinned. He’d forgotten about that. “Mahgi best mahgi,” he repeated.
Mahgi grinned now too. “Toby best mahgi to Mahgi.”
“Always,” Toby replied. It felt good to have a friend like Mahgi. Toby couldn’t remember having one before. Cousin Leon had been close. Heck, Sami Fuzwik had been close, before Sami tried his sandwich and ran away with a green face. No, there never had been a friend quite like Mahgi. They’d been in different caves all their lives. Toby didn’t know just how they’d found each other, but he was truly happy they had. It seemed like a wonderful start to the best friendship ever.