"Nah, mate. Dill, not Jim." Dill grinned and turned back to Julie. "He's a card ain't he?"
She shook her head. "I wouldn't antagonise him if I were you. He'll take your head if you push him too far."
"Yeah, sure. Like anyone would do that."
Julie pointed to a shelf near the ceiling where a row of skulls terminated in four heads in varying states of mummification. Fly paper hung next to them was thick with the corpses of bluebottles.
"How does he get away with that?" Dillard lowered his voice and spoke over Sam's head. "They can't be real. It's barbaric."
"Smile when you say that. They're very real. Bernard's been here a long time." She looked across at the barman who was reading a broadsheet spread on the bar. "A very long time. If he likes you he'll give you the history of the bar and the story behind every one of those heads."
"Fat chance of that." Dillard reached for his pint. "Some of them look a bit funny. I swear that one third from the left has got horns."
Julie followed his gaze. "You're right." She waved at the barman. "Bernard? What's the story with the third skull from the left?"
He looked up and nodded. "Nephilim. 1668. He was a refugee from the great fire, turned up in Laverstone. Brought the plague with him. It you have a look in St. Pity's you'll see a stone with a dozen names on it from that year. We burned the bodies to stop it spreading."
Julie nodded. "I know it. Jasfoup showed it to me once."
Bernard glanced down and turned a page of his newspaper. "Aye. 'Twas him who carved it with no prompting from me. A decent act for a demon."
Dill shook his head. "Are you seriously expecting me to believe that gut is four hundred years old? What's a nephilim, anyway?"
Julie stood. "Believe what you like. You don't have long." She pulled on a pair of black leather gloves. "A nephilim is the offspring of a human and an angel and generally despised by the Heavenly host. They leave us alone for the most part but sometimes they send people to cull the numbers." She picked up her handbag and gave a low whistle. Something dropped from the ceiling, something Dill had assumed was part of the decor, made by some demented wood carver in the middle ages.
"Holy shit!" He almost fell off his stool. "What the fuck is that?"