Aftermath Pt. 5

Out of the run down buildings, the church that Jareth walked towards had the least of the ruin. It still stood with all of its walls intact and a small bit of rot on the door. Jareth let out a heavy sigh and walked up the few stairs with the wrought iron handrail in the middle up to the door and knocked three times.

He stood there a while in the cold and the quiet. Just long enough to think he had come to the wrong church when he heard the click of the door handle turning and unlatching. The door swung open and revealed something that Jareth did not expect to see in the headquarters of a new gang, or any gang.

A man dressed in a black robe with white markings that Jareth couldn’t make out at the moment. His smile was warm if not unsettling.

“Hello there, brother!” His tone had the same unsettling feel as his smile, “Have you come to see the way of the light?”

Jareth shifted uneasily in his boots, “I am hear to speak with your leader. Would it be possible to arrange an audience?”

“The Father is always open to talking to future members.” He turned and gestured to Jareth,

“Come in and follow me. I am Brother James and I will take you to the Father.”

The walk down the pews was interesting, there were people huddled around the walls eating scraps of food that they had either found or been provided. It was odd, most gangs demand tribute from the townsfolk in the form of food to provide protection, but this one seemed to provide both food and protection. Jareth wasn’t sure how they did it because he saw no garden and there was no farm close to hear for them to maintain.

The walk was nearing its end when Jareth turned his attention away from the people on the walls to the man standing at the pulpit with the same inviting but disturbing smile on his face that Brother James had. His robes were a different color than any one else’s in the church. They were white and across the front as he opened his arms to greet Jareth was a black cross upside down. Jareth hadn’t studied the religion of his ancestors, but he knew that wasn’t a good sign.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome!” The Father exclaimed, “I see another downtrodden has come to join my flock!” His tone seemed inviting and jovial but something was there on the edge of his voice that made Jareth’s skin crawl all and want to leave him behind. “Tell me child what brings you here? How did you hear of my flock and the wondrous things I do for them?”

He was an egomaniac for sure and here Jareth was in his lair surrounded by supporters who would most likely die for him. The Fallen Priests weren’t a gang, no they were a cult and this leader would take over all the gangs territories to hear more people praise him. The reservations Jareth had about these being good people were gone, but he was unsure about how to proceed with his task.

“My name is, Jareth.” He started with no real plan of where to go from here, “I have heard things about your flock. Mostly that you are invading another gangs territory. They go by the name the Blood Skulls.” Jareth was not sure what he was doing or how things were going to go down when he told the Father about his mission.

“Ah, yes the heathens in their palace. I have heard of them and knew that we were in their territory but we are not a gang my child, we are merely a religious group here for the well being of the people and my flock.” His tone was still uneasy, but it was easier for Jareth to see the snake in this man.

“Father, if you don’t mind me asking how do you feed you flock? There are no farms nearby that are not owned by others and I did not see a garden or farm behind the church and you have plenty of mouths here. How do you manage it?” It was a question that Jareth knew the answer to but he needed to hear the man say it. He wanted the death to be justified. He played with the hand axe handle as he waited for the answer.

“That is a good observation, my child. We liberate the excess food from the farms surrounding us, not so much that they can’t feed their families but enough to feed the mouths we have accumulated here.” The Father’s smile was still there, but there was a fire in his eyes that Jareth hadn’t seen before.

“You take the food that people use to pay the Blood Skulls for protection.” This was an accusation. Jareth was angry because he knew what would happen to them if they couldn’t pay, “You steal so that you can feed yourself and those here, but say that you are here for the well being of the people. You’re vultures that want worship but don’t want anything to do with gaining the sentiment of the people.” Jareth ended his statement and as the smile fell from the Father’s face Jareth whipped the axe at his head.

Either the throw was too slow or the Father was faster than he anticipated but he caught the axe and roared.

“KILL THIS HEATHEN WHO WOULD QUESTION AND ATTACK US!” As the Father’s mouth closed Jareth swore he saw fangs dripping venom.

He had no time to think about that as he turned and ran towards the door his knife drawn and cutting down those in front of him to get cover from the crossbows that were being leveled at him.

He ducked behind one of the pews but a touch too late as he felt a bolt land into his shoulder from the back. His vision went dark, he never dealt with pain well.

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