Aftermath Pt.9

The world looked strange being this bright. It was somehow worse than the constant cloud cover that had been the reality for most of Jareth’s life. There was enough son to raise crops for his family to eat, but from autumn to winter the world was colored grey by the overhanging clouds.

Jareth was taking a more scenic route to the HQ this time. Needing time to figure out what is going on with his eye and with him in general. He has never used this ability as much as he has recently and it seems that pain is the trigger. He pondered and pondered as to why he was half in the state that he hated going into. 

Could it be that because my shoulder is in pain I never fully left the state? He thought to himself, but remembered that when he woke up after killing the Hammerfist his stomach was still throbbing. That couldn’t be it. Maybe he was losing control over the state and it would eventually become him. He would lose all the aspects of himself that he liked. 

The HQ came into view and he quickened his pace hoping his last thought was not what was going to happen to him.

Even the lobby that was already well-lit was washed out by the ever present brightness of the sun. He folded his collar down as he went to see Red and what she would tell him to do today. 

The room was dark except for red light bulbs. It was an odd change of pace but the dark was a welcome break on Jareth’s eyes. He scanned the room but found nothing and no one. He removed the eyepatch and closed his right and rescanned the room. Again he saw no one but heard the doors close behind him. He turned quickly, and there standing in front of him dressed in a more revealing dress, that Jareth did not think was possible, was Red.

Her smile caught him off guard. It was not the murderous smile he usually saw on her face. This one had something else behind it and seemed more innocent and wanting. 

“Ah, Jareth, there you are. I was beginning to wonder if you were going to show up today. I know your shoulder must be giving you problems.” Her voice was sing-songy again, but did not have malice at the seems. 

“I took a longer route. Wanted to enjoy the scenery. It isn’t often that the sun is out during the winter.” He said placing the patch back over his eye.

“Is there something wrong? Why are you wearing the patch?” She asked a similar question that his wife had asked him this morning.

Jareth sighed and began, “I have it on so I can see in the dark more easily. An old trick that my father taught me.”

Red chuckled and moved towards him. “So since it’s dark in here why did you put it back on?” She reached for the patch but was stopped short by Jareth’s left arm.

“I have it on a different eye now. Resets it so I can see in the dark a different time.” He looked down and was amazed that he caught her eye and was still holding it there with very little issue. “Did you need me to do anything today?”

“Yes, I did.” She took her arm back and moved past him letting her arm linger around the front of his pants. She placed herself on her throne and looked down. “I need you to take tribute from the people in our territory. If you are met with excuses or empty hands kill them and take it from them.” 

Her demeanor changed and she was back to her normal homicidal self. Jareth was taken aback from her demand and he fumbled for words.

“W-what? You want me to kill the people in the territory if they don’t give me anyhting?” Jareth stammered out.

“I did not stutter. Do as your told. Your family does not need to give anything. Your work is tribute enough.” Red said and waved him away. 

“Red I can’t extort these people. They are my neighbors and friends!” Jareth exclaimed not sure what to do.

“Lieutenant I did not stutter. Would you prefer I kill you precious Maria and you children in front of your eyes and then make you collect tribute?” Red was bearing down on him from her throne.

“No, I would not.” Jareth said and then turned around and moved towards the door. He stopped in front of door and thought about saying something, but thought better of it and went through and headed back out into the blinding light.

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