“Where am I?” said the man on the bed, coming to his senses and rubbing the sleep from his eyes. His temple was a dull red. The bleeding seemed to have clotted now.
“Shhh. That’s not important,” the Jester said, sat cross legged on the bed. Her voice was soothing, but sinister. Warm and comforting, but with a sharp edge beneath the surface. The man propped himself up against the headrest, then looked up. He was startled.
“Who are you? Tell me what’s going on?!”
The Jester smiled, not that you could see it. Only her eyes were visible. She leant forward, her hat jingling as she did so, and propped her chin on her fist. “You’ve been asking questions.”
“What? I don’t know what you’re—”
She crawled forward a few feet. “You’ve been poking around in places you shouldn’t.”
The man gulped. “If this is about the Gate, I—”
The Jester leapt from the bed and onto her feet, twirling as she did so. “Aha! So you do know!”
“Where is it?”
“I don’t kn—”
The man’s vision reeled with the pain of the swift strike. “You aren’t making this eaaaaasyyyy,” she crooned.
The man faltered for a while, not saying anything. Eventually he spoke up. “You work for the Gate?”
“I work for...for the Gate?” the Jester asked, cocking her head to one side, arms crossed. “No nononono, not at all,” she said, crouching to the man’s level and whispering in his ear. “I work for the Court.”
“The Court? I don’t—”
“No, no you don’t, do you?” she said, “where is it?”
“Where is what?” the man said, “please, I don’t—” His sentence was cut short as the Jester pulled him swiftly from the bed and onto the floor. The morning sunlight illuminated her mask through the window as she leant over him.
“You’re making this very difficult. You were poking around Bara’kin, weren’t you?” she said, crossing to a table by the window. Her gait was careful and measured, not what you’d expect given her appearance. She picked up a length of rope from the table, then returned to her position over the man as she began fastening the noose around his neck.
“Yes, yes I w— Please, please, however I can—” he said, struggling to breathe as she secured the rope. His eyes were wide.
“That’s much more like it,” the Jester said, taking the free length of rope in her right hand and dragging the man behind her as she left the room, “now we’re getting somewhere! Where is it?”
The man wrestled with the noose behind her, trying to maneuver his hands between the rope and his neck. “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” he croaked. The Jester yanked the rope hard, and his eyes bulged momentarily in their sockets. The wooden floor was cold against his back.
The Jester led the pair into a large open hall, and crossed to the far end, where a large pulley was situated. Threading the rope in her hand into it, she hoisted the man to his feet, clasped her arms around the back of his head, and kicked a lever, propelling the two of them upwards, well into the air. He gasped for breath, and she wrapped her legs around him like a frog, cocking her head.
“Where is it?”