IV

As they walked out of the mysterious forest, the Jester began to reflect on a number of things. First, if apparitions were to be believed, he found it unwise to get rid of the boy anytime soon. Which he suspected the boy could see in his face when he had approached him not ten minutes earlier; there had been no crying or running away, just a harmonious reunion. Sure, they were both a bit muddy, and the boy had skinned both his knees pretty bad, but all of that had seemed to be forgotten with the Sun rising over the hill.

Then there was the fact that their destination could be seen. Auxvilla seemed so pristine in the distance, with the suns ray beating down on it. He had been there before, but for the moment, he could not remember those previous visits, and could imagine only beauty of the city.

Though destination seemed the wrong word now. It was just another stop, likely, though he hoped not. He himself had admitted that having a kid along would not likely sway those that would listen to him any more so than he by himself. But perhaps it would. And then it came to him, which was comforting, considering the previous events seemed to make less and less sense the further away from the forest they traveled. In fact, he turned around, and it seemed the forest had dissapeared, although he rationalized it by telling himself that the glare of the sun was playing tricks on him. And of course he felt much too tired to go back and check. Auxvilla was much too close to go back and verify the trickery of the sun.

Weariness had indeed become a factor. In his bewildering encounter with the apparition, it had been forgotten, and even in his hurried search for the boy, all his woes had fallen by the wayside. Now, everything seemed on the rise, and with all those woes out of his mind, the previous ones returned. Several days of sleepless nights made even the sun not deter his determination to sleep.

He stumbled in to town with the boy at his side, and attempted to remember the location of the Inn. People stopped and shot him funny looks as he flailed through the town, falling asleep temporarily, only to try and shake the feeling so that he might find the Inn.

"Look!" cried the boy, pointing at an old beaten sign bearing the words 'In Auxvilla Sleep Will Find Ye'. The Jester still half awake, now following the boy, entered the Inn, and mumbled something about a room to the attendant.

"What's that?" the clerk demanded to his incoherrent statement.

"He needs to sleep lady," the kid spoke up.

"Well," she began, "that's fine and all seeing that this here is an Inn. I'll be needing some money though."

"Oh, right," the kid exclaimed in a moment of realization. He tapped the Jester on his leg, who was standing there dazed, and certainly not cognizant of the conversation.

"Hey, mister, you need money for the room."

"Oh... right..." he grunted, fumbling into his pocket and producing a small pouch. He didn't even realize when he dropped it, but the child retrieved it off the floor and handed it up to the receptionist. She handed the child an old rusted key and pointed towards the stairs with a toothy grin after she processed the check-in.

"Tomorrow morning," she called after them, as the Jester attempted to climb the stairs with as much difficulty as he had wandered through the town, "you'll need to be out by then. Or pay for another night, this here is only good for one night." Of course, this meant almost nothing to the Jester. While the whole morning would eventually be incredibly fuzzy in his memory, the time from the door to the room never brought back anything. Which he was okay with after waking up, but it certainly frightened him a bit to have no recollection of how he got to his location.

He stumbled through the door, and onto the bed, passing out into a deep sleep that not even a firing squad could awake him from.

Darkness surrounded him for a great deal of time. He stood there, arms outstretched trying to find his way without stumbling. Nothing came into view, he couldn't even see his face. The pitch of night surrounded him at every corner, but wait. No, that didn't seem right, he remembered light. Too much light.

It blasted him in the eyes, and he had to shield them from the blazening brightness. 'No!' he cried, thinking excessive light in his head. Much in the same way it had appeared, the light retracted, but not into pitch blackness this time. Though a little more would have made the setting less gloomy, he feared more an overdose of light, and made due with the dim lighting. Although, even with some light, there appeared to be nothing in the room. A room, yes that was where he was. An empty room. Before he could think about the oddness of the open room, a strange wooshing noise interrupted his thoughts.

'Woosh' He spun around on his heels, attempting to locate the source of the noise. Again it happened, although a thunk followed suit. Then the strangest thing transpired, it spoke in a familiar voice.

"Why, hello again," the voice spoke, although the source could still not be traced.

"Hello there," the Jester began timidly, "do I know you?"

"Why, of course," and the Jester recognized the bouncy Apparitions voice again, "we only just met."

"Right, but where are you?" the Jester asked, still perplexed by this mystery. Previously he had not hidden his location, and while even that encounter seemed a bit fuzzy, this whole evolution baffled the Jester even more so.

"Where are you?" the voice asked in what the Jester assumed his typical mocking fashion.

"Let's not play that game again," he began, intending to convey his intentions further. However, the voice of the Apparition cut him off.

"No, my dear Jester. I see myself in the mirror, but not you. Where are you?" he asked a bit more hauntingly this time.

As the Jester began to protest the absurdity of such a claim, he looked around the room and indeed did find a mirror sitting there where one was not before. And indeed, in the mirror, he could see the apparitions reflection, the tall hat and everything, and not his own. Even stranger still, he looked down at himself, and found that he was as much an apparition as the one he thought was in the mirror. His body had dissapeared, and only his words remained in the crisp, cool air.

"I don't understand!" he gawked.

"You will," the apparition muttered calmly, and he could see the lips moving in the mirror.

Then it all went black again.