Alyia (the forest)

I woke up with champagne happiness and a major cramp in my left shoulder. The girl was back, the king would be his normal self, and it was time to retrieve Pear. I was all up for adventures, but it was so much safer to be the spectator for those sorta things.

I had gone through the most horrific challenges to have my tree returned to me and I had survived. Into the forbidden crystal prison, up to mortal world and even illicit thoughts about three wheeled traveling (heaven forbid tricycles ever make it to the underground). I had my three days of glory and now it was time to get my tree and settle back into my daily routine. Nothing better conveyed a sense of a set routine than the ability to walk from the marble forest to the obsidian lake.

But first my tree!

I buried the books, they were already beginning to go rotten, as peaches do. Their one great flaw you could say. . .

In retrospect, if I was any more ignorant that day I would have probably walked into a lake thinking the chill was a change in altitude. As it was I arrived at the castle in a state of catatonic happiness, if I found a coin on the way I would have probably floated away with joy. As it was I joined the petition lines with my usual all too cheerful demeanor, repaying glares, stares, and sneers with a cheesy smile that was actually authentic.

Jareth (Throne Room)

The line was going awfully quickly this morning, things couldn't be better.

I was in a royal hurry to get done with petitions. As a King it was my duty to dispense justice. Today I was well in favor of the saying 'help comes to those who help themselves'. In serious cases I avidly declared a judgment and for the lesser ones advised them to go about it themselves.

The faces of my people blurred past, and Kenst at my side remained immovably still presenting a effect that made it seem as if a time compression spell was in effect. My mind was on a single individual, and she was currently locked in her room still. I had sent Bryn to give her a tour through the castle until petitions was over. I trusted Bryn with my life, and hers. He still didn't favor her presence here though.

"Your majesty my neighbor Isabelle stole one of my peach trees."

"Steal it back."

The grove owner stood for a moment in shock. Grove owners were wonderfully unpredictable people, I couldn't imagine why this decision would stump her so. Often enough they took the law into their own hands, having me support it this once wouldn't by any means come as a shock. Dismissively I gestured the next person forward. . .

Alyia (Throne Room)

I plodded five steps before the words seeped past my horror and actually penetrated my mind. Not again! This was unheard of! Tradition was lost! Pear was still captive and I was once again deprived of my royal command to have her returned.

Fuming I turned back to face the King who appeared to be falling asleep on the throne.

"YOU JERK!"

Jareth (Throne Room)

I snapped out of my reverie and transferred my gaze from the two goblins to the dismissed grove owner.

"WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?! WHY THE HELL CAN'T YOU JUST GIVE ME THE REGULAR SENTENCE!!"

I arched an eyebrow. It was highly unusual for someone to speak out against me. Actually, no, it was fairly common. It was highly unusual for someone to insult me to my face, in my throne room, in the midst of twelve royal guards.

Yes, that's correct.

"I JUST WANT MY TREE BACK DAMMIT! IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?!"

A smile touched the edge of my lips, amusing no doubt, but I've never been too good at being insulted. I twisted my fingers and let the crystal roll out of my hand, bounce lazily down the steps and close the distance as she futilely tried to run away from it.

Silly girl.

Alyia (...?)

I felt the strings of magic latch onto my foot and then instantaneously wrap around the rest of me, coating me in magic before I was abruptly yanked out of existence there, my furious demand still rebounding off the walls. I reappeared in the castle dungeon, landing on my rear in about two inches of stagnant water.

El gross-o.

I didn't have Pear, I was stuck in the dungeon, and I had gone through all that trouble just to fix his love life. What a thankless bastard. I was cold, wet and furious. Raising my mouth in the direction the throne room must have been in-upwards I let out one last insult.

"I HOPE YOU GET LOST OUT THERE YOU ARROGANT JERK!!!"

BAM. I was on an island in the bog not too far from the bridge.

"Hey! Sir Didi-something! Hey!"

Where was the damn dog-er fox when you needed him what was his name again Didi. . .

"Sir Didymus!" I cried

Sarah (the Castle)

I was beginning to wonder if the small garden where I had been wordlessly led was some sort of fancier cell, the silent man in black had locked the door purposefully from the other side when he shut me in here. I ran across the grass to embrace the small fox, scratching and petting Ambrosias as he shuffled up as well and smiling warmly at Hoggle.

"C'mere Hoggle, give me a hug. There really wasn't anything you could do about it." I told him kindly.

He sidled up in his usual hesitant way and let me hug him.

"What's happened? They didn't hurt you or anything right?" I demanded.

"You ate a sleep peach m'lady." Sir Didymus explained.

"Peach? It was an apple!"

"It's a peach that was made to look like an apple." Hoggle snapped.

I rocked back on my heels. "Why would someone want to do that to me?"

Sir Didymus shrugged. "I got them from a grove-owner, strange people can never trust them."

Hoggle nodded emphatically. "That's for sure, why'd you even accept them in the first place."

The fox shrugged. "It wasn't my intention. The young boy with her tossed them to me, it would have been rude not to catch them."

Hoggle murmured something under his breath.

"Jareth said that he was the only one who could remove the spell, so someone wanted me to be noticed by him. Why would someone want that." I asked.

They both shrugged apologetically.

"Could Jareth have done this?" I asked tentatively.

"Jareth can do anything, I've never heard of anyone commanding a grove owner though." Hoggle said.

Didymus agreed. "They're really quite. . . eccentric. Grove owners are odd people with nothing to live for, no one to live for, they've got nothing at all but their trees."

"And their attitudes." Hoggle added

"What do they normally go around putting people to sleep like that?"

"Put people to sleep, pay in gold that goes rotten and turns into peaches, they leave magical peaches all over the place that'll turn you into a goblin or a tree or another of those peaches!"

"Why doesn't Jareth get rid of them."

"His majesty finds them amusing, or at least their antics amusing." Sir Didymus offered.

"Still Jareth isn't usually needed to pull one of those sleep spells off someone every time this happens is he?"

"No. Most wear off after a number of hours, days, sometimes years. But they all have had a time limit on them, yours did not." Jareth said, striding around the corner of the building.