Continuing Tales

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 3 of 12

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Dark Labyrinth

Sarah stumbled after Jareth, almost bumping into his back as he stopped abruptly on the other side of the -

The French window was gone, as was the night. Above, the sky had a familiar, rosy glow as the sun rose slowly overhead. She was standing just outside the eaves of a wood, Jareth next to her, (now clad in a familiar asymmetric brown leather coat and grey breeches, she noted; his hair once again taking on a life of its own, spiked and slightly shimmering.) Appearance before practicality, she guessed. It was probably an instinct, the way a cat will obsessively wash when already perfectly clean.

One of his crystals appeared in a (now gloved) hand, and hovered for a moment before floating off into the woods.

'Now what?' Sarah asked. Suddenly feeling very, very lost. She sank to the ground, not caring that her jeans were getting damp with dew from the grass. Looking around, she couldn't see a single familiar feature from her last visit. This was a bright meadow, highlighted with that faint glitter that seemed to cover everything here. There was no sign of the labyrinth, or the castle that had dominated the valley it filled.

'We're a good distance away from there,' Jareth said, as if reading her thoughts. 'Even as the owl flies, it's a week's journey.' He sat down beside her, look of genuine concern on his finely drawn features as his hand lifted her chin so that he could look into her eyes. 'Now, Sarah, what am I supposed to do with you?'

'Can't you send me back?' Her voice almost broke halfway through the sentence, and she hated herself for it. You're eighteen, not fifteen. You don't break down, not now.

'I can't, I'm afraid. I daren't leave you there unguarded, not now that Iorweth knows I went to you for help. Besides, I'd be hard pressed to conjure a breeze at the moment, let alone make another crossing.' He sounded genuinely regretful. Well he would, he's got himself stuck with you…

He had no reason to care about what happened to her, she knew. What if he just left her here?

'I'm going to have to take you with me,' he sighed. 'And that will slow me down considerably.'

'You came to me for help, remember?' she pointed out. Then the tension of last few days seemed to crash down on her all at once, and before she could stop herself, she was crying. Trying to swallow the sobs only gave her hiccups. She didn't notice the point where his arm went around her, just holding her lightly, and offering a shoulder to cry on.

She pulled away eventually, feeling a little embarrassed, and extremely puffy eyed. Without making a single comment, he conjured one of his crystals - flicking it with practised ease; as it disintegrated, it produced a large white handkerchief, which he presented with a restrained flourish. Despite everything, it raised a laugh. 'I don't think I'll ever come close to understanding you,' she said in between blows.

A look of ghostly amusement flickered across his face, so swiftly, she wasn't sure it had really been there. 'Not,' he told her, 'While you persist in trying to judge me by mortal standards.' Standing, he offered her a gloved hand, and helped her to her feet. 'Time to go. I brought us through too far to the east, and Devin won't wait forever.'


Iorweth stared around the throne room of the Goblin Castle with undisguised disdain. 'You'd think that someone with Jareth's legendary attention to detail would keep things a bit tidier, wouldn't you?' he asked. Calion, his Fae-born Second found himself a reasonably clean area and sat on the edge of the pit in front of the throne, flicking the corner of his cloak away from a stray piece of goblin with a sigh of irritation.

'We've cleared most of the vermin from the castle. They're confined to the city for now.' A gauntleted hand brushed the bloodstained stonework. 'Personally, I'd just tear it down and rebuild.' He sniffed.

Iorweth chuckled. 'Patience. The game is only just beginning. Speaking of which, what has happened to our pawn?'

'Crossed to the outer world. I sent two hobs after him - he hasn't lost his touch, one of them was a mess.' Calion looked at his lord, who lounged in the throne, one hand toying with a lock of red hair.

'I do hope you cleared up after him? It's so inconvenient when mortals find these things.' Iorweth leaned forward in the throne. 'The other?'

'Stabbed. Obviously the work of a mortal. The knife was steel - ' Calion grinned savagely 'A mortal woman - little more than a girl, really.'

'And Jareth?'

'Crossed back earlier this morning, somewhere beyond the High Hills. He had the mortal girl with him'

Iorweth leaned back, a slow, feral smile spreading across his face. 'He'll run to the Dreamweaver.' He jumped to his feet in a single powerful move. 'How predictable. Leave him for now, he'll be back before too long. He doesn't have much of a choice. We've work to do here before then. I'd so hate not to have a welcome ready for him when he tries to retake his kingdom.' He knelt down beside Calion. 'Keep Jareth's verminous little minions locked up in that city for now. If they give you any problems, kill a few of them. Even goblins can understand that message.'

'And you?' Calion asked his lord.

Iorweth's answering smile was cold. 'With its master gone, the Labyrinth is - shall we say 'open to suggestions'. I have a gameboard to prepare. A pity there's still one thing lacking for that perfect touch.' He sighed theatrically.

Calion raised an elegant eyebrow.

'Bait,' said Iorweth.


By midday, Sarah's only consolation was that Jareth was finding the walk almost as tough as she was. Struggling up yet another hill in his wake, she'd seen him put a hand down to steady himself more than once.

Proud and stubborn. Would it kill you to admit you needed to rest? She thought at his back. Well there were ways around that.

At the top of the next hill, she flopped to the ground. 'That's it, I need a rest,' she told him. She didn't have to feign the exhausted note in her voice - they'd been walking for hours. Her feet and legs ached, and she was, she realised as her stomach rumbled audibly, starving.

'Just for a short time,' he said, sitting down a few feet away. 'Hungry?'

Sarah nodded. A crystal appeared in his left hand, which he tossed to her. She caught it awkwardly and stared at the peach nestling in the palm of her hand. 'Very funny,' she said, rather more acidly than she'd planned.

His face was a study in innocence, until he turned away from her to conjure another globe, a larger one this time, and she saw the corner of his mouth twitch. Very deliberately, she took a large bite from the fruit. It was fresh, ripe, and perfect.

'You have to trust me sometime,' he said in a low voice. 'I don't understand why you think I'd want to harm you.'

She wiped peach juice off her chin, almost choking on the fruit. 'After the last time?'

'That was then. I'm not your enemy Sarah.' His voice held an almost resigned note. 'Or is it that you're more comfortable with me cast in the role of a villain?'

That hit uncomfortably close to how she felt. 'Why not?' she shot back, defensively, 'After all, you took my brother.'

He helped himself to an apple from the basket he'd conjured between them. 'At your request.'

'Dropped me into a dungeon.'

'An oubliette. And you fell into that all by yourself.' He polished the apple on his sleeve. 'You can't blame me if you don't look where you're going.'

'Cheated on the rules by speeding up time!' She'd raised her voice now - after bottling it up for so long, it actually felt quite good to be able to get it out into the open…

'True. I did.' Couldn't he at least sound a little bit repentant?

'Tried to kill me by sending that machine after us.'

'Ah.' He pointed a finger at her. 'You did get away.'

'Only because the door gave way!'

He just bit into the apple, saying nothing, but that slightly smug smile hovered at the corners of his mouth again.

'And the drugged peach?' she glared at him, daring him to reply.

'Now that,' he said, tossing the apple core over one shoulder, 'was a miscalculation. How did you enjoy the ball?' he asked, meeting her eyes again.

She flushed. 'How much did you?' she asked, trying to regain her composure. To her surprise, he looked away, and straightened his gloves. 'And setting your guards on us in the city,' she said, changing the subject quickly.

'They had orders to stop you, not to kill you.' A nonchalant shrug. 'Although they're such terrible shots they might have killed you by accident.'

She stared at him open mouthed. 'Why, you - '

He threw back his head and laughed, and she looked on, perplexed.

'Sarah, you were in no real danger. The object was to discourage you, not to kill you. If I'd wanted you dead I could have done it several times over.' He leaned forward. 'While we're on the subject of who did what to whom, I could lay a few accusations of my own at your door.'

'Such as?' she challenged.

'Blackmailing my gardener - persuading him to betray me. Causing havoc at the ball I sent you to when you managed to break the translocation spell - and how you managed that I'll never know.' He paused. 'Oh, and how about destroying my guardian on the city gates and causing immense amounts of damage to the city with the help of that hairy, rock-singing walking hearth rug?'

'Ludo.' she snapped at him. But the name brought something to mind she'd forgotten. Sarah suddenly realised - she'd never asked about her friends back in the Labyrinth. 'Hoggle - and Didymus - and Ludo. What will happen to them?'

'I was wondering when you'd think about them.' His mismatched eyes searched hers - looking for what, she wasn't sure. 'I really couldn't say. It depends on whether or not they get in Iorweth's way. If he has no use for them -'

Sarah stood up, stretching her legs. Looking back from the hill over the plain they'd crossed, she shivered, 'This is a nightmare,' she whispered.

'It's not even close.' Jareth's voice whispered near her ear, his face only inches from hers, making her jump.

She turned her head until she was staring him in the face - so close, she could have just leant forward and kissed him. Now where did that come from? Seen so close, his features didn't have a single flaw - so sharply beautiful. Only those odd-coloured eyes were less than perfect and that in a way just enhanced the rest. She flushed. 'I'm trapped here, I can't go home, my friends are probably in danger - how could it get worse?'

'No-one's died yet.' Jareth said darkly.

A shadow passed overhead before she could reply, causing both of them to look up. A large black feathered hawk was circling them. As Sarah watched, it dived lower, heading straight for them. Seeing that Jareth didn't flinch, she held her ground - barely.

Six feet from the ground, with no warning, the hawk was gone - and standing in its place was a tall young man in a long black coat. Shoulder length black hair curled at his collar. Piercing grey eyes took in both Sarah and Jareth, and a narrow-lipped but generous mouth, partially masked by a neatly trimmed beard, smiled.

'Do you have any idea how hard you are to track down?' The new arrival took three long strides forward and clasped Jareth's arm. 'Two days I've waited for you.' He looked Jareth up and down. 'No offence, but you look awful. Who's the lovely young woman with you?' The smile he turned on Sarah was dazzling. 'Never mind, tell me later. I've got the horses about a mile that way.' He started walking down the hill. Halfway down he turned, realising that he wasn't being followed. 'Well come along, I haven't got all day!'

Sarah turned a stunned look on Jareth, who took her arm and led her after the stranger. He was quite obviously fighting to hide a smile - yet another mercurial mood change. Sarah was finding it harder to keep up.

'That's your friend?' she whispered. He smiled - for once a genuine grin that reached his eyes.

'Devin. Often called Dreamweaver. And yes, before you ask, he's always like that.'

'I heard that!' Devin's voice floated back up to them. Sarah caught Jareth's eye, and suddenly they were both laughing.

Devin had brought two horses to his rendezvous with Jareth: Arabians - both beautiful, and very good-natured. Sarah stroked the nose of the chestnut mare whilst Devin tended Jareth's wounds. The grey gelding kept nuzzling her so she fussed him as well. And tried to eavesdrop on the conversation - without much success. The two had been deep in a muttered exchange for over half an hour now.

Devin watched the girl out of the corner of one eye whilst finishing healing Jareth's side. 'There, you'll do for now. You were lucky Calion didn't have more time with you.' He turned his attention in full to the girl, who was trying to look uninterested in their conversation - unsuccessfully. 'She's really quite lovely.'

'She's also stubborn and spoilt.' Jareth said dismissively, and refastened his coat.

'Oh, well then,' Devin teased, 'you're well matched.' He raised a hand to stave off Jareth's retort. 'Don't take it out on me. I'm not feeling generous enough to be your emotional punch bag.' He nodded in Sarah's direction. 'You plan to take her instead of riding with me?'

'I have to. You can't translocate two people, and I'm not yet strong enough. It took more out of me making those crossings than I thought.'

Devin's face held only concern. 'Jareth - ' he caught Jareth's sleeve as his friend stood. 'I really hope you know what you're doing. I'll gladly give you any help I can, but your plan - '

' Gives me my only chance. I know Iorweth of old. He has to be in control. It's the only weakness he has. It's three weeks until the full moon. More than enough time for him to try to control the Labyrinth.'

Devin shook his head. 'You risk losing it completely, if you're wrong. And dragging a mortal along -'

'She only has to come along as far as your demesne. She can stay there until it's over. I'm sure you can find someone to send her home if I don't survive.' Jareth's eyes were fixed on the girl, watching her move around the horses.

'And if Iorweth or that little psychopath he lets off the leash occasionally decide not to wait until you come to them? He's got plenty of time to pick you off if he wants to.'

Jareth's voice was cold. 'He won't. It's not the way he plays. ' To Devin, he looked as if he was trying to persuade himself of that. Now, however, was not the time or the place to pursue the issue. There was also, he thought, the matter of the girl. But that, again, would have to wait.

'You'd better be right, my friend.' Devin sighed. 'I'd better send you two on your way. It's getting late - and I so hate flying at night.'


The hobgoblin patrol passed by the ornate urn, not stopping to check it. Which was fortunate, as it currently occupied by two of the non-goblin inhabitants of the Labyrinth, who didn't want to be found.

'Have they gone yet, Sir Hoggle?' A sharp little voice asked.

Tentatively, a large head with a leather cap on it peered over the rim of the urn. The courtyard, as far as the head's owner could tell, was clear. 'They've gone.' Hoggle hauled himself out of the urn, and gave his companion a helping hand. Didymus shook out his brush and straightened his rapier.

'I have to say, Sir Hoggle, this does not bode well. Strange things are afoot in the labyrinth, mark my words.' He tidied his whiskers.

'Hobgoblins in the labyrinth, and in the city. And I've not seen a goblin for days.' Hoggle shook his head. 'Something's up, and no mistake.'

'I heard that His Majesty has disappeared,' said Didymus. 'He hadn't been seen since the night of the full moon, or so I was told.'

'And good riddance,' said Hoggle. 'Jareth is a bully. I can't think of many people around here who'll miss him.'

The little fox sighed. 'My dear Hoggle, there are worse rulers to have than Jareth. I don't like the look of these hobgoblins in the slightest. Think on what their master would be like!'

'Which is why I'm getting out of here,' said Hoggle. 'And if you've got any sense, you'll do the same.'

'I'm afraid this time I have to concur with you, my friend. Maybe if we regroup outside and marshal our forces - ' Didymus saw Hoggle's totally unconvinced look, and decided to let the matter lie. 'As you say. Exit first, tactics later.' As he followed the dwarf's waddling form out of the hedge-bordered courtyard, he sighed heavily. 'I just wish I knew where Ambrosius was…'

Neither of them saw the light coloured wolf that watched them with golden eyes from behind the shrubbery. When the odd pair were out of sight, the space it occupied shimmered and was suddenly filled by the lean form of Calion. With a grim smile, the Sidhe faded out of that location. He knew exactly where the pair were heading. And planned to be there before them.


Sarah tried to feign disinterest as Jareth and Devin approached. Whatever they'd been discussing - probably what to do with a useless American teenager - they'd obviously come to a decision. Devin, she thought, didn't look too pleased, whatever it was.

It was Jareth who addressed her. 'I hope you can ride?' He untied the chestnut and took the reins. Well that lost her that little bet- she'd thought the grey was his…Sarah untied the grey, checked the girth and placing a foot in the stirrup, swung easily into the saddle. Hoping that the year and a half since she'd last been on a horse hadn't cost her too dearly in terms of skill, she nudged the grey into a trot across the clearing and back, finishing with a neat turn on the forehand and a rein back.

'Does that answer your question?' She patted the grey. He really was very responsive. Jareth didn't reply.

Devin strolled over and stood by her side 'His name's Ghairlean.' He patted the gelding. 'He's rather a favourite - '

'I'll be careful with him,' Sarah promised. To the other side of her, Jareth vaulted lightly onto the back of the chestnut, which pranced excitedly, before being brought back under control. He'd hardly had to touch the mare, Sarah noticed. Seeing the way he sat the little mare so lightly, she felt like a sack of potatoes by comparison.

'Try not to get into too much trouble?' Devin said to Jareth, with a sly wink at Sarah.

'Two days,' Jareth replied. 'Assuming we don't have any problems.'

Feeling more than a little left out, Sarah looked from one to the other. 'I don't suppose anyone wants to tell me what's supposed to be going on?'

'I'll explain when we're on our way,' Jareth said, a little shortly, she thought. Devin gave him a sharp look, and took pity on her.

'You're going to my demesne,' he told her. 'By land I'm afraid, for various reasons. I'm sure Jareth would be happy to explain…'

'I'll settle,' Jareth said, turning the mare to face them, 'For getting both her and myself there in one piece. Two days, Devin.'

Devin bowed, very slightly. 'Good speed.' And he was gone, the dark hawk spiralling upwards and away from them.

'Shall we?' Jareth said. Sarah nudged the grey into a walk and they followed the chestnut mare out of the tiny copse, and down to a dirt road.


Hoggle and Didymus reached the huge gates to the Labyrinth without incident, although the ways had been strangely twisted. Didymus, less familiar with the outer regions of the Labyrinth, had felt a strange chill growing as they progressed – a feeling that something was looming behind them, creeping outwards from the centre. Hoggle, far more a part of the outer maze, was more attuned to it's vagaries.

'Something's changin'' he said, shivering. He didn't like it one little bit, and had never been more pleased to see the great carved wooden gates.

'How perceptive.' Calion appeared out of thin air in front of the gates, and stared down at the dwarf. 'Now, how about giving me some answers on another matter?' Hoggle tried to run but was suddenly surrounded by hobgoblins. Very large, very hungry looking hobgoblins. With a gulp, he stood his ground. Didymus, as ever, was less easily intimidated.

'Have at you sir!' he cried, charging the Sidhe, rapier drawn. With contemptuous ease, Calion fended off the attack, picking up the fox with one hand by the brush and shaking him.

'And what have we here? One of Jareth's valiant knights?' The hobgoblins laughed. Didymus snarled and tried to wriggle free, but Calion's grip was firm. Deftly, he disarmed the little creature. 'Now then, maybe one of you would like to tell me who this is?'

In front of him, an image formed: Jareth walking with a young brunette girl, somewhere in the outer lands.

'Lady Sarah!' Didymus gasped in surprise, before he thought. 'Oh dear.' His whiskers drooped. Hoggle hung his head.

'Well well,' Calion knelt beside Hoggle, still holding Didymus at arms length, ignoring the knight's efforts to bite him. 'So she is known to someone here. I think one of you is going to tell me all about her.' His gaze went from the trembling dwarf to the snapping fox. 'Hold this,' he told one of the hobs, handing it the fox. 'Don't eat it – yet.' His hand shot forward and grabbed Hoggle by the throat. 'I might need it if this one won't talk.'


By the time the sun was sinking low in the sky, casting the now familiar orange/rose glow over the land, Sarah was wishing she'd never seen a horse. Riding in school or on a hack once or twice a week hadn't prepared her for the agony of sitting on a saddle for hours at a time, over unfamiliar country. The landscape kept changing almost with every rise in the land. From farmland, to open meadow, to occasional scrub moorland. The juxtaposition of the mundane and the surreal was disconcerting, and was making her feel queasy.

Jareth finally reined in his horse at the foot of a chalky hill. The exposed rock at the base formed a natural overhang, and a narrow stream trickled nearby. Sarah, concentrating on her misery, almost rode into the back of the little chestnut, causing her to kick out at the grey.

'Sorry,' she mumbled. Jareth ignored her, jumped down lightly and began untacking the mare. Sarah took her feet out of the stirrups, glad she'd at least put ankle boots on when dressing in a hurry. Unfortunately her jeans hadn't been such a good idea – the inner seam had started to chafe her calf on her left leg. She swung her legs a little, trying to unstiffen them enough to risk jumping down. Although the grey was only about fifteen hands, all of a sudden it looked like a long way to the ground.

'Just let go.' Jareth was at her side, one hand on Ghairlean's sweat darkened neck. He reached out a hand. 'I'll catch you.' Sarah searched his face for a sign of his mocking smile, but his eyes held only concern. Deciding that pride could take a back seat for a while, she let him help her down, sliding off in a rather undignified manner, with only his arms keeping her from stumbling as her feet hit the floor. With his help, she limped over to the overhang, cursing muscles that she hadn't even known she had.

It was, she thought miserably, going to be a very long night.

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 3 of 12

<< Previous     Home     Next >>