Continuing Tales

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 5 of 12

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Dark Labyrinth

Sarah looked guiltily at the clock when she walked back into the bedroom from the bathroom. She'd been soaking for over an hour. But, she thought happily, at least I feel marginally human again. She was revelling in the feeling of being clean, for the first time in two days.

The young girl was still waiting for her in the room - Sarah had drawn the line at being tended to in the bath.

'I can dress myself, thanks,' Sarah told her. The girl curtsied.

'My lady - '

For saying she'd spent most of her childhood fantasising about being in this position, Sarah was beginning to find it embarrassing. 'Please, just Sarah.' The girl smiled.

'If you can fasten a whole row of buttons on that dress - ' she pointed at a neatly laid out confection in burgundy silk on the bed, 'then I wish you good fortune!'

Sarah examined the dress. The buttons on the back were tiny, and there were dozens of them. She turned back to Melissa, blushing. 'I see what you mean. Would you mind?'

Looking at the finished result in the full length mirror half an hour later, she decided maybe she'd been a bit hasty about her first feelings about this kind of lifestyle after all. Melissa had done things with her hair, and her make-up, she'd never have tried for herself. The result, she thought, spinning around to get a good look at the effect, was breathtaking. Although the neckline gave her a few problems. It was daringly low. Melissa stopped her from fiddling with it.

'It looks perfect, my la- Sarah. Just leave it as it is.'

'If I bend over, I'm lost,' Sarah told her with a grin. Although the prospect wasn't that displeasing. 'Oh well, I suppose I'd better put in an appearance. You'd better show me where to go.'

Melissa escorted her as far as an ornately carved wooden door on the ground floor, which was slightly ajar. Thanking her, Sarah gave a shy knock and walked in.

The room was a beautiful oak panelled dining room - surprisingly small and intimate. Devin and Jareth were already seated, but both rose from their seats as she entered. Devin's smile was warm and open as she walked over to them, and he gave her an approving nod. Jareth, however, looked at her as if seeing her for the first time. His gaze raked her with such frank appreciation, she thought she'd be blushing hard enough to match the colour of her gown.

Well, she could get through this. She greeted Devin, then turned her attention to Jareth - who, she had to admit, looked distinctly improved himself. He was dressed all in black this time - an open fronted shirt with his sickle-shaped medallion resting on his chest, the shirt tucked into tight black breeches and finished with black knee high boots. Combined with his pale spiked hair, it looked suitably dramatic. Which was probably the idea… Standing in front of him, she held his gaze for a moment, before dropping her eyes demurely, and dropping a deep curtsey. 'Your Majesty.' She rose slowly, and met his eyes again, unable to suppress a grin, however much she tried.

'Sarah.' One black gloved hand reached down and took her hers, assisting her to stand. He bowed over it, mismatched eyes twinkling, playing his own part to the full. 'Quite a transformation.' He led her over to a chair, pulling it out for her with a studied flourish.

Devin tutted. 'I think what he means to say, is that you look beautiful, my dear. Except, as ever, he's not one for social niceties. Comes of spending far too long with those uncouth goblins of his.' Sarah hid her smile by picking up her goblet and taking a sip. Jareth took the seat opposite her, dropping into it with a casual elegance.

'Or perhaps I just prefer to keep such comments for more private moments.'

Devin accepted the mild rebuke with a simple incline of his head and a half smile, and beckoned to the serving staff to begin.


Iorweth made his way through the tangle of trees with a sure stride, careful to avoid the traps and pitfalls.

Pitiful, he thought. They couldn't be more obvious if you placed a sign over them saying 'Watch your step'. Childish and lacklustre. But not for much longer.

In his wake, the trees took on a darker, more menacing air, as if he brought with him some miasma which tainted everything it touched. The undergrowth closed in, leaves rustling as vines and creepers tangled the trees in a choking grip, turning what had been a simple if rather straggly woodland into a place of fear.

Whisperings in the wood followed the Sidhe as he walked, but he ignored them. The strange wildlings of the woods would serve his purpose well enough as they were. One of the few creatures he actually had a use for.

A large wolf appeared at his side, and transformed into Calion.

'I delivered your little gift, my lord.' He bowed. Iorweth carried on walking, gesturing to his second to follow.

'Where is he now?'

'At Silverpool.' Calion named Devin's estate with distaste. 'The place is well warded. I doubt I could attack him there. Not without preparation.'

Iorweth laughed. 'Let him lick his wounds for a while. He'll be coming soon enough.' His smile was cold. 'Just as soon as I'm ready for him. By which time, the board will be set. And all I need are my pieces.' He closed his hand into a fist. When he opened it again, a chess piece lay in his palm. A white king. 'And when that time comes, Jareth will wish I'd simply killed him.'

'This is too elaborate - why - '

Iorweth cut him off with a raised hand. 'Enough. Calion, you presume too much. Jareth will play out the game because I decree it.'

Calion persisted. 'The Labyrinth resists your interference. If you'd let me have him - '

'Calion, Calion… this is not merely about wanting Jareth dead - it's about entertainment. He can't offer me any amusement if he dies too easily, can he?'

Calion bowed his head. 'No, my Lord.'

'Better. Now walk with me. I'd like your opinion on this next section. I think it has a lot of potential…'


Dinner passed in something of a blur for Sarah. The food was excellent, although after eating dried rations for two days anything would have tasted good to her. The wine was a little heady - she drank sparingly, wanting to keep her wits about her. And the conversation spun around her like a dance - often leaving her sitting mutely, listening to Devin and Jareth talking quietly.

To be honest, she felt a little out of her depth. After all, what can a High School Senior contribute in the company of two several hundred year-old Sidhe?

'Sarah?' Devin's voice called her back to the world with a jump.

'I'm sorry?' She smiled to hide her confusion. What had she missed?

'I was just asking if you were all right - you seemed a little tired there.'

'I'm fine. I think - maybe I could just get a little air?'

'I could escort you - ' Devin began. Sarah shook her head.

'I'll be fine. I'll just stretch my legs a bit. Please.' She made her escape from the room, and stood with her back to the panelling in the corridor, wondering why she'd felt the need to get out all of a sudden. Too much too soon, she told herself. It's like being up on stage on an opening night and realising that although you look the part, no one bothered to teach you the lines.

Or come to think of it, tell you what play you were in.

Pull yourself together, she told herself sternly: you can't afford to fall apart now. You're in this up to your neck already. Straightening, she decided to explore a little. If nothing else, it would give her a chance to think.

Devin's home was, she began to appreciate very quickly, both large and lovely. And compared to the Goblin Castle, a study in elegance, beauty and perfection. She contrasted it to the draughty, messy interior of the castle, and grinned. This was more the sort of setting she'd pictured for a faerie king's domain.

Most of the doors she tried were locked, but at the end of the main corridor, one opened onto a long gallery, lit by torches that burned - if that was the right word, since the flame was cool, and did not flicker in a draught, with a blue flame. It gave the room an otherworldly glow that added to the fairy-tale like quality of the place. The gallery was lined with pictures. Surprisingly, most of them were landscapes. She'd always thought of these settings as laden with ancient peeling portraits of various nefarious ancestors, somehow.

But half way down the gallery, there was a life-size portrait, in a different hand to the others - which had the look, even to her inexperienced eye of being the work of one person. A tall, slender young woman, with ice blond hair, dressed in a sea-green gown that picked out the colour of her eyes. Whatever it was she'd been looking at when she'd posed for that, Sarah thought, must have been amusing, as her smile held a quality that seemed almost about to burst into laughter. She was extraordinarily beautiful.

There was also, Sarah thought, something familiar about her face, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it.

'She was rather lovely, wasn't she?'

Jareth. Standing behind her, and she hadn't even heard him. 'Yes.' She turned to him. 'Who was she?'


The name rang a vague bell, and Sarah recalled their conversation on the way here. 'Devin's wife?'

'And my sister.' His face was unreadable again, shuttered. Looking from the portrait to him and back again, Sarah could have kicked herself for not noticing the resemblance.

'If you still want some fresh air, let me show you something.' Taking her arm, he steered her to the large window at the end of the gallery. At a touch of his hand, it swung outwards, onto a large patio, surrounded by a low ornamental wall. Various small, well tended flower beds were dotted randomly about the little courtyard, highlighted by the still bright moon - past full now, but large enough to cast a bright silvery glow over the flagstones.

It looked almost close enough to touch, Sarah thought. And somehow so much nearer and brighter than home…

She walked over to the wall and leaned on it, arms folded, breathing deeply of the night air - cool, crisp and fresh, carrying the scent of night-blooming flowers. So different from home.

Jareth had followed her over, and was now sat on the wall, one booted foot resting on top, the other dangling casually down. 'Something was bothering you in there,' he said at length, breaking the silence. Sarah thought about denying it for a moment, then changed her mind. No. If she had to stay here for a while, maybe it was best to get everything out into the open.

'I just felt as if I didn't belong. As if I was -'

'On stage, but you didn't know the lines?' His eyes held hers. 'Afraid that you're a burden, and that two such experienced sophisticates will have no time for a teenaged mortal girl, taken from her own world and placed in the centre of a power struggle which has nothing to do with her?'

Once again, Sarah thought, he'd startled her with an uncanny understanding. Not even her mother had ever really understood her moods and feelings.

He leaned forward. 'I could send you home in a few days, but I can't guarantee your safety. Iorweth and Calion are both capable of crossing over, and either one of them would delight in using you against me.'

'I don't want to go back,' she said. What was there to go back for? Her parents had lives of their own that didn't include her. As for the rest… She hoped the tears she blinked back didn't show. Self-pity… She buried it. 'At least, not just yet.'

'Then don't.' His hand strayed to the owl pendant at her throat. 'Although if you stay, I will want you to do something.'

Sarah regarded him warily.

'I want Devin to follow you into your dreams. I need to know why you keep having them - and more to the point, what they mean.'

'I'd be happy if they just stopped.'

'Will you allow it?' His gaze was earnest. He didn't have to ask, she knew. There was nothing to stop him from just making her obey. She nodded.

'When?' she asked.

'Not tonight. In a few days time, when you're well rested. Until then, I've asked Devin to set wards in your room. They should help.'

An owl hooted somewhere in the night, making her jump. PenArran Wood. The hawk taking flight, and the torn owl left behind. She shivered, and felt his hand on her arm. 'Sarah?'

'Sorry, it just reminded me of something.' She told him of the hawk and the owl in the woods, earlier that first day. 'The first dream was later that night.'

'Three omens of my death? I'm glad I'm not superstitious.' It was said lightly, but from the sudden tension in his body, she could tell the thought had thrown him. Three times the charm, the old proverb read…

I don't want you dead. 'Iorweth is red haired.' She said. She watched the corners of his mouth tighten. 'What's his preferred form for shapechanging?'

'It's getting late, we should get back.' He jumped off the wall, landing lightly, and took her arm. She shook it off standing her ground.

'Jareth - tell me. It's a hawk isn't it? A red tailed hawk?'

'Sarah - let it lie.' His voice took on a dangerous edge.

'No.' She faced him, refusing to back down. 'You want me to trust you - to help you. I can't do that unless you trust me. Tell me!'

They stood face to face for a long drawn out moment, and she could feel her heart thumping in her breast. But her nerve held, and he was the one who looked away. 'Yes,' he said finally.

'Why didn't you just tell me?'

'Because I don't want you involved in this anymore than you have to be. Why is that so hard for you to understand?'

Dangerous ground, part of her whispered. Don't push him… But she had to.

'I'm already involved. Keeping things from me now isn't going to make much of a difference.' She was shouting by the time she'd finished. 'They know I'm with you, they know who I am - am I really any safer away from you?'

He didn't reply.

'It's significant somehow, isn't it? That omen? Why? Why does it scare you more than the dreams?'

'Sarah- '

It came to her then, a sudden insight. She stared up at him, eyes wide. 'It happened before you were attacked - didn't it? That's why it worries you - the rest could have just been a link somehow through this - ' she grasped the owl pendant. 'But the birds - that's different.'

'Don't get in any deeper Sarah - knowledge is dangerous in this land.'

'So is the lack of it,' she retorted. 'You brought me here, I'm stuck with this whether I want it or not. At least let me try to help.'

'You are the most stubborn, obstinate, -' he began, exasperated.

'Then I'd say we're well matched.'

She thought she'd gone too far then, as he stood in the moonlight, holding her gaze again with his own. Highlighted by the moon's silvery beams, he'd never looked less human to her. Pale skin, pale hair, his face thrown into stark relief by the cold light and shadow, accentuating its sharp planes.

'You have a way,' he said finally, 'of testing my patience.' He stared past her, at the sinking moon. 'It's late, we should retire.' He offered his arm and she accepted, letting him escort her as far as the door to her rooms.

There were no dreams that night.


'If you're going to do this, I don't want them here.' Devin said, with as much finality as he could manage. 'Jareth…'

'They've got to come somewhere. Where else am I suppose to summon them?' Jareth put the finishing touches to the summoning orb he'd crafted. Two days rest had done a lot to restore his powers. Time to test them out. Gloved hands twirled the crystal, playing it backwards and forwards across the backs of his hands, before sending it into the air with a showman's flourish, where it vanished.

'Show-off,' Devin snorted. Jareth leaned back in the chair and smiled.

'They'll behave, or I'll know the reason why.'

'I'll believe it when I see it. Those goblins of yours cause havoc wherever they turn up.'

Jareth shrugged. 'It's what they do best. And if there were any still wandering when Iorweth took the city, I want them where I can keep an eye on them. And where I can use them. They're no use to me scattered across the land.'

'What about the girl?' Devin asked abruptly, changing the subject. He watched as Jareth's face lost its look of wry amusement and the mask came down. 'Don't try that one on me, it doesn't work - I've known you too long. You've left her kicking her heels around here for two days, avoiding her. She's bored, you're bored, you could both do with a break, I could do with a break from you…'

'She needed to rest. I still want you to weave for her when you're ready.' He wouldn't meet Devin's eyes.

'Then while I prepare, show her the grounds - she's your responsibility, not mine!' Devin grinned. 'Besides, you like her, admit it!'

'You presume too much sometimes, Devin.' Jareth snapped, but without much conviction.

'No I don't.' Devin tapped Jareth's booted feet, resting on an ornate oak table, and they were reluctantly moved. 'Not when you know I'm right. Keep her company for a bit. It'll do you both good.' He grinned suddenly. 'And if you won't do it if I ask nicely - bugger off!'


Sarah reined in the black she was riding as Jareth came to a stop on his tall grey. Silverpool, she had to admit, was beautiful. A fairy tale estate - enclosed, tended parklands, wild little copses, carefully designed dells with rocky streams babbling through them. The sort of place she'd loved exploring as a girl. For a little while at least, she felt as if she could forget the danger that loomed over them.

Looking at her guide for the morning, she got the feeling he could as well.

She'd been surprised when he'd finally sought her out - she'd got the impression that apart from meals, he'd been avoiding her since that first night. When he'd suggested a ride through the grounds, she'd jumped at the chance - she'd been bored stiff. Relaxed, with no visible threat to their safety, he was proving to be surprisingly good company so far.

Jareth dismounted, landing lightly. Sarah followed suit, a little more awkwardly, still suffering a little from her cross-country ride. At least this time though, she was dressed for it - although how Devin had managed to find breeches and boots in her size at such short notice… magic? She tugged at the full sleeves of her shirt, and led her horse over to Jareth.

'What now?'

He took the reins from her, and looped them over the pommel of the saddle, leaving the horses to roam. 'We walk from here. There's a place I want to show you.' A secretive little half smile hovered at the corners of his mouth - a kind of 'I know something you don't' look, Sarah thought. But still, she took his hand when it was offered.

He led her up a small hill, and down into a wood. From the top of the hill, she thought she saw the glint of sunlight off water. Following close behind through the overgrown path, she asked him again where they were going. He smiled back at her, and just whispered 'You'll see.'

They walked out of the wood and Sarah took in a deep breath as the view spread out before her. Silverpool, it seemed, was well named.

Silver leafed willows bordered the lakeside, hanging their supple branches over the water. The lake was small, but so clear - the water captured the noon sun, reflecting it back with a silvery shimmer, the ripples caused by the wind breaking up the light into a thousand or more shadows on the surface. Around the lake, flowers of types Sarah had never seen clustered along the shore, every single one a different shade of blue or a with pale silvery sheen.

'Beautiful, isn't it?' Jareth's soft voice at her ear. She nodded, just drinking in the sight.

'I don't think I've ever seen anything so lovely,' she whispered, almost afraid to speak in case it disturbed the serenity of this place.

'Well,' Jareth said dryly, 'I suppose it makes a pleasant change from certain parts of the Labyrinth…'

Turning to look at him, she saw his eyes sparkling with that rare glint of mischief.

'How,' she asked, 'Can you stand that place compared to this?'

'It has its charms, if you know where to look.' Again that fleeting half smile she'd come to recognise - self-mocking, almost. 'The Bog of Eternal Stench however is not one of them.'

Caught off guard, she laughed, and a heartbeat later he joined her. The way his face changed when lit by genuine amusement had a way of making her heart skip a beat, she thought, watching him.

He offered her his hand, and, after a slight hesitation, she took it. His eyes still held an air of mischief, and she couldn't help but wonder what he was up to. He backed away towards the lake, pulling her with him. Finally they were standing on the flat grassy meadow at the lakeside, and with a little tug, she was pulled into his arms. Still holding her hand, one arm around her waist, with no warning, he began to waltz her around the meadow.

'I can't!' she gasped breathlessly.

'Why not?' He whirled her around. 'Embarrassed?'

Yes… No. His mood of complete abandon was contagious. She was whirled around the meadow until she was dizzy, and she was out of breath from dancing and laughing by the time he came to a stop near the lakeside. She was holding onto him to keep her balance, and his arms were around her…

Very deliberately, be bent down and kissed her. Not the light, brief touch, the fleeting gesture after the fight in the woods. This time, it was questioning, testing. His lips were so soft on hers…

Moments of transition

She relaxed, letting him pull her closer, and kissed him back, uncertainly at first, but with a growing confidence as he returned it. If it wasn't the first time she'd been kissed with such intent, it was the first time she'd felt as if she were drowning in the feelings aroused. She placed her arms around his neck and felt him pull her closer in response. The part of her that was asking what the hell she thought she was doing, she pushed to the back of her mind.

His tongue found hers, his kisses deepening then becoming teasing, encouraging her to respond in kind. She was more than happy to oblige.

'Ahem. Your Majesty? My lady?'

The mood abruptly shattered, Sarah was brought back to earth with a bump. Jareth pulled away, muttering an oath under his breath. Still keeping his arms around her, he turned his attention to the intruder. Judging by the look in his eyes, he wasn't best amused.

Come to think of it, neither was she.

'Didymus!' Jareth almost growled the name.

The little fox advanced, with an elegant bow. 'Sire, I apologise for intruding, but Lord Devin sends me to inform thee that he is now ready to perform the weaving for Lady Sarah.' He studiously avoided meeting their eyes with his single one, Sarah noticed.

'Tell him we'll be there shortly.'

Didymus, still limping from his ordeal, backed away, and trotted off gamely. Sarah could have sworn she saw his whiskers twitch as he turned.

The dreams… Sarah let her head rest against Jareth's shoulder, suddenly feeling drained. She had no option now but to face them, and whatever they meant. The day lost its lustre somehow, at the thought.

'I'm afraid,' she whispered. His arms tightened around her.

'I'll be there.' He released her then, and stood staring at her for the space of a heartbeat, the merriment gone from his eyes - now they held concern. 'Come,' he said gently. He offered her his hand, and after a brief hesitation, she took it, allowing him to lead her back to the horses.

They rode back to the house in silence, both lost in thought.

Overhead, a tawny coloured eagle hovered, before diving down below the treeline out of sight.


'Take the amulet off,' Devin told her. With hands that shook more than she liked, Sarah complied, handing the delicate silver owl to Jareth.

The three of them were in a spacious sitting room, Sarah sitting in a large overstuffed armchair, flanked by Devin and Jareth. The drapes had been pulled across the windows, shutting out the sun. The room was lit by the blue flamed torches that were everywhere in the mansion, and it cast an eerie glow over the room, highlighting Jareth's pale features - a stark contrast, she thought, to Devin's more solid, bearded face.

It struck her then, watching them, the differences between the two men. 'You're human!' She blurted out before thinking, to Devin. Who grinned at her.

'It took you this long to work it out?' He flicked her nose with a finger. 'Yes. After a fashion. Now, concentrate.' His hand moved in front of her face, palm open and facing her. Wondering what exactly was going to happen next -

And she was standing on paving stones, archways and other pieces of masonry falling past her as she looked around… I know this place

Feathers, pale feathers, falling softly around her face, through her fingers, no matter how hard she tried to catch them.

And the echo of Iorweth's ghastly laughter on the wind.

She stared around in panic. This wasn't right.

From the corner of her eye, she saw movement. Turning, she watched as Jareth walked towards her from one of the twisting archways. So pale… the pallid, ragged cloak, ash fair hair, eyes shadowed…

And his hand stretched towards her… 'Look what I'm offering…' His soft voice, heard so often in her dreams.

His grey-gloved hand was empty.

Overhead, the moon was shining, full, crystal bright.

She reached out this time, placed her hand in his -

And gasped. His hand closed over hers, and she was falling, falling…

A voice, calling her name. 'Sarah.'

Eyes opened. She was standing in the throne room of the Goblin Castle. This time, she was not alone. Beside her, Devin was standing, grey eyes radiating concern. And Jareth. Her Jareth, not the dream from times past. Her hand was still clasped in his.

'What happened?' she asked. Devin smiled at her.

'I'm not sure, yet.' Around them, other details began to phase into being. 'But something's trying to show us something. Sarah, relax. Let it happen.'

'I can't.' She shivered. 'Please…' Beside her, she felt Jareth move closer.

'Trust in me. I said I'd be here for you.' He stood behind her, his arms around her, shielding her.

She leant back against him, grateful for the support. Had she really ever feared him…?

Goblins. All over the place. Dozens of them, in all shapes and sizes: horned, tailed, scaled, hairy. Some were seemingly content to lie back quaffing from tankards, others were having a tug of war with a small hairy goblin over in the corner.

On the throne…

Sarah had to reassure herself that Jareth was still holding her.

'The past.' Jareth said quietly.

Sarah turned her attention back to the throne, where Jareth was sitting, bouncing a gurgling baby in red striped pyjamas on his knee, and smiling.

'Toby…' she breathed. She hadn't seen her little brother for almost a year. He'd be four soon, she thought.


Jareth's voice, sounding a little uncomfortable. Embarrassed? Him?

'Sarah, walk forwards. One step. Concentrate on taking us forward.' Devin said. Jareth's arms released her, although he kept hold of her hand, reassuring her with a light squeeze from his fingers. Tentatively, she did as he asked.

They were standing on the hilltop outside the Labyrinth. Looking down, Sarah expected to see the maze spread out over the valley.

Except for the castle rearing up from the mountains at the far end of the valley, there was only darkness. But what seemed at first to be a simple sea of black rippled as she watched, flowing, moving, its inky hue undulating over the valley. Here and there, she could make out features from the Labyrinth - a glimpse of the hedge maze in the distance, a wall closer to them.

'What is it?' she whispered.

Jareth's fingers tightened around hers. 'The future,' he said softly.

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 5 of 12

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