Continuing Tales

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 7 of 12

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Dark Labyrinth

Sarah stretched, reaching over with one hand, waking up more fully as she realised first of all who she'd expected to find next to her, and secondly, why.

She was completely awake when someone or something yanked her hair. Hard. She yelped, startling Jareth.

'Something pulled my hair!' she told him, indignantly. She looked a little sheepish. 'Well, that's what it felt like.' There was nothing to be seen.

Not, of course, unless you knew where to look.

Or what to look for. Jareth was out of bed, dressed and on the floor beside the bed before she could blink. Benefits of magic…?

'Out!' Jareth commanded, lifting up the valance on the bed. Three small goblins stared back at him, giggling. He grimaced. Of all the times they had to pick to find him. Reaching in, he grabbed the nearest one by the throat. 'I said, out. All of you!' The goblin squawked as he hauled it out from under the bed.

I didn' do nothing!' it squeaked.

Jareth glared at it. 'Then which one of you did?' He shook it.

'He did!' it pointed at a small hairy creature which was trying to slink unseen towards the door. Jareth put down the one he was holding which ran away with a relieved squeal. One booted foot came down on the end of the escapee's tail.

'And just where do you think you're going in such a hurry?'

It stared up at him. 'Breakfast?' it said hopefully.

After her initial scare, Sarah was sitting up trying hard not to laugh. There was something indescribably funny about watching the immaculate, elegant Jareth being given the run around by a group of small, dirty, disrespectful troublemakers.

Judging by the sour look her escaped giggle got her, he didn't think so.

'Fleck?' he said warningly. The goblin blinked at him. 'What is the one rule that is always enforced?'

'No peeing in the corridors?' it asked with wide-eyed innocence.

Sarah lost it completely at that point.

'Never enter my private quarters,' Jareth said through gritted teeth. The goblin looked confused.

'But they's back at the castle, yer majesty.' It said finally, with total sincerity. Jareth picked it up by the tail, strode over to the door, and opening it, flung the little creature out. A sharp command sent the other two scurrying out of the room. With a heavy sigh Jareth slammed the door behind him. A still giggling Sarah watched him through sparkling eyes as he walked back to the bed, and sat down beside her.

'It's not quite so amusing after the first hundred years,' he remarked dryly.

'Aren't you being a bit hard on them?' she asked. He sat down on the edge of the bed.

'Sarah - they're goblins. Small, stupid and with hides so thick it would take a mountain falling on top of them to make them notice they'd been hurt. You can kill them, but you have to know what you're doing - miss, and they'll make sure you regret it. They're also devious, cunning and have a talent for causing chaos which has never been bettered by any other creature in history.'

'I'll take that as a 'no'?' She was finding it impossible to stop smiling as she looked at him. For a moment, she wasn't sure if he'd taken her teasing in the manner she'd intended, then his mouth twitched.

'If you wish.'

Dreams and goblins and her still sore neck and arm were banished from her thoughts as he leant forwards and kissed her. The sheet fell away, unregarded, and her fingers laced behind his neck, caught in the soft fall of his hair…

'JARETH!' Devin's outraged bellow could probably have been heard all the way to the Labyrinth.

'I think, ' Sarah said as he pulled away with an irritated sigh, 'that your subjects are on the loose.'

'If he can't handle a handful of goblins on his own by now, he deserves everything they do to him.' He flinched as a loud crash sounded from outside. 'On second thoughts…' He stood up, took a step back and faded from sight. Sarah fell back to the bed with a groan. It was obviously going to be one of those days.


'I told you I'd have them under control.' Jareth was dusting off his gloves, standing in the hallway. Sarah, descending the stairs, looked around apprehensively, wondering where the goblins had gone. There didn't seem to be any around.

'They still gave the cook hysterics, the kitchen is a wreck, and I don't think the chickens will lay for a month…' Devin was saying. 'How can six small creatures cause so much havoc…'

'Six?' Sarah asked. 'I thought there were only three?'

Devin sighed. 'The others arrived outside. And trust me, you don't want to see what they did.' He gave Jareth a sharp look. 'Tell me again how these things are going to be useful?'

'I'll let you know when I know what I've got.'

'For my own part, I found the exercise somewhat invigorating,' said a third voice. Sarah looked down to see Sir Didymus cleaning his rapier, and sporting a new bright blue hat with a yellow feather stuck into it at a jaunty angle.

'Things might have gone more smoothly if you hadn't decided to attack Whisper when you did,' said Jareth darkly. Didymus' whiskers twitched then drooped. Sarah knelt beside him.

'I'm sure you were most valiant, Sir Didymus,' she whispered.

'Truly, my lady?'

Sarah smiled. 'Truly.' Didymus wrinkled his nose in a smile and his bright eye gleamed.

Jareth took Sarah by the arm and urged her to her feet. 'I'd appreciate it if you didn't encourage him,' he whispered in her ear as she stood. But his arm went around her waist possessively. 'I have enough problems without Didymus causing any more havoc.'

'Sire, I do not cause havoc!' the little fox said indignantly. Jareth knelt down beside him.


'Yes, my liege?' Didymus stared at Jareth, his brush drooping slightly.

'Should I tell her about the incident at the Pass of Jade?' Sarah watching him, saw the teasing twitch at the corners of his mouth and hid a smile.

'I - er- well. No sire.' Didymus said quietly, hanging his head.

Devin coughed. 'Jareth, please, we really need to talk?' He gestured expansively towards the dining room. 'Over breakfast, for preference.' He called this last back over his shoulder, already half way down the hall, leaving them to follow.

'I just don't know how you can be so calm!' Devin threw up his hands and then stared at Jareth, while Sarah stood near the window, staying out of the way. 'That psychopath almost killed you – and Sarah – last night – dammit Jareth, he would have had me as well if he could, even injured. We got lucky. And you – ' turning away from Jareth, he caught Sarah's eye and stopped. Taking a deep breath, he continued, more calmly: 'Jareth, please –'

'I should never have got either of you involved,' Jareth said quietly, looking at Sarah and Devin; Devin leaned back in his chair and shrugged.

'Maybe, but you made that choice, I'll remind you. Besides, what's done is done. We all have to live with our decisions now.'

Jareth stared at him sharply, wondering if that was Devin's barbed comment on his relationship with Sarah, but decided to let the matter drop for now. Sarah herself was regarding him thoughtfully, her hazel eyes meeting his with more determination than he'd expected.

Yet she was still so very young…

That didn't stop you last night…

The strength he'd sensed in her, however, was blossoming. At every test she was maturing. Already, her face had lost the last traces of childhood. The young woman who stood proudly, if nervously in front of him, was a lifetime removed from the young girl he'd tormented in his Labyrinth so long ago - and from the teenager who'd helped him in the outer world.

Less than a week ago…

She belongs, now, he thought. Or almost so. Did she realise there would be no going back from this point, if she threw in her lot with him?

Hadn't she done so already?

'I can't act yet, Devin. You know this. I need Iorweth stretched to the limit.'

'And if he's stronger than you think? What then? He's watching every move you make – and all you're doing is sitting around waiting for a "right time" which may never come.' Devin pointed to Sarah. 'And what of Sarah – do you want her hurt again?'

'I can look after myself,' she snapped, proudly.

Jareth sighed.

No you can't… not yet.

'I'm staying,' she continued, daring either man to deny her.

Without a word, Jareth offered her his hand and she placed hers in it. 'You're a fool,' he said quietly. Her answering smile was warm.

'Then that makes two of us.' The defiant tilt of her chin or her teasing tone couldn't disguise the concern in her eyes as he met her clear gaze. Concern - and fear.

But not of him. For him.

Once before she'd stood before him, defiant and afraid. …only fear me… he'd asked. Love me. Do as I say

Well he could settle for one out of three.

Second chances…

He kissed her lightly, resisting the temptation to hold her closer.

Far too late... For either of them.

Choices… Jareth sighed. 'Devin, it's not open to discussion. We wait. As for the other matter…' His hand brushed Sarah's cheek and then ran through the tumble of her dark hair. 'I hope,' he said quietly, 'You're a quick study?'

'For what?' Her eyes never left his, her gaze steady, trusting him completely.

'Jareth – ' Devin began. With a raised hand he forestalled the warning, and the younger man subsided, not without an exasperated sigh.

'If you're staying, you'll need to be able to defend yourself. And that means magic.' With a teasing smile, he produced one of his crystals, moving it across the backs of his hands and through his fingers with flamboyant ease. 'Well?' He challenged. He threw the orb into the air where it vanished in a shower of glitter.

'There was a time,' she said quietly, reaching out and letting the glitter fall through her fingers, 'that I would have been over the moon to have that offer. Now it scares me.'

'It should.' He conjured another orb, held it in the palm of his hand for a moment, and handed her the silk scarf he now held. 'The first step, is distinguishing truth from illusion.' The snake in her hand hissed and she dropped it with a cry and backed away - he caught it in one hand, and held out the scarf again. 'Shall we begin?'


'It's all about feeling, not thinking.'

Sarah found a conveniently low spot on the garden wall and sat down, watching Jareth as he leant on the pillar next to her, elegant but casual. As always.

'Understanding, not knowledge,' she said quietly, remembering a conversation earlier that day. He shrugged.

'In part.' With a showman's gesture, he conjured a single white rose, and offered it to her. 'Magic is like love – you must trust to what your heart tells you, and not try to reason out the whys and wherefores too much with your head.'

She took the rose from him, giving him a sharp look, but dropped it with a cry as she pricked a finger on a thorn.

'However, one should still take care before grasping anything too tightly,' he said, hiding a sly smile as he bent down to pick up the rose. He handed it to her again, and she closed her hand on the stem – more carefully this time. Instead of letting go, his hand covered hers.

'I'll try to bear that in mind,' Sarah replied with a mischievous grin of her own. 'Especially…'


…whatever the girl said in response to Jareth could not be heard – the mirror showed images, but sound was beyond its magic. Iorweth stared at the mirror in front of him, savouring the scene, as the two subjects of his scrutiny laughed silently, oblivious. 'Calion, I do think you might have done the right thing after all.'

His second lay on a couch behind him, still nursing his wounds.

'Oh really?' Lost in his own personal misery, Calion really couldn't care less what the Goblin King and his mortal woman were doing.

Iorweth smiled. 'Oh, I think so. This gives me a much better idea for my endgame.' He stared at the cosy little scene again, a mocking smile on his face. 'But let's just give this a little longer before we up the stakes a little, shall we?'

'You might want to rethink that,' Calion said sourly, pointing past Iorweth to the mirror. The image now showed Devin's bearded face, one hand raised in first a wave, then an impudent gesture, before it went black.

'No matter,' Iorweth said, hiding his irritation. 'I've seen all I need to.' Raising a hand, he pushed the air in front of him, and the mirror crashed from its stand to the floor, shattering into a thousand pieces. 'But you can have the Dreamweaver to play with, later.' He stared down at the shards of glass, dull and black upon the grey flagstones, reflecting nothing. 'Seven years bad luck, the mortals say.' He turned back to his second with a cold smile. 'How long do you think you can keep him alive?'


'There he is - about time too,' Devin said laughing. The large barn owl circled overhead on silent wings, before alighting on Sarah's outstretched gloved hand. Smiling, she stroked the soft feathers with her free hand, before it took off again, circling once, before returning, and transforming in front of her to Jareth's familiar slender form.

'That,' he told Sarah, sweeping her into his embrace, 'tickles.'

She stuck her tongue out at him. 'So do your talons.'

'Nice to see you're back up to full strength,' Devin said dryly from the wall he was sitting on. 'I was beginning to think she was wearing you out.'

Without even looking round, Jareth simply reached out a hand with a pushing motion. With a startled cry, Devin tumbled backwards over the wall. His hawk form reappeared over the wall, changing on their side back into the dark-haired lord. Jareth's small troupe of goblins were having a fit of the giggles on the far side of the small garden, watching the goings on. Sarah was having a hard time resisting joining in, watching the byplay between the two men. The past week might have been nerve wracking without their banter to counter Jareth's tendency to brood, which even Sarah had found hard to lift at times.

'We'll be at the lakeside,' Jareth said smoothly, forestalling Devin's righteous spluttering. He leaned towards Devin theatrically as they walked past him on the way to the stables, 'and you missed a feather,' he said, pulling Devin towards him to whisper loudly in his ear, letting him go with that smug look Sarah recognised so well. The goblins followed them, still snickering.


Jareth's exasperated tones could, she thought, cut through stone when he was irritated. He didn't need to raise his voice. She sighed, and tried again.

'Don't close your eyes. Keep them open.' A gloved hand rapped her outstretched one. 'No hand gestures.'

'You do it all the time!' She argued. The image she'd been trying to hold dissolved, and she slumped.

'From a sense of aesthetics, not from necessity. It's a bad habit. Again.'

Sarah sighed theatrically and tried to focus.

'Eyes!' Jareth snapped.

'Sorry.' Sarah opened them again.

This time, the image was clearer. Reaching out as he'd taught her, mentally, she wished the amulet into her hand - and dropped it with a muttered oath as it smacked hard into her palm. She glared at Jareth as he sat back, laughing. Fleck, Whisper and Tipper joined in, cackling gleefully until quelled with a sharp command from their king. Sarah picked the owl pendant up from the grass with a rueful grimace.

'Too fast. You grabbed it. Let it come to you.' Jareth told her, but he didn't look too displeased.

'Wouldn't this a lot easier without them around?' Sarah gestured at the goblins. Fleck, seeing this as an invitation, jumped onto her shoulder and yanked her ponytail. 'Hey, off!' She grabbed him by the tail and dumped him unceremoniously onto the ground, where he scuttled off giggling.

'There's no sense in learning how things work in a stable environment - there's no such thing. The world doesn't work that way.' He leaned back on the long grass of the lakeside meadow, staring at her in amusement from under the spiky fall of his fringe. 'Besides, if you can work with goblins around, you can work anywhere. They can cause anything to go awry. '

She dropped to the ground beside him, glad that he seemed to have called it a day for now. After a week, she was beginning to wonder what she'd let herself in for. Long gone were any ideas she'd held about spell books, incantations, potions and charms. Sidhe magic was a matter of willpower and misdirection, for the most part, although there was another side, which applied to the physical world around them. But the greater part were the illusions and glamours; twisting deceptions of the mind and senses that, Devin had told her over dinner once, could kill if the will was strong enough.

The comment had brought to mind her confrontation with Jareth, so long ago. The words from the book, spoken so confidently. They'd been meaningless really, hadn't they?

'Well at least you finally worked it out,' Jareth had said dryly. 'All you had to do was to believe, and stand your ground. ' And to realise the truth she'd not known had been written in front of her in black and white from the start. The Sidhe had no power over mortals - or anyone - with their magic, if you could resist their glamours.

'Understanding,' he'd told her during the first lesson, 'is the key to magic. Not knowledge. That comes later, in the application.'

She brought herself back to the present. Tipper, she noticed with amusement, was stalking one of the cats. Without much success, since the irate tabby took umbrage at having her tail pulled and lashed out with a swift claw, before streaking across the meadow.

Jareth picked up his riding crop and gently tapped her leg with it. 'Don't relax too much. You haven't finished for the day yet.' She stuck her tongue out at him.

'Slave driver!' Which was unfair - he was a surprisingly good teacher. If a little impatient at repeated mistakes.

He started teasing Whisper - a small boggle eyed goblin of the furry variety - with the tasselled end of the riding crop. Watching him lounging idly on the grass, she reflected that the goblins weren't the only distractions. Clad today in tight black leather pants tucked into black riding boots, topped off with an open fronted white silk shirt, he looked devastating. And as ever, he knew it.

On impulse she leaned forward and kissed him, lightly, teasing. If this was a dream, she thought as his arms encircled her, hands moving lightly over her back, pulling her closer, as she did the same, I'd never want to wake up…

She sensed, with a new awareness, the faint surge of power as he sent the goblins away - and squeaked as he caught her off guard, pulling her down on top of him in the long grass.

Afterwards, dressed and after a half hearted attempt to tidy her hair, she was leaning back against him, his chin resting on the top of her head, her hands resting on his as they lay clasped around her waist.

'I keep thinking this can't last,' she whispered, watching the sun start to sink over the trees on the far side of the lake. The clear waters had taken on a ruddy orange glow in the sunset. He kissed the top of her head. She turned in his arms, wriggling round until she could face him. 'Everything just seems too perfect, too quiet. He'll act soon, won't he? I don't think he'll let you wait.'

'If he does,' Jareth told her, brushing a stray lock of hair out of her eyes, 'it will be in the next few days.'

'How do you know?'

He helped her to her feet. 'Just a feeling.' He handed Sarah her discarded hair ribbon. 'It's the dark of the moon tomorrow night.'

Despite the warmth of the summer evening, Sarah shivered.


Iorweth took a deep breath of the evening air and almost gagged. When the wind was in the wrong direction, the woods caught the full brunt of the stink from that infernal bog on the far side of the Labyrinth. Still, it had its uses.

Fireys scuttled out of his way as he strode through the woods, admiring his handywork. Yes, he thought, this place was finally ready. The outer Labyrinth was now under his control, and the wards set. The only place he hadn't altered was the Goblin City, but as long as those creatures kept in their place, they weren't important.

The castle wall reared up in front of him, and with a wave of his hand he opened the hidden door, shutting it behind him with a muttered word of command. Once in the courtyard, he looked up at the darkening sky. The moon was only the faintest sliver of silver in the sky tonight. Tomorrow…

Ah, tomorrow… He allowed himself a smile. Even with Calion still indisposed nursing his wounds and his grudges, tomorrow would be the dark of the moon…

'And then, Jareth, you will come to me.'

Iorweth laughed, startling the hobgoblin on guard. He had his game laid out, his players, his pieces… and after tomorrow night, he'd have the bait for the trap…


Sarah reined Ghairlean in at the top of the hill, and sat back in the saddle, laughing. Her hair had started to fall out of its braid after the wild gallop. As Devin drew level, his tall bay mare halting at the lightest touch on her mouth, she grinned at him.

'What kept you?' she asked cheekily. She patted the grey's sides. Despite the run, he was barely blowing.

'That horse, has won more races in his time…' Devin was more out of breath than his horse. 'Shillean here isn't a racer.'

Sarah turned they grey, and began walking him back towards the mansion. It was, she thought, looking around, a beautiful day.

The thought brought back the crashing reality. Today, they took no chances. Which was why Jareth was out on the edges of the estate checking the magical wards, and she was riding with Devin.

'Oh, now look. Your smile just went in.' Devin rode up alongside her. 'Why the long face. Tonight?'

Sarah nodded. 'He's worried, although he won't admit it.'

'He never does.'

The comment gave Sarah an opportunity she'd been waiting for. 'How long have you known him, Devin?'

His grey eyes seemed to dance. 'You've been dying to ask haven't you?' The bay mare suddenly jibbed and he brought her back under his control smoothly. 'Since I was - oh, three years old, I think. I don't really remember much before then – or about my real family, before you ask.'

'You were taken?'

Devin grinned at her from behind his beard. 'Surprised?' She nodded. 'Don't be, they all do it. I suppose you could call me a changeling. Actually, the stories are wrong - Sidhe don't exchange babies - it's just they have so few of their own…'

'But I thought - I mean.' Sarah thought back to her assumptions when Toby had been taken. 'You mean they don't get turned into goblins?' She'd put the questions out of her mind over the past week, too content with everything to risk raising the issue.

Devin laughed. 'Good grief. The little buggers are too prolific as it is, without adding to their numbers.' He stared hard at her. 'Don't tell me he didn't bother to tell you - ' He shook his head. 'Honestly. He gets worse.' He brought the mare closer to Ghairlean again. 'Jareth took me to be a companion to Jehanna - she was about the same age. We grew up together.'

'And fell in love?' Sarah asked. Devin's answering smile was sad.

'You've heard this one before?' He took a deep breath. 'She was so beautiful - that portrait doesn't even come close to doing her justice. Yes, we fell in love, and for love of her, I chose to walk my path as one of them. It's not easily done, but it's possible. They don't give such a gift lightly to mortals.'

'What happened?'

'She died two hundred and three years ago, giving birth to our daughter, Angharad.' Devin stared past Sarah, into the distance, his grey eyes filled suddenly with a sorrow so deep, Sarah thought she'd weep. 'Ironic, really. I chose immortality to live with her, and after only eighty years, I lost her. Life's grand jest, I suppose'

'I'm so sorry,' Sarah whispered. Devin pulled his gaze back to her, with a false smile.

'I still have Harry, when she's around.' His eyes held a warning look. 'You know, they say that mortals and Sidhe should not love. There's always pain in it.'

'Is that a warning?' she asked, softly. Devin's piercing eyes held hers.

'It's the one He gave to Jenna.'

She didn't need to ask whom he meant. Devin fixed her again with his hard, grey-eyed stare. 'Do you love him, Sarah?'

The question caught her off-guard, and she stared back, blushing suddenly, not sure how to respond.

Did she…?

Yes… Impossible, maddening, fascinating creature that he was, she did.

Sarah nodded, not trusting her voice. Devin smiled at her.

'Then I wish you better joy of it than I had, my dear.' He urged Shillean into a trot. 'Come on, time to get back.'


'Which one is it?' Jareth held out four crystals in his hands, juggling them deftly between his fingers, flicking them between his hands: controlled, elegant, perfect.

'If you'd move them more slowly,' Sarah said crossly. Concentrating, she tried to See as he'd taught her. 'That one.' She tapped the crystal, which dissolved under her touch. 'Hah!' She grinned in triumph. Without a word, Jareth replaced the other three in their velvet case.

'Not bad. But you'll have to be quicker than that,' he said finally, closing the case.

'Oh come on, give her some encouragement - it took me longer than that to be able to see through your illusions, especially since you always cheated,' Devin said from the far side of the room, where he was playing chess (or, Sarah thought, something very like it) with Sir Didymus. Sir Didymus seemed to be winning.

'I do not cheat, and you were ten.' Jareth said shortly. Devin gave Sarah an apologetic shrug. Attempts to lighten the tone of the day seemed doomed to failure. They were all too tense.

At least Jareth could take it out on the goblins. All ten of the arrivals had caught the edge of his temper today, and most had finally taken refuge in one of the disused wings of the house. Only Fleck had stayed around, and he was currently wrapped around one of Devin's mastiffs, brought into the house for the night, and at the moment lying stretched out on the rug in front of the fireplace.

Sarah wandered over to the curtained alcove of the bay window. Night was falling outside. She could feel it, even if with the thick curtains drawn, she couldn't see it. Jareth walked over to stand at her side.

'Try not to think about it,' he said quietly, his cheek resting against hers.

'I don't know how you two stay so calm.' Sarah shivered, and felt Jareth's arm encircle her waist. 'It's like waiting for a storm to break,' she whispered.

'He's playing games,' Jareth replied. 'Whatever he has planned, keep that in mind. It's me he wants, and he's chosen the ground - The Labyrinth. Not here.'

There was a crack of thunder from outside, surprising, since the night had been so still. Jareth released Sarah, and pulled the curtains open. A bright flash lit up the night sky, followed by a second crash. Yet no rain fell.

'It's probably nothing,' Devin said softly. Sarah, watching the look that passed between the two men, saw that neither of them believed it. Jareth especially was so tense he looked as if he'd snap in two if she so much as touched him.

What had Calion and Iorweth done to him the first time they'd taken him? He'd been in a terrible state when he'd stumbled into her life again.

How much worse could it get when the Sidhe-lord finally had him where he wanted him?

Another crack of thunder split the silence, making her jump. On the far side of the room, the mastiff jumped to its feet and howled, startling Fleck, who scuttled into a corner, tail trailing.

And the curtains billowed as the window shattered. Jareth, the closest, had to move quickly to avoid being cut by flying glass. From outside, a massive build up of sound set up a sympathetic pounding in Sarah's chest, reverberating through her body.

Then the night sky was lit up as brightly as the day.

'He blew the bloody wards!' she heard Devin shout. 'All of them!' The dog sprang past her, barking madly, as all hell broke loose. Large heavyset armoured figures running through the archway where the window had been, weapons drawn. Jareth pushing her back, sending her flying…

Jareth's voice, as if from a distance… 'Hobgoblins. Take Sarah..' Struggling to keep her balance, she stumbled into Devin's outstretched arms, and was unceremoniously bundled out of the study into the hall, and towards the gallery.

'What about Jareth,' she shouted, still deafened by the magical roar. Sarah could hear dimly sounds of fighting. Devin's guards. Jareth… Her heart felt cold in her breast. So damn helpless, I can't even help him…

'He should be able to handle the Hobgoblins. He just didn't want you in there, in the way.' Devin led her to an alcove seat. 'Wait here, and stay alert. I'm going back – '

The large windows at the end of the gallery suddenly blew open - revealing, outlined in the pale blue light of the house lights, the tall, angular figure of Iorweth.

Watching his cloak billowing in the sudden draft, Sarah muttered to Devin 'I don't suppose any of you think of using the front door?' He gave her hand a quick squeeze.

'Stay behind me.' He pushed her to one side, shielding her.

'I'd rather see you both, Dreamweaver.' Iorweth stepped into the gallery, and strode forward, heading straight for them.

Devin's hand moved behind her, reaching… Sarah felt the slight surge of power, and looked down. He was holding a leather-gripped broadsword. 'Ssh.' He whispered. He kept the hand hidden behind her.

'Well well. Two of the pawns in one place. This saves me a search. And I suppose my hobs are keeping Jareth busy?'

'Iorweth.' Devin inclined his head, very slightly, never taking his eyes off the Sidhe.

'Devin. Still running errands for Jareth? What now - does he have you protecting his mistress for him?'

'Is that the best you can do for an insult?' Sarah snapped, worry making her less circumspect than perhaps she should have been.

He stretched out a hand to her, and Devin interposed his own. 'Oh, I could do more than that, child. But I have other plans for you.' He turned away, then back again, a studied gesture as if punctuating a point. 'But then, so does Calion.' His smile, Sarah remembered from her dreams, was cold… so cold. 'For both of you,' he added.

He looked them up and down, one hand stroking his chin. 'But which one to choose…?'

Devin took that opportunity to strike. Pushing Sarah back out of the way, he leaped forward, sword raised, slashing it down in an arc towards Iorweth's stomach.

With heart wrenching agility, the Fae lord danced out of the way, and with a hand outstretched, caught the blade in a black gauntleted grasp. The sword was pulled out of Devin's hands, and with the other hand, Iorweth had him by the throat.

'Run, Sarah!' Devin gasped - but she was frozen in place, unable to move. Iorweth's green eyes, so pale, so icy cold, were fixed on hers, holding her. She tried to concentrate, to See or Block the way Jareth had taught her, but under the spell of the Fae, she was powerless.

'I only need one,' Iorweth said. 'The other will serve as a lesson.'

A small red furred streak launched itself at Iorweth, from out of nowhere. 'Run my Lady!'

Didymus' sharp cry pierced Sarah's immobility, and reached some part of her that was still alert. She heard Iorweth's cry as Didymus' rapier hit home, and the distraction gave her the break she needed. Forcing her legs to move, she ran back towards the hall - and Jareth. Behind her, she heard a short, high pitched yelp, and bit back a cry.

She cannoned straight into Jareth as he was running out of the study. His arms caught her, and he lowered her to the floor. Over his shoulder, the bodies of at least three hobs, and the mastiff, were lying in the light.

'Sarah?' His voice was urgent, and strained.

'Iorweth. In the gallery,' she gasped. With a grim look, he stood up.

'Wait here,' he ordered.

Shaking, she couldn't do anything else but obey for several seconds, by which time he was gone. She got to her feet, still shivering, and followed him.

Except for Jareth, the gallery was empty, the windows standing open, their drapes swaying gently in the night breeze. He was kneeling by the wall, head bowed. Afraid for him, she ran forward.

To be brought up with a jerk when his head whipped around at the sight of her approach, anger written in his eyes. 'I told you to stay put,' he snapped harshly. She backed away involuntarily. Then he turned away again. 'He's gone - and taken Devin with him.' His voice suddenly sounded so weary, almost defeated. She approached him again, slowly, kneeling beside him.

'Are you hurt?'

He shook his head, and took her hand in his as she laid it on his shoulder. 'No.' He moved aside then, and she saw what his body had been concealing from her sight.

The small, crumpled body of Sir Didymus.

She wasn't sure if her cry then was of rage or pain. Jareth held her, helping her to her feet, and cradled her close while she cried. His own face, when she could finally look up, was again shuttered, emotion reined in. But the look in his mismatched eyes would have rivalled Iorweth's for murderous intensity.

'He also left this.' He turned her to the wall against which Sir Didymus had fallen. His hand gestured, and a faint light illuminated the wall. There was something scrawled in blood above the little fox's broken body.

'What does it say?'

'We go at first light,' Jareth told her, ignoring the question. He was staring past her, not meeting her eyes.

'Jareth – '

'It's a promise.' He looked down at her. 'One I don't intend to let him keep.'

They stood there unmoving for a long time, before Jareth finally led them from the gallery.

Dark Labyrinth

A Labyrinth Story
by Helen Fayle

Part 7 of 12

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