Continuing Tales

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 26 of 28

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A Necessary Deception

Sarah looked Jareth over critically. His black jacket was perfectly cut. The black pants and shirt exquisitely tailored. She brushed a miniscule piece of lint from his jacket and nodded.

"You look great. Very regal," she said. "But this is kind of plain for you, isn't it?"

"I do not know how the Troll High Prince will dress. I want an air of formality without seeming ostentatious."

Sarah couldn't suppress her smile at his comment. "Ostentatious? You?" Her voice was gently teasing.

He frowned slightly. "You do not like the way I dress?"

"You dress better than I do," she assured him. "I just thought that you'd want to impress him."

Jareth shook his head. "If he is serious about wanting to join the Seelie Court, I do not wish to make him uncomfortable. If his clothing is plain..."

"You don't want to show him up," Sarah said, understanding.


"That's very nice of you," she said.

"It is less a nicety than a negotiations tactic," he explained. "Until I can determine his strengths and vulnerabilities, it is wiser to remain as neutral as possible."

"I still don't understand why I can't go. I haven't met your parents yet and we're going to be married soon. Besides, I'd really like to see a Troll," Sarah said, moving back to sit on Jareth's bed. She watched as he smoothed a pair of black leather gloves over his hands.

"My parents will not attend the dinner nor will they meet with the Prince. And you cannot go because I do not want anyone who is Unseelie near you," Jareth said. With a mischievous smile, he lightly tapped her on the nose with a forefinger. "Trolls have been known to eat pretty little girls like you as a snack."

"You're not really serious about that, are you?" Sarah frowned.

Jareth sobered. "Yes, I am."

"Oh," she said and took in a deep breath. It was better not to think about the fact that she now lived in a world where she could find herself as the main course on a dinner menu. "Do you think you'll be very late?"

"I do not know. I want to speak to my parents after the negotiations are concluded." He leaned over and kissed her lightly. "While I am gone, you should have the servants move the rest of your things into my chambers. It seems wasteful to continue to keep a separate room when you are no longer using it."

Sarah shook her head. "I'm going to need my room."

Jareth looked surprised. "Why?"

"For the night before we get married. I can't spent it here with you," Sarah said.

"And why not?" Jareth lifted an eyebrow.

"Because it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride on their wedding day. At least, until the ceremony," Sarah explained. "So, I'll have to spend the night before the wedding in my room."

"Because you are superstitious, I must sleep alone?" Jareth frowned.

"One night alone won't hurt you," Sarah grinned.

He suddenly leaned down to whisper in her ear, "But won't you miss me, Sarah?" As he spoke, he brushed one hand against her breast.

Sarah's breath caught in her throat as she felt a familiar surge of desire. She drew back to look into his eyes and Jareth give a knowing smirk as he took in her reaction.

"I can see that you will," he said with satisfaction.

He straightened and smiled down at her. "If you are asleep when I return, I promise to wake you and tell you all about the Troll, but now I must be going."

"Never mind about the Troll," she pouted playfully. "Wake me up and finish what you just started."

With a grin, he transported to his parent's castle.


The heralds' trumpets announced the arrival of the Troll High Prince. Jareth stood in the Great Hall as the Prince was escorted in to him.

Jareth watched with slightly narrowed eyes as the Troll Prince strode past the banners and standards lining the walls without giving them a second glance. The Troll's boot heels rang against the white marble floor with each firm step and he passed the tables laden with silver bowls and delicate porcelain figures with disinterest. The beautiful sculptures and paintings interspersed throughout the room were completely ignored.

When the Troll High Prince finally stood in front of him, Jareth was careful to remain expressionless. He wasn't certain exactly what he had been expecting, but not this. He had seen trolls before, of course, but only from a distance. This man was massive. Taller than Jareth by at least a foot and heavier by a hundred pounds, his head was shaven but he wore a full red beard. Several sections of his beard were in plaits that were randomly interspersed with ebony beads. His features were coarse and broad, and his deep-set brown eyes were surprisingly intelligent.

A sleeveless leather jerkin exposed muscular arms and pants of the same brown leather accentuated strong legs and thighs. A curious tattoo depicting a series of runes extended from just below his left eye and ran across his cheek, down his neck and disappeared under the jerkin.

"Your Majesty," he rumbled in a deep voice as he bowed to Jareth, "I am Khopok, High Prince of the Trolls. I bring you greetings from the Troll Kingdom and from my father, King Mogh."

Jareth bowed in return and echoed the formal words. "Thank you, Your Highness. I am Jareth, King of the Goblins, High Prince of the Sidhe. I bring you greetings from the Seelie Court and from my father, King Meilseoir."

"I would present you with a token of our esteem," Khopok gestured and a servant stepped forward holding an ornate wooden case. The Troll Prince took this case and held it out toward Jareth. "We have been told of the Fae's fondness for games."

Jareth accepted the case with a slight bow. Opening the box, Jareth found a beautifully crafted chess set. "Thank you. It is extraordinary workmanship." Jareth examined the set more carefully. "The pieces seem to be made of bone."

"Yes," Khopok said.

"Human bone?" Jareth was careful to conceal his distaste.

"No," Khopok said, "Animal bone."

Jareth nodded.

Khopok's eyes widened in sudden comprehension. "The practice of preying upon humans is no longer permitted in my kingdom."

Jareth nodded briefly. Another servant stepped forward holding an intricately carved silver chest. Jareth presented the chest to Khopok.

The Troll opened the chest and pulled out a beautifully woven tapestry, the rich colors brilliant in their varied hues. Scenes depicting Underground history were lavishly represented. The arrival of the Tuatha de Danann and the burning of their ships, the First Battle of Magh Tuiredh, and finally, the dragons' migration to Mt. Arranz.

"The tapestry is enchanted," Jareth noted. "The scenes change with the time of day. In this way, the tapestry never becomes monotonous and continually pleases the viewer."

Khopok smiled widely, revealing jagged teeth. "Thank you, Your Majesty. It is a wondrous gift."

The two men regarded each other silently for a moment. Finally, Jareth said smoothly, "Shall we dine?"


Jareth saw the flash of unease in Khopok's eyes at the sight of the various crystal glasses and silverware settings before him. Apparently the Trolls did not dine as formally as the Fae. Jareth tilted his head and deliberately regarded the myriad of forks laid out beside his plate before slowly selecting the appropriate utensil and beginning to eat. In his peripheral vision, he saw Khopok watch his actions and select the corresponding fork from his own place setting.

"Do you have a family, Prince Khopok? A wife? Children?" Jareth asked in an effort to observe the social amenities required of these types of negotiations.

"I am unmarried," Khopok replied. "I would like a family someday but I have not yet chosen a bride. And what of you, Your Majesty?"

"I am be married soon," Jareth said and changed the subject. "And your parents, are they well?"

"Very well, Your Majesty," Khopok said with a faintly puzzled expression.

Jareth smiled briefly. From Khopok's reaction, Jareth deduced the Trolls did not engage in small talk prior to their negotiations. Very well, down to business.

"You can imagine our surprise, Your Highness, when your father sent the message that he wished to negotiate for acceptance into the Seelie Court. Traditionally, the Trolls have been regarded as Unseelie. It is virtually unheard of for a race to seek to change their status between the two," Jareth said.

Khopok nodded. "There are several factions within the Troll kingdom. Not all of them agree with my father's decision to approach the Seelie, but isolation has not been good for our people. If we are to progress, we must forge new alliances."

"There are certain immediate questions, of course. Your dealings with the Aboveground," Jareth hesitated delicately. "Your dietary habits..."

"The trolls who ate human flesh were aberrations. Their activities caused us all to be labeled as monsters. There are still a few clans who would engage in such practices, but my father is making efforts to contain them," Khopok's tone was firm. "As for the Aboveground, we rarely venture there any longer. That world has changed and no longer provides us with safe haven.

"We are a solitary people by nature. We rarely associate with the other races of the Underground," Khopok continued. "We, unlike the Fae and the Elves, are not immortal and our numbers dwindle with each passing year. Our lives tend to be harsh and our wives die in childbirth far too often. We lack the knowledge of healing that the Fae and Elves seem to hold. Even the humans in the Aboveworld surpass us in so many ways. If we are to survive, we must learn new things. We must adopt new ways."

Jareth lifted an eyebrow. For Khopok to have told him these things displayed either a mastery of guile or a desperation of circumstances that drove him to be far more honest than would be considered wise by an experienced negotiator.

Khopok saw the gesture and met Jareth's eyes frankly. "I do not like to admit these weaknesses. But if we stay on our current path, we are doomed to eventual extinction. A ruler should not allow his people to die because of his own pride."

Jareth nodded slowly. "There are lands currently controlled by the Trolls that border the Elven Kingdom. As a gesture of good will on the part of the Trolls, the Seelie Court has expressed an interest in having an assurance of safe passage through these lands."

"I am certain that it can done," Khopok said.

The servants brought out the next course and once again Jareth made a show of selecting the proper fork and saw Khopok follow his lead.

"There are many other issues, of course, that must be addressed," Jareth said. "But I will inform the Seelie Court of the Troll Kingdom's willingness to cooperate."


Jareth entered his father's study and bowed. His father sat behind his desk, papers and documents scattered across the oak surface. King Meilseoir glanced up from the paperwork he had been reading.

If he wanted to know how he would look in another 500 years, Jareth thought, all he had to do was examine his father. The resemblance between the two men was striking. Meilseoir and Jareth shared the same coloring and build, even the same mismatched eyes.

However, there were differences between the two. Meilseoir's hair was worn in a much more conservative style, barely brushing his shoulders and neatly trimmed. And the fine lines that had begun to appear around Jareth's eyes were much more pronounced on his father's face. The slight cleft in Jareth's chin was an inheritance from his mother and Meilseoir's features were somewhat bolder than Jareth's delicate beauty.

"Did the meeting with the Troll High Prince go well?" his father asked quietly.

"I believe so," Jareth said. "I am presently willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He seems sincere in his desire to join the Seelie Court and I think he is willing to make the changes and concessions needed to attain that goal."

"Such an unusual situation. You will keep me apprised?" his father asked.

"Of course," Jareth said and a strained silence fell over the room.

"I was quite surprised to receive your message concerning Lady Vivienne's betrayal and Lord Marcan's attempt on your life," Meilseoir finally said. "What do you intend to do about Vivienne?"

"I've not decided yet," Jareth said. "I am considering the matter carefully and I have one or two ideas."

Meilseoir nodded. "I was even more surprised to learn of your betrothal to the human woman. You say she carries your child?"

"Yes, she does. We will be wed as soon as the preparations can be made."

Meilseoir looked at his son evenly. "Humans are very fertile creatures. You are certain the child she carries is yours?"

Jareth clenched his jaw and returned his father's gaze. "Yes," he said icily. "I am certain."

"It is lamentable that you will not be marrying a Sidhe noblewoman but that cannot be helped now. And there are ways of turning this to your favor. This woman will be able to bear you many children. That is advantageous."

Jareth merely nodded and his father's expression softened.

"Humans live so briefly. It will be painful for your children to lose their mother. If you grow to be genuinely fond of this woman, it will be painful for you to lose your wife."

"There are ways around everything," Jareth said quietly.

Meilseoir looked surprised for a moment. "Yes, but in this instance, they are difficult ways. Would she be willing to make that sacrifice?"

"Sarah and I have not discussed the matter yet. It is something that will wait until after our child is born."

His father nodded and once again a silence stretched out between them.

"Well, I am certain that you will want to speak to your mother before you leave. She is in her sitting room," Meilseoir said, returning his attention to the papers on his desk.

Jareth bowed slightly. "Good night, father."

Meilseoir never looked up from his paperwork. "Good night, son."


Queen Caoilinn was reading, curled up in a large comfortable chair when her son came into the room. She smiled when she saw him and laid her book to the side.

Jareth leaned down and kissed her cheek. "Hello, mother. You are looking very well."

"As are you," Caoilinn said as she examined her son closely. "Your father told me of Lady Vivienne and of Lord Marcan," she said quietly. "He also told me that your wedding plans have been changed."

Jareth nodded and Caoilinn continued.

"When you were a boy, Jareth, I remember explaining to you where babies come from and I told you quite clearly how to prevent it," Caoilinn said, arching an eyebrow. "And yet you still found yourself in a situation in which you believed two women simultaneously carried your child."

Jareth looked faintly abashed. "It was somewhat unexpected..." Caoilinn regarded her son coolly. "So much of this unfortunate situation could have been avoided had you simply remembered those instructions before unfastening your pants."

"Mother!" Jareth exclaimed. He suddenly felt as if he were a child being scolded. He was over five centuries old, why was it that his mother still had the power to embarrass him?

She waved away his discomfort and changed the subject. "So, this mortal you are to marry, Sarah, isn't it? Does she please you?"

"Yes," Jareth nodded. "I find Sarah very pleasing."

Caoilinn smiled and then leaned forward eagerly. "And she carries my first grandchild. Is it a boy or a girl? Have you decided upon the child's name?"

Jareth laughed. "It is too soon to know the child's gender. As for names, Sarah and I have not even thought about it yet."

"I wish to meet her," Caoilinn said. "Perhaps I shall visit you."

"She wants to meet you, also, and you and father are always welcome," Jareth said.

"It might be best if I came alone," she said softly. "Your father is so busy."

Jareth sighed and frowned slightly. "He dislikes the fact that I am marrying a human."

"Your father is very traditional in many ways and he only wants what is best for you," Caoilinn said quietly. "He would have preferred that you marry a woman who could help you rule. As you are well aware, a mortal may not rule by your side, she can only be your consort."

"It is unfortunate that I have disappointed him but since Sarah carries my heir, his preference is a moot point," Jareth said, his voice going cool. "Unless he would have me refuse to marry her and allow my child to be born a bastard."

"You know that he doesn't want that," Caoilinn said softly. "Oh, Jareth, you are about to become a father yourself. Your world will change dramatically. You will learn that a parent will always be concerned for his child, even when that child becomes an adult."

"His concern is unwarranted," Jareth said, his face expressionless.

Caoilinn tilted her head and looked at her son silently for a long moment. She smiled suddenly and said, "Well, then let us talk of more pleasant things. Tell me all about your Sarah."


Over the next week, Sarah and Breena agreed that the wedding plans were well in hand. Jareth and Sarah selected a wedding date three weeks hence and the invitations were sent out. Gifts and confirmations of attendance began to pour into the castle from all corners of the Underground.

Sarah and Breena were currently sitting at a table in the library, sorting gift tags and writing thank you notes.

"You are going to need an entire room to hold all the gifts," Breena exclaimed as a courier arrived with yet another wedding present.

"I hope it isn't another silver platter," Sarah sighed, eyeing the long flat package dubiously. "Do you know how many we've gotten already?"

Breena smiled. "I've lost count."

"This wouldn't be happening if Jareth hadn't felt it necessary to invite everyone in the Underground," Sarah said.

"His Majesty has obligations, you know that. And he didn't invite everyone," Breena paused as a servant brought in another gift and then shook her head ruefully. "It just seems that way."

Sarah waved her hands at the large stack of unwritten thank you notes in exasperation. "Jareth should be helping with this. He's the reason we're getting all these gifts. I don't know any of these people."

"His Majesty is hearing grievances right now, isn't he?" Breena asked.

"Yes, that's his excuse for getting out of helping," Sarah said. "If I didn't know better, I'd think Jareth scheduled an extra grievance hearing just so he didn't have to do this."

"I wouldn't doubt it," a woman's cool voice said from the doorway. "My son is nothing if not inventive."

Breena jumped out of her chair as she saw the woman and swept into a curtsy, bowing low to the ground. "Your Majesty," she said.

Sarah blinked at the woman in surprise. She was petite and extremely beautiful. The rose colored gown she wore set off her delicate coloring. She looked so familiar. Her elegant features and ash blonde hair reminded her of...

"You're Jareth's mother," Sarah exclaimed. A small voice hissing her name from the general direction of the floor distracted her for a moment. She glanced down and realized that Breena was curtsying.


Sarah's eyes widened and she dropped immediately into a curtsy.

"Oh, please, rise," Caoilinn said, walking further into the room. "We're to be family soon, after all. You must be Sarah."

"Yes, Your Majesty," Sarah said, standing. She vehemently wished that she'd worn something nicer than her standard jeans and a pullover.

Caoilinn took Sarah's hands in her own and pressed a kiss onto Sarah's cheek.

"I recognized you from Jareth's description. He said you were a beauty and he was quite correct. My son has told me a great deal about you and I thought it was time that I came for a visit," Caoilinn said with a smile. She turned and gestured for Breena, too, to rise.

"Lady Breena, we met when you were presented at court. How nice to see you again, I've been told that Ethain is courting you."

"Yes, Your Majesty," Breena said.

"He's such a nice young man. Ethain is related to me, you know," Caoilinn said, smiling. "My father's cousin's son, I believe. If things continue to go well between the two of you, then one day you and I shall be related, as well."

"I would be very honored, Your Majesty," Breena blushed.

"I had hoped to visit with you, Sarah," Caoilinn said, then gestured toward the stacks of notes and cards on the table, "but it seems that I've come at an inopportune moment."

"Oh, no, ma'am," Sarah said. "These can wait."

"Sarah," Breena said, "why don't you escort Her Majesty to the gardens. It is a lovely day and I could have refreshments sent there for you both."

Caoilinn linked her arm through Sarah's. "Thank you, Lady Breena, that would be wonderful." She gestured toward the door with her free hand. "Shall we go, Sarah?"

Sarah nodded her agreement and shot Breena a nervous look. She wasn't sure what she would say to the Caoilinn. Sarah had always assumed that her first meeting with Jareth's mother would be when he introduced them. Now it seemed she would not have the reassuring presence of her fiancé to bolster her confidence.


The two women walked slowly through the gardens side by side.

"I owe you a debt of gratitude, Sarah," Caoilinn said softly.

"I'm sorry?" Sarah asked, confused.

"You saved Jareth's life. He told me of how you protected him from Marcan."

"Well, I didn't do..." Sarah began.

"Don't be modest," Caoilinn chided gently. "If you had not stopped Marcan, he would have killed you all."

"I couldn't let him hurt Jareth or our baby," Sarah said.

Caoilinn smiled. "Jareth tells me that it is too early to determine if the child is a boy or a girl. Do you have a preference?"

"I don't, no," Sarah said. "But Jareth has decided that it's a boy."

"And you've not discussed names?"

"Not yet," Sarah said. "We've been so busy planning the wedding."

Caoilinn nodded in understanding and then reached out and softly touched Sarah's hair. "It would be nice to have a dark-haired grandchild."

Sarah looked at her in surprise. "Jareth said that the baby would probably look like him."

"Oh, he's right," his mother sighed, "the child will almost certainly be blond. Everyone in our family is fair, but I think dark hair is so pretty."

"Thank you," Sarah said. "But I'm glad that the baby will look like Jareth. He's so beauti..." her voice trailed away, suddenly blushing. She was going to have his child; it was obvious that she found Jareth attractive.

Caoilinn smiled impishly. "Jareth has always been aware that he is handsome. You must be careful of that, Sarah. He uses it to his advantage."

"Yes, I know," Sarah said wryly.

His mother laughed. "Even when he was a child, he was a bit vain. He is the only boy that I've ever known who actually disliked getting dirty. That never stopped him, of course. He wouldn't hesitate to roll about in the mud with the other children but Jareth would insist upon bathing at the first opportunity."

Sarah laughed at the thought of a much younger Jareth covered in mud and demanding a bath. "What was he like when he was little?"

"Inquisitive, mischievous, fearless, stubborn, proud, exasperating. Shall I go on?" Caoilinn smiled.

"In other words, he hasn't changed a lot," Sarah said with a grin.

"Perhaps not as much as he would like us all to believe," his mother agreed.

They continued walking for a few more steps and then Sarah suddenly stopped. There was something that she had to know. She summoned her courage and looked Caoilinn in the eyes.

"Do you mind very much?" Sarah asked. "That he's marrying me instead of a princess or a duchess?"

Caoilinn settled onto a nearby bench and gestured toward the seat next to her. Sarah sat down and looked anxiously at her future mother-in-law.

"I will be completely honest with you, you are not quite what Jareth's father and I had envisioned as Jareth's wife," Caoilinn said. "We certainly never expected that he would marry a mortal."

Sarah's heart sank and she bowed her head.

"But," Caoilinn continued, "I believe that you intend to be a good wife to him and a good mother to his children. You've proven that you are devoted to him. As long as Jareth is content to marry you, then I am happy."

Sarah looked up at her. "And Jareth's father, does he feel the same way?"

Caoilinn hesitated. "My husband will come to accept your marriage."

"But he doesn't approve," Sarah finished the unspoken thought aloud.

"Meilseoir's approval or disapproval in this matter is unimportant. Jareth has made his decision," Caoilinn said.

"I don't want to be the cause of friction between Jareth and his father," Sarah said, her brow creasing in distress.

"Oh, Sarah, Jareth's relationship with his father has always been somewhat tense. They are alike in so many ways that it occasionally leads to conflict. Fathers and sons seem to struggle against each other, don't you think? The son trying to establish his own individuality and the father..." Caoilinn tilted her head, lost in thought for a moment, "...the father wanting to retain control over the son."

Sarah gave a small nod. That was common in the Aboveworld, too.

"These things will work themselves out," Caoilinn said. "There is little that either of us can do to resolve the issues between them. We must simply try to smooth the way whenever they do reach out to each other."

Caoilinn tilted her head and regarded Sarah. "I must say that I will prefer having you as a daughter rather than that awful Vivienne."

Sarah's mouth dropped open.

Jareth's mother laughed. "Don't look so astonished. I am not required to like her simply because she is Sidhe. While she might have momentarily intrigued Jareth with her rather obvious charms, I never cared for the woman. It was apparent to me that she was an opportunist." Caoilinn paused and then leaned close to Sarah, her voice lowering confidentially. "Do you know what punishment Jareth intends to administer?"

Sarah instinctively leaned forward and spoke softly. "No, he says he has a few ideas, but he won't tell me what they are. Do you know what he intends to do?"

Caoilinn shook her head. Before she could say anything else, the sound of boot heels clicking rapidly along the pathway interrupted them. Both women tilted their heads to look at Jareth as he rounded the corner.

As soon as he saw them, he stopped dead in his tracks. His eyebrows rose and he drawled, "As much as I am pleased to see that you are getting along, why do I have the impression that the two of you are already conspiring against me?"

A Necessary Deception

A Labyrinth Story
by Scattered Logic

Part 26 of 28

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