Continuing Tales


A Labyrinth Story
by Willa Suvia

Part 5 of 9

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A sad film of disuse coated this forgotten wonderland, frosting the mirrors obscure and drawing a dim dusty light down from the chandeliers. It was a world populated by ghosts and memories now, too far removed from life to ever truly be a part of it again. Cobwebs were as plentiful here as crystals, strung from the chandeliers and corners in delicately intricate weaves. Everything else, he noted with a wistful sigh, was as they'd left it - pillows still held the impressions of dimpled backsides; chairs scattered to the four corners; tables overturned; crystal goblets and plates strewn in the hurricane that ensued when she...

But he didn't need to remember. He knew the story by heart.

He wasn't quite sure at first how she had known to come to the southern tower, to this most hallowed of places he visited only in his memories and dreams. He knew better now. The solid wooden doors a league away might have been the entrance to the Labyrinth, but this was where it all truly began. A simple glance; a daring touch; a teasing brush of her hair as she twirled past, oblivious of his presence...

She moved past him, not yet aware of his presence. The weight of her shadow left him cold and shaken. The synchronicity of then and now stunned him into a momentary silence, and she shrieked as he rubbed his gloved hands together with a sound like snakes slipping through tall grasses.

"You!" She backed away, her eyes wide and fixed on his ghostly form.

"How witty of you," he intoned. "What are you doing here? This is my home, and I don't recall inviting you."

"This is just a dream," she told herself, pressing her hand to her heart to ease its violent pounding. "I was walking...through the desert..."

He knew he should disappear and leave her to her dreams, but he couldn't. She was here - dream or not - in his home! It wasn't just tempting fate to allow her back here; it was holding the door open for trouble, and curtsying to it as it destroyed his world.

"This place is my dream," he corrected her roughly, "and you have no business here."


It had only been a few years since they last met face to face, but her heart screamed eons, ages, centuries. Back in this world, in this jeweled and decadent microcosm that was neither Labyrinth nor Home, the burden of time sloughed away like so much dead skin.

Everything was the same here beneath the dust, but the difference was tangible, like a familiar room filled with unfamiliar things. Even *he* looked no different on the outside. He had cheated the years like a master gambler, manipulating time itself to preserve his youth and magnificence.

But there was a curious absence in his person, a sense of detachment that had not been there in the old days. He loved the hunt once; now he didn't even seem to care for the chase, much less the kill.

As for Sarah, her physical self had blossomed, as he knew she would. She had become a profoundly beautiful young woman, even in pajamas and rumpled hair.

"I believe I understand." He eyed her with a thief's vigilance. "You've come to gloat, at last. Or perhaps you've come to challenge me again? Is it my crown you're after this time, or simply the last of my pride?"

Regardless of how it made her feel now, his skepticism was well deserved. "I don't want anything. I'm just dreaming."

"Tell me then," he goaded, "where are all your little friends? They were with you last time you came to me. What's become of them?"

She shrugged uncomfortably. "Until tonight, I've never heard from any of them again."

He laughed, to her chagrin, and went on with snide amusement about how most creatures of the Underground lived such fleeting, carefree lives that they seldom remembered one day to the next. Every day was someone's birthday, every evening a celebration, and it began anew with the dawn. It was all part of the Labyrinth's enchantment, he explained. A cunning little spell designed specifically to distract Jareth's challengers from the contest. Interestingly enough, the effects were inversely proportionate to the creature's intelligence; the stupider the creature, the easier the forgetting. The Fireys were the most notorious of them all, having no memory at all of any day before the now.

"So if your friends - the cowardly dwarf, the hulking simpleton, and the deluded cur - failed to contact you," he smirked, "their own idiocy was probably the culprit. As for me, my explanation is quite simple." His brow furrowed as he worried over a loose thread in his perfect attire. "I am not your friend. In fact," he lied, "I had almost forgotten you completely."

Of course you have, his snide inner voice soothed mockingly. But we know better than that, don't we? Some things are etched inexorably in stone, others in the warm flesh of a beating heart. Time might wear her image from stone, but never from your memory or your dreams.

"They haven't forgotten me," she snipped, "and I'm not talking about you anyway. I'm talking about Hoggle and that old lady who lives in the junkyard."

"You saw Agnes?" Jareth's ears pricked slightly. She was currently shacking up with that pitiful little gnome; a match made in the Bog of Eternal Stench if ever there were one. She'd discovered a most irritating penchant and talent for dream weaving as of late, a practice Jareth was not wholly comfortable with. But because she made her living from a few daydreams and hopes and hurt no one, he allowed her to continue her livelihood without impediment.

"She gave me a flower, a green rose with tiny little sharp teeth, and told me to put the petals in my ears. See?" She turned her head aside and showed him the tiny tufts lodged soundly in her ear. "I understood them perfectly after that."

He cocked his head. A serpent rose's petals promoted clarity and focus; he used them himself to stay awake and alert during meetings of state. The dreamworld was, of course, a different story. It was a magical place beyond human understanding; she probably needed them here simply as a matter of course. Otherwise, he couldn't imagine why old Agnes would have given them to her.

Unless there was something important for her to remember upon waking...

"And then I saw the castle," she continued, tugging absently on her lower lip. "I remember thinking 'It's empty. No one lives there anymore.' But you do," she managed, and she sounded for all the world as though she were still trying to convince herself of it.

"I am here." He made the proclamation with such solemnity that it sounded like regret. "I have always been here."

"Then the tower began to crumble, and I knew I couldn't stop. I just felt like if I did, it would be gone before I got here. I hoped...I mean, I thought maybe you were trying to tell me something."

"Oh?" he asked, amused. "And what might I possibly have to say to you?"

Sarah blanched, and her lips moved the tiniest bit. He leaned in to hear her better, still smiling that petulant grin.

"I thought," she dared, "maybe your world was falling down, and you needed me to be here."

The grin froze on his face. He would have laughed; he almost *did* laugh, except that it would have spoiled the perfect innocence of the moment.

He believed she was joking. Yes, what's a little sarcasm for the ol' Goblin King?

Except that she wasn't.


A Labyrinth Story
by Willa Suvia

Part 5 of 9

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