Continuing Tales

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 8 of 20

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Please Come Home

Sarah couldn't believe her eyes. Three years of thinking about him, of trying to block him from her mind, and there he was. He was dressed as he had been when Sarah had first seen him. He was dressed all in black, a long cape billowing out behind him, a high collar framing his face. There was, however, something different about him. When Sarah had first laid eyes on the Goblin King, he'd had a secretive smile and the sparkle of mischief in his eyes. Now, as he looked down at Dirk, there was no smile and no sparkle in his eye. The Goblin King stared down at the boy before him, his mouth a dangerous thin line and his eyes were as cold as artic ice.

"W-who are you!" Dirk demanded, looking the Goblin King up and down, pure confusion in his face. "How did you get in here? The door's locked! Th-this is the second floor! Wait. The-the window. What happened to the window? The . . . where had that owl come from? Where is it?"

The Goblin King didn't say anything to interrupt Dirk's sputtering. He cocked his head to the side, unsmilingly. His eyes slowly traveling from Dirk's face down to his feet, as if sizing him up.

"How did you get in here?" Dirk demanded, standing up to face the newcomer. This wasn't the most impressive move. Dirk was a head shorter than the Goblin King and his sweater vest and khaki pants were particularly unbecoming next to the grand demeanor of the Goblin King. "What do you think you're doing in here? Beat it! This doesn't concern you!"

"Oh, it doesn't?" said the Goblin King, speaking at last. His tone was light, but very chilling. "I could have sworn I'd heard that young woman say the words 'save me'. Had that been a lie or some strange form of foreplay?"

Dirk turned brick red. "Shut up!" he snapped. "This doesn't concern you! This is between me and Sarah."

The Goblin King's eyes flashed when Dirk had said Sarah's name. Sarah curled up even tighter into the defensive ball she'd formed herself into. She was in as much trouble as Dirk was. The fact that the Goblin King had called her "that woman" hadn't gone unnoticed by her.

"I told you to get out," snapped Dirk, his face growing redder.

"I won't do any such thing," said the Goblin King, looking down at his hands and adjusting his glove. "She asked for help. So here I am."

Dirk sniffed. "What are you? Are you some kind of superhero or something?"

"I can be," said the Goblin King, not looking at either Dirk or Sarah. "I can be quite generous, you'll find. But I can also be very cruel."

Sarah let out a little frightened squeak. Dirk, who had not understood, simply scoffed.

"Whatever that means," snapped Dirk, taking a very unwise step toward the Goblin King. "Well, superhero or not, you shouldn't be here. Get out! Leave me and Sarah be. This doesn't concern . . ."

Quick as a flash, the Goblin King grabbed the front of Dirk's sweater vest and forced him to look him right in the eyes.

"I tolerated it once," hissed the Goblin King. "But I will not do so again."

"T-tolerated?" stammered Dirk, sounding confused. "What do you . . .?"

"Don't," snapped the Goblin King, interrupting him. "Address Sarah by her name as she is your friend, you pathetic bit of filth."

The Goblin King dropped Dirk, where he crumpled at his feet. Dirk, now very red in the face, looked up at the Goblin King with fury in his eyes.

"What was that for you . . ." but before Dirk could finish, the Goblin King kicked out at him, catching him in the chest so that he fell to the ground.

"What kind of pig of a man would force himself upon a woman?" snarled the Goblin King, now walking in a circle around the fallen boy. "Pathetic, unforgivable, weak, disgusting thing to do."

"What are . . .?"

"Do not interrupt me," snapped the Goblin King, when Dirk tried to speak. "I see you for what you are. You are a dreamer. Do trust me when I say I know a thing or two about dreams. You said you where a man of action. Ha!" The Goblin King let out a cold, mirthless laugh. "Such a lie. You do nothing but pine over that which you cannot have."

"I do not," protested Dirk. "I'm . . ."

"The Grand Master Wizard was it?" the Goblin King's mouth curled into a sneer as he said Dirk's title. "Yes, yes. We heard all that. But are you really? Alright then, great one, use your powers. Force me to my knees, begging for your mercy. Use your fantastic powers to make me quake and tremble at your feet. Go on. I will not struggle. Use your sorcery on me. Make me regret speaking to you in such a disregarding way."

The Goblin King continued to circle Dirk, like a wolf stalking its prey, waiting for the moment to strike. Dirk just sat there on the floor, his face was still very red, and pulled into an ugly look. The Goblin King laughed coldly again.

"My, what terrible power," mocked the Goblin King. "Never before have I seen such an amazing display of the power of scowling."

"Who are you?" hissed Dirk, staring furiously up at the Goblin King. "Just who are you, anyway? Just who are you to tell me . . ."

"I," said the Goblin King. "Am everything that you pretend to be. Everything and ever so much more." He raised his hand and a beautiful crystal sphere appeared in his palm.

Dirk stared at the crystal, his face going from red to white very quickly, and was soon tinged with green. "Who . . . who . . .?"

"Not so pathetic now, do you find?" said the Goblin King, rolling the crystal back and forth over his hand. "Now, about you, my poor, unfortunate fellow. You have committed, or at least were about to commit, a very horrible crime. True, I arrived in time to prevent anything from happening. Still, attempted crime is just as bad as actual crime, and such deserves punishment, don't you agree?"

Dirk was still staring at the crystal in the Goblin King's hand. He'd stopped rolling it and held it tightly in his fist. Suddenly, the crystal was no longer transparent and sparkling as it had been before. Now it was smoky and black and seemed to be filled with a dark purple light.

"Wh-what is that anyway?" stammered Dirk.

"It's a crystal," explained the Goblin King. "Nothing more. Normally, if you turn it this way and look into it, it will show you your dreams. But for you to see your dreams, that wouldn't be a very fitting punishment, would it? That is why I gave this crystal a very special power. One I've thought up especially for filth like you."

The Goblin King stopped in his continuous circle around Dirk. He now looked closely at the dark crystal in his hands then looked slowly into Dirk's eyes. "You can look into this crystal all you like, but you will not find any of your dreams. No, all you will see, my poor fellow, is your greatest and most terrible . . . of nightmares."

Without warning, the Goblin King tossed the crystal into the air. Sarah and Dirk both watched as it rose up into the air, and then start to fall right onto Dirk's head. But the crystal did not land on Dirk's head with a loud thunk and shatter into a hundred shards, as some would think it would. Instead, it sank, like a soap bubble, into Dirk's hair and disappear into his brain. For a moment, Dirk's eyes widened with shock, but then they rolled up into the back of his head and he collapsed at the feet of the Goblin King.

There was a long pause. Sarah expected more to happen. She thought something terrible would happen. She'd expected Dirk to start screaming or something, but he simply lay there, as if he were simply asleep.

"W-what happened to him?" she said, staring at him.

"He's passed off into a world built entirely out of his own nightmares," said the Goblin King, looking down at Dirk with disgust on his face. "He won't stay like that forever, though. By dawn, he will awaken from his hellish experience, under the impression that it was all the worst dream of his life, and I will simply be an alcohol-induced hallucination."

Sarah looked up at the Goblin King. He looked up as well and their eyes met. The simple contact of eyes filled Sarah with a powerful emotion. She wanted to cry out and yet remain completely silent. She wanted to laugh and yet sob hysterically. She wanted to touch him, but run away as fast as she could. An iron fist had seized all of Sarah's insides, squeezing her heart, lungs, and stomach together so that they barely managed to work, consumed with the desire that he stay and yet begging with all her might that he leave.

Neither of them knew how long they stood there, simply looking at each other, both eyes and faces devoid of expression. At last, it was the Goblin King who acted first. He tore his gaze from Sarah's, bowed his head to her, and then began to head toward the destroyed window.


Sarah was on her feet. She hurried over and grabbed his arm. The iron fist in her chest squeezed at her insides in a particularly painful way when she touched him. She was relieved to see that she could touch him. It made him real made this entire experience real, and not a dream. He did not turn around to look at her, but Sarah clung to his arm, determined that he stay until she said something.

But then again, what in the world could she say? Last time they'd seen each other, they had been enemies, but he'd just saved her. What do you say to someone who you'd sworn to loathe for all eternity when they suddenly do something uncharacteristically kind and caring for you? Sarah swallowed, trying to find anything to say. Finally, she gathered her courage to say what she knew she definitely wanted to say.

"Thank you," she said, very quietly. "Thank you for saving me. Thank you."

The Goblin King turned around to face her. Urg, what was it about his eyes that made her feel so very small? But there wasn't any harshness in his gaze. No hostility. It was the same look that he had when they'd found each other inside the crystal dream.

"You're welcome."

Those two little words where all he said and all she needed to hear. She felt the anxious fear inside her start to fade, the iron fist loosening its grip. Now that she was closer to him, she noticed something she hadn't before. He was paler than she remembered him being. His face looked tired and drawn and the arm she was still holding on to seemed thin, almost brittle.

Then, Rin's voice popped into her head. "He's sick! He's sick!" Was this what Rin had been talking about. The Goblin King seemed to notice Sarah's eyes looking at him critically, for he quickly turned away, tugging on the arm that Sarah had a hold of, silently requesting that she let go. But she didn't.

"Wait," Sarah said again. She raised her free hand and, gathering every ounce of courage she possessed, touched his face and turned him to face her once again. "You . . . you don't look so good. Are you alright?"

He didn't answer. He blinked and looked down, suddenly reluctant to look into her eyes. He raised his hand took hold of the hand Sarah had on his cheek. There was nothing menacing in his touch. Sarah felt no threat coming from him. True, she was still very nervous, but not really afraid. The Goblin King then gave her a slight smile and inched closer to her. Sarah felt her heard throwing itself against her ribcage, half-terrified, half-overcome with curiosity over what would happen next.

He came in a little closer and Sarah felt her eyelids droop modestly. Vaguely, it occurred to her that she had dressed herself up for the first time in a long time. She wondered if he had noticed. With a slight thrill she thought she could feel his breath on her lips. He was coming in so close . . . there could be no doubt about it . . . he was surely about to . . .

And then, he was gone.

Sarah's eyes snapped open. She was alone in the room, except for the unconscious form of Dirk on the floor. The hand that had been holding on to the Goblin King's arm was now grasping only air and the hand that had been held in his was cold and lonely from the sudden separation. Sarah hurried over to the shattered window. She stared out into the black night. She couldn't see anything, not even the white barn owl flying away. He'd simply left. Vanished without a trace.

Sarah felt the corners of her eyes start to prickle. She turned around sharply and marched over to Dirk. Trying her best to touch him as little as possible, she got the key from out of his pocket, unlocked the door, and left the room.

The party was still going on. The sea of moving bodies was just as it had been when she first arrived. She pushed and shoved her way free from them. She thought someone might have called her name once or twice, but she deliberately ignored them. She reached the door and wrenched it open, accidentally hitting a boy she didn't know and making him spill his cup of beer all over his shirt. She marched across the yard, ignoring the furious remarks of the boy, got into her dad's car, and drove for home.

Sarah surprised herself as she drove. She expected to drive like a mad woman, driving on the wrong side of the road and narrowly missing other drivers, but she was doing the exact opposite. She was driving more slowly than was necessary, waiting for other people to pass her, and she didn't even mind when someone cut her off. She reached home without a scratch on herself or the car.

Sarah hurried inside. She marched in through the front door, hurried through the living room, hurried up the stairs, failed to answer when she heard Irene call her name, run into her room, slam the door, then collapse onto her bed.

Sarah expected to cry. She should have cried. That was the reasonable thing to do, wasn't it? She ought to have cried after what had just happened to her. She'd spent ten minutes in the most horrible atmosphere in her life, she's been locked in a room with a creep who had attacked her, she'd been slapped, then she'd been rescued by a man who was supposed to be her enemy and who disappeared without word moments afterward.

He was going to kiss me, Sarah thought miserably. I could have sworn he was about to kiss me. Oh, I don't get it! He steals my brother and makes me run the labyrinth and all that stuff and then he shows up years later and saves me from that creep and . . . and tries to kiss me before just vanishing? Urg! Why is he so hard to understand? I . . . I would have let him kiss me. I wouldn't have minded. I mean . . . he just saved me. I . . . well, he'd deserve a kiss. Just a little one. I wouldn't have cared. I certainly didn't feel the need to resist, anyway.

There was suddenly a knock on her door. "Sarah?" It was Irene. "Sarah? Are you in there? You're back so soon!"

"Yeah, I'm here," Sarah called back, weakly. "Irene, I'm sorry. I'm really tired. I'll tell you about it tomorrow, okay?"

"Oh," Irene sounded taken aback. "Well, okay. See you in the morning then."

Sarah sighed, relieved that Irene left without a fight. Sarah kicked off her shoes and, without bothering to wash off her make-up or get undressed, she pulled her blanket around her and snuggled into her pillows. She may not have liked it, but she couldn't deny it any longer.

Past differences aside, she'd been happy to see the Goblin King again.


Sarah looked around her. Once again, she seemed to be semitransparent and floating and she knew where she was. It was the Escher room. All of its staircases and hallways were just as she remembered them. Spread out and spiraled around in an endless mass of twisted passages. A labyrinth within the labyrinth. She couldn't really move. All Sarah seemed able to do is float there and stare at the empty and very familiar room.

Suddenly, she heard quick footsteps. She looked around at all the different openings in the room, waiting for someone to come in. And someone did come. It was the Goblin King. He was dressed differently than he had been when he'd saved her that evening. Now he wore a white, poet's shirt, tight gray breeches, a black leather vest and those pointed boots.

Sarah watched as he hurried through the various staircases, apparently knowing exactly where he was going. Sarah tried to get a good look at his face. His brow was furrowed and one of his black gloved hands was massaging his chest.

Then, without warning, he stopped and slapped his free hand onto the wall to support himself. Sarah could hear him breathing and the sound frightened her. He seemed to be panting, his breath coming in wheezy gasps. He took his hand off the wall and covered his mouth quickly with it. He leaned forward, his shoulders quivering, his face contorted in what seemed to be pain. Then, Sarah realized what he was doing. He was trying to hold in a cough.

The Goblin King's efforts proved in vain. He took the hand away from his mouth and coughed heavily into the crook of his arm. Sarah hated the sound of his cough. It seemed to give a sharp pang to the heart when she heard it. When he'd finished, the Goblin King looked into the sleeve he'd coughed into. From the angle she was at, Sarah couldn't see the sleeve, but she did notice the Goblin King's eyes widen with fear as he looked at it.

The Goblin King took another step down the stairs, but had to lean against the wall to support himself again. He didn't seem able to move. Sarah heard him curse under his breath.

"Not . . . here, you fool," he said, in barely more than a whisper. "Come on . . . move. Just get . . . to your chambers . . . and then . . . you can do . . . whatever you want. Just . . . get . . . to . . ."

He stumbled again. Sarah watched, fearfully, as he clutched both of his hands to his chest. He'd stopped talking to himself. It seemed to be to hard to talk and breath at the same time now. He took a few more wheezy breaths before his mismatched eyes rolled up into the back of his head. Sarah couldn't do anything to help him as his body seemed to go limp and he fell down the stairs.

Every time his body hit one of the steps, the resounding thud echoed all around the room. Before long, he came to rest at a landing that made him look held up against the wall. He lay there, spread eagled, his chest still raising and falling but it only appeared to be doing so with a tremendous amount of work. Sarah could see the sleeve he had coughed into now and the sight of it made her sick.

The crook of his arm was covered in a brilliant red stain that looked horribly like blood.

Sarah woke up with a start, her eyes full to the bursting point with tears.

Please Come Home

A Labyrinth Story
by Ying-Fa-dono

Part 8 of 20

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