Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 14 of 50

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Power Struggle Jareth nearly smashed the crystal over the boy's head when he refused to take his dreams. Couldn't he see that the King of the Goblins was in a particularly nasty mood? He jerked the boy to the Underground with probably a little more force than necessary, enough to where the boy—Anthony or some such thing—looked a little green. Jareth crossed his arms and waited for him to recover.

"You'd better start moving," he growled.

"Where'd you take my sister?"

"Solve the Labyrinth in thirteen hours and you'll get her back. Now either give up and save me the aggravation or start moving."

The boy trembled but didn't back down. "Where is she?"

More dark streaks of color spilled through Jareth's hair and he snatched the boy by his shirt, hoisting him to eye level. "These are the rules of the game. There will be no negotiations. Either quit or solve the Labyrinth. You waste everyone's time sitting here arguing with someone who wouldn't listen to you on a pleasant day." He dropped Anthony quite suddenly who landed with a yelp. "Am I quite clear?" he enunciated while showing as much of his clenched teeth as possible.

Anthony scrabbled to his feet and started running. With a slight swell of pity, Jareth sent a crystal of light to follow the boy, a rather small, dim light but it was something a little more than the moonlight. He could have easily illuminated the entire Labyrinth with a whim, but Jareth was a bit of a sucker for pathetic fallacy; instead gentle grumbles of thunder rolled in the distance, not much lightning in sight but the threat was still there. He transported himself to the castle and found himself ankle deep in goblins, all of them eager for a good show as usual. Jareth kicked through them as usual, perhaps with a little more force than purely necessary. He sighed and took a seat (as usual), rubbing the bridge of his nose before whipping a crystal up to take a glance. He sent a few of the goblins to intercept the boy and torment him for a while and the majority of the cluster eagerly leapt up and scrambled for the exit.

Then Jareth noticed that something was missing. The child was not in the chamber. Jareth was many things but he was not necessarily irresponsible, particularly with children. He stood up and prayed that the goblins hadn't thought to take it with them, conjuring another crystal.

The picture in the globe focused first on the girl, roughly three or four and with her hair in two sloppy pigtails. She wore a confused expression then started giggling, though Jareth couldn't hear it. The scene stretched back and Jareth recognized the room instantly. Sighing again, Jareth transported himself to Sarah's old room.

The little girl sat on Sarah's lap as Sarah read from a large book Jareth did not recognize. Sarah glanced up and made eye contact with Jareth (his arms crossed and eyes with an almost skeptical glare) but proceeded to finish the story. The taken child laughed at the voices Sarah used for each character and clapped her small hands, trying to turn the pages sometimes before Sarah finished reading them, eager to see the next picture. Eventually, the girl looked up and pointed to Jareth.

"Who's that?"

"Who's that?" Sarah parroted. "That's the Goblin King."

"He looks angry."

"Probably because he is. He's keeping an eye on your brother."

"Brother?" the little girl asked, highly confused.

"She might not remember," Jareth began to explain. "I've found in the past that a small memory spell can make the transition, however permanent, a little easier.

"Why did she come here and not to the main chamber?" Sarah asked. "That's how it worked before."

"Sarah, you are a recognized sovereign of the Labyrinth. If you were a living block of stone, plant, and who knows what else, would you rather trust those children wished away to the care of some goblin or your rulers? I was seeing to the brother so the sister was placed in your care. It's not that complicated."

The little girl on Sarah's lap looked confused, having followed the conversation back and forth with a flip of her pigtails. Sarah gave her a warm smile. "It's alright, Becca. You just stay with me for a little while."

She seemed satisfied.

"We still need to have a talk," Jareth said in a low voice. He turned to Becca and tossed her a crystal which promptly turned into a doll with long red hair. Becca was delighted and took her doll to a cradle that had appeared out of nowhere.

"I see you retreated to a safer ground."

"Something like that," Sarah shrugged. "I knew I had a book or two in here that Becca would appreciate. Don't you have to watch the runner?"

As a response, Jareth glanced into a crystal and after a moment of thought sent another whizzing off presumably in the boy's direction.

"I believe we will have plenty of time."

"I don't know if I'm ready to talk yet."

Jareth's countenance immediately darkened, but he took a moment to consider Sarah seriously before saying anything. Minutes ago, she had been panicked and screaming; now she was calm and nonchalant. He'd had much more practice dealing with screaming (a natural side effect of being King of the Goblins and their well-intentioned but juvenile ways). His experiences with calm had always taught him to be wary.

"Jareth, if you tend to the runner for the next few hours and give me just a little time to think, I promise we will discuss this then. It's just how I work through big decisions…or arguments. Please."

Jareth considered his options, eventually deciding that he'd rather not let the circumstances deteriorate to another shouting match and that Sarah's solution was probably the best method to ensure such on her side; he could use the time to take out some of his frustration on the runner (who was currently trying to figure out why down was up).

"I'll return in two hours."

She offered a rare smile. "Thank you, Jareth."

He knew he was being far too lenient but he left anyway. Though it wouldn't be difficult to speed up relevant time, Jareth thought that perhaps Sarah would refuse to uphold her end if he chose to do so.

Anthony went through one of the most frustrating experiences of his life and after he started crying for the second time, Jareth decided to just let him run, particularly as he was so disoriented that he started to backtrack. At least the goblins were certainly enjoying themselves, allowed a more active part than he normally would have (their continued presence would have an unfavorable effect on his mood). Two hours passed rather quickly and agonizingly slow all at the same time, for both parties.

Jareth returned to Sarah's old room and leaned against the wall, arms crossed.

"You know, a lot more is riding on this than your personal happiness."

"Your ego for starters, yes, I know," Sarah sighed. "Two hours must be up then."

A silence settled for a moment until Jareth broke it in a quiet voice, suddenly next to her ear. "I would not force you."

Understanding his meaning, Sarah nodded, without looking at him. "I trust you of that much, at least I think so," she added with a brief small quirk of a smile.

"I could have forced you from the beginning. A simple spell and you'd be my simpering little servant," he mentioned flippantly, twirling a piece of her hair in his fingers.

Sarah only nodded. "I know how much trouble it is, me having free will and all. But that doesn't seem like your style anyway." She took a breath, "No, I don't understand how all this works together in the master plan and I think that's part of the problem. What's with this urgent timeframe? Care to enlighten me?"

"Let's just say that we take prophesy rather seriously here. It's really too complicated to explain fully without a few years worth of back-story to cover the basics, and I do literally mean years."

Sarah sighed. "So I have to trust you and understand that this is what's best for the kingdom?"

"Yourself and myself as well."


"Not exactly but my bride and the Queen of the Goblins. I can't say there's a specific section detailing how to deal with your insecurities."

Sarah bit her lip before she said what she was intending. Becca was curling up on the bed, with the doll tucked under her arm and thumb firmly set in her mouth. Jareth followed her glance and realized what she was thinking, that this conversation ought not to end in shouting.

"Look," Sarah whispered, "The best way we're going to get through this is not to keep snipping at each other. We'll drop the sarcasm, or at least most of it, and argue some more later, okay?" Without waiting for an answer, Sarah continued, "I know there's a kingdom at least at stake here and probably more considering the Labyrinth's position in the Underground and all. And I know it's immature, but I reckon I can hold a grudge for all of eternity."

In response, Jareth raised an eyebrow, not smiling.

Sarah sighed. "I know I'm not saying this very well but the important thing is I'm…" Sarah faltered. "The honest answer is I'm just not ready. I know you don't know me any more than I know you, and because of that, I think sex would really just complicate things too much at this point. I mean, we've been vying for control the whole time or rather I've been trying to find some sense of it and…"

Sarah trailed off, noticing that Jareth's expression hadn't changed.

"Well, say something," Sarah said exasperatedly.

"What is to be said?" Jareth intoned wearily as he straightened. "You've made your decision."

"That's it?" Sarah whispered, shocked.

There was another grumble of thunder in the distance but Sarah waited for his answer. Jareth started for the door, turning his head to say over his shoulder: "Sarah, I will make sure you are aware of your duties. All of them. I expect you to make an effort."

He flung the door open but stopped short of slamming it, apparently remembering that the little girl was asleep on Sarah's old bed.

Left to her thoughts, Sarah stepped out on to the small balcony and wished she had someone to talk to, talk things through. She didn't feel comfortable talking to her Labyrinthian friends about this matter—Ludo would cock his head to the side, utterly confused and without an answer; Elizabeth would simply insist on Sarah's duty; Hoggle probably couldn't offer any practical advice; Sir Didymus would offer his sympathies but no help; Sarah did not know Jan or Mrs. Worm or even Marek well enough to ask any such questions. What Sarah really needed was Karen.

Plopping in front her vanity, Sarah prayed and wished as fervently as possible that she could see her stepmother. She watched the mirror for any signs of change, her eyes welling with tears as all she saw was her own rumpled reflection, her hair sticking up slightly where Jareth's hands had been.

From the observation room where Jareth sat with his elbows resting on his knees, Jareth watched her through a crystal. With a sigh, he completed the connection and allowed Sarah to talk to her stepmother who was just as surprised, tearful, and relieved.

He allowed himself a small smile for a moment before releasing the crystal and returning his attention to another crystal where the boy was tearing at his hair, the blond now streaked with dirt. Perhaps the goblin symphony was a little harsh, but they always had the desired effect.

Jareth glanced at the doorway; two voices were approaching but he paid them no heed, even when the owners of the voices opened a side door and stopped mid-sentence. The lady stammered her apologies and Marek bade her a hasty but charmingly polite farewell. Marek closed the door and unabashedly peered into the crystal the King held in his palm (the boy still curled up even after the music had stopped while the goblins pretended to switch songs; they only knew one but called it many things).

"That was the Duchess Melocka, a tall dwarf or a petite Fae, I'm not sure which. She was very interested in your castle." Jareth made no indication that he had heard. "I hadn't expected to find you here," he concluded somewhat lamely.

Jareth exhaled and closed his eyes briefly. "I hadn't expected it either."

"But I can see you had little choice in the matter."

"Perhaps not all bad."

"When Sarah is the alternative? I'd be annoyed, too," Marek jibed with a wink. When Jareth's scowl was a darker sort than those his teasing usually provoked, Marek shifted his smirk to a serious expression. "What's wrong? Did something happen already between you two?" Marek furrowed his brows in quiet thought before they shot up when he hit a moment of revelation. "Or did something not happen between you two?"

Jareth returned his focus to the crystal in his hand as a bit of thunder echoed far off in the distance; that was all the answer Marek needed.

"I see."

"What? What do you see?" Jareth asked icily. "Have you some hackneyed advice to spit out and smooth everything out? You probably knew what had happened before you even came in the room."

"Well, actually, it is harder for eavesdroppers to pick up anything when you're not yelling. That and I asked even my informers to allot you some privacy tonight," Marek replied. "Even I have some boundaries."

There was a flash of lightning in the distance, and Marek could tell that he was perhaps not helping.

"I still think that you can make the best of this entire situation." When Jareth looked at him sardonically, Marek added, "Well, maybe not at this precise instant but this whole marriage overall. I know this whole thing is new to both of you and you're still trying to figure it out…perhaps I should find someone who's actually been married to explain this; I only have all the lessons Mother drilled into my head to go off of," he admitted.

Jareth nodded.

"Still, what Sarah doesn't know is that you are trying, mostly because she doesn't know you."

"Really? How astute."

"But this goes both ways. Neither of you really know that the other is trying or what to actually do or—"

"Are you done yet?" Jareth interrupted harshly.

"I suppose," Marek said resignedly. "This circumstance is just unusual. Underground arranged marriages have a decade or two to resign to their partner and most other situations involve a scandal anyway, though I daresay many would include these circumstances in that category, just based on speculation, much like back when Sal was…" Marek went on to ramble for another minute or two as Jareth watched him pace back and forth. Once he realized that he was caught in his own ramblings, Marek stopped his history rant and switched back to the matter at hand.

"Really though, I think you'll find it easier to maybe even love your wife if you get to know her a little bit. I've heard you guys bicker without aiming to actually attack one another…or rather my informants did but still. Be patient with her. Maybe she'll return the favor, which just might make her a saint, putting up with you."

Marek gauged Jareth's glare, noting that it was more relaxed than it had been.

"Look, I'll stop giving you advice, for a little while anyway, I can't make many promises," he waved his hands dismissively. "And hopefully you'll do your own thinking instead of pouting and causing all these little thunder fits."

"Watch your tone, Marek," Jareth warned half-heartedly.

"If you so much as hint at the Bog of Eternal Stench, I'll—"

But with a wave of his hand, Jareth had transported Marek on his way to the Bog, because really there wasn't a better place to throw unwanted advice-givers.

Sarah glanced out her window as a soothing rain began to fall, contemplating on Karen's well meaning threats and then what advice she had ultimately given her as Becca slept peacefully on her old bed.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 14 of 50

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