Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 15 of 50

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Power Struggle

The next few days were terribly awkward. For three days, Jareth allotted Sarah some space, until Sarah questioned his existence between dinners (as this was the only times she really saw him). On the fourth day, he joined her for lunch with a request that sounded more like a declaration, as per usual.

"Sarah, are you aware of the power of gossip?" Jareth asked her with a twirl of his fork.

Suspicious and still finding thinking of Jareth as her husband strange, Sarah asked, "In what context?"

"In the context of my kingdom and this castle."

"I daresay I'm going to find out."

"Yes, you will, one way or the other. And while we have reached some of our own decisions, we need to keep up appearances."


"We will share my room."

"What's wrong with my room?"

"It is not our room."


"And that is precisely the problem," Jareth declared.

Sarah focused intently on her salad.

Jareth sighed. "Let me put it this way. Do you know how easy it is to bribe a goblin? For example." Jareth waved a hand and one stray goblin hiding behind a long tapestry slowly walked forward. Jareth held out the same fork and the goblin's eyes followed it.

"Go tease Marek, do something he won't like and you can have this shiny fork," he said, stretching the word shiny out while the goblin twitched with excitement. With a quick nod, the goblin scurried away.

"That's one of Marek's informers," Jareth said, taking a bite. "Granted, that was something few goblins need bribing to do but the point stands. Other kingdoms have agents everywhere, and they bribe with far more than a salad fork. That and they are better skilled at interpreting any possible meaning and implication, having been schooled in all Underground prophesy since infancy. The reception rescheduling is enough for some."

"Why? What does that mean?"

"It's not really a reception of sorts though it's the nearest equivalent that I could gather. Ordinarily it takes place a few years after the wedding but given our circumstances, well…"

"But what does it mean, Jareth?"

"The 'reception' is usually where the impending birth of an heir is announced."

"Ah," Sarah replied noncommittally, again focusing on her salad. "Actually, that's more of a baby shower."

"Am I correct in assuming that you will wish to reschedule?"

"I really hadn't thought much about children," Sarah stammered.

"This is part of the contract. It does not have to be now, though sooner is better than later."

"And you still won't tell me why?"

"This would fall more into the category of 'you don't want to know,' I believe."

"See that's the thing, Jareth, I do want to know."

"I will tell you some of the basics if you drop this tone of animosity."

Sarah raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

"I believe you were the first one to bring up…oh what is the word? Compromise, after all," Jareth added.

"Fine," Sarah breathed with a shake of her head and a bit of a smile. "Let's start with the urgency of all this."

Jareth was silent for a moment, gently tapping his lips with one gloved finger.

"Well?" Sarah asked impatiently.

"It's difficult finding where to begin. We have a whole language specifically for prophesy, Sarah. To butcher a long and fantastically dramatic story to its immediate shortness, some of these prophesies will be coming to fruition and along with some inconvenient cosmic timing, well, let's just say that there is the potential for much to fall out of our favor."

"That's still fantastically vague," Sarah muttered.

"You wanted an immediate answer."

They were interrupted by a sharp yelp followed by several loud but unrecognizable words in Marek's voice.

Jareth smiled. "Ah, I owe a certain goblin a shiny fork, I believe. I daresay we'll hear about it later."

"Back to the matter at hand…" Sarah trailed off, hoping Jareth would pick up her hint. He didn't.



"Is this going to another one of those 'ask the right questions' things?"


Sarah thought for a moment. "What particularly affects the Goblin Kingdom in these prophesies?"

"Well really what affects one kingdom will affect its neighbors. But I can tell by your expression and even a little bit of experience that this answer would not satisfy you. Few other Fae are quite so fond of these creatures as I am."

"Fond?" Sarah asked disbelievingly.

"They are charming in their way. But the Goblin Kingdom itself is likely to be parceled off should we fail."

"…Okay. How about the Labyrinth?"

"Ah, should that fall into the wrong hands, both worlds can fall apart."

Sarah blinked.

Jareth sighed and launched into an explanation: "The Labyrinth protects all the Underground, yes, but it also ensures that barrier so that the Aboveground is not flooded with all sorts of beings. As you can imagine, that would certainly throw the world of your parents into a dreadful state. Ultimately, however, without the Labyrinth, which would naturally crumble if too many unregulated crosses take place, both worlds will collapse into each other and fall into oblivion."

"The prophesies say that?"

"That is one point they are very explicit on, a couple volumes worth."

"Sounds serious."

"The end of the world usually is, Sarah," Jareth drawled.

Sarah scowled but only half heartedly as if to say, which she did: "Yeah, I figured that much. I get how this affects you and, well, our worlds, but you've taken care of this for…How long have you been in charge of all this?"

Jareth gave a short laugh. "Our years and your, shall I say, former year span do not always translate well."

Sarah waved impatiently. "Well, ballpark it."

"Ball park?"

"It means just give me a rough estimate."

"A handful of centuries. Forever can be a long time and not much at all, particularly when I can shift it around."

Sarah sat back in her chair for a moment. Jareth decided he did not like her quiet on this matter.

"Is something wrong?"

"Well, assuming that you didn't take the crown immediately at birth, or however it happens here—"

"—Yes, we'll get to that eventually—"

"—Anyway, that means you're several years and a handful of centuries older than I am."

Jareth still did not fully understand the problem. "And?"

"Well, it makes you look like a total perv for starters."

"Otherwise this might complicate our relationship, yes?"


"Time is all relative here, Sarah. Perhaps it is best not to think about it."

"At least not right now, I agree."

Jareth sat forward with his elbows on the table and his fingers steepled, bits of sunlight filtered through the window and made his hair shine. "Sarah, I do believe that might be the first time we have actively agreed on a matter without dragging it out unnecessarily."

Sarah snorted most unbecomingly. "Have you been keeping count?"

"No, but I have," a voice at the door replied. Marek grinned for a moment. "Believe it or not, that puts you up to three." His grin melted when Sarah started gagging on the smell and Jareth's smirk deepened. "And you," Marek pointed to Jareth with an accusing finger, "I believe that you sent this one?"

Marek pushed the goblin he had hog-marched down the hallway in front of Jareth.

"Really, Marek, you're dripping Bog water all over the floor," Jareth said simply. He turned to the goblin. "It's alright, Bex, laugh."

The goblin fell to helpless giggles on the floor and Sarah couldn't help but smile at the contagious laughter. She glanced at the bucket in Marek's other hand. "Just a wild guess, tilting the bucket on a half-open door?"

"Precisely," Marek grumbled.

"And the smell didn't tip you off?" Sarah laughed.

"Well, I heard that there was some particular news that she wanted to tell me and was too focused on my informers."

"You mean your gossip, right Marek?" Sarah corrected.

Marek just chuckled.

Jareth ordered the goblin to be silent and tossed it (Sarah still had yet to figure out some of their genders as some were not as clean as Owena, though Sarah had thought on more than one occasion that perhaps they were not limited to two genders) a fork. "As promised. Excellent job."

The goblin caught its prize and scurried out of the room.

"Much as I delight in the combined efforts of your teasing, I must retire. Have you any idea how hard it is to get the stink out of my clothes?"

Sarah turned to Jareth once Marek had closed the door behind him and asked "You mean it washes out?"

"Not without a lot of magic."

"And it's still called the Bog of Eternal Stench?"

"It's all relative, Sarah. Wouldn't you agree that just minimal exposure to the Bog seems like an eternity?"

Sarah laughed. "Okay, I guess we're up to four points of agreement now."

"An excellent start, considering your nature."

Sarah was about to snap at him then realized that his expression intended no hostility. Instead, she laughed again. "Coming from you?"

Jareth put on an innocent expression…which ultimately looked far from innocent.

"Alright, alright," Sarah waved her hands, palms out, slowly in front of her. "Let's get back to the question. You've been ruling this place for significantly longer than I've been alive and somehow never got married in that time period, which I'm sure links back to all this prophesy stuff again."

Jareth grinned enough to show his slightly sharpened teeth. "You're learning."

"The point is, you've been around and running this place this long, why is it in trouble now?"

"Perhaps you were just late?"

Sarah rolled her eyes. "Obviously I had full control over that."

"True. Though I had anticipated this particular time of trouble, as it has been the subject of debate for centuries—"


"Ah, well some of the prophesies are not quite so easy to determine their meaning until foreseen events are passed or missed. Different interpretations vary by reader."

"Wait, did you just say not all of the prophesies come true?"

Jareth hesitated. "In a manner of speaking, I suppose. The point, however, stands that while I was preparing for the possibility of fighting for my kingdom, I did not expect to have my powers leeched off by my future queen."

"But that's fixed now, right?"

"Halfway. Whether or not you realize it, you have still been using my magic. But since you're in the Underground and we have been united, the drain is not nearly as detrimental as it had been. When we are united in all ways, then our shared power supply will grow."

"So I have some magic now?"

"You have access to it but I still wouldn't say it's yours."

"Oh, don't be a magic hog," Sarah teased.

Jareth, unsure of how to take her comment settled for a confused look.

"I was just joking around, Jareth."

"Without being spiteful?"

"Yes, that does happen occasionally, Jareth. So can you teach me some magic?"

"I thought you wanted some answers."

"I have plenty of questions, but I want to get a handle on some of this before I blow something up…well, without meaning to anyway."

"Are we finished eating then?"

"Looks that way."

Jareth stood. "Perhaps we should head to the garden then." He held out his hand which Sarah took without hesitating, a bit of a surprise to them both. Sarah blinked, breaking eye contact with Jareth and the sunny room they'd taken their meal in and opened her eyes a second later to a bright and colorful courtyard. The light breeze tugged at Sarah's simple, pale green dress, and she rolled up her long sleeves, the left refusing to stay up. Jareth mimicked her actions, taking his time to roll up his sleeves in a more refined and patient matter.

"So what've I got to do?"

"Where would you like to start?"

"At the beginning."

"Perhaps with crystals."

"Maybe you can teach me to flip them around one of these days."

Jareth chuckled. "You don't want to know how much time I've had to practice, remember?"

Sarah blushed ever so slightly. Jareth gave a small smile in response.

"Magic generally has a lot of rules and takes a lot of work to perfect. However, in your case we will not have to spend as much time on theory."

"Why's that?"

"Since you will have to channel through me, you will already have the benefit of my experience."

"That's a nice perk."

"Much of this will still take some getting used to," Jareth acknowledged. He held out his hand and turned to look at Sarah who had mimicked his arm movement. "Now the condition I ask in teaching you this is that you will stop when I ask. You will not feel the strain but I will."

Sarah nodded. Jareth twisted his wrist sharply and formed a crystal sphere with a slightly purple tint. Sarah did the same, her crystal sphere not perfect and looking decidedly more yellow.

"The hardest lesson with magic is knowing when and when not to use it," Jareth mentioned after they had formed several more crystals, Sarah's improving with each new one when Jareth managed to be polite in pointing out the imperfections. These all seemed much harder to Sarah, considering that every previous attempt at magic had been reflexive.

"You've said as much before, that it means more to do it yourself."

"But apparently, Sarah, we need to first help you reach a point where you understand when you're using it."

"Makes sense."

"Like how you gave Bex the idea for the prank."

Sarah turned to look at Jareth. "I did that?"

"That prank had never been previously seen at this castle, and while goblins can be clever in their mischief, they usually stick with pranks they can easily reach instead of needing a ladder or a stack of goblins," he pointed out.

Sarah chuckled. "I don't think you have the supplies here for some of the other ones I might involuntarily send Marek's way."

"That sounds like an exciting endeavor. I assure you that the goblins are good at improvising."

"Using chickens instead of packing peanuts?"

Jareth looked confused, and as a response, Sarah produced a crystal with a slightly off color but otherwise perfectly viable presentation of the results of some of her chosen pranks, all contained in a crystal.

Jareth's smile grew. "Marvelous. Should I call the goblins or should you?"

"Depends. Who will Marek blame?"

"Myself, regardless of what happens."

"I don't know why he puts up with you."

"Us, Sarah. Why he puts up with us," Jareth corrected seriously. "Perhaps we should all get used to it." He grinned again and added, "Particularly Marek."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 15 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>