Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 24 of 50

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Power Struggle

The rest of the afternoon slurred together and soon (thankfully) the group adjourned for another break. However, while Sarah was offered Jareth's arm, she found herself shoved and pushed along by several dark goblins.

"I guess I'm going to talk strategy for a little while," Sarah sighed, creating a small invisible shield about herself to keep off prying and craggily fingers. Jareth broke through the barrier and rested a hand on her cheek, a serious expression in his eyes overriding the smirk on his face.

"Be careful."

Sarah gave a small, warm smile. "I'll call if I need anything."

The goblins then discovered that although they could not physically touch Sarah they could shove her protective field in their proposed direction.

"That's enough of that. Calm down. I'm coming," Sarah promised. The tainted goblins were unmoved but at least slowed in the ferocity of their shovings. Eventually, she found herself in a large empty chamber…well, empty except for at least thirty five nasty, murderous goblins all muttering at once. Despite the general incoherency of the meeting, Sarah was still far more invested in the arguments than she had been in the previous meetings. There were more fistfights, certainly, and enough of the dark tongue screeching through her thoughts to make sure she was not only alive but consciously aware that that particular goblin was displeased.

"Enough!" Sarah eventually yelled, casting a brief silencing spell for effect. "Now, it would be nice to know some of the details of what you're specifically fighting for if you want me to speak on your behalf," Sarah said as politely as possible while still retaining a stern edge. She released the spell.

The room remained deathly quiet for a moment. Then another. One of the goblins stepped forward and snarled. "We didn' ask for no helps from yous. Yous follow what we say."

Sarah raised an eyebrow. "How many years have you been trying to get some attention to your cause? Wasn't it about time that someone spoke with you?"

"Didn' have to be yous, no dids it? Yous workin' for us. Don' mean we owe yous nothin' so don' go thinkin' yous rulin' us. We don' care what no prah-fah-see says, no."

Despite her immediate reaction to ask more on what the prophesy had to do with it this time, Sarah sensed that perhaps they were needing more reassurance than anything else, counting off on her fingers: "I don't understand what caused the schism in the first place, I'm not looking for leverage, I don't expect to call in favors later, and regardless of all that, you won't believe it anyway." The goblins all stared blankly and Sarah sighed again. "If you answer two of my questions then I'll hear whatever else you have to say."

The tainted goblins looked uncertain if still ready to maul at a moments notice.

Sarah chose not to wait for a verbal answer. "What happened that made you leave the Goblin Kingdom? Let's start there."

Those who weren't grumbling off in their own discontented clusters began talking all at once. After a long while, Sarah felt that perhaps she had the jist of it. "Okay, second question: so what do you want?"

This question left them utterly perplexed. Still with snarls and angry countenances but entirely bemused. "You've been trying to make a grievance for centuries and you're not sure what you're trying to change? It's not enough to fight against something. You need to propose an alternative."

They didn't take well to this gentle chastisement and Sarah very seriously considered calling Jareth to get her out of there, playing with the necklace he had given with her just in case the need should really arise. Another series of grumblings and interweaving complaints droned into a cacophony that filled the room again, Sarah still trying to glean what sense of it she could. After what seemed like far too long anyway, several of the goblins shoved past her and rest simply disappeared, leaving Sarah in an empty, and supremely messy, room.

Shaking her head and collecting her bearings, she entered the hallway and headed toward her room.

"You should not wander these hallways by yourself, Sarah. They could be dangerous."

Sarah turned to face Marek, sincere in what he was saying.

"Care to escort me then? I confess I'm not thinking straight at the moment."

"Perhaps, then, I should ask you all sorts of impertinent questions that I normally wouldn't get away with?" he asked casually, taking her arm and smiling again.

"Perhaps I should take my chances in the hallways," Sarah replied with a laugh, taking his arm all the same. "I wasn't sure if the uniform was going to work quite as well as it does. The red suits you."

"Yes, I have been complemented on it twice and stared at more times than that. This is a military costume?"

"Well, with Jareth and I in the regency period, it seemed like a good idea to have an officer around."

"I suppose that it depends on what rank you've given me as to whether or not I'll agree."

Sarah laughed. "Let's go with Captain. I'm not sure with how to tell by looking at the stars and bars, sorry."

"Captain Marek it is, then," Marek agreed smugly.

"Best not let it go to your head or I'll bust you down to Private."

"If you didn't have the authority to do so, I might have to test that out."

Sarah pushed the door open. "I think somehow you'll manage to push your limits anyway."

"What's he up to now?" Jareth asked, his arms crossed over his chest as he studied them both with a small smile.


"Captain Marek," he corrected, taking off his jacket and resting it on the chair.

Jareth quirked an eyebrow. "I think I understand already. Interesting choice of dress, Marek. I presume you had help?"

Sarah grinned and plopped down on a chair in a rather unladylike way, a light layer of dust clouding into the air. "I think it suits him nicely."

Jareth smiled and shook his head while Marek huffed himself up to indignantly ask what Jareth found amusing, unable to keep his smile hidden either.

"Well?" Jareth asked Sarah, once Marek had given up his mock, self-righteous attitude. "I take it the meeting went well enough that you didn't have to call me to rescue you."

"I seriously considered it."

Marek laughed. "I can well imagine."

Sarah shrugged, quietly laughing at herself. "I guess it's one way to keep things interesting. I could have chosen something a little less hazardous, I think. Like tossing wads of paper at the elves."

"Is that the best you can come up with?" Marek teased, taking one of the other chairs.

"At the moment, I think so. Give me another hour and I'll find another mess to step into, don't worry." Sarah sighed. "I don't suppose you could give me more information about them?"

"Depends on what you know," Jareth replied as he took the final chair, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees and fingers steepled.

Rolling her eyes, Sarah replied, "Well, yes, I figured that was coming." She took a breath. "It all came out in a garbled mess but I could cipher some of the reoccurring complaints." Jareth nodded; Sarah continued. "Apparently Jareth gave them some sort of ultimatum that they didn't exactly take a liking to. That's where some of this started, at least. Care to expand? They mentioned they wanted to get back to some of the 'old ways,' whatever that means."

Sarah caught Jareth and Marek sharing a glance and chose to wait to say any more.

Marek was the first to speak. "I do remember this group," he said with some wonderment.

Jareth sat back slightly. "Sarah, how would you describe the Labyrinth in its current state?" She raised an eyebrow and Jareth beat her to her question, "This will have some relevance."

Shaking her head, Sarah thought about it. "Always changing, tricky, surprising, frustrating when turned around, not a piece of cake if not impossible…"

"A little dark?" Marek prompted.

"Yeah, there is a bit of a dark shadow there. Nothing like here, though."

"Nothing like here now, yes," Jareth agreed.

"But not everyone may find Firey dismemberment amusing," Marek deadpanned.

"Sarah," Jareth explained, "part of the reason the Labyrinth has had such a good record lies in the fact that there were some denizens who believed that tearing any runner to shreds was the most effective way to stop them. Back to the days of the Minotaur. Times have since changed."

Sarah nodded, trying to allow herself to process all of what history now implied. "They have some general complaints of maltreatment but I think that comes from everybody." Frowning, Sarah added, "That's the part that confuses me. Why they're choosing to stay if we—I'm assuming you're on my side, at least—are offering them something at least not so bad. The whispered something about promises several times over but wouldn't explain that any more than Ludo can do Shakespeare. They even mentioned the prophesy, once. Trying to tell me that I shouldn't expect them to bow down because of it."

"Interesting," Jareth said cryptically.

"Is there anything you can add to all that?" Sarah prompted.

"In the past, we have offered them a way back. They offered no reason for refusing." Jareth rose from his chair. "This is going to take some thought."

"Tell me I don't have to do any more of that today, please."

Jareth grinned and Sarah immediately added, "That was not your cue to say something smart."

"With an invitation like that, Sarah? That's not fair."

"Oh, don't you even start that," Sarah warned.

Jareth didn't seem to feel threatened, just grinning all the wider.

Marek started laughing again. "As much as I hate to leave the show, I believe that you'll be wanting to see if it's possible to be surreptitious about borrowing a copy of the prophesies." He left before either could say anything.

"That sounded like an excuse to me," Sarah commented.


"What, you could just magic a copy of it anyway, right?"

"Not exactly."

"Well, regardless, I think he wanted to let us be alone."

"Now why would he want to do that?" Jareth purred next to ear.

Sarah shivered lightly. Still, she laughed and shook her head, ignoring the fact that her throat was momentarily too small to swallow properly.

Sarah also saw Marek's jacket stretched over the chair he had just vacated. "Perhaps I should ask him. He forgot his jacket anyway. When I come back, we can devise other ways to torture him."

Jareth had an odd expression on his face, and somewhere in the back of Sarah's mind she realized she was running away. Sarah wasn't sure why her immediate reaction was to run, but in the back of her mind she knew it wouldn't help matters. There were some leaps she had to resign herself to taking.

With a small smile, Sarah rested her hand on Jareth's cheek, kissing the other. "I won't be long."

He looked like he might have said something but Sarah took the jacket and ran to catch up with Marek. Sarah's mind was buzzing mildly, vaguely wondering if perhaps she had been too bold…but really, she justified to herself, he was already her husband so she never had to worry much about being too bold. Laughing to herself, Sarah still had to wonder about him, considering she couldn't solidify exactly what she was feeling either. There was eternity to figure it out, right?

It came to Sarah's attention that she didn't know which way Marek had gone. Picking a direction, Sarah started wandering, taking one last glance at her own room in hopes that she'd be able to find her way back as quickly as she had promised.

"You really shouldn't wander around these hallways by yourself, Sarah," a voice said behind her after she'd turned a third corner.

"Marek, I was just trying to find y—" Sarah turned and saw that in fact it wasn't Marek. "Oh," she said, not sure what else to say.

Orion smiled. "Alone at last, eh, Sarah?"

Sarah took a step back.

Orion held up his hands disarmingly. "Calm down, calm down. Can I point you in the right direction?"

"I was looking for the library."

"Ah, that's a tricky room to find. Perhaps the rooms don't switch positions here like back in the Labyrinth, but it's still difficult. I could try to describe it to you, but I fear it would make matters worse."

"Try it, anyway, please. I don't want to trouble you," Sarah answered as tactfully as possible.

"Oh, it's no trouble at all. Please, allow me to escort you."

Seeing as this was certainly not a good idea in Sarah's opinion, she insisted, "No, that's alright. I'll just head back to my room."

"It's not far," he pressed, taking her arm with a little too much force. "I would very much like to speak with you for a moment."

Sarah allowed herself to be steered, subtly snaking one arm up to hold a firm grasp on the necklace Jareth had given her.

He wasn't lying about the distance at least. They were soon both inside the library and seemed to be alone. Sarah kept to her side of the room as Orion leaned on one of the tall chairs that didn't look comfortable so much as stiff.

"What do you need to say, then, Orion?" Sarah prompted, still fingering the necklace.

"You don't know all you're stepping into, Sarah."

Sarah snorted before she could stop herself. "Anything specifically?"

Orion's expression darkened. "I think you know what I mean."

Sarah raised an eyebrow, waiting for him to elaborate.

"Leave the goblins alone, Sarah. It's best for everyone."


"Yes," Orion half-snarled.

Sarah took a moment to assess her situation: she was being bossed around (which she didn't care for), it was a vampire (which made her nervous), he was angry (which made her wary), he'd crossed lines before (which made her doubly wary and a little more angry), she was alone in a room with him (generally not good). Best to be as diplomatic as possible before getting the hell out of there.

"I'll consider it, Orion," she answered, trying her best to act toward her conclusion. She started for the door.

He was in front of her in an instant. "Oh, no, you'll do more than that."

"If you have anything more to say, say it now. Otherwise I'm leaving," Sarah declared, wrapping her fingers around her necklace once more.

He took her other hand and rubbed his thumbs on the back of it in small, overlapping circles.

"What's your hurry?" he asked quietly.

Sarah took her hand back. "My husband is expecting me."

"I thought I've made it clear that it doesn't bother me."

"And I've tried to make it clear that I'm not interested in you."

He laughed then. It was not a pleasant sound. "Seriously, Orion, I have to get back. Jar—"

"No, let me clarify, Sarah," he interrupted with a wicked smile. He seized her arm, further up, examining it with a lazy gaze. "Glad to see you managed to rid yourself of the velvet, however…"

Certain that she didn't want to hear what he'd add next, Sarah wrenched her arm free and with a burst of magic flung him across the room. Turning to yank open the door, it was closed by Orion's strong hand. How he did it Sarah wasn't sure, but he then shoved her away from the door and she tripped over the leg of a chair.

Momentarily stunned, Sarah noted when she rolled over that the ceiling had several cobwebs and looked scorched in several places. Her brain kicked back in when Orion straddled her and held her arms on either side of her head. Then she began to struggle in panic, effectively kneeing him.

He groaned and pitched forward halfway, but then he started laughing again.

"You can keep struggling, if you'd like, Sarah. But the thing is, I don't care."

Sarah kneed him again and Orion decided to alter his position, still using most of his body to pin hers down.

"I don't care that you don't like me, Sarah. You're a link to Jareth's power and if my hunch is right…well, it could be very simple and quite exciting to diminish it considerably." He kissed her collarbone and Sarah froze momentarily.

"It's all down to you, Sarah. And your compliance is not necessary."

It made sense in a sick way why he never used much glamour on Sarah. She could see in his cold eyes that he really didn't care.

Sarah's brain found focus again. Concentrating and channeling some of the magic she and Jareth shared, she wrenched her arm away and punched Orion solidly on the cheek, subconsciously grimacing as she felt the bone give a little more than it should have. Howling in surprise and pain, Orion glared at Sarah as she struggled for her feet. Orion knocked her down again, blood already pooling under his skin.

"Oh, I'm going to make you pay for that one, Sarah."

He tried to get a hold on her wrists again, but Sarah already had both hands wrapped around her necklace. Before Orion could stop her, she screamed, "Jareth!"

Sarah might have called her husband's name again, but Orion's fist hit the side of her face. Her lip split and bleeding, she tried to spit out the blood as the sickly taste filled her senses. He took one arm and pinned her down and held her head to the side with the other.

"You have far too much energy, Sarah," Orion chastised. "Let me help you with that." He leaned toward her exposed neck.

Orion's weight was suddenly lifted off of her. Jareth had his hand wrapped around Orion's throat, his fingernails already cutting little crescents in a row in Orion's skin. The vampire was clawing and scraping at Jareth's arm; even when he tried to turn into a bat Jareth held him in an iron grip.

"I have been patient with you before, Orion, but this in inexcusable," Jareth said in a truly vicious voice. He began to form a spell in his other hand. "She is my wife." He pressed the crystal to Orion's head and he began to scream.

The door slammed against the wall as Marek and Ack entered.

"Your Highness," Ack said calmly, "you cannot kill the prince. Not here."

Marek seemed too stunned to do anything but stand there, particularly when Jareth shifted his glare from Orion to Ack. Orion was still twitching and yelping at something unseen by the rest. He recovered himself enough to add, "He's right, Jareth."

"I will see to him, of that you can be sure," Ack snarled at Orion. "You need to take care of Sarah now."

Jareth's gaze shifted, the blind fury ebbing but the resolution still in the air.

"See to Sarah, Jareth," Ack repeated again, seizing one of Orion's flailing arms with one claw and resting the other on Jareth's arm as a silent entreaty.

Jareth released his grip and allowed the spell to dissolve. Orion crumpled except for the arm that Ack held, dangling like a wounded marionette.

Ack left the room silently, dragging Orion behind him, the vampire somewhere between dazed, sullen, and terrified.

Jareth knelt down in front of Sarah and scooped her into his arms without saying a word, pulling her as gently and as close as possible. Sarah clung to his lapels and cried into his chest, staining his shirt with blood and diluting it with her tears. His arms tightened around her body as she cried. After glancing at Marek who was standing stupidly, still trying to come to terms with what he'd seen, Jareth transported himself and Sarah to the privacy of their room.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 24 of 50

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