Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 32 of 50

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Power Struggle

Sarah couldn't resist ambushing her husband at several points within the maze, directing the Labyrinth to herd him in specific directions. She was sure Jareth was aware of her manipulations, but he still appeared where he was expected and Sarah managed to assure her lead at each stopping point, magically hiding his clothes (after regaining her own) at the particular detour near the hedges. She smiled to herself at the memory of that little diversion. Sarah continued to hurry along, promising the Labyrinth that she would personally give the entire structure a new coat of glitter should it continue to lock Jareth in dead ends. In the back of her mind, she could feel his amusement battling with his frustration. The Labyrinth just seemed to think the whole thing was quite funny, though it expressed some confusion on what had occurred in the nook of the hedges Sarah had sealed herself and the King.

After Sarah stood on the steps of the castle, she rolled her wrist and stared at her husband in the crystal. He was scolding the Labyrinth, disapproving of its entirely insubordinate behavior; the Labyrinth had refused to let Jareth retaliate after any of Sarah's traps, enraptured (near as Sarah could tell) with the promise of glitter and otherwise enjoying the undertaking of an activity that would normally get itself in trouble. Truly, it had likely not had the pleasure of purely playing with Jareth in a handful of centuries. Sarah found herself grinning again as she watched. Jareth peered directly into her eyes, aware that she was watching. Sarah gave a small wave with a smirk, Jareth shaking his head.

Sarah closed her eyes, fulfilling her end of the agreement with the Labyrinth and politely asking it to allow Jareth a direct, abbreviated path. The Labyrinth began to protest but was soon too entertained by the tiny bits of sparkling lights and otherwise aware that Sarah's sharp tone meant business. Jareth strolled to the front doors of his castle and gave Sarah a mild glare.

"It's good to see you, too, Slowpoke," Sarah commented, standing and wrapping her arms around Jareth's middle. "What do I get and what should we do first now that we're home?"

"I'm sure I could think of something."

A blur dashed through the doors of the castle and attached itself to Sarah's legs.

"Majesty is back! Majesty not munched by nasty creatures! Majesty never leave again?" Owena asked in a voice thick with pleading and with enormous eyes.

Sarah laughed, noting the lack of the grammar that typically set Owena apart from some of the other goblins. "I won't be leaving for a while at least, Owena. Don't worry."

The goblins began to peak their heads out of every possible crack in the wall, door and window, all hiding in the safety of the castle after something was attacking. Before Sarah could mutter a proper expletive, she and Jareth were promptly smothered by a happy hoard of goblins. They were so overjoyed at the return of their monarchs that they immediately forgot the breach to the Labyrinth. Those in the Goblin Army were relatively calm though reassured to have their commanding officer returned (judging by the pile of chewed fingernails). All the others had apparently been inconsolable. Later, some of them could give basic descriptions of the terrifying dark goblins, but the celebration was ready to last well into the next day. Which it did.

Sarah and Jareth had none of a moment's peace in order to discuss what motivations and creatures lay behind the attack on the Labyrinth. Any time Sarah managed to find herself alone or solely with her husband, Owena had tearfully sought her out, afraid of being separated and certain she was left behind again. Jareth, to his initial bewilderment (considering that he had left his kingdom before), was asked by several goblins to throw them out of the castle. Apparently, this added a sense of normalcy to their day that had been missing, the restoration thereof made all the more necessary as a result of the Labyrinth's sudden breach. Eventually, just as Marek and the goblins that had accompanied Jareth and Sarah to the darker lands managed into the castle, the entire group seemed to collapse together.

"Heck of a party, eh? Figures I'd miss it, cleaning up after you," Marek noted, sitting on a chair an inebriated goblin had recently tumbled from. "The goblins who returned with me—"

"The ones who hid the whole time?" Sarah asked.

"Yes, those, are moving your personal affects to your room since I am tired of dealing with them."

"Marek, you aren't upset about being left behind, are you?" Jareth queried innocently.

"You left me in the darker lands, Jareth. I must say it was not appreciated. I shall carry a candle with me to go anywhere in the dark for the next month."

"There's no need for that Marek. Take a crystal instead."

Marek caught the crystal Jareth tossed to him, scowling lightly.

"So what happened here?" Marek asked, pocketing the crystal and gesturing to the goblins scattered around the room as well as the remnants of whatever imaginative welcome home activity they had created next (the sand castles made with ale was particularly messy and led to much eaten sand, though the flaming chicken hunt had been almost as disastrous).

"Catastrophe," Jareth deadpanned.

"The goblins were welcoming us home," Sarah clarified.

Marek surveyed his surroundings. "I missed quite an event, that I can see." He sighed. "That's not what I was really hoping to know, however."

Jareth nodded. "To the library, then." Holding his arm out for Sarah, Jareth lead the way.

"Why the library?" Sarah asked.

"We may need to looks something up," Jareth replied.

"Right, why didn't I think of that?"

"You asked the question, Sarah. Why are you asking me?"

Marek was chuckling behind them. "I missed the two of you, for some reason I don't understand."

"I bet it's our entertainment value, Jareth."

"For his sake, I hope it's our capability to rule and otherwise forgive his impertinence."

"Well," Marek admitted, "That is a good mark in your favor."

Sarah stepped over a sleeping goblin. "Tell me, Jareth, did you put something in the grog?"

"A spell was much easier. Their enthusiasm delayed its reaction more than I would have liked."

"When was it supposed to have kicked in?"

"Oh, about five hours ago."

"And you couldn't have made it a more potent spell?"

"I didn't want to kill them, Sarah."

"You could have tried a lullaby."

Jareth paused for a moment, considering.

"I know you can sing, Jareth. It would have been worth a shot. As impressionable as they are, it might have worked by sheer force of will."

"Perhaps next time, Sarah," Jareth conceded, still thinking through the idea.

"We'll talk about tunes later," Marek interceded. "There are some other matters that need our attention first."

"Something's more important than expanding Jareth's song base?"

Jareth gave a half smirk that Sarah found endearing. "A thing or two, perhaps, Sarah." He took on a serious tone. "This will certainly be one of them."

One stumbling goblin giggled as it bumped into a couple walls, tangling itself in the edges of a semi-charred and perpetually grubby tapestry.

"Perhaps when we're away from any owners of quick-to-panic ears," Sarah pointed out. "There's no telling how long they'll be out if it took the spell that long to work."

"Agreed. We'll continue to the library," Jareth directed, stepping over the now snoring goblin.

Sarah was all too eager to flump down on the brown leather couch, remnant from her old apartment and permanent (or else) fixture of the library.

"What is that?" Marek asked.

Jareth sat down next to her, appreciating the couch for the first time, Sarah noticed, with a smug detachment she had somehow expected.

"It's comfortable, that's what it is, Marek," Sarah assured him.

"Ah, it must be yours then," he commented.

"Now what's that supposed to mean, Marek?" Sarah shot back.

"Sarah is quite defensive about her couch," Jareth noted. "I would not threaten it in any fashion."

Marek raised his hands defensively. "I will say no more against your furniture nor your bizarre Aboveground customs."

Sarah shook her head. "Gee, thanks, Marek. But to the matter at hand—"

"Yes, what information can you tell us from the darker lands? Rumors? Reactions?" Jareth demanded.

Once more Marek raised his hands defensively, this time in all seriousness. "I have many of both."

Promising to herself that she would ask Jareth to explain the full ramifications later, Sarah listened to Marek report on all the parties present, many stories began with a feigned search for the missing goblins (though they had squarely packed themselves away in a suitcase, forcing Marek to conjure a new one with his minimal magical supply). Jareth was silent except for a handful of questions. He sat with his elbows on his knees and his fingers steepled together.

"By all I could gather," Marek concluded, "No specific group revealed any real knowledge as to what drew you away, though the theories they put forward were most entertaining."

"Not even the vampires?" Sarah asked, bemused.

"Not even the vampires. Fabian and Anya were quite affronted that you left so abruptly, perhaps, but they were about as clueless as the trolls, though at least the trolls fully believe that you were called to respond to 'The Words.' Really, Sarah, I nearly split myself trying to keep from laughing. Appropriately dramatic, but ridiculous."

"Like you could have come up with anything better, Marek," Sarah retorted. "It worked well enough in my opinion."

"Yes, it did," Jareth agreed, breaking his silence. "And it was one of the few excuses that cannot be contested. They know the necessity of fulfilling a magical contract."

Marek chuckled. "I was almost scared, too. Sarah, you will grow into a fine queen; when I see how you've gone from Aboveground stranger to a leader who can think on her feet all in a little more than a month and a half, well, I have high expectations for your future."

"Has that all it's been?" Sarah wondered aloud. "Weird when all that seems normal." All at once, Sarah felt a wave of nostalgia for the world she grew up. When had she started moving on? When had she adjusted to the time fluctuations subject to Jareth's moods? In some ways, Sarah felt she was betraying her heritage, leaving it all behind.

Sensing her mood, Jareth turned to Sarah. He didn't say anything, just looked at her. But the particular warmth that it gave Sarah when he took her hand was enough. Sarah had left a lot behind, but this was the latest step in her adventure and where her life would ever be affected as a result. Nostalgia was a bittersweet thing. Sarah knew better than to let it interfere with where she was now, mysterious threat, new husband, and all else.

"Not to interrupt an endearing moment, but if you'll just tell me what you found here, I'll leave you two alone. What was so urgent? I've been dying of curiosity."

Leaning a little closer to Jareth, Sarah asked, "Do you still have the arm, Jareth?"

Marek's brows constricted together. "The what?"

Jareth smirked and tossed Marek a crystal. The crystal promptly transformed into the dismembered arm upon landing in Marek's outstretched hand. He dropped it was a bit of a yelp.

"What is that?" Marek inquired, gingerly lifting the hand by one of its elongated fingernails.

"What does it look like?" Jareth replied.

Marek inspected the remains again. His eyes widened. "Is this what I think it is?"

"Depends on what you think it is. And there was the matter of three separate breaches to the outermost wall."

Absorbing the information, Marek appeared to be thinking it over. "Some of the twisted goblins were muttering more than usual, but they wouldn't do this without some directing or higher purpose."

"I know. Otherwise they would have done it by now," Jareth replied.

"So either the rest of the nobles didn't know what was going on, or they have suddenly become much improved in their subterfuge skills," Sarah concluded.

"Exactly," Marek agreed.

"Well that's encouraging."

"Such is the way of Underground politics, Sarah."

"Politics are confusing enough without the vampires and trolls, thanks."

Jareth stood up, his hands clasped behind his back as he strolled, rather than paced, back in forth. "We're still missing why," he said finally.

"Ack might know something," Sarah recalled. "He wanted to tell me something."

Marek shifted from one to the next and grimaced. "I don't know if we can trust him."

"Ack's been a good friend," Sarah defended.

"A point worth mentioning here, Sarah, is that though you have adapted well, you have only been here for nearly two months. Perhaps he merely has not had enough time to betray you yet," Jareth pointed out matter-of-factly.

"Ack was the best friend I made there. He really seemed concerned," Sarah asserted again.

"We shall have time to see," Jareth replied soothingly. "We still need to consider the entirety of recent happenings in order to determine what gain could be in attacking the Labyrinth."

"Well, it did get us out of the darker lands at least," Sarah murmured.

Marek and Jareth fell quiet and Sarah realized that she was being stared at. She thought through what she had just said. "It got us out of the darker lands. Orion was telling me I was in the way." Sarah huffed. "This is all going to boil down to a prophesy thing again, isn't it? This is so incredibly frustrating!"

Jareth and Marek exchanged a glance. "She's right, Jareth, on many counts."

Jareth nodded. "You know what to do."

Marek sighed. "Yes, I suppose I do." He bowed. "Majesties, I take my leave and will report at a later time."

After the door had closed behind him, Sarah noted, "Does he always get formal when he's tense?"

Jareth resumed his seat on the couch. "Depends on the situation. There are worse ways he could react."

"There's so much all this could mean, isn't there?"

"The short answer is yes."

"The long answer?"

"Would take several years of back-story, that being the abridged version."

"Sure I couldn't just Vulcan mind-meld and borrow it?"

"I'm assuming that this mind-meld process would not be a good idea."

"Yeah, probably," Sarah admitted, leaning against Jareth as he wrapped an arm around her. "But it would still make it a lot easier."

"All we can do now is plan and wait." Jareth noted Sarah's grimace. "Perhaps we should take a break from thinking about it."

"I'd like that," Sarah confessed, hoping to have some time to fully process.

"What should we discuss then?"

"Well, we'll have a two month anniversary crazily soon. What should we do?"

"I might be able to think of a thing or two," Jareth whispered, laying a kiss on Sarah's forehead.

"There are still a lot of things about you I don't know. Before the whole darker lands thing, that was sort of my priority, to start to figure you out. You've watched me for a while but I don't even know your favorite color."



"Brown is a sensible color. Who would suspect?"


"I suppose I have a fondness for a good wine red."

Sarah smiled. "That makes more sense."

"And does it make you feel better to know?"

"A little."

"I will tell you most anything you wish to know, Sarah."

"Tell me about your first days as the Goblin King."

"They were perhaps as eventful as yours, for differing reasons…"

Sarah laughed to think of the man on whose shoulder she rested her head, green in office and aghast at the well-meant but horrendous welcome planned by bumbling goblins and pre-twisted goblins alike. His stories died off after a while as they both stared into the fire beneath the hearth. Secure in his arms and again thankful to have returned home, Sarah fell asleep listening to his breathing.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 32 of 50

<< Previous     Home     Next >>