Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 34 of 50

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Power Struggle

"You're looking much better than the last time we saw you, Sarah," Karen greeted warmly.

"Things have gotten a lot better since last I saw you. Firstly, we're out of the darker lands. Well…we have been for a little while now."

"And you didn't call sooner?" Karen scolded.

"No, Jareth and I needed some time to adjust and get to know each other without a bunch of evil goblins and vampires around."

Sarah watched Karen's expression shift to obvious interest. "Oh?"

Covering her already flushing face with her hands, Sarah mumbled, "Toby's not around to overhear this conversation, is he? I really would rather not hear a giant 'ew' after every other sentence. And considering how Dad feels about him, I think I'd prefer that it was only you and me right now."

"The boys are out, don't worry."

"This is still a conversation I would have pictured with a group of my friends in sleeping bags, a stack of Cosmos, and ice cream on hand. I haven't even been able to talk to Jan and Elizabeth, I mean, and they know Jareth and what all the little cultural things mean. I had half a mind to talk to Jen yesterday."

Karen shook her head. "Sarah, checking in with your friend Jen using one of these bubble crystal things would not go over well. You've been gone about two months and she hasn't wavered. She'd be all the more determined, something I have a hard time imagining at this point. Secondly, you know I'd have the story from you eventually anyway."

Sarah grinned. "Yes, I do."

"So let's have it."

"Well, Jareth and I were quite glad to get out of the darker lands. Really, the whole trip was such a mess, though I made a couple of friends. Still not the sort I'd take to my childhood home."


"Well, I think Ack would freak Toby out so I'd save that until he deserved it."

"Who is Ack?"

"Ack's the boogyman. Honest to God, he's the boogyman," Sarah repeated at Karen's incredulous look. "You can keep telling Toby he doesn't exist, if it makes him feel better. Ack would get a kick out of it."

"What about you and Jareth?" Karen asked, settling down on the couch, judging by the shift and the familiar pattern behind her.

"We've gotten quite close." Sarah paused for a moment. This was her time to utilize her sounding board, and she still had to think through what she was trying to say.

"You're trying to decide whether or not you love him," Karen stated. It wasn't a question; it was just Karen's ability to read people.

"Would it make me a coward if I said it'd be easier for me to tell if he told me he loved me first?"

Karen chuckled. "Not exactly."

"I know we've got some mutual trust going on and he's been increasingly honest and some of the things he does all point toward it. And I know on my part that he's turning into a fixture in my life. I've grown more than a little fond of him. I mean we argue about what tricks to play on Marek and upcoming war and all, but we manage to get through it."

Karen blinked. "I'll ask about the war later. Tell about some of these signs."

"He gave me part of the Labyrinth to redesign, however I wanted. I made it so the further you go in the more lost you become. The way forward is the way back and all that. Mostly it's just little things here and there. But just how he acts when we're alone and there's this one particular smile that always gets me. And sometimes, I get a wave of his feelings through the bond created when we were married, and it's pretty definite, except that I don't know how temporary that one is. Our conversations have ended in sentimental notes recently, as though he's trying to reassure me. Well, especially after the discussion that started with gloves."


"Yes, the high-ups here wear gloves and only touch bare skin to signal real trust, knowing that they weren't going to poison you. I asked Jareth why he hadn't insisted I wear them and he came up with the reasoning that I shouldn't be closing any deals without him anyway and we had a bit of a row about how I could if I wanted to and how he didn't think it was a good idea. I brought up the safety factor, said he was just lazy for not wanting to let me know the cultural significance and whatnot. He said I didn't need anything else to be paranoid about." Sarah shook her head. "That argument's done, though. He wasn't even sure that I'd been told about what the gloves meant now anyway, though he said that did explain my reaction with the stone."

"What stone?"

"Oh, that's an entire explanation to itself. I've been doing some research."

"I think I get the gloves thing. Let's hear about some rocks."

"It's called a fidelity stone. It kinda does exactly what it sounds like it might. It makes you stay loyal. They were pretty high in fashion a few hundred years ago, but using one now is akin to accusing your fiancé of being unfaithful before you're even married. It was all some huge attempt to preserve bloodlines. It works in a couple other ways, too. For example, neither party could be raped so you couldn't even be forced to be unfaithful. It also clues the other member in if that's a possibility. If the stone is broken in half, it loses its pull, hence why a lot of royals stuck them in an oubliette. Different colors hold some different traits, too. Ours is tan which offers some additional protection, though the book didn't exactly mention how or when. Jareth said the stone actually came from part of the Labyrinth. He asked and it gave it to him."

"Stop, Sarah, you're rambling today."

"I've got a feeling it's not going to get any better."

"Put the brakes on for just a second. Please, let me absorb all that. Where does the stone come in anyway?"

"Jareth didn't tell me we had one until a few days ago, when he gave me my half."

Sarah watched as Karen worked through the logic. "Do you still have your half?"

"No. I decided to put it back with his then we shook bare hands, back to the gloves thing."

"Does putting the pieces back together restore the magic?"

"Pretty much. I'm planning to take a look at it later to see if it's magically re-fused like the book said. There might be some other important markers on it, too, that'll be worth looking for."

"But you didn't keep it?" Karen asked.

"I told you, I gave it back."

"He offered you as close to freedom as he could, Sarah, and you chose to stay. I think you don't really need my help to decide if you've fallen for this man," Karen gently pointed out.

Sarah was certain there was a goofy smile on her face, but she didn't care. "Sometimes, I'm really sure. Just something when he holds me, I don't know. Then other times I feel like I'm just queen and know that I'm included because I'm expected to be a part of it and that we'll work better together if we know each other better."

"Why can't it be both?"

Sarah thought about it for a moment. "Because that makes too much sense. It's too direct for the Underground. Sometimes it seems that if you haven't taken three wrong turns and stood on your head, you haven't tried."

"Is it really that bad?"

"Oh, Underground politics are ridiculous. I mean we are sitting on one heck of a possible mess here. Something directed an attack against the Labyrinth. We left the darker lands quite abruptly because of it."

Sarah poured out all her worries on the war, all the strategies she'd heard since her return. Whether or not Karen followed completely, Sarah wasn't sure, but it felt good to get it all out. She even voiced some of her half-baked theories. Eventually, the conversation drifted back to Jareth. Funny how he kept managing to creep into the conversation.

"Really, though, when you, Dad, and Toby come for a visit, you'll be able to see more for yourself then."

"We're allowed to visit without having to work through any maze?"

Sarah beamed. "I won the bet. We just need to organize a time. I would say either soon or a good deal later, depending on whether or not anything else happens to the Labyrinth. The longer we're in the clear, the more I flip between increasingly nervous and relaxed. Really, it's the shifting that bothers me, wondering if it's all a false sense of security."

"Jareth would be alright with this plan?"

"He thinks I should schedule Ack to come visit at the same time, see what would happen. Yeah, he's a good little troublemaker."

"Sarah, I can't give you an easy answer in this case, mostly because I still think you've already figured it out."

"Thanks for listening. I'll call back to catch up on your end properly later this week. Send everyone my love."

"You know you have ours and our support, regardless of how strange this all is."

"I know. Thanks."

"And I'll bring my frying pan if I need to."

"Love you, too," Sarah chuckled, ending the enchantment. Using her thumb, she rotated the wedding band on her finger. It was about time to meet Jareth for lunch, even if she didn't feel all that hungry yet.

Sarah yelped as a booming voice echoed in her mind and through the castle. "DMITRI, YOU'RE SO STUPID! I WISH THE GOBLINS WOULD COME AND TAKE YOU AWAY RIGHT NOW!"

Sighing, Sarah focused and changed into her formal-child-stealing-clothes. An instant later, Jareth was at her side already changed. "Ready? The goblins will watch the wished while we make the issued challenge."

Sarah nodded. "Let's go." There was a particular pull in her mind, luring her to the spot where the wish had just been uttered. A young girl of about seven or eight glanced around nervously, lower lip trembling. Intimidation was all too easy.

Jareth and Sarah stood in front of the girl, arms crossed with an untrustworthy smile.

"W-where's Dmitri?" the girl whispered.

"You have wished him to the goblins, our subjects. He is ours now, Havilah" Sarah explained flippantly, not sure how she knew the girl's name.

"No! He's my brother's best friend. Ben would never forgive me or let me play with them again. Bring him back!"

"Too late for that now. The wish has been made and fulfilled," Sarah replied, determined to use her own expressions. "If you really want him back, you must run our Labyrinth in thirteen hours or we shall keep him."

The girl pouted and changed tactics. "He's just a stinky boy and he picks on me. You won't like him anyway."

"Sometimes," Sarah suggested, breaking character, "Boys pick on you because they like you."

The girl seemed to consider Sarah's words. "No, he's still icky and he wears dirty clothes."

"Are you saying you won't run?"

There was a bit of fear in her eyes as she looked over the expanse of the Labyrinth, seamlessly transported to the hill seconds ago. "I don't know…"

"He's your brother's friend. You need to decide, Havilah, whether you will run the Labyrinth or take this." Sarah held out a crystal. "It will show you your dreams. The decision is yours."

"I won't get in trouble, will I?"

"I cannot promise that."

Sarah wasn't really surprised when, after a moment of indecision, the girl bit her lip and snatched the crystal. They returned immediately to the throne room, where the goblins hoarded around a small boy with blond hair.

"Well that was easy enough," Sarah muttered.

Jareth turned toward her. "Sarah, I have to ask, did you realize that you were speaking Russian?"

Sarah blinked. "What?"

He nodded. "I thought as much."

"We were in Russia?" Sarah took in Dimitri's clothing and recalled the home she had just vacated.

"Did you think folklore was relegated to the English-speaking world?"

"Of course not. That's a movie thing." Sarah thought through it. "Though I guess a lot of people would say that about magic, but here we are."

"Indeed. I will see to the boy, if you could inform Marek." Surveying the goblin hoard, he added, "Possibly some crowd control."

"Are you taking him to the changing room?"


"Well, you've had me learn the rest of the process so far. What happens to the wished away children seems important."

A goblin tugged on Sarah's skirt, looking up at her with large pleading eyes. "Party?"

Sarah grinned. "Yes, Olec, party." A roar cascaded amongst the goblins as they pulled out ale and, much to Sarah's chagrin, chickens. Dmitri for his part, looked highly confused as the goblins began to dance around him.

"If you wish to see the process, I won't deny you that. It is important. However, I will warn you."

"Warn me?" Sarah repeated, immediately suspicious. "About what?"

"You will not like what you see."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"You will see. Please, do as I have asked. Meet me in the room."

With a nod, Sarah set off immediately to find Marek, leaving Jareth to wade through a sea of bouncing, cheering goblins. She ran into Marek in the hallway.

"We're back."

"Well, I can see that, Sarah. I guess the wish-er did not want to run?"

"Nope. Quick visit." Sarah watched Marek to gauge his reaction. "I'm going to meet Jareth in the changing room."

Sure enough, Marek stumbled for a moment. "I-I'm not sure that's a good idea."

Sarah sighed, resigning herself that she would indeed not be pleased by…something. "Well, if both of you say that, it's probably just as well that I see it sooner rather than later."

Marek still appeared unsure. "If that is what you wish."

"Right. Let's just go before I change my mind."

Markedly quiet, Marek walked next to Sarah. She was considering changing the subject to inquire as to how he had recovered from the latest practical joke (the goblins had discovered that Marek's entire bathroom had been turned into a swimming pool…not by magic-ing it into such, but by sealing the lower half of the door, plugging the drains, and filling it steadily with water) when they stood in front of the door.

"Sarah, I don't care for this, but I will stay with you, if you'd like."

"Are Jareth and I going to have an argument afterwards?"

"Quite possibly."

"Alright, then. Find out through your gossipers like you usually do. I swear, you're worse that my aunt. She'd even set herself underneath the windowsill, sitting in a patch of whatever plants where there, just to get the latest."

"Unfortunately, your window is a good distance from the ground."

"I'm glad you don't see it as a necessary use of magic, then."

"Nonsense. A glass against the door works just as well."

Rolling her eyes, Sarah pushed open the door. "If you need to know that badly, I'll tell you later."

"And ruin the fun?"

"Ruin your fun? Isn't that what we do?" Jareth replied, hand on the shoulder of the small, blond boy.

"I think it's just one of the many services we happen to offer."

"Before I find myself in any real trouble," Marek interrupted. "I believe I'm going to disappear and try to avoid whatever cruse you wish to inflict on me next." He inclined his head and left.

"Jareth, let's switch the place of two of his sources, see if he notices. My guess is he's still listening outside of the door anyway."

Grinning, Jareth sent a crystal rolling impossibly squeezing beneath the door and down the hallway, chased by Marek's yells of "Oh, no you don't! Get back here you blasted ball!"

The little boy gave a nervous laugh.

"Well, Dmitri," Jareth began, "You have been wished here to the Goblin Kingdom, of which I am king and Sarah is queen. You will henceforth be under our charge and protection, such also our rules and decisions."

The boy nodded with wide eyes, though Sarah wasn't sure how well he understood it. The speech, however, had a tone of ceremony behind it; Sarah wondered if he gave the same speech to infants.

"This place," Jareth continued, "is full of magic and such will affect your body in time. As few people survive that process, this room is where we speed up whatever manifestation your body would take with time. Brace yourself and take this crystal."

Sarah watched as the boy set a shaky, bruised hand on top of the crystal, and began to scream. He fell to the floor, still clutching the crystal to his chest as he twisted in all directions at once, his skin pulling from his bones which seemed to shift underneath. Sarah took two quick steps toward him, only to be stopped by Jareth's hands on her arms.

"You cannot interfere."

"Jareth, look at him!"


Sarah shot Jareth a look of disbelief, returning her attention to the boy. His hair grew and shrank back to his scalp, eventually falling out and re-growing in course bristles only to fall out again. The former-boy crawled on knobby hands that were turning green, shards of the crystal that had been clutched now jutting from his chest and dripping blood. The creature retched and screamed again, writhing as his bones audibly splintered and fused into new formations. Sarah covered her eyes and leaned against her husband.

The noise stopped except for heavy, tearful breathing. Daring to look, Sarah saw a goblin on the floor, looking incredibly miserable. She turned to Jareth, and he nodded, releasing her.

"Hey, there," Sarah cooed, "What's wrong?"

"Mirt is all by his self."

"That's not true. We're right here." Sarah set her hand on the new goblin's arm, pulling out a piece of glass as surreptitiously as possible.

"I just wanted to play," he nearly wailed.

"Well why don't we take you somewhere else to play? I know where there are a bunch of goblins that would love to play with a new friend."

The goblin turned to her with new light in his squinty eyes. "Really? Go play?"

"Yes, Mirt. Let's go play."

The goblin leapt around Sarah's throat and hugged her, crying again as he thanked her again and again. Sarah met Jareth's eyes.

"Mirt, why don't you run ahead to the throne room? Do you know where that is? There will be all sorts of new friends to play with."

Jittering with excitement, the new goblin gave a cheer, nearly strangled Sarah once more, and ran into the door before exiting through it.

Jareth raised a questioning eyebrow, scanning her body language with concern.

"You were right, Jareth," Sarah said after a moment. "I didn't like it. But we're going to make sure he's one happy goblin, right? We'll talk more about it later." Whether it was because of the look in her eyes or her tone, Sarah wasn't sure, but Jareth accepted her answer and led her to the throne room to oversee Mirt's welcome.

Sarah for her part smiled warmly over her goblins, but did not join in the festivities. Hearing about dark goblins, Firey dismemberment, and other discussions about the Labyrinth's not-so-pleasant roots was one thing; torturing a child like that after a running of the Labyrinth was another, if she had sentenced others to that fate when she directed. And Sarah couldn't get her mind around whether she was angry at Jareth or not. He explained it to the boy, had been doing it for a handful of centuries, warned her, all points in his favor. What helped the most was Sarah's belief that he wouldn't do that to a child without reason, whether or not she could rid her mind of the boy's screams. Jareth had a streak to him, Sarah knew, he'd react when pushed. She only had to recall Orion for verification in that. He could be ruthless, and he could be cruel. But that he allowed her request and trusted her enough to let her see this, Sarah saw the gesture.

Seriously, she was spending too much time around Underground politics. Either that or she was starting to get a hint on how Jareth's mind was wired.

Smiling to herself, Sarah watched as Jareth chucked a goblin across the room. Despite what she had witnessed, she wanted to laugh as he seized another goblin (this one at its request) and flung him as well. Who'd have thought she'd fall for him? Her friends might seriously question her taste if not her eyes.

As though in tune with her thoughts, Jareth shifted his attention to meet her gaze. Giving him a small smile, Sarah nodded. He nodded back, allowing a half-smile before wading in her direction through the playing field (hopscotch with a chicken instead of a pebble was proving to be chaotic enough for the goblins, as simple as Sarah's suggestion had been).

"Shall we allow the goblins to acclimate their new member on their own?"

"Sure," Sarah replied, taking Jareth's outstretched hand. He began to escort her to the library, but she shook her head and nudged him further. Once returned to their room, the discussed what would happen to Mirt now that he was no longer Dmitri, but not touching on how he became that way. The conversation had drifted to speculation on when Jan and Elizabeth would make another visit when Sarah wandered back to the bed, leaning over the side and groping with one hand.

"Jareth, where's the stone at?"

"It should be just underneath. Why?"

"I'm not reclaiming my side if that's what you're worried about. I haven't met anyone in the past six days to take it back. You're still stuck with me." He rolled his eyes so Sarah continued, "Anyway, I was doing some reading in the library and wanted to take a closer look at it. I mean, when I saw it last time, I only had my half for a minute or two then shut it back in the box. Where is it?"

Jareth knelt down on the floor, helping her search. "Ah, here," he declared, pulling the box out.

Sarah took the box. "Great. I was wondering if it'd fuse back together or if there'd be a crease or what and—" Sarah cut off as she opened the lid. "What does that mean? The books didn't mention this." The stone was pulsing with a red glow. "I don't think it was doing that earlier, but then we just flipped it closed so quickly and—"

Sarah was startled as Jareth laughed and pulled her into his arms, kissing her long and tender.

"Not that I'm complaining, but what was that about?"

He kissed her again, the warmest kiss Sarah could ever recall receiving. "What was that about? Sarah, look at the stone."

"Yeah, it's glowing and red…" Sarah was beginning to get a bad feeling. "What's it mean?"

Jareth set his hand on Sarah's abdomen. "We're expecting, Sarah. That's what the stone means."

Sarah stared at her husband. The eager grin across Jareth's face slipped.

"Sarah, aren't you happy?"

"Sure, of course," Sarah murmured. "I'm just little shocked and…I think I need to sit down."

Releasing her, Jareth set her gently back to where she had been on the bed, holding one of her hands. "Do you need anything?"

Sarah shook her head. "No, just give me a moment." She drew her hand to her abdomen, still trying to process the dramatic shift in her circumstances.

Jareth's grin returned. "Don't worry, Sarah. You'll have three and a half years to get used to the idea."

Sarah laughed then. "Yes, I suppose the shock will have worn off by then. But, you're sure, Jareth? The stone wouldn't give a false positive or anything?"

"No. The stone's behavior means our child is growing inside of you as we speak."

"With us as parents it's going to be one eccentric little terror." Sarah matched Jareth's smile, feeling her emotions well up in the form of tears in her eyes. "Our little terror."

Jareth laughed again, kissing her once more as he wrapped his arms around her torso and rested his cheek on her head. "Indeed."

Sighing happily, Sarah settled against him. "I think I love you," Sarah stated as though it were the most natural thing in the Underground.

Suddenly (but gently) twisted around to face him, Jareth searched into her eyes as Sarah smiled enigmatically. "If you could have said anything to improve this moment, that was it."

He kissed her again, and Sarah could tell by the outpouring of affection it voiced that he was in just as much trouble as she was. Wiping away the happy tear that had managed to escape, Jareth laid back on the bed as Sarah rested on his chest, his hand stroking her hair.

"Marek's going to be insufferable."


"While I was resenting getting forced into marriage in order to keep my kingdom, when my magic was leaching away, he kept trying to tell me that something good might come out of it. He's going to think this is all his doing. Our intimacy, this child, he'll claim to have known all along."

"Somehow, I could believe it. Maybe we should pretend to have a huge row, stem the gloating as long as we can."

Jareth smirked. "Possibly. I wouldn't be the only one you're affecting."

"Well, that seems only fair."

"He complains that he picks up your Aboveground colloquialisms. He said 'Okie-dokie' this morning and looked positively mortified."

Sarah chuckled. "Regardless, let's talk about it later. I'm quite content to enjoy this moment."

"As you wish, my queen." He kissed the top of her head again. "Whatever you wish."

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 34 of 50

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