Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 35 of 50

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Power Struggle

Sarah crossed her arms and huffed. This did not bode well. Alain was probably a nice enough Fae, but he was one demanding doctor. And she was quite tired of being poked. She was seriously considering ripping off his mutton chops (surprised to see there was perhaps one look that the Fae should not attempt) when Jareth joined them. Truthfully, he nearly didn't allow her to meet the doctor on her own, insisting that she wait until he had seen to a particular letter. When he had another float in via crystal on top of that, he read it with a stony expression and told Sarah that he would be along shortly.

Undoubtedly, it was some sort of repercussion from what had disrupted their conversation earlier, the first letter. Of course, conversation is a polite way of putting it. After the serenity of yesterday's moment had passed, well, Sarah's mind did a massive overhaul and she slept very little. Perhaps it had been further sparked by the arrival of Mirt that morning as he dropped off their breakfast he had made himself, shaking, Sarah could only surmise, for fear of rejection. They weren't done with that matter.

Sarah gave Jareth a look as he entered what Alain had designated as an examination room that reminded him they still were not done, regardless of the respite. Even if Jareth had initially intended to have her speak with the physician in the afternoon, it seemed somewhat underhanded to use their unborn child as a distraction. Once that news had settled in, all sorts of thoughts ran through Sarah's mind, meaning that Sarah was already at a disadvantage in the morning from lack of sleep, not to mention easily agitated. Really, the whole talk surrounding what had happened to Mirt had started off well, Jareth explaining the situation in a surprisingly patient tone, listing both the pros and cons. He was alright until he finished with, "…and even though they don't remember the experience clearly, it instills a little fear in them."

Who, Sarah wondered, could leave that just lying there? "So it's a power trip?" Oh how the conversation degenerated from there, like watching Dmitri transform all over again.

"Anything else?" Sarah asked the doctor as he finished his litany of what she should avoid for the next forty two months.

"I think that covers a good bit," Alain replied, snidely noting her undertone. "Be sure that you follow all that. I'll have it transcribed and sent to you and the King. Congratulations to you both." He bowed to both her and Jareth and excused himself.

Sarah pointed at Jareth. "And if you dare go the overprotective route today, sir, I warn you that I'm not in the mood."

"Rest assured, Sarah, that you will follow everything on that list."

"Brilliant, just brilliant."

Jareth sighed and took her arm, transporting both of them to her couch in the library. "I don't understand, Sarah. You didn't have this reaction last night."

Sarah took a deep breath. "I know, I know. I was still in shock from the whole gruesome transformation thing and then that little bit of news. I'm allowed to freak out a little bit, alright? I don't even know how much I can blame my hormones in any case yet, okay?"

"I had expected a strong reaction to Mirt. You're passionate. But that's not all that's on your mind?"

Sarah was quiet for a moment. "I didn't sleep much last night, thinking about everything."

Jareth nodded, not looking too surprised.

"Well, on top of having no idea how the Underground medical facilities work and trying to figure out how I'm going to tell my family and stretch-marks for God's sake because that's certainly not enough, it's just that this changes everything. It's like a bad novel, this happening now, the timing, like a cheap ploy to increase the odds. I wanted kids someday, but this is not a good time. The Labyrinth's been quiet, but you keep muttering about prophesy and Marek's turned into the great researching hermit and there's all the talk about war and I'm so incredibly sick of waiting for something to happen and—"

"Sarah, calm down," Jareth ordered, taking her arms.

"No, you asked and I need to get it out," Sarah snapped back. "And now I lost where I was in the rant. Heck, I've been flying by the seat of my pants for how long anyway. I was just getting used to you—and I can care and be angry before you get indignant later—and now I've got you and your kid. I'm responsible for another life. And things are so unpredictable here that I'll probably end up with twins that are destined to be the most powerful beings the Underground has ever seen or develop some weird telepathic link or they'll make the Bog of Eternal Stench grow or shrink still in-utero…oh, stop laughing!" Sarah demanded, sidetracked as Jareth began to shake.

"I'm sorry," Jareth apologized, still stifling a smile. He schooled his face. "Please, continue."

"What, that's not enough? What am I going to do about a baby shower if war explodes then?"

"Ah, we already have the preliminary plans for that, if you recall around our wedding."

"Fine. That's a little easier then, but what about my Aboveground friends? I don't know if I can ever spend any extended period of time up there again with the hunt Jen's put out. And don't you dare tell me I can't go up there during the pregnancy, even if it is item number one hundred and twenty eight or whatever on Alain's list, because I'm going to need some maternal support and though I love Jan and Elizabeth and they can do a lot, you're not going to take this away from my parents. I know that I'm making a lot of demands and I'm rambling and…oh dear Lord, what's my problem?"

Jareth pulled Sarah to his chest. "Sarah, my Sarah, you're anxious. I know there's a lot to worry about, but we'll take it one turn of the Labyrinth by the next."

Sarah sighed. "The baby's going to be okay, right? Timing's not its fault in any case."

Jareth's face shifted. "Our child will cause us a lot of grief. This I understand is merely a part of the deal." He grinned.

"I really wasn't ready for this step, yet. Not by a lot," Sarah admitted.

"Regardless, here we are. Stone by stone, we'll get through it."

With a rueful smile, Sarah chuckled, "We're turning mushy pretty quickly here."

"I take it you are feeling better?"

Burying herself a little closer into Jareth's shirt, she mumbled, "Maybe."

"If all you needed was some assurance, it would have been easier if you had asked, rather than the whole explosion."

"There was more to it than that," Sarah warned. "And there will be more."

"I see that, Sarah. It was a jest in poor taste."

"Got that right," Sarah mumbled again, feeling decidedly un-Goblin-Queen-y for the whole morning.

They were quiet for a moment, Sarah allowing herself to calm down more than she had felt since she had talked to Karen the night before.

"You know, even when you were running the Labyrinth, I felt that you were someone I could love."

Sarah raised her head. "You said you didn't love me then."

"I didn't, but I was sure that I could. Now, however, it is quite a different story."


"Yes. Do I need to show you?"

"Quite possibly," Sarah breathed as Jareth ran a line of kisses down her jawbone. "Jareth, we're just in the library. Anyone could walk in."

His hands wrapping behind her thighs, he asked, "Would you rather I stop?" before stilling her protests with another kiss that made his case quite explicitly.

She pulled her husband closer, tearing away from his lips to kiss his newly exposed collar bone. "I suppose not," she replied as he gripped her closer. "I knew I liked this couch."

The day officially improved after that point. Still not perfect, but starting in the right direction, at least to where Sarah felt much more like her capable self.

Another letter appeared for Jareth while they were taking lunch later that afternoon. He snarled and stood, barking at the goblin near the door, "Show them in. They'll be waiting by the front door."

He stormed back to the table, taking a long swallow from the goblet in front of his plate.

"What's this about?" Sarah asked politely.

"You'll see in a moment."

Really, Sarah could hear them grunting as they made their way up the hallway. Judging by the yelping, they probably kicked their goblin escort more than once, and Sarah took an immediate dislike to whoever their visitors might be.

Lyle had mentioned in his visit that a couple elves would arrive to survey the trees, and Sarah could only surmise that these were them. They both wore their hair back and were armed with the nastiest pruning shears Sarah had thought possible, certain that the trees would retract their branches just to keep from getting between the sides of that monstrosity. One elf openly sneered, though the other had a half-grin with one fang protruding and over his lower lip. Their simple, crude clothes were stained with dirt and some liquid of questionable origin.

Sarah copied Jareth's pose, crossing her arms and looking severe.

"What have you discovered?"

The sneering elf spat on the floor and raised his dangerously lovely eyes. "Not much. In a couple days, it won't matter any more."

"Your people know the most about Underground vegetation, and that's the best you can present?"

"There is little else to tell. Plant elsewhere," the elf suggested snidely.

"If we do not understand why these trees are failing, we cannot change it in the next generation if these cannot be transplanted," Jareth pointed out. "Neither of you have been very forthcoming in that respect."

"Looks like something wrong with the soil. Micro-magic must be drained," the spokesmen retorted. "Leave these orchard trees be, do not touch them or disrupt their immediate environment. Perhaps then they can recover."

Though Jareth's look definitely read "you could have said that in the first place," he instead responded with "Very well. You are both dismissed."

The elves turned to leave just as Jareth added, "Oh, one more thing." Suddenly upon them both and hoisting one with either arm, Jareth hissed, "Do not touch any of my subjects while escorting yourselves from my castle. On this matter, we will be understood." He made no threat, though the flaming tips of Jareth's hair made his point quite clear.

Wide, fearful eyes marring their carved faces, they nodded before resuming their bitter expressions and scampering from the room.

"So were the letters complaints or notices of their arrival or just some red tape?" Sarah asked once the room was theirs again.

"A little of each. I'll need to speak with Lyle later. Care to make the visit with me?"

"Sure. Could be fun."

"King! Queen!" a voice squealed on the other side of the door. "Help now! Help now!"

"Nez, Owena," Sarah chided, opening the door, "What's the problem?"

"Mistress," Owena cried, flinging herself around Sarah's legs.

Nez shifted from one foot to the next. "Trouble, nasty trouble," he moaned.

"What's wrong?" Sarah asked, frowning.

"Oh, there's an intruder," Owena explained, her eyes wide and worried. "He came out of one of the guest rooms. Tiglaf heard a noise, the furniture getting shoved around, went in to look, and saw the intruder. It's some kind of monster with giant claws. Terrible, just terrible."

Sarah met Jareth's eyes, concern there overtaken by fury.

"Which room?" he demanded.

"Wait, giant claws and moving furniture?" Sarah asked, odd points in Owena's explanation absorbing in. "Owena, did Tiglaf say the intruder was moving the bed?"

Owena considered it then nodded. "Tiglaf said he was halfway under it, cursing."

"What does it mean, Sarah?" Jareth asked.

"I've got a hunch." With a flick and twist of her wrist, Sarah produced a somewhat lumpy but perfectly viable crystal and peered inside. She grinned.

"Let's go greet the intruder and invite him to tea."

Jareth's brows knotted in confusion.

"Ah, don't form your own crystal and peek. You'll see."

"Sarah, this is serious," Jareth insisted, not exactly placated.

She rested her hand on his arm, feeling the tension in his muscles. "Trust me. It's okay. You can talk to him about how he got in yourself. Come on." She turned to the goblins. "Which way?"

They pointed and Sarah indicated with a nod of her head to Jareth that they should start heading that direction. With an irritated sigh, he took her arm and escorted her brusquely down the hallway.

Sarah saw him as he half-stumbled out of the door, calling out to him, "Hey!"

Ack's scowl melted as he turned to the sound of Sarah's voice. "Your majesty, I apologize for intruding like this. The bed in that room was a little closer to the ground than I would have liked."

Jareth released Sarah's arm and crossed his own, still skeptical.

Sarah gave Ack a hug, certain that she was breaking some kind of propriety as well. "I'm just glad it's you and not a walking manifestation of the Bog."

Ack chuckled. "Seen many of those, have you?"

"It's the Underground. It really wouldn't surprise me as much as it should."

Jareth coughed.

Ack inclined his head. "Good to see you as well, your majesty."

Jareth nodded curtly. "How did you get in?"

"Ah, it's a little trick I configured. I've scared the snot out of some kids. There's some strange magic that allows me to start under one bed and end up underneath another."

"Who else knows about this?" Jareth asked, stepping closer.

Something clicked in Sarah's head. "No one else knows how to get in the castle this way, do they Ack? No agents or spies or armies or random plates of griffin gizzards?"

Ack's look of polite interest shifted to a look of contemplation. "I have not detailed my methods to anyone else nor has it ever, in my own research after the first few instances, been noted as a means of mysterious, instantaneous transport. Nor would many have the patience for it to take effect, let along the odd habit of sleeping under beds. There's no reliability in the first place and few ways to direct it."

"But it could still be used?"

"Not if there is something already under all the beds, your majesty," Ack replied with a half-smile.

Jareth nodded. "Then welcome. I need to oversee some movement of storage so I will leave Sarah to acquaint you with the castle. You are welcome to stay for dinner."

Ack inclined his head again.

Taking Sarah's hand, Jareth led her a few steps away from Ack who respectfully gave them space.

"Before I am accused, no, I do not trust him completely, Sarah. But I trust you will not do anything to put yourself in danger and will call me immediately if there is any hint of something remotely unsafe."

Sarah sighed, but Jareth did not give her a chance to disagree. "Otherwise I will send him home. Do not defy me in this, Sarah. If there is a potential that he revealed a pathway into our castle, someone will use that. Furthermore, if he had to sneak in this way in the first place, that opens up many questions."

Nodding, Sarah couldn't help a small chuckle. "You haven't done the whole 'don't defy me,' thing for a while. Please don't make a habit of it."


"Yes, I understand. I was just trying to lighten things up a little bit. I've got a bad feeling we'll need as much of that as we're going to get if the whole war thing blows up and out. Right, then. I suppose we shouldn't mention our news to anyone either, with the whole war thing."

"Depends on necessary strategies."

"Great. Just great. Go have fun moving furniture. The goblins probably need something constructive to do. Maybe if you tell them they'll have better hide-n'-seek spots if they clear out the linen closets and shove all the tablecloths under the beds, you can join Ack and I once we get halfway down the hallway."

Jareth gave a short laugh. "If I mention hide-'n-seek, they'd probably stay under the beds themselves."

"That'd work, too. Go have fun."

Jareth raised an eyebrow.

"Yes, yes, I'll let you know if there's anything suspicious. I've still got my necklace so listen for that, however that works."

"For his safety and our own, it's probably best that he does not make this an extended stay. He'll know this, but you should be aware as well."

"Okay, I'd best stop ignoring him then."

Kissing her forehead, Jareth turned and left.

"Well," Sarah smiled turning back to her guest, "what would you like to see first?"

"Unfortunately, Sarah, I cannot stay long. They might assume I've just disappeared again under another bed, but they will suspect something if I do not return by tonight."

"So, no grand tour, then?"

"I'm afraid not. I promised you information, and I'd rather give it to in a time it would be of use."

Ack's manner was more agitated than she had perhaps seen him before. Sarah allowed her hopes of a pleasant, relaxed conversation to exchange for focus. "You'll have to return when you can spend more time, see if you could meet my little brother if it works out. Well, let's get some tea and go somewhere to talk."

As Sarah led the way, she could not suppress one particular question: "What made you take to sleeping under beds in the first place?"

Ack barked a laugh. "There's a story behind that." Ack in his youth had insisted that there were monsters under his bed, ironically enough, and ultimately took to ending up under a different bed every night, attempting to terrify someone in the household or at least escape his caretakers. His family had only humored him for so long then a young Ack had to devise further ways to make his nighttime visits more fear-inducing and otherwise, as he got older still, find new targets. In the end, after he had caused a particularly bad family feud, he picked one bed to sleep under, content enough with the entertainment of the warring neighbors. He had never cared to sleep on any sort of mattress since.

They stopped and sat at a shady terrace overlooking the Labyrinth. Sending a crystal to ask the kitchen for some tea, Sarah noticed that Ack derailed again to a more serious mien.

"I wish I could explain everything in full detail, but I do not imagine you would understand my citations of the Prophesy."

"Oh, that again. No one seems keen on getting me started to any real understanding in it."

"I tell you this, Sarah, there are many ways to interpret it. There are two pieces of information that you should be aware of. The other information I would present would not help you."

"Could you tell my husband some of those particulars?"

Ack made a small grimace. "Unlikely. There would be some further explanation that I don't want to attempt."

Unsure of what kind of answer that was, Sarah, prompted, "What are those two pieces of information?"

Ack collected himself, taking Sarah hand between his long claws. "Some of the Keepers of the Prophesy believe that you are key to the invasion of this place. Your potential for power, under their interpretation, could win over your husband. Jareth has aligned himself with you to prevent much of this."

Sarah nodded, not sure what to do with that information either.

"There's more to it than that, but that's what it winds down to. The other piece of information is rooted in the Prophesy but pressing, especially considering a couple other rumors I have heard. Talking about underground in the Underground. They have been working on some sort of entrance for quite some time. Have there been any signs of intruders? Displaced dirt or unexplained hills?"

"No, I don't think so…"

Sarah thought as quickly as she could, searching her memory for any sort of news she had heard, regarding topography in any way.

Sarah stood, hand wrapped around her necklace. "Jareth, meet me in the hallway," she muttered, striding for the door. Ack said something Sarah did not pick up on as she nearly ran into her husband just past the door.

"What's wrong?" he demanded. Sarah took his arm and began to lead him briskly down the hallway.

"The orchards. The elves that were here earlier today, they knew, that's why they said leave it alone. How long have those trees been dying?"

Eyebrows pinched together, Jareth replied, "A few months now."

"Is there a sort of pattern or path to them?"

Jareth nodded, eyes already calculating. His pace quickening, Jareth peered into a crystal.

"Lyle, inform all of those in the human settlement that they will be on their guard. We have reason to believe that enemy tunnels have breached our lands. Attack could come at any time."

Though Sarah couldn't see Lyle's image in the crystal, she could hear his frantic voice. "There already here!"

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 35 of 50

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