Continuing Tales

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 36 of 50

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Power Struggle

Sarah was on a balcony overlooking the Labyrinth. The sun was especially warm and welcoming to her face. She closed her eyes. An arm snaked around her waist and Jareth rested his chin on her shoulder.

"Hello to you, too," Sarah murmured.

"Junior learned a new word today. Actually a new sentence," he whispered into her ear.

"Junior?" Sarah parroted, turning around to look at her husband.

Jareth gestured toward the doorway where a miniature version, coming up to about Sarah's waist, of himself plodded in.

"Well, Junior, let's show her."

The child smirked and puffed up his chest. "Don't defy me! Don't defy me! Don't defy me!" he trumpeted, marching in a circle around her and gaining speed.

Sarah clutched her head in her hands with a despondent grunt, cursing her existence.

Thankfully, Sarah woke up. She couldn't muster the strength to turn around and glare at her husband however. She was still exhausted.

Instead, Sarah rested closer to his body. She'd tell him later. After another six hours of sleep. Though they probably didn't have time for the three they were attempting, let alone a lofty number of nine.

"You should go home and rest, Sarah."

Sarah sighed. "The magic needs to go toward the wall, Jareth. At least until we get it stabilized."

"Then you should stay here. I'll have Alain see to you."

"He needs to be patching up the army," Sarah mumbled, really wanting a few more minutes of sleep instead of starting the argument again. "Playing handmaiden to me isn't in his job description anyway."

Half growling, Jareth rolled out of bed and stood up, his head a few inches from the top of the tent. "Once the wall is finished, Sarah, you will return to the castle."

"Are you coming with me?"


"Then we have some difference of opinion," Sarah finished.

"Sarah, we have been through this."

Sarah couldn't deny that. It had been quite a sore spot these last twenty six days. Jareth would transport her away and find her later working on another part of the wall. Why they were building a wall, Sarah found out much to her consternation, was due to some obscure line of the Prophesy. A combination of magic and mortar, Sarah and Jareth working below and the (surprisingly focused) goblins compiling above, the wall was staggering. But it was certainly not enough nor was it finished.

The goblin army and a militia that was not already assigned to the wall were on the other side, staving off twisted goblins, elves, a couple commanding vampires, and all other sorts of dark whathaveyou. The days belonged to the ambushing guerrilla goblins. The nights were filled with shrieks. Neither side was getting any time to rest and plan, each attacking when they were comparatively stronger. Jareth and Sarah were left to steal a few hours of sleep, let alone much time to themselves, at infrequent intervals. At times, they could talk while working on the same section of wall, but the majority of those conversations consisted of Jareth trying to coerce, intimidate, demand, ask, and, on rare instances, nearly plead for her to leave to safety.

Sarah would have none of it. It wasn't an easy decision, but Jareth could feel just as well as she could the fear and pain experienced by the Labyrinth. They were both assigned to protect it. Jareth continually reminded her that she was also assigned to protect herself and his heir, included in the initial job description. He had Alain give her routine check-ups and voice his disapproval; the goblins thought she was receiving some sort of additional battle training, noticing that Sarah always left Alain's tent ready to hit or kick something, Alain once leaving with a nasty bruise (that Sarah still insisted was an accident). Sarah pointed out all the protection spells in addition to all the amulets (which Jareth was surprised to confirm their authenticity) given to her not only by her three dear friends but one by the mosaic girl (on a piece of stone), more by a few random goblins, and one from Marek before he disappeared.

After the initial chaos in the orchards had died down to a more manageable surge, Jareth, Marek, and Sarah had returned to the castle. Thankfully, their enemy's underground tunnel had not reached any of the underground paths of the Labyrinth, near as they could determine at this point. This would need to be further prevented; otherwise the Labyrinth would be an open battlefield with itself as a casualty. That's when the wall came in. Marek and Jareth argued about the Prophesy, quoting bits in a mellifluous language, while Sarah went to organize members of the castle and whatever else she could and direct them toward the skirmish.

Then they had left without her. Sarah had spent that night in the castle, thoroughly pissed off. Jareth returned the next afternoon and Sarah had insisted on going back with him. Their private war had officially started.

Jareth refused. Sarah walked to the camp in a few hours, the Labyrinth giving her shortcuts. He returned her to their room with additional commands and wards. Sarah went to the library and found a few books on war and the architecture of the castle itself, smiling as she left the books in front of him and Marek while they were discussing further strategy. Jareth transported her back and locked her in the room. It took most of the afternoon, but Sarah managed to transport herself outside of her door and then make it to camp. Jareth blocked his magic from her. Sarah discovered that turning into a hawk was now a function of her body in the Underground rather than entirely dependent on their stock of magic, though she apparently couldn't turn back without it. Jareth put her in an oubliette. Sarah was glaring at him within the hour. He placed her in the care of Jan and Elizabeth. After three days, she had returned with insights about the war itself and the blessing of her caretakers (likely as they were not informed about the pregnancy, as requested by Jareth).

Three factors allowed this truce, where Jareth was at least not routinely depositing her: Sarah's recently developed symptom of transporting in her sleep (that she still preferred to the alternative of morning sickness) left her in vulnerable position unless Jareth could maintain the safeguards, the drain of much needed magic and energy wasted when he tried to move her and her returning, and Marek's disappearance.

The latter, Sarah didn't want to think much about. Jareth, she could sense, checked up on her more frequently since that day, but otherwise they couldn't quite lead a search party in their current circumstance. There wasn't the man/goblinpower nor the energy. They asked the Labyrinth to alert either of them if it found any trace of him, but the Labyrinth was too absorbed in the enemies at its borders to be an attentive soldier.

She could still feel its terror, frustration, and discomfort, ready to panic as much as a heap of stone and creature could.

"I'm going to go see if I can calm the Labyrinth down some, Jareth," Sarah declared quietly, sitting up. "It's especially disheveled this morning or afternoon or wherever we're at now."

Jareth still did not look convinced, frowning like that.

"Jareth, I have the strength, the ability and the need to do something. Today I won't directly be working on the wall. I'll even try to take a nap in the moss glade. Is that better?"

"I suppose it will have to be," Jareth breathed, taking a seat next to her. "Remember to hide in the runes and to ask the Labyrinth to watch over you in the moss glade."

"Join me if you can. You could use some rest yourself."

And he did look tired as he pulled on his boots. Worse than before she had married him, with the strain of drained magic. Still, outside of their tent, he wore his armor and his office with a stern pride and confidence. Sarah did all she could to follow his example, hoping to inspire her subjects, too, with confidence and compassion. Image was an important aspect of politics, after all.

"There will be time for that later."

"Oh no you don't. You can't deflect me that easy. Jareth," Sarah laid a hand over his, "I worry about you, too."

Jareth stopped the systematic placement of his armor to look at his wife. "This will not last forever."

"Immortals don't have that much of an attention span, right?"

Jareth's lips quirked to a smile, as if to say, "Well, yes." He sighed. "We will defeat this threat and fix all the old wards and barriers for at least a few millennia."

"Then will we stop arguing about how much I'm 'allowed' to be involved in war in my kingdom?"


"You just have fun getting me started when it's not serious."

He kissed her. "Quite possibly."

"Even when it is serious," Sarah amended. "Remind me later to tell you about my dream. It was really scary, but I think you'd just laugh at me."

That caught his attention. "What kind of dream? What did you see?"

"Oh, this was definitely one of those weird crazy neuron firing random dreams, not any prophetic source, I'm pretty sure."

"How can you be sure?"

"Would you name your child Junior?" Jareth's brows quirked together. "I didn't think so. I mean can you imagine Jan and Elizabeth saying 'We're going to visit Jareth, Sarah, and Junior'? It just doesn't have the right kind of ring to it."

Jareth laughed. "I suppose not."

"I haven't even had time to adjust to everything yet, except that I refer to him or her as LT in my head," Sarah admitted.


"Little terror," Sarah clarified, much to the amazement and amusement of her husband. "Well," Sarah defended, pointing a finger at Jareth, "If irascibility and mischievousness are at all genetic, we're in trouble."

"And help us all if your stubbornness leaches in."

"Oh, you're one to talk."

A figure stood on the outside of their tent, not knocking but gently scratching on the fabric. "Sir! One of the captives has a few things to say."

"I will be there shortly," Jareth replied.

"And that was still the most civil talk we've had in a while," Sarah stated with a sigh. She stood up and began pulling on a pair of trousers instead of the nightgown she had made out of her shirt, now shortened back to its normal length. "If you do find yourself with some time today, let's just talk."

Standing as well, Jareth pulled her to his chest and stood there without a word. After a moment, he kissed her forehead and strode with strong confidence from their tent.

Satisfied with her appearance, Sarah, too, marched with confidence.

Outside of her tent, she picked up a fairly sizable rock, setting it in the large pocket of the tanned smock over her shirt; though not necessarily fashionable, the leather gave some protection but was essentially designed to sit as a layer between armor, none of which Sarah hoped to need today, as per agreement with her husband. A resounding call reverberated through the camp, and the stone in Sarah's pocket began to pull forward and left. Chuckling, Sarah followed the pull to where Ludo stood with one paw on a pile of stones while still calling more.

"Hello, Ludo," Sarah greeted.

"Sarwah," her friend bellowed.

She chuckled as she was enveloped by orange fur and reached up to scratch an ear, laughing again as Ludo leaned to her hand, closed his eyes, and began to tap a foot.

"I'm going to borrow this rock for the day," Sarah held the rock for him to see.

"Good rock. Rock Sarwah's friend," Ludo agreed.

"The rocks have been most helpful building the upper wall, Ludo. Thanks for calling them."

"Rocks help. Rocks strong." He nodded so solemnly that Sarah nearly laughed again.

"We'll see if we can get some extra supper sent to you tonight. You're looking a little scraggly."


"And maybe some glitter for the rocks once this is all done. The Labyrinth has a tendency toward the stuff."

"Rocks like shiny," Ludo huffed sagely.

"I'll come back and talk to you later, Ludo," Sarah promised, hugging her friend one more time.

"Goodbye, Sarah."

Taking a small pebble from the ground, Sarah spent some of their depleting magic to transform it into one of the stones Sir Didymus had once tossed her, allowing herself and her companions to survey the Labyrinth at an impossible velocity. Seconds later, she was in front of the outer wall. She would get as close to the eastern corners as she could, since that area was closest to the invaded orchard, resting just outside of the official embankment. But close enough to have had a few stragglers and miscreants inflict some kind of damage to the structure itself. That these forces were in their lands at all was bad enough, but damaging the Labyrinth was unacceptable.

Sarah ran her hands along the wall as she made her way along, a twinge in the back of her mind informing her that the Labyrinth was comforted by her presence already. She walked slowly along the wall, listening with her fingertips to the Labyrinth's worries and projecting her own assurances. They reminisced about her adventure, the Labyrinth pleased to bring up all the little tricks it had pulled. Sarah suggested further traps for runners, once this whole mess was sorted out. She didn't mention to the Labyrinth that, knowing immortals, it could easily last for a few hundred years, partly as she was violently opposed to such a reality occurring. She told the Labyrinth about the progress of its next ruler and what horrible concoctions Alain had her drink to assure that she was receiving all the proper nutrition. The Labyrinth asked for a new grove, once the old one was cleaned out, and a water hazard.

Having meandered to the moss grove, Sarah and the Labyrinth were still negotiating the logistics, discussing floating platforms or whether to have the runner become a swimmer around the kelp walls or if they'll be yanked below the surface by a goblin only to realize they can suddenly breathe underwater. The moss grove held a specific peace for Sarah, shared now by the Labyrinth. One large slab along the wall held letters of a peculiar sort large enough for Sarah to curl up in. On her tour of the Labyrinth, her friends had referred to them as the runes, and there was a special kind of protection in these moss-layered alcoves.

Her stomach began to rumble, two and a half hours having passed since she'd left her tent.

Owena tip-toed into the groves, quietly calling, "Your majesty?"

Though briefly startled, Sarah sat up a little straighter. "Over here."

"His majesty sent me to make sure you had something to eat and to give you this. And this bottle is from Alain," she reported, passing a wooden tray with the described items.

"Thanks, Owena. How're things by the wall today?"

"It's getting bigger," she squeaked. "But we haven't heard from our side stuck on the other side today. The king was talking to some of the captives."

Sarah nodded with a distinct feeling she probably didn't want to know, but would eventually have to address, what would then happen to prisoners of war. Sarah assumed it would just become another argument she'd get tired of. All this stress couldn't be a good thing, especially with her hormones flipping out.

"Anything I can do for your majesty?" Owena asked, her large eyes shining.

"Please give a message to the king. Tell him I'm resting."

"Yes, majesty," Owena promised. "It's a good idea. You've been a little pale recently. I will come if you need anything."

"Thanks, Owena. Right now, we need your help on the wall."

Owena bowed and left.

Sarah took a good look at the assortment placed before her: all kinds of fruits, bread, cheese arranged with a certain precision that prevented pieces from tumbling off, at least until Sarah took the first piece. It did not escape her notice that what was set before her was certainly too much for one person.

Grinning, she picked up the letter: "Drink the vial from Alain. I shall join you shortly."

Sarah held up the vial and swished it around, the viscous muck a shade resembling the bog. She asked the Labyrinth what it thought and received a response along the lines of "that's icky" in not so many words. Stalling, Sarah started to eat.

Her spot huddled in the runes was suddenly more compacted.

"Shortly, indeed," Sarah chuckled as Jareth's arm wound around her stomach. "Hungry?"

He kissed her cheek and reached over to the tray. "Yes."

"I don't suppose we have any peanut butter?"

A crystal later and Sarah was spreading it on her bread.

"Surprisingly, that's the second request I've had for that today. Ack stopped by and apparently has an odd fondness for it."

"He stopped by again?" Sarah parroted, her mouth full.

"Yes. He showed up long enough to make a few quips then disappear again. I don't know what to think of it."

"Well, I guess it does sound a little weird. I'll talk to him next time."

Sarah could feel Jareth's eyes rest on Alain's concoction. "You didn't drink it."

"I will. I just wanted to hold happier tastes in my mind before downing the sludge. You try this stuff and see how eager you are." Sarah took another bite. "Want to hear about my dream?"

Jareth nodded, taking a grape from the tray. "Yes, about Junior."

"Essentially, you came up to me and told me Junior had learned a new phrase after which your half-sized clone started marching around going 'Don't defy me! Don't defy me!' It was terrifying."

Jareth chuckled. "I think it's best if I say nothing at this interval."

"Probably," Sarah agreed, rolling her eyes. She picked up the vial. "Do I have to?"

"For your health and the health of our child, I'll force it down your throat."

Sarah turned and gave him an odd look. "That was weirdly endearing…" She took the bottle and swished it about again.


"Oh, don't you start that tone," Sarah warned. She yanked the stopper out, took a deep breath, rested her head against his side, and threw back the bottle.

"Blech. There. Next time, you have to take it, too."

Jareth chuckled. "I'd rather not, thanks."

"Not fair," Sarah mumbled, suddenly quite exhausted. Especially exhausted. "So I don't suppose we have time to just talk?"

"Probably not. You'll be asleep shortly."

Sarah's eyelids felt ridiculously heavy and her muscles didn't feel strong enough to hold her head.

"Jareth, you massive jerk," Sarah mumbled. She felt herself lifted off of the ground.

"Sarah, I know you'll be angry with me, but stay here." Jareth's voice was growing more distant. Sarah felt herself righted as he held her up, rough brown arms becoming the new support as she lapsed fully into unconsciousness.

Power Struggle

A Labyrinth Story
by bobmcbobbob1

Part 36 of 50

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