Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 15 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Most Prized Possession

Sarah shut the door that connected their rooms behind her and slumped against it, releasing a shuddering sigh. That was close. Way too close. When she could breathe again she straightened and pulled the potato out of her pants and tossed it aside. It was nice to get rid of the awkward thing. It had started to make her itch and she was tired of having to re-adjust the waistband when the sheer weight of the spud had caused her breeches to slide steadily down her hips.

She pulled the bottom of the shirt out of her breeches and started to unfasten the buttons. Once she had managed to undo all the buttons she shrugged the shirt off her shoulders and discarded it on the bed before she went to work removing the linen cloth that was wrapped tightly about her chest. When the gauzy linen fabric at last fell in a heap on the floor she sighed in relief as she rubbed her sore breasts. Jareth had pulled the damn thing so tight that it left marks on her skin.

Without the slightest hint of warning the door to Jareth's chamber flung open and The Goblin King stormed in, "Sarah, your friends have..."

Sarah let out a startled cry as he burst in, and with her hands firmly clasped over her breasts she instinctively turned away from him.

Jareth's words died mid sentence as he noticed that Sarah was quite naked from the waist up, with only her hands shielding herself from his eyes. As she scurried to get behind the dressing screen, a predatory smirk formed on the Goblin King's face. He hadn't intended to catch Sarah in such an exposed state, but he couldn't deny that he was quite pleasantly surprised. Especially since her small hands could do little to hide such lovely ample breasts.

From behind the dressing screen Sarah growled, "God, can't you ever knock?!?"

With a gesture Jareth closed the door behind him and replied rather unapologetically, "It wasn't my intention to startle you..." His expression turned to intrigue as he arched an eye-brow and demanded silkily, "...But just what were you doing in here?"

Sarah poked her head out from behind the screen and he could tell that she was livid. Her hands went impatiently to her hips and her eyes flashed angrily as she spat, "I was removing the linen cloth that you wrapped so tightly, that it was cutting off my circulation...Not that it's any of your damn business what I do in the privacy of this room."

As an afterthought she quipped, "Now I know this is a lot to ask of someone who doesn't even have the decency to KNOCK before he barges into a lady's room...but do you think you could hand me that top, and get the hell out of here, so I can change in peace?!?"

Unaffected, Jareth picked up the garments from the bed and handed them to her as he replied mildly, "There's no need to be so hostile Sarah, I just came to tell you that your friends are here in the castle and they wish to see you."

Sarah pulled her Hartford tank top over her head as she replied, "My friends?"

Jareth nodded, adding, "Yes, Sir Didymus, Higgle, and that large beast whose name escapes me."

Sarah irritable corrected, "You mean Hoggle, and Ludo."

Jareth nodded and nonchalantly replied, "They are in the throne room if you wish to see them."

Sarah emerged from behind the dressing screen with the white poet's shirt buttoned over her tank top as she sneered, "Of course I want to see them."

As Sarah turned to storm out the room he stopped her, "And Sarah..."

She merely turned her head to acknowledge him.

He gave her a pointed look and admonished, "You forget who you are talking to...I'd watch my tone if I were you. I assure you I can think of far worse things than a little dalliance with our distinguished guest."

She considered his words and after clamping her mouth shut she ground out, "Point taken." With that she left him standing in her room.

The halls were dark and empty as she jogged to the throne room. She burst through the large doors to find Hoggle, Ludo, and Didymus pacing with worried looks on their faces. They all looked up at once as Sarah ran to them crying, "Hoggle, Ludo, Didymus! I'm so relieved you're all here."

Hoggle caught Sarah in a tight embrace as she stooped to his height. The dwarf cried, "Sarah!" Next, it was Ludo who gathered Sarah into a crushing hug as he bellowed, "Sawah...Sawah Baaaaack!" She laughed joyously as she hugged him, "Yes, Ludo I'm back." As She reached for Didymus she felt the stinging in her eyes as her vision turned blurry with unshed tears as she cried, "I'm so glad to see all of you." The small fox hugged her and then drew back and enquired, "My lady, are you alright?"

Sarah nodded hastily but the urge to break down in sobs was nearly overwhelming. She did her best to compose herself as she stepped into the indented center of the floor and perched on the stone step. Her friends settled themselves beside her as Hoggle began, "Sarah, we'd have come sooner, but we only just found out that you were here...we thought that you might need us."

Sarah's eyes brimmed with tears as she breathed, "I...I do need you."

The dwarf was rather moved by her sadness and solemnly asked, "Then why didn't you call us sooner?"

Sarah blinked back her tears and explained, "I'm so sorry that I never called. I just...we'll I guess I just got caught up in my life aboveground. I missed you all so was just that the very idea of summoning you scared me...because of..."

Hoggle didn't need to hear the rest to know what she was getting at and he finished, "...Jareth."

Sarah nodded frantically as she glanced around to make sure his majesty was no where in sight, "Yes, I was afraid that if I thought too much of this place, of all of you...that somehow I might...well...invite more trouble."

Hoggle patted her knee affectionately, "There, there, missy...we understand, don't we?"

Didymus nodded as Ludo bellowed, "Sawah scared."

Sir Didymus placed a supportive paw on Sarah's hand as he soothed, "Fear not fair maiden, for we are with thee now, and all is but water under a bridge. We are so relieved to see thee well. When we had learned that you were back in the underground and living under the rule of his majesty we came as fast as we could."

Hoggle suddenly glanced about and hissed, "It only took us so long because the goblins were bein' so tight lipped about you bein' here. No doubt Jareth didn't want us knowing you were back. Good thing for us they aren't so good about keepin' their big mouths' shut." His eyes grew full of concern as he lowered his voice. "Are you really alright? Because if that rat is mistreating you, we'll bust you out of here right now."

Sarah shook her head, "No, I'm ok, besides I don't think that would do any good."

Hoggle whispered back, "Why not? We've beaten his army before, we could do it again."

Sarah urgently protested, "No Hoggle. That won't work. Even if I were to run far away from the castle, I'd still be forced to return one way or another."

Didymus was quick to ask, "But why my lady?"

Hoggle piped up and chimed in, "wha...whaddya mean?"

Sarah glanced at the floor and sheepishly admitted, "I...I made a deal with him."

Hoggle's eyes widened as he cried in dibelief, "A deal? With Jareth?"

Sarah nodded and Hoggle let his head fall into his hands as he muttered melodramatically, "Oh no."

Sarah added, "I have to stay here under his control for a year...I...I am bound to stay."

Hoggle looked up at Sarah in bewilderment, "But why would you ever agree to such a thing?"

Sarah sighed and looked at her friends with a determined expression, "I had to. My friend unintentionally wished herself away to Jareth, and the only way to get him to release her was for me to take her place. Jareth said he was being generous by only making me remain for a year."

Hoggle snorted at the mention of "generous" as Sir Didymus demanded to no one in particular, "Why would his majesty want to keep you here?"

Sarah couldn't quite meet their eyes as she sighed, "Probably to drive me crazy. I think this is his twisted idea of getting even with me for solving his labyrinth. While I'm here, I'm under his control and if I don't obey him he'll reverse our bargain and keep my friend forever. I can not, and will not let that happen, so I have no choice but to do what he asks."

Didymus looked at her with sympathy and respect as he declared, "That's very brave and noble of you my lady. But I still don't understand what his majesty wants with you."

Hoggle cut in and his tone was bitter, "Well I a damn good idea."

Sarah's eyes widened and darted to the dwarf as she stammered, "You do?"

Hoggle nodded, "He's sore about losin'. There ain't nobody more possessive than Jareth. It's obvious...he wants you for himself."

Sarah glanced around again frantically as she whispered, "Me?! What do you mean? Wants me for what?"

Hoggle leaned closer as he put his hand on her shoulders so that his words wouldn't be overheard, "He lost his head over you last time you were all my days I ain't never seen anyone get his attention the way you did. Remember when I found you in the forest and you kissed me?"

Sarah nodded and replied, "Yeah, that was just before we ended up in the bog, wasn't it?"

Hoggle nodded and growled, "Well, That was no accident. That was Jareth. He threatened that if you ever kissed me, he'd turn me into the prince of the land of stench. He didn't like us bein' friends. Like I said, Jareth's possessive, and selfish as anything. He wants you all to himself. You're the prize he couldn't win the last time around. When you won, somethin' happened to 'im. He's been a brooding menace ever since. Now don't go misunderstanding me...Jareth's always had quite a temper, but since you went home, his mood just plain stinks."

Hoggle looked around and added in an urgent whisper, "Sarah...I don't like this, you'd better be careful...I'm sure that rat has somethin' up his sleeve."

Sarah quickly reassured the dwarf, "Don't worry about me, I won't be trusting Jareth anytime soon, especially not after tonight."

Hoggle demanded, "Why? What's he gone and done now?" Sarah shrugged, "Oh, the usual, just making me miserable and ordering me around."

Didymus piped up, "The King hath given you duties?"

Sarah couldn't help but snidely reply, " guys are looking at the Goblin King's new personal attendant...scribe...groom...oh and as of tonight I'm also the mute page boy."

They looked at her in confusion as she explained, "Basically I polish his boots, attend to his wardrobe, draft documents, see to his alicorn, and tonight he had the gall to dress me as a page boy and have me wait on his guests so that the northern ambassador wouldn't get privy to the fact that the whole kingdom consists of a bunch of out of control goblins."

Didymus seemed to be at a loss as he squeaked, "My lady is page-boy?"

Sarah nodded, "fraid so."

Hoggle looked at his friend gravely, "Are you terribly unhappy Sarah? Maybe we could find a way to get you home?"

Sarah thought a moment, "No Hoggle. I don't think it's possible. Besides, even if it were, I wouldn't want to risk getting you guys into any more trouble. This is between Jareth and I. I've made my bed, and now I have to lie in it. When I really think about it, honestly, things could be much worse. I'm not terribly unhappy...I mean yeah Jareth makes me want to scream on a daily basis, but It's just for one year and there are a few perks."

Didymus replied, "Perks my lady?"

Sarah shook her head, "Yeah. For one it's kind of nice to be back here. I guess I really did miss this place. I get to spend time with Tempest, Jareth's alicorn, who is the most incredible stallion I have ever seen. I might even get to ride him if things continue to go well. Oh, and tonight I had the pleasure of sabotaging a prospective marriage for his highness."

Hoggle gave her a blank look and she added rather smugly, "It seems that the ambassador's daughter, whose hand was supposed to be offered to Jareth, was rather distracted by myself. Apparently she finds young effeminate pages more appealing then your standard Goblin King."

Hoggle and Sir Didymus looked at each other before they exploded in laughter as Ludo bellowed, "Sawah paaaage!"

Sarah suddenly looked serious as she continued, "The best part is that now I can see you all from time to time."

Hoggle stopped laughing and replied, "If Jareth allows it. I'm actually surprised that he let us even see you tonight after..."

Suddenly they heard the sound of boots on the stone floor, and to their surprise Jareth strode out of the darkness. He regarded each of them with smug expression before he interrupted, "...after all three of you of betrayed me to help Sarah defeat my army? I'll have you know that in other Kingdoms you'd pay for such an act of treason with your lives."

Both Hoggle and Sir Didymus got to their feet and stammered, "Your majesty!"

Ludo simply lowered his head as Jareth added, "I have been more than generous with you three. Not only were your punishments lenient, I've now allowed you precious time with your long lost heroine."

Sarah watched warily as the Goblin King approached. She had had no idea how long he had been hiding in the shadows. She nervously wondered at how much of their conversation he had overheard.

Jareth proceeded to circle them as he added, "I hope you had a nice visit. Before you all depart, I think it best that I emphasize that any attempts to smuggle Sarah out of here or send her home will be futile. If you are foolish enough to try anyway, you should be aware that I won't be so forgiving this time."

Jareth smiled and leaned forward, leering at his subjects, "Is that perfectly clear?"

The three nodded as Hoggle and Didymus sighed, "Yes, Your majesty."

Sarah boldly stepped forward and decided to try out her powers of persuasion.

Jareth's gaze settled on Sarah as she stepped between him and his subjects. He could only assume she was about to defiantly accuse him of being unfair.

Sarah recalled that she was not permitted to use his name when they were in the company of others, so she bit her lip hesitantly before she implored, "Your Majesty?"

Jareth's heart nearly stopped when he heard the formal title fall from her lips. The words, uttered in her voice, sounded strange, yet deliciously pleasing. Jareth regarded her for a moment before he replied, "Yes, what is it Sarah?"

She lowered her eyes in a gesture of submission as she bit her lip and spoke softly, "I've asked them not to interfere. They are aware of our agreement. I wanted to ask...would it be alright if they visit me from time to time?"

Jareth could scarcely believe his ears. Was she actually asking his permission? He was so flabbergasted by her sudden humility that it took him a moment to find his voice. If his plan was to succeed he really only had but one option. Calmly he replied, "Of course Sarah."

Then the king regarded each of his subjects sharply and added, "As long as you all remain on your best behavior, you may visit Sarah in the castle anytime you wish."

They all stuttered in seeming disbelief, "Thank you, your majesty."

Jareth sternly finished, "It's late. You should all return home. Sarah, I believe you have a previous engagement with a certain alicorn?"

Sarah nodded quickly and stammered, "Yes, I really should go, I haven't fed him yet."

Jareth's eyes followed her as she backed away from him but his voice halted her, "The goblins have already seen to his supper and his stall, but you may go and spend some time with him."

Sarah kept her eyes on the floor as she replied softly, "I'd like that." With that she turned to her friends and embraced them one by one, "Thank you so much for coming to see me." They all wished her goodnight before they headed home.

Once they had all left the room Sarah walked past Jareth without a word, but when she reached the door something made her look back.

He was still just standing there, silently watching her leave. Her eyes met his for the briefest moment as she softly said, "Jareth?" For once his expression didn't seem arrogant or mocking as he replied, "Yes, Sarah?"

The smallest smile warmed her face as she replied, "Thanks." Jareth nodded in acceptance as he replied, "Your welcome. Goodnight." Sarah felt an odd sort of quiet come over her as she replied, "Goodnight."

For Sarah the cool night air was a blessing as she made her way to the stables. It had been such an odd evening, and there was much for her to sort through. First and foremost on her mind, was what had taken place in Jareth's chamber after her charade as Sargonne.

She felt quite certain that, had the interruption not taken place, the Goblin King would have kissed her. It wasn't the first time either. With a blush she remembered how he had materialized in her room while she had been bathing. It was with much concern that she realized that the feelings of nervousness and excitement he elicited in her were steadily growing more intense. As much as she knew it was wiser to bury her feelings, she knew that she'd have to sort them out sooner or later.

And so it was with much dread that she summoned the image of the goblin king in her mind. What was it that she felt? Attraction? That much was blatantly obvious. Of course she was attracted to him, and as she thought on it, she realized that she always had been attracted to him to some degree. How could she not be, when she found him so hauntingly beautiful?

But was it merely attraction or did she feel something more substantial? Heat crept over her cheeks at the thought of kissing him and the thought of, well anything more than kissing, sent a tremor of longing through her body.

Drawing in a shaky breath she silently conceded "Ok, so I'm lusting..." Curbing her drifting thoughts she assured herself, "But only a little."

The far scarier question was did she feel anything more than attraction? It was a hard question to answer when she wasn't really sure if she even liked him. But did she hate him?

Well that was somewhat of a yes and no answer. There were certainly times when she downright loathed him, but then there were other times when he wasn't so bad. Her mind wandered, "...Like when he asked me to join him for lunch and he rubbed my shoulders." Sarah quickly pushed the thought from her mind. It was dangerous territory to dwell on the feelings that that massage had evoked.

Sarah had to admit to herself that there were definitely moments where she felt as though she did like him. Once tonight, when he agreed to let her friends visit without so much as a second thought. However there were also parts of Jareth's personality that made her regard him with a healthy amount of caution. The fact that he seemed to get pleasure out of making her uncomfortable was a valid concern, as was the belief that that her being here at all was the result of some deliberate scheme orchestrated by Jareth himself.

As much as she tried to remain focused on his ill qualities her thoughts kept straying to the way he made her feel. No matter how much she tried to write off all the nervous excitement as cold hard fear, deep down she knew better. Even in the midst of her rage tonight, once he had nearly kissed her, all hell had broken loose in her body. He infuriated her, but at the same time he awakened her. She had come to both dread and crave the moment that she would see him next.

Over the past several days she had found herself wondering about a kiss that never happened, and worse still was the horrifying fact that she had actually gone so far as to wonder what he might be like in bed. Sarah had been attracted to men before, and had even gone so far as to lose her virginity, but the few sexual experiences she had had were disappointing at best. Of all the men Sarah had been attracted to, none had ever affected her like a certain Goblin King. A shiver ran through her body as she conceded that as much as she wished it weren't so, she did feel something for the Goblin King, and if it was simply an attraction, it had to be the strongest attraction she had ever had.

With a sigh Sarah entered the barn. She lit the lantern hanging just inside the doorway and sat quietly on the bail of hay outside of Tempest's stall. The stallion snorted in response to her arrival and poked his out to investigate.

Sarah greeted him softly, "Hiya Boy. Don't mind me, I've just come to sit with you." Upon seeing that it was only Sarah, Tempest went back to munching on his hay and Sarah found the sound rather comforting.

As she sat in the dim lantern light listening to the stallion, she reflected on what Hoggle had said. "I think he lost 'is head over you last time you were all my days I never saw anyone get his attention like you did."

Sarah puzzled over the dwarf's words. Had she really gotten Jareth's attention during her brief trek through the labyrinth?

As Sarah examined her present situation she couldn't help but wonder. If Jareth had been strictly angry over the fact that she'd won, why wouldn't he have punished her outright and severely? If he hated her, then why would he want to keep her close for a year? Suppose he had "lost his head over her" or had become infatuated with her in some way, wouldn't the resulting ploy to keep her as his attendant for the next year make more sense?

Her thoughts wandered back to the strange dream that she had after she had bitten into Jareth's enchanted peach. Although her memories of the bizarre masquerade were rather hazy, she did recall that the intensity of the Goblin King's gaze had left her feeling weak and breathless, and there was a seeming mutual attraction as they briefly danced. After she had come to, Sarah had dismissed those silly notions, as she was sure it was just part of Jareth's strategy to make her forget, so that ultimately he would win.

Her thoughts then turned to their final confrontation. When she had started to recite the lines, Jareth again tried to distract her. She remembered how afraid she felt at that moment, terrified that she would blow it and lose her brother forever. She knew then that she had very little time left, and she plunged ahead, ignoring Jareth's interruptions. She had to, after all he had been only trying to stall her. Hadn't he?

Her mind raced, trying to remember what it was he had said to her exactly. It had all happened very fast and she had been bent on blocking out his words at the time, so summoning the memory was difficult. She recalled that he had offered her a crystal containing her dreams. Luckily she wasn't so foolish to let that distract her. She remembered that she had never even looked at the crystal, she had kept her eyes focused on him during those last vital moments. She thought very hard, and suddenly his last words echoed in her mind, "Just let me rule you and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave." Yes, that was what he had said. Perhaps it was being here again that jogged her memory.

At the time she had paid little attention to what he was actually saying, she had been driven solely by the need to finish the words and save Toby. Now, it seemed those words had more meaning. Things were indeed quite different this time. He did have power over her. Now he WAS ruling her and she DID fear him, and she had little choice in the matter.

Perhaps those words had been more than an attempt to stall her. If they were sincere, she couldn't help but wonder about the rest...did he indeed expect her to love him? And...God forbid...What if she did...would the rest come true too? Would she be able to have anything she wanted, and would he become her slave? Somehow she doubted it, but she couldn't help but wonder at the possibility. What if at the time he had meant those words? And she had rejected him. The idea made her breath catch in her throat.

What if the spurned Goblin King had brooded over his loss and had been biding his time, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike back. She hated to admit it, but this whole situation looked like it very well could've been the "perfect opportunity." If he had indeed felt slighted by her causing his banishment from her life, then that would explain the lack of swift retribution, as it would make more sense to draw out her punishment, and so the saying goes, "Don't get angry...get even."

What if it were his intention to enchant her into becoming infatuated with him, so she might feel the same sting of longing? The idea terrified her, as did the prospect that in addition to toying with her heart, he may also intend to seduce her, and use her body for his own pleasure. This hypothesis also explained his seeming lack of downright hatred, and the constant suggestive banter he used to lure and bait her.

The weight of such thoughts was burdensome and Sarah was already exhausted. She didn't have the strength to think any more on the matter. Her conclusion was that she had already carelessly let her life become intimately entwined with that of the Goblin King. With each passing day she found herself becoming more and more ensnared, and if she wasn't careful she might find herself stripped of more than just a year's worth of freedom. With a heavy sigh Sarah rose from the bail of hay she was reclining on. She recognized that she was on potentially dangerous ground. Come morning, she would have to be more careful. She offered Tempest a sugar cube and a friendly pat on the neck before she trudged back to the castle. She needed to forget about the Goblin King and get some sleep.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 15 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>