Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 17 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

The Stallion practically inhaled his grain before he proceeded to munch contentedly on his hay. Sarah spoke to him calmly and softly as she unlatched the door and slipped slowly into his stall.

Three Goblin grooms stood at the ready in case the stallion turned aggressive and she needed their assistance. Tempest sniffed the air as she entered, but other then that he didn't seem at all bothered by her intrusion. Sarah inched closer slowly and spoke very calmly, "Hey Boy, I've got something for you." She held out her hand and Tempest turned his head and regarded her with his wide blue eyes before he lowered his muzzle to her hand and took the offered sugar cube.

Sarah gave him an affectionate pat on the neck before she slowly slid her hand down the length of his neck to his shoulder. He didn't shy from her touch so she continued to slide her palm over his withers and back, running her hand down his side all the way to his belly. From there she ran her palm up over his flank, and still the stallion did not shy. She whispered to the watching goblin groom to get her a brush. There in the twilight on that wretchedly warm day, Sarah managed to groom Jareth's alicorn for the first time.

It was well into the evening when Sarah returned to the castle that night. She managed to sneak through the castle corridors to the kitchen without a chance mishap with his highness. She spoke to the Goblin in the kitchen who informed her that the King had retired early this evening and he had instructed them to keep some dinner warm for her.

Sarah was rather relieved at the news, and decided to take her crock of stew and her bread to the study to see if there were any new documents waiting. Perhaps if she started on them tonight that would leave less work for her to do the next day, and she could go back to her tidying of the library, where she would be less likely to be hounded by Jareth.

She made her way to the study and found that it looked as though it had been empty all day. There was but one document that needed to be copied, so Sarah set her half finished novel on the desk and went to work, stopping occasionally to eat. She finished her task easy enough and brought her dishes back down to the kitchen, forgetting that she had left the blue bound love story atop the desk.

She decided to spend the rest of her evening mending her clothes. She had already managed to tear one of her skirts and some of her garments had gotten quite filthy and would greatly benefit from a good washing. As she scrubbed her clothes in the wash bucket that the goblins had been kind enough to let her take, she vowed that she would never take the free washers and dryers in her dorm for granted ever again. She was definitely going to try to get some sleep after she finished.

The heat from the day had accumulated in the castle, making Sarah's chamber uncomfortably hot and stuffy. The unforgiving sun had disappeared over the treetops long ago and the moon had begun its silent vigil over the labyrinth. Sarah could see the pale white orb through her small window that she left open, but the scant amount of breeze did little to alleviate the suffocating atmosphere.

She had gone to bed over an hour ago but she was still wide awake. She shifted restlessly under her covers, tossing and turning, while praying that the merciful oblivion of sleep would claim her, but she wasn't so lucky. It was no use, the combination of the brutal humidity and the turbulent thoughts that plagued her mind, kept her from getting any rest. In a fit of frustration she wrestled with her blankets, finally throwing them aside. Even her thin linen nightdress caused her discomfort, she felt as though her whole body was being restrained by the twisted garment.

With a huff of disgust she jumped out of bed and straightened the damned thing. She was obviously not going to get to sleep anytime soon, so she figured she might as well get up. She lit the candle at her bedside and filled her basin with cold water. After she had bathed her face and neck with the blessedly cool water she glanced at the door to her chamber. She might as well go for a walk.

Then as if by instinct her eyes drifted to the door to Jareth's bedchamber. It was late. Most likely the Goblin King was already sleeping, and that was fine with her. She would enjoy her little jaunt more knowing that there was no chance of him creeping up behind her in one of those wretchedly dark corridors. As much as the castle was a strange yet intriguing place by day, it could be quite eerie at night, especially once the Goblins had all turned in and the main sconces had been extinguished.

An impulse struck Sarah and she acted on it. She crept over to her window, and standing on her tiptoes she craned her neck to look out. She could just barely see the Goblin King's balcony and to her relief not the slightest hint of light was coming from his chamber. Good, he was most definitely asleep then.

Seeing that she was already uncomfortably warm, she decided to forgo putting on her robe as she snuck out of her room into the very dark hall. She wandered the halls aimlessly for a little while. She knew her way around quite well now and had no trouble navigating her way through the labyrinthine corridors, even with only the light of her candle to guide her.

Out of curiosity she crept down towards the throne room. She wondered if the goblins had been reveling in there even after the firm reprimand from their sovereign. She shook her head as she stepped over the two sleeping guards, one snoring loudly as he reclined against the back of the other. "Lot of good they do..." She thought to herself as she slipped through the great wooden doors. The throne room was dim, but not totally dark. It showed no signs of having seen a large celebration, save for the two seemingly intoxicated Goblins that stood in the middle of the room arguing.

Sarah was very quiet as she crept into the room and the goblins didn't even notice her lurking there in the shadows. As she stealthily approached she overheard a bit of their conversation.

"...I say, that's where you're wrong mate...I'd bet you me best cask of ale that he does fancy her...why else would she be back ere?"

She couldn't hear the other goblin's response, as his back was to her, but she heard the first reply, "Well, I s'pose that coulda been 'is li'l game plan ter begin with but...Nawwww. You've seen the way he's been actin', Heck I thought fer sure he'd banish us all to the bog fer a week, but no sirree...just pots and pans...and that's nothin' in this place. No, I say he's sweet on her..."

The other goblin interrupted but Sarah could only make out that he had asked the other some indecipherable question and was now chortling with laughter. The second goblin broke into raucous laughter as well before he sniggered, "Well, can't say I blame 'im...Yous seen 'er...easy on the eyes, sweet thing...she is."

The other goblin again mentioned something that she couldn't make out, but the reply was clear, "Aye, human for sure...mortal as they come...but heck...I'd fancy 'er over any snooty Fae lass any day...icy pack of wolves that lot is...and don't he know it."

Suddenly the Goblin stopped jabbering and hissed, " just hear somethin'?" Both Goblins quickly hid their flagons of ale behind their backs as they finally spotted the figure standing in the shadows. Sarah had been listening long enough, and it was pretty obvious that it was her they were referring to.

Apparently they also suspected that Jareth might be infatuated with her, however it seemed that even they weren't sure of his motives. She had always assumed that goblins were stupid creatures. Apparently they were far more observant and intelligent than she had given them credit for, although the fact that they hadn't picked up on her eavesdropping was a minor strike against them.

Sarah strode forward and they undoubtedly heard her footsteps. The first Goblin swallowed with dread as he muttered, "Oh...Dang..." But then she stepped into the light and they saw it was her, and not the Goblin King that had intruded on their conversation.

They both seemed to sag in relief as one breathed, "Oh. It's a second I thought you might be his majesty..."

Sarah shook her head, smiling at their relief, before she offered, "No, It's just me. I think the King is already asleep." The smaller and undoubtedly dumber of the two, withdrew his flagon from behind his back and took a much needed draught of ale. The other just looked uncertainly from his companion to Sarah before he stammered, "'re not going to...tell his majesty...are you?"

Sarah gestured to the sloshing flagon that he was unsuccessfully trying to hide behind his back as she replied, "What? That you guys are drinking in here?"

Both the goblins nodded furiously and the dumber one demanded, " anything about what you just mighta heard?"

Sarah looked from one to the other. They were actually trembling. It might have been fun to toy with them but Sarah felt bad enough for startling them so she admitted, "No, Don't worry, I won't. Your secret is safe with me."

The larger Goblin elbowed the smaller one, smiling smugly as he hissed, "See. I told ya she was alright."

Sarah smiled at the comment. Perhaps being friendly with Jareth's subjects would have its advantages. She hadn't really thought about it, but she might stand to gain a lot of inside knowledge by becoming friendly with them. There were a vast number of them and they were in essence the eyes and ears of the castle.

The smaller goblin elbowed the other and muttered, "But...but she's the King's tendant...isn't she 'sposed to report to 'im and keep 'im informed?"

Sarah crossed her arms and regarded the goblin, a sly smile forming on her lips as she replied, "I suppose you do have a point...but in this case, I don't see how such information really concerns your King, so I suppose I might just look the other way."

The goblin seemed rather impressed as he ventured, "'re not afraid that he'll dump you in the b...b..bog...fer not bein' truthful?!?"

Sarah shrugged, an amused grin tugged at the corners at her mouth, "Not really."

The second Goblin smacked the other on his arm and growled, "Course she ain't afraid, you twit...Don't you remember who dis is? She done already stood up to 'is majesty, and beat 'is 'ere she is, live and well."

The smaller goblin looked at her in awe, looking her up in down in wonder as if really just realizing for the first time that this was the very same Sarah who had beat the Goblin King and demanded her brother back.

Sarah walked down the dark winding corridor smiling smugly to herself. The Goblins weren't such bad creatures after all. As she walked past the door to the study, she stopped as something occurred to her. Had she left her book in there? She thought back to earlier that evening. Come to think of it she didn't recall having it in her hand when she had retired to her room. She must have left it on the desk.

She had better go and get it. The last thing she wanted was for Jareth to catch wind of what she'd been reading. If he found the book and discovered its content, he would torment her over it for sure.

Sarah turned around purposefully and approached the door. It was slightly ajar and she noticed that soft orange light spilled out onto the darkened hall floor. Perhaps someone had left a candle burning. The opening wasn't wide enough for her to look in, so she pushed it open slowly. To her dismay the ancient door groaned on its hinges, causing an awful creak. Startled, she glanced into the room, surprised to see Jareth lounging in the great arm chair by the fire. As if his mere presence wasn't enough, the monarch had already looked up to see her lurking in the doorway.

She'd been caught. Damn.

Sarah first noticed the casual manner in which he was draped over the chair. One booted foot rested on the floor, the other leg thrown haphazardly over the arm of the chair. She could not prevent her curious eyes from straying up his body, from his high black boots, up to his thighs covered by skin-tight grey breeches. As if that wasn't unnerving enough, his billowy poet's shirt hung open to his waist. He hadn't bothered to fasten the buttons this evening, probably due to the heat. His face wasn't any less unsettling. His mismatched eyes sparkled with surprised amusement and that ever-present mocking smirk had already appeared on his face. Why did he have to be so damn alluring? There was nothing she could do, as her heart started to pound. Damn him.

Sarah froze as he drawled, "Sarah what brings you to this side of the castle...?" He briefly perused her body, noticing she was wearing nothing but a thin chemise. His eyes settled on her face as he added with smirk, ' the middle of the night?" She frantically struggled to gather her wits about her and stammered, "Oh...I ah...didn't know you were in here. I just couldn't..."

As she spoke she had already begun to retreat back into the hall but she stopped as he interjected, "...sleep?"

She swallowed the lump in her throat as she hesitantly nodded and turned back, scanning the large desk as she replied, "Actually, I...was...just...looking for a book. I had it earlier and I think I might have left it in here."

His eyes danced with amusement and he pursed his lips as if in thought before he held up the blue bound book that had been resting in his lap, "Wouldn't be this book would it?"

Sarah gaped at the book in his gloved hand. That was it all right.


The words seemed to catch in her throat as she stammered, "Ah...yeah. That's it."

Jareth glanced at the book, pondering it before he remarked, "I couldn't sleep either. I came here hoping to find something to occupy my time...and there it was, just like magic." His eyes raked over her form with careful scrutiny as he finished, "It was fortunate that you left it. I rather enjoyed it. It was after all, amusing...wouldn't you say?"

Sarah simply stared in dumbfounded shock. He had read it already?!? Surely he was referring to the content and he was mocking her. Oh God, that meant he must have noticed the similarities between the lovers and themselves. Sarah wished she had the ability to disappear. If she had been uncomfortable before, she was downright miserable now.

His eyes locked with hers as he placed an elegant gloved finger to his lips in contemplation. His voice was dangerously enticing as he demanded, "Tell me, did you enjoy it?"

Sarah felt her ears grow hot as she made a noble effort to throw him off the subject, "I...I don't know...I haven't finished it."

Jareth tilted his head to the side as his eyes continued to bore into hers, "You're better than halfway, I saw where you folded the page. Surely you have some opinion?"

Sarah broke their eye contact, finding it easier to stare into the fire as she babbled, "It's alright...a pleasant way to spend the afternoon at any rate."

Jareth closed the book raising an eyebrow as he mused, "Yes, and a rather exhausting way to spend an evening as well..." He paused, his eyes locking with hers as he added "...and yet I still have no desire to sleep." He held the book out to her as if daring her to come closer and take it from him.

She cautiously took a step forward. It did not escape her attention that his eyes dropped to roam over her form again as she stepped closer to the fire. She tentatively reached out to take the book from him, when he suddenly smirked and pulled it out of her reach. Her eyes met his in defiance as he finished silkily, "...Of course, you may prefer to retire to your room to read, but since we both seem to be plagued by the same restlessness...perhaps you'd care to join me in a game?"

She furrowed her brow and stammered, "A game? With you?" He nodded, his eyes still fixed on her face as his lips twisted into that devious smirk she knew all too well. He was challenging her, daring her to try and match wits with him.

She took the bait. "What sort of game?"

The grin only widened as he drawled, "My my, You have become suspicious over the years. What happened to your sense of adventure?"

She gave him a weary look as she replied, "Well, forgive me for my reluctance...but I've played one of your games with you before, and I'm not in hurry to do it again."

He gave her a pointed look and asked, "Why not?"

Her eyes flashed angrily as she replied, "I know how you play, and fair is not the word that comes to mind."

His eyes held hers as he countered "Oh really?"

Her tone verified that she was becoming annoyed as she finished, "Yes, really."

Her irritation only seemed to encourage him and he seriously ventured, "Come now Sarah, can you honestly say that I ever went back on my word?"

She looked at the floor and admitted, "No...but...with you calling the shots, something bad always happens."

He pretended to look offended as he remarked, "What do you mean...I resent that..."

She rolled her eyes, not at all falling for his feigned innocence as she scoffed, "Oh please, you know exactly what I'm getting at. You manipulated time to give you the advantage, that was just before you sent some huge grinding machine to chase me down. Let's see what else. I mysteriously wound up in the bog of stench. Ummm...huge mechanical monsters, goblin soldiers. Is that enough for you? And oh wait...drugged fruit too. Aside from the magical amnesia, your stupid peach also gave me a hell of a headache. I hardly would call all that playing fair."

He sat back in the chair and quipped "Oh Sarah, must you be so dramatic? You know you were never in any real danger."

She crossed her arms and retorted, "Oh really? Well that's news to me...and what about this time...let's not forget that it was you who manipulated me into staying here by THREATENING MY FRIEND!"

His eyes were fixed on her as he evenly replied, "Can you honestly say you've been so miserable since you came back?"

She looked him right in the eye and retorted, "At times...yes."

He lounged back in his chair confidently. God, he looked every inch like a King, an awfully enticing one to boot. He contemplated her for a moment before he drawled, "It doesn't have to be that way."

She stared at him and retorted, "Oh no? Then why IS it that way?"

He calmly replied, "I'll tell you why...your defiance."

Sarah bristled at the remark and spat back, "Oh I's somehow MY fault that that you can't help making me miserable."

Jareth laughed and the sound was rich, it seemed to caress her ears, "Ah Sarah...You are far more adept at making yourself miserable than I am."

The sound of his laughter only angered her more. She did not appreciate being made fun of, and the fact that it was him doing the laughing, only made it that much more unbearable.

She crossed her arms and spat, "And what's that supposed to mean?"

He smiled as if he were privy to some valuable piece of confidential information and asked, "Tell me...has anything truly terrible befallen you since we made our little...agreement?"

She glared at him and snapped, "I don't know. Does being forced to be dressed as a page boy and being molested by a Fae noblewoman count?"

Jareth shook his head, " see. Self imposed misery."

She stared at him incredulously and sputtered, "Self imposed?!? How is it self imposed? Unless I'm delusional, it was you who dressed me in those hideous clothes and practically shoved me into that woman's arms."

Jareth nodded, "Maybe so, but YOU are the one who decided the situation had to be unpleasant."

Now she regarded him with disbelief as she demanded, "What are you talking about?"

Jareth folded his hands in his lap. It was obvious he was walking a fine line with her. One wrong word might cause her storm out angrily, but he simply couldn't resist pushing her, it was far too much fun. He smirked and began, "Tell me truthfully, did you not find the girl beautiful?"

Sarah gaped at him, "What does THAT have to do with anything?"

Jareth tilted his head to the side thoughtfully, "Just answer the question. Did you or did you not find her attractive?"

Sarah threw up her hands, "Fine, I guess you could call her...attractive."

He regarded her and coolly replied, "That's not what I asked. Did YOU find her attractive?"

Sarah exhaled in frustration and admitted, "Ugh...yeah...I guess."

Jareth smiled, revealing his fine pointed teeth as he mused, "Now we are getting somewhere. Now...honestly...was it not flattering that she desired you?"

Sarah shrugged, still having no idea where he was going with this, "I suppose it was flattering."

Jareth placed a gloved finger to his lips as he contemplated the girl before him, "Now let me get this straight. You found the girl attractive...and you were flattered by her feelings...yet it was unpleasant for you?"

Sarah nodded, "Yes. Precisely."

Jareth ventured further, "Why? Were her affections not agreeable? What's the matter were her kisses not sweet? Not imploring enough for you?"

Sarah shook her head in frustrated bewilderment, "I cannot BELIEVE we are even having this conversation!"

Jareth tried again, "Be honest Sarah...Wouldn't it have been possible to just lie back and enjoy her attention?"

Sarah threw up her hands as she replied, "Not for me!"

He smiled ruthlessly like a predator about to make a kill, "Why not? Are you incapable of experiencing pleasure?"

Her eyes widened at his audacity as she snapped "NO!"

His bold smile remained as he demanded, "Then why wasn't it possible?"

Sarah huffed, "Alright...fine. Maybe it would have been...but not with her...maybe if it had been..."

Luckily she stopped herself in the nick of time before she had said "Someone else." That would have been disastrous, given the Goblin King's present knack for interrogation.

A smug smile formed on his face.


It looked as though she had already given away to much, for it seemed that he already knew what she had been about to say. His eyes wandered over her as he coaxed, "If it had been...what?"

Sarah shook her head and replied forcefully, "No. We are done with this conversation...think what you discomfort may be somewhat self-induced but YOU don't make it easy, in fact you have made a career out of messing up my life."

The expression on his face was smug as he drawled, "I already told you it doesn't have to be that way." God, that look on his face made her want to smack him, very hard. She barely contained herself as she accused, "Oh really? Why do you always have to antagonize me then?" The fact that he remained so calm while she was getting so riled up, only made her hate him more.

His tone was self assured and cold as ice as he replied, "I told you why...your defiance."

Sarah was aware that she was starting to raise her voice but she didn't care, "My defiance? How?"

He looked rather amused by her loss of control and he admitted with a grin, "You...provoke me."

Sarah realized she was on thin ice, it would be very bad idea to let her emotions get any further out of control, so she converted her anger to burning sarcasm, "SO what's THAT supposed to mean?"

He stood up and circled her as if she were some helpless piece of prey. His voice was cool, and calculated as he carefully replied, "I told you before, I can be cruel but I can also be generous. You'll find I can be quite civil...that is if you can refrain from being obstinate for a single moment."

She turned, keeping her eyes trained on him as he circled, never once trusting her back to him. She exhaustedly demanded, "Civil? You?"

He was now circling closer as he explained in an almost patronizing yet teasing manner, "Yes, All I'm asking is to engage me in a game. I only intended to propose a means for us to pass some time...but if you aren't interested..."

His movements were making her dizzy and she didn't like the idea of him standing so close. Hadn't he ever heard of personal space?

She closed her eyes and shook her head as she ordered, "Stop it, you are making me dizzy! What sort of game?"

With a knowing smirk Jareth settled back into his chair and enquired, "Do you play chess?" With a flick of his wrist an elaborate chess board appeared on a table before him. Sarah arched an eyebrow. She was rather fond of chess and she wasn't half-bad either, but she hesitated as she considered how a playing with him may vastly change her idea of the game.

Sarah eyed the board and questioned, "Normal chess?"

He nodded, "Yes, a simple game of strategy."

She cocked her head to the side as she regarded him warily and quipped, "Not...If I make a bad move I land in the oubliette or the bog...version of chess?"

He shot her a weary expression, her mistrust was really starting to grate on his nerves, "Sarah..."

She was relentless and chided, "If I play, that means no tricks, no monsters...and absolutely no cheating. And...we don't leave this room."

His eyes met hers with resolve, "Very well."

It was however, too much to hope for that she would be satisfied enough to just shut up and play. Of course she had more questions. "So we just play for fun right? No stakes?"

He gave a weary sigh and replied, "Sarah what fun would that be?"

A knowing smile played on her face as she mused, "Of course. With you I really ought to know better. Fine, what are the stakes?"

He smiled. Perhaps she wanted to make this interesting after all.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 17 of 42

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