Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 25 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

Sarah's eyes widened in disbelief as she cried incredulously, "What!?! She's here? You've got to be joking!" Jareth shook his head to assure her that he was serious and she exclaimed, "But...I thought you said you didn't invite her!?"

Jareth shrugged and coolly replied, "I didn't. She came of her own volition. I assure you, I had nothing to do with this."

Sarah huffed with dismay, "Ughhh...What is she doing here?"

Jareth regarded her with an air of amusement and remarked, "It appears that you must have made quite an impression on the young lady, since she specifically asked for you."

Sarah let out an exasperated sigh and muttered, "Shit...I was afraid this might happen."

Cautiously he replied, "Ah, so you anticipated seeing her again. Does that mean I can count on your cooperation?"

She shot him a disdainful look as she suggested, "Can't you just tell her to go away or something?"

He smirked at her attempt to get out of the situation and replied, "It's not that simple Sarah. It's you she wants to see. What if she has something important to say? Wouldn't it be wise to at least hear the girl out? Find out why she is here?"

Sarah closed her eyes as she impatiently scoffed, "Oh...I have a pretty good idea why she's here." She then growled in frustration, " I really have to go through with this?"

His eyes wandered over her face as he replied with authority, "Stop acting like a such a child. It will take but a moment, what are you so afraid of?"

She boldly placed one hand on her hip as she hissed in a mocking tone, "Oh, I dunno...that she might try and...tear my clothes off! Come on Jareth, you know what happened last time!"

Jareth stepped closer, objecting, "Don't be ridiculous! This time I'll be watching. If things get out of hand, I will simply intervene."

Sarah gave him a shrewd look and demanded, "And, just how do you propose to do that?"

He pursed his lips as he thought for a moment. A smug smirk grew on his pallid face as he offered, "The pantry and kitchens connect this room to my throne room. I will fetch your attire and bring it to you in the kitchens. You can change there and hear the girls suit in throne room without being disturbed by any of the guests. Meanwhile, I will be watching from the pantry. If my memory serves correct, I believe the door is cracked so I might watch while remaining out of sight. If the need arises, I will merely burst in and interrupt. Once the girl has left, you can change back into your formal attire and we will return to the ball."

Sarah considered his lengthy proposal and hesitantly began, "Okay, but getting changed quickly is not going to be easy..." She indicated her elaborate gown and finished, "I won't be able to get in and out of this corset on my own...and the goblins...I mean, do you really want them involved? They could make a racquet."

Jareth smiled knowingly and smoothly replied, "Nonsense. The solution is simple. I will assist you." She shot him a wary look and he added smugly, "I am the ruler of an entire kingdom of goblins and overseer of the labyrinth, I THINK I can manage a corset." His smart statement did nothing to remove the perturbed look from her face and he finished arrogantly, "It is in the best interests of my kingdom to find out why she is here, like it or not, you'll have to comply."

Sarah crossed her arms, quiet for a moment before she sighed, muttering, "Figures. Fine. Let's just get this over with."

Soon Sarah found herself waiting for Jareth in the deserted dim pantry of the goblin castle. She carefully removed her gilded mask as she peered through the crack in the heavy wooden door. Jareth was right. She could see Desdemonna impatiently pacing the length of the throne room.

Jareth materialized directly behind Sarah. She was bent over, peering curiously through the crack in the door. He leaned close and whispered, "See anything interesting?"

Sarah jumped at his undetected intrusion and hissed, "You scared me!"

The goblin king smirked and replied in a hushed voiced, "Come, she's been waiting long enough already. You'd better get dressed." With a smug grin he lead her deeper into the kitchens where he set the pile of her "page-boy" attire atop a small butcher block table.

Sarah began to rifle through the clothing muttering, "The things you talk me into..."

She hastily kicked off her delicate slippers and shook out her purple breeches. She stepped into the trousers, thankful that she was wearing normal undergarments and wouldn't have to remove anything so ridiculous as bloomers or pantaloons in front of him. She had just started to tug the breeches under her skirts when she paused and scoffed in an irritated tone, "Would you mind turning around?"

Jareth tilted his head to the side, regarding her with quizzical amusement before he slowly turned around. Sarah quickly pulled the trousers up over her hips. She glanced down noticing that the corset-like bodice would have to come off before the rest of the gown. This was where she would need help, as she could barely reach the laces in the back.

She turned so that she faced away from him as she stammered, "I...ah...need some help..." Jareth turned, stalking closer as she weakly finished, "...with the...laces."

He strode towards her purposefully, wearing the confident grin of a skilled predator. He sensed her apprehension, and noted the way she held her breath. He lowered his gaze to the criss-cross pattern of laces that tightly held the bodice together at her back. There at the bottom the ends of the laces were tied together in a simple knot. He grasped one end of the lace between his leather encased thumb and forefinger and began to pull very slowly. As the knot was released, he noticed Sarah's sharp intake of breath.

Sarah tried to calm her nerves as Jareth began to untie the corset. Dancing with him was one thing, but having him standing so close, helping her undress was something else entirely. Her head was already swimming at the notion that he had already admitted wanting her in his bed. The voice of reason in her head persistently kept chanting, "This can't be happening, this can't be happening..."

With a smug smirk he leaned a little closer, pursing his lips in a sultry grin before he used his leather covered forefinger to unceremoniously pry the first criss-cross of the laces free. He pulled the string rapidly, causing the ends of the laces to make a snapping sound as they were freed from their respective holes. His effort loosened the corset but a little. The laces still ran tight up the entire length of her back. He realized with a feral smile that he would have to loosen the thing all the way up if Sarah was to be able to remove it.

In a methodical and deliberate manner he started to pry free the criss-crossed laces. He freed them forcefully, each time producing the satisfying snap as they were pulled from yet another set of holes. His movements were emphatic and deliberate, nearly throwing Sarah off balance as he stripped the laces from the corset. Sarah had to close her eyes and steady herself more than once as he did this. With each snap, she prayed it was the last, as it was becoming harder and harder to not think about the fact that the goblin king was forcefully freeing her from her bodice.

As he neared the top, the bodice became considerably looser, and Sarah held it to her bosom to keep it from dropping. Once Jareth had successfully unlaced the entire length he stepped back before he once again turned around.

Sarah glanced over her shoulder in relief just as Jareth had turned back around. With an air of satisfaction he assured her, "You may...continue." Sarah drew a shaky breath and quickly discarded the corset on the table before she started to wriggle out of her gown. She draped the gown carefully over a chair and stripped off her chemise, adding it to the pile. Clad in nothing but tight purple breeches, she glanced nervously over her shoulder to make sure that Jareth was still facing away from her. Satisfied that he couldn't see her, she picked up the white poets shirt and started to slip it on.

Jareth suddenly interrupted, teasing huskily, "Aren't you forgetting something?" Sarah glanced up with a start to see that he was holding out the linen cloth that she had used to bind her breasts the last time. She swallowed in trepidation and she used one arm to shield her breasts as she ventured closer to take it from him.

She grabbed the cloth just as Jareth released it, the gauzy fabric sliding gently over his leather clad fingertips. Sarah turned away hastily and started to wrap the fabric about her chest. She attempted to wrap it tightly, but the fabric kept slipping, and a barely audible sigh of frustration escaped her lips.

Turning his head but halfway, Jareth cajoled in a silky whisper, "Care for some assistance?" Utterly defeated, Sarah exhaled, frustrated at the fact that she would have to accept his help again. Still, her apprehension was outweighed by her desire to get dressed as quickly as possible. Finally she took a deep breath and softly admitted, "Ahhhh...Yes."

With a smile gracing his fair face, the goblin king turned to behold Sarah positioning one end of the linen strip of fabric against her otherwise naked back. His eyes drank in the sight of her so exposed, wearing only those deliciously form fitting breeches. The creamy skin of her back appeared so smooth in the soft firelight of the abandoned kitchens. As his eyes wandered appreciatively over her body he silently reminded himself that the wait was nearly over. He would have her soon.

He strode forward with purpose as she breathlessly instructed, "Just hold this end here...I can do the rest." He wordlessly placed his hand where she had indicated, his gloved fingertips surprisingly cool against her skin.

Even so subtle a touch caused her breath to catch in her throat as she silently prayed he wouldn't notice the sudden pounding of her heart or the rush of blood to her face that made her ears and cheeks burn.

Jareth noted the way her breath suddenly halted at his touch. It seemed an eternity before she had wrapped the fabric successfully about herself, and breathlessly bid him to let go. She swiftly slipped the shirt over her shoulders as he withdrew, fastening the buttons with shaky fingers.

Upon reaching the last of the buttons she turned around to face him. He helped her into the doublet and then she stepped into her shiny black boots. She reluctantly released her chestnut hair from its golden clasp before she hastily gathered her long dark locks, securing all of her hair into a haphazard sort of twist to keep it off her neck.

She pulled the massive velvet hat over her head with an expression of obvious distaste, and immediately batted the bobbing oversized feathers out of her face.

Jareth looked her over with a satisfied smirk as he slid a rectangular piece of slate across the table. She knitted her brow and asserted, "What's that for?" With a dramatic gesture he pulled a stub of chalk out of thin air, offering it to her as he explained, "So that you may communicate. You're mute remember?"

Sarah rolled her eyes at the recollection and protested, "This is so ridiculous! Why can't I just tell her the truth? We can end this whole façade right now!"

Jareth sternly admonished, "No, Sarah. We cannot. She could go to her father and that would complicate relations with the North. I'm afraid you have to go through with this."

With an agitated sigh she snatched the slate from the table and breathed, "Fine, give me the chalk. The sooner this charade is all over, the better."

She glanced down at herself and quipped sarcastically, "Well, how do I look?" Jareth smirked as he handed her a damp cloth and remarked, "You'd better wipe all that color from your face." Remembering her make-up, she took the cloth from him and scrubbed her face clean.

As she finished with the cloth she exclaimed, "Oh...I almost forgot..." She hastily brushed past him, and reached into a nearby potato barrel. A mocking smirk graced her face as she withdrew a good sized spud and tossed it into the air, weighing it in her hand before she remarked, "Can't go out there without this..."

Without ceremony, she shoved the potato down the front of her breeches and positioned it into the appropriate orientation. Jareth cocked a fine eyebrow at her brazen display and merely shook his head. At least she retained a certain sense of humor about this whole thing. He couldn't wait to witness Sarah's performance. If the meeting proceeded at all like he anticipated, it would be immensely entertaining at the very least.

He followed Sarah to the wooden pantry door and hissed, "Now go. Listen to what she has to say. Use the slate if you have to. I'll be watching."

Sarah responded with a sharp nod and a deep sobering breath before she discreetly slipped through the door.

Desdemonna looked up suddenly as Sarah made her entrance into the throne room. Upon seeing the presumed pageboy, the young Fae let out a relieved cry, "Sargonne!!!", Before she rushed across the room to embrace the page.

Sarah was slightly taken aback as the young woman crushed her in a frenzied embrace. Desdemonna's voice held an edge of desperation as she cried, "Oh Sargonne, thank the powers! I was so afraid that I wouldn't be able to see you!"

Sarah stared down into the young woman's face with a sympathetic smile as she tried to pry the woman's arms from her waist.

Finally the Fae girl managed to collect herself, as she stepped back and began, " I hope I haven't jeopardized your rapport with the king. I told the goblin guard at the gate to fetch you and not his majesty, but I'm not so sure he understood."

Sarah shrugged dismissively as the girl continued, "I know I shouldn't be here. It's just...there's much I need to tell you and the thought of not seeing you again...well, I had to come. When I overheard where father was going tonight, I hid in the cargo box of the carriage. Jareth opened a path directly though the labyrinth to let the guests in. I waited with the carriage until everyone had gone inside, before I went to the gate."

Sarah flushed as she waited for the girl to explain. The young Fae caught her breath and went on, "Father would kill me for coming here, but I heard about the Alicorn and I wanted to warn you."

Sarah's eyes widened as the girl explained, "That alicorn wasn't the only one found. There have been others, and while my father and many others maintain that it was a blood-wraith that killed them...I have my doubts. There are rumors of something else, something far more dreadful than any blood-wraith."

Sarah nodded, silently urging the girl to continue. Desdemonna added, "Some believe that the Shadow Horde has returned, and though it seems impossible, I fear they might be right. You see, there is a forest near my home. It is dark and uninhabited. It is said to be cursed, haunted, so most folk do not even dare enter its shadowy depths. However, I have never been frightened by such silly, baseless superstitions. Sometimes I ride there to be alone with my thoughts, as it's quiet and secluded. Yesterday I was surprised to find the remnants of a great bonfire and the ground all trodden. It seemed as though a great meeting had taken place there, and I wondered why anyone would meet in such a place. When I saw that the ground was also soiled with alicorn blood, the answer became obvious...secrecy. It looks as though a new Shadow Horde has risen from its old ashes and is meeting in secret once again. If that's true, then it's only a matter of time before terrible things start to happen."

Sarah silently watched as the girl's voice broke, "They...they...used to enslave humans! In the ancient days they relentlessly sought out and captured human females, and the males...well those that were not kept for horrid bestial labor, were killed for sport. If the horde really has returned, you are in grave danger Sargonne. I am so afraid for you."

Sarah took a deep breath as her head swam with questions. With trembling fingers she used the chalk to scribble on the slate, "Why females?"

Desdemonna read the question and quickly explained, "Human females are said to be much more fertile than Fae women. Fae maidens, though long-lived and very powerful, are often barren, or at least very inefficient when it comes to bearing children. More than not, Fae women die due to complications. If a Fae woman produces one healthy child in her entire lifetime it is considered quite an accomplishment. When a Fae male chooses a human female to mate with, the offspring will certainly possess more Fae blood than human, and are virtually born pure Fae. In contrast, when a Fae female produces a child with a human male the child retains a certain amount of Fae power, but such children often exhibit more human characteristics. Human women are sought by the shadow horde because in addition to being weak and easy to control, they also guarantee strong Fae progeny in greater numbers, much more than Fae women could provide."

Sarah nodded. What she was learning was fascinating, but frightening all the same.

Desdemonna went on, "The horde consisted of a sect of Fae males that desired power and status above all else. Their aspirations were dangerously high, as they sought dominion over the entire underground and aboveground alike. They planned to achieve such power by out-breeding all those who would stop them, be it Fae or human. Luckily they encountered several hindrances. Though they found a way to ensnare human females with alicorn blood, they were mired by the fact that human females are hard to come by in the Underground. More importantly, they had yet to determine a way to gain entry to the Aboveground. To this day, I believe Jareth and his goblins are the only beings to ever succeed. They had to acquire their females by luring them here using their powers of suggestion in dreams and such. Fortunately, those who resisted the horde eventually combined forces and enlisted a massive army. After many decades of war, the horde was crippled, its few surviving members were dispersed and faded out of existence. However, I'm afraid its ideals and notions of limitless power still exist."

Sarah listened to all this very carefully and scribbled, "What about the blood?"

Desdemonna nodded and explained, "The blood of an Alicorn is very powerful. When combined with the right combination of other ingredients it acts as a potent aphrodesiac and renders the victim placid and vulnerable to suggestion. The human females were so affected by the potion that it was said that they would do anything, even willingly die for their new masters. So now you see why human men would be but a useless obstacle to them, as they are very protective when it comes to their females. I'm so worried for you Sargonne. If they captured you...I don't know what I would do..."

Sarah offered her a sympathetic smile and wrote on the slate, "You don't think I'm safe here, in the center of the labyrinth with Jareth?"

Desdemonna wiped her eyes and nodded, "Yes, perhaps this is the safest place for you to be. Jareth is well respected and his powers are legendary. If anyone can protect you, he can. As for the labyrinth, it is another obstacle in your favor, I doubt even the cleverest of my kind could navigate through it without much effort, however, as difficult as it is, it is not entirely impossible. For I heard that a solitary girl, not more than a handful of years ago, made it through unscathed. I think she was favored by the king. Yes, favored...or very lucky. If you cannot return aboveground, I would venture that the next safest place for you to remain is within these castle walls, close to the Goblin King."

Sarah nodded as the girl sniffed miserably, "At least I have done all I can and warned you. Stay close to Jareth and tell him of the perceived danger, he will know what to do, and he will keep you safe."

Sarah nodded and carefully wiped a tear from the distraught girl's cheek. Desdemonna turned into Sarah's gentle caress and breathed, "I am so relieved I was able to reach you in time...and I'm very grateful that you would see me again."

Feeling more than a small tinge of guilt, Sarah did the only noble thing and embraced the girl, if only to give some comfort and stop her tears. Desdemonna rested her head quietly on Sarah's shoulder for a moment before she breathed, "You haunt me Sargonne. Since that night we became acquainted, I've been unable to think of anything but you."

Now Sarah felt really awful. Apparently the girl harbored genuine affection towards her. She had previously shrugged off the guilt of being dishonest because she assumed the girl felt nothing but lust, but now it looked as though she had been mistaken.

Sarah frowned, wishing she could tell the girl the truth, thereby ending this ridiculous façade. It had never been her intention to play with the poor girl's heart. For a moment she contemplated coming clean, but she reconsidered. The consequences would be dire. Not only would she jeopardize relations between the Goblin Kingdom and the Northern Territories, she would also have a very angry Goblin King to contend with. The thought of that alone was enough to make her change her mind.

Desdemonna suddenly stirred and drew back, softly brushing her lips over Sarah's jaw in a gentle manner. Her liquid blue eyes seemed to be pleading as she whispered in a trembling voice, "There's one thing I must know...Do you feel anything for me Sargonne, anything at all?"

Sarah froze. Just as she had been thinking the situation couldn't possibly get any more precarious, she found herself in even deeper. Hoping to get around lying any further, she carefully considered the question. Did she feel anything for Desdemonna? Yes, that was easy. She felt sympathy. She had no desire to cause the girl any more suffering. That was a major disadvantage of being human, caring came so naturally.

She couldn't blow her cover, yet she didn't want to hurt Desdemonna's feelings, there was only one humane thing to do. Sarah licked her lips, nodding slowly as she carefully wrote with chalk on the slate, "Yes. I care for you, but I can't be with you. I'm sorry."

Desdemonna read the message, and her eyes glazed with fresh tears as she sobbed, "I know. You belong to Jareth. And I...I must marry whomever my father chooses...and I hate it. But that is the way of things. Even if I were to defy my father, what good could come of it? I am Fae, and belong aboveground. It wouldn't help matters any if I were to be cast out of my house, and you could end up banished as well. It would be so dangerous for you out in the wilderness. I couldn't allow that. I suppose I should stop pretending. No matter how appealing the idea seems...we can never be together."

Desdemonna looked imploringly into Sarah's eyes and pleaded, "I will depart and face my grief...but before I leave, would you do me one kindness?"

Sarah nodded, desperate to do anything that might stop the guilt that assaulted her. Never in all her life had she brought an innocent person to such tears. It was thoroughly unsettling.

Desdemonna turned her mouth upward as she begged in a breathless whisper, "Kiss me Sargonne. Just once. So that I might never forget."

Sarah swallowed as her own mouth had suddenly gone dry. A kiss? She could handle that...right? The girl had already kissed her before, so what was the big deal? Of course she would have to initiate the kiss...but so what? Sarah inhaled sharply, assuring herself that she could do this, even if it only made the poor girl want her more, and even if Jareth was watching. She could make this one small sacrifice to give the poor girl piece of mind.

Sarah tentatively cupped the girl's face in her hands and moved in to kiss her. She pressed her lips to the Fae's mouth in a chaste kiss that was as tender and light as a summer breeze. It seemed that for a good moment neither of them moved and then Sarah began to pull back.

Desdemonna glanced up at Sarah, her shocking blue eyes bathing her beloved pageboy in admiration. Sarah barely heard the girl's sigh of contentment before she suddenly returned the kiss. At first her lips were gentle with tantalizing persuasion, her lips warm and sweet upon Sarah's.

Jareth was barely breathing as he watched from the pantry. He was astounded by Sarah's silent charisma and the young girl's seeming infatuation with her. As he watched Sarah take the girl's face in her hands and kiss her so reverently, so lovingly, a jolt of fury seared through his veins. But then Sarah began to pull back and he reasoned that she was probably harboring a fair amount of guilt. She was just humoring the girl out of pity.

He was surprised by the young Fae's boldness as she suddenly reclaimed Sarah's mouth. His gloved hand tightened on the door handle as his entire body tensed. He would be able to burst through that door at a moments notice.

Sarah didn't fight it. There was no reason to. She merely parted her lips and let it happen. Desdemonna deepened the kiss, her firm moist mouth gently coaxing a response. Sarah's calm was shattered by the hunger of the young Fae's kiss, causing a stab of guilt to throb in her breast.

The girl was undoubtedly sweet, and her lips were more persuasive then she cared to admit. She could only do the girl right by giving her what she wanted...right? And Jareth was there in case things got out of hand.

Sarah hesitated for a moment. The girl wanted a kiss to remember. Well she would give it to her, and then she would call it a night. Gathering up her nerve, she moved her mouth over Desdemonna's, devouring its softness. Her kiss was slow and thoughtful. Desdemonna seemed to melt against her as the kiss played out with a dreamy intimacy. The young Fae responded, lingering, and savoring every moment of the heady sensation.

It was an oddly uncomfortable feeling for the Goblin King. On the one hand his blood was simmering over the idea that his most valued possession was being so enjoyed by another. He fumed like a child having his favorite toy snatched and handled inappropriately before his very eyes. On the other hand, there was something compelling about what he was witnessing and it began to stir him. Even in his jealousy, the kiss shared by these fair creatures managed to arouse him considerably, and it was a wholly disturbing mix of passions. He was tempted to remain and watch, but the idea of the situation escalating filled him with anxiousness. His fingers curled around the door handle, tightening, as adrenaline coursed like fire through his veins.

Sarah's fogged mind was just starting to wonder why Jareth hadn't made his entrance, when a low whisper of a voice, like an echo from an empty tomb sounded from the darkest recesses of the throne room, "Desdemonna?"

Sarah jumped back at the sound. She had half expected to see Jareth, even though the voice didn't have the authority and arrogance of his. Her jade eyes widened in surprise as Nyx stepped out of the shadows. His smoky gray eyes were wide with disbelief and his raven's mask dangled carelessly from his fingertips. His bewildered stare turned to shocked disappointment as his somber eyes drifted from his sister to the young page.

Desdemonna gasped in surprise as she looked up to see her step-brother's shattered expression. He spoke with hushed urgency, and his voice, though quiet, possessed an ominous quality, "What devilry is this? You are supposed to be at home."

Desdemonna opened her mouth to answer, obviously flustered by her brother's unexpected appearance as she stammered, "I...I...can explain..."

His eyes flashed like silvery lightening as he stormed towards Sarah, sternly answering, "Well, you'd better...and quickly. Who is this knave that has so shamelessly dishonored you?"

Desdemonna stopped her brother by bracing a firm hand against his chest, inserting herself between him and the supposed pageboy. Her voice wavered with desperation as she pleaded, "No Nyx...Don't. This is Sargonne, Jareth's page-boy."

His fierce silvery eyes clouded with anger as he accused vehemently, "Sister, has this boy stolen your virtue?"

The young Fae shook her head fiercely and stammered, "What?! No!"

Nyx narrowed his eyes at the lad and exclaimed, "But you were kissing! Fire and brimstone, Des! This boy is HUMAN, and Jareth's servant! Do you have any idea what would happen if anyone found out about this?!?"

Desdemonna held up her hand to silence him as she entreated, "I know, I know...but I assure you, there is no harm done here. I was only saying goodbye. I won't see him again, I give you my word. Please, please...don't tell father about this."

Nyx gave his sister a disapproving look as he frowned and chastised in a soft self-righteous manner, "Do you have any idea how inappropriate this is? Sneaking around with a human servant! This is not the sort of behavior I would have expected from a noble such as yourself! Do you realize how foolish it was for you to come here? What if the Goblin King had intruded instead of me? Imagine that dear sister! Being caught red-handed by the King you were offered to only days ago. The very King our dear father is trying so hard to establish relations with! Have you no thought for anyone other than yourself! You very well could have ruined relations between the North and the Goblin City Des!"

The girl withered into a sobbing mess and apologetically beseeched, "I know. I'm sorry. Please...I'll go home...Just please...promise you won't tell father."

Nyx took a sobering breath and softly replied, "I won't tell father, for it would kill him to know his beloved daughter could be so deceptive...but I require your word that you'll never see this boy again."

Desdemonna nodded frantically and promised, "You have my word. Just don't tell father..."

Nyx narrowed his eyes at Sarah and sneered, "Some nerve you've got there human, dishonoring a noblewoman...why I've got a good mind to flog you and bring you face to face with your King, for I venture he might be even more unforgiving than I."

Nyx took a threatening step towards Sarah, when Desdemonna threw herself in front of her and protested, "No!! Don't hurt him! It was I who instigated it! Sargonne has done nothing wrong. He's made me see that we can never be together. Please...don't involve the Goblin King. I am the one to blame."

Nyx somberly considered her plea before he gave a grave nod and finished, "As much as it sickens me...I will keep your secret. Bringing this to light before Father and Jareth, or anyone for that matter, will only cause further complication. Now go on home...get out of my sight."

Desdemonna backed away, tears obscuring her vision as she mouthed the words, "I'm sorry" to Sarah before she turned and ran from the room.

Sarah stood horrified as Nyx now rounded on her. He leered at her with that piercing silvery gaze and began, "That was very foolish human. To dally with the daughter of a high ambassador is just begging for trouble. Apparently, you have yet to learn your place. I'd have a good mind to inform Jareth of your treachery...but then I have no wish to complicate relations between our kingdoms nor do I have any desire to tarnish my sister's good reputation."

His eyes narrowed as he studied the page's youthful face and remarked with suspicion, "You look rather familiar boy, do I know you?" Sarah shook her head frantically in protest as she was overcome by panic.

With a cool shrug he sneered, "No matter. My sister might have been affected by your wide-eyed innocence, but you won't find me so sympathetic. Jareth might have a soft spot for your kind, but let me enlighten you...he is a rare breed. Perhaps I will give you a small lesson in the hierarchy of our see humans are at the bottom."

With disarming speed Nyx lunged at her, shoving her hard. Sarah failed to anticipate the attack and she lost her balance, landing hard on her bottom on the hard stone floor. Without warning Nyx closed the gap between them. Dazed, Sarah's eyes flew upward just as Nyx drew back his hand to strike her. Sarah turned her head, steeling herself for the blow.

But it never came.

Jareth hurled a crystal at Nyx just as he raised his hand to Sarah. The crystal hit him squarely on the back and he froze, his arm halted in midair.

Nyx grunted in surprise as he forced his head to the side to see the Goblin King storming closer out of the corner of his eye.

Sarah's eyes had been screwed shut but when she heard Nyx's cry of surprise and the echoing even sound of Jareth's boots on the flagstone floor she opened them. Jareth circled the paralyzed noble in a deliberate calculating manner.

Then he kept walking, stopping in front of Sarah. His face was set in a cold expression, his mouth tight and grim as he extended his gloved hand down to her. She could sense his barely contained anger as he coolly inquired, "Are you hurt Sargonne?"

Sarah slowly shook her head as she grasped his hand, the leather feeling cool and smooth against her palm. Jareth hastily pulled her to her feet and turned to face the man who had dared to undermine his authority. Out of line or not, Sarah was his charge, and she answered to him and him alone.

Jareth stepped forward, halting Sarah behind him as his eyes narrowed suspiciously at the frozen aristocrat. His tone was haughty but cool as he admonished, "Nyx, I don't know what sort of manners you Northerners are used to, but here in the Goblin City, I alone dole out discipline to my subjects."

Sarah knew well that such a tone meant that Jareth was not amused. Nyx grimaced as he was still frozen in place. With a wave of his hand Jareth released him and sneered, "Just what is it you were trying to accomplish with my page-boy?"

Nyx lowered his arm rolling his shoulders as he calmly stated, "Your page needs a lesson in manners."

Jareth tilted his head to the side and answered in a mocking curious tone, "Oh? How so?"

Nyx glared coldly at the pageboy cowering behind the King and sneered, "I caught the knave taking advantage of one of your lady guests, my Lord."

Jareth smirked slightly and replied with a believable amount of intrigue, "Is that so?"

Nyx nodded and added, "The young lady was quite upset, so I suggested she return home. I felt there was no need to disturb you, as you have a ball to host. I decided to rectify the matter and punish the lad myself."

Jareth replied in a voice so calm that it unnerved Sarah, "I see. Well, I appreciate your concern in the matter, but you should not have interfered. I will deal with the matter personally. I am the ruler of this Kingdom and as such it is my task to punish my subjects...when they are in need of correction. The night is growing late. I suggest you return to the ball and enjoy yourself. I will rejoin the party shortly..."

Nyx had already started to back away when Jareth finished smoothly, "And Nyx...See to it that in the future you keep your hands off my subjects. Sargonne here is harmless enough, but the Goblins, well, some of them have a rather nasty bite."

Nyx bent in a mock bow before he strode out of the room. Jareth did not turn to Sarah until the door had slammed closed. Sarah too had watched the man retreat with much distaste.

As soon as they were alone, Jareth's eyes settled on her just as she acidly remarked, "What an asshole!"

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 25 of 42

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