Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 33 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

The orange sun blazed as it sank lower in the sky, bathing the labyrinth in surreal fiery light. The lame dwarf hobbled purposefully among the hedges, the light reminding him of another time, when Sarah had made her first appearance in his world. She had been much younger then, and the circumstances surrounding her visit had been vastly different.

He sighed wearily as he sprayed the nearest hedge with his fairy atomizer. Sarah was here again, this time for a full year instead of a meager thirteen hours. He watched the winged pests fall to the dusty ground, not really hearing their pitiful cries of distress as he pondered the dilemma in which his mortal friend now found herself.

Sarah was under Jareth's control for the entire year.

Uneasiness crept over him as he thought of his friend in such a position. He tried to remain optimistic. When he had last spoken with her she didn't seem too unhappy...confused certainly, but she hadn't been miserable. In fact, that was precisely what made him so concerned.

He simply couldn't figure out why Jareth hadn't punished her or enacted some sort of revenge upon her, if he was indeed as sore about losing as everyone believed him to be.

Sure, he hadn't made her stay in the goblin kingdom a paradise vacation, but knowing what Jareth was capable of, it seemed Sarah was getting off unspeakably easy. He couldn't help but wonder what the Goblin King had up his sleeve. He couldn't begin to guess, and that was quite bothersome.

A sharp cry startled him from his troubled thoughts. He turned his head in the direction of the offending sound and saw a small black bird perched on the twisted rosebushes that cascaded down over the lush hedges. The bird cocked its head as it regarded the dwarf and gave another sharp cry. Hoggle had seen many of these small black birds in the labyrinth.

Scavenger birds, that's what they were. Probably would pick up the expired fairies after he left. He paid the creature little mind as he turned back to the flittering fairies that infested the hedges. Someone always had to clean up the mess.

As he sprayed the nearest troublesome swarm of miniscule fairies, he heard the approaching clamor of armor and a growing din of goblin voices. A group of goblin guards were coming up upon the adjacent part of the hedge maze.

Hoggle froze as he heard a goblin voice snigger, "Right foul mood he's in today. Cor, I thought we'd be stuck in there forever. Could barely breathe, it stunk so bad!"

It was then Hoggle caught a whiff of an unforgettable smell.

The Bog of Eternal Stench.

Quietly gasping for air and repressing the urge to gag, he reached a hand up and squeezed his nose as he continued to eavesdrop on the conversation taking place just on the other side of the hedge.

A condescending voice growled in reply, "Ain't no wonder! Lotta good we did, trying to stop that wraith. Nearly got the girl!"

Another goblin sniffed miserably, "Well did you see the size of it?! Nearly three Goblins tall! And fast! Oh so fast! And that huge mouth, full of nasty sharp teeth. Coulda ate us all you know."

The other corrected him, "Well, it was fixin' to eat the girl first. That's why his majesty's so sore at us. We were supposed to be protectin' her. Lotta bloody good we did!"

"Protect her from THAT?! King's off his rocker to 'spect us to do battle with a bloodwraith three times our size. Few pixies are one thing, but BLOODWRAITHS?"

He seemed to contemplate the matter a bit further before he finished, "I tell you, he's a nutter if he thinks I'm gonna trade me hide for some girl."

The other voice piped up as though he'd missed something, "Hang On! What's he care 'bout that girl anyhow? I thought she was the one that beat..."


Hoggle heard a clank as one guard beaned the other on the top of his armored helmet and hissed, "Quiet you nit wit! Do you want him to hear you? Were not that far from the castle, He may be watchin' or listenin',"

In a hushed voice, (that was still loud enough for Hoggle to hear through the hedge) the goblin explained, "She is the one. That girl is the Sarah that solved the Labyrinth."

The other goblin's voice was shrill with disbelief as he cried, "Then what in blazes does the King want us protecting her for?"

"You really are thick. You must be living under a log to not have heard all the rumors."

"What rumors?"

With an exasperated sigh the other guard replied, "The rumors that the King is sweet on her."

"Sweet on who?"

"The girl!"

"What girl?"

"The girl we were just talking about you imbecile...SARAH!"

"Ooooohhhh. So that's why he wants her protected. Hang on! How do you know he's sweet on her? Tell you 'imself did he?"

"Arghhh! No you bone-head. That's what everyone is saying...That King Jareth fancies her."

A third goblin voice butted in, "Well, makes sense. She is rather like him...tall enough anyway...and not bad, is she? I mean, sort of pretty...for a human" As an afterthought he admitted defensicely, "I mean...if you're into that sort of thing."

The other goblin still wasn't convinced, "Well, how do they know? I mean I was there in the hall the day she arrived, and he didn't seem all soft on her...sounds like rubbish to me."

The other huffed, "You really are a pig-headed dolt. There are rumors because of things that others have seen. Just today I heard that the guard who went to fetch the king this morning saw something that darn well proves he's taken with her."

"What did he see? See the King give her a bit o' string or somethin'? I liked a girl once...gave her me best bit o' string, I did..."

"NO! He didn't give her string. By the Bog! You are such a dunce!"

The goblin sounded a little wounded, "Well, if he didn't give her string, what then?"

"When he went to get the King from his chamber this morning he was not alone. The girl, Sarah, was with him."

The other was clearly unimpressed, "So. Maybe she's an early riser, or had a message for him...she could have been there for any number of reasons..."

"No you moron. She was in his BED!"

"Oh." It seemed the other two goblins were at a loss for words.

Triumphantly, the enlightened one went on, "So you see...He is protecting her. He can't be too careful with bloodwraiths about. I say the girl is very lucky that he does fancy her and that he arrived when he did."

Hoggle didn't stick around to hear anything else they had to say, for he had already dropped his atomizer and took off in the direction of the castle as fast as his lame little legs could carry him.

Sarah was in the castle library, hunched over the oversized mahogany desk, scratching on a stack of parchment with her quill and ink, as she heard hurried footsteps shuffling down the hallway. It was obvious by the short footfalls that it wasn't Jareth. That was inarguably the sound of either a goblin or a dwarf running down the halls. Sarah lay down her quill as she heard a muffled voice speaking to the goblin guard posted on the other side of the door. She got up from the desk as the dwarf burst into the room, panting as he glanced about wildly.

There was a tone of relief in his breathless gruff voice as he exclaimed, "Ah, there you are. I've been all over this castle looking for ya." She wasted no time in asking, "Hoggle? What is it?"

He fought to catch his breath, "Is it true? Were you a bloodwraith?"

Not wanting to unnecessarily alarm him further, she answered cautiously, "Well, yeah, almost. But I'm fine."

The dwarf eyed her warily as he stepped forward, "Well, I s'pose you are. Wouldn't be standin' here alive if the thing had gotten hold of ya."

Again she assured him, "Yes, I'm alright. Thanks to Jareth."

His eyes widened in considerable surprise, "It's true then? He rescued you?"

Not sure where the dwarf was going with all this, Sarah nodded slowly. He looked up at her, and immediately noticed her uncertainty. It was as if he could sense the unending barrage of questions that made her eyes seem troubled. There was a world of things that he didn't understand about his friend, but he knew enough to see the confusion that plagued her. Concern wrinkled his bushy brows as he prodded, "You're sure you're alright then?"

Her gentle reply was meant to be reassuring, "Hoggle, I'm fine."

But he knew better. She was definitely not fine. Something was eating at her and he wondered if it might have something to do with the other bit gossip he'd just overheard. It was a fair assumption. His eyes were suddenly scanning everything but her face as he tentatively began, "Uh...Sarah?"


He stammered as if having difficulty finding the right place to begin, "I uh...heard something else out in the labyrinth today."

He had her curious now, and innocently she replied, "Oh? What? What was it that you heard?"

His discomfort was evident in the way he stammered, "Ugh...ah...nothin' important really. Just a bit a gossip..."

Her eyes widened expectantly and he suddenly found the ground very interesting as he mumbled, "Errr...somethin' bout you and...Jareth."

Heat crept into her cheeks as they flushed a deep shade of red. His reluctance to just come out with it confirmed the nature of the rumor, but still, she had to know exactly what he'd heard before she explained herself. Taking a deep breath she firmly urged him, "What about me and Jareth?"

His eyes rolled about, avoiding contact with hers as he went on in a flustered, blundering sort of manner, "Uhhh I heard that Jareth may be...rather taken with you...errr...that you and he...ahhhh...spent the night...together."

Sarah was, in all honesty, at a loss for words. She had known it was a possibility that her friends might eventually find out what was going on between herself and the Goblin King, but it made being confronted about it no less awkward. How were they to understand about the complex feelings that were developing between herself and her long time adversary, especially when she hardly understood them herself? Weakly she swallowed and managed the only thing she could think to say.


Hoggle was taken aback. Why hadn't she forcefully denied what he'd just implied? He was bewildered that she hadn't demanded to know what in the underground he was talking about. After all, goblin gossip was hardly a reliable source. But she hadn't done either. In truth, her quiet resignation alarmed him. Could it actually be true? Had those bickering pests actually gotten something right? Aghast he murmured, " it true...?"

But now it was her turn to cast her eyes upon the floor as she bit her lip in uneasy deliberation. It took her only a moment to make up her mind on how best to proceed with a true friend like Hoggle. There was only one way. Honestly. He deserved that much, no matter how uncomfortable the subject matter. Softly she admitted, "Well...Yeah. Sort of."

The dwarf seemed to have great difficulty getting the words out, "Are you saying and Jareth are...? I don't actually like you?

In a voice that bordered on sounding guilty and wretched she ventured, "Hoggle, There's something I ought to tell you."

Finally his large grey eyes met hers, his thick brows drawing together in concern as he gave her his undivided attention.

How would he ever understand? Whether he would or not, she had to tell him. She couldn't keep her feelings buried beneath the surface any longer. She took a deep breath and prayed that what she was about to tell him wouldn't be too damaging to their friendship. Quietly she admitted in one breath, "What you heard is true. Last night...I...was...with Jareth, I...I spent the night with him."

His voice wavered in disbelief, " did?" His tone struck a chord in her and she looked away. She ducked her head shamefully and nodded.

It seemed to took a moment for the idea to sink in, and then straightening, he demanded, "Wha...what'd you go and do a thing like that for?"

It was a fair question. She pressed her lips together as she turned away from her friend, her long dark hair swinging like a silk curtain. Softly she cursed at herself, "Shit. I..." She took a deep breath and explained, "Hoggle, there's more. I should have told you sooner."

He could see this was difficult for her and he tried to be supportive by letting her finish.

She released an exasperated sigh and wearily admitted, "Hoggle, I...I do like him." She swallowed and softly confessed, "In fact you might say I...I'm in love with him."

Her words hit him hard. He froze, astonishment crept into his voice as he ventured, "You...You Are?"

She nodded, her gaze drifting to the floor again as she softly affirmed, "I am."

His sigh of dismay was loud enough for her to hear as he let his head fall heavily into his hands.

He remained like that for a long moment, as though he was quietly trying to let the news sink in. Though he didn't immediately shout or interrogate her, it was obvious he was trying to collect himself before he eventually did comment. Sarah allowed him a moment to come to terms with what he'd heard, and silently awaited his response, whether good or bad.

Finally he did look up at her and she wondered whether it was disappointment or concern that made his large liquid grey eyes look so forlorn. His voice was gruff but not harsh as he ventured, "How long have ya felt this way 'bout him?"

Uneasily she shrugged one shoulder and quickly supplied, "I'm not exactly sure. I didn't tell him how I felt until last night, but...I've felt something for him for a long time...longer than I care to admit."

Hoggle digested her words very carefully and replied, "Are ya saying that you liked him all along...even way back when ya were solving the labyrinth?"

She appeared thoughtful for a moment before she answered truthfully, "I don't know, exactly. I was only fifteen when I solved the labyrinth." She thought hard and went on, "I don't think I even knew what love was back then, and I certainly had bigger things to worry about than the exact nature of my feelings for the guy who took my baby brother...but..." She threw him a tentative glance as she went on, "...I'd be lying to you if I said there wasn't some sort of attraction there, even way back then."

The dwarf's head fell into his hands as he grunted under his breath in tone of dismay, "Oh no. I thought somethin' like this might happen."

Sarah tilted her head to the side pensively and ventured, "What do you mean?"

Hoggle simply shook his large head dismissively, "Well, Jareth does have a way with people, bein' his flashy overblown self..." He sighed and added, "No matter. Was bound to happen sooner or later...But..." He halted glancing around suddenly, his thick brows raising in suspicion, "Uh Sarah, Where is Jareth anyway?"

She shrugged, "I don't know. He told me to wait here."

Hoggle nodded slowly as if a thought had struck him. After a moment he remarked, "Could be anywhere then...could drop in any minute."

Sarah replied, "Yeah, you may be right. Maybe we should finish this conversation later..."

Hoggle nodded in agreement but he had to at least warn her, "Sarah, I'm yer friend and I don't want to tell ya what to do...but you know how I feel 'bout Jareth. He scares me. Maybe not all the time, but you and I know how he is when it comes to gettin' his own way. He can be a rat. A big rat. And he's tricky Sarah. I...just want you to be careful."

Sarah was already nodding, knowing full well what he meant. The dwarf had more to say however, "Beware Sarah. Don't go blindly trustin' that knave. Promise me you'll be careful..."

She had to appreciate his concern, even though she was sure he was being overprotective. She nodded solemnly and gave her gentle answer, "I promise Hoggle. I'll be careful."

The dwarf sighed and added, "And if you need me, all you have to do is call."

She bent down and embraced her friend as she conceded, "I know." She pulled back, offering him a sweet smile, as she finished, "I don't want you to worry over me. I'll be fine, but do come and visit me as often as you want, if it makes you feel better."

He nodded, smiling as though he was already feeling better about the whole thing, "I will. I'll come and see ya again tomorrow."

She smiled, "I'd like that." He noticed the stack of parchment on the desk and gruffly remarked, "Well, I'd better be off. I don't want to disturb ya from..." He looked from the desk, where her parchment and quill lay forgotten before he looked back at her and asked, "What are ya doing in here anyway?"

She leaned back against the desk and casually explained, "Oh. Jareth had some documents he wanted me to draft, some decrees and things..." Hoggle knitted his brow and asked, "Decrees? You? Don't he have a scribe to worry 'bout that?" Sarah smirked and sarcastically remarked, "He does. You are looking at it."

There was a sudden flourish of activity, just outside the library window. Both Sarah and Hoggle glanced outside just as a small black bird took off in flight from the dead branch it had been perched on.

Upon seeing it was a harmless bird, Hoggle shrugged in disapproval, "His stable groom, his scribe, and his pageboy? What next?"

Sarah smiled warmly, "Don't ask that. I have to take enough orders from him...I don't need anymore."

Hoggle beamed at her and ventured, "Right then...your royal scribe. I'd better be off, before Jareth catches me in here." He hobbled to the door and glanced back at her, "Right. I'll come to see you tomorrow...we can talk s'more then." He gave her a knowing wink and she smiled, somewhat sad to see him go.

It was rather lonely in the library. She settled at the desk, took up her quill, and began to write. As she paused to read each line, she let the soft end of the feather brush across her lips. She hoped Jareth wouldn't keep her waiting too much longer.

It was dusk as the snowy owl soared high above the labyrinth. It was no more than a white dot against the brilliant purple backdrop of the sky, which melded into a dazzling pink horizon. The sun had already sank below the treetops and the soft peach illumination heralded twilight as one shining white star after another pierced the darkening sky.

The light was fading fast, but the goblin king, at home in his owl form, did not need the light to guide him. One of the benefits of his secondary form was that he could see perfectly in almost total darkness. At the moment it was precisely this advantage he intended to make full use of.

He would ensure that there weren't any other bloodwraiths prowling about kingdom. He would search every inch of his labyrinth, even if it took all night. Of course as sovereign, it was his duty to protect his subjects, but his sense of uneasiness went way beyond the normal sense of duty. Even more unsettling than the idea that more of the horrid creatures could be lurking out there, was the reason why he was so disturbed by their supposed presence.

There were more than goblin lives at stake.

Jareth didn't often worry about the safety of his minions, because even though they weren't the brightest of creatures, Goblins were sturdy, and quite difficult to kill, and when provoked, they were capable of fighting with a savage ferocity not often seen in creatures so small. But now...for the first time in his life there were more than goblins to consider.

There was Sarah.

For so long now he had played the part he had been condemned to. The cold-hearted, invulnerable ruler. The cool and menacing Goblin King.

And seemed all that could change. He had to tread carefully now. His future teetered on the edge of a knife. One slip, and there would be no going back.

He had already come so far. The bits and pieces of his plan had been falling perfectly into place, but now, after tasting the beginnings of victory, he was in a quandary.

He had successfully acquired her.

He had managed to trick her into coming back. He had frightened her, dominated over her with commanding authority for many weeks. Despite her willfulness, he had managed to obtain her obedience, charming her when necessary. As her willingness to cooperate increased, he had granted her privileges, and engaged her in conversation, until he had earned her trust. Last night he had let his guard down, warming to her, to see just how far that trust went.

It went deeper than he would have ever anticipated.

He had successfully lured her into his bedchamber in the middle of the night and gave her what she had been so desperately seeking.

A confession.

She wanted the truth, and he had been mercilessly honest. He loved her. It shouldn't have been a surprise, really. He had loved her since she took her first steps through his vast labyrinth.

In truth he had been captivated the moment he heard her lilting young voice...hooked the moment he set eyes on her petulant face...sweet pouting lips, green eyes flashing with such savage anger and hurt. He should have known then, what a world of trouble she was capable of causing.

He had been too confident, underestimated her. He was so sure he would win her over by the end, but she was even more headstrong than even he had dreamed. Her youth had been another attribute in her favor.

He knew she was young, but it was so hard to keep in mind that she was little more than a child, when she already had the physical attributes of a woman. In some regards she was wise beyond her years, while in other respects she remained innocent and naive.

When he had her under his spell, trapped in her own masquerade dream, he had been so sure that she had been watching him with a wild curiosity, that there was something in her eyes that affirmed that she wanted him, even if she didn't fully understand all the how's and why's.

In the end her immaturity had prevented her from seeing the big picture. She was not ready to understand what his last minute offer had meant.

Her victory had dealt him a serious blow, but he had had an abundance of time to come to terms with why it happened and what it all meant.

She hadn't been ready.

And he had spent these long years biding his time until the day she would be. Now she was, and he had taken such pleasure in making her understand.

She had submitted, and willingly gave herself to him. She had offered her body and her heart, and he had indulged, and it was far sweeter than he could have ever imagined.

As sweet as it was, it was far from over.

He had half expected that once she had submitted, once he had bedded her, and spent himself in her arms, that there would be some relief to the longing that incessantly plagued him.

He had thought that her cries of love and her passionate pledge would be enough to sate him, that he would awaken stronger, without that debilitating craving for her touch and her love.

It seemed he had been gravely mistaken.

He didn't feel as though he'd gotten "his fill" of her at all. If anything he only felt more vulnerable, the longing had only intensified, and now he felt as though he could never get enough of her.

And then there was the bloodwraith. It had nearly attacked her. If he had arrived only one moment later...

He dared not even think of consequences, for the thought alone filled him with the worst sort of dread and despair.

The last time she'd left his world, he swore that he would teach her a lesson she would never forget.

Her defeat had left him in anguish. He wanted her to know that sort of agony. He wanted to torment her...hurt her like no one ever had. It was only just for her to learn what that felt like. To be utterly defeated, and cast aside.

What comes around goes around.

He would have loved nothing more than to torture her forever. Vengeance suited him. It had been driving him for so long now that he knew little else.

Except love.

And that was precisely his problem. It made him weak and confused. It was much simpler to have a vendetta against someone. To simply loathe them.

That was not the case with Sarah, it was infinitely more complex than that. He had it out for her, yes, but he also loved her at the same time. Just that very morning he had begun to see the complications this would cause.

Last night, he had been content lying in her arms, and he never wanted that feeling to end. The euphoria of her passionate words, her intoxicating kiss, and her gentle touch, almost made him forget the past. In those moments, revenge couldn't have been further from his mind.

Her affections were getting to him. It was nearly enough to make him not care anymore. It was moments like those that were so dangerous, as he had nearly thrown caution to the wind. With her lying there in his arms, he had dared to dream, dared to imagine a future with her. He had asked himself the forbidden question.

What if he were to forego his plan...what if he freed her? Told her the truth...and somehow she chose to remain at his side, like an equal? What if by some small chance she would willingly be his and only his for all eternity?

And that had been his grievous error, to let his feelings prompt him to even think such a thing. To want that was to invite defeat again. A defeat so terrible, that it could well be his downfall. He could not let that happen. He couldn't give her that chance.

And then Sarah had nearly been killed, and it seemed everything he knew and believed in had been shaken. The thought of her being taken away, of her life being extinguished with no hope of return, was simply...unfathomable. He could not let that happen.

Things were indeed more complicated than he had anticipated.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 33 of 42

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