Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 38 of 42

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Most Prized Possession

Desdemona shifted uneasily in her armchair, lowering her book as she glanced at the timepiece on the mantle. Only four hours had passed since her father had left the Northern Kingdom and already she was bored out of her mind. She was rather disappointed at her father's refusal for her to accompany him on his errand, but even she had to concede that it was probably better this way.

Distraction was always easier than dealing with grief, but she knew she'd eventually have to get over her feelings for the Goblin King's page boy. Of course the idea had occurred to her; that it would be the perfect opportunity to sneak off to the Goblin castle and offer her lost love a final goodbye, but it wasn't worth the risk. Not with Nyx already knowing what he knew. Surely he'd expect her to do something brash like that, which was no doubt the reason he'd been watching her like a hawk since the night of Jareth's masquerade.

The only way she could chance such an excursion would be if Nyx also left the Manor on business. A secretive smile formed at the idea. It was entirely possible. Though Nyx had been keeping a close eye on her, he had been away a lot as well. She had caught him returning late at night on many occasions. A dreamy look softened her features as she thought of stealing away to see Sargonne, but then she shook her head and thought better of it. No. I have to stop this ridiculousness. We could never be together. We've said our goodbyes, to force another meeting would just be adding insult to injury. Her delicate mouth curved into a tight frown. It would be wiser to face her grief and move on. At least if her brother left for the evening she would have the manor to herself and could wallow in private.

It was odd. What official business would be keeping Nyx in the dead of night? She frowned, perhaps it was not business at all, but pleasure that kept him. Maybe he had met someone, someone who would not meet father's approval. Her brow furrowed in concentration. Whatever it was, she would be sure to find out. She left her cozy chair in the library and sought out her half brother.

Making as little noise as possible Desdemonna pushed open the door to Nyx's private study. Sticking her head in, she cleared her throat, "Ahem...Busy my brother?"

As she had suspected Nyx was seated behind his enormous desk, his head bent over some parchment. Nyx moved quickly, concealing the page he was writing on with another bit of parchment. "Don't I look busy Des?"

She sighed, "I suppose..."

Straightening he demanded, "What do you want dear sister? Something I can help you with?"

Curiosity had piqued her interest and she tentatively stepped into the room. "Just wondering what your plans might be for this evening? Would you be up for a bit of sport? Father had some new targets added to the archery range..."

His silver eyes met hers, "I'm afraid not. I have urgent business with some members of the trade council. I won't be home until late."

"Oh. That's too bad I was hoping that you might help me with my aim..."

He frowned, "Perhaps tomorrow."

She ducked out of the room closing the door behind her and replied, "Yes, perhaps."

Nyx shifted his gaze back to the parchment on the desk. Under one hand was the carefully handwritten invitation to the masquerade ball that he had attended only a few days before. Beside it, was a letter he had begun to compose. He was carefully to perfectly duplicate the handwriting on the invitation.


We have to talk

Desdemonna waited patiently behind the old suit of armor on display in the great hall. Obscured by the heavy velvet drapes, she waited, unseen. When Nyx finally left the manor, Desdemonna stealthily followed.

The white owl swooped silently into the barn. Landing high in the rafters, he surveyed the scene below him. A lone lantern was burning, keeping its silent vigil over the girl sleeping in the hayloft. On a stool at her feet the dwarf was slumped in sleep, snoring loudly. No doubt Hoggle had refused to leave her alone and had set about keeping watch over the slumbering girl, though by the looks of it his efforts had proven futile. Below the girl, Tempest was dozing in his stall.

Slowly the owl's head turned, it's black expressionless eyes fixed on the sleeping girl. In one fluid motion the bird leapt from it's perch, flapping its downy wings. Soundlessly the change occurred, and it was the Goblin King rather than a white barn owl that crouched beside the girl.

She was curled up beneath a heavy blanket atop a cushion of hay. Her head was turned to the side, her face was pale in the lantern light and her silky dark hair spilled about her. She looked serene and peaceful while she slept, possessing an almost childlike beauty. Her pink lips were frozen in a little pout, and upon closer inspection, he noticed that her pink tinged cheeks were tearstained.

So, she had been crying before she feel asleep. Of course he knew she would eventually break down, but seeing the evidence of her misery with his own eyes affected him. There was an inescapable unpleasant stab of remorse at the sight. The pain of it was so moving that he actually closed his eyes against it.

Tenderly he brushed a stray piece of hair from her forehead. The alicorn was the only conscious witness as he raggedly whispered, "I'm sorry. I...don't deserve you."

After having spotted Nyx entering the black forest, Desdemonna tracked him through the woods. He moved quickly but she was able to keep up at a distance. He had been in his bird form and to her displeasure she had been led to a place she didn't want to be.

She had heard tales of the ancient sacred circle when she had been just a child and the idea of it still scared her. Now at the edge of that dreaded place, she heard voices whispering through the darkness, reverberating off the skeletal trees. As she drew closer to the noises, it became apparent that not one, but many, were moving through the brush to take their places at the perimeter of the circle.

Her trembling sparrow form hid in a dense fir tree, well out of sight, watching silently as many black clad figures emerged from the trees. It was a macabre gathering and she shivered at the eerie sight.

Atop the ancient stone circle the black clad figures fell in line at the perimeter, falling to their knees, they honored their leader. He stood tall and imposing, alone, in the dead center of the circle. Slowly he turned to regard each of them, his unseen eyes hidden beneath the dark cowl as he scanned his minions.

With a communal hiss they beseeched him, "We have all come. What is your bidding master?"

From the cover of her hiding place Desdemona watched them gather. She heard the hiss of voices but she couldn't decipher the words. She was too far to read their lips, though even if she were closer it wouldn't have done much good in identifying them. Their black hoods concealed their features, shrouding them in anonymity.

They were all clad in identical garments, black robes and cowls, seemingly equals, save for the lone one standing in the middle. Something was different about him aside from the fact that he was standing in the center. Upon a cursory inspection, she spotted the talisman. She was too far away to see the silver medallion in detail, but it didn't matter, she saw it in her mind's eye.

The silver skull, holding a bony finger to the mouth. Instead of eyes, were glittering blood-red stones. Behind the skull, a human female and the rearing alicorn, engulfed in flames.

The ancient symbol of the Shadow Horde.

A symbol far older than any of her living kin, a symbol that could be mistaken for no other, a symbol that would remain burned into the minds of her race for ages to come. All races and cultures had their symbols, and most of them had at least one that inspired dread.

Desdemonna instinctively recoiled from the horde's symbol, as to her it seemed the embodiment of evil. A symbol of Fae supremacy, of treachery, a symbol that represented the rape, enslavement, murder, and the ultimate extinction of the human race. With the power of Alicorn blood, it was the Horde's agenda to breed humans out of existence.

The figure was speaking now, and she strained to hear his words. "Your patience and servitude is about to be rewarded."

Horror and sickening disbelief washed over her now, and it was not from the symbol, and not from the fact that she was actually witnessing a very real and active Horde meeting, but from the realization that despite the outward anonymity of the figure before her, she knew exactly who their leader was.

Fire and Rain...It can't be. But it was.


There was no doubt in her mind. His stature, his mannerisms, the cadence of his voice...It was him. Though she had constantly been at odds with her half-brother, she could scarcely believe he could be a part of something so wretched. It was a testament to the fact that she truly didn't know him. At that moment the thought struck her that he couldn't have been more of a stranger to her.

She became frantic at the discovery, and the urge to flee was overwhelming. Father, she thought, father will know what to do. The thought sickened her. Her gentle sweet father would be crushed, but he was wise beyond his years, perhaps he could make sense of all this madness. She longed to slip away and run, but her curiosity held her there. She had to at least find out what was happening. She inched closer, bit by bit, until she could just barely discern the words. She strained to hear her brother's voice.

"The time has come for action. Admittance aboveground is just at our fingertips. By this time tomorrow the Goblin Kingdom, the key to aboveground access, will be ours."

"But what of Jareth...and the labyrinth?"

"Forget about the labyrinth, without Jareth and his power, the labyrinth cannot hinder us."

"Yes, but how? Jareth defends his kingdom from the center of the labyrinth, how will we reach him? With him inside we have no chance of navigating through the maze or of breeching the castle walls."

"Indeed, but Jareth won't be within the castle or the labyrinth when we take him."

A stunned hush fell over the horde and Desdemonna held her breath and listened to hear what her brother was planning.

Later in the Goblin Kingdom...

The Sun had barely risen over the labyrinth, yet the goblin king was already out of bed. He had wasted no time in bathing and dressing himself. In no mood to eat breakfast, he stormed out of his room and down the castle hall. He moved purposefully through the castle, ignoring the goblins that he passed, for his mind was on other things.

Despite the fact that he had barely slept, he was more anxious than tired. It had been impossible to turn off his mind long enough to get any quality sleep, but that hardly mattered to him at the moment. He couldn't seem to get his mind around one thing.

He had made a grievous error.

For so long he had been convinced that hurting Sarah was the solution, but now that the act was done, he realized he'd solved nothing. The longing was still there, in fact, it hurt worse than before. Though, as wretched as the pain was, it was nothing in comparison to the nagging realization that he had no idea how to reconcile the situation...if it even was reconcilable.

Sarah wasn't likely to speak to him anytime soon, never mind understand or forgive what he had done.

Jareth kept walking, he didn't really have a destination in mind, but the constant walking at least kept him from going mad. Not surprisingly, he ended up in his study. It was a much more productive place for thinking than the throne room, which was usually overrun with goblins.

Jareth flopped dramatically into his chair and sighed wearily, resting his head on the high back of the chair. His mind wandered for what seemed like the millionth time, "What are you doing..."

He was no closer to an answer than he was the night before. Exasperated with thinking he let his head fall into his hands, and that's when he noticed the neatly folded letter on his desk.

A single word scratched in black ink stared up at him.


The writing was hauntingly familiar. About a thousand different emotions swelled in him as he snatched up the letter. He couldn't open it fast enough. Giving the handwriting a cursory glance, there was no doubt who had written it.


We need to talk. I don't want things to end this way. Meet me by the waterfall. I'll be waiting.


He was out of the chair before he'd even finished reading the letter. He didn't know if his relationship with her was salvageable, but the letter sparked a glimmer of hope within him. She was willing to talk and that was a start. Determined, he set off, the thought echoing in his mind. I'll get her back...

Desdemonna crouched behind a large fir tree as she struggled to catch her breath. She had trailed the Shadow Horde all night and she was exhausted from trying to keep up and lack of sleep. She had opted to track them from higher ground, which afforded her a better view but also made for a more difficult journey. She had kept out of sight as the horde moved into the ravine below.

She stopped to rest as their caravan halted in the breathtaking valley below. They assumed their positions, hiding behind various rock formations that flanked a waterfall. It appeared as though they were waiting for something or someone.

What a morbid progression it had been, all of them clad head to toe in their imposing black robes, none of them uttering so much as a single word. Though the main function of their macabre garb was to protect the wearer's identity, she reasoned that the vestments had other purposes. It seemed their robes prevented other Fae from sensing their presence, as she had not been able to sense them with her power as she tracked them. Finally it was the sinister appearance it gave them, like intimidating shadows they moved, certain to strike fear into the hearts of all that glimpsed them. It reminded her of the procession before a funeral or execution, but what was even more disturbing was the person-sized crow's cage that they carried, dangling from an enormous pike.

Fearful of what would unfold before her eyes, she held her breath and waited. And then as if on cue, she spotted him. A lone lithe figure with wild platinum hair, descending the grassy hill that led down to the waterfall. He had seemed to appear from nowhere, but that was not surprising, as powerful Fae were quite adept at apparating.

Jareth saw no sign of Sarah as he approached, but as he got closer he thought he heard muffled sobs coming from behind a rock formation flanking the waterfall. Concern was evident in his voice as rushed over, "Sarah?"

The ambush was sudden, occurring just as Desdemonna had realized the danger. There had been no time to call out and warn him. Not that it would have helped, for in doing so, she also would have endangered herself.

It almost seemed to happen in slow motion, and it was a terrible thing to witness, especially knowing she could do nothing to stop it, for the horde far outnumbered her and the goblin king.

The moment Jareth had neared the rocks, scores of dark figures descended upon him from all sides. Some materialized out of thin air. There was little time for Jareth to react, especially against so many. She hadn't sensed them and she guessed Jareth hadn't either because he had walked right into their trap.

Immediately four of the figures seized him, and despite his wild struggling, they managed to hold him. Roughly they forced his hands behind his back, entwining them with enchanted rope, so he was not able to defend himself by producing a crystal and using magic. Jareth strained to see those who were restraining him, but all he saw were their sinister grimaces, as their faces were hidden beneath their dark cowls.

Another approached him from the front and Jareth immediately noticed the medallion hanging around his neck. Cold dread washed over him.

The Shadow Horde.

Strangely, his first thought was not fear for his own life, but concern for Sarah. Surely without him to protect her, an awful fate would await her should she fall into their hands. If they haven't already taken her.

Icy fear gripped him at the thought, and he struggled harder, but to no avail. The grim frown of the leader twisted into a smug smirk. His silken voice was vaguely familiar as he hissed, "Ah Jareth, I've waited a long time for this."

The smirk vanished as the leader's fist smashed into Jareth's jaw. There was no time for Jareth to process the pain before the next devastating blow hit him in the gut, doubling him over. His captors hauled him back up so the leader could continue his merciless beating. When the leader was satisfied he indicated for the others to come forward. They took turns beating him.

Desdemonna winced at every blow, but there was still nothing she could do. Helpless to intervene, she watched on as the goblin king fought to remain conscious as he took the beating of his life. She feared they would beat him to death, but suddenly with one signal from Nyx, they stopped.

They lowered the pike and shoved him into the crow's cage. He collapsed as they let go of him. With a groan the rusty door swung shut, locking him inside. He tried to get to his knees, but he didn't have the strength. The exertion of trying to get up was too much and he fell back to the rusty grate floor and lost consciousness.

The leader motioned for them to assemble and barked, "We have him, now back to the sacred circle where we shall begin the rite and finish this..." Ominously he finished, " ...and then the Goblin Kingdom and the world aboveground shall be ours."

Desdemonna looked on in horror as they heaved the pike upright, lifting the crow's cage into the air. Once they had turned their backs on her and were a safe distance away she wasted no time and took to the air. She had to make it to the Goblin Kingdom before they did, and hopefully before they finished off Jareth. She had to warn Sargonne and the goblins.

Sarah sluggishly dragged herself from her hay bed and washed her face and hands in the icy water from the stable pump. After drying herself off she dressed in her own aboveground clothes, pulled her messy hair back into a tight ponytail, and set about tending to Tempest's breakfast. She dumped his grain into his trough and insisted, "Hoggle, I already told you I don't want to talk about it."

The dwarf stammered, "I'm sorry missy, I thought maybe it would make you feel better to get it off your chest. I shoulda known this might happen. I knew that rat was up to something, I just didn't know what. I still don't know what. None of this makes any sense to me. I have a bad feelin', I tell ya, somethin' just ain't right."

Stomping out of the stall she argued, "Don't you think I know that Hoggle! I've spent the whole night trying to figure out what went wrong! Everything was fine one minute, and the next thing I know, I'm being treated worse than a slave."

Hoggle held up his hands, "I know missy, horrible what he did...but what'd ya expect Jareth to do? He's a rat, I'd expect you to understand that better than anyone."

She rolled her eyes "I know, but I thought things would be different this time..."

Hoggle shrugged, "Well, I dunno, maybe they were for a time. You never can tell what that rat is thinking. Strange though, that you don't know what set him off. I don't know, maybe there's more to it. Could be a misunderstandin' I suppose. Maybe after he cools off, you two will sort it out."

Sarah shook her head, "No, Hoggle, he could cool off for a century and it wouldn't make one bit of difference. It's me that's bugging him."

The dwarf gave her a sympathetic look and replied, "You don't know that." He shook his head and growled under his breath, "Arrrowww, I can't believe I'm defending him...You know how he is, probably something else got him all riled. Maybe he's already sorry. Maybe you could give him a chance to explain."

"A chance to explain?!" She was yelling now, "Are you out of your mind Hoggle? It was downright rotten the way he treated me!"

"I know it was. I just hate to see you upset missy. You're my friend and I hate that I can't fix this, but I'm afraid the only way out is to learn the truth, and Jareth is the only one that can give you that. You'll have to face him sooner or later."

"Ah...Hem," A low gentle voice interrupted.

Sarah turned her head to see the Alicorn poke his head out of his stall, "I don't mean to interrupt Sarah, but Haggle has a point. Perhaps there is some misunderstanding..."

Incredulously the dwarf accused, "You can talk?!? Rowwrrr It's Hoggle..."

The alicorn merely ignored him, "If you don't mind me sayin' it Sarah, I've known the King for a long time, and rarely does he act without good reason. Something set him off for him to be acting that defensively. I know he's a bit frosty on the outside, but he's got a good heart, that I know. With him, things aren't always what they seem, you can't take anything he does for granted."

Sarah looked intently at Tempest thinking that wouldn't be the first time she heard that piece of advice here. Maybe there was some truth to what the alicorn said, but it still didn't excuse Jareth's behavior.

She glanced at Hoggle, "Well misunderstanding or not, Hoggle's right. I will have to face him, and when I do I'm getting to the bottom of this. He may be a King, but he doesn't own me. I'm done taking anymore of his crap. If he doesn't like it, than that's too bad...I'll make him so miserable that he'll have no choice but to send me home. I will confront him, and he will have one chance to explain himself, but I'm not going up there today. Right now I don't want to be anywhere near him. Going in there and screaming at him is not going to solve anything, and right now that's all I want to do. I need time to cool off and clear my head before I talk to him."

The alicorn nodded "That's a wise decision. Think it over for a few days, and then you'll work it out. He probably already regrets the way he treated you. He cares for you Sarah, that I know, no matter what he said."

"It's hard for me to believe that, but thanks for trying to cheer me up."


Sarah was reclining on a bail of hay, thinking of all that had happened when she heard the commotion outside. Goblin voices were shouting her name.

"Sarah! Sarah!"

She rushed to the door of the stable to see a familiar figure flanked by two goblins running towards her full force.

Sarah's eyes widened in surprise, "Des...Desdemonna?"

The Fae youth was dirty, her hair spilling out of it's usual pinned style and she noticed immediately that her dress was torn in several places. Wild eyed and out of breath the Fae skidded to a halt in front of Sarah, "Where is Sargonne? I must speak with him right away."

Uneasiness crept over Sarah as she stammered, "Sargonne is...not this isn't a very good time for..."

Frantically the girl pleaded, "I must speak with your's a matter of life or death, and it concerns him..." she bent to catch her breath, "and you as well..."

Sarah shook her head, "I'm not sure where he is, but maybe we'd better go to the Goblin King..."

Desdemonna took a deep breath and gushed, "That's what I'm trying to tell you! Jareth has been taken by the Shadow Horde!"

Sarah's face drained of all color, "What do you mean taken?"

"Captured. They will kill him, I'm sure of it. They took him to their sacred circle, they have probably already started the rite to execute him."

Sarah suddenly felt light headed and she grabbed the girl by the shoulders, "What?!"

"They have him. They took him Northward and headed to the ancient stone circle, their place of ritual sacrifice. I saw it happen...I have to warn Sargonne. The two of you have to get out of here before they finish him and come. With Jareth out of the way nothing will stop them from taking the Goblin City. You have to please where is Sargonne?"

Sarah was no longer listening. Her fingers tightened on the girl's arms as she frantically demanded, "Where exactly is this stone circle?"

"The black forest, Northwest of where's..."

Sarah held up a hand to silence her as Tempest's voice brayed in her mind "I know that place. I can get us there."

Sarah pulled the girl closer and declared urgently, "I am Sargonne, Sargonne is me...Sarah. Jareth dressed me as his page boy."

"What? But...why?"

Sarah shook her head as she rushed into the armory and tack area with Desdemonna on her heels, "I know...I know...It was a rotten thing to deceive you like that...but there's no time to explain. I have to try and stop them...I have to go after Jareth."

The shocked expression on her face deepened, "Are you insane? You are human...have you any idea what they'll do to you? It's suicide!"

Sarah ground out, "It doesn't matter! I have to go."

Sarah whirled around and shouted at Hoggle who was watching the whole scene with a gaping mouth, "Hoggle, assemble the Goblin army, tell them Jareth has been captured and he needs them. I want them hot on my heels in case something happens to me."

Hoggle nodded frantically, "I'll lead them Sarah, I'll be right behind you." In a flash the dwarf was off running, taking the two goblins who had escorted Desdemonna with him.

She glanced at the large black Alicorn in the stall nearest her and announced, "Tempest, get ready...we are going for a ride."

With that Sarah began donning the first pieces of armor she could get her hands on. There must have been something familiar in her voice that struck a cord in the young Fae because without another word she began helping Sarah dress and arm herself.

As Sarah buckled the sword scabbard onto her belt she remarked, "I am sorry for what I did to wasn't my intention to hurt anyone. I know that sorry probably doesn't cut it...but if I make it out of this alive, I will explain everything and I'll do my best to make up for the injury I caused you."

Desdemonna selected a metal helmet and helped Sarah put it on, "You are a noble and brave woman Sarah..."

Sarah looked out from behind the jagged metal and mumbled, "Brave or incredibly stupid?"

Desdemonna handed her a small dagger that went on the strap around her calf, "I would ride with you, but I think I'd be of more use if I reached my father and got him to raise the alarm. He's not far from here, so the Northern army won't be far behind you."

Sarah nodded, "Thank you. You've already taken a risk in warning me, I won't forget all you've done."

The young Fae stared at her for a moment and replied, "You really mean to do this...risking your life to bring him back. You must really care for him."

Sarah swallowed hard, blinking back the tears that threatened to surface at the thought of what would happen if she didn't bring him back, "I..."

"I believe you can do this Sarah. You possess a will and spirit seldom seen in the Fae. You are brave and determined..."

Sarah shook her head, "But how can you say that you don't even know me..."

"You solved the labyrinth, that has to count for something. Now go on, you'd better get out of here."

Sarah's gaze drifted over a multitude of swords as Desdemonna added, "You should also know that the leader of the Horde is my half brother Nyx. He had beaten Jareth rather severely right before I fled...I believe the two of you have been acquainted and if I'm not already owe him one."

Anger flared within her. She had disliked Nyx immensely the first time she met him, but now, well there were no words to describe the amount of misery she wanted to put him through. Without hesitation Sarah snatched up a rather nasty looking broadsword. It had savage looking spikes adorning the handle, and it was still dangerously sharp despite the fact that it was rusty. Grinding her teeth together she shoved the sword into her scabbard savoring the sound of metal against metal. Nyx will pay for what he's done. He'll pay if it kills me. Hold on Jareth, I'm coming.

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 38 of 42

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