Continuing Tales

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 39 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>
Most Prized Possession

"On your feet Goblin King!"

The distant order was the only thing Jareth heard before a bucket of icy water was thrown over him. The frigid water shocked him into to consciousness. Sputtering, he scrambled to his knees. The sharp pain in his head was unreal, but he forced it aside as he lifted his head to see his attackers.

Several had gathered around, all wearing their signature black robes. Through the rusty bars of the cage, Jareth noticed the medallion hanging around the neck of the one closest to him. The one that had beat him, their leader.

There was no longer any doubt in his mind that it was the Shadow Horde that had ambushed him. A cursory glance at his surroundings told him that he was also no longer in the valley by the waterfall. Dense forest surrounded him on all sides. His small cage dangled over a cracked and worn stone floor. The remnants of ancient columns surrounded them and large broken stones littered the floor.

With all the authority he could summon he growled, "What is the meaning of this?" He spoke more out of anger than curiosity as he had a good idea what was happening. It was simple. They wanted his kingdom. They needed to possess his domain if they were going to infiltrate the world aboveground. That's what they wanted, the world above was their ultimate hunting ground, and the game; humans.

Now he saw how attainable that goal was, as he was the only thing that stood in their way. He cursed himself for not having thought of it sooner, as it was so blatantly obvious, but then again he hadn't really believed that the Shadow Horde had been resurrected until they had ambushed him.

Now looking at the dark figure before him, Jareth could see that the legacy of the Shadow Horde lived and breathed. Their leader stepped closer, his concealed face inches from the rusty metal bars. From such close proximity Jareth could clearly make out his mouth as he sneered, "Your reign is over Jareth."

The familiarity of the soft-spoken voice struck him as his mind reeled, I've heard that voice before. He dares call me by my name. Do I know him? Jareth's hands tightened on the bars and ignoring the pain in his head, he wrenched himself to a stand and leered at his captor.

The strangely familiar mouth snickered, "You're as stubborn as you are ignorant. Your show of bravado is wasted." He glanced about mockingly, "There are no mortal girls here to impress, Goblin King. All you will accomplish is the hastening of your own demise. Tell me Jareth, How is your head?"

Jareth knew that the nauseating pain he felt could not be being caused by his injuries alone. There was surely magic involved, the disorienting weakness was a tell tale sign. Despite his suffering, he leveled a penetrating gaze at his captor.

Ignoring the blazing warming in the Goblin King's eyes, the leader rapped on the bars and softly chuckled, "You'll find that your new home has some curious properties. Not only is the metal an effective toxin, it was forged with some powerful enchantments. Such an extraordinary relic...must have been as useful then as it is now, it really is quite deadly to our kind."

The familiarity of the voice struck him, the name just beyond his reach of consciousness. Narrowing his eyes at his captor, the Goblin King demanded, "Who are you?"

The velvety chuckle was one of triumph as the figure replied, "I suppose I may as well tell aren't long for this world anyway." Lifting his gloved hand, he pulled back the cowl to reveal a pale face adorned with a striking pair of gleaming silver eyes. Jareth looked on his attacker and his gaze fell to the thin scar that marred his upper lip.

"Nyx." Breathed Jareth. Though he had never liked the youth, he never would have believed him capable of anything as sinister as reviving the Shadow Horde. Sure Nyx was a hot-headed nuisance who was full of himself in a way that bordered on unhealthy, but the secret leader of the Shadow Horde?

The fact that Nyx was power hungry was not a surprise, but Jareth never would have guessed that his ambitions would lead him to delusional criminal madness. Lord Taibarr was an entirely sensible and diplomatic Fae, it was beyond Jareth how a man like him could beget such a son.

"Why are you doing this? Surly you realize you'll never get away with this."

Nyx's scarred lip curled into an ugly sneer, "You are in no position to question my motives. Your kingdom belongs to me now, and your subjects are mine. How unfortunate for them...and lets not forget about your precious humans."

Nyx noticed that Jareth's fist had tightened considerably on the bar. He smiled at the Goblin King's tension and went on, "Hmmm...your lovely little Sarah...she will undoubtedly make a most excellent slave...hmmm perhaps I'll make her my first concubine..."

That was it.

Nyx saw the deadly intent in the Goblin King's eyes just before he lunged. Lucky for Nyx, two of his brethren had reached in and grabbed Jareth. They managed to pull him back, violently smashing him into the rusty bars behind him. The larger of the two slipped a strong arm about his throat and held him against the back of the cage. Despite the fact that he could barely breathe Jareth growled, "Where is she!? By all that is sacred in the Underground help me if you lay one finger on her I'll..."

Nyx laughed, "You'll what Jareth?"

Jareth returned an icy gaze and emphasized in a deadly tone, "I will kill you myself."

Nyx shook his head solemnly, "Now would be a good time to start begging for your life Jareth, rather than making idle threats." Pointing to his men, he commanded, "Hold him. Let us proceed with the rite."

For a brief moment there was nothing but the sound of hooves pounding against the stony ground and the rush of the cool morning wind as it whipped against her face, chilling her cheeks as she urged Tempest Northward. Then the world invaded as sense of purpose flooded back over her.


With an ominous metal clank she thrust the helmet's visor down. The element of surprise would be her only advantage and she intended to make the most of it, and if the helmet could also protect her from the elements then so much the better. Tempest was aware of the danger and the need for haste as he barreled away from the Goblin Kingdom at a flat out gallop.

Sarah had suspected the Alicorn would be fast, but she had never dreamed the degree to which he could outrun a horse. She squeezed with her legs and held on with a white knuckled grip, grateful for Tempest's understanding of what was required. At that moment, simply holding on was difficult enough, especially with the added weight of her armor. They tore through the fields north of the labyrinth, with Sarah holding on for her life as Tempest charged on at breakneck speed.

It didn't take very long for them to reach the deep forest that Desdemonna had told them about. Tempest plunged into the darkness of the woods, dodging trees and branches as though his life depended on it.

Sarah gritted her teeth, thankful for the helmet, as wave after wave of thin whip-like braches lashed about her head. At the speed they were going, the helmet and armor surely saved her from what would have been many painful gashes. Her muscles were screaming in agony from gripping the stallion so tightly. In truth it couldn't have been more than a few hours, but to Sarah it felt like an eternity that they rode through those woods.

Her hands and calves were cramped so badly that she prayed for Tempest to stop, yet dreaded the moment at the same time, as she knew she may well be riding into a trap. A cold sweat had broken out over her body as the realization was slowly dawning on her. What if I can't save him? I may already be too late. I might not make it out of here.

She pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind. She had to try. Suddenly she noticed that the trees had grown denser, and were looking more black and skeletal. They were getting close. Tempest's voice rang out in her mind. "We're nearly there. The circle lies just beyond those trees up ahead. Prepare yourself Sarah."

Still holding Tempest's mane with one hand, she reached down and grasped the hilt of her sword. With a deep breath she steadily pulled the weapon free of its scabbard. She locked her arm to position her shield as she raised her sword.

This is nuts, I don't even know how to use this thing. She took another calming breath as the voice in her head warned, "Well you'd better learn real quick, because your lives depend upon it."

Tempest had reached the trees and he trumpeted his warning, "Here we go lass." Sarah screwed her eyes shut.


Just breathe.

I can do this.

The darkness of the woods was now interrupted by the orange light of a crackling bonfire. Two of the black robed figures came forward from the edge of the blaze and Jareth tried to free himself from the iron grip of the one that held him.

The arm that pressed against his throat was impossibly strong, and on the verge of cutting off his air supply. Stars swam before his eyes, but he fought to stay conscious. He sucked in the life giving air and his vision cleared. It was then he saw what the figure on the right was carrying. Clutched in his black gloved hand was a long wrought iron pole, it's tip bent in some indistinguishable shape and glowing yellow and red.

The other figure had already reached the cage. Sticking his arm through the bars he snatched the Goblin King roughly by the wrist. Jareth struggled wildly, only causing the arm to tighten about his neck. Fighting was getting him nowhere. He was only further exhausting himself.

He stilled, afraid further struggle would only hasten what was sure to be a one way trip into unconsciousness. Another hand reached in, tearing his already tattered and bloodied shirt up the middle and away from his pale torso. Ugly bluish bruises had already begun to form on his ribs and back. There was a glint of light as the fire was reflected off the metal of the Goblin King's amulet.

Leather covered fingers grasped the object, tightening around it before the pendant was yanked from his neck. The figure held up the talisman and announced, "Master I believe this belongs to you now." He threw the amulet at Nyx who caught it and mused, "Yes. I believe it does, now that you'll no longer be needing it Jareth."

Jareth growled his disapproval and made one last attempt to struggle. The arm at his throat tightened as the red hot tip of the iron was thrust through the bars of the cage. The burning metal was pushed against the center of his chest, sizzling his pale flesh. A brutal yowl of pain erupted from the Goblin King, rising to the very tops of the skeletal trees. It seemed the only sound in the silence of the dark wood, though, it was suddenly followed by another.

The thundering of distant hooves grew louder.

Sarah could just make out the fire when she heard the ungodly scream. The pain contained in it seemed to squeeze her own heart, for she knew instantly who made the sound. It was Jareth.

He was in pain, but the scream meant he was still alive. I'm not too late...Hang on Jareth...

Resolve flooded her as she tensed for the assault. Tempest broke out of the thicket and into the circle, giving Sarah her first view of what was taking place. Her eyes immediately sought the Goblin King, slumped in his cage. She saw the glowing tip of the iron in the hand of his attacker and understood what had happened.

White hot rage kindled in her breast and she was overwhelmed with the urge to kill. She didn't second guess the feeling, she just acted. She spurred the stallion forward with a deafening cry of outrage. Rider and Alicorn sailed through the licking flames of the bonfire, emerging as a nightmarish black silhouette on the other side.

Several Horde members cried out in alarm as they dove out of the way. Some were not so lucky. Sarah swung her sword with all her strength as they landed. Two of the figures were simply crushed beneath the weight of the stallion and two more fell as the blade of Sarah's sword made contact.

Jareth fell hard as the arm that had been suffocating him suddenly let go. Pain shot through his hands and knees as he landed on the rusty iron bars that made up the floor of the cage, but that pain was nothing compared to the scorched flesh on his chest where he had been branded. Still, at the moment that sharp pain had been a blessing in disguise as it had brought him back from the brink of unconsciousness. He may have been in agony, but at least he was now alert. He had heard the commotion as he fell, and grasping the bar to steady himself he forced his head up, and he could scarcely believe what he saw.

Sarah was astonished that she had successfully cut down two of the figures with her sword, but there was no time to dwell on her victory. The man with the iron rod in his hand whirled towards them, brandishing the still glowing tip. Sarah raised her sword for another swing, but there was no need. Tempest lowered his massive black head, his silver horn glinting in the firelight as he charged. With the sickening sound of flesh being torn, the man was run through. The silver horn glistened with blood as penetrated his torso.

It was an effort for Jareth to hold himself up, as he was drained of all his strength, but he couldn't tear his eyes from what he saw. The Alicorn was unmistakable. It was Tempest who had charged on the Horde. But what was even more incredible was the rider, or more specifically the fact that the Alicorn had a rider. For Jareth didn't need to see beneath the armored helmet to know who the rider was. He knew it was Sarah and his heart shuddered in a mixture of relief and fear.

Now very near the rusty cage, Sarah swung her sword at the man who had previously had a hold on Jareth. With a cry of pain he fell to his knees, clutching the bleeding gash on his chest. The other figure dropped his staff and backpedaled in terror. Frantically Sarah tried to get a better look at Jareth, to assess how badly hurt he was, but it was nearly impossible as the stallion threw his head from side to side casting off the lifeless body from his horn.

To her left Sarah saw other figures running towards her. More than she had a chance of fighting off. Sarah turned Tempest towards them, raising her sword. At that moment, she heard the unmistakable voice of the Goblin King. Stripped raw with pain and urgency the voice warned, "Look out!"

There was no time to react as something whizzed by at incredible speed. It struck its target with a terrible thud, and it was then Sarah recognized the sound.

An arrow sunk into the stallion's crested neck causing the beast to rear in pain. Sarah could not maintain her balance in her heavy armor and toppled off the stallion's back. As if in slow motion or somewhere very far away she heard Jareth yell, "Nooooo!"

As she struck the ground time started moving forward again and her mind wheeled in panic, "Run Tempest! Get away from here!"

The stallion trumpeted and obeyed, pivoting before galloping off to the right. Sarah clawed at the earth, scrambling to her knees as she sought the one who had fired the arrow.

A pair of black boots strode towards her as she painfully climbed to her feet. Her eyes traveled up the imposing figure's black robes as he lowered his bow. The upper half of his face was concealed by his cowl.

A smooth cultured voice broke the heavy silence. "Ah, what have we here? One of Jareth's loyal subjects?"

Jareth watched as Nyx approached her. His blood ran cold at the sight, and at the knowledge that he was powerless to help her. He was about to scream at her to run, to get out of there, when something occurred to him.

He thinks she is a goblin. If she runs, the others will catch her.

Jareth held his tongue, and with a white knuckled grip on the bars of the cage he watched to see how the confrontation would play out.

Several others, also concealed in black robes had now joined the one who spoke. Sarah's eyes fell to the medallion hanging around his neck and knew that this was the leader; it was Nyx. Her fingers tightened on the hilt of her sword as she inclined her head toward the cage and sneered in a voice unrecognizable as her own. "Let him go."

Now the cultured voice chuckled, "Little goblin, you get marks for bravery, but none for wisdom. But then I've always heard that goblins are foolhardy." The men flanking the leader began to draw swords but he stopped them, "Don't bother. Go after the Alicorn, all of you, for he is far more valuable. Leave this one to me."

Jareth swallowed. If Sarah had only Nyx to face it was a step in the right direction, however she was still in grave danger. A human pitted against a powerful Fae was hardly a fair fight. The voice in his head chided, She stood against me and came out no worse for wear. She threw my life into chaos quite effectively, not half bad for a human. He hoped with all his heart that fortune would be so good to her again. Holding his breath, he waited.

Sarah watched in disbelief as the remaining figures ran off in search of Tempest, leaving her alone with Nyx. Perhaps luck was on her side after all, or maybe she was in more trouble than she knew. The sound of his voice brought back the memory of the night of the masquerade, when he had been about to hit her.

Her gaze was drawn to his mouth, finally settling on the scar on his upper lip. Desdemonna was right; their leader was Nyx. Hatred stirred in her breast, like a waking cobra, ready to strike.

Good. Now I have a good reason to kill him.

Leveling her sword at his chest she growled with grave authority, "This is your last warning...Let the Goblin King go."

Jareth was too weak to get to his feet, even though every fiber of his being was screaming for him to help her. He was struck by her selflessness in coming after him, and he was flooded with regret.

Nyx fingered the sword carefully before brushing it aside, "Quite the show of bravado for a lone Goblin...tell me little Goblin what you plan to do if I refuse."

This time she spoke evenly in her own voice, "Simple. I kill you."

Nyx froze as the lilting voice registered. Taking a step back he remarked, "You don't sound like a goblin..."

Jareth tensed as he watched silently. His fingers tightened on the rusted bar.

With a loud clank of metal, Sarah raised the shield of her helmet to reveal her face to him. Her brow was sweaty and her face was dirty. Her fierce green eyes penetrated deep into the dark cowl as she replied, "That's because I'm not a goblin...Nyx."

For a moment he merely stared at her. Then slowly his hand reached up and he pulled the hood from his head. The light from the fire danced in his silver eyes as he looked her over and mused, "You! The king's page. Come to rescue your touching. Well, you can die with him." A maniacal smirk touched his lips as he finished, "I think I'll rather enjoy I believe I do owe you one. You disgraced my sister after all, Sargonne."

With one fluid motion, she yanked off the helmet and let it fall to the ground with a loud clatter. Sarah shook her head, her mussed hair falling in wild tendrils. A gleam of pure hatred blazed in her eyes as she sneered. "No. Sarah. My name is Sarah."

The look of confusion on his face confirmed that he didn't understand. Well she would clarify it for him. In a flash of movement she swung the sword, thrusting with all her might. The tip of the blade pierced his shoulder, wringing a growl of surprise and pain from him as he dropped his bow and staggered backward.

Jareth inhaled sharply, trying with all his might to stay conscious. He could feel the toxic effects of the metal permeating him to the core. Every part of him ached and he felt as if every last bit of strength was being sucked from his body. He had to stay awake.

Her mouth tightened in a grimace of concentration as she advanced with him, twisting the blade in his flesh. Leaning her face close to his she spat. "There is no Sargonne! I am Sarah. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I fought my way to the castle beyond the Goblin City...and no one, I mean no one, messes with the Goblin King!"

She punctuated the statement with a hard shove as she brought her foot behind his ankle, sending him spilling backwards like a ton of bricks. "Except me! That's my job, asshole." Quickly she lowered the bloody tip of the blade to his throat and demanded, "Now open the fucking door."

Nyx's eyes fell on the blade as understanding dawned on him. There had never been a boy named Sargonne. The page boy had been Sarah all along. Why the girl would do such a thing was beyond him, but he felt sure that the Goblin King must have been behind the deception.

She certainly had a lot of gall. First she beat the labyrinth and faced down the Goblin King all by herself, and now she dared challenge the power of the Shadow Horde in order to rescue him. How she had found out about Jareth's demise, he had no idea, but something or someone must have tipped her off.

Nyx decided against using his power against the girl, if only for the moment. It would be wiser to let the girl think she had the upper hand, then he might learn how she had found out. She may have been brave to come here, but he seriously doubted she would be capable of killing him, especially if he cooperated. And Jareth, he was no threat at this point. His powers had long since been diminished to nothing, and now he was too weak to even stand.

Nyx knew he could regain the upper hand at any time. He would finish off Jareth, if he didn't die first from his toxic enclosure, and then he would kill the girl at his leisure. He suppressed the urge to grin as all sorts of horrible ways to torment her and the Goblin King entered his mind. I daresay, this may even be fun.

Nyx cast his head down in a mock gesture of defeat as he extended his hand out to her. Sarah kept the blade trained on his throat as she advanced to see a very rusted key in his gloved palm.

Sarah wasn't stupid enough to take the key and turn her back on him. Instead she pressed the blade to the side of his neck and ordered, "You open the door. Anything funny, and I won't hesitate to cut your head off."

Nyx held up his hands and merely nodded his compliance. Together they took the few steps to the cage. For the first time Sarah could finally see Jareth clearly through the bars of the cage. He was on his knees, his upper body supported by the rusted bars. The round cage was narrow, with barely enough room for a man to stand.

The Goblin King did not look well. His fair skin was even paler than usual. His shirt, now torn and tattered revealed ugly purple bruises, and there on the center of his chest, his flesh was seared raw by the brand. A horrible and painful looking representation of the Horde's symbol, it was enough to make her sick. His face was bruised and bleeding, and it seemed he could barely keep his eyes open.

The sight of him caused tears to well up in her eyes, but she refused to let them come. She breathed deeply, turning her despair to rage. Her grip tightened on the sword as she yelled at Nyx who had inserted the key into the archaic lock, "Hurry it now!!!"

She then lowered her eyes to Jareth and spoke, "Jareth, can you hear me?" His eyes opened as he nodded weakly. In a rush she pressed, "You're not well. What did they do to you?" With all his might he breathed, "The's poisoning..." Sarah wasn't entirely sure how a cage could do that to him, but she recognized the danger and knew she had to get him out immediately.

With a loud clank the door cracked open.

She knew what she had to do. Somehow she had to get Nyx in there and get Jareth out. But how? She wasn't strong enough to pull Jareth out with one hand and still have the use of her sword.

Nyx hadn't taken his eyes off her. As the door swung open a slow smile spread across his face. Glancing down Sarah saw to her horror that the key in his hand was no longer a key but a growing blue flame. He was using his magic. She had to act fast.

The handle of her sword had suddenly grown very hot, and the idea came to her just as the metal hilt scorched her hand. With a growl of pain Sarah turned her hand redirecting the blade downward as she flung it out of her hand. The blade made a direct hit, the tip piercing Nyx's foot as it fell to the ground.

The sudden pain surprised Nyx enough that he hadn't anticipated Sarah's move. With one swift motion she brought her knee up, as hard as she could right into Nyx's groin. The Fae growled in pain as he doubled over. Apparently Fae men were just as sensitive in that area as humans. Sarah had suspected as much.

She knew Nyx's incapacitation wouldn't last, so she burst into action. Flinging the door to the cage wide, she slipped her arms under Jareth's and heaved with all her might, pulling him from the cage. She winced as his body slammed against the ground, but nothing could be done for it now. Quickly she dragged him back, just a few feet, and let him go.

Straightening she pinpointed her target. Bending her knees she crouched a bit and positioned her upper body. Without wasting another moment she charged Nyx, linebacker style, driving her right shoulder into his center of gravity. There hadn't been time for him to react and Sarah hit him like a ton of bricks. Her momentum was such that she couldn't stop herself from falling on top of Nyx's chest as he fell back into the cage. Frantically she twisted her body, and reaching back with one hand, her fingers hooked the barred door.

Before Nyx had even realized what was happening, he heard the heavy rusted door creak on its hinges before it slammed shut with an ominous clank.

In a frenzy of urgency she grasped the key, twisting it violently to lock the door before she freed it, and tossed it through the bars in Jareth's direction. Thankfully his head was turned towards her and his eyes followed the key as it landed beside him.

Quickly she turned away from he door, scrambling to get into a less vulnerable position. It was difficult to move as their two bodies barely fit inside the cage. Bringing her knees up as Nyx struggled to raise his upper body, she found herself straddling his waist. Huffing from her exertions she declared in a voice devoid of humor, "No magic now asshole...just you and me. It's on, you son of a bitch."

Most Prized Possession

A Labyrinth Story
by Jester3

Part 39 of 42

<< Previous     Home     Next >>