Continuing Tales

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 6 of 24

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The Debt

Small Discoveries

The hours passed by in a blur as she rode through green meadows and along wooded paths. Velvet never seemed to tire and this helped Sarah forget that time was passing all around her. Soon the sun was low in the sky. Sarah hurried back to the stables amazed that she remembered the way after such a long ride.

"Have a good time, Miss Sarah?" The stable master Riley stood at the barn doors his arms crossed over his chest and a smile on his face.

Sarah jumped down from Velvet and gave the mare a pat. "Yes! I lost all track of time."

"I can see that." Riley smiled. "Here let me take yer girl."

'But I haven't cooled her out yet."

"That's all right. I can do it for ye."

"I'd like to do it Riley. Which stall is hers? I'd like to brush her when I'm finished."

"Third stall from the back. It's not necessary for ye to cool out yer own horse. The King might not like it that I've let ye take to her care. Tis my job."

"Nonsense. If Jareth has a problem with me taking care of my own horse, then too bad for him. You did say that Velvet is mine didn't you?"

"Aye, she be yers." Riley nodded.

"Then from now on I will care for her. I'll feed her in the morning, I'll groom her, clean her stall, give her water and feed her." Riley opened his mouth to protest. "Please Riley. I don't mind doing these things and it will get me away from the castle." * And Jareth. *

Riley sighed. "Och all right. Just remember t'was yer idea, not mine." He grinned at her and walked into the barn.

Sarah smiled and reached up to scratch Velvet's head. She then led the mare around the yards surrounding the stable to cool her down. After touching the mare's chest to make sure the skin was cool to the touch she brought her inside. She proceeded to take off her saddle and bridle and then began to groom her. Time again seemed to pass by and soon Riley was lighting lanterns around the barn. Night had fallen and it was past dinner time. Sarah hardly noticed that she was hungry but when she saw Metta arrive with a tray full of food she suddenly felt famished.

"His Highness thought that perhaps you would be hungry. He sent this for you."

"Thank you Metta. I'll eat up, finish what I was doing and I'll be in shortly. I think I need a bath."

"I shall prepare one when you return." The young elf smiled, bowed and walked out into the night.

Sarah heard some rustling in the barn isles and saw that Riley was putting on his coat. "G'night Miss Sarah."

"Uh, would you like to join me for dinner? Metta brought more then enough for two." She asked with hope in her voice.

He looked as if he was going to decline her offer but instead draped his coat over the side of a stall. "Aye, all right. I suppose I can spare some time to eat with ye. There's some fresh water there in that bucket to wash yer hands." She nodded with a smile and washed her hands. When she turned back, Riley had taken the tray of food and put it down on a large tack trunk. He also put two stools on either side. They both sat down, unsure of what to touch first. There was chicken, vegetables and bread.

"So." Riley started as they both started picking at the food. "Ye be the Sarah of legend."

She blushed. "I wouldn't say of legend."

"Aye, I would. Tis not a living soul that doesn't know of the girl who bested the Goblin King. How did you do it, lass?"

"I.. I'm not entirely sure. I just know that I had to get my baby brother back. I had some help along the way of course." She suddenly wondered what had happened to Hoggle, Ludo and Sir Didymus. She missed them so.

"Help or not, ye beat the Labyrinth and the King. Tis quite a feat."

"Hasn't anyone ever beaten him before?" she asked before popping a piece of chicken into her mouth.

"Not that anyone knows of. But despite his loss to you, he seems very fond of you."

"Yeah well he has a strange way of showing it." She couldn't keep the bitterness out of her voice.

Riley sensed the anger in her and changed the subject. " So, the Sarah of legend likes horses, eh?"

"Yes. I love all animals. A friend in high school took lessons at a local stable and she got me hooked on horses and riding. Of course I couldn't have my own. It was out of the question with my parents. I went away to school and didn't have very much money. So I made a bargain with the owner of the stable. If I cleaned a few stalls everyday and did night feedings then I could free lease one of the horses."

"Sounds like a good deal all round."

"It was..." Sarah noted with sadness in her voice.

"Like all good things it didn't last did it?"

'No. I had to move to try and make a name for myself out in the real world and I had to leave the horse and stable behind."

"That's a real pity." Riley told her shaking his head. "But you have yer own horse here now." He gave her a smile.

"Yes I do." She looked uneasy for a moment. "Riley can I ask you something?"


"I know things aren't what they always seem in this place, but are you human?"

He gave a little chuckle. "Aye I'm human." He didn't seem bothered by her question.

'I didn't think that there were any humans in the Underground."

"There are. There are many creatures in this realm, though humans were not originally part of this place."

"Where you born here?"

"Aye. I know no other place but the Underground. My father was born here as well, but not my mum. She was born in a place I've forgotten the exact name of. She came from the Aboveground like ye did tho."

"Your mother is from aboveground? Could I speak to her sometime?"

Riley nodded. "I would let ye if she were still alive. She passed 2 summers ago."

'I'm sorry."

'Don't be. She lived a good life here although she said it didn't start out as such. Ye see, my mum was one of the unfortunates who lost to the King. She didn't wish away no babe. She wished 'er self here and never returned home. She said it was difficult living here at first. But she met my father and they had a good life together."

"Why would she wish herself here?"

"Because she, like many couldn't deal with the unpleasantries of the Aboveground." Came a calm, cold voice. Sarah and Riley turned to the stable door to see the Goblin King dressed in all black, his hands on his hips. A cape billowed out behind him and his golden hair danced wildly around his pale face. Sarah shuttered. He was the perfect picture of evil and beauty entwined as one.

"Yer Majesty." Riley immediately stood and bowed. He then quickly grabbed his hat and coat and without a glance back, left the stable.

Sarah was about to open her mouth and say something when she noticed that Jareth was not looking at her. Instead his mismatched eyes were gazing at the tray of half eaten food on the tack trunk and the empty stool. She saw something in his eyes as they fell upon her. Jealousy. And as quickly as it was there, it was gone. Replaced by his cold, dangerous glare.

"I had the food sent out here for you. Not for the stable boy." He said in a flat, emotionless tone.

"You're going to tell me who I can share my food with now?" she had no intention of keeping the anger out of her voice.

"You forget why you are here." He said as he advanced toward her.

She stood, challenging him by doing so without even speaking. "Why don't you remind me? Because I fail to see why I must be here."

'Because you owe me a debt. I did everything you asked of me and more and you betrayed me with those words. I still hear them in my sleep at times. They have never left me."

"Your problem, not mine." She said crossing her arms over her chest. He began to walk around her and she felt like a piece of scrap meat that a vulture was circling around. She felt extremely uncomfortable as he circled her and let his cruel eyes glance over her.

"But obviously they are your problem, dear Sarah." He stopped his circling and stood close to her. "Otherwise you would not be here."

She felt courage well up inside of her and she took a step at him. He stood his ground as she knew he would. He feared nothing. Anger flashed in her green eyes and a fire burned in their depths. "I did my part, just like you did. You were the ruthless villain and I was the maiden who saved the child. I did what was expected of me, just as you claim you did the same. So I should feel sorry for nothing."

"Obviously you feel regret about something, otherwise you wouldn't be trying to hide it." He disappeared in a swirl of glitter and she sighed. Warm breath touched her cheek and she jumped when she saw him standing behind her, his face nearly resting on her shoulder. She spun around and faced him. "Tell me, did you honestly think that the Goblin King would just give the power to just anyone and for nothing?"

"The book-"

'The book is a work of fiction with a few truths interlaced within its pages. Everything comes with a price. Your world is cruel and uncaring Sarah, why should mine be any different? You should have paid more attention to the little details and not all the fantasy." He stepped away from her again and moved to a stall. He ran his black gloved hands over the face of a beautiful white horse. She watched as the animal put forth complete trust in him. It was so odd to see the Goblin King, dressed all in black, touching a white horse. It didn't seem right. He was evil, he should be touching a black horse. Jareth moved away from the animal and focused his attention on Sarah once again. He walked towards her, but she stood her ground.

"What do you want from me?" She asked, her tone nearly as cold as his.

A gloved finger touched her cheek. Running from her cheekbone down her jaw line. She shivered at the contact, but stood her ground. He was staring at her with those mismatched eyes of his. Letting them roam all over her face, her hair. Taking in her angry eyes, the soft flesh of her face that begged to be touched and her full lips which longed to be kissed. His lips formed a thin cruel line that twisted into a devious smile. His hand lifted her chin and then his lips were on hers. She felt warm, soft lips upon her own and she closed her eyes. Her right arm and hand instinctively reached forward and her hand buried itself in soft hair. All rational thought dissolved as soft lips moved gently and passionately over her own. All she was aware of was a mouth upon hers and a hand slowly snaking up her back. She felt fingers skim along her jaw and realized that they felt like they were encased in leather. With a violent jerk she pulled back, realizing to her horror that she had been kissing the Goblin King. Jareth's mismatched eyes were full of amusement and in their depths she saw desire. His lips curled up in another devious grin. He watched her body tense and anger and confusion crept into her eyes. "I want the same thing you want from me..." His voice echoed as he disappeared in a cloud of glitter.

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 6 of 24

<< Previous     Home     Next >>