Continuing Tales

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 8 of 24

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The Debt

The Goblin King's Secrets

Sarah wiped the sweat from her brow with her arm. The day had grown hot very quickly. Velvet was lathered in sweat and desperately needed a cool bath and some water so that she wouldn't overheat. The same for herself wasn't such a bad thing either. After cooling the mare out she tied her to a fence and bucketed water from the pump to sponge her down. Velvet enjoyed the bath and shook furiously after sending water spraying out in all directions. Sarah laughed as the water splashed her. She untied the mare and let her out in one of the many large fields that surrounded the stable. She bucked and kicked and rolled in the grass. Sarah laughed at her antics and didn't notice the raven staring down at her from a tree nearby.

"It's a bit hot today, isn't it?" Riley said putting one booted foot on the bottom fence railing and leaning his elbows on the top rail as he came to stand beside her.

"Yes. It was too hot to ride today. I got as far as the stone wall and noticed Velvet breaking into a sweat. I figured she would enjoy the day off."

"Aye, she seems to be having a grand ole time out there in the field. I haven't seen her this spirited since she was but 7. Ye done good for her Sarah."

"She's done some good for me too." She smiled sweetly.

"I'm glad that I did the stalls early this morning. Way too hot to be doing 'em now." Riley said wiping the sweat from his forehead.

"What do you plan to do with the rest of your day?"

"Goin home. A friend and I will be fishing. Nice day to sit by the pond and relax."

"Sounds like fun."

"Aye, and what of you Sarah? What will you do with your day off?"

"I think I'll wander about the castle. I actually haven't seen too much of it and being inside the stone walls may provide some relief from the heat."

"Smart girl. G'day to ye."

"You too Riley. Have fun fishing."

Sarah walked slowly through the stone halls. A nice cool bath would be a welcomed event. Her clothes were nearly dry from Velvet's little shower, but they still clung to her like a second skin. She wanted to shed them and don a dress. Something soft, cotton and preferably sleeveless. She was very tired and practically dragging herself along when she heard something that perked her interest.

"Absolutely out of the question." The voice was cold, irritated and very familiar.

"Jareth..." she whispered and she felt excitement course her veins. She saw a large oak door opened slightly a jar and she positioned herself near it. She could see Jareth sitting in a large chair with a high back. Another man was with him. He was tall, with dark hair. He stood at the side of the table they both were near. Maps and other parchments were strewn across the dark cherry wood.

"Oh and having her here has done so much for you, hasn't it? Look at you. You're even more irritable then before."

"The only thing irritating me right now is you." Jareth shot back coldly. Sarah leaned against the framing of the door to get a better look. Jareth was dressed in a black poet's shirt, the neck line a bit higher then most of his shirts. He wore no vest, cape or jacket. He wore his tight black pants and black knee high boots. * He looks devilishly handsome when he's angry. *

"I'm only trying to help you Jareth."

"You can help me by going over these maps. That WAS what our plan for the day." Jareth reached for a map and once it was in his grasp he tossed it down on the table in front of him. "If I recall last time you were here, you didn't wish to talk about my guest."

"Things have changed. I never expected to receive your urgent message."

Jareth let his chin rest on a black gloved hand. "How did he find out about her so quickly? If one of my servants let the secret of her existence here out, I will punish them with great pain."

"Perhaps he was out for a flight when he saw her. You do let her have the run of your kingdom."

"Hardly." Jareth said glaring. "Besides, he's not one for just going out for a flight, and certainly not in my Kingdom."

"He will tell the High court you know. You know that don't you?"

"Of course I do you twit! Don't you think I thought about that before I even brought her here?" Jareth let out a frustrated sigh and sank back into the large chair, draping one long leg over the arm it. Sarah leaned closer to the door. She had a funny feeling who they were talking about.

"Just send her back. You'll be saving yourself a hell of a lot of trouble."

Jareth rubbed at his forehead. "Aiden, we've been over this before. I would rather die then give her up. I've waited so long to bring her back and now that she is here I have no intent on returning her."

"Oh yes, because you two have grown so close since she arrived. Seriously when was the last time you saw her?" "I see her everyday." Sarah nearly gasped at his outright lie and inhaled deeply when she heard Aiden's reply.

"I don't mean spying on her from the tree tops." Jareth didn't reply. "You've been ignoring her lately haven't you? You need your head bashed against a very hard wall. You should be spending time with her."

"Don't presume to tell me what I should or should not be doing with her. You who hasn't been with a woman since your wife died. You're not qualified."

"I'm much more qualified then you!" Aiden shot back. "At least I had a wife whom I loved very much and spent 300 lovely years with. You've been alone for 400 years Jareth." Jareth opened his mouth to speak but Aiden cut him off. "-I'm not counting any silly one night stands or flings after a masked ball. You have been alone since Cyla betrayed you."

'Don't speak her name in my presence, EVER again." The Goblin King said through grit teeth.

"Fine, but you've still been alone. You have no idea how to properly court a woman. The woman must be wondering where the hell you have been hiding yourself."

"She does not care. She is most likely glad that she doesn't have to spend time in my presence." Jareth admitted quietly. He twirled a quill in a jar of black ink on the table in front of him. "I've seen her. She visits the stable everyday and enjoys the gift I gave her. I thought that perhaps once I had given her the mare, she would see that I am not totally cruel." Angrily he knocked the jar of ink with his hand and it splattered all over the dark cherry table as well as the maps and parchments. "I have been fooling myself. She will never love me." He said with anguish in his voice.

Aiden sighed softly "You really love her don't you?"

"More then I care to admit to anyone, including myself." He let out softly. Sarah gasped loudly and quickly clamped her mouth with her hand. "What was that?" Jareth was out of his chair in an instant.

"I shall take a look." Aiden went to the door and looked about. His eyes settled upon Sarah trying to remain still against the wall and he gave her a brilliant smile. Her eyes were wide with the fear that he would tell Jareth that she had been eavesdropping. "There is nothing here." Aiden called back to Jareth. "It must have been our imaginations." He winked at Sarah and closed the door behind him. Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't understand why Aiden had covered for her, but she was grateful. She quickly glanced around to make sure that no one was in the hall to see her slip away. She really needed that bath!

Aiden returned to the table. He understood why Jareth liked the mortal woman. She was beautiful and her eyes danced with fire and mischief. She had also been the only one to ever defeat Jareth's Labyrinth, mortal, Fae or otherwise. That alone was a quality he admired of her. But Aiden knew it was still risky for Jareth to keep her in his Kingdom. Many Fae were known to despise mortals. Some Fae had tortured them in the past, mocked them, enslaved them and even raped mortal women. Despite Jareth's cruel streak, raping was by no way something he took lightly. In fact the act outraged him. He may be a man of cruelty and arrogance and he was known to be pompous but he was not beyond compassion and he did have morals. Fae women could protect themselves with their magic from such acts, mortal women had no defense against a ruthless Fae male. Jareth had been foolish enough to speak the truth of what he felt and had been banished because of it.

"The routes and planning will need to be done at a later time." Aiden said gesturing at the maps and parchments now splattered with black ink.

"Yes, but we shouldn't wait too long. If anyone thinks of advancing upon my castle, despite my Labyrinth's defenses I must be ready to flee with her, should either of our lives depend on it."

"You are an incredibly foolish man, Jareth. But also a very courageous one. To risk the court and the Fae who despise you for the love of a mortal woman. Very honorable. Who would have thought that about you?" Aiden gave him a smile and extended his hand. Jareth took it in his own and the two men shook. "Till we meet again. And I hope the next time we meet that you would have spent some time with that mortal of yours. If you're going to keep her here and go through all this trouble you might as well enjoy her."

"Aiden." Jareth said coldly.

Aiden gave a chuckle. "You know what I mean. Spend some time with her. I have the feeling that she will come around. Just try to lighten up a little will you?"

Jareth allowed a smile to form on his lips and he nodded. 'Of course." Aiden bowed and disappeared.

The Debt

A Labyrinth Story
by Corrie McDermott

Part 8 of 24

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