Continuing Tales

Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 11 of 15

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Tokens of Affection

Cathal was not prone to great bouts of emotion.

There were too many atrocities, in either world, for him to empathize greatly with any in particular, but this one… This one took whatever preconceived notions he had about his descendant, and forced him to eat them.

"Please," the teen begged his older sibling, "just this one day. Can't you give me just that? My unit leaves tomorrow, you won't have to see me for another decade. Would it really hurt you to just let me have this one, single day?"

"Father said you were to accompany me to the city, and you will do it!" The elder snarled. "I'll not have you doing as you please just because you feel you deserve it! You're not the only one stuck in this war!"

"Not the only one! Dreail, I'm on the front lines, not playing tactician in father's palor! You're safe behind a thousand soldiers that would give their life for you in an instant, and a timeless fortress. How can you possibly compare the two?"


"I am father's chosen heir. If I want to compare the two, than that is my right, and it most certainly is not yours to question it! Understood?" Dreail hissed maliciously.

Jareth pointedly refused to touch his throbbing cheek, glaring spitefully at his older brother. "As the heir commands."

The Ancient took in a deep shuddering breath, his heart heavy with his own guilt at this latest memory.

"Haven't I seen enough?" He begged into the void that once again surrounded him. "I know that we took too long, and I see what I have let happen. Isn't it yet enough?"

Another memory slowly came into being, and Cathal felt himself shudder.

He was suddenly in a Med tent, the wails and screams of the dying and injured echoing relentless inside his skull, their torment tearing mercilessly through his very being as he surveyed the bloody work going on around him.

"Jareth!" A voice suddenly called out. "I need you over here!"

Sightlessly stepping through the Ancient, the young man immediately came to the healers' side, surveying the injury. "You need me to regenerate his heart, right?"

"And his lung." The healer growled. "Damn shrapnel chews through our men faster than the actual fighting does. If you can get those two to function properly, I should be able to get to the rest."

Jareth nodded his understanding as he gently slid his hands into the injured fae's chest, cautiously resting his hands around the wounded organs as he closed his eyes and tried to repair the fatal damage.

The old fae felt his eyes widened at what was happening in front of him, and without thinking he reached out to try and pull the young man back.

His hand slid uselessly through the boys shoulder and out his back, his grandson already starting a task that he shouldn't have been allowed to do until he had a millennia and a half of life behind him.

"I almost killed myself the first few times I did that." Jareth commented idly from behind Cathal, causing the other fae to twist sharply in place to face him. "The healers had heard that I'd been able to re-grow the limbs of some of the animals my brother would torment and thought that I could do the same for the wounded. No one realized that the animals I'd been healing had no magic of their own to clash with mine."

The older fae hissed in sympathy. "I begin to see the error that placed me within your grasp. Will you be alright?"

Jareth nodded to him shortly. "I'm quite familiar with the effects; you don't have to worry, you won't have to remain here much longer."

There was a slight tensing to the elders' shoulders, but otherwise no other outward sign was given to indicate the sting of the younger fae's words.

For several minutes, neither said nothing, merely watching as a younger Jareth was summoned from sickbed to sickbed, his efforts almost feverish as he tried to save every life he was given.

"I had not realized how much had truly changed since my brethren and I sought refuge in the Above." Cathal finally offered softly. "I'd never imagined that things would degrade to this point. How long was The Falls at war?"

"Was?" Jareth asked with a kind of morbid amusement. "They're still at war. It's going on eight hundred years at this point. Whenever one enemy calls it quits and leaves, another is quick to take the former's place. I hear that the lake the palace sits on is now stained pink from all the blood the rivers feed to it."

The Ancient looked sick at the thought, before catching on to a slight slip of the tongue. "You have shown me war, and the strife in your own childhood, but what do you mean you hear the lake is pink? Surely you've been back to your homeland at least a few times, even if in disguise."

The Goblin King grew very still, and he refused to look at his elder. "I was not just being difficult when I stated that I was not your descendant, old man. When I came of age my father exiled myself and my teacher on false charges. Within a few hours of translocating to somewhere safe outside the borders, I felt the familial bonds I had with my family being severed. By the laws that govern the fae, I am cast out from my kin and thus no longer a son of your line. I'm sorry, but the person you are looking for hasn't existed for quite some time."

Cathal's eyes widened, and his face slacken in stunned disbelief. "It… It can't be. You would have been-"

"Crippled for several days." Jareth finished. "Yes, the backlash was so strong that my teacher feared I was going to die from it. Father had hoped to slow us down with my weakness and kill us. Thankfully, however, one of his enemies chose that time to come out of hiding, and his plans fell through." Jareth finally looked up at the Ancient, his gaze hollow and old. "Even if I wanted to, I can never return to The Falls. The lands' inherent magic would kill me as soon as I crossed the border."

Cathal swallowed thickly, and felt his heart sink at the news. He'd thought that his descendant's stubbornness stemmed solely from his resentment for not being there during his childhood. But this… this was something completely different.

Facing those damning eyes, the Ancient wasn't sure what he could say. He'd known that he'd allowed things to happen, that he'd made horrible mistakes, but the sheer magnitude of what could be placed at his feet broke his heart.


"It's time to go." Jareth said quickly, and just like that, the world melted away.

Blinking his eyes open, the Ancient realized two things. One, he was still sprawled across his rather disgruntled grandson, and two, he appeared to be on the wrong end of an extremely unhappy rose blossom.

"Boy, why is their a large, thorned-flower growling at me?" Cathal hazarded to ask.

Jareth, who'd managed to prop himself onto his elbows, grinned wickedly. "It didn't have thorns before. Perhaps, it doesn't care for you?"

The old fae eyed the furious plant dubiously.

Considering that the thorns were a good three to four inches in length on the vines that were waving menacingly around his face and neck, he wasn't sure how wise it would be to make any sudden movements that might upset the foliage further.

"I don't suppose you'd be willing to call it back, would you?" He asked, hopefully.

Jareth gave a long, put-upon sigh before turning to the rose and cooing. "It's alright, the foolish old man didn't mean any harm; you don't have to be angry." The bloom continued to growl lowly, but retracted it new offensive limbs and seemed to almost sit back and hover near the Goblin Kings head, a pointedly watchful sentry.

Cautiously sitting up and scooting back a couple feet, Cathal watched the protective plant thoughtfully.

"That's quite the guardian you have."

The Goblin King ran a finger along the underside of the open blossom and the growl quickly transformed into a pleased purr.

Jareth grinned at it, as he sat up fully. "It's very much like the person who gave it to me." He answered honestly. "Protective almost to a fault, and yet, still so very gentle when it needs to be."

The old fae could see that. Not only were their no thorns on the main body of the plant (which was still wrapped around the younger fae's bicep), but the newer, thorned limbs, were incredibly precise in how close they would come to the Goblin King's face and neck.

If this accurately represented the gift giver, Cathal was quite certain he didn't want to end up on the wrong side of that person.

"At the fayre," Jareth spoke up unexpectedly, "you knew me, and yet, you didn't know who I was to you."

"No," The old fae agreed. "I knew you were the Lord of the Labyrinth and the Goblin King, but I didn't know you were a part of my line."

The younger fae frowned before asking, "How did you know to find me in either setting? I haven't exactly spread around my name along with my titles, let alone so much as hinted that I have any connection to The Falls. Who told you that I needed help, or even to look for me as the Goblin King?"

"Are you aware that each land has its chosen set of Guardians?" Cathal asked in return. "Creatures that watch and maintain the virtue of those who rule upon it?"

Jareth slowly inclined his head. "I've been aware since I became Lord of Labyrinth. I daresay that I rule over a more rowdy set of Keepers than most."

The Ancient smiled briefly in amusement, before pointing out, "The Falls had a similar set of Guardians. These creatures sent a messenger to find Fionn and I centuries ago, however, due to the nature of the world Above, I and my brethren cannot remain in one place for long, lest the humans realize our nature. That messenger only just caught up with my wife and I a little over a year ago. Upon speaking with him, we found out that he'd been in the Above for so long, without the proper kind of protections, that his sense of time had become addled. He couldn't recall when he'd been sent to find us, just that he had been, and his news was urgent."

The younger fae furrowed his brow at the news. "And once a messenger of that nature is sent, he can't return until his message is delivered. That explains how you knew to look for me as a child, but not as the Goblin King."

Cathal sighed. "As soon as we were given the news, we sought to try and communicate with our Guardians. As the true rulers of our land, we are able to reach across the worlds to hear the counsel of our Keepers. However, they were no longer on the land they were meant to watch over, and all they could tell us was to find the Goblin King, that he knew of where to find our lost child."

"The unicorns," Jareth clarified.

The old King nodded. "Yes. The unicorns have watched over The Falls since before I ever laid claim to it."

"They were the source you told Sarah of earlier. They told you I was the descendant," He realized.

Again, the Ancient nodded. "Earlier, when you left to go to your Lady's aid, I was approached by the White Lady and ask why I had taken so long to heed her summons. In truth, I daresay that the mare was quite cross with me."

Jareth snorted. "If it was she that summoned you, then cross would probably only scratch the surface."

"And why do you say that?" Cathal asked, curious.

The younger fae tensed at the question, and the Ancient frowned.

"What don't you want to tell me?"

Jareth hesitated briefly before, "It was not just my teacher and I that left into exile. During the war, I was given command of a rather large unit of soldiers. When they heard that I had been sent into exile, they gathered their families and followed me. For reasons I can only guess at, my father sent soldiers to ensure my death before my time left in that land was at an end. It…" He faltered briefly, and the old fae realized that he was nervous. "It takes time to translocate that many people and…"

"It's alright," Cathal tried to sooth. "just tell me what happened. I won't be upset."

Liar, the younger fae's eyes seemed to whisper, and the old King felt his heart twist at such a faithless expression.

"The White Lady cursed the land. We were running out of time, and in the last moments she created a barrier with a curse woven into its very roots." Jareth shook his head, as if he was angry with himself. "She barely made it back to the circle before the magic took us. I never had the chance to stop her."

Cathal's eyes widened. "Stop her? Jareth, I love my land and kingdom, enough so, that I left so that it could begin to progress without me and my old fashioned ways to weigh it down. However, if the unicorns saw fit to bring the fates against it, then even I would not have stood in the way of their judgment."

"You would not have stood in the way…" Jareth said disbelievingly. "You speak of loving your land, but I haven't heard you say one thing about your people. I have nightmares about what the people of The Falls are likely having to experience, because they thought that their monarchs were looking out for them and not their own ambitions. I sit in this land, relatively safe, and wonder how many children were forced into a life like mine. Far too young to be in a war, but old enough that soldiers can come to their doors and steal them away from their mother's arms! How many do you think are dead now, Great King? How many do you think lived long enough to see bits of themselves scattered about a battlefield before they died? How many?"

The old King didn't speak, didn't dare say a word in the face of his grandson's grief.

Cathal had not been to The Falls since well before the younger man was even born, let alone seen what this war must have done to it and to those that lived within its borders. Briefly closing his eyes in silent remorse, the old fae faced the accusing and hurt eyes of what he was now coming to realize was likely his only legitimate heir.

"I am sorry." He said softly. "I'm so sorry I let things get this far with both you, and The Falls. I never meant for any of this to happen. When I took Fionn and left, it was so that the kingdom could prosper, so that it could move on and grow. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think this was possible."

Jareth took in a deep shuddering breath. "I don't know what you want me to say to you. Even if I accept your apology, it doesn't change anything. It doesn't just make it all go away."

"No," Cathal agreed. "but it does give us a foundation to start from. Jareth, I don't know what you expect from me, and to be honest, I don't think you do either."

The younger fae flinched and the old King knew he'd hit the nail right on the head.

"I understand you're angry with me, but that can't possibly be all or you wouldn't have cared whether or not I knew The Falls had been cursed, or even what you're life as a child had been like. For some reason you're afraid of me. Why?"

Jareth remained very still, almost watchful, and Cathal felt a short thrill of unease when he realized that, once again, he'd been right.

"That is a very stupid question." The Goblin King answered flatly, and the old fae winced.

"That was hardly just my fault. As I recall, you made the first strike."

"And you threw me against a wall." The younger fae stated shortly.

"You threw yourself against a wall." Cathal rebuffed.

Jareth gave him a pointed look, and the Ancient sighed and muttered, "Alright, I threw you against a wall, but you started it!"

The Goblin King snorted. "Don't you get it? I've survived this long by being too difficult for my father to kill. Every once in a great while he'll send a particularly smart assassin that will be able to track me down to this kingdom that I or even the goblins will need to take care of, but otherwise, nothing has been able to touch me." Jareth closed his eyes for a moment as if the thought running through his head was too painful to bear. "I thought it was safe enough for me to have a family now, that once Sarah was finished with school and was of age…" He shook his head.

Cathal wanted to reach out and comfort the younger man, but had little doubt that the gesture would not be well received. The old King didn't dare delude himself; he knew that although this conversation was now within polite boundaries, it wasn't because Jareth actually wanted to talk things out. Magical backlash tended to leave a person horribly weak, usually for days, if not weeks afterward; and those were the fae of his day.

The only reason the young King was talking now, he knew, was because he literally didn't have the strength to fight.

"It will still be safe. I will make it so," Cathal promised. "Let me help you, Jareth. I may not have been there before, but I'm here now. Please…"

Jareth couldn't deny that some part of him had always longed for some kind of blood family that he could honestly trust. However, past transgressions were hard to forget, and even now, with a chance to have something that he'd longed for as much as he'd longed for Sarah's heart, he didn't know how safe it truly was to take.

"You ask a lot from me." The Goblin King stated softly. "I don't know how to trust someone that should be my family. In my experience, blood is not thicker than water, and is often more akin to poison. What makes you different than them, other than your lack of a desire to kill me at present? What can you offer me that would be worth risking the lives of all those that depend on me?"

The old King felt an solid sense of hope at the younger fae's statement. It wasn't a declaration of undying affection, but it was an olive branch, even if it was carefully hidden amongst thorns.

"I can teach you how to better protect those people that depend on you," Cathal stated without hesitation. "Among the fae of my time, you would have been quite the late bloomer, but the same raw power that was common place then is still inside you, maybe even more so. From what little you've shown me in your memories, you've been taught parlor tricks when you should have been taught magic. I can correct that and give you the means to make your dreams reality."

The Goblin King's eyes sparked in interest, his gaze sharp and calculating. "How cleverly worded," he grinned knowingly. "Here I am, the Giver of Dreams and Nightmares and the Keeper of Wishes, and you offer me my dreams."

"I thought you might appreciate that," The old King stated boldly. "Have we reached an accord?"

Jareth tilted his head to on side, before giving a faint nod of approval. "For now. I still don't trust you, but I'm willing to give you the chance you're asking for."

Cathal inclined his head in sincere gratitude. "Thank you."

The Goblin King snorted as he slowly began to pull himself to his feet. "Don't thank me. If this was just my choice I would have already informed the goblins that you were an unofficial Runner and to have fun."

The old fae frowned, but nodded once shortly in understanding. "Then who am I to thank?"

"Sarah," Jareth answered shortly. "She's let me touch her heart enough times to know that she would be somewhat upset with me if I passed up this opportunity."

"Then I will be sure to give your lady my thanks," the old King smiled.

It really was quite amusing that no matter how much time passed, people would still do the most challenging things for love.

Watching as Jareth took a breath and stood straight, Cathal was suddenly forced to rush forward and grab the younger man as he swayed dangerously to the right.

"Just what exactly did you do to yourself?" The old fae snarled. "Constructs, no matter how poorly put together, do not cause magical backlash like this!"

Trying to will away the dizziness that seemed quite determined to plague him, the Goblin King answered shortly. "They weren't Constructs."

"Weren't…" The old King sputtered. "If they weren't Constructs, then what were they?"

Jareth made an odd, disgruntled sound at the Ancients persistence but answered, "Me, alright. Now would you please stop touching me? I'd rather not have you accidentally rifling through my thoughts again."

Cathal's eyes grew wide, and for a brief moment his jaw slackened in complete stunned disbelief. Then, firmly taking the Goblin King by the shoulders, he spun the younger fae around and gave him a good solid shake.

"You foolish, brat! Do you have any idea how much you endangered your life doing what you did?"

Jareth looked decidedly ill at the manhandling and said nothing. He didn't think the older man would be too pleased if he threw up on his shoes.

Catching the slightly green tint to the younger King's face, Cathal growled in aggravation and forced the younger fae to sit back down, narrowly missing a swipe from an unhappy rose as he drew his hand back.

"Of all the stupid things to do, why did you draw out your secondary animal forms like that? Surely you were aware of what would happen if you didn't dismiss them yourself?"

Taking a few slow and deep breaths in his nose and out his mouth, Jareth waited for his stomach to settle before saying anything.

"I was careless, I'm aware of that."

"Aware?" Cathal asked sharply. "Apparently not aware enough to know to heed common sense!"

"I was using common sense!" Jareth barked back just as sharply. "How was I to know you'd kill them all at once? It's not as though anyone else has managed to do so!"

The old King was once again brought up short as he was faced with yet another instance of exactly how much things had changed since his time.

Reining in his aggravation, Cathal bit back his initial response and tried to view things from the younger fae's perspective.

After a few moments of careful consideration he sighed and knelt down in front of his stubborn grandchild. "No matter how many times you say it, I still find myself forgetting that things aren't what they used to be."

"I've noticed," Jareth said dryly, glancing over the Ancients shoulder and back into the valley. "I'm going to be late," he muttered to himself.

Cathal cocked his head to one side in an eerily familiar gesture as he asked. "Late for what?"

"Sarah," The young King answered honestly. "I told her I wouldn't be gone long. I'm already pushing it as it is. I don't want her to worry."

The older fae's eyes narrowed in suspicion and he asked frankly, "Why did you come out here, Jareth? Surely you didn't expect me to come confront you this soon?"

Once again, the younger fae glanced away from him, almost as if he was ashamed of himself. When he did look back his gaze rested longingly on his Elder's gloveless hands. "I haven't been able to do that for a very long time," he stated softly. "Not since that first time, when I'd accidentally seen my mother's true feelings for me, have I been able to go without gloves." He looked up at Cathal helplessly. "I don't mean to do it; it just happens."

The Ancient felt his eyes widen as he realized exactly what he was being told. "You still can't control it?"

Jareth shrugged. "I can control how strongly I project, but I cannot stop it from happening."

Cathal felt terribly guilty when he realized exactly how much his earlier words must have hurt the young man in front of him. "I'm sorry." He said softly. "I hadn't realized."

"Don't be," the young King offered in return. "I didn't exactly make it easy."

Silence fell between them for a few moments before the Cathal asked, "So what of your Lady? Do you plan to simply let her worry?"

Jareth sighed and laid himself back down along the grass. "There's not much choice to the matter, I'm afraid. Summoning the goblins to my aid, at this time, would only cause me more trouble and I dare not involve my fae subjects. They too, worry greatly for me, and I don't relish the idea of them all rushing en masse to help me with something that will, for the most part, be past within a few hours."

The old King raised a single brow at that comment. "A few hours? A few weeks would be more like it."

The Goblin King grinned from his horizontal position. "I've shocked my system enough this way that I've grown a kind of immunity to it. The worst will be past in a few more hours, and within a few more days I'll be back to perfect health."

Cathal's eyes widened. "Jareth, are you aware of your limits? Can you tell me exactly how far you can push yourself before you exhaust your strength?"

The younger fae seemed slightly confused by the question, and answered honestly, "I'm not sure what you're asking me."

That was… not a very comforting piece of news, the old King realized. "You have never done anything that has left you exhausted? Tired?"

"I raised a mountain once," the young King tried. "However, I wasn't exhausted when I put it back. Winded, perhaps, and a little worn, but hardly exhausted."

"And the mountains ecological system?" Cathal asked automatically.

"Preserved," Jareth answered shortly. "There were small farms located in that mountain, and I hardly thought it fair to destroy them with the higher atmosphere's colder temperature and thinner air, let alone the air pressure."

"How old were you?" The Ancient asked with faint bewilderment.

The Goblin King felt his lips twitch into something slightly cocky. "I hadn't quite reached adulthood, yet."

Cathal put his head in his hands and tried to will away the headache that was trying to present itself.

Well, that certainly put him a cut above the rest. While most of the younger fae of his time could pull off the same feat his grandson had, the vast majority did not have the foresight, let along the power, to protect the ecological system from the sudden change in temperature and even air pressure. At least, not until they were about the age the young King was now.

So, above average power and intelligence.

Cathal could honestly say that he wasn't too sure if he was looking forward to these lessons anymore. The Goblin King, he was quickly finding out, was shaping up to be quite the unruly student. Perhaps it was time to track down his old teacher.

"Your friend that lives in this valley," The Ancient asked. "Is he the one that was your old teacher?"

Jareth closed his eyes and nodded. "Yes. He's also the one that I entrusted Sarah to. Why?"

"Because I think it's time that I meet this saint that has put up with you for this long," the older fae answered flatly.

The younger fae snorted. "And how do you purpose we get there? In case you've forgotten, the process of standing did not work out so well for me the last time I tried it, and translocating is hardly an option if you want me alive when we get there."

Slowly bringing himself to his feet, Cathal carefully came to stand by his grandson's chest and gently nudged him with his foot.

Jareth opened his eyes and shot him a disgruntled look. "What?"

The Ancient looked down at him with amused patience. "If we cannot get there the standard way, then we shall have to do so the old fashion way, wouldn't you say?"

The younger fae's eyes stared at him comically and he quickly shook his head. "No thank you, I think I prefer the ground."

The amusement suddenly became a bit more pronounced. "So it's 'no, thank you' now, is it? My you've become quite polite; any particular reason as to why?"

Cathal could almost see the metaphorical ears slick back at his needling.

"I'm sure you can very well guess as to why, old man," Jareth hissed.

Let it never be said that the Goblin King was not a stubborn creature.

The Ancient suddenly grinned wickedly down at him.

"Here we go, brat."

And before Jareth could try and protest again, Cathal had swiftly knelt down and, gaining a firm hold on the arm that didn't hold a touchy flower, swiftly twisted about and brought them both up to their feet with Jareth leaning heavily across his back.

"Now, I don't think I need to tell you this, but I'm going to anyway." The old King informed his fuming grandson. "You can either help me out, and make this easier on both of us, or I can knock you out, and I can just make it easier on me. Take you pick."

And so, gritting his teeth, when Cathal held out his arm just back and to the side of him, Jareth sighed and lifted a leg so his Elder could get a proper grip to carry him.

Within a few moments, the old King was heading in the direction that younger fae had indicated and they were on their way towards the center of the valley and Aidan's house.

"You know, I really don't care fore this," Jareth stated sulkily. "I feel like an invalid."

"Brat," Cathal said with no small amount of irony, "at the moment, you are an invalid. You are more than welcome to a little help at the moment."

"Regardless," The younger fae bit back stubbornly. "I don't care for it."

No, the Ancient thought to himself, he wouldn't. If Cathal was reading correctly into what his grandson wasn't telling him, then it was very likely that it was the young King sulking on his back who was the one that was usually doing the carrying if the situation ever called for it, rather than the other way around. He had little doubt that it was quite disconcerting for the young fae to be in a position of weakness around someone he didn't quite trust, instead of one of strength.

"Tell me how you became the Goblin King." The old King asked abruptly, deciding to change the subject.

For a few moments Jareth said nothing, and just sighed before, "It's not a nice story. You'd probably be better in picking another subject to distract me with."

Cathal frowned. "Well, I'm not exactly keen on another subject right now, so you'll have to give me an abbreviated version."

The younger man closed his eyes and softly leaned his head against his elder's as he considered the events that had led him to the position he now held.

"After the exile, myself and all those that followed me were forced to wander for many years. In fact, I've only been ruling over the Labyrinth and the goblins for a little over two centuries now."

"Considering your majority would have been at five hundred years, I must confess that I'm impressed you managed to keep that many people alive for that long," Cathal offered.

Jareth smiled wryly. "It wasn't an easy task. My father made sure of it. I can't tell you how many times we almost lost someone to the soldiers that were sent after us." For a second he fell silent and then, "Father must have gotten tired of failed reports, because at that last point, he hired a large group of raiders to do the deed rather than his own men."

"What happened?" The Elder prompted.

"We almost didn't make it." The young King answered softly. "My men and I are good fighters, but we were used to fighting our battles away from any non-combatants. All the soldiers my father had sent previously had been trained with the same ideals we had. You didn't bring an innocent into your battle. It just wasn't done. These raiders, however, were something else entirely."

"They took hostages." Cathal guessed.

"One of the younger wives, and a child." Jareth confirmed. "I have never been quite so angry as I was then, when I saw how terrified they both were." He shook his head. "I didn't think, and, in my anger, I killed the two raiders holding them without any thought for the consequences. Our attackers rallied at the sudden deaths of their comrades, and with all the women and children so close to us, we couldn't fight to our full potential. We started to lose, and with nowhere for us to go, I decided that anywhere had to better than where we were. I gathered as much power from myself as I knew how and translocated us with the set destination as 'somewhere safe.' We turned up inside the Labyrinth."

The old King took in a deep shuddering breath. "That was quite the gamble. You do realize how blessed you were to make it out of the situation you did, considering the method of escape you chose?"

The Goblin King gave an odd, faintly hysterical laugh. "More than you can ever imagine."

Cathal didn't like the vibes he was getting from his grandson, so prompted him to continue.

"What happened next?"

"I, myself, woke up just outside the gates to the Labyrinth and found out from a goblin that I'd basically wished us all away, and that since I was the one that had translocated us, the Labyrinth believed me to be the Wisher." Jareth took a deep breath before exhaling slowly. "I had to Run for my people, and I barely made it within the allotted thirteen hours. I don't know how Sarah managed to do it in just ten."

The Ancient felt his lips twitch. "So, your Lady quite literally beat you at your own game," he couldn't resist needling. "That must have stung."

The Goblin King snorted. "You have no idea. Anyway, when I'd made it to the castle, I found out from the goblins that their King had recently passed, and that because I'd won the Labyrinth, I'd also won the right to be their King if I chose. After a few days of consideration, I accepted their offer."

Cathal tilted his head faintly to one side in thought. "I don't understand; if you had a choice, then why would you choose this life? Surely you could have thought of something else to do with yourself and your people. Why would you choose to be the Goblin King?"

The old fae couldn't see it, but Jareth smiled. "Because I was tried of running and though they are a bit stupid, the goblins are truly creatures after my own heart. Where else would I come across an opportunity where I could find a job that I truly enjoyed and a safe place for my people to live? No, I want to be here, and the Labyrinth wants me here. I couldn't dream of being anywhere else."

Both fae fell silent after that, the only sounds to be heard coming from the very nature around them and Cathal's heavy footfalls as they continued on their way to the center of the valley.

"You know," The Elder spoke up softly, "you weren't completely right, when you said that you weren't a son of my line."

"What do you mean?" The younger fae asked cautiously.

"The laws governing the adoption and disownment of children are very old and very complex. If your father truly wanted to disown you from the whole of the family, he would have had to petition for me to do the disowning. As Head of Family, it is my task to judge whether or not someone has committed enough of a crime as to be completely left without kin. Since I have not received such a petition, then it is very likely that you were only cast from his line and not mine. Although you have been cut from his branch of the family, your roots still lie with me, and I still maintain claim over you."

Almost against his will, Jareth felt something inside himself ease at the news.


It was a strangely welcome concept to him. For centuries he'd lived with the idea that the only way he would achieve such bonds again would be to have his own. Now though, realizing that his father hadn't been able to steal all that he'd thought he had, Jareth could not help but begin to feel oddly at peace with the idea of this pushy old man as kin.

"So what does this mean for me?" He asked.

The Ancient felt an amused smile slide across his face as he walked. "It means that no matter what you do, brat, you're not getting away from me."

Jareth couldn't help himself, he threw his head back and laughed.

Through his mirth, the Goblin King was just able to make out a group of Filbert shrubs not too far away, their grand height allowing them to sway in the breeze like young trees, and if nothing else, the young fae laughed harder at the site of them.

Who knew, that after all these years, things would finally work themselves out.


Tokens of Affection

A Labyrinth Story
by Shinku

Part 11 of 15

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