Continuing Tales

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 10 of 14

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Twists of Fate

Vincent froze in his tracks as a faint sound reached his ears. After his brush with the oubliette, he had managed to reach the Fiery Forest with relatively little mishap. He had called out for Sarah, but quickly gave it up as a hopeless task, considering he had no idea how large the forest really was, or how far he had been misplaced from his companion. Not only that, it had taken him close to an hour to get to where he was, and she could have been at the castle already, for all he knew.

The noise came again, closer. A yell and crash, and all of a sudden he was surrounded by five large, flame-red...creatures...with lean bodies and wild eyes. They circled him, leaping and dancing, and whooping loud enough to wake the dead.

"Hey! We're wild!" one of them screeched. "Who're you? You ain't no human, man!"

Vincent drew back, offended. "Of course I am," he replied. "Just because I look different makes me no less human for that!"

They laughed at him. "You wild, man? Take off yer head an' shimmy down!" And with that, the largest one pulled his head off and threw it into the air as the others all laughed and yelled. Another one pulled of a leg and hit the first one's head like a baseball, and they all yelled some more.

Vincent watched all this with horrified fascination. **What manner of creatures are these?** he wondered. Then a memory surfaced. Fierys. They were the Fierys Sarah had warned him of.

"Hey, man! Take off yer head and get down wit' us!" one of them screeched at him, and leaped onto Vincent's back with a sudden movement, skinny hands grabbing his head and attempting to twist it.

"Stop it!" Vincent growled, reaching around and throwing the creature from his back. It squealed as it flew through the air and landed in a tree a few feet away.

"Hey! Why you do dat?" another one accused. "You broke da rulez! You can't do dat!"

"C'mon! Get 'im! Take off 'is head!" yet another cried, and they began to advance on him.

Vincent drew himself up and prepared for defense. He didn't want to hurt them, but he wasn't about to let anybody remove any part of his body. "That will be quite enough!" he snarled, showing all his teeth. "I do not have time for your games!" He drew in a deep breath and let it out in a feral roar that immediately sent the Fierys shrieking away into the forest. He watched them go with a grim smile. Apparently, courage wasn't one of their strong points.

With that problem taken care of, Vincent once again started jogging along the path at a steady pace, his breathing deep and unlabored. Twice, the ground shifted under his feet, and he sprang away in the nick of time to keep from falling down the long shaft to the oubliettes that waited below. The wall of the Labyrinth eventually came into view again, rising high above his head, and he paused to search for a way through it. It looked like the only way past was to climb it, and so climb he did, his claws working well to hold a solid grip between the stones. In no time at all he reached the top, and before him stretched a long maze of stone and mortar, with the gleaming castle of the Goblin King rising high above it all.

* * * * *

Sarah made her way cautiously through the hedge maze, still hardly believing her luck. She did not remember the Labyrinth being this easy to solve the last time! Which made her twice as leery this time around, every nerve in her body just knowing that something was about to happen, even though nothing did. She found herself almost running, hoping to reach the castle before her luck ended.

All too soon, she found herself at the boarder of the junkyard, and she stopped, trying to catch her breath. Several huge piles of junk shifted slowly as the owners of them toiled under their burdens, adding more to them all the time. Sarah picked her way through them, recognizing one of them as the same Junk Lady whom she'd met before. She shivered and hurried past, feeling the dead eyes of the goblin burning into her. The junk people terrified her. She had nearly become one of them, still remembering the feel...that terrible the Junk Lady loaded more and more onto Sarah's back...If it hadn't been for Sarah finding that book and remembering...

"Don't think about it," she muttered, sprinting the final stretch of junk- covered land to the main gates of the Goblin City. There was no resistance. In fact, there was no guard to resist, so she simply pushed open the gates and squeezed through. The inner gates stood open, but immediately began to close. There was no giant robot in the doors, however, and she darted through them before they fully closed.

The city was deserted, but for the numerous chickens and scrawny cats. Just like last time. She hesitated, her heart pounding in her throat as she strained to hear some sign of the vanished goblins. There was nothing. "Okay," she muttered, her expression turning grim. "This is it. I might as well go for it now, and get it over with!"

With that thought in mind, Sarah drew in her breath and took off in a sprint toward the castle, expecting an army to leap out at her at any moment. She wished she had a stick or a rock, although neither of them would probably be effective against guns and cannons. She ran until she could hardly breathe, and soon the castle was before her, its empty courtyard stretched out as though waiting.

She slowed to a halt when she reached it, breathing hard. It was around this area when Jareth's army had attacked last time, driving Sarah and her friends back into the city. But nothing happened this time, and she was beginning to feel confused. Did Jareth want her to lose or not?

**What if time ran out?** she suddenly thought, feeling panic rise up. **Maybe that's why he hasn't come after me...because it's already too late!** No, that couldn't be it! It hadn't been more than seven hours, if even that. At least, that's how it felt to her...but time did play funny tricks on the mind in the Underground...

She hesitated no longer, sprinting up the steps and shoving the doors with all her might. They opened with a heavy groan, just enough to allow her to slip through, and she pounded up the stairway which, if she recalled correctly, led to Jareth's throne room.

She had expected to find it empty. Which was why she nearly yelled when she raced into it and nearly tripped over a goblin sleeping in the middle of the floor. From his place at the fire pit, a very dirty Jacob looked up, and his eyes lit with joy at the sight of her. "Sarah!" he cried, leaping up and throwing himself into her arms. "You came! Now you can play games with me!"

"Sarah?" came another voice, and Wreath appeared from another stairwell. "Oh, thank heavens!" she gasped, running and throwing her arms around her friend. "I didn't think you'd make it here in time!"

"What? And let everyone get turned into goblins? What kind of friend would I be?" she teased. Then she turned serious. "Where's Jareth? I would've expected him to be here to confront me. Or is he waiting in the Escher Room again?"

"He's out there," Wreath replied. "Turned into that owl and took off. Probably to check up on Vincent."

"Vincent!" Sarah gasped. "I half forgot about him! We were separated. Do you know if he's okay?"

"Aye. He's fine. I've been watching you both through Jareth's crystal. Quite an entertaining sight." Wreath chuckled as she gestured for Sarah to join her at the window. Jacob went back to playing with the goblins, as they were far more interesting than a couple of girls.

"So how are you?" Sarah asked in concern. "Did Jareth hurt you at all?"

Wreath let out a peal of laughter. "Hurt me!" she giggled. "Girl, he's been on his feet all day, what with running back and forth between the two of you out there. Of course, he's been checking in on you far more than he has been Vincent..." She trailed off with a sly grin. Sarah coughed uncomfortably and didn't reply.

Wreath frowned at her friend's refusal to take a hint. She decided bluntness was probably her best bet in this matter and, luckily, she was very good at being blunt. "I saw you both fighting off that WolfBane creature," she stated. "That was quite the bravest sight I'd ever seen in me life. You had the chance to escape, and yet you went back to save him. Why is that?"

Sarah blushed. "Like I told him, it wouldn't have been very appreciative of me to just leave him there. I had to save him. It was only right," she muttered.

Wreath snorted. "Please, girl! This is me you're talkin' to! I saw the entire fiasco, and you didn't see the look on Jareth's face when he blinked out of here like his tail was on fire! He was terrified for you, girl. Terrified." She paused and shook her head. "Not only that, but I saw the look on your face when you defended your Goblin King after he defended you. That was not the act of a woman paying off her debt toward an acquaintance. That was the act of a woman defending the love of her life! It's the exact same thing I myself would do for my Vincent. Defend him to the death," she replied sternly. "You may have fooled yourself into believing it wasn't anything but compensation for his help, and maybe you even fooled him, but you can't fool me, Sarah Williams. I know better! You're in love with that Goblin King, or I'm a goblin!"

"Really? You don't look much like one," she retorted weakly.

Wreath sniffed. "You're a coward," she stated. "You're afraid of what may happen should you actually tell Jareth how you feel. But he loves you! He's always loved you, only you're too stupid to see it! But I tell you, if Vincent looked at me with half the love Jareth shows whenever he looks to you, I'd die the happiest woman in the world!"

Sarah bristled, leaping to her feet and standing with her fists clenched at her sides. "And who are you to be calling me a coward?" she snapped. "You're just as cowardly as I am! You never told Vincent how you feel about him!"

Wreath winced. "That's because I know he doesn't love me," she replied calmly.

"*How* do you know that? You never asked! Maybe he does love you, only he isn't telling you because he thinks you don't love him! You'll never find out for sure if you don't tell him."

Wreath regarded her steadily. "You're probably right," she replied after a moment. "I never will know. But I'll make a deal with you. If I take your advice and tell Vincent that I'm in love with him, will you finally go to Jareth and offer him your heart? He may be an overbearing egotist, but I bet you'll be making him happier than you've ever seen him, and all those dreams you've told me of will come to an end. I think your happiness is down here, in the Underground. Don't you see? It's Fate! If you hadn't tossed out that book, it never would have come to Vincent, and if he hadn't found you, you never would have been there when the Goblin King came, and you wouldn't be here now."

Sarah froze, her face draining of color. "But...but I don't love him," she replied in an unsteady voice.

Wreath grinned and picked up a small frame laying on the sill. Sarah accepted it and looked at the other girl curiously. "Look at this," Wreath told her with a hint of a smile playing on her lips, "and keep telling yourself those words. Maybe, in time, you may actually start to believe them!" With a wicked smile, she stood and sauntered over to the other side of the room to check on Jacob.

Sarah watched her go, her head spinning in shock. Then, almost against her will, she turned the frame over so that it lay face-up in her lap, and there was Jareth's face, staring grimly out of the painted canvas that the frame surrounded, his eyes boring into Sarah's own, as though demanding her to listen to Wreath's words. She stared at the beautiful portrait for a long, silent moment. Then, with a force of will, slammed the picture face-down on the windowsill so hard that she heard the frame crack. She sat there, staring into nothing, as she thought about the past...and the future.

* * * * *

The Lady listened with half an ear as Wreath spoke to Sarah, smiling to herself. She had known Wreath would know what to say, and she could see that Sarah was being swayed by her forceful words. Now, if only Wreath would take her own advice...

"All in due time," she whispered to herself. "For now, it is nearly time for Vincent to come to terms with his life, and I must help him do so." She banished the glowing light through which she'd watched the two women and turned back to Vincent as he rested briefly with his back against the wall. He did not know as of yet, but the gates of the city were just on the other side, past the junk yard.

"Rest yourself, brave Vincent," she whispered, "for soon you will be facing a challenge that is far greater than any this Labyrinth could provide you with. Hopefully, through it you will come to see the path of your future."

Vincent raised his head suddenly and looked about, his blue eyes searching, as though he'd heard her speak. With a sigh and a slight shake of his mane, he rose gracefully to his feet and started off the opposite direction of where he was supposed to go.

She frowned. "Wait!" she called, forcefully, and he paused and yet again looked about, his brow creased in perplexity. "Not that way," she whispered in his ear. "Go the other path. You must, if you are to arrive. Trust me. I will guide you..." She drifted ahead of him, still speaking softly, and he began to follow her, his blue eyes still searching. She led him down the path toward the castle, confident in her ability to lead him through safely.

Suddenly, Jareth appeared before her, and from the look in his eyes, the Lady knew that he could see her. She paused, startled, wary. He glared at her, and behind her Vincent growled softly and took a defensive stance. "What do you want, Goblin King?" he snarled. "Get out of my way!"

Jareth smirked, but he ignored the man, focusing his attention on the Lady, instead. "Cheaters are not tolerated in my kingdom," he told her softly, dangerously. "There are rules to be followed, and I have the power to banish those who break them, should I so choose. I am grateful for your warning of the WolfBane, but I will not allow you to help this man through the Labyrinth."

Vincent stared at the Goblin King, perplexed, but he seemed to realize that it was not he to whom Jareth was speaking. He waited silently as his rival continued to speak, apparently forgetting all about him...

The Lady drew herself up. "There is more to this than even you realize, King of Goblins," she told him sternly. "Allow us to pass, or I will be the one to call upon the power I possess to banish *you*!"

He laughed. "And how, pray tell, do you intend to do that?" he sneered. "The powers of your realm are not what they should be in this one. You are no match for me should I choose to call upon *my* magic!"

The Lady smiled a small, secret smile. "No, my power alone is not enough to banish you from my sight," she replied with a touch of amusement. "However, when I have the powers of Fate and Destiny to guide me, they are more than a match for any who choose to interfere, and you are doing so at the moment. Time is running out...for all of you. Be gone from my sight, and let us complete our task in peace."

She gestured, feeling a new strength that was not her own flow through her, and Jareth's face registered shock for a moment before he suddenly disappeared into thin air, as suddenly as he had appeared. She nodded silently, and turned to face Vincent, who was staring at the area Jareth had occupied with a stunned expression. She smiled. "Come, dear one," she told him. "Time flies, and you still have much to accomplish. Continue on."

Vincent shook his head, then sighed and began to jog along the path at a fast pace, and the Lady guided him with silent hints and subtle suggestions. She stayed with him until they reached the junkyard, and there rose the gates, once again closed. "Now, you must do it on your own, for I have other matters to attend. But I will return at the proper time," she told him, and vanished. He paused, sensing that the strange presence at his side was now gone. Then, with a determined air, he sprinted toward the gates, ignoring the calls of the strange people who drifted between the piles of garbage, all bearing heavy burdens of their own. He felt victorious. He was almost there, and time had not yet run out. He could only hope that Sarah, wherever she was, had been just as successful in her own journey.

Twists of Fate

A Crossovers Story
by Stormlight

Part 10 of 14

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