Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 12 of 24

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The Way Back

"Accolon," the Queen of Shadows called for her chamberlain.

The wizened old man spoke with the reverence of a lifelong worshipper, "Yes, my Queen." Accolon stood at the entrance of her private sanctuary. He, and no other being, had ever been admitted further than the threshold.

The Queen stood before a raised pool, resting her right hand on the dark marble, waist-high rim. Her left hand hung at her side, dripping a red liquid onto her dark gown. Blood and water, he thought, she has been scrying. She turned her icy glare towards him, and spread her blood tinted lips in a satisfied grin, revealing teeth that glowed white in the dim light of the chamber. It was a smile that never reached her eyes, slow and sinister, it looked as though an outside force were pulling her perfect face into the semblance of emotion. Accolon thought it was beautiful, had thought so the first time he had laid his young eyes upon her, in the court of the High King.

"Do you know what I have discovered, dearest Accolon?" Her voice was honey sweet, drawing a physical response from him that should have long ago been impossible.

"No, my Queen."

She chuckled low and mirthlessly, "I have discovered that my poor, pathetic Steward, even after all these years of solitude and exile, has not abandoned his juvenile dreams." She turned from the pool to face him and animatedly laughed, as he had not seen her do in at least a century. The Queen continued, as if she were telling a grand joke, "Still, our dear Jareth clings to the fading memory of his youthful dreams. Never guessing that I am the reason they are now beyond his reach."

"I do not understand, my Queen." Accolon knew he was too bold and shrank back from her. The Queen did not take to uninvited questions. But she did not strike, lifting a slender white hand, still tinted red, to brush a stray auburn curl back into her perfectly coifed hair and looked at him. It was a long stare and Accolon grew increasingly uncomfortable under it, becoming more and more aware of his gnarled bones and twisted features, before she spoke again.

"Ah, Accolon, my mortal paramour, the years have not been kind to you and neither have I." It was a penitent statement, but the regret was not to be found in her voice.

The chamberlain was always quick to defend his Queen, his love, "My Queen, you have been the soul of kind--"

She raised a hand and his mouth snapped shut, "I am only kind when it pleases me to be so, and that is rarely." She looked him up and down once more, "The years are never kind. But come." She beckoned to him coolly, and he was pulled unceremoniously into the chamber with the force of her mighty will. Accolon was gasping for breath as she guided him physically into a decadently cushioned chair. Her chamber, he thought with fear born of awe and reverence, her private chamber, no other has ever entered.

Accolon looked up at her nervously, his breathing still not under control and she grinned at him and tilted her head as she spoke, "Calm yourself, old man. I fancy myself in a kind disposition this eve. You shall have your brash question answered. But I wish to prepare for sleep. I am taxed from my activities today and prefer both of us to be comfortable, for I think you could not stand long enough to hear it." Seeing his nerves had not quieted, she added with an uncharacteristic touch of exasperation, "Accolon, you will leave the room alive! I brought you from the brink of death. You've lived this long in my service, I see no reason to kill you now, when nature will take its course soon enough."

Accolon bowed his head and tittered nervously, "O-of course, My Queen."

She turned from him and glided to her massive, blackwood vanity, perching elegantly before the mirror. From his viewpoint, the old chamberlain could see himself and the Queen's perfect face in the glass. She seemed to be looking far away, perhaps into the veils as she was wont to do on occasion. Her gaze rested on neither herself, nor anything else in the chamber as she spoke again, softly, "Ours was not a pure love, Accolon. Fae love passionately, they love hungrily and greedily. There is lust and vanity. There is domination and subservience, even between our own. I took what I wanted and you considered yourself fortunate to have gained my attention. That is the way of things. That is how the Noble and Ancient Race live and love. The Mother bestowed her highest gifts upon us and all bow to our grace and beauty."

Accolon had heard such speeches many times before and agreed with every part of him. Each day he thanked the gods that he had ever known such a creature as the Queen. He would serve her until his death, and if she would allow it, forever after.

The Queen's gaze returned to the room and met his own through their reflections, "Jareth, formerly First Prince of the Court of the Light, dreamed in slumber and dreamed in his heart of a pure love ever since he was able to dream at all. It was the promise of these dreams that caused him to refuse the Teind and resulted in his exile from the Court of Light," she stopped and smiled, lost in memory of her acquisition of him. Accolon remembered it was a great time for the Court of Shadows. He also remembered that no one save the Queen and the outcast Prince knew what she had done to gain his fealty and bind him to her. She had simply returned with him and proclaimed him First Lord of the Court and Steward to the Labyrinth.

"What a poor boy he was," she continued, not a trace of pity in her tone. "When I received word that He had cast out his heir, I made arrangements to meet the boy on his flight." The Queen smiled at her old victory as she began to take down her elaborately styled locks, continuing with triumph and malice in her words, "Oh, but he was skin and bones from the failed ritual and they had beaten him for his cowardice as he departed. He was ill prepared to battle wills with me, and it was not difficult to convince him he could go no where else but to the Shadows."

Accolon's eyes had shifted from her beautiful mask-like visage to her glorious hair. When she removed the long pins from the coif it had tumbled gracefully to fall inches beyond the floor. The Queen brushed it as she spoke and the ancient chamberlain felt a muscle that should have long been dead straining against its cloth encasement.

"I also convinced the dear, exhausted youth to surrender one of his dreams to me as proof of his fealty and his service to the maze. His was the first dream I took with the Labyrinth, for I transported us both there to perform the rite. By this time, young Jareth was completely in my power." She smiled viciously at her next words, "The only son of my old enemy thought that his dream of that pure love was only a dream of his sleeping mind, but in reality it was both. He was always one to confuse the two. He must have inherited it," she paused for a moment, the fine ivory brush slowed in her hand as her gaze grew distant. Accolon waited patiently, the inner workings of his Queen's mind were not for him to ponder or judge.

A moment later her hand took up again its rhythmic movement through her silken locks, and she resumed as if no time had passed, "The outcast prince unknowingly granted me leave to take a dream of his heart, a dream of my choosing." Her smile grew wider, almost maniacal and Accolon wondered why she did not divulge more of her affairs to others, she seemed to be enjoying it so. But he felt a surge of pride that his Queen would speak of such matters only to him, intensifying the rising tension within. "I took the dream of his love and I took his blood to bind it and I took his memory of that night in the Labyrinth."

Her voice was thick with sadistic mirth and Accolon shuddered fearfully as his muscle strained harder. He tightened his gnarled grip on the plush chair.

"And for all these years," she continued, now beginning to remove the ornately beautiful jewelry from her slender neck and graceful red-stained hands, "Poor Jareth believes his dream has abandoned him and thinks it a punishment for his cowardice. He can no longer remember the contents of his dream and so does not know that it stands before him."

The Queen turned in her chair and removed her richly woven dressing gown, revealing a thin and spidery-black floor-length night shift. The neckline was dangerously low and Accolon thought either the wood of the chair arm or his brittle knuckles would shatter under the pressure of his mounting desire.

Her long hair shimmered, a fiery red in the candlelight. It had wrapped itself about her form when she turned and she pulled it behind her as she continued, her gaze unwavering, "You recall the last of my mortal entertainment, Accolon? Of course you do, your mind is not that far gone. Then you will also remember that I ordered the chit into the Labyrinth after she screeched his name as I broke through her final barrier. I knew at that moment what she was, you see," she began walking towards him and her voice rang with triumph, "she is the love of Jareth's dream. I have delivered her to him, but the dream itself can never be truly realized. Jareth will have her, but how long can he keep her, with his conscience and his guilt, with her pain and her scars. Without his dream, he will never believe that such a lofty ambition as pure and true love can be attained. In his mind, though he may not realize it now, their love is already doomed."

She stood before him now and, with a final satisfied smile, reached up to unclasp her garment. It slithered to the floor, revealing the succulent white flesh underneath. Her body had not aged a day from when he had first seen it in its full glory that day by the well, "I am quite spent, Chamberlain. I believe I will retire." It was a flat dismissal, but Accolon found he could not move from his taut position. He looked at her fearfully, mouth hanging open, not even able to speak.

She slid her gaze down him and back up, her eyes boring into his own and her voice soft, yielding no emotion, "Consider this my final act of kindness to you, Accolon of Gaul." With a swift gesture of her hand his robes tore open down his middle, exposing a withered warrior's body at the ready. She bent forward and brushed a single finger down his extended shaft, catching her nail at the end, grazing ever so lightly. Accolon cried out hoarsely as his withered and useless seed spilled upon his tattered robes and knew no more. He did not see her turn to a basin along the wall and wash her hands of their blood red stain, as he was lost in ancient memories of his love, Morgane of the Fae, Queen of Shadowland.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 12 of 24

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