Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 21 of 24

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The Way Back

Morgane, the Queen of Shadows, seethed in her dark chamber and cursed the day she had brought her old enemy's petulant son to the Labyrinth. But no, he was not out of her power yet. She could still reach the Independent Territories and he would never return to the Light. He had somehow got it in his head that she'd tainted him. He would never think himself worthy of going back. And there was no way he would leave the Mother-cursed girl. He would go back to the Labyrinth to get her, then attempt to get out of the Underground. But he would not find a way.

The Queen smiled, as long as Jareth was still within her reach, she would still have power over him. Just because she couldn't see what he was doing, did not mean that he had won. Her audience had only been the first battle of an infinitely larger war. Jareth would do well to remember that.

She raised a white hand, silently calling her favorite messenger. The raven alighted on her slender fingers and she stroked her familiar idly, thinking on what would be appropriate. The usual grin spread across her face, what better way to provoke her Steward than to take back what she had so generously given him, the thing that he loved best?

Morgane spoke a few short words to her raven and sent it to carry out her dark plans. She gazed after it, seeing far into the darkness, smiling as she thought of what was in store for the little chit.

The crystal moon cast a pallid glow upon the Goblin King's starlit realm as he materialized soundlessly at the rise. He looked out over the wide expanse of stone walls, hedge rows, and dense forests. The usual midnight noises of the Labyrinth were eerily silenced. The entire realm knew that danger was upon them, that change was in the very air. Jareth's marred gaze lifted slowly to the pale light of the castle, a faint beacon in a sea of fog and night.

Jareth thought that it may be the last time he would look upon his realm in this manner. He looked down at his hands. They were shaking slightly and were covered with fresh and drying blood. Jareth felt no pain from the wound, none at all. It had become numb, or he had become numb to it...she could no longer touch him. Jareth tried to repress another grin. It really was an inappropriate time for such humor, but as in the Queen's throne room, he could feel a detached sense of almost hysterical relief flow over him...she could no longer touch him. He was free of her invisible hold, her horrible all seeing eyes.

But Jareth's grin fell as the realization dawned that it wasn't over, that he had done nothing but remove himself from her sights. She could still come after him, she could still harm Sarah. Jareth's irrational trembling transformed into a lengthy shudder, but he resolutely began to gather his strength for what was undoubtedly to come.

He needed to protect Sarah, he needed to get her out of the Underground. This was not her world, it had never been, and she was too good for it. Jareth tried to remember back to shortly after he had been tied to the Labyrinth. The spirit had...communicated to him somehow that there was a way out...that he could escape. At the time, Jareth had seen no reason to leave. He had been made to think that there was no where else for him to go. But now...things were different, very different.

Jareth turned his back on the castle, on the realm, speaking quietly to the empty air, knowing he would be heard, "Show yourself."

There was no answer and his mouth settled into a grim line, "You've shown yourself to her...why not to me?"

Finally a small head poked out from behind a large rock. The little goblin nervously cast his eyes at Jareth and scrambled up on the rock, "Dis isn' really me, Jaweth."

His good eye grew hard and his scowl deepened, "It's close enough. After all these years...why didn't you tell me you could do this?"

The little creature had the gall to look guilty, mumbling uncertainly, "You never asked..."

Jareth's shout could be heard for miles, full of frustration and desperation, and he took an accusatory step towards the increasingly frightened looking goblin "Did Sarah have to ask!"

Suddenly the wind picked up and Jareth fully felt the presence of the spirit of the Labyrinth. The little goblin's eyes now seemed to hold an ancient wisdom and its voice deepened slightly, "There were things Sarah needed to know. You could not have told her. I could not have spoken to her in the way that you and I can speak."

" and I don't speak..." Jareth shook his head, more confused than angry, "Until now, I wasn't even sure that you had enough intelligence to form words..."

His mind turned to when Sarah had said that a goblin knew those things about him. Jareth had known immediately that it was no ordinary goblin. But everything that he thought he knew about the spirit was now in question. What else could it do that he'd had never had any notion of? What else didn't he know?

"This type of communication is by no means easy for me, Jareth. But it is what you requested and it is an easier way to tell you what you need to do."

"And what is that?"

The spirit paused, as if uncertain how to begin, "First, you need to ask yourself a question." Jareth put a hand to his head. Of course, didn't it always begin with a question...whatever is the matter, Mamon...will you be nothing, Teind-player...will you Steward the Labyrinth, Prince you want this gift, Sarah...what happened, Sarah...what do you want, Jareth...

His thoughts were broken by the spirit, "Will you seek revenge, Jareth? Will you seek it as far as a war? Will you seek it to your death?"

Jareth leveled his gaze at the small creature, "I believe that was three questions. And they are all for Sarah. I do everything for her and nothing without her."

He nodded slightly and pulled a knowing smile, "A wise and understandable philosophy, and one that I whole-heartedly agree with." Jareth returned the slight grin with one of his own. He could feel that the spirit knew that there was something about Sarah, something worth loving, worth saving, worth fighting for. And as their gazes met in a silent understanding, Jareth thought that maybe the two of them were more similar than he had ever expected.

Suddenly the numbness that his eye socket had become began to change slowly into a dull throb. Jareth put his hand once more to his wound, pulling away with even more blood upon it. He stared at it a moment, somehow not really sure what should be done.

The spirit broke his sluggish thoughts, "Why have you not yet healed yourself, Jareth? You must keep your strength in tact, you will need it."

Jareth transferred his gaze to the little goblin, his voice again oddly detached. The throbbing was growing stronger. It interfered with his thoughts, "My strength...? I-I haven't any left. I used it to get out...I wasn't thinking, I suppose."

The creature gave him a look full of skeptical concern, "I suppose you were not."

The wound's steady throb was now becoming sharper, more painful. As he swayed slightly on his feet, Jareth closed his eye and thought he probably should have considered the effects of such a deep and penetrating wound before he subjected himself to it. Even during his flight from the court, he'd never been so gravely injured.

After a moment, Jareth heard the voice of the spirit once again, but this time it was even deeper and seemed to be in the very air, flowing and churning soothingly around him, "I can aid you, Jareth, but you must give me your trust. We do not have much time, the Queen may even now be moving against us."

There was little need for deliberation. Jareth knew that this was probably his only hope of escaping alive and with Sarah. He had no other way to her or even out of the Underground, especially with the wrath of the Queen at his heels. He spoke softly to the spirit, not an answer, but a question, "What are you going to do?" He was not about to enter into another blind bargain.

"As I have entered the body of this, one of my many creatures, I can transfer myself to your body, lending you my knowledge and my strength. If you accept my aid, you and I can become one, making our exodus from this world faster and easier."

"Our exodus?"

"I do not like being a prisoner anymore than you do, Jareth. I am no longer used for my original purpose and it sickens me. You have never seen me in my full glory...once I was something to behold. I was the Mother's Stronghold, the High Court of the Earth. I was the gathering place of the Kings and Queens of old and the House of the Mother Herself." The spirit's voice seemed to permeate Jareth's entire body and images of the Labyrinth, the forest bright and lush, the stone white and the castle shining and golden, the tower piercing the sky in an almost blinding radiance.

"The dreams of the mortals were shared, not stolen, and they enriched both worlds. She has twisted me into something I was never meant to be. I am tired of this enslavement, Jareth. Let us fly from her together."

Jareth tried to consider his options. His wound was extremely painful, but he knew his own mind. He could not escape without the aid of the Labyrinth. Jareth's vision blurred as he felt the last of his strength fade within him, but he voiced one more question, unwilling to proceed without the spirit's assurance, "You will not take control from me?"

The spirit smiled almost indulgently and Jareth thought he heard a chuckle, but could not summon the energy to frown. The spirit's voice was soft and reassuring, enfolding Jareth and already lending him some strength, "I will not."

"Do it then. I accept."

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 21 of 24

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