Continuing Tales

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 5 of 24

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The Way Back

Jareth allowed himself only a few moments with the peacefully slumbering Sarah before quietly leaving her embrace. He padded to the door as softly as possible, slightly irked at himself for staying at all. He should have begun searching for the answer to what happened to Sarah. He could not let himself get distracted.... He stopped his train of thought suddenly. Distracted by what? Sarah? Jareth stepped through the door, closing it and leaning against the smooth, earthy wood and paused to pick through his constantly roiling emotions surrounding the girl, no woman.

The fearless girl of a decade ago had grown into an astonishingly beautiful woman. Not that Sarah had been unattractive, just so young. He had used her desires against her, but only for the sake of the game. He had never really thought of her in...that way. Jareth let a huff of air escape from his nostrils, the beginnings of a cynical laugh. Romance had seriously been lacking from the Goblin King's life, not unsurprisingly, since he joined the Shadow Court. He was not inexperienced, hardly that. But he was out of practice. And why was he even thinking about romance?

Jareth pushed himself almost violently from the door and began stalking down the corridor. Aidan and Nadia had left. He pushed them from his mind, he would summon them again if he needed to. His thoughts turned back to Sarah. Sarah on his balcony, fighting her weak body for control, determined and proud, Sarah in his bed, smiling sleepily at him, showing concern for him.

He wondered how long that would last when she regained her memories, and knew she would not listen long enough to hear the truth. She would never believe the truth that he had wrestled with his conscience as long as possible before reluctantly deciding to really play the game for the sake of the innocents that inhabited his realm, that he had vomited from disgust with himself after he toyed with the heart of a fifteen year old girl, that he had spent the span of a full night explaining to the guileless Labyrinth why it should take a portion of his own power and channel it as Sarah's, that he had been forced to cut her ties to her friends in the Underground to prevent information from getting to her, that every time he thought of her after her journey he had an tremendous feeling of regret and had to fight the temptation to seek her out, check up on her. Sarah would never believe that his first instinct when he knew she was the frightened creature in his maze had been to gather her frail body in his arms, that his second had been vengeance.

But Jareth knew he needed Sarah to listen to him, to understand these things. What he wanted most was forgiveness. He wanted it for things Sarah had nothing to do with, but he wanted it from her. He wanted it badly. Shaking his head, he kept on walking

Jareth was too old and too experienced to deny the direction in which his thoughts were going. He had reached the throne room, trudging up the dais, he sat heavily on the throne made of carved rock and bone. He hated the damn thing, inherited with the castle and the bloody stupid goblins, it was uncomfortable but he had no where else to go. He needed to get away from Sarah to think about her logically. Jareth put his head in his hands. He couldn't even do that away from her. He had not realized how much she affected him until she was back in his life, and now the stakes were so much higher.

The Goblin King forced his turmoil-ridden mind to focus on what had happened to Sarah. There was no doubt that Sarah was unable to tell him herself, he would have to find the information elsewhere. Jareth would have to go Above. He would have to return to where Sarah's journey began.

The Goblin King closed his tired eyes and reached out for the Labyrinth. He always made it a point to communicate with his realm before taking the power he needed to journey to the Aboveground, to break through the veils. When Jareth made contact with the maze he could feel it was still shaken up by the events of last night. He vaguely wondered why the Labyrinth should care so much for Sarah's well being. It could not be upset by the violence demonstrated on the woman, for its own nature was of a brutal magnificence. Maybe, like Jareth, the spirit revered the rarity of Sarah, recognized that she was important and should be protected. No one else had ever completed the game.

Jareth reassured the Labyrinth that Sarah would be alright, if not now, soon, and tried to communicate the importance of finding out what had happened to her. The spirit seemed to shy away from this idea, nervousness and a slight sense of dread permeated its primitive mind. Jareth wondered how much his realm knew about the matter, but could not ask. The spirit would probably not even understand the question, let alone answer it.

Jareth felt himself becoming frustrated with his ignorance, but did not desire to upset the Labyrinth anymore than necessary. He restrained his mounting irritation, politely asking for the power to cross the veils and sending a message to Nadia, instructing her to return to the Castle and stay with Sarah when she awoke, before cutting his link with the Labyrinth and taking flight. He knew one person might have at least some answers.

The Queen watched the white and tawny owl fly Above and her blood red lips curved into a satisfied smile. It would not be long now. Her Steward would discover his mistress' role in the creature's destruction, she was sure of that. He had never been lacking intelligence, just luck and some judgment. However, his mistakes had been made long ago. She knew him to be wiser now. The Queen wondered if his soul was still that of a pathetic dreamer. She would find out soon, and either way, this game was much more interesting than her last few toys had been.

Jareth flew through the veils between the worlds, Aboveground and Underground. One would think the experience would be like ascension, going Above. In reality, it was no direction. Traveling through the veils was a tricky business, easy to get lost in the haze and mist. Creatures of both worlds' legend stalked unknowing travelers to the present day, making the place that is nowhere their hunting territory, their playground.

But Jareth had traveled the same roads for so long that none would bother him any longer. He used the power taken from the Labyrinth to propel himself into Sarah's world, coming out at one of the sites where the veils become thin, the park where the young girl would practice her favorite lines. He often wondered if Sarah's proximity to such a magically rich place had affected the power of her dreams, if that was why she had been so strong. Jareth knew he may never find out and consciously ceased the buzzing of his mind.

Jareth flew to the house, alighting on the tree outside of Sarah's bedroom window. The window was surprisingly open, but the room itself was dark. Dusk had settled across the sky while he had been in the veils. It cast orange and purple shadows into the room. The Goblin King transported himself the short distance into Sarah's room, changing back into his normal form. As soon as he entered the room he felt another's presence and smiled slightly, keeping to the shadows. It was just the person he was looking for.

"Who's there?" a boy's voice, quavering with fear, penetrated the silence from behind the bed, Sarah's bed. It seemed he had been sitting on the floor, in the dark.

Jareth considered the question and for a moment, and decided not to say anything, for the moment. There was a long silence and then, "S-show yourself," Toby barely demanded and Jareth sighed, he had almost let himself get caught up in the game again. He did not want to frighten the boy into bolting, he needed to talk to him. He stepped forward. The light shifted and now he could see the boy and the boy could see him. Toby's blue eyes widened and he slowly stood up from the floor in shocked amazement.

"You, you're..." the boy began, but shut his mouth with a snap and his expression darkened, "Where's Sarah?"

Jareth was taken aback by Toby's immediate recognition. He, always creative with his entrances, had had a whole speech prepared, but now was forced to improvise. He needed to draw the boy into a conversation, he needed his trust. "It is extraordinary that you remember events of a decade ago, young Toby. I am impressed," he pronounced with a smile.

The boy looked away for a moment, "I don't remember much. But Sarah described you so vividly when she told me the story...I would recognize you anywhere." He looked up again, "Where is she?"

Jareth was once again surprised, this time that Sarah would have wanted to tell the boy about any of it. He assumed she would try to forget, to go back to the normality of Above. He felt no more need for light conversation. Toby looked like a boy who had done some premature growing up, Jareth would be straightforward. "Safe."

"In the Underground?"


"What happened to her?" Aye, there's the rub.

Jareth closed his eyes, "I don't know."

"Oh," it was Toby's turn to sound surprised.

"I was hoping you could help me. Give me information about her, her life, her job...anything." Jareth was starting to loose his control. What if the boy knew nothing?

"You haven't been watching her?"

Jareth felt a jolt of guilt run through him. He should have, he should have damned the Queen before he let Sarah out of his sight, his voice was barely above a whisper, "I...was unable..."

"She's been missing for a year," her brother began slowly. A stab of pain went through his heart at every word as Toby continued, realization coming only too late, "She never forgot the Labyrinth. It stayed with her. I don't remember much about when she was in high school. She doesn't talk about it at all, so I don't know how that was for her. She doesn't keep in touch with any friends from around here though. She studied English literature in college. You know, um, mostly ancient fairy tales, folklore. She didn't want to do anything else. Dad was mad, I remember. He wanted her to be lawyer or go into business. She was valedictorian, she could have done anything. She graduated two years ago and went to graduate school in England..."

Jareth's heart may have stopped, he couldn't feel any part of is body and he lunged forward, violently grabbing the boy by the collar, "England?"


"Southern England?" the horror and dread were rising inside him to the breaking point, he began shaking uncontrollably, with the boy still in his unyielding grasp.

In spite of it all, Toby seemed to be handling the situation quite well. Jareth was detachedly impressed as the boy remained calm and answered softly, "Yeah, she was really excited. I think she wanted..."

Jareth cut him of sharply, letting go of his shirt and raising his trembling hands to his throbbing head. He began babbling, "I know what she wanted... Mother and Light of us all, I was often do I go to that cursed place...and she gets a new toy, more entertainment...but Sarah could not have known...if I had not...but how could I have known she would cling to the Underground? one ever beat the fucking maze!"

"Jareth." He finally heard the boy. It seemed like Toby had been repeating his name for some time. The Goblin King looked down at the frightened boy and found the strength to collect himself.

"I apologize young Toby," he said, "I should not trouble you with such matters."

"What happened to Sarah, Jareth?" the boy was becoming more agitated and Jareth cursed himself for a fool. There was nothing for it, he could not leave the boy like this, and he could not explain what had really happened. That was for Sarah to choose. Jareth pulled a crystal.

"Toby," he began speaking softly, manipulating the orb in his black gloved hand. The boy stared at it first with fear, showing some of his sister's strength, but Jareth continued to intone, "I want you to show you something. But sometimes it's hard to see, so you must come closer."

Toby looked almost like he didn't want to, but Jareth's will persevered and the boy stepped forward, a dreamy blank mask softened his features, making him look younger. "What is it?" He asked.

Jareth smiled warmly, "I will tell you. But you must answer some questions for me first. Can you do that Toby?"

The boy grinned widely, "Of course."

"Why did you come into Sarah's room tonight?"

"I missed her. I come in here almost every night," his voice had transformed to a slow monotone and he swayed slightly on his feet, his whole body relaxed, as Jareth kept the crystal moving in his hand.

"Who am I?"

"The Goblin King... Jareth."

Jareth knew what he would do. It would expend less energy, taking memories was much more difficult than disguising them. "Toby, I want you to listen to me," the boy only smiled slightly. "If you listen, I will tell you what this is. Do you still want to know?"

"Oh, yes"

"Tonight you came into Sarah's room as you usually do. You thought about her, you missed her, you looked at her belongings," Toby was nodding slightly, as if in total agreement, "You fell asleep. You dreamed of the Goblin King from Sarah's story. He was frightening, but you were not scared, you were brave, you demanded your sister back." Toby smiled again at this and sighed contentedly. Jareth finished in a more commanding tone, but the boy did not react, eyes half closed already but still focused on the crystal, "When you awake you will only remember this as a dream of deepest sleep and forget soon after. Do you understand, Toby?"

"Yes, dream...forget...what is it?"

Jareth smiled sadly, "If you turn it this way and look into it, it will show you your dreams."

"Aahhhh," Toby sighed in peaceful understanding.

"Now sleep, my boy, and enjoy the dreaming of slumber," and he collapsed to floor as Jareth winged out the open window. The sky had turned completely dark as the owl pierced the veils.

The Way Back

A Labyrinth Story
by atsuibelulah

Part 5 of 24

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