It has been three years since Sarah defeated the Labyrinth. The time, for her, has flown by as though she where in an unwakable dream state-but not a pleasant wave of dreams where those that involved her, more like steadily climaxing nightmares.
At first, she felt engulfed in a celebratory aura, a radiant glow of self satisfaction and pride. She began to give her childish things to little Toby, and found fresh pleasure in nurturing and protecting him. She began to study harder and, now so much more aware of her responsibilities as a maturing young woman, worked hard to fulfill the expectations she was given. Most of the expectations where courtesy of her stepmother, who pried her way into Sarahs every move. It seemed like no matter how hard Sarah worked, how strict her actions became, and how far she distanced herself from the things she knew displeased her stepmother, nothing ever improved between them. The woman had swept Sarahs father away and as Toby grew older, she seemed to desire to swat Sarah away from him as well. Dark looks ghosted across her face when she watched Sarah read or play with Toby-you spend too much time with him, she says. The books are not appropriate, the toys are not safe, etc, etc. Nothing Sarah did was right. The girl fought hard against the growing alienation she felt. Although she was willing to accept the coldness of her parents, she vowed to always be there for Toby, as much as she could. Now, that purpose was taken away.
Sarahs father was killed in a car crash one night as he and her stepmother drove home from one of their parties. Alcohol had been very much involved, and Sarahs stepmother viciously refused to speak of the nights events with her. Sarah was 17 at that time, and her world fell down as she saw her stepmother selling things off, putting the house for sale, settling all affairs, and began to put Toby in daycare rather than have him with Sarah. She even became openly nasty to her, and seemingly did everything she could to drive her away. Finally, when Sarah turned 18, the stepmother announced her intentions to move in with another man, who had two young boys of his own. Sarah liked the man, as did Toby, but there was no room in the family for 18 year old Sarah.
"You're not coming with us." Her stepmother announced.
"Your father has set you up well enough. You have enough money to get you through college. I suggest you choose a career where you will actually make something of yourself. Not something silly like your actress mother. Thankfully for you, you seem to have snapped out of that strange, unnatural phase you where in, with all the fairy tales and the believing that you where a princess absurdity. Though, as beneficial as that has been to your studies, I'm afraid that it has left you even duller than you where before, socially, though only heaven knows how that is possible. Have you even had one serious relationship? Sometimes I think you might be...queer, Sarah."
Her face puckered with grand distaste. "Yes, I see how you look at the few boys you've brought home. Very uninterested, unattached, distant. Like they are not even considered by you. Its a very strange way for a young girl to behave."
Now, here Sarah was. She had moved out into a small rental home that edged the big college in the area, to which she planned to apply, as soon as she made a final choice in what to study. She had almost nothing as far as possessions went. A few small boxes held all the things she had felt the need to keep. The empty house mirrored the emptiness she felt inside, and she felt comforted by the lack of restraint that came with physical possessions. She knew she was becoming depressed, and it frightened her. What had happened to her dreams?
Suddenly, a scene flashed through her head, one she had not bothered to revisit in this way. It was the final scene between her and the Goblin King. Right after it had happened, she had only bothered to recall the incident for the purpose of appreciating her victory over the powerful, bad tempered villain. Now, it played itself to her as though it had happened only yesterday, but this time, instead of appreciating only what she herself said and did, her concentration was on the words of Jareth.
"Sarah, beware...I have been generous up til now, but I can be cruel...look at what I am offering you, your dreams..."
What had happened to her dreams? Indeed, it had seemed like they had all evaporated quickly after that night. What had happened? Had she given them up, or had the Goblin King taken them from her? She sat silently against a wall on the floor of her house, since her only furniture was a mattress. The thick, musky carpet surrounded her like a field of vivid yellow grass. She leaned her head against her knees and resisted the urge to let her tears flow. What would be the point of crying? Was her trip to the Labyrinth even real?
The image of Jareth flooded her mind. He had been nothing more than an adversary to her-a character in a play, fulfilling the role of challenging her, trying to make her fail. Now, though, her cheeks began to flush at the memory of him. He moved with such a predatory grace, and the intensity of his eyes bore into her so deeply that she felt the urge to look up and around her, as though she where suspicious of being watched. She began to feel strange as she revisited the scene-a way she had certainly not felt while living it. The way he had looked at her...there had been a great sadness in his mismatched eyes. Was it the sorrow of defeat? Shouldn't the final reaction have been one of anger? A scream of rage, perhaps? A tantrum? That would have been what she would have expected...
The playbook. She had kept it all these years, saving it, though never daring to open it, and now a line from it came to her: And the king of the goblins was in love with the girl...
The older Sarah was seeing things that her younger self had not. Had Jareth loved her, or had he been living up to her expectations of him, which where based upon the play?
How could he have taken her dreams? They where hers to begin with, and never part of any bargain that she could remember.
Different flashbacks engulfed her. Each of her boyfriends traveled wearily through her mind in pallid scenes, almost black and white, they where so dull. None of them had really interested her. None of them had offered her her dreams.
Sarah shook her head and a strangled laugh escaped her. She cupped her forehead in her hand. "You're loosing it, Sarah. HE didn't take your dreams. You gave them up. You've got to pick yourself up and move on. And, why would he love you? You defeated him, Ill bet he hates your guts."
She signed, and closed her eyes. A warm feeling spread over her as she thought of the friends she had made during her journey. She recalled her interactions with Hoggle, and wondered how he was doing. She had not seen them since their victory celebration. It had been as though she had felt too awkward to call them again. She wondered if any of them remembered her.
"Hoggle, I wonder how you are doing..." She murmured. "Better than me, most likely. Unless..."
Her brows furrowed as a worrying thought crossed her mind. Hoggle had been the main reason she had succeeded in besting the Labyrinth. What if Jareth had punished him for his betrayal? She suddenly had to know if he was ok. If he wasnt, it would be because of her, and she needed to know. Shutting her eyes and only slightly believing that it would work, she spoke into the empty room.
"Hoggle, I need you."
She opened her eyes. Nothing. The room was as void and cold as before. Nothing stirred about the corners. Silence surrounded her.
Sarah got up and went to one of the few boxes she had. She knew exactly where it was and she drew it out. The Labyrinth...its leather cover felt soft and comfortable in her hand. The book felt almost warm to touch, and it seemed to beg her to look inside. She stood up and walked to the window and slid it open, letting in the heavy summer air. Without another glance, she flung the book into the mercy of the outdoor world.
"Sarah?" A familiar, friendly voice came from behind her. Her emerald eyes shot wide open in disbelief. "Hoggle!" She yelled, and a vivid smile encased her features. "Wow, its great to see you again." She paused. Something was off. Hoggle seemed more slight than before, and much more aged. His clothing was very worn and dirty.
"Its great to see you, too Sarah." The dwarf replied. "I didnt think Id see you again."
"How are you doing my friend?" She asked.
Hoggle looked down at his feet and Sarah sensed a wave of discomfort. "Oh, In just fine, Sarah. Hows about yourself? You said that you needed my help?"
Sarah looked at him with concern and gave him a hug. Hoggle tensed, but then relented, wrapping his arms around her and patting her back. "Just tell me whats wrong, Sarah."
"I didnt call you to help me with anything. I just wanted to see you, and find out how you are doing."
"Is that it?" He replied. "Well. Dont you be worrying about me any. I can take care of myself."
Sarah narrowed her eyes at him. "Hoggle, now I know something is wrong. As your friend, I want to know what it is!" She stood tall and imposing. Her eyes flashed with a determination that had been scarce as of late, and felt good in returning.
"I cant tell you, Sarah..."
"Now Hoggle, dont make me take your jewels again!" The young woman threatened. "I'm your friend, and you WILL tell me whats wrong."
"Oh, all right, but there aint nothin you can do about it. The Labyrinth isnt doing so well lately. Its almost like its falling apart. Its changing in much different ways than it did before, and its making things harder than they have ever been. There are a lot of strange storms and the like. We're all pretty concerned about what exactly is going on."
"Oh Hoggle, that sounds horrible!" Sarah gasped. "Does anyone know why these things are happening?"
Hoggle shook his head. "No, no. Nobody has any idea at all."
Sarah caught his shifting gaze and cracking words. "Hoggle, please dont lie to me if you know."
"Oh, damn." He choked. "I dont want to lie to you, but I cant tell you. Nobody even knows for sure anyway. Its all rumor, no facts to back things up, so I shouldnt even say it."
"What is the rumor?"
"Ah, oh, you arnt going to like this, but the rumor is that you defeating the labyrinth has something to do with things. Now, I know it aint true!" He declared resolutely.
"No...how horrible." Sarah gasped. But, what else could it be? "Has anything like this ever happened before?"
"Never." Hoggle replied. "But dont go blaming yourself for anything now. Like I said, I know this aint because of you! And I am getting along ok. No need to worry about me."
"Hoggle, you are a great friend. Here, I have something for you."
"What is it?"
Sarah reached into one of her boxes and drew out a necklace. It was a large, gaudy thing, full of fake jewels and dangling pieces. It had been her mothers, which was why she had kept it, but it wasnt something she needed. Nothing material was needed.
"Do you like this?"
"Oh, yes. Is it...plastic?" His eyes glittered with piqued interest. He reached out to take the object.
"You can have it then. Here." She looped it on his belt with his other treasures. She hugged him again. "Thank you for coming."
"Anytime, Sarah. And I hope nothing I said upset you any."
"No, Hoggle. Thank you for telling me. I hope to see you soon."
Hoggle smiled, relieved. "All right, Sarah, take care. Call me again soon, and maybe the others, too. I know theyve been missin ya."
With that, he was gone, and Sarah was alone once more. Her mind was racing. She had told Hoggle that nothing he had said had upset her, but that was completely untrue. She was convinced that the problems with the labyrinth where somehow caused by her...and there was only one person she knew who could tell her why, and if there was anything she could do to help. Fear swallowed her whole, and her body felt as though it where traveling down its tight throat. She almost trembled, despite the warm room. She would have to call the Goblin King.
The lights flickered, and then went out. The light of the moon was all that illuminated the room. The vivid colored carpet rolled like an endless expanse in the dark, and her mattress and boxes littered its surface like scattered rocks. A strong gust of wind pushed through the maw of the window, blowing harshly into her eyes, making them water. Her long dark hair cascaded around her face and shoulders and a shatter of coruscation bathed her and the room alike.
There he was, dressed just as he had when he had appeared to her before. This time, though, his face held no hint of a smile. He had an almost strained, worried expression. His eyes where locked on to her. They traveled her entire body. He crossed his arms in front of him as he seemed to suppress a sudden, large intake of air.
"Sarah...you called me." His voice was deep, slow and dangerous. She expected him to move towards her, but he did not. The distance yawned between them. It was almost as though he where wary of coming too close to her. How much power did she have over him? Was HE afraid of HER?
"The labyrinth..." Sarah began. "Whats going on?"
"Now, Sarah." He scolded her, narrowing his eyes. "I fail to see how that is of any concern to you. Is that why you wanted me?" He seemed disappointed.
"It is my concern." Sarah said, taking the initiative to step towards him. "Ive heard that the labyrinth is falling apart, and it might be because I defeated it."
The Goblin Kings features became stormy, but Sarah still caught another, more inconspicuous look, in his eyes, and body language. That same look he had when they last encountered one another...the sad, yearning look-though very subtle.
"Defeating the labyrinth does not destroy it." He replied. "The labyrinth is always changing, always evolving. It is an extension of myself. There is no need for you to involve yourself in my affairs."
"Jareth...that book, where I read about you, and your kingdom-where did it come from? Or, where things in your world shaped based upon my expectations based on what I read?"
The Goblin King looked surprised. "My my Sarah. You seem to have been putting some thought into our little adventure. I must say that you seem much more grown up than when I was last with you-in more ways than just one. Before I answer, Id like you to answer a question I have. Agreed?"
"Alright." Sarah consented.
"How are your dreams coming along?"
"My dreams..." Sarahs eyes dimmed. Jareths' narrowed, and he flashed a look of concern before re masking it. He was discomforted to see the spunky girl suddenly look so sad. It was not what he expected at all. "They are just fine, thank you."
"I dont think you are telling me the truth."
"Are you taunting me?" She asked.
"Sarah..." He could not keep a stoic face. The look he had had as he had pleaded with her to accept his final offer overcame it. He finally stepped towards her, his eyes locked into her questioning ones.
"Why would I be taunting you?"
Sarahs eyes where glistening in the dim light with long retained swells of saddness. She searched deep into his eyes, but saw nothing of what she expected-amusement, gloating perhaps. Instead, her scouring uncovered an alien look that seemed to engulf her completely. It was a...dare she think it...concerned look? Pained? Longing?
"You didnt take me dreams, did you?" She asked.
"Take your dreams? My dear Sarah, never..."
He suddenly regretted the sudden change in his tone, from formal and authoritative to comforting. What was going on here? He had been thinking of Sarah for all three of those long years since she had refused him. He had rehashed their encounter again and again, cursing himself endlessly for doing this wrong, and not that. The truth was that he was deeply in love with her, and he knew he could never forget her. He had watched her through his crystals and had felt every pang of her sorrows. He had never meant to fall in love with her. It had crept up into him as she made her journey. The ball illusion had been where he had first felt it...or was it when she had been so bold as to tell him his labyrinth was a piece of cake? As he watched her struggle in the Escher room, he knew his heart had gone to her. He had never encountered anyone so determined and fierce, yet compassionate and evolving. This was an event that would only happen once in his long life. His heart had given a part of itself to Sarah, and she had been completely unaware. Her absence destroyed him.
"I didnt think that was it." Sarah said, bringing him out of his painful thoughts. "Well, Ill answer as truthfully as I can. Theyre a work in progress, I guess." She smiled faintly. Hey, what was she doing? Smiling at the goblin king? Acting reassuring, as though he might be upset that things where not going well? "Now, please answer my questions..."
"You are much more polite since I last met you." Jareth seemed to tease. "What must have happened in these three years?" His cocky demeanor seemed to return. "Are you sure you want to know these things?"
"Very well. Its simple really. The books are created by the world I live in. They are dispersed into the human world in order to help draw people in. The Underground selects the people who find the books for reasons beyond my knowing. Ive never seen any of the books, but I know that they are reflections of truths. They outline a story that is to occur. Therefore, your expectations more or less reflect our reality. I hope this makes sense."
Sarahs mind reeled. That would mean that what she had been wondering about was true. Jareth was in love with her.
"The books can see into the future then?" She asked, her voice slightly unsteady. She couldnt help but notice now, all that she had missed before. How intoxicatingly handsome Jareth was. She had never met anyone even remotely like him, and had never felt an intensity like she did now, with him in the room with her, watching her. It was as if the room was vibrating with a warm pulsation. She felt an urge to wrap her arms around him. If he had loved her...did he still? Was that something she wanted?
"The book tells the story. That includes the ending." Jareth said, cautiously. "How did yours end?" His voice was almost a whisper.
"When I...got Toby back, and came back home."
Jareth raised his head slightly, and his eyes flickered briefly skyward before he resumed his forward stance. "That would be the anticipated ending to such a tale. A happy ending."
Before Sarah could think better of it, she spouted, "Is it?"
Was this really happening? After all this time...so little hope he had held of her ever calling him, of him ever having another chance to win her. And now, here she was, setting up the perfect opportunity for him to try again. He crossed the rest of the distance between them, and put a hand on her shoulder. His other hand slowly reached around her waist, and he drew her close. It was similar to how he had held her while they where dancing. He longed to dance with his Sarah, in more ways than one. She was not only his perfect match mentally, and everything he wanted in a queen of his kingdom, but she was stunningly beautiful. The years she had been gone had been incredibly kind to her physical body, refining her face and filling her out in all the right places. Perhaps, his heart need not be forever broken...and the years of pain had paid off well...
"It was not such a happy ending for me." He replied honestly.
"You didnt get Toby."
"Sarah, I have forgotten about Toby."
"The labyrinth is crumbling...things arnt the same..." She pressed.
"Indeed, things havnt been the same." He tried to calm his ever increasing heartbeat. Sarah remained in his arms, and their gazes where matching in intensity. He couldnt believe how nervous he felt. He had never been nervous before in his life. The sensation was new, unfavorable, and terrifying, yet somehow also exciting and enticing.
"The labyrinth can be repaired..."
To his surprise, Sarahs hands wrapped themselves around him, one over his arm around her waist and the other around his waist. He was filled with the longing to kiss her, and touch her...to love her in every way that he could-but he forced himself to retain his composure. To come so far, and then to lose her, by acting out of control...it was not something he thought he could bear.
"In not sure I can do it alone."
"What are you saying?" Her eyes searched his.
It was no time to hide. What needed to be said, must be said. "I love you, Sarah. I want you to come back to the Underground, and be my queen."
"Your queen...Jareth, why me?"
"You do not think yourself worthy?"
"I beat you...shouldnt you hate me?"
"You proved yourself to be my equal. You awaken in me things that I never thought that I could feel. You are good to my subjects, as I sometimes arnt. Ive thought about you every day since I lost you. I want you beside me. I cannot rule alone much longer. For me, there is nobody else but you. You are determined, strong, independent, intelligent...and of course I can not leave out, stunningly beautiful..."
Sarah felt her face flush. She couldnt believe that defeating Jareth would cause him to feel so strongly about her. Although not at the time, Sarah was now recalling how attractive the Goblin King was. Not just physically, but everything about him drew her to him. For all that he had done, he had never been truly vicious to her or anyone else. He had never sent Hoggle to the bog, though he knew he was helping her.
"Jareth, Id like to give it a chance..."
Jareths heart soared. He had never dared to expect a quick agreement. His own dreams where being given to him, after such a long stretch of nightmares. Unable to restrain himself any longer, he kissed her. Sarahs breathing quickened as their lips met and their bodes pressed close together. After all of the akwardness she had felt in her prior relationships, this was completely different. She was drawn to him, not just physically but mentally. He facinated her, and her heart felt as though it where being squeezed every time she heard or saw him, or even thought about him. She cared deeply about him, even though she couldnt pinpont why, and she still felt slightly vulnerable around him. Despite this uncertainty, in order to avoid the possible cost of breaking his heart, she was willing to offer him hers.
Their kiss deepened, and he parted her lips with his tongue. Sarah responded, her mouth opening for him and embracing the connection. Her own tongue ran itself along his as she sought out her own connection into him. His hands began to caress her body. She wore only a tank top and loose fitting, comfortable pants. Jareth longed to remove his gloves so he could fully feel her glorious body, but now was not the time. She was not yet his. He broke off the kiss. He hated what he had to say next. She was not going to like it.
"The underground is not a place you can just go to, and then come back. A human can only stay there a day before a choice must be had. To stay forever, or go back home. After the day is over, you will be bound there for the rest of your life. If you marry me, you will become like me-immortal, and able to create and control magic, including the labyrinth. I must warn you, forever is a very, very long time-and you will never be able to return to earth in your natural form, unless you are called. Your life here will be over."
Sarah had already been expecting this sort of ultimatum. There was only one thing...
"That would mean I would have to leave Toby."
"Yes, unless you wanted him to come too."
Sarah laughed. "After what I went through to rescue him from you?" She teased lightly.
Jareth pretended to look offended. "I acted only to please you, my love." He grew more serious. "You will be able to see him...either through the crystals, or in an animal form that you will eventually be able to take to visit Earth. If you need to talk to him, you can visit with him through his dreams-and, of course, if he says your name, you can go to him."
Sarah nodded. That was enough. "All right Jareth." She breathed.
"I need to hear you say it, then."
"I wish to go with you, to the Underground."
He stepped back, away from her, and held out his gloved hand. Sarah hesitated for only a moment, glancing around the threadbare room, and at her scattered, loosely packed boxes, none of which held anything of much importance to her. "Goodbye, Toby." She whispered. "I'll see you again soon-I promise." She took Jareths hand and he led her over to the open window, where the breeze snaked in and the landscape outside was no longer that of Earth, but of the Underground, at the place where the Labyrinth of the Goblin King spread out over the miles before them, crowned at its horizon by the looming, thorny castle. The false light of the room was replaced with the coppery glow of the Underground as their cross over was complete.
"Ziv!" Jareth summoned.
"Ziv?" Sarah asked questioningly. Jareth gave her an amused glance. "You'll see."
The young woman gasped as a large creature sailed across the horizon and landed beside them. It was larger than any horse, its size more that of a small elephant, and its pointed head, a combination of horse, hippo and bird of prey features, towered above her atop a serpentine neck. In some areas, like its face and legs, it was scaled, but most of its body was covered in strange, fur like feathers. Its wings where a cross between those of a bat and a bird, leathery at the tops and becoming increasingly feathered. Its colors where slightly more vibrant reflections of the prevailing colors of the land, black, grey, and rust. It wore an ornate headpiece complete with leather reins as well as a long, flat, padded saddle situated between its wings, which was studded with elaborately accented silver rivets and dazzling drops of crystal. It rumbled approach fully as it eyed its summoner.
"Do you like my pet?" Jareth asked as he studied her reaction. Sarahs eyes where wide, but not with fear. She found Ziv to be amazing. Where there any limits to the things that existed in this world? She wondered.
"Hello, Ziv." She smiled at the creature, and approached it. She held out her hand, intending to touch it. Suddenly, Ziv reared its head back and made a quick, bark like noise. Out of its mouth shot a white, foul smelling gust of powder that coated Sarahs face and body in a fine dust.
"Ah! What the hell!"
Jareth laughed. Sarahs face became red as anger coursed through her. "Is this a joke? You have brought me here to be tormented, havnt you?" She fumed.
Jareth quickly stopped laughing and his tone became serious. He walked up to Ziv and grabbed one of the reins. "Is that torment Sarah?" He asked. He used his free hand to brush some of the offensive dust off of her face. She backed away, scowling.
"Oh-it stinks!" She raged. She brushed as much of it as she could off of herself. It was all over-her clothes, her face, her hair. It was not very visible but it could be smelled very strongly. It was nothing compared to that from the bod of eternal stench, but it was similar. "You dont seem to be upset that he did that."
"Ziv is not used to you. I am the only one to ever ride him. He is a proud creature, a lot like you." His voice was tinged with fondness. "Dont tell me that you always take immediate liking to everyone you just meet."
Sarah sighed. She was still angry, but there was no point in losing her head at this point. This was Jareth, after all. A bit of laughter at her expense was certainly not out of character, and she vowed that given the opportunity, she would have one at his to make up for this. She just wasnt sure yet if he was someone worthy of her trust...and her life. She supposedly had a day to decide if she was going back. She decided to test his sincerity, before she offered any more of herself.
"If I decide I dont like it here...you said that I have a day to go back."
A wave of panic ran through Jareth. He would have never thought that such a small prank would make the Sarah he loved want to head home so quickly. She really dosnt trust me... He thought. And I certainly cant blame her. You are going much too fast...
He dropped the rein and tried to hold her, but she maintained separation, her stance aggressive and confident.
"You have 24 hours. No more, no less. Any time you want to leave, all that you have to do is wish yourself back. There is nothing that will force you here in that time." His heart was hammering at the thought of losing her now, of having to wait, alone, on the off chance that she would call him again...he wondered how honest he should have been with her. Why where only clear truths coming from his mouth? He had never had a problem with deception before...yet, he refused to consider it with Sarah.
To Jareths surprise, Sarah smiled as her anger seemed to evaporate, though not completely.
"All right, then, Jareth. So, is it a bad thing that this pet of yours dosnt seem to like me?"
Jareth narrowed his eyes and pursed his lips. "A bad thing would be if he disliked you. Things tend to go much worse for those he dislikes. He can breath fire, you know."
"Lovely." She retorted. "Thank you for showing me this wonderful creature."
"Like I said, he just isnt used to you. If I remember correctly, you dont have too much of a problem making friends my dear. There is much to test you here. You remember that, right?"
Sarah nodded. "Yes. Everything is a test. Just like it is Aboveground. I shouldnt have gotten so upset."
"Well, Sarah-it is important to keep your head. Though I dare say that you are captivating when you are angry."
As are you, when you are being an asshole... Sarah thought, but didnt say. She knew that Jareths assured demeanor, cocky, rough around the edges attitude and playful sense of humor where part of his strong attractions for her. She had to admit that now, thinking back, she sort of enjoyed the idea of always being slightly on edge, of never knowing quite what to expect. A competitive urge began to swell within her, and it awakened her mind to the challenge of matching wits with the king.
"Dont push it." She mumbled.
Jareth recollected his creature. "Come on, then." He led it over to Sarah. "Hop on."
"What? Are you crazy?"
"I figured that this would be the best way for me to show you my kingdom. Ziv is a marvelous flier, and there is so much to see. You will be ok, love." He reached for her hand, and this time, she let him take it. "A short ride today." He scrunched his nose. "Training Ziv, I myself ended the day smelling as you do now many times, so I am used to it, but its still not the redolence of a perfect evening. I trust you must be open to a bath and change of clothes."
"All right." She agreed. He led her over to the creature and gently slapped its chest. Obediently it lowered its body to the ground and he gracefully swung himself into the saddle. Reaching down, he pulled Sarah up.