It has been about 3 years since Sarah defeated the Labyrinth and reclaimed her brother Toby from the Goblin King. Since then, she finished high school and enrolled at a local college. She was a member of a community theater, and enjoyed performing in her spare time. Her Underground friends, Hoggle, Sir Dydimus and Ludu visited her regularly, and they enjoyed swapping stories and playing games until the strain of being Aboveground became too much for the visitors and they had to return home. Sarah had been relieved to learn that The Goblin King had never punished any of them for helping her on her journey. In fact, none of them had come in direct contact with him at all since, a thing that they found odd and even a bit unsettling.
They tried to not mention The King, knowing that saying his name would bring his attention directly to them. They knew even without saying it that he could be watching any of them at any time through his crystals. Sarah often wondered if he watched her, or thought about her. She tried not to, but she couldnt help but think about him.
Sarah had spotted a barn owl watching her several times in the last few years. It wasnt too often of a thing, but when she saw it she would watch it back, making sure it knew that she'd seen it. She felt sure it was Him. She wondered what he was thinking. She felt protected by her words, you have no power over me, and she was careful to speak with caution, not wanting to relinquish her power-just in case he was patiently awaiting an opportunity to strike her down.
Sarah slept soundly most nights, and sometimes she had quite vivid dreams of the Underground. She would dream of places, creatures and landscapes that she had never seen before, and when she described them to her friends she was astounded to learn that what she saw was real. Someone was sending her glimpses of their world through her dreams.
What Sarah saw enticed her. She desperately wanted to go to the Underground and explore the places she saw, and meet the creatures she'd see. When her friends elaborated and spoke excitedly about their experiences she became jealous. Her life Aboveground was drab and textbook in comparison. She would lie in her bed and think about her situation for hours. She felt that it was The Goblin King who was sending her the dreams, and that he was trying to lure her into a trap. Should she venture into his kingdom, she would be at his mercy. The pull to go Underground became increasingly strong however, and her sense of self preservation was weakening. Could she really live the rest of her life Aboveground, knowing there was a whole other world of magic and mystery going unexplored? A world where she might feel at home. A world where she may, or may not belong.
Sarah was asleep, lying comfortably in the dark, a sweet summer breeze wafting lazily through her open window. Her eyes fluttered as she dreamed.
She was in the Underground, riding a beautiful steel grey horse. She was with two women and a man who appeared not quite human-they where more like The Goblin King-a bit too shimmery, otherworldly. One woman and the man where pale blonde with light blue eyes. The other woman had faded strawberry blonde hair. All three wore medieval type garb. She had dreamed of herself with these people before, and they acted as friends. She felt elated as they whipped across the countryside on horseback. Tall grasses slapped at the legs and bellies of the galloping steeds, and the wind whipped across Sarahs face. Strange creatures took flight from the ground as their peace was disturbed by the intruders, gabbling incoherently about the disruption.
Suddenly, the wind picked up, and her horse startled, throwing a buck and then trying to bolt. Sarah settled it, looking about with increasing concern as she saw her companions vanish, leaving her alone as the landscape darkened. Black clouds formed overhead, their movements ominous and quick. She urged her horse forward in an attempt to catch back up with her friends. Suddenly, a rapid, pounding thunder crashed throughout her senses and a voice that she had not heard in three years echoed around her. She paled in fear as it shouted its command. "Sarah, wake up! NOW SARAH!"
Sarahs body jolted as though it had been tossed from a cliff. Her eyes shot open just in time to see a flash of silver in the dim moonlight that came through her window. Instinctively, she threw herself to the side just as it came down, its aim for her heart thwarted. She screamed as it caught her left arm across her bicep, tearing open her flesh before becoming pinned into her mattress. She bolted towards the door but was horrified to realize that it wasnt opening. She heard a masculine cackle from behind her and she turned to face it, bracing defensively against the door. She saw a dark figure standing before her, about 4 foot tall and humanoid in appearance. She could hear it breathing-long, heavy breaths that rattled the air throughout the entire room. Despite its lack of height, it appeared wide and all power. It did not seem rattled in the slightest by her waking. Her heightened senses detected a wet crackle as it slid its tongue across its teeth. It began to sniff the air. "I can smell your blood, mortal..." It rasped, in ecstasy. "The pounding of your little heart will speed things up for me. How quickly your veins will relinquish their essence. A few more cuts-to all of the right places. The floor will be slick with what was once inside you."
"Why?" Sarah gasped. Her mind raced as she tried to focus on an escape. The creature was between her and the window. Her small room left little birth for her to try to skirt another assault. She felt sure that if the creature where to manage to grab her, she would not be able to break away. There was nothing around that she could use as a weapon. She cursed herself for surrounding herself with plush toys and trinkets, as opposed to baseball bats and firearms. There was only...
"You've never realized the power you could hold, you foolish child. You contented yourself with your reclamation of that screaming baby, and left your prize to rot away. No longer, though. Theres someone who will appreciate what you have ignored. I will be kind enough to thank you though, Sarah. Because of you, The Goblin King will finally fall. You have chipped his armor just enough, and your death will leave the opening needed for his kingdom to fall into so much more deserving hands."
Sarahs entire body was wracked with tremors. Adrenaline was surging through her, and her mind was clear. She had one chance. If it failed, it would probably be her end. She sprung towards her mirror-the same mirror from which her friends came to visit her. "I wish I could go to The Underground!" She yelled, as she plunged forward. She hadnt expected it to work-but instead of experiencing the hardness of cold glass resisting her, she slid easily into the other world. She wasted only seconds, before getting up off the ground and running for her life.
Sarah quickly realized that happily, she wasnt in unfamiliar territory. She was right where she had first entered the Underground, near the entrance to The Labyrinth. She headed towards where she first met Hoggle, hoping to find where he lived. She slowed to catch her breath as she looked around the garden, relieved that she could detect no footfalls anywhere around her. There where strange night noises, but nothing that gave away a pursuer. Perhaps she was lucky enough to have lost or deterred him.
Sarah moaned with relief when she finally spotted something nestled into a mound of earth that had to be a home. It was small, but it had a door, and appeared to be someplace a dwarf like Hoggle would be content to live. She made her way around it, and, spotting a small window, peeked in, but couldnt make out anything definant in the darkness. She headed back to the door and, rallying her courage, knocked loudly.
She waited, and waited. Desperate, she knocked again. "Hoggle?" She hoarsely whispered, as loudly as she dared. She heard someone move about inside, as if they were startled, then nothing. Encouraged, she whispered again. "Im sorry to disturb you, but Im looking for Hoggle...I need to know if hes here!"
She heard a disgruntled huff, from whom there was no mistaking. Hoggle was inside. She waited for what seemed like an eternity, and as she did, her fear shifted gears into agitation.
"Hoggle! Its Sarah! What is going on!" She smacked the door hard, several times in a row. Pound! Pound! Pound!
Achieving no result, Sarah made her way to the window, knocking there and glaring in. "Let me in Hoggle! Someone is trying to kill me!"
The dwarf finally responded, but not in the way Sarah would have ever expected. From inside the house he yelled, "Go away Sarah! Ye aint welcome here!"
"What?!" She choked, stunned and distressed. "Is that really you Hoggle?" She couldnt-wouldnt-believe that her friend would turn her away in a time of need. This world was full of trickery, she rationalized-either the being inside wasnt Hoggle, however much it sounded like him, or Hoggle thought he himself was being tricked.
"You heard me." The voice inside said. "I wont help ye. Go away, now!"
Sarah wasnt going to let herself believe that it was really Hoggle sending her away, but her heart was still in her throat, and she struggled to breath. She was hurt, and tears began to trickle down her cheeks. Looking around, she spotted a large clump of brush that would sufficiently hide her from view. She climbed deep inside, and waited exhaustedly for morning.
Sarah was shocked to discover that she had drifted off. When she awoke, it was early morning, and the dark of night had mostly faded away. From her place in the bushes, Sarah could see the house she had been to during the night. She watched and waited until she saw its inhabitant exit. She gritted her teeth. It certainly appeared to be the dwarf who was supposed to be her friend-who had told her that if she ever needed him, just to call. To be sure, she watched until she saw him walk off towards his post at the entrance of The Labyrinth. What in the world was going on?
She stole up behind him. He jumped when she spoke, the girl having successfully come to within two feet of him without detection. "Hoggle!" She yelled.
"Oh, no..." He lamented.
"Hoggle, please!" Sarah grabbed his shoulder as he attempted to scurry away, and moved herself in front of him. "You said that I could call you if I needed you!"
The dwarfs head shot from side to side, searching the surroundings with unconcealed uneasiness. Sarah could feel how jumpy he was. He was like a grasshopper in a jar.
"Hurry up, then." He snarled, grabbing for her hand. She took his and he turned them towards his house. Sarah had never seen him move so rapidly. He flung open the door and they ducked inside. He looked around to make sure nobody had seen them before slamming it shut.
"Sarah, I dont like this one bit." He sighed angrily, shaking his head and keeping his gaze low. "I cant be yer friend no more. So stop callin on me."
"Why?" The dismayed young woman choked.
Hoggle finally glanced up at her briefly, brows narrowed in an attempted scorn, but eyes filled with regret. "I cant be seen with yeh. Yer goin to get me killed."
"Do you know whats going on? Why someone tried to kill me last night?"
Hoggle drew circles in his dusty floor with his worn out boot. "He musta found someone ta do it..." He mumbled, just loud enough for Sarah to hear.
"You do know whats going on!" She accused, eyes flashing. "Tell me!"
To her surprise, Hoggles look turned entirely angry. She had never seen him so dark, so cold. "No, not this time." He growled. "Ill give ye a start, because I did say that Id help ye once-but only if you promise the leave me alone then, fer good! Is that a deal?"
"I dont know whats happening, Hoggle." Sarah said, "But if helping me will put your life in danger, then I would rather you didnt help me. I wouldnt be your friend if I insisted on your help."
Hoggles coldness appeared to disappear for a moment, before he tried to mask back up. "I jus cant be seen with yeh, at all. I dont know who exactly tried teh kill yeh, but I do know someone who might be willing the help yeh. Hes the only Fae I know of in this kingdom besides You-Know-Who. He aint too far from here, only about a days journey, if yeh dont get lost."
He hurridly found a piece of parchment and drew her out a map, explaining as he drew. "Dont talk ta nobody and try not tah let anyone see yeh." He directed. Satisfied that his directions where sufficient, he gave her the map, and a dirty, beat up blanket that he fashioned into a crude cloak using a strip of leather and a belt, so that she could conceal herself. He started to push her to the door, stopping only to scan around once more for someone outside watching. Before he could shove her off, she bent down and hugged him.
"I hope we are still friends Hoggle. If the danger passes, do I still need to leave you alone?"
Hoggle shoved her off. "Just go! I dont have no friends!" He roared. With surprising strength, he hurled her out of his house, into the wild unknown.
Sarah was beyond miserable as the sun summited in the sky and its unrelenting heat baked her. She felt like a mushy, overcooked potato under the heavy brown coat. She dared not take it off however. Her throat and mouth where beyond dry, and she longed for water. She really wanted to be angry at Hoggles betrayal, but she rationalized that he had only did what he did because he was very, very scared. She couldnt blame him for that and still call herself his friend. She herself was terrified. She knew that she would still help a friend, even if it meant putting herself in danger, but expecting the same in return wasnt really fair, in her opinion. To risk ones life was a choice that was up to the individual, and shouldnt be a requirement of friendship.
"He could have still, at least, given me some provisions..." She grumbled, as she stumbled along.
The directions where straightforward enough. The Fae she had been directed to lived just outside The Goblin City. She was to cut a path Northwest through The Labyrinth and skirt West around the city. Continuing North she would eventually reach a small, industrial village, where she would find him. She hoped that she could last that long without water, or find some on the way. She was so thirsty she even thought about drinking out of The Bog of Eternal Stench. She laughed wearily at the thought of trying to live the rest of her life with unbearably putrid breath.
The stone walls turned into forest as she progressed. Fortune seemed to smile on her as the trees provided her with shade, and her ears where blessed with the gushing of running water. Her pace quickened as she tracked the sound. She gasped in wonder as she sighted what she sought. A beautiful waterfall cascaded into a small, secluded lake. She fell to her knees at the shoreline and drank, unable to concern herself with the possible ramifications of drinking raw water. At least it was running water.
She raised her head, eyes closed as she savored the alleviation of her thirst. When she opened them, she screamed bloody murder.
Yellow, bloodshot eyes with inverted pupils bore into her from a pale, milky face. The creature before her was something of a cross between a mermaid and a goblin-slimy, pallid, thin, with scant white hair on its head and pointy goblinesque features. Its teeth and eyes where the most horrifying things about it, however. The intensity of its stare seemed to freeze her in place. It seemed to smile at her, revealing just how long and sharp and purely carnivorous its dentition was. It inched so close to her that Sarah could sense its absence of breath. Then it coiled, and struck.
Sarahs daze was broken as an egg struck the side of the creatures head and exploded in an eruption of shell particles and yolk. She backpeddled away from the water, and screamed again when she felt something grab at her wrist. She struck out at it, filled with panic.
"What, now!" A high pitched, buzzy voice chirped up. "Some thanks, some thanks. You owe me, Kol'ksu bait!"
Sarah stopped running as soon as she felt herself safely enough into the trees. She looked down and spotted her pursuer-a green goblin, a bit larger than a cat, with wide, almond shaped yellow eyes and dark green skin. It was very cute, for a goblin-it had a light coating of course medium brown hair, mainly on its head, and very large, gremlin like ears. It had a large, bulbous nose and large, thick hands and feet supported by stick-like arms and legs. Its mouth was very large and tilted upwards at the corners into a perpetual smile. A few teeth poked over its lips in a slapdash arrangement.
"You threw the egg?" She asked, catching her breath.
"Not threw." It corrected, holding up a slingshot and puffing up its chest as though proud. "Shot it."
"What was that thing?"
"How you not know?" The goblin questioned, narrowing its eyes. "You runner?"
Sarah shook her head. She knew what the goblin was talking about, at least. "Im just traveling through." She explained, hoping it was enough.
"Is Kol'ksu. Not nice kind of goblin. Will eat anybody. Would have liked you, you very big." It rubbed its stomach and laughed. Then it frowned. "Hey now, we both hungry going cause of you. My egg is gone, because I save you!"
"Well you have my thanks." Sarah smiled. "What is your name?"
The goblin began to jump up and down and emitted noises that seemed to be a cross between growling, cursing, and nails being ran across a chalkboard. "Owes me! Owes me!" It shrieked.
"Calm down! Ill pay you!" Sarah shouted. Instantly, the creature stopped its tirade.
"What you give?" It asked, ears tuned.
"First, can you tell me your name?"
The goblin hissed. "Why for?"
"Id like to know who saved my life." She smiled.
"Hmm, maybe. But then, owe me twice, kay?"
Sarah shook her head and turned, starting to walk away. The Goblin shrieked again, grabbing at her, but it wasnt very strong. It smacked her calf with its slingshot, and Sarah, having had enough, snatched the weapon out of her assailants hand.
"Give it back!"
"You cant just attack me, even if you did save me." She scolded.
"I save you, cost me lunch!" It hissed.
"And I said that Id make it up to you!" She said, exasperated. "Please, promise me that youll stop screaming at and attacking me, tell me your name, and Ill give you this back and we can discuss what you want for saving me."
The goblin seemed to study her. "You know King?" It asked suddenly.
Sarahs heart felt like it stopped for a moment. "Uh...not really?" She stuttered. "Why would you ask that?"
"You same kind as King? Have magic? Look most like him."
"You mean, am I...Fae?"
"Fae, yes." It nodded. "So know Fae, at least."
Sarah didnt want to admit that she was human, but she didnt want to lie about what she was, either. She came up with a story.
"Im just not sure." She lamented. "I was hit in the head-I dont remember much at all. Im on my way to visit someone who I was told could help me." She tried to look endearing.
"Hmm, not good, not good for you! Need help, maybe?" It asked.
"Wow, that would be great!"
"Come at price!"
"What do you want?"
"Promise you give? No trick?"
"If I can give it, I will. I promise."
"Ok, ok. The price be...one chicken. And lunch."
Sarah smiled, thankful that the cost seemed to be simple enough. "I cant give you those things now, because I dont have anything with me. I know I can get them back home, though. I just need to get something straightened out first."
The goblins eyes sparkled. "Really? Can get chicken? Hey, you lie...how you remember home?"
"I didnt say I forgot everything." Sarah bluffed. "You have my word Ill do my best to get you lunch and a chicken, as soon as I can." She held out her hand, and the goblin examined it as if it expected to be given something. It looked up, annoyed.
"Im offering you a handshake." Sarah explained. "You take my hand in yours, and we shake them up and down. It means that I mean what I say, and you mean what you say. Like a finalization of our deal."
"Too strange." It grumbled. "Give me shot-stick."
"Never tell!" It hissed, hair bristling. unexpectedly, it scampered off and out of sight.
Sarah signed. Shed been hoping for a companion for the rest of her journey, but she couldnt let the difficult goblin derail her. She continued on her path. Soon enough, she became aware that she was being followed. From treetop to treetop, her acquaintance was trailing her.
"You dont have to stay back you know." She announced, but was met with silence.
A short time later, however, it must have tired of distancing itself, for it came up alongside her.
"Where we going?" It asked.
"Im looking for a Fae who lives in this kingdom."
"Ha! I knew it! You Fae too." It seemed to grimace. "Why not just go? Poof? You walk for exercise instead?"
Sarah groaned. "If I could, I would. We can just say that thats one of the things Ive forgotten how to do."
"Why not try?"
"I wouldnt know how."
"Easy. Just think where you want to be. Then you be there!"
"Well, Ill try..." Sarah said, humoring her tag-along.
"Wait!" It grabbed onto her hand. "No leave Feazle!"
"Aha! Your name is Feazle!"
Feazle screeched and bit her hand with her pointy little teeth. Sarah shouted and tried to shake her off, but the goblin clung on tightly. "Think, think, think, already!" It implored.
"Arrrg, Ive so had it with this day!" Sarah fumed. "What else could go wrong?!" Her emotions swirled within her. She had never, even been under so much stress. Her stomach rumbled, her arm where she was sliced and now her hand throbbed, her feet where sore, and she was hurt, scared, and frustrated beyond belief. She didnt even notice, really, as power seemed to surge from the earth and into her, and her skin began to glow, faintly. She felt something, but she thought it an effect of the stress, sun, and having not eaten. It was almost as though her pains seemed to dissipate, and she was distanced from the restraints of her body. Suddenly feeling a strange empowerment, she tightened her fingers around Feazles knobby hand. She focused on the map, and silently wished herself to the endpoint. Her eyes closed. When they opened, she was facing a village that had certainly not been in front of her before.