Looking down at the stone floor Sarah Williams closed her eyes and drew in a shallow breath. It was hard to concentrate with the room falling apart around her, and with the Goblin King staring at her so intently. His pale eyes filled with a mixture of sadness and wanting. She could almost feel the feathers of his cloak brushing against her skin. I can never remember that line! She thought swallowing a lump. She looked up at him, her lips parting slightly to plead with him; he didn't need her brother. Could she fight him? If he tried to keep Toby she would fight him. Her eyes took in the Goblin King's build, he was slender but there was a confidence in the way he held himself. He has magic, she reminded herself, he is too powerful! A small smile tugged the corner of her lips, no he didn't.
"You have no power over me." Her voice echoed through the crumbling room, the Goblin King withdrew the proffered crystal and tossed it into the air; a look of defeat and disdain etched upon his handsome face. In the blink of an eye the Goblin King had disappeared, his clothes folding in upon themselves and fluttering like curtains in a strong breeze. Sarah held out her hand as the crystal floated down towards her, it was soft and light as it touched her fingertips and stared in amazement as it burst like a bubble.
The floor beneath her feet fell apart, she began to descend at an almost lazy pace. I won? She thought almost giddily, she had defeated the Goblin King. Exhausted she closed her eyes and waited for her feet to touch the ground once more. She found she didn't mind if her feet never touched the ground again, she would be content to simply float. No, Toby. She reminded herself, she had not gone through all that to leave him so she could float in nothingness. Toby. Her brother's face filled her mind and she suddenly found herself back on solid ground. The clock behind her began to strike midnight and she blinked in a daze. Was she home?
"Toby?" She called darting up the steps and to her father and step-mother's room, for a split second the cot looked empty, but she saw her brother beneath the white blanket as he turned over in his sleep. Maybe it was a dream? She thought as she tucked Lancelot under Toby's chubby arm and brushed a lock of his soft downy hair from his forehead. Even if it was a dream I will never take you for granted again. She wanted to pick Toby up, to hold him close and kiss his soft cheeks. But she knew waking him would not be a good idea. "I'm sorry Toby," she whispered, "I promise from now on I will protect you." She vowed.
"Perhaps you should not make promises you cannot keep?" The voice was cold, taunting and slightly menacing. Sarah's hands gripped the edge of the cot and her breath caught in her throat. Downstairs she heard a loud BANG and she turned startled, rushing past the Goblin King she sprinted to the top of the stairs and gasped at the sight below. The hallway was in utter chaos; the grandfather clock was on its side, tables were shattered and fragments of broken vases littered the floor. "Toby!" Turning she rushed back to her father's room, she was terrified the cot would be empty and the Goblin King gone. But he stood beside the cot looking down, his expression soft. Sarah studied his outfit, it was the one he had worn when he had first taken Toby. A glittering black cloak with a high collar, black leggings and black shirt. The shimmering didn't distract from the threatening ensemble, rather it made all the more threatening. "What are you doing?" Sarah moved to the other side of Toby's cot and gripped the edge, she wanted to grab him and run. But where could she hide?
"I have come to claim what is mine." The Goblin King's voice was soft and low, as if he was concerned with waking Toby.
"Sarah! Are you home?"
"Do not answer." The tone was menacing and Sarah looked at the man opposite her fearfully.
"Toby is not yours – you have no claim to him."
"No. Not to him, but I do have a claim upon you."
"What's happened?" Her step-mother's voice was shrill and panicked. "Toby! Sarah!" In the cot Toby slept on peacefully.
"He will not wake until after."
"After what?" Sarah hissed, "I beat you! You have no claim to Toby nor me – you have no power over me." This is a nightmare, she told herself, a final test!
"This is not a test Sarah. You belong to me. You defeated me and won back your brother – but that does not change the fact that you belong to me."
"Sarah!" The handle to the door began to turn; the Goblin King held out his hand and time seemed to freeze. Outside even the branches were still, there was no rain pounding on the windows nor the sound of the wind whistling through the air. The door had opened but only partially, a thin strip of light spilled into the dark room. Despite her fear Sarah approached the window and pulled back the nets, she stared in amazement at the raindrops suspended in mid-air.
"I don't understand," Sarah whispered turning to face the Goblin King. "I beat you." His face was soft, tender and even a little sympathetic. There was no hidden malice behind his pale eyes, he held out his hand and Sarah half-expected to see another crystal. She was surprised when he tossed the object to her, almost dropping it as something wet and sticky hit her palm. Wiping the palm of her hand on her jeans she held the soft orb with her other hand and inspected what she held.
"A peach?" She asked, a hint of sarcasm in her voice. She looked at it again and saw that someone had taken a bit out of it. Me, she realised feeling sick. I took a bite out of it.
"Have you ever heard the myth of Persephone?" Numbly Sarah nodded.
"But it is just that – a myth," she whispered almost pleadingly.
"Myths hold some truth to them, where else would they come from?" He was suddenly beside her, the leather of his gloves were cool against her suddenly hot face. She felt as if she were standing in a furnace, the room began to spin and she knew it wasn't because of his magic. "The food of the Labyrinth is binding. You ate this peach and bound yourself to me."
"I didn't know," she whispered, "you planted this…drugged it!"
"I knew I was in danger of losing you. It is true, I did put a spell on this peach hoping it would keep you inside the time limit. But I knew even if you did win the Labyrinth then you would still be mine."
"This isn't fair!"
"Sarah," his voice was sharp, "I would have thought you would have outgrown such childishness. You knew the Labyrinth was not what it seemed – you should have known this peach was something more." He pulled her close, gathering her beneath his cloak.
"Toby," she whispered looking back towards the cot.
"Will be safe. I have no claim upon him." He reassured her, but Sarah couldn't help the hot tears spilling down her cheeks.
"I can't leave him –"
"You have no choice Sarah." His cloak was surprisingly soft and comforting. It was as if he had wrapped her up in a thick duvet, "I want what is mine." Sarah felt herself tugged down into the warm darkness, she tried to free herself but after battling her way through the Labyrinth she was exhausted; both physically and mentally.
"You have no power over me," she mumbled sleepily as the Goblin King leant down to slip one hand behind her knees and scoop her up into his arms.
"We will see," his lips were soft and cool against her cheek.