Broken Wings Part 3
Sarah wished she could open the lantern and let the faerie out, or at least hug Jareth closer. Before the light had been a blessing, showing her the way through caves and forests. Now the dark walls around her sucked up the light and muffled any sound, and felt like they might try to eat their more substantial guests.
"Where are we?" she whispered.
"The catacombs." He leaned his head on her shoulder and stifled a yawn. "They run under most of the labyrinth."
She shivered in the cold air and adjusted her hold on him. "Catacombs? Isn't that where people get buried?"
"Shelved, more accurately," he said. "This isn't a place for bodies, though. That's the necropolis."
"Then what's been laid to rest here?"
"Memories." He lay his hand on the wall and ran his fingers along the rough edges of the brickwork. "What the labyrinth used to be, how it began, the lineage of its kings...it is all here, written in relief and painted as gigantic murals. In some corners sculpted statues show each king, each type of inhabitant."
"But how can you tell?" She held up the faerie, who shrieked as the lantern went out into the darkness, but her light disappeared into the wall, giving only a glimpse of a shade of blue and gray. "You can't see anything."
"You can feel it, if you're not afraid to touch these things. The paint has its own texture." A breeze whipped up through the still air, and he froze. "Listen."
Sarah held her breath. Even the faerie stopped chattering.
Vapors rushed past her face and pulled at her clothes as they passed by, breathing in hollow voices.
In the third cycle of being, three days after the black unicorn died, the goblin king shed his skin.
The voices passed. The air died again.
Sarah exhaled. "What was that?"
"Another memory. It happens from time to time," he said.
"You've been down here a lot, haven't you?"
Jareth smiled. "Yes. It tells me a lot about the labyrinth that everyone else has forgotten."
She reached her hand out and touched the wall as they walked and skimmed her fingers over the raised letters she couldn't see. "What did they mean when they said the goblin king shed his skin?"
He closed his eyes and forced his legs to keep moving even though his boots dragged after each other. "I think...I think it means that the earliest of the goblin kings were once goblins themselves. After awhile the labyrinth changed them, made them more like...like I am."
Sarah felt his pace slow down and she hefted him just a little higher over her shoulders. "But if the labyrinth can do so much by itself, why did it need to make a king?"
"In case something like Arin comes around." He gave a weak laugh. "And to bring visitors, I suppose."
"Well, what's the point of having a maze if no one's going to walk through it." This time he couldn't hide his yawn, and his arms relaxed even further.
Sarah shifted his light weight again. "That's it, we need to stop and rest before you fall asleep."
"What happened to throwing me over your shoulder?"
"I practically have." She looked down the hallway and only saw more darkness. "Is there a safe place to stop around here?"
"Yes, in the necropolis. It shouldn't be much further now."
"Necropolis? I thought that's where we were now."
He shook his head. "No, a necropolis is a city for the dead. We are merely in the labyrinth's catacomb now." He opened his eyes for a moment, blinking a few times. "Look, you can just make out the glow."
"Glow..." Where before she'd only seen a pitch black, she could now make out the flickering glow of torches. "Hey, that wasn't there before. We didn't move that fast."
"No, but the catacombs did." With the end in sight, he put a little more effort into his step. "The same way it shortened the distance we had to travel from the door to here." He frowned and looked back over her shoulder. "Odd, though."
"That it moved us so fast. Usually the walk would take hours."
They came to an archway flanked by torches and stepped through, coming into a large domed room. Torches lined the room, spaced evenly both along the sides and up in rows to the ceiling, illuminating the ruddy brown walls and the carved decorative patterns around...she nearly dropped Jareth...around the skeleton filled niches. She looked around the room, and the shelves took up so much structural area that she wondered how they didn't collapse.
"Do you have places like this in your world?" Jareth asked.
She nodded and helped him sit down against the wall. "Yes, but we don't use them anymore. The ones that do exist are very old," she said as he sat down beside him. The scale floating behind them came around and lowered to the ground, tipping one way so that the bubbles could escape before the other end hit the floor. Of no more use, the bubbles scattered out of the necropolis and into the catacombs.
"So is this place," he said. "I think this is actually where the labyrinth started, slowly working its way out, branching in different directions, creating new paths, reshaping itself."
"Then this is the heart of the labyrinth?"
"The labyrinth has many hearts. But yes, this is one of them."
The cold temperature in the air worked its way into Sarah's clothing and chilled her skin. She set the lantern between herself and Jareth and then leaned against his good arm. Neither said anything for awhile, listening to the crackle of lit torches and watching the shadows move on the wall.
"Do you think your sister is looking for us?"
Jareth would have shrugged, but one arm ached and the other lay pinned under Sarah. "Most likely. She's evil but she isn't stupid. That could be why the labyrinth moved us so quickly."
"Could she make it through the catacombs?"
He shook his head. "No. She knows it's down here, but if she tried to walk through, she'd be lost forever. The catacombs would twist and turn and she'd never know it." He laughed. "It'd be damn convenient if she tried."
"So of course she won't."
He sighed and closed his eyes. "Go to sleep, Sarah."
She nodded and lay her head on his shoulder. "Jareth?"
"How will we know when it's morning?"
"Who says it's night?"
"Go to sleep. Tomorrow we finish this." One way or the other.
Sarah woke up with something warm on top of her. When she opened her eyes, she first noticed the faerie still in her lantern and the scale nearby. The torches were still burning. No one else had come in. She looked around at the shelves full of skeletons. Thank goodness, no one had left the room either. She moved to sit straight and lay one hand on something soft.
"Hm?" She looked down and found Jareth snuggled up to her. He had one leg thrown over hers and had spooned his body up against hers, but it didn't look like he'd done it on purpose. "Jareth?"
He shifted, but only to snuggle closer.
He must be used to sleeping in,Sarah thought. "I said wake up," and she nudged him.
"Come on. You're harder to wake up than Toby." She pushed him straight and got to her feet. "What time is it?"
Jareth grumbled something and rubbed his eyes. "How the hell should I know? It's impossible to tell in here."
Definitely not a morning person.
With all the commotion, the faerie woke up and shined even brighter. At the same time she started cursing for the cold and wrapped her blanket around herself again. Sarah ignored her and looked back at Jareth.
"Your face looks better," she said.
"The scratches around your eyes. They're almost gone."
He raised his fingers and felt around his face, then noticed how she was still staring and turned away. "We'd better get going. There's not much time."
"How are you feeling? Has the poison worn off?"
He stood up and moved his good arm. "It's a little sore, but nothing else."
"Nothing else?" She put her hands on her hips and faced him. "Yesterday you couldn't walk on your own."
"I was exhausted fighting off that venom." Jareth walked past her to the middle of the room. "Granted, I'm not going to be leaping tall buildings in a single bound, but I am up to moving around again."
"Leap tall..." She smiled and leaned against the wall. "Jareth?"
"How often do you come to my world?"
He shrugged. "Once in awhile."
"You like the movies, I take it."
Jareth blinked. "How...?"
"I don't think too many labyrinth dwellers know about Superman." She squashed down her smirk as his cheeks reddened slightly.
"It gets boring around here sometimes," he said. "They help take my mind off things."
"Do you just pop into the theater in full Goblin King gear, or do you tone down the clothes a bit?"
"One of my closets makes whatever kind of clothes I need. When I leave, I have the same type of clothes any normal human does. And I only 'pop in' when the room is dark so no one sees me."
Now she smiled. "Well, when this is all over, maybe I could go with you. It's no fun going alone."
He looked down, but the corners of his mouth twitched up. "No, it isn't." He sighed and stared around the floor again. "Are you ready?"
She nodded. "Am I gonna have to lug that scale around again?"
"I'm afraid so. I don't want Arin feeling my crystals floating around so close." He moved to the center of the room and studied the symbols at his feet. "Bring it and the faerie, will you?"
She slipped the lantern over one arm and then hefted the scale up before joining him. "What're we going to do with the scale anyway? Throw it on her?"
"Quiet. This takes a lot of concentration."
Sarah looked at him and opened her mouth, then looked away again. She spotted the faerie breathing in, about to shriek her lungs out, and she shook the lantern so the faerie plopped down on her rear end. Then she noticed she couldn't see the faerie anymore. She looked up just in time to see the torch flames die down to glowing embers and nothing at all. All she could hear was Jareth breathing softly, whispering something, a prayer or spell, and her own heartbeat growing louder in her ears. A breeze blew through her hair, but the whisper of sound only made the silence stronger.
A violet shimmer along the wall caught her attention, and she watched as the torches slowly grew back in strength, this time flaming purple. As the odd shade grew stronger and filled the room, the light literally dripped out of the fire and ran down the walls to the floor, where they lit up a pattern of crevices Sarah hadn't noticed before.
Liquid light filled the symbols and raced to the center of the room, illuminating a set of circles that spiraled inwards until finally coming to rest circling around her and Jareth. The light rushed like water in its canals and sloshed over the edges. A breeze blew in from the catacombs outside, gradually gaining strength. At first it only pushed her hair around her face, but a few moments later it was strong enough to push her one way if she relaxed. Thunder rumbled in the air until she couldn't hear the wind anymore. She looked at Jareth and saw that his eyes had turned purple as well and glowed as much as the torches.
Motion along the wall caught her attention, and when she looked she spotted a skeleton sitting up in its niche, infused with purple light. As she scanned the room, she found that every skeleton had sat up and was now staring at the little group in the middle.
And all at once, they began to sing. The voices reminded her of monk chants, but the sound reverberated and vibrated the walls, and the resultant hum, much like that of a tuning fork, drowned out the thunder, drowned out the wind, drowned out the water light around her feet, drowned out even the singing that caused it, until all of the shadows and violet light and rumbling noise disappeared into one long note, and Sarah wondered if they had really started singing or if they had been singing forever and she just hadn't heard them before.
The light flared up into a star that blinded her, and she closed her eyes.
Someone lay a hand on her shoulder. "You can look now, Sarah. We're here."
She opened her eyes. The necropolis was gone, replaced by a new room with gray stone walls and two large windows. A huge bed sat in the center, with a wardrobe against one wall and a table with a wash basin near the other wall.
"Are we in the castle?" she asked.
Jareth nodded. "Yes. And now I have absolutely no idea where Arin is."
Sarah hefted the dragon scale again and took a deep breath. "Where do you want to fight her?"
"In the Eschler chamber," he said. "But the staircases might not be floating anymore. They might have fallen to the ground by now."
"Only one way to know," she said. "Is there a way there from here?"
"Yes, my room leads to every part of the castle. Arin might not even know the door exists." He walked to the wall clear of furniture, put his hand on one stone and pushed. A mass of masonry slid to one side, revealing a dark staircase.
"Handy," Sarah said.
"Not really. It takes me anywhere, but I have to go through five different rooms and six other magick doors to get back here." He put his hand on the wall and started down. "Let's go before she finds us."
Sarah had just stepped in after him when they heard the bedroom door open and someone come in. Sarah didn't wait to see who it was, as she had a pretty damn good guess, and rushed forward, sighing with relief when she heard the stone door close behind her.
"Don't relax yet," Jareth said. "Hurry up!"
Something heavy slammed against the wall behind them, making the stones shake and mortar crumble off. "Jareth! Jareth, get back here, you coward. I'll flay your skin right off. I'll make your eyes boil in your skull."
The screams grew faint as Jareth and Sarah ran down the steps.
"Can she do that?"
He almost laughed. "Oh yes. That's why we're running."
Inside the bedroom, Arin kicked the wall that would not budge. "It's not fair! It's my castle now. Do as I say." She banged her fists against the door and only managed to dent the stone, not break it. "Stupid damn magick..." She hit the wall one more time, but when she stood up again, she grinned. "Oh...I know where you're going. Oh, yes, little brother, big sister isn't so slow. Your favorite room of all." She hiked up her dress and sprinted down the hall, racing to get to the main room before Jareth and Sarah could.
Jareth slammed his shoulder into the door at the end of the staircase, and it burst open, breaking its hinges and cracking down the middle. A few steps behind him, Sarah panted for breath and shifted the scale in her hands again. The faerie in the lantern would have cursed or yelled, but she'd been thrown back and forth inside the lantern like a ping pong ball, and now she only curled up on her side and wished the spinning would stop.
"Is it still up?" Sarah asked as she looked over Jareth's shoulder.
He nodded and pointed. "For the most part. There are a few more stairs floating around the bottom, but it looks like it's all in one piece. Now, when we start moving through here--"
"Jareth, I can't. You know I can't walk around in this room, not like you can."
"Yes, you can," he said. "You couldn't before because you think too much like a human. You think if the floor ends then you'll fall. You won't. When you come to a ledge, just keep walking without trying to jump. You'll just flip around to the other side, that's all."
"But I'm not like you. I am human."
"You've used my crystals, haven't you? You even broke through one of them before. Just have faith and believe--"
"Jareth! Jareth, where are you?"
They both looked up at the closed door a few staircases above them. Heavy footsteps pounded on the floor as Arin moved around.
"She's in the main hall," Jareth whispered. "She'll be in here any minute. Come on." He motioned for her to follow and started down the first walkway.
"But wait, what are we supposed to do with the scale?"
He stopped and looked at her. "I thought you knew."
"I wouldn't ask if I didn't."
"It's a dragon scale on a griffin's heart. Dragons eat griffins."
Sarah blinked. "But we don't have the whole damn dragon."
"So you're telling me we're about to fight someone who can make our eyes boil and all we've got is a piece of dragon, and it's all supposed to work because the whole dragon would eat a whole griffin?"
He stood up straight and tilted his head. "You make it sound like it won't work."
She shook her head and stuck one hip out. "Dammit, Jareth, if we survive this, I'm gonna--"
The doorknob turned and the lock clicked open.
"Time to move." Jareth walked down the ledge until he reached the very end, then walked over the edge and moved upside down underneath Sarah. "Come on, before she sees you."
She headed to the very edge, but when she looked down, the twenty foot drop to the next walkway froze her stiff. Her muscles tightened and she stopped breathing. She held the scale so hard she wondered why it didn't break in half.
The faerie looked up at the door and saw it start to open, and she remembered the dark sprite that had nearly killed her and the blackened hedges and the dead things they'd had to pass on the way through the labyrinth. She didn't remember seeing any other faeries, and that scared her the most. She looked at Sarah and wondered why she didn't move out of sight. The door opened further, and the faerie started jumping up and down, chattering and hitting the lantern with her fists. Open the door, move, anything, just get out of the bitch's line of sight.
The noise broke Sarah out of her fear. She swallowed a deep breath, screwed her eyes shut, and stepped over the edge.
Her feet didn't connect with anything, and the wind rushed around her as she fell. She opened her eyes in shock, but at least she couldn't force a scream out as she plummeted. The faerie tensed up and just stared in surprise as they went down.
Think of a happy thought and fly,flashed into Sarah's mind, but she couldn't think of anything. She spotted a staircase coming up in front of her, but it was upside down to her.
"Just pretend your going backward," she said to herself. Like you already jumped off, and now you're rewinding the tape. She turned in midair, leaned forward and planted her feet against the cold stone rushing by her.
And she stopped falling. Sarah squeaked when she felt herself stand straight, and the faerie squeaked as well. Sarah looked around. The room didn't seem any different from this angle, except that now she couldn't see the door. Which was probably a good thing.
"Jareth..." Arin stepped inside and locked the door behind herself. "Jareth, are you in here?"
Sarah crouched down and held her breath. Inside the lantern, the faerie wrapped her blanket around herself to lessen her glow. Neither of them moved.
"Oh, I know you're in here," Arin said. "And who was that I saw with you? I knew you must have some help, but a human? Really, little brother, are you that weak now? Did I hurt you so much?" She walked out on the first ledge and gazed down at the huge chamber. "Is the great Goblin King in so much trouble he needs a little girl who probably hasn't turned two hundred yet?"
Sarah frowned. Did Arin think humans lived that long?
"They miss us in the second kingdom, you know." Arin kept walking, moved upside under her ledge and then heading down the wall. "Our family was once great and powerful there. What good is this insane labyrinth you insist on protecting, when compared to the influence we wield amongst our own kind?"
"What good is influence when I have real power in this labyrinth?" Jareth asked, still out of sight.
Arin stopped and looked around, but she couldn't see him. "This is your real power? You can't even face me. And now you dally with humans? No wonder father hated you."
"As I recall, sister, he wasn't too fond of you, either. You're just jealous mother liked me better."
Arin hissed and stamped her foot. "That isn't true. Why would she love a little fool like you?"
"Who knows what went through that woman's mind. But at least she had one."
Sarah could feel the energy crackling through the air as Arin screeched. Dammit, he's just pissing her off now.
"You arrogant weakling..." A bolt of pink lightning zapped against a wall and cut a deep groove into the stone. Another one cut a staircase in half. "I'll fry your skin to a crisp."
"You keep saying that. You haven't actually done it, though."
Arin screamed and leaped from the wall, arms flailing to keep her balance as she flew through the air. Sarah felt something hit the other side of the staircase she was sitting on and cringed. Arin walked up the stairs and stopped at the very top. Sarah looked up and lost all her breath. She could practically see up Arin's skirt. One look down...
Jareth chanced a quick look from the ledge he was perched under and breathed in quick. He could see his sister facing away from him not ten feet away, but he could also see Sarah huddled at Arin's feet. His skin chilled.
Move, damn it,he thought, and he motioned at Sarah to scurry to the other side of the stairs at least. She couldn't see him, since her eyes were shut, but she started to move on her own, backing away along the stairs. The faerie glowed dimmer than an ember and tried to cover that up as well.
Neither of them made a sound.
Until Sarah's foot scraped the stone, sending a bit of dust crumbling away. She opened her eyes and hoped Arin hadn't heard.
Arin grinned and bent over, staring Sarah square in the eye. "Well there you are. Jareth's little pet human, hmm? And what's that big stone he's got you carrying?"
Jareth jumped from his ledge and landed softly on the top of the staircase. Careful to keep his breath hushed, he took each step one at a time so his boots didn't tap.
"Ooh, you have pretty jewelry. Such a little girl to be playing such grown up games." Arin raised her hand and extended it out. "You should've stayed in your world, human. You aren't welcome in this one."
Time slowed. Sarah looked at Arin's hand, saw all the smooth skin and the light creases of the head and life line. The heart line broke off in several places. Her fingers stood straight, without any calluses or scars. But the positioning told Sarah exactly what would happen next.
She's just like Jareth was,she thought. Just as self-centered. Just as powerful even. The only difference is that he was never going to kill me. It's just like fighting him. It's just like fighting Jareth. It's just like before. Another untold danger...another hardship unnumbered...
"Neither are you." Sarah stood up and forced her legs to straighten. "Your evil doesn't belong here."
"You're rather impertinent for one about to die."
Sarah tightened her hold on the dragon scale. He wouldn't have wanted it if it couldn't do anything. "I've fought my way here to the castle, with its exiled king, to take back the labyrinth you've stolen."
Electricity flickered in Arin's hand.
"For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great..." and unborrowed, she thought.
Arin laughed. "You think I'll hesitate with this little show of backbone? You're as pathetic as my brother." She sent the lightning straight at Sarah's heart.
The faerie shrieked, too scared to close her eyes.
Jareth lunged up the last few steps.
Sarah raised the scale just in time to meet the lightning.
At first none of them moved. Sarah had expected the energy to bounce back and strike Arin, just like in all the cartoons she'd seen growing up in the eighties. Jareth couldn't see what was happening, but he knew it had to be rather spectacular to make Arin gape and furrow her brow like a cavewoman. Even the faerie didn't know what to feel, happy to be alive but confused as hell as to why.
Red and pink energy swirled from Arin's hand and poured into the scale without affecting the stone or Sarah behind it. It merely sunk in like going through a doorway. Only about five seconds later did it reappear on the other side of the scale, still sliding into Sarah's heart but no longer as volatile lightning. White light came out of the scale and moved into the human without any pain.
Arin snapped out of her daze and tried to close her hand, but more energy kept draining out. "What the hell..."
Sarah looked up without a smile or frown. "You have no power over us."
Arin opened her mouth but nothing came out.
Jareth chuckled. "It's okay, Arin."
She turned to face him, still losing magick through one hand.
He reached his hand back and thrust it threw Arin's chest, grabbing the stone beside her real heart, and pulled. There was a sucking sound, like a rock coming out of mud, and then he was holding the griffin's heart with blood running down his arm.
"It hurt when she said that to me, too."
His sister collapsed at his feet.
The magick stopped flowing, and the light flowed for only a few seconds more before fading away. The scale turned ashen gray and crumbled in Sarah's hand, and she sifted the ashes through her fingers, letting them fly down the chamber beneath them.
"It's over," she whispered.
Sarah looked at Jareth and followed his gaze to his sister's body. She cursed when she saw Arin's torn chest still rising with each slow breath. "She's still alive?"
"I only took out the griffin's heart." He showed off the ruby in his hand. "Her real heart's still alive and well."
Sarah looked down at the woman at her feet. Already the wound was closing. "Will she have any power left?"
"Oh, no. It's all yours. That's what the scale's for. You have all the griffin's power," he flipped the ruby in his hand once. "Without the little nuisance of the griffin's heart. She'll probably be as vindictive as ever, though."
Sarah closed her eyes and put her fingers to the bridge of her nose, fighting the oncoming headache. What a pain, having to deal with this bitch...even...now...
She stood up straight. With her eyes closed, another sense blossomed. She felt something along the outer reaches of her mind, and she extended out a little, feeling around what she now recognized as corridors in the labyrinth, hidden recesses and underground caverns and forest lakes and cobblestone courtyards...and dead bodies littering the every nook.
"I know how to deal with her," Sarah whispered. She bent and picked Arin up, then turned around and faced the empty space. "So she'll never hurt anyone ever again."
She tossed Arin into the air, where she floated, still unconscious but moaning and moving her head side to side, about to wake up. Sarah raised her hand and summoned a crystal sphere in her hand, letting it grow larger and larger until it could hold someone. She pushed it forward, and it moved to encapsulate Arin's body. Once it had her, it shrunk and crushed her down and shrunk and disappeared, taking her with it.
Sarah breathed out, and her shoulders slumped. "Now it's over?"
He nodded. "Tired?"
"Yeah." She stared at him and blinked. "Now what? You're back, she's dead...what do we do now?"
He gave her a half smile and a tired sigh. "Now...we try to rebuild."
Thick clouds covered the moon and the stars. Sarah and Jareth walked through the empty goblin city with the faerie giving off their only light. Sarah pressed closer to Jareth and watched the shadows move around them. The faerie's light flickered over the broken bricks and burnt rooftops and splinted sticks of what used to be goblin houses and goblin kitchens and goblin beds.
"It feels so lonely," Sarah whispered. "Is anyone left up here?"
He shook his head. "Maybe a few that couldn't run, and she never found. Not many."
"Can we bring them back?"
"I don't think so. Everything has limits." He stared at himself, one arm still in its sling and the cut slowly healing on his other arm. "I won't be back to full power for a little while."
"So what do we do? Will the others come back soon?"
"You mean the ones that ran to the underground? They'll come back as soon as they know it's safe. Ludo's probably telling them now."
"That's fast. We just killed her."
"Yes, but anyone could have picked up the amount of energy moving in that room. I'm sure they're on their way already. The labyrinth is quick to call back its own."
Sarah turned around and looked behind them. "It's not moving at all. It isn't dead, is it?"
"It's resting now." He turned and looked at her. "Sarah, I have to ask you something. The magick that Arin gave you...would you use it for me?"
She tilted her head. "What do you mean?"
"All of this," and he swept his hand around at the labyrinth. "It's too tired to repair itself. I can't even begin to heal it until I'm back up to full strength. But if you gave it just some of what you have...I promise it won't hurt, and you won't lose all of--"
She put her fingers up to his lips, and he quieted. "It's all right. But I don't know how. You'll have to show me."
He smirked. "Did I have to show you how to create a crystal?"
She shook her head. "But I saw you make them. I just copied that."
"Have you ever seen fireworks?"
"Fireworks? You have those here?"
His smirk turned into smile and he grabbed her hand. "Come on. We can do this best from the clock tower."
She smiled and let him tug her forward, the faerie jostling in her lantern. "What clock tower?"
They pulled up short at the center of the goblin city, at the foot of a clock tower that would have been forty feet tall if the top half hadn't been blown off. The face lay on its side a few feet away, the hands pointing at the eleventh hour.
"Are you sure it's safe?" she asked. "It might be unstable."
"We'll be fine." He opened a door on the side and led her in. Nothing like the castle turret, these steps went up in a gradual spire until they both could look out over the cracked top twenty feet up. Sarah leaned over the broken wall while Jareth sat up on the corner and let his legs dangle. "This way we have a decent view."
Sarah stared out over the labyrinth. From here she could see the twisting corridors still standing, the crushed rubble of destroyed paths, burned gardens and even the far wall that circled the maze, charred black. "Just copy fireworks, right?"
He nodded. "Try it."
She raised her hand. A bit of electricity coalesced at her fingertips and sparked out, but it fizzled in the air and disappeared. Jareth opened his mouth to offer some advice, but the look on her face kept him quiet. She stamped her foot and pointed her finger back up at the sky. "Get up there, dammit."
Blue energy shot out of her hand and whistled into the air, exploding in a flash of neon sparkles that drifted to the ground and soaked into the dust. Grass shot up with flowers complete with dewdrops, and one of the broken cobblestones mended.
Sarah spotted the sudden sprout and giggled, jumping up and down while she clapped. "All right, let's rock!" Colors shot out of her, emerald green, ocean blue, daffodil yellow, indian paintbrush red, royal purple, mother of pearl, all streaking through the sky in various directions, north, east, south, west, exploding loud enough to rumble the fragile walls and shake them back into shape. Wherever a glowing ember touched the ground, stones came back together, dried mushrooms or blackened hedges filled out and colorized. The air filled with whistles and Sarah's joyful cries. She sent up white spinners she'd seen at Chinese New Year celebrations, she sent up patriotic red white and blue from the fourth of July. She released Mardi Gras mask designs and unicorn shapes. The sky swirled like Starry Night and oil paint hurled at the stratosphere, dripping water colors back to turn the dust into black mud and swirl something living out of the mix.
All over the labyrinth, in sight and out, blood and bodies sunk into the ground, heading for the necropolis or any patch of ground that seemed comfortable. The walls couldn't reach their previous heights and left their tops unfinished. Gates lacked their usual ornamental knobs and markings. The tiles still weren't turning her lipstick marks, but the tiles were all in one piece now. She fired a huge burst at the dried waterways, like a river from her hand, and screamed for joy when the fountains erupted again, spouting water dozens of feet into the air and splashing down, washing away the blood and burns.
She turned to say something to Jareth, but the look on his face stopped her. He stared up at the colors still blazing in the sky, his mouth slightly open as if he had taken a deep breath and forgotten to release it. His eyes were wide. He leaned forward and scanned the sky for every burst.
Sarah smiled. He looked a little like Toby. Not quite, but a little.
Light erupted, not from her fingertips, but from a far part of the labyrinth. She wanted to take a look and found herself slowly rising into the air, lifted by some pressure under her feet. She gasped and tried to grab something before she rose too high. Jareth's hand closed around hers, but he didn't hold her down. He smiled and pushed her farther until he had to let her hand slip away.
Still letting more fireworks go, sending neon ribbons around the moon, she gazed at the white light coming from the labyrinth itself. She squinted, and spotted the fountain she and Jareth had climbed down...a few days ago? God, it seemed so long. Like a spotlight pointed at the sky, the light began to flicker with shadows as something made its way up the ladder.
Faeries flew out first like a swarm of butterflies, followed by a real swarm of butterflies and then flocks of birds. Sarah wondered how they had flown underneath the ground. Next came fireys, goblins, larger creatures she couldn't identify...and then a few she knew on a first name basis. She counted. Ludo, Hoggle, Sir Didymus, his steed...she shrieked and did a flip in the air. She drifted back down to Jareth, all alone in the darkness of a broken clock.
"They're alive," she said. "Not all of them, but there are so many of them."
He smiled and stood. "Will you stay for the celebration, then? I know they'd love to see you again. They'll all want to know how you did it."
She put her hand on his face. "How we did it."
Jareth shook his head. "No. You're bringing it back."
"I couldn't have known how to do anything if you hadn't walked me through it. Come with me."
"No, they don't want to see me. Besides, I need to return to the castle. There are things I need to start moving again, the water wheel clocks, the scrying pools..."
He looked at her. "You're going to leave again. And I have work to do."
She smiled. "You know something?"
"I know a great many things."
"And for all that, you don't know how easy you are to read." She lifted a few inches off the ground so she could look him in the eye. "You will always be a rotten liar."
"You're going to need help fixing everything, aren't you?" She tapped his broken arm. "And you still have one broken wing. You still need help flying."
"I..." he looked down. "I...are you sure? You have a life outside this labyrinth."
"Yeah, my own little empty house in the rough part of town with my own stalker...oh, and dead rose bushes, too."
Jareth smiled and stood straight. "I usually have climbing roses around my bedroom window..."
She paused. "Our bedroom window?"
"...I will be your slave."
A dull roar built of laughing and cheering grew louder as it neared the goblin city. Sarah smiled at the glow from the faeries lighting the way.
"I don't think we'll be alone for much longer," she said. "Stay here with me?"
"You'll stay beside me?"
"I promise." He looked up again. "It looks like there's a lot of light coming our way."
Sarah grinned and lit a little glowing puffball in her hand. "That's no problem anymore."
"Then maybe we should let our faerie go?"
"Oh!" She looked down at the lantern and the faerie with her hands pressed against the glass, wings fluttering as her sisters approached. "Think she'll bite us?"
"I think she'd rather go and brag to her friends." He undid the clasp holding the lantern shut. "As I think you want to."
"Just a little," she said as she held her arm out. "Ready?"
She wrapped her arm around his waist, about to fly both of them out, but he leaned down and stole a kiss before she could blink. She smiled around it and responded in kind. At the goblin city entrance, the impromptu parade halted as hundreds of labyrinth creatures stared at their cold king kissing the one mortal who'd thoroughly bested him.
Sarah almost broke into a fit of giggles when she heard Ludo speak.
She broke the kiss for a moment and waved. "Maybe we should have just a little more privacy," she whispered. She raised her hand one more time, creating a burst of harmless sparks that spread out from her fingers and widened in circles around them, renewing themselves after every flash so that soon the entire city filled with light while the new queen laughed.
The faerie finally pushed her lantern open and flew out, heading not towards her sisters but instead zooming into the sky, stretching her wings for the first time in days and spiraling loops while leaving behind a glow of gold and pearl. She left the bright goblin city and disappeared into the darkness, trailing light into everything she passed before she circled back, swearing every other minute and giggling the rest.