All activity within the Goblin City came to a halt as a part of the archway fell to the ground. The citizens stared in awe at the large boulder that was now lodged in the stone archway of their city. Their attention then quickly turned towards the small group who had run into the city only moments before. The small group came to a stop in front of the city fountain.
Chantal bent over, hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath. Stephanie hung onto Jareth, slightly forward, while he leaned against the fountain, breathing hard. Hoggle had collapsed to the ground by Chantal's feet.
"I told you...not to...touch...that leaver," Jareth said in between breaths, he half glared at Hoggle. Hoggle remained silent and only scowled back.
"Do you make up these traps or do you get ideas from endorsements?" Stephanie asked.
"I decided to use what was left in my city, when the idea came to me." he replied.
Serek let out a small chirp, but Chantal ignored him as she still tried to catch her breath. Serek nibbled on her ear, then Chantal felt something poking her left shoulder blade. "Not now Serek.." She broke off as she turned to look up and him. There were a dozen goblin guards surrounding them, their spears pointed towards the group. "Uh oh!"
Stephanie looked up. "We have company." she said as she tapped Jareth's shoulder.
Jareth stood up straight and looked at the group of semi armored goblins and let out a low growl. Even with the girl on his back, his demeanor was still frightening. The goblins took a step back, but didn't back down. "What do you think you are doing?" Jareth snapped at them.
"You are trespassing into the Goblin City," One of the goblins standing in front of the Goblin King replied.
"I'm the King, you fools."
"Not any longer," the goblin told him, pointing his spear towards Jareth. "Off to the dungeons with you."
Jareth let out another low growl as he took a step forward. Chantal rested a hand on his arm and shook her head. Stephanie exchanged a look with Chantal, she had an idea. "Take us to your 'New King'," Stephanie spoke up. "We would like a word with him."
The goblin exchanged a quick look with another, then he shook his head. "We can't do that. Trespassers have always been taken to the dungeon."
"Are you sure that is what the new king wants?" Stephanie asked.
The goblin thought for a moment, he discussed the situation amongst the group, then nodded. "Alright, follow me," The leader of the goblins said and led the way across the city as the group followed with the goblin guards in tow.
Jareth's lip was still curled. "Just wait until I get my throne back," he murmured under his breath. Only the girl upon his back heard him.
"Don't worry," Stephanie whispered. Though she had no idea what they would do once they got into the castle. Maybe they would be able to convince this "New King" to give Jareth his throne back. If that didn't work she had no clue what they could do. Jareth was now nearly as powerless as the two girls.
The group was led through the city, passing by rough looking houses and buildings. Hoggle seemed to be right about one thing, everything in the Underground did look like it was falling apart. They approached a large building connected to the castle that seemed to be built right into a side of a cliff. Two goblins in armor, leaning against the wall of the buildings, stood watch at an entrance. The lead goblin called out for the doors to be opened.
"Yes Captain!" one of the goblins acknowledged as he jumped up and ran to open the doors. The two large metal doors swung open with relative ease, revealing only darkness within.
The second goblin guard brought over a lit lantern and handed it over to the captain. The Captain took the lantern and entered the dark building. The flame of the lantern wasn't very bright but it gave enough light to see where the party was going. Jareth was the first to follow the captain, then Hoggle and Chantal in tow, followed by eleven other armored goblins.
Chantal reached for her pack to pull out a flashlight, but as she did she was poked by a goblin behind her with his spear. "Oww!" Chantal exclaimed with a wince. She rubbed her arm where she had been poked as she turned to glare at the goblin before she continued to follow Jareth and Hoggle.
They followed the Captain down a long dark hallway until they reached a stone stairway leading upwards. Jareth stumbled a few times as he climbed the stairs. Carrying Stephanie all this way was starting to take a toll on him. "You can put me down Jareth," Stephanie told him. "I'm sure I can walk on my own now." Jareth nodded as he stopped to let Stephanie off, but as he did the captain turned and yelled at them.
Jareth grumbled as he repositioned Stephanie and continued walking up the stairs. After a few more minutes of hiking up the stairs, they reached a landing with a doorway, wide enough for one person to pass through at a time. As they passed through the doorway, they found themselves in a long hallway that went both to their right and to their left. The Captain turned right and walked down the hall, the others following. A few moments later, they turned left, down another hallway and continued on their way. They did this several more times.
Chantal sighed as she wondered if the captain even knew where they were going, or if he was just leading them around in circles. The goblin Captain then came to a stop in front of a large decorative wooden door.
"The King's Study," Jareth murmured.
A goblin raced around the group from the back and opened the door, as the other goblins completely surrounded the group. The Captain entered the room and cleared his throat. "Trespassers entering the City who wished to see you M'Lord," the Captain said as the goblin surrounded group entered the room.
The figure sitting at the desk looked up. Several maps sat on the desk and it was obvious he had been looking them over. "Umm...alright." he told the Captain as he got to his feet and walked around the desk to meet the newcomers; he was dressed in the same fashion of Chantal and Stephanie's realm.
Jareth stood facing the New King, with Stephanie still on his back; who only blinked at the dark haired figure. Chantal and Hoggle stood behind the Goblin King, out of sight. The New King waited for the goblins from the front to move away from the group before approaching Jareth. Jareth then started to snicker, for the New King was shorter than he; Jareth stood at least two heads taller. "So you are the 'New King'," Jareth said with a sly smile.
"And you must be Jareth," the New King replied. "The goblins warned me about you."
The sound of the voice hit Chantal like a spark of lightning in the back of her head. Her eyes grew wide in recognition. She pushed past Hoggle then tried to look around Jareth. "Paul?" She asked as she pushed her way around Jareth and passed the goblins that tried holding her back.
The New King's eyes grew wide. "Chantal?"
Jareth turned and looked at the twenty-year old girl. "Do you know him?"
"Yeah, he's a friend." she told him.
Jareth was astonished. The girls and their acquaintances, keep showing up in his realm and turning it upside down. Figuring how made his head ache. He sighed. Stephanie smiled when she realizing that it was someone that could be spoken to.
Chantal turned to face Paul again. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm not exactly sure where here is, other than it being a castle," he told her. "But I found this clear crystal and when I touched it, I suddenly found myself here."
"Hmm...that sounds familiar," Stephanie said from atop Jareth. "At least that makes more sense to how Bianca came to the Labyrinth." Jareth looked up, a bit confused. "Paul, Bianca and I all live in the same city." she paused. "Jareth you can put me down now."
"About bloody time!" the Goblin King said with a grin and he crouched down to let the eighteen-year old slide off. She landed on her feet, her legs felt like jelly for a moment, then she walked up to Paul.
"So this is Paul," she said with a smile.
"You must be Stephanie," Paul said with a smile as he extended his hand to Stephanie. She took it and they shook hands.
Jareth cleared his throat. "Excuse me?"
"Oh! Sorry Jareth," Stephanie told Jareth then glanced back at Paul. "Paul, would you mind helping us by giving Jareth his throne back? We are kind of running out of time."
"Indeed! The day almost seems to be done and I should be getting back home," Paul told her. "Is there a time difference here? Does it flow faster out there?"
"You would think with a Fae realm that it would, but it doesn't." Chantal told her friend.
"And I was only able to spare my masking abilities for the girls, having no knowledge of you, someone might have noticed that you've gone missing," Jareth explained.
Paul raised an eyebrow. "Interesting. I would be interested in knowing more about this place."
"I'm sure you would. However, could it wait? My thirteen hours are nearly up," Jareth said impatiently.
Paul looked over at the Goblin King, a bit confused. "How so?"
"I only have thirteen hours to claim back my throne if someone takes it over. Now, I need to get to the throne room. A little help please?" Jareth asked motioning towards the goblins blocking their way out of the study.
"Oh, of course," Paul said with an understanding smile as he turned towards the goblins. "You may leave now." The Captain took a look at the group, but then turned and directed the rest of the goblins to leave the room. Once they had all left the room and not a sound could be heard from them, Jareth headed towards the door.
"Come on, we don't have much time," he barked at the rest of the group and strode out of the room and down the hall. The rest of the group followed quickly.
"Where are we going?" Chantal asked and Serek chirped from her shoulder.
"To the throne room," Hoggle answered her. "He has to touch the crystal that is embedded in the throne to be recognized as King again."
"That makes sense," Stephanie said just ahead of them. She was walking quickly to try and catch up to Jareth, though she still had the marks on her thumb from the tentacle tree, she was visibly back to normal. A tad weak, but normal. Hopefully he wasn't going to wait until she made it there.
They approached an archway with double doors that was swung open wide, Jareth quickly entered the throne room and strode up to the large gleaming obsidian chair that sat against the back wall of the room. Torches were already lit. It didn't looked like a throne for a Goblin King, nor did the room looked that it was made for goblins. It was deserted and didn't looked touched. Jareth sat down, placed his right hand over the crystal that was embedded in the arm of the chair, and closed his eyes.
Both Stephanie and Chantal stared at the Goblin King. They had been expecting something like a glowing light or a humming aura to welcome the rightful king back, but there was nothing. They felt nothing. The room stood silent. Were they too late?
"It's not working," Stephanie breathed to Chantal who turned and looked at Paul, he was standing there calmly watching Jareth. He turned and looked back at Chantal and shrugged his shoulders. Chantal's heart dropped. Had they gone through all that for nothing?
With that thought, Jareth suddenly opened his eyes and stared right past the two girls. Stephanie twirled around and looked at the wall behind them. She touched her friend on the arm and pointed at the clock on the wall. The hour hand sat pointing straight up, while the minute hand was only moments away from reaching thirteen. Stephanie held her breath as they stared at the clock. The seconds ticked by slowly and the room was silent in anticipation. Then the minute hand struck thirteen and a low hum began to resonate from the throne. The crystal beneath Jareth's hand began to glow as the hum grew louder.
"I am Jareth, the Goblin King," Jareth said harmonizing with the hum of the crystal. In acknowledgment the crystal glowed a bit brighter, then died.
Jareth looked up and Stephanie and Chantal, smiling, his canines flashing. Stephanie let out a sigh of relief.
Chantal smiled then she turned to Paul. "I wonder why the goblins accepted you as their new King instead of seeing you as a trespasser."
"Maybe they needed a change and thought that I could implicate that change," Paul replied.
"I highly doubt that. Goblins are not that intelligent," Jareth told him seriously.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Paul replied. "They brought me quite a few interesting objects, including maps and magical objects."
"Magical objects?" Stephanie asked.
"I'm not sure what they did, but there was this black cube and this small chest that I couldn't open."
"Black cube?" Chantal asked. "I wonder if it was the same box we ran into."
"That is a possibility because it disappeared off the desk of the study," Paul told her.
"Almost anything is possible in the Underground. And you will never know what you will run into," Jareth told them.
"Yeah, like that bird," Chantal said rolling her eyes, then her eyes lit up on that thought. "'They are all laughing at you' it had said. It was talking about Paul." Chantal hit the side of her head with the palm of her hand. "That damn bird was telling me exactly who had taken over the castle too."
"Huh?" Stephanie asked confused.
"My chat name," Paul explained.
Stephanie laughed. "Look at all the trouble you would have saved us if you had known that earlier."
"I know. I just couldn't remember where I had seen that before."
"Well it sure sounds like you guys had an adventure," Paul commented.
"Yeah, a whole thirteen hours worth of adventure," Stephanie said with a smile.
Chantal nodded. "That was enough adventure to last me a while. Can we go home yet?"
Jareth laughed and Stephanie smiled. Paul stood there silently. "I promise to tell you all of what went on here if you tell me what happened to you," Chantal told him.
"Sounds like a deal to me," Paul replied with a grin.
Stephanie pulled off Jareth's tattered jacket from her shoulders. She handed it to Jareth. "I think this belongs to you." Jareth took the jacket and looked down at it, the sleeves were torn and there were rips all over it. The Goblin King gave a small shrug and tossed it aside.
"Should we be worried that your spells might wear off?" Stephanie said.
"Oh come now Stephanie," Jareth said with a fake insulted look. "Besides, it's much too late at night for any check up on you."
About ten minutes later, Jareth stood in front of the two girls, he had already sent Paul home and Hoggle had left on his own; actually the dwarf had snuck out of the castle while the four had been talking earlier. He seemed eager to get away while Jareth was still in good spirits.
Jareth extended his hand and two crystals appeared. He then handed one to Stephanie and the other to Chantal. "This will get you home and will allow you back into the Underground if need be." he told them. He hoped that there would be no other issues after today.
Stephanie started at the crystal and smiled. "Is this your way of saying thank you?"
Jareth nodded with a smile, unable to say anything. He couldn't say anything, it wasn't in his nature to thank people. It was odd to see the Goblin King smile, a real smile.
"You are welcome," Chantal told him. Serek popped his head up and gave Jareth a little squeak.
"I hate to admit it, but I probably would never have made it here in time without your help."
"Next time you will know to wait for me," Stephanie said with a smile.
"-and not touch anything," Chantal added.
"If there is a next time."
"Oh there will be." Stephanie said, she had a feeling that adventures within the Underground were far from over.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
"Well, you did tell us that last time," she responded.
"Um...excuse me?" Chantal interrupted. "How is this thing supposed to work?" she asked holding up the crystal.
"Just mention to the crystal the location that you want, which is home," Jareth told her. "I've already charmed it to your locations,"
Chantal's eyes grew wide. "Would this thing let me go to other places?"
Jareth shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. This is a one time deal. To and from the Underground. That is the extent I can do for those allowed to return."
"Damn! This would have made a great shortcut to get to other places." Chantal pouted.
Stephanie laughed. She had a few places she wanted to visit as well but of course it could not be that simple. "Well time to go," the brown haired girl said.
Chantal nodded and held her crystal tight. Serek's eyes began to whirl with excitement.
"Home!" both girls said in union. A glow of light started to surround the girls, Stephanie's laughter was heard when she realized just how cheesy they had sounded.
Just at the last minute Chantal looked up at Jareth. "Don't forget your promise!"
"I won't," Jareth replied as the two girls vanished, returning home. After a moment, he sat down on the throne and sighed. Thankful that he was back home as well.
O O O