Chapter 13: Nike!
The first thing Jessie woke up to was darkness. She opened her eyes when she heard her name being called. Her whole body ached making her feel as if she was one giant bruise.
"Are you awake?" A soothing voice asked. Jessie groaned and turned onto her side. She noticed the intricately tiled walls and rich fabrics that hung on the wall. Jessie raised her hand up and was surprised when she didn't feel her leather armor. She glanced down and saw that she was in a new, clean white shirt.
"Where am I?" Jessie asked rolling back onto her back. Two Shaitan women looked over her.
"You are in the desert" The women said in unison. Jessie sat up.
"I have to get back to the battle" Jessie said.
"The war is over" The women said. "King Jareth and his allies won."
"We won" Jessie said. The women helped her from the table. Jessie remembered Aulus and his arm. "Where's Aulus?"
"Aulus?" The women asked.
"He brought me here" Jessie said.
"Oh, we fixed him and he left" The women replied. Jessie nodded. "His Majesty requests your presence, since you are awake."
"Okay" Jessie said. With the way her body ached she didn't feel like arguing. "Where are my things?"
The two women handed Jessie her belt of weapons, which she strapped around herself before leaving the room through the only door. The two Shaitan women quickly followed and led her into the throne room.
As they approached the throne, Al-Shaidan stood and shrank down to his human size. He waited for Jessie to bow before him and for the Shaitan women to leave before moving to hold Jessie's hands.
"My dear, you had us in a scare" Shaidan said. He squeezed her hands before pulling her into a hug. "I told you that you'd be back."
"I wasn't expecting to be back due to injuries" Jessie said. Shaidan laughed and held her out at arms length.
"How are you feeling?" Shaidan asked.
"Like I got hit by a carriage" Jessie replied. Shaidan wrapped a turquoise arm around her waist and walked with her towards a doorway…the doorway to his room.
"King Jareth contacted me" Shaidan said. "He wants me to send you to him right away. He seemed very worried about you."
"Then why are we heading to your bedroom?" Jessie asked. Shaidan smiled.
"I thought that you might want to rest before returning" Shaidan said. "I was told that my doctors pulled a dozen arrowheads from your body and found quite a lot of cuts and bruises."
"I had lost count" Jessie said. Shaidan held open the door to the bedroom.
"I will have you woken up in a few hours" Shaidan said.
"Thank you, sire" Jessie said with a small bow. Jessie moved to lie on the bed and stare up at the ceiling. Somewhere in-between counting the repetitious pattern on the ceiling and sleeping, Jessie found her self hoping that she'd be back in the Labyrinth.
"You need to wake up now, darling" Shaidan said softly. Jessie's eyes opened and she turned to curl towards Shaidan, who was lying next to Jessie. Shaidan ran his hands along her sides. "Your king has been asking about you and has threatened to send some people over to find you."
Shaidan moved to stand and pulled Jessie to her feet. He reached down and held up a cloth bag.
"These are your things" Shaidan said. Jessie took the bag. Shaidan placed a hand on Jessie's lower back and guided her out to his throne room. He stepped in front of her and pushed her hair back from her face. "I do hope that you come see me when you are not wounded."
"I am in debt to you, Shaidan" Jessie said. Shaidan smiled and gave her a gentle kiss.
"I will send you an invitation to come back" Shaidan said. The throne room doors opened and Aulus was shown in by two Shaitan women. "Sir Aulus. How is your arm?"
"It is doing just fine, your highness" Aulus said. He was dressed in loose cotton and soft suede. Aulus looked over at Jessie and smiled. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm sore, but I will live" Jessie said. Jessie looked back at Shaidan and bowed. "Thank you, your majesty."
Shaidan took her hand and kissed her knuckles. "I will see you later, dear girl."
"You know you almost died, right?" Aulus said. Jessie sat behind him on his horse.
"So I was told" Jessie said. "Twelve arrowheads."
"You also had several deep cuts and were extremely exhausted" Aulus said. They entered the main entrance to the Labyrinth and headed for Goblin City. "I suppose you'll want to be on a full shift tonight."
"No" Jessie said. Clear blue sky and the birds that flew overhead put a small smile onto Jessie's face. "I think I'll just take the night off."
"You?" Aulus said in disbelief.
"I think I need a night off" Jessie said. She leaned forward so her head rested against Aulus' back. The Labyrinth emanated calmness and it seemed to permeate through the stones of the high walls. "I've had a long journey, Aulus. Perhaps I'll be ready for another after a long bath and a good night's sleep, but for right now all I want to do is go home."
"Sounds good to me" Aulus replied. "Sounds really good."