"Just fear me, love me, do as I say, and I will be your slave."
He held the crystal out to her. It was balanced perfectly on his long gloved fingers. Sarah didn't know what to do. She couldn't remember the line, that all-important line, the line that would end this, returning her and her brother to their home. Life would get better, she would come to care about Toby more, she would be less self-centred and as a result of this, her relationship with Karen would improve. She would get older, finish high-school, go to college, meet someone, get married, have children of her own. It all hung in the balance, as did Toby's future, which hadn't even been written yet. All she had to do was remember six tiny words.
But she couldn't, try as she may they wouldn't come to her. They were just out of reach. She could practically feel them brushing underneath her fingertips, if she could just reach out and grab them, this whole adventure, this nightmare would be over. But, no matter how hard she tried they wouldn't come to her, they just slipped through her fingers like water. She was running out of options, Toby was nowhere to be seen. The Goblin King was standing before her, smiling as he offered her the world, and at that moment she didn't know what to do.
They say life is like a journey and the destination isn't important, it's how you get there that counts. In some ways the labyrinth is a metaphor for this, the endless twists and turns. And it's not the castle that counts, but what you learn on the way to the castle. In the last thirteen hours Sarah had learnt many things, things aren't always seen, you can't change things around you, and you're nothing without your friends. But back to the point, if life is a journey, destiny is the path you walk on, the road you tread. It's a one way street and you have to choose which pathways to take. Sarah made her choice. It was simple really; she had tried her best, given everything that she had got.
She took the crystal.
She reached out and took the shimmering orb from where it lay, offered in his gloved hand. She gazed at it, transfixed. Inside she could see movement, swirls of bright colours which moved round and round and round. On closer inspection, they were revealed to be dancers. Couples moving in an elegant waltz, women dressed up in fantastic gowns, their partners, straight-backed and obviously handsome under their masks. They were dancing, happily, to music that Sarah, on the outside looking in couldn't hear. In the centre she could see herself dancing, her dark hair caught up in an elaborate web of silver flowers. Her dress, a beautiful silver confection with puffed sleeves and a full skirt spreading out around her. She was dancing elegantly, flirting confidently, glancing down demurely and laughing provocatively. Her partner, handsome, regal and grinning wickedly, the Goblin King.
Sarah looked up to where he stood before her; he was watching the scene in the crystal with keen interest. She met his eyes and a triumphant grin spread across his face. She considered hurling the crystal back at him with all her might, anything to wipe that smug look off his face. But it was too late. He had won.
Somewhere in the distance a clock started to strike the hour, it's ringing haunted Sarah for the rest of her days. Thirteen chimes. She could hear the Goblin King's earlier words sounding out in her head "You have thirteen hours in which to solve the labyrinth before your baby brother becomes one of us forever."
"Such a pity" a voice jolted her out of her thoughts. The Goblin King was smirking as he spoke. The sheer amusement in his eyes scared Sarah more than her entire situation did. "Well come along then" he held his hand out to her "I wont bite" he grinned, seeing the apprehensive look on her face. Sarah didn't trust him for a second, but seeing no feasible alternative, there was no way off the platform, and she didn't fancy jumping into the abyss surrounding it, though the thought did pass through her mind in a fleeting moment of madness. Not knowing what else to do, she slipped her small hand into his larger leather-clad one.
The world just faded away, and darkness swirled before her, if the Goblin King hadn't been holding her so tightly she surely would have stumbled and fallen. Then as fast as the world had faded away it came back. But they were no longer standing on the platform that Sarah had jumped to in a desperate attempt to reach her baby brother; they were now standing in the throne room of the Castle beyond the Goblin City. However, unlike when Sarah had passed through it only minutes before, it was no longer empty. Now it was full of goblins. Just about every goblin from the city had crammed themselves into the room. They were seated on shelves and window-sills; they had perched on ledges and oddly shaped stones which jutted out of the walls. And hundreds of them had squeezed themselves onto the floor of the main hall, and they were all squabbling, seeming to bicker, those with good places to sit were often rudely shoved away, in order for another goblin to take their place, they seemed to be fighting for the best spots in the room. The only place that the goblins didn't occupy was the throne, where a blonde woman, dressed in white Grecian robes was lounging elegantly, and the lowered circle of floor in the centre of the room which they were all staring at excitedly. In the centre of the circle, sitting on a pile of dirty cushions and old rags was a baby dressed in a red and white striped romper suit. It was Toby.
"Toby!" called Sarah anxiously, much to the amusement of all who surrounded her. She tried to get to her brother, but was roughly stopped by a dozen sturdily built goblin guards who held her back roughly.
"Toby!" she called again, shaking her shoulders violently as she tried to brake free, but it was no use, she couldn't get to her little brother, who scared by all the commotion had begun to wail. Sarah forced herself to relax as she realised that all her panic and struggles were getting her nowhere, and her wrists were hurting from the goblins' tight grip. She looked around the room, her eyes searching desperately, hunting for something, anything, she could use to make her escape and rescue Toby. There were two swords crossed over a shield, hung as some form of decoration on the other side of the room, the steel glistening in the moonlight that was coming in from the open windows, they looked sharp, and even if they weren't Sarah was willing to bet she could still do a fair amount of damage with them. If she could only make her way to the opposite wall, she could probably fight her way through the goblins, as most of them seemed to be unarmed, and from what she had seen of them in the city they seemed fairly incompetent. And Hoggle, Ludo and Sir Didymus couldn't be that far away, they would surely come if she called. As she formed her exit strategy only one obstacle stood between her and her goal of freedom. The Goblin King. There was no way he was just going to let her and Toby go, the thought of having to fight her way past the terrifying Goblin King made Sarah shiver involuntarily, causing one of the goblins to cackle nastily.
Sarah looked at the goblins in the room; they had all settled down now and were staring at their King. The expressions on their faces turned Sarah's blood to ice, they were waiting for something, they were silently willing their King to start, and they kept glancing at Toby excitedly, almost baying for blood.
Sarah turned to look at the Goblin King; he was engaged in conversation with the woman sitting on his throne. Sarah couldn't hear their entire conversation, but she kept picking up snippets.
"You won! Now claim your prize." The woman stared at Jareth expectantly before glancing at Sarah.
When Sarah met the mis-matched eyes of the woman's gaze the hairs on the back of her neck stood up uncomfortably. Then the woman returned her attention to Toby and Sarah let out a sigh of relief that she didn't even know she was holding.
She looked at the King now, he was lounging regally, still wearing his cloak that was the colour of feathers, he was heart-breakingly beautiful with his pale skin and features that were simply inhuman, he looked too perfect, almost as if he wasn't real. The only part of him Sarah could find fault with was his eyes, his haunting mis-matched eyes, one brown, one a deep blue. It is often said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and if you want to see a person's innermost nature to look into their eyes, the Goblin King had cruel eyes. He was casually tossing a crystal in the air before catching it again, he looked relaxed, almost cheerful. He caught the crystal one final time in his gloved hand before hurling it with all his might at the wailing infant.
"Toby!" she shrieked trying as hard as she could to break free again.
The crystal smashed into a thousand pieces at the infant's feet. From the shards a bright white light came, faint at first then brighter and brighter until it became so strong that Sarah, and all the other inhabitants of the room had to shield their eyes. Then it went dark, it took a few moments for Sarah's eyes to adjust to the absence of the searing, skull-splitting light. Toby's scared wails had now turned into painful screams which cut Sarah to the soul. For years to come when she was alone in the dark she would hear her baby brother's agonizing screams.
Before her eyes Toby was changing, his squat, round babyish fingers were becoming longer, knarled and fatter, his thin arms were also becoming chunkier, she could see the skin and the flesh under it stretching unnaturally. Sarah watched, transfixed as his face began to change. It was like something out of a nightmare, deformed and very very wrong. Dark frizzy hair grew where he had once been almost bald, his brow was becoming furrowed and creased, it was shortening as well, so his new hair now reached his fat, squat nose. His skin, all over was now a blotchy-grey colour, not the natural peach tones that had been there before, gone were his rosy lips and cheeks, his beautiful blue eyes. All that remained now were his new grotesque goblin features. There was a loud crack as his posture began to alter, he began to hunch as his shoulders rounded and his spine curled.
As the transformation finished the wind started, coming from the pit where Toby was still screaming, and it was blowing violently around the room. Sarah's hair was now whipping round her face ferociously, stinging her cheeks and her eyes were streaming. She brought one hand up to protect her face, like she had thirteen hours ago when the Goblin King had first entered her parent's bedroom. She closed her eyes, praying that it would all be over soon. Then as suddenly as the wind had started it stopped. There was silence. Sarah opened her eyes slowly, not quite knowing what to expect. There was no longer a baby standing in the centre of the room, there was a small goblin, who was gibbering inanely to himself.
"Oh my God!" Sarah whispered to herself, a stricken expression on her face. She looked over at the monstrosity that had formerly been her brother.
This was all her fault.
Her stomach started to heave and there was the taste of bile in her mouth. Sarah only just had time to turn away before she was sick on the castle's stone floor. She felt slightly better now and she straightened herself up, wiping away the sweaty hair that was plastered to her face and looked over at the King of the Goblins.
"Could somebody please clear that up?" he instructed, his voice ringing out across the room, as he looked at Sarah distastefully. A small female goblin hurried off, then reappeared a few moments later with a mop and bucket, soon the mess had disappeared.
Sarah looked over to the pit in the centre of the room where the goblin, formerly her little brother Toby had been sitting, but, to Sarah's dismay he was gone, leaving only a pile of rags, and his red and white striped romper suit, which had been left in tatters after the transformation. Sarah scanned the room urgently, though she couldn't see him. The goblins, who were all starting to slowly filter out the rooms in all directions, all looked the same to the untrained eye, rather like penguins, her mind added with an insane little giggle.
Focus Sarah! She told herself, now was not the time to fall to pieces. She could do that later, in the meantime she had to find her little brother and there was only one person, if indeed he was a person, that could help her with that task.
"Where did he go?" she asked the Goblin King, her voice sounding braver than she felt.
"Where did who go?" he replied absently with an evil grin.
"My brother" she replied evenly, she wasn't going to rise to his taunts.
"The baby?" he seemed to be having fun.
"The one that was in the centre of the room?"
"The one that I just turned into the Goblin" he was rubbing salt into it now.
"Yes" she replied exasperatedly.
"Well let me see" he tapped his long gloved fingers against his chin in a show of looking thoughtful. "Oh yes. I remember now… hmmm… or was that Crick?...No, it was definitely your little brother. I named him Jareth you know?" he remarked casually, "has my eyes. One of the others gave him some new clothes, couldn't walk around all day in those rags you see." He paused watching Sarah's discomfort "Then they went out into the city."
Sarah groaned inwardly, there were literally hundreds upon hundreds of residents in the Goblin City, there was no way she would be able to find him.
"Well," said the Goblin King "much as I was enjoying your company and really Sarah you have been quite entertaining. I have other, more pressing matters to attend to. I will decide what I am going to do with you in the morning. In the meantime I have found you some more than suitable accommodation." He blew her a kiss with a smirk as Sarah realised where she was going.
"Guards" he beckoned with a gloved hand and half a dozen goblin guards, all dressed in comically small uniforms started trying to drag her off. She thrashed, she kicked, she screamed, she even tried biting, but learnt that with the average goblin's hygiene habits this was not to be recommended. Being taken to the oubliette scared Sarah, it filled her with a sense of dread that she hadn't felt all day. The oubliette, a little place to put somebody when you wanted to forget about them. And with the fickleness of the Goblin King's mind Sarah had no doubt that it would be easy for him to do.
A blunt force hit Sarah's legs, making her fall to her knees with a cry of pain. Immediately she was inundated with goblins, they grabbed her arms and forced her backwards until she was lying on her back, arms pinned to her sides. Four goblins on either side of her picked her up roughly and started carrying her towards the door as she thrashed wildly, trying to break loose.
"Get off me!" she yelled angrily as her foot connected with a goblin's helmet with a satisfying crunch. But it was no use, she felt more hands grabbing her until she was completely pinned, unable to get free. She could feel them moving now, carrying her off. Within moments they had left the throne room, bumping Sarah's head, on the way out, hard enough that she saw stars. They went down a flight of steps and then through a maze of twists and turns leading deeper and deeper into the heart of the castle. Sarah soon lost all sense of direction, not that it matters though, she thought to herself, she couldn't get out of an oubliette on her own anyway. Until they reached the opening five minutes later Sarah amused herself, trying desperately not to think of Toby so she wouldn't break down in tears, by looking at the patterns on the ornate ceilings of the Goblin King's castle.
Suddenly she felt herself stop, there was a yammering coming from the goblins but she couldn't work out what they were saying. She started to be tilted slightly, she looked over in that direction and they were moving her towards a hole in the castle floor which was covered by a rusty iron grate, behind it was so dark that it looked like black velvet, she could see nothing down there and there was no way she could tell how deep the hole went. An image of a bottomless-pit came into her mind with a swell of panic. She could be falling forever. She put every scarp of energy that she had in her reserves into trying to break free, but it was no use, there was too many of them and they were holding her too tightly.
She heard a scraping noise as the grate was pulled aside. Without further ado and without ceremony she was tossed into the darkness.
She landed on her front, knocking the wind out of her lungs, rattling her teeth, grazing her chin and elbows and bruising her ribs. In retrospect Sarah considered herself very lucky that she hadn't sustained any further injuries from the fall, however in the meantime she closed her eyes and groaned. Her entire body ached all over from where she had hit the stone floor, she had only dropped just over eight feet, but it still hurt like hell. She heard another scraping, signifying that the grate had been put back into place. Sarah ruled out any attempts to climb back up, that way out was for now blocked. She sat up gingerly and looked at her injuries, there was nothing that was going to kill her so she got up and looked around. She needn't have bothered, there was no point as it was so dark she couldn't see a thing. Using her hands to grope around she came to the conclusion that, like the last oubliette she had been in it was round, and that, like the last oubliette she had been in the only way she could get herself in or out was through the hole in the top.
She wasn't worried though, by now word of what had happened would have reached her friends. They would soon figure out where she had been put and that she needed their help. Hoggle would appear, like last time and light a candle, show her the door that leads out and they would be on their way. Off to rescue Toby, they would find a way to turn him back, then a way to get home, everything would be fine. So she waited.
Sarah had been sitting in the oubliette for nearly four hours when is dawned on her, she realised that nobody was coming for her. The realisation stabbed her like a knife, and tears started rolling down her cheeks and once she had started she couldn't get them to stop, her head sank down onto her knees and she wept.
She cried for Toby and what she had done to him, she cried for her friends, who weren't coming to rescue her, she cried for her parents who had now lost both their children and she cried for herself, for making one stupid tiny little wish that she would regret forever.
Eventually she ran out of tears, she wiped her eyes and began to feel a bit better. She decided that she wasn't going to wait to be rescued; she was going to get herself out of this hole. She started exploring; using her hands to find her way around, praying that there weren't any spiders or rats or anything worse lurking in the darkness. She shuddered at the thought but continued searching.
Against the far wall she found something of interest, her foot connected with it first, knocking a pile of things over with a clatter. She knelt down slowly and groped along the floor, carefully hunting for what she had heard fall. Eventually she put her hands on it. It was about two feet in length and about an inch thick and it was quite rounded. She ran her fingers along it curiously, it was very smooth, like a sanded off piece of wood, but it was too cool to be made out of stone. She ran her fingers to each end, there were funny sorts of knobbles. Maybe it was a weapon of some sort she thought to herself.
She ran her hands over it once more, then suddenly dropped it with a scream and stepped back quickly.
It was a human bone.
She had just found the remains of the former inhabitant of the oubliette. He had been thrown in by the Goblin King seventy five years previously, as a temporary measure, until he was forgotten about. He had survived for a while by drinking water that trickled in through one of the walls, however since then the leak had been plugged, so Sarah would not have that opportunity. He died forty-nine days later, raving mad having been driven to lunacy through hunger and from the oppressive darkness.
Panic welled up in Sarah uncontrollably, she didn't want to die like this, she didn't want to share this poor corpse's fate.
"Let me out of here!" She screamed beating her fists against the stone wall. "Can anybody hear me? Hello?" She continued like this for some time, but all it achieved was a pair of bloody knuckles and a sore throat.
There was no answer from the world above. She decided to be practical, she'd been up all day, then she'd been running around in the god-forsaken hell-hole, that was more commonly known as the labyrinth for over thirteen hours. She needed to rest, conserve her energy, and there was nothing she could do in this place. She chose a spot, as far away from the bones as she possibly could in this small space, the oubliette was only about six or seven feet wide, and checked it for any other dead bodies or anything as equally unpleasant before she lay down. She curled up in a ball, her head resting on her arm, she closed her eyes and waited for sleep to claim her.
It never came.