The Goblin Queen was laying on the floor in the entrance hall with her legs resting on the wall above her, when Jareth arrived back at the castle. Her pale dress, almost the same colour as the stones below her, billowed around her knees allowing him a long glimpse of her shapely calves. It had been a long while since he had seen any part of his wife unclothed. Millenia together allowed him to know her body as intimately as he knew his own and long ago their passion for each other burnt as brightly for the sun, but everything fades eventually. Reflecting back on their time together, he felt the familiar stirrings of desire. But now was unfortunately, not the time.
"What are you doing my dear?" he asked with an amused smile.
"Waiting." She replied, her voice as sill as a summer breeze. "All I have left to do now is wait. The nursery has been painted, the cradle is prepared. So I wait. "
" It won't be long now" he said soothingly, his voice lulling her, the sound of molten honey.
"I know." She looked up at him suddenly "Ludo should have been back by now. He knows I like to hear all about his fun. The naughty boy."
"You know I have never understood why you were so fond of that overgrown carpet" he told her, inspecting his nails. "He had no subtlety."
Her gaze narrowed "What do you mean by it... were?... Had? "
"I mean what I say."
She stood up so quickly that a mortal wouldn't have seen it. "Dont play games with me Jareth." She hissed. " I know that you can take words and tie knots in them. And you know fine well that if I cannot undo a knot, I'll take a knife and cut it open"
"The Beast is dead my love" he told her plainly.
Before he could speak again she interrupted "The mortals".
And then she was gone.
Jareth was left standing alone. Something did not feel right. His wife's fury was an awesome thing to behold, her hot temper left far more devastating consequences than his own cold anger. Of the two of them Jareth was far more calculating and generally more cautious. He was already deep into the preparation of a back up plan, incase things did not go their way.
He shook his head as if trying to remove the doubts. This time would be different.
On the other side of the Labyrinth, deep in the forest, Sarah watched the beast's body burn. They had buried their own at daybreak and then turned to the task of removing the remains of their fallen foe. He was too heavy to lift, so they had built the pyre around him. Rhett had unceremoniously thrown the head on top as Dave tossed a torch into the pile of kindling that had been stacked above the body. The fire has quickly taken hold and the body had been burning for over an hour now.
Sarah watched the flames in silence. Rhett had come to keep her company for a while, but gone away again when he couldn't coax her into conversation. It wasn't the screams and the blood and the burning flesh that disturbed her, but the words of the Goblin King 'I have the feeling that you and I are going to become very good friends' they swam around in her head until she wanted to wretch and scourge the inside of herself clean. While Sarah was a million miles away from being experienced, she knew exactly what the Goblin King was hinting at and it scared her more than blood and death.
Movement in the corner of her eye, so fast that for a moment she thought she had imagined it, startled Sarah from her thoughts. A swirl of skirts and blond hair. The Goblin Queen had come at last.
"Oh my darling" the Queen whispered. Sarah tried to back away slowly, but her movement only drew the attention of the immortal.
"What did you do to him?" the Queen snarled at her. Her eyes burnt like cold metal on a winters day and Sarah felt herself drawn inside them until she wanted to shiver.
"N..nothing" Sarah stammered wanting to run, but her legs betraying her. "He came in the night and I ran."
"Of course you did" she murmured, more to herself. "I don't know how I ever could have thought a lowly snivelling girl like you could have brought down such a magnificent creature. Of course you ran."
The Queen then turned, as if remembering Sarah was there, she addressed the wary girl directly. "Run along and give a message to your little friends. You tell them, that when I find out which of them was responsible for this" she paused and nodded at the burning body "I will use their head to decorate the entrance to my castle."
Sarah nodded before fleeing. She ran as fast as her legs could possibly carry her. Despite the fact that she was totally alone in the woods, Sarah kept turning back to ensure that she wasn't being followed. Totally preoccupied with the angry Queen that she had left behind her, she gave very little thought to what was up ahead. Which explained, why, when she hit another body, at full pelt, she was completely knocked off her feet.
As she went to stand, she looked up to find herself sprawled at the feet of the Goblin King.
"Hello again Sarah" he said chuckling. He was dressed today in green velvet. It clung to him like a shadow, warm and soft to the touch. Like a poisoned flower, the beauty hiding the deadliness within.
Sarah made no reply.
"My my, you are in a bit of a tizzy aren't you?" she still did not answer, so he kept talking "What could have gotten you into such a state." He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to her feet.
Sarah contemplated her answer, she could hardly tell him that she was running away from the embodiment of all that was cruel and heartless, wrapped up in the body of his evil wife. "Nothing" she muttered, eyes to the ground.
"Not very forthcoming today, are we? " his tone indicated that they were discussing nothing more benign than the weather. "Well I don't suppose you have seen my good lady wife?" Sarah blanched as he continued "I believe she was coming this way and she really didn't seem to happy."
"We had to kill him" Sarah blurted out "We didn't seek out a fight, we just wanted to live."
"An admirable desire, I grant you" he smirked "but a word to the wise Sarah, if you want to keep that pretty little heart of yours pumping. Move somewhere more defendable. My wife is rather irritated with the fact that this rabble, you insist on keeping company with, stabbed her baby substitute last night. And believe me, my wife is not pleasant when she's irritated."
Sarah nodded, still not really knowing what to say.
"And I think I can hear her dulcet tones now. Well I suppose I should go and see what she's doing." She was alone in the forest again and she released a breath that she didn't even know she was holding.
She didn't wait to see if he was coming back to her. Walking this time, her heart pounding in her chest, she turned and went back the way she came. Back towards the encampment. Back home.
"We cant stay here" Sarah blurted this out as soon as she returned. Rhett, David and Beth were sitting on the grass, exhaustion etched in every line on their faces. Beth was especially pale, dark circles giving evidence to the weariness that she felt.
"What are you talking about Sar?" David asked confused.
More words ringing through her head, words written in red in a very old book 'THEN I FUCKING KILLED THEM ALL'.
"After they killed Odette, she killed all of them" she tried to explain. "The humans in the castle, The Queen, she killed them. And we are just sitting here, waiting, for a very pissed off Queen to come and get us."
"The new door to the castle was finished yesterday" David said in agreement.
"Then we leave before nightfall" said Rhett.
Within the hour the camp was a hive of activity. They were abandoning their home, grabbing whatever they could carry and leaving. Most of their possessions were being left behind. Their only defence now was the great walls of the castle and they didn't know how long they had to get there. One by one they packed and left. Following the long road that led away from the Goblin city they walked in small groups, no more than 3 at a time. They didn't want to arouse suspicion, to draw attention would be fatal. Once again they needed to survive through secrecy.
Beth was the last one to leave.
She lingered behind to say goodbye to the only home that she had known for the last nine years. She had been little more than a child when she had arrived. A child and a mother herself. Overwhelmed and in a moment of weakness she wished the Goblins to take her daughter. And they did. she ran the labyrinth to take her back. But she failed. And so she stayed in the Labyrinth, until one day she caught the eye of the Goblin King. To this day she didn't really understand why he had chosen her, there were prettier girls and more experienced women among those in the encampment. It wasn't for her conversational skills either as Jareth had always taken very little interest in what she had to say. Sometimes she suspected that the Goblin King's real pleasure in their liaisons was the torment that she felt afterwards and the anguish that was on David's face every time she left the encampment. Or perhaps he had seen in her a healthy specimen of a human, who could simply carry his baby to term.
Summer had passed early that year, lasting little more than a few weeks and the colours of fall were already upon the forest. The trees had taken the most amazing hues, golden oranges; reds, the colour of fire and Beth's personal favourite, purples so dark that they almost looked black. She would miss it here, she thought.
David was waiting for her at the crossroads , but she lingered too long. Lost in her own mind, she
suddenly realised that she was not alone.
"What are you doing here?" Beth stammered.
"I've come to see my boy."
"It's not yours" said Beth in horror as the Goblin Queen approached her.
"A mother knows her child Beth" the Goblin Queen placed her hand on the girls stomach. The gesture was oddly disturbing. "You may have conceived and carried this child but he no more belongs to you than Jareth does. "
"I never wanted your husband."
"But you tried to take him none the less. And once my son is born, believe me you'll be sorry. You will beg me for death before the end."
"Get away from me" gasped Beth, stepping back quickly. "You stay away from me." She thrust her arm between them, as if that would do any good. As if the Goblin Queen could be restrained by physical force.
The Queen stepped forward.
Beth stepped back again and the Queen stepped forwards, a sick twisted dance. Beth lurched back, catching her foot in a tree root and began to fall. She saw the ground coming to meet her, the bulk of her stomach stopping her from moving fast enough to catch herself.
"Why wont you leave me alone" tears of frustration running down her cheeks. When she had landed it had really hurt.
"Really Darling" she looked up to see that the Goblin King was not addressing her "You need to be more careful. Pregnant humans are even more fragile than normal ones."
"Get up" said the Queen scornfully.
When Beth made no attempt to move, the Queen moved towards her threateningly and Beth sobbed even harder.
"LEAVE HER ALONE" David rushed back into the clearing and put himself between Beth and the livid Goblin Queen. "CAN'T YOU SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING TO HER?"
"Back away my love" murmered the Goblin King softly, gently pulling his wife away and disappearing into nothing.
David bent to the floor and wrapped his arms around the almost hysterical girl. "It's going to be okay Beth, it's going to be okay." He kept on whispering this into her hair desperately, even though he didn't believe it.
"What did you interfere for?" the Queen hissed at her husband as they returned to the castle.
"Simply because, when humans panic, they do the stupidest things. You remember the last attempt, don't you? "
"And the time before?" he let his question hang between them. Eventually the Queen nodded her agreement. "Let the girl be. All you have to do now is be patient. She hasn't got long left now and the boy…Daniel… or what ever his name is…he won't let any harm come to her."
The Queen relaxed "This time the outcome will be different" she seemed to be reassuring herself. "I will have my boy back soon."
"And then we can go home."