So you've seen the movie, read the versions of the screenplay, and own all the books…
But you still don't know what happened.
It is said that all stories have two sides; a good and a bad, Light and Dark, Honorable and Evil.
But what happens when you are not told the entire story, because the story has three sides? One good, one evil, and one caught in the middle?
You find someone who knows what happened…
Three Sides: The real story behind the Labyrinth.
Started October 16, 2004
Written and retold by Andrea 'Dearlady' Brink
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Author's Note: This is a story that has been bugging me for a long time- has been pounding away at my skull, demanding to be let out. As incredible as that pressure is, however, it's also demanding it be told correctly- to settle the scores once and for all.
You know the story of Labyrinth; how Sarah, through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, defeats the evil Goblin King to win her brother back from the brink of becoming a goblin..
Absolute rubbish. All of it. A skewed storyline; large, gaping chunks of crucial facts omitted.. This, though.. This is Jareth's story. Not the man who is the Goblin King, who rules over the stinking city of goblins, but the man behind that whole facade- Jareth. The man who has been through a great deal of his own dangers untold and hardships unnumbered.. This story is a story retold, the real story behind a story you already know.
This is the view from the other side of the crystal..
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Boots pounding on the hard stone floors beneath him, Jareth strode deeper into the bowels of the castle, headed towards the dungeon. He was furious. And though he would never admit it to anyone, even himself, he was scared.
He turned the last corner and waved the burly guard aside. Pulling open the heavy barred door, he stormed inside and slammed it shut behind him, the force of his wrath making it rattle on its hinges.
"What have you done to me?" he demanded angrily of the dark shape before him.
A voice, hidden in the shadows of the corner of the room, laughed.
"What's wrong, my dear king?" the feminine voice asked.
If this was a joke, her little way of 'subtly' reminding him of their plight, it wasn't very funny. Jareth reached a gloved hand into a cloth bag he held, then withdrew it. The small, battered body of a gray field mouse lay upon the smooth black leather.
. . . . . . . .
Jareth woke with a start and immediately winced at the bright light entering the large windows on the other side of his bedchamber. A quick wave of his hand sent the curtains dancing across their rods to cover the glass, dousing the room in darkness again.
He lay still for a moment, listening to the sound of his own furiously beating heart pounding in his chest, his entire body shaking slightly. The silk sheets beneath him, again, were drenched in sweat, the darker spots standing out against the royal red color of the fabric.
He slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position. He had a horrible, acrid taste in the back of his mouth, and a thin film of moisture covered his face. Wearily, he pushed his hair out of his face and drug his hand across his mouth, then swore when he lowered his hand and saw it was speckled with blood.
Another one, then. If he'd kept count the numbers would be far higher than he'd ever care to admit. And there was no denying it, the urges were getting stronger, and more frequent. And he was remembering less and less every time. He had to find out how to stop this madness, or at least learn to control it, before..
No. He wouldn't even think it. Time was running short, he'd simply deal with it.
Physically exhausted from lack of sleep the night before, he lay back down to try to get a few more hours rest. The scant daylight filtering in through the curtains reflected off the curiously-shaped silver and gold pendant around his neck as his breathing slowed again.
On a simple wooden perch in the corner of the room, a pale colored barn owl opened one eye a sliver to watch the king, then closed it again, buried its head further down into its feathers, and went back to sleep.
. . . . . . . .
Jareth felt a pair of eyes watching him and scanned the room full of dancers as he nonchalantly adjusted his gloves. There, by the entrance; a woman in a long white dress. She wore a mask, so he could not see her entire face, but that length of dark brown curls cascading down her back was unmistakable. He waded through the sea of people and bowed low to his wife.
"My dearest lady, you look radiant tonight," he complimented her, holding out his hand for hers. She had outdone herself this time; the long white dress plunged low down the front then flowed gracefully away from her waist like a waterfall. Her mask, a delicate array of feathers and fine ribbons, had been made into the visage of a white barn owl.
She loved these masquerade balls they held yearly, and he knew she always put a lot of time and effort into her dresses. She would never let him see her beforehand, he always had to wait until she arrived at the ball in costume. Of course, she never saw his outfits beforehand, either.
"Why thank you," she replied, returning his bow. "You wore blue," she stated, placing her white-gloved hand into his black-clad one as they walked further into the room. He nodded. Blue was her favorite color on him. He'd even had streaks of blue added to his blonde hair for the evening. They picked up the tempo of the music being played, and seamlessly joined in the dancing.
They enjoyed themselves for hours, and kept dancing until the musicians paused for a break. Amidst the clapping Jareth quickly led his wife to one of the secluded rooms that surrounded the ballroom.
"Let me get a better look at you," he said, pulling off his horned goblin mask.
"What you really mean is 'since you look so pretty, let me mess you up a bit.'" she laughed, but carefully untied her mask and removed it. She raised an eyebrow and twirled around in place.
"Well?" her dark brown eyes twinkled.
Jareth looked her over thoughtfully, then grabbed her and pulled her close to him.
"I think," he whispered in her ear, "that I cannot wait until later to remove that beautiful dress you've made." He nibbled on her ear lightly. Before she could scold him he heard the musicians start playing again. They both quickly put their masks back on and joined in the dancing again.
They twirled slowly, it was one of her favorite songs. Jareth knew it, and quietly sung the words to her as they danced.
"But I'll be there for you, as the world falls down, falling, as the world falls down." . . . . . . . .
Jareth woke with a start. Melancholic, he looked over at the empty space next to him on the large bed for a moment, then resignedly turned over and lay back down. He quickly fell back to sleep.
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The black-haired gypsy woman looked up at him from the trash heap she stood on, her stance defiant, her face unafraid. Behind him, somewhere in the Goblin City, a bell tower struck the final thirteenth note.
"Come to gloat, have you?" Eselda sneered at him.
"No, quite the contrary. I've come to ask you a question," he replied calmly.
Most of his subjects, whether they liked him or not, would agree that Jareth was a fair and just king. Though he ruled his kingdom with an iron fist- something necessary considering the majority of his peasants were of the goblin variety- he sincerely tried to rule with the best interest of his subjects at heart. He dealt out Justice as often as he did Mercy, and many years of dealing with ill-behaved goblins had blessed him with a veritable fountain of patience.
His patience, however, had really been tested to the limit with this one. When he had first confronted her after she'd wished her eight-month old infant away, she had tried threatening Jareth to have him returned. When that failed, she tried begging, crying as she pleaded her case to him. She had attempted seduction, too. She would be considered beautiful by most men; her dark hair, gently tanned skin, almond-shaped brown eyes and thin build most would have found irresistible, but Jareth was not "most men," and her charm did not work on him. Pity, that, for her sake.
Besides, Jareth had immediately vowed, deep down inside the heart that she swore he did not have, that this woman would not get her child back, even if she did somehow beat his labyrinth. When the goblins had brought the small boy to him crying- most children did- wrapped up in a blanket, he could already see a bruise forming on the child's arm. After a few moments of disbelief, and a second to unwrap the blanket, he found the boy was covered in them. Knowing that Jareth would have their hides if a child was harmed, the goblins were always very careful with the ones wished away to him. The woman was abusive by nature, and apparently took her frustrations and resentment out on her child. Her defenseless child. He'd spent the first hour alone with the child casting a protective spell over him, ensuring that his mother would never harm him again.
"The child stays here," he told her in an icy tone that would brook no argument. "You, however, are free to return to your home Above if you choose. No one will remember the child, you will be free to live your life as you will."
Eselda looked at him but said nothing.
"Or you are free to wander this world until your last days. The choice is yours, and whatever your decision, it will be final."
The woman looked up at him, then over his shoulder to the castle beyond the city.
"The child is not there. Within hours of receiving him I'd placed him with a couple who would care for him as their own." The woman's eyes flashed with anger yet she still said nothing. Finally, after a few moments of silence had passed, she stood and faced him.
"You will regret this," she spat, then walked away from him down one of the dusty paths leading out of the city. Jareth watched her until it was clear she was not returning. He'd have to keep an eye on that one. Shrugging, he disappeared from the spot.
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Jareth rolled over and finally slept more deeply.
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There was a loud argument heard above the music, and a hunched, ragged figure brusquely entered the ballroom, shoving guests and furniture alike out of the way in its' effort to reach the couple dancing in the center of the throng. Protests of 'I must speak with the king!' could be overheard. Jareth stepped toward the interruption as the music died around him.
"What is the meaning of this!" he demanded, ripping off his mask and glaring at the grubby intruder. The point of the night was to remain masked- as royalty and commoners alike mingled and imagined they were something they were not- but he wanted to make his point, and could only do so if he was seen as King. No goblins were ever allowed in this section of the castle, especially during the Balls.
Having reached the center of the room, the being, apparently a goblin by the smell, looked up at him from its mass of filth and tangles.
"Twenty years ago, you stole a babe, when the night was young and green.
'You will regret this' the mother yelled, and her revenge on you she deemed
would be too sweet, and far too neat, to last for just one day;
she wanted something special, something to make you pay.
An eternity spent in the dungeons? Deep in the castle's bowel?
Oh, no. But then one day she said 'I've got it!'"
Her head craned to look past Jareth, to his wife dressed in white.
"I'll turn her into an owl."
Jareth threw an exploding crystal at the goblin to distract and blind it, and dived for his wife, but he was a second too late. A handful of shimmery dust hit her full on with a flash of light.
Even in his nightmares, Jareth could remember that scream. It was the tortured scream of a lover realizing she'll never again see her love, the scream of a body being ruthlessly forced into another shape, a scream that began in a Fae woman's range and ended as an owl's defensive hiss.
Jareth hit the floor holding nothing more than an empty dress and a feathered mask. A pale- colored barn owl flew out of the material and landed on one of the crystal chandeliers, hissing her distress, wings spread in alarm. The goblin, from where it lay stunned on the floor from Jareth's crystal, laughed.
"It took me years," a suddenly different- and feminine- voice stated, "but I learned how to harness some of the magic that grows rampant in this world," Jareth's eyes narrowed at this. Goblins had no interest in magic, and were much too thick to learn how to control it. The figure reached up and ripped off her face, which was, in truth, only a well-made mask.
Grinning triumphantly, Eselda stood to her full height, shaking off the rags she wore over her clothes. Jareth's eyes narrowed in anger.
"For ages I have lived among your city walls," she said, her voice growing harsher and louder as she continued. "I moved from one section to another, speaking with the gardeners, the guards, the brownies, the trash people; anyone who would speak to me. I learned the secrets of the castle, at least this part of it, and that our dear King had finally gotten married." Black, hard eyes stared at Jareth. "And alas, that they have no heir," she continued, mockingly. Jareth stiffened slightly at this comment. Everyone knew it took Fae couples years to be able to conceive. That's why so many of the human babies wished away to Jareth were not actually turned into goblins, they were adopted into families throughout his kingdom. This woman, apparently, did not know that, the tone of her voice clearly implying that he was, in some way, inadequate.
"I should have known," Jareth glared at her, distaste coloring his tone. "What's the matter? Beating a poor child wasn't enough for you, so you had to go for bigger prey?" He shrugged, and looked at a few of his larger-sized friends. They quickly stepped forward and seized the woman by the arms. "Well, a handful of fairy dust should be easy enough to correct, if we can get-"
"Fool!" She spat at Jareth. "That was not fairy dust! It was Majeesh!" she laughed as she saw Jareth's face register just a second of worry before he schooled his features again. Majeesh dust- the condensed form of the magic from a thousand wishes and dreams and hopes and fears- was a terribly powerful, and black, form of magic. Making Majeesh, yet alone using it, was an offense that was punishable by death. Jareth wasn't even sure how she learned to produce it- the last known maker of it had been put to death nearly a century earlier.
"For stealing my only son, and not even giving me a fair chance to win him back, you have one year to find an heir of your own. One year! The child must be wished away, and you cannot threaten or harm the girl to make her give the child up. She must be given the chance to run your Labyrinth. And you can not tell her of your plight!" she grinned.
"Take her away!" Jareth barked at the men holding her. "Put her in a cell. Guarded."
"And Majeesh dust takes several years to distill, so you cannot change her back in time!" Eselda gleefully shouted at them as she was drug away. Guests watched the men go, then stood and looked towards Jareth, unsure of what to do next.
He looked down at the limp, empty dress and mask still in his hands, then slowly draped them over the back of a nearby empty chair.
"You all may return to your homes if you wish," he said quietly, addressing the crowd, "or continue with the ball and stay the night. Everyone will be given rooms who requires them." Looking up at the chandelier, high above, he called out to his wife.
"Let's go, Olwyn."
She flew down to his shoulder and they left the room.
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Author's Note: I'm terribly sorry about the poor quality of the goblin's poem earlier this chapter. While this is all being told to me from "the horse's mouth," if you will, Jareth's memory in parts of this is a little faulty.. I'm left to fill in the blanks, and as it were, to make up poems.
But still, the gist of what she said is there.
Please review, Jareth has a large ego, after all, and needs to know that his story is being listened to!