A/N: Again, my apologies for the delay. Hopefully this will appease me poor readers! Thanks again for all the awesome reviews. -PC
She huddled behind her tree, her heart pounding at the sight of the bull creature. Though it hadn't even crossed her mind before, the sound of the river water rushing by was a continuous reminder of her thirst, and her throat seemed to be getting drier with every passing second.
Carefully, Sarah edged herself around the tree, and made a quick, scuttling dash to the tree beside her. The moss squished under her feet.
The bull's nostrils flared. It lumbered to its feet, head perked up, nose scenting the wind for its prey. Sarah flinched, crouching behind her new tree.
A few seconds went by, and the bull subsided, lying back down by the river water. Sarah peeked out, trying to get an idea of her surroundings, and where the best place to get a drink would be.
Jareth's eyes were fixed on the crystal. He couldn't believe it, but Sarah had managed to find the Mnemosyne river that Hamel had added into the landscape…and as an added bonus, she'd put on his invisibility necklace. She might have a chance.
Maybe even better than a chance, he thought, observing his agitated cousin. Hamel was restless in his seat, squirming and glowering at the crystal.
It looked rather simple. The river's course was quite bendy, and a few yards away, Sarah could see one of the bends coming very close to some of the trees. All she had to do was work her way from tree to tree without that bull creature becoming alert to her presence.
The bull itself was snorting and grunting as it lay by the river, occasionally lifting its head and sniffing the air.
OK, so it goes by scent more than sight. Don't know how that helps me.
She decided – egged on by her growing thirst – that the best thing to do was to just get to it, and began slowly creeping through the trees.
After what seemed like an eternity, she'd left the bull a ways behind, and had reached the bend in the river. Reaching out from behind the tree, she dipped her hands into the water, and took a long, long drink.
Then she began to scream.
Jareth was grinning as he watched her drink the water of the Mnemosyne. He couldn't tell whether he was more pleased at Sarah's success, or at his cousin's anger. She did it!
The smile abruptly disappeared, as Sarah's mouth opened wide. The crystal did not provide for transmission of sound, but it didn't take that to see that she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Hamel sat up in his chair, looking happier than he had for the past hour.
Images raced past her faster than she could comprehend, in a blur of light and sound. She was dimly aware that she was screaming, but could no more control her own voice than she could control the flood of memories that was returning to her.
Lost in her returning past, Sarah didn't notice that her hands had grabbed her head, thereby overbalancing her and tipping her straight into the water of the fast-flowing Mnemosyne.
The bull, having leapt to its feet the moment it heard the screams, heard the splash just as it reached the bend in the river. The rushing water hid Sarah's scent, and the current swept her right past the bull. Its sight was not good, or it might have seen the gap in the river that Sarah's invisible self created. It roared, not knowing where its prey had gone…only knowing, somehow, that it had been thwarted.
Sarah thrashed in the water, attempting to stay afloat, as the current pushed her onward through the forest. She had a bit more awareness of her surroundings now, but was still attempting to adjust to the return of her memories…
The waters of the Mnemosyne are rocky and unpredictable, much like human memory. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise that the river's current brought Sarah directly into a rock.
She was shivering with cold; the first hint that consciousness was coming back. Sarah raised her dripping head, and looked around her.
She was lying half-in, half-out of the river, on a muddy embankment. Beached like a whale. Her soaked legs and feet were still in the water, and she slowly pulled them out, scrabbling up the bank and onto the grass.
Her memory had returned, and had seated itself back in her mind while she'd been unconscious. She did remember what had happened while she'd been lost in the forest, her past slowly being eaten away…and shivered again, this time with more than cold. I don't think I'll ever really forget what it's like to be without memory.
I can't be out of time yet, since I'm still in the Labyrinth. So there's really no harm in sitting here for a minute and getting my bearings.
Jareth's food pouch was still tied to her belt. Her numb fingers did not want to work, and she struggled with the sodden knots. Finally, she freed the pouch, and munched contentedly on what it provided.
The sun had come out, and was helping to warm her back up. She'd left the forest behind, and was currently sitting on a grassy meadow, which looked more or less split in two by the river. The Mnemosyne.
I have no idea how long I was out, she thought, chewing on a handful of raisins. It could have been hours. So now I need to think about this – I don't have the luxury of wandering blindly through and hoping I'll hit on something.
What was that that Jareth said when we were back in the castle…"it's on my side"? Hamel could force the castle to do what he wanted – keep Jareth imprisoned – but Jareth was more powerful within the castle, because it was on his side.
Maybe the Labyrinth is the same way. Hamel's got control of the Labyrinth for the Challenge, but I'll eat that sword if his control is complete. Maybe – just maybe – the Labyrinth is on Jareth's side too.
Wait! What did Hoggle say, when we first came in? Something about the way we took…yes, that's it. That way can only be used by people going to the castle on a mission from the King. So it stands to reason that that way would work the same if someone was using it to go back…that it could only be used to get out of the Labyrinth by someone leaving on a mission from the King, too.
I'm making a lot of assumptions, she thought, with a twinge of fear. I'm assuming that IF the Labyrinth's on Jareth's side, IF the King's Way is still there, and IF it works the same way going out as it does going in, then I'll be able to find it and use it. I certainly would think getting Jareth back his Kingdom counts as being on a mission from the King, but what do I know? That's an awful lot to take on faith.
On the other hand…it's the best plan I've got.
There was really nothing else for it. She quickly retied the pouch to her belt, and stood, taking stock of her possessions. Her backpack was still miraculously on her shoulders, damp but intact, and it had kept the sword on her too. Silently blessing whatever impulse had led her to put on the invisibility necklace, she left it on for the moment.
Otherwise, she was wet, muddy, and bruised. Her limbs were stiff, and ached when she moved. When I'm done with this – whatever happens – I'm going to sleep for three days solid.
But I'm not done yet.