AN: I'm so sorry about this long delay. Work seems to be draining the very life from me. Please don't hate me! I'll make this quick, but thank you for all the reviews so far. I loved hearing what you thought would happen next, and I hope you haven't forgotten what has happened up to this point. Anyway, please read, enjoy, and review!
Sarah felt the black night engulf her. She could not see anything, and even more unnerving, could not hear a sound. But foolishly, she hoped that the others could hear her quivering voice. "Maxim? Hoggle?"
She strained to listen, but only heard a faint whisper. Or was that her imagination? She stood up from where she had been sitting next to the fire, and heard leaves crunch under her feet. The sound was impossibly loud, and she almost screamed. But Sarah knew she had to keep calm. She held out her hands and stumbled around in the darkness, in search of her friends, but immediately lost her bearings.
Out of the corner of her eye, Sarah could have sworn she saw something. But it was just her nerves...it had to be, that's it. She just needed to stay calm for... how long was night in the Labyrinth? Sarah inwardly kicked herself for not heeding Jareth's warning.
A streak of red rushed past her, and this time Sarah knew that she had not seen things. Her heart jumped as her breath quickened. There was no sound around her but she could feel that something was close. It was large but moved with impossible stealth.
There! She saw the flash of red again, and this time there were two of them, and Sarah had a sinking suspicion that they were...eyes.
"Maxim!" Sarah yelled, not able to hold back her fear any longer. She knew now that she was just prey to this beast, and that it was playing with her. "Hoggle! Where are you?"
This time, Sarah knew she heard a reply. It had been very weak and mumbled, but she understood it completely. The voice had said, "Don't speak."
But why? She didn't want to be by herself, she wanted to find her friends. The flash of red crossed her vision again and she was assured that it was a pair of eyes. Sarah backed away from them and into something else. She let out a scream, but laughed when she realized that she had only backed into a bench. But her scream had attracted attention and the pair of burning red eyes turned to face her.
Sarah's breath labored heavily as the eyes slowly approached her. She had no where to go and had no idea what to do. Her breath seemed too loud so she held it. Her heart pound so strong that it beat in her ears, and yet, the eyes continued getting closer. A cry tried to rise up out of her throat, but she heard the strangled whisper again.
"Don't make a sound." the faint whisper said, "They can hear you."
This precaution did nothing but make Sarah want to panic more. But to her relief, the eyes had turned to the sound of the whisper, and seemed to forget that she was there. Though its hearing was excellent, its attention span seemed short.
Taking advantage of the small diversion Sarah tried to take a step away from the bench. She promptly walked into a bush and attracted the attention of the eyes again. The wild darting of the red eyes made Sarah think that the monster probably had little sight, but this was obviously made up for by other senses.
It came closer, and Sarah knew that it would not be diverted again. She closed her eyes against the red glowing ones, and prayed it would not find her. Surprisingly, the darkness created by closing her eyes seemed to be brighter than the black of the Labyrinth night, but Sarah took little comfort in that.
A gasp escaped Sarah's lips as a pair of arms slid around her waist. Her eyes opened and she saw the red orbs were no more than a foot from her face. She could see its dark crimson pupils as she felt the beast's hot breath. It was unmistakably huge, and hungry.
But the arms around her tightened, giving her a bit of hope. It had to be Maxim, he had found her somehow in the darkness. Her back was pushed up to his chest, and she could feel his heartbeat. It was remarkably calm.
The eyes stared at her a moment longer, and then turned away. The beast had either heard something else or had completely lost interest in her. But Sarah knew that it had found her. It knew she was there, but why did it not attack?
The arms around her loosened, and Sarah turned in them. She threw her arms around her rescuer and buried her face within his chest. His hand run through her hair, and she felt completely at ease. Fatigue rushed over her as she felt a cold medal pendant brush against her face. Stunned, she pushed herself away from her rescuer and tried to remember something. It was something important, but she couldn't keep her thoughts straight. She was so tired.
Sarah felt her legs drain of energy, and she fell to her knees. The ground seemed so comfortable, and she was so tired. Her eyelids drooped as she laid her head to the ground. And soon, all thoughts of the red eyed horror left her.
Sarah fell asleep in the silent black garden.
"Sarah!" a rough voice said while shaking her. "Sarah, wake up!"
Sarah's eyes opened to see Hoggle standing over her. She brushed him away, trying to remember where she was, and then it all came rushing back to her. She was in the Labyrinth.
She was now fully awake and she noticed that it was light out. The sun had risen sometime during her sleep. But as Sarah looked around, she noticed the absence of Maxim. What could have happened to him?
The red eyed beast!
Sarah jumped to her feet, almost knocking Hoggle over and asked, "Where's Maxim? Is he alright?"
"Well, yes and no." Hoggle said, regaining his balance.
"Hoggle, don't talk in riddle, you sound like Jareth. Where is he?" Sarah yelled.
"Don't get so worked up!" Hoggle said with exasperation. "He's over laying down on one of those benches."
Sarah didn't wait for another word as she rushed over to Maxim. As she came closer, she saw that there was blood on his shirt, and a yelp escaped her lips. Maxim's eyes flew open at this sound and he sat up. "There you are, Sarah. And how was your night?"
"Stop with the sarcasm. What happened to you?" Sarah asked, looking at his shirt.
"Oh, this?" Maxim said, casually pulling at his shirt so that Sarah could see the claw marks scratched across it. Underneath the shirt, Sarah could see that he had several long cuts on his torso. "That red eyed devil swiped its claws at me."
"I can see. Are you alright?" Sarah asked.
"Yes, yes. I'm only scratched. But I'm lucky." Maxim said, standing up. He pointed to the grounds around the burnt out fire and said, "I gave it quite a fight though."
Sarah could see large track marks in the kicked up earth and felt her head get light. The monster must have been huge, but it had not tried to harm her. And then she remembered her rescuer. Her eyes shot back to Maxim's chest, but it was as she had suspected. He was not wearing a pendant.
"Well, would you like some fruit for breakfast before we start our journey again?" Maxim asked lightly.
"No, I think I've lost my appetite." Sarah said, looking back at the tracks. She was starting to have second thoughts about her loyalties, but Jareth's treason overlapped them.
The three continued through the hedge maze, but did not come across the set of doors with the ugly knockers. Sarah had changed out of her dress and into her dry clothes while Hoggle and Maxim had a quick breakfast, and was happy with her decision even if Maxim protested. He still seemed to think she shouldn't be wearing pants. But she ignored this, like usual.
Hoggle was leading them now, and soon they left behind the hedges and came into a clearing. Sarah looked around the open space and shivered as she looked upon a stone shaped as Jareth's face. It was almost like he was watching her.
"Why, there you are Sarah." A smooth voice said from behind her. Sarah jumped, and turned around, coming face to face with Jareth. "You seemed shocked to see me in my own Labyrinth. Now, why is that?"
Sarah tried to replied, but her mind raced. She was leading Maxim to the castle, but did he know? Was he just toying with her like a cat with a mouse?
"Nevermind." Jareth said, stepping closer to her. "I thought I warned you about staying in my Labyrinth after nightfall, but I guess you're too old to listen to my silly rules."
"Leave her alone, Jareth." came Maxim's voice from Sarah's side. Jareth's eyes left Sarah and at once grew large.
"Maxim?" Jareth said, with what seemed like horror. But Sarah did not think that was possible, not from the Goblin King.
"Yes, Jareth. How have you been?" Maxim asked, just as coolly as Jareth could. "King of Goblins now, I hear. Isn't that sadly ironic?"
"How did you get in here?" Jareth asked, ignoring his quip.
"Sarah has been leading me through the Labyrinth." Maxim replied. Jareth's eyes lit upon Sarah, and she could feel herself wanting to shrink away. His mismatched eyes bore into her soul with intense hatred. Her eyes avoided his, but only ended up upon the pendant strung around Jareth's neck.
"Oh, she has, has she?" Jareth asked, regaining his normal nonchalant manner. "And I assume she will help you battle me also."
"I have her loyalty." Maxim replied, putting another nail into Sarah's coffin.
"Jareth, I..." Sarah started, but was cut off by a sharp flick of Jareth's hand. She could see the anger burning in his eyes, and something within her wanted to cry.
"We'll see how far you get without her help then." Jareth said with a sly smirk. He produced a crystal from behind his back and threw it at Sarah.
Sarah closed her eyes and held her arms up to shield herself, but did not feel the crystal hit her. When she opened her eyes in confusion, her breath caught in her throat.
Around her, was a softly lit room that she had never stepped foot in before. Maxim and Hoggle were no where in sight, and it took no time for her to realize that this was either an oubliette, or a sort of purgatory.
AN: Just three more chapters to go. I will desperately try to edit them before...Christmas? J/K, I'm going to try and do it right now, but I'm not promising anything.