Chapter 2: When Fantasy Becomes Reality
Disclaimer: I do not own anything associated with the Labyrinth in this fic; however, Aurea and Lillian are mine. Please don't steal them!
Aurea's body shook as she looked down at the empty crib. Her eyes began to well up with tears and a knot formed in her throat. "This can't be real," she thought, "What did I say? Why is she..." Then it occurred to her. But goblins? The rational part of her told her to get a grip, but being ever the fantasy lover, another part of her knew exactly what had happened.
Frantic, and unsure of what to do next, she turned around, and ran to her bedroom door. Her tired eyes searched it, to see nothing. She ran all over the house; searched every room. Lilli was nowhere to be found. Frustrated, she walked to her kitchen, and out the door. The bustle of late night traffic, what little there was, was the only sound to be heard. Aurea looked around her, carefully, and saw no baby. She looked down, and then realized something was out of place. Her eyes shot back to one of two trees by the parking lot of the apartments. She had saw a white blur in it, and her eyes widened when she saw what it really was.
A white owl sat perched on the very top of the tree. She'd never even seen an owl, at least not a real one, in person. "It's so beautiful and graceful," she thought. Her mouth was still wide open when it began to fly. Her eyebrows knitted together as it flew closer and closer to her. She ducked as it aimed for her head and disappeared behind her. She quickly turned to see that she had left her door open. "I know I closed that!" She talked to herself as she chased the owl inside.
Hazel eyes looked everywhere for the owl, but didn't see it. She turned towards the direction of her bedroom, only to see a blonde stranger there. His hair was wild and his clothes very flashy. Aurea had to stifle a laugh, as she thought, "I love the '80s, but he looks like he just stepped straight out of them." She couldn't help it anymore, and being ever the optimist, a smile escaped her guard. He regarded her with a frown.
"This is no laughing matter, Aurea." Her eyebrows moving in confusion when he spoke her name. "This is a very serious ordeal, indeed." He allowed a small silence to follow, as he saw the wheels in her head turning. He smirked with the thought that he could finally have some fun out of a mortal, "You don't realize what you've done, do you?"
Anger filled her; who did he think he was? "I have no idea what's going on! Who are you and where is my baby?" She was getting frustrated now. Her heart was beating so fast, so loud, she could hear it in her ears.
"Why are you so worried about the baby? All she does is cry, anyway. She's only a problem; the only thing that's really standing between you and your college education." He pulled her text book out of thin air, "Don't you want to finish your homework instead? Isn't it more important?"
Aurea plucked the book out of his hand and threw it over her shoulder, not caring where it landed, "You listen and you listen close, mister. College or not, Lillian comes first. She is my life, my world. I'd rather have a lousy minimum wage job all my life than have to be separated from her for a second," her voice was starting to crack as the sadness tried to claim her, her voice coming out much smaller than she intended, "Now, where is she?"
"She's there." He pointed behind him, into the distance. Aurea looked around, her heart pounding like it would burst out of her chest any minute. She was no longer in the bedroom of her apartment. She was in some strange place. The dirt was red clay and the sky resembled a color like amber. The sun shined down from above with intense heat and force. She looked ahead, looking further. Before her was a large stone wall. Green vines traveled up the wall, and everything was covered in red dust from the clay. She was on level ground, but something still told her that it was not a building.
Understanding dawned on her face as she turned and looked into his mismatched eyes, "You're the Goblin King, aren't you?"
He smirked, and she took it as a yes, "Your child is in the castle beyond the Labyrinth. Are you sure she's worth it? This is your last chance to turn back."
"How many times do I have to tell you that I care deeply about this child? I doubt that this 'labyrinth' is that hard anyway. How hard can a maze be?" She looked the gate over. It was only a small wooden door with a stone archway. The iron lock on it was broken, and the door was slightly ajar.
A smug look was on his face, "Harder than you think. You have thirteen hours to solve the Labyrinth and retrieve your child. If you fail your precious baby girl will become a goblin and be mine forever."
With those words, he disappeared, and faded away quickly, almost like he had evaporated. She almost wanted to hit him for the sarcastic emphasis he used when he referred to Lillian. She took a few punches at the air for good measure, and to make herself feel better.
Aurea made her way to the gate, slowly. She thought thirteen hours would be plenty of time, and this wasn't exactly something you could rush through. She strolled up to the door and pulled it open. She winced as it loudly creaked, stirring up the red dust a bit. She stepped inside, still feeling confident that this was going to be a piece of cake.
She walked down the dust-covered stone corridor, going to the left with no hesitation. Her psychology teacher in college had once told her that your first impulse is usually right, so she acted on most of her rational impulses since then. She took a turn right and gasped at the appearance of the corridor. It was completely different from the one she was standing in. The stone was not covered in dirt like the one she was in. The stones were clean, and she could see that their true color was gray. Now there were stones on the floor as well, not just a dirt pathway. She carefully stepped on the stone, and took a step, looking back to see her red footprint, but there wasn't one. She looked at the bottom of her shoe; red dirt was there. She rubbed her foot on the ground. It wouldn't come off. She even picked up a handful from the other side and tried to drop it on the stone, but it would disappear from her hands as soon as she got it over the stone. Even the sky was now a different color: the pretty blue she was so used to.
"How can that be? It's just not possible!" She said, exasperated that the only answer she could come up with for it was magic. It wasn't that she didn't believe in magic, or that she didn't like it, but just that her dreams lately were too much like this. At first she thought they were nightmares, but the more she had them, since nothing bad happened in them, she just dismissed them as her usual odd dreams. She would be in a maze, running, searching for something, but she didn't know what. Her surroundings changed around her as she ran; she didn't know if it was to help her or just deter her further. At any rate, now she was really in a maze, and had a time limit. The Goblin Kings was right. This was serious.
She continued walking down the corridor, slowly. The corners of the walls were of stone, but the walls themselves were made of thick wooden lattice that was painted the same gray color as the stones. The holes were big enough for her to see through them and her eyes were almost working as quickly as her brain. She didn't have on a watch like she usually did. What a time for her watch battery to die! She had no way to keep track of time, and it felt like she'd been walking for hours, taking turns here and there. But she really knew it had only been about fifteen minutes, maybe a bit more.
She took off her coat and scarf and tied them around her waist. It was cold at home, but very hot here. She thought she saw something in the corner of her eye, and she looked to see nothing. Then she saw it again on the other side. All she could see was a black blur, but it still scared her. What if something was after her? She started to walk and took a few steps. Then she heard it. There was a rustling sound behind her, and when she stopped walking and held her breath, she could hear light, ragged breaths right behind her. Then she heard the sound of padded feet taking a step. That was all it took to make her start running.
Now she was really following her instincts, not worrying where she wound up, as long as it was away from the monster behind her. She never even stopped to look at the beast. Turn right, turn left, turn left again; the turns began to make her dizzy, but she pushed on. It was all she could do not to be caught by her pursuer.
She thought she was doing well, hearing the creature fall behind her. It was still chasing her, but it was further away now. She dared to take a peak now, and screamed at the sight. She stopped completely, frozen by fear. The creature was gigantic in size. It had a body like a feline: a long tail with a tuft of hair at the end, slender body, medium-sized legs, and padded feet with long, long claws that appeared to be retractable. But there were odd things added to this appearance. Its head was like that of a bat, big ears and all, but much larger. There were needles on its back, like a porcupine, which explained the rustling sound. The tail was curled up, and moved like a spring when it ran. She turned around to keep running, but gasped as she almost fell into a huge hole. It took up the entire corridor from wall to wall. She saw no way to get around it. The beast was getting closer, and she had to think fast. She studied the hole, and made a hasty jump. She flew across the gap just as the creature jumped to catch her. She fell short, however, and grasped for the edge. She got a grip and held on tight as the beast jumped for her. It, too, fell short and fell in the hole, releasing a loud roar as it fell into the darkness. Aurea looked over her shoulder, making sure it wasn't coming back and that it was gone. She pulled herself up, smiling because her plan had worked. She dusted herself off and continued on. She looked back at the hole, just to make sure the beast was dead, and ran into something solid.
Author's notes: Thank you so much for the kind reviews! And I know what you mean. I don't usually enjoy stories with characters made by the author in them, but in this case I had the idea and it seemed easy enough to write. I'm glad you like it. Just keep giving me those good, helpful reviews, and it'll be fuel for me to write more. I realized how short the last chapter was (I apologize), so I tried to make this one longer. And just so you know, I'm in marching band and am quite busy. A lot is happening at once, so updates probably won't come as fast as this one did (the reviews helped me write this one).