Reposting. I had to do some modifications to the story.
I found myself writing this piece without any idea how it was going to turn out. The story can be read as separate entry or as a prequel to "Legend".
And, as always, the standard disclaimers apply. I do not own the Labyrinth, its characters or anything related to it. The movie is a work of Jim Henson (and his team) and belongs to him, or the entertainment company he worked for. Or to whomever has the legal rights of the movie nowadays. But that one isn't me.
o O o
She Shouldn't Have Won
o O o
There were, most definitely, some matters that should have never been neglected. Luckily enough, they were easy to handle. After mending the destruction of his domain; having his castle rebuilt; and the city back to its former glory; he put his mind to other tasks requiring his attention. For once, there was the girl, he concluded. She shouldn't have won. It was unheard of. Absolutely laughable. And it made him furious. But she said the words, and he could not approach her if not invited, and he was quite certain she had no desire for that. She was out of his reach and revenge. So, naturally, the Goblin King turned to replacements.
He surprised them. They anticipated his rage right after the incident but when he didn't immediately act, believed he had forgiven them. The shock in their eyes was way too precious as they stood in front him, tied up and guarded by gleeful goblin warriors.
With a swift wave of hand, the King sent the traitorous Gate Keeper into the farthest oubliette of his Kingdom. It wouldn't kill the dwarf, but the creatures there might do the trick; and they both knew it. When he announced the verdict, the dwarf's eyes flashed darkly. The twit shuddered but stayed silent. It felt almost like a waste. Truly -- the little scum had actually grown a backbone. But it didn't change the fact. Hoggle had betrayed him, and King of the Goblins didn't tolerate disloyalty.
The beast was a bit more complicated issue. How could Jareth condemn a creature without a true acknowledgment about its wrongdoings? The rock monster had brains even less than of his goblins. Grudgingly, he allowed Ludo leave the throne room unharmed. But stupid as it was, the beast just couldn't appreciate his noble gesture. Even when away from the Goblin City, it kept sure Jareth would remember its existence. The brat, Jareth spat the word, had left a strong imprint on Ludo's mind. The beast cried after the girl, repeating her name. His long desperate howls echoed throughout the city as the beast sung aloud its misery, "Sawah, Sawah…"
As it wouldn't have been enough, the beast's stones responded to his weeping. Jareth thought he had seen all within his eternal life, but nothing prepared him for what followed after that. The darned rocks started crying with the beast; and, within a week, the whole city was flooding. The goblins fleeted crying to the castle, making living there almost insufferable. And finally even the castle stones joined with the mourning and wetted his bed, which was when Jareth lost his patience.
The brainless beast could not talk but to stones. It was lonely. So, maybe it would better off as a stone. As his final decision, Jareth sent a lump of red granite at his feet to the crushing plant, thinking it would make a fine mosaic.
His reaction had some unexpected, not totally unpleasant, effects. Pleased, Jareth noticed goblins starting to avoid him though the pleasure was short-lived. As usual, the goblins forgot quickly. But the stones remembered. They trembled fiercely, trying to slither from his way as he paraded through the castle corridors, and, somehow, he was almost amused.
Then there remained the knight. He was his knight. Jareth himself granted the fox with a knighthood, placed a tip of a sword on his slender shoulders and announced that by all rights given to him the fox was to become the Keeper of the Labyrinth. It was his duty to guard, serve and protect the Goblin Kingdom. Instead, the knight turned his back on all that. Even worse, first the knight granted Ludo with a title of brother, and then awarded that spineless excuse of a dwarf the same way. As a Head of the Knights of the Labyrinth that meant he made them both nobles. That was, simply put it, too much.
"Sire," the fox gave him a deep bow. "I apologize thee, but I cannot regret. She was a damsel in distress, and as a knight, I was obligated to help her. It is my duty to protect and help those in need."
The fox was brave, Jareth grudgingly admitted. It was one of the reasons he bestowed the fox with his title. But with a title came a price. Didymus was the Knight of the Labyrinth: the King's Knight. It just wouldn't do were he to abandon his post every time some whelp of a girl passed through his hut.
"Your description of a damsel in distress hardly fits to that red lummox of a fur," Jareth reminded, sneering, but the fox remained unruffled.
"Ah, Sir Ludo!" he sighed, and the look of his eye turned brighter. "My valiant brother! I've never met such a loyal character."
"And how about the dwarf?" commented Jareth dryly. "Loyal isn't the first word I would describe him…"
Didymus let out a sad sound of 'tsk tsk' while slowly shaking his head. "My liege, as much as this grieves me, I must say that you lack some tolerance. As you so gladly like to remind us, your loyal subjects - not everything here is as it seems."
"Loyal!" snarled he, crinkling his eyes and leaning against his throne while gazing at the bold one-eyed fox. "You dare speaking about loyalty to me, your Monarch, whom you so viciously betrayed!"
"Sire," he bowed again. "Forgive me or not. But I cannot undo that what is done."
"Very well," the King hissed through his gritted teeth and announced his punishment.
The fox jolted little, but didn't resist. He gave his final bow to his King and spoke silently, "As Your Majesty wills. I accept all that is placed upon me. Goodbye, Sire."
Maybe due to unyielding valour of the Knight, the King's revenge felt suddenly hollow and futile. And something still remained amiss. For days he tried naming the feeling that gnawed him before, grudgingly, he admitted.
It was all because of the girl. She shouldn't have won.
For some time he plunged himself in a fervent planning of revenge, trying out for every possible loophole he found within the Law, in no avail. The girl remained obliviously ignorant of his efforts, living through her life in Above. The little brat even dared to appear content with her mundane chores, the troublesome and tedious tasks she carried out day by day.
Well at least something changed. Apparently the brat learnt to cherish her brother, little Jareth, as he kept on referring to him. The baby still cried when left alone, but the girl didn't lose her patience with him any more. Through his crystal he once saw her picking him up on her arms, singing to him and placing small kisses on baby's smooth cheek, whispering words of adoration and love in his ears.
Something shattered in his chest.
He lowered the crystal, staring at the floor and rose to his feet. Silently, without minding of his noisy goblins, he left the throne room. For days, the King remained in his room, laying on his bed and staring at the ceiling, the echo of her soft words lingering in his ears.
Kings didn't pine. As simple as that. Kings could brood, but they didn't pine. But he couldn't deny it; he was pining after Sarah. It took a long time to accept the reason. At the moment of realization, the whole Underground trembled, and, for a while, the goblins were afraid the castle might be blown into pieces for the second time. To their relief, his shock was soon replaced. Instead, dark clouds massed on the sky, cementing upon the castle. It started to rain. And the streets flooded again.
Miserable and scared, the goblins didn't dare to approach him. Hunching in the corners and corridors of the castle, they waited for Jareth to return to his senses.
After weeks of endless rain, he decided he had enough. For what kind of Monarch was he, if he couldn't control his temper? With furrowed brown, he shoved the grey clouds away and got up from his bed. A King shouldn't let a simple whelp drive him in ruins. He would show her and to himself, he triumphed.
Overjoyed, the goblins welcomed Jareth and organized a huge party with loads of beer, chicken and music. And for a while everything appeared to be well. He listened to and tolerated his subjects with a strained patience that had been unseen before.
To goblins, the life continued as before. To him, there remained but pain.
Bitterly, he realized that he had cast away all those who might have been able to offering him solace. He had no one but self to trust in and turn to, which was when he decided that was precisely what he would do.
He walked to the mirror, and stopped, watching his reflection -- his haughty features, sharp chin and mismatched eyes. The gaze of his reflection bore though him, and dark rims underneath the eyes made his face even sharper, giving him a haunted look. A frown on his face, he summoned his might; and with a wave of his hand, swept the air between him and his reflection.
"I need to speak to you," Jareth said.
For a while, nothing happened. Then the facade started to shimmer. Like rims of undulating sea, the appearing circles shattered the surface and his reflection. Quickly, the small ripples reached the golden frames of the mirror, swayed back and mixed together. His image swirled, deformed and twisted in front of his eyes. Colors mingled together, creating a creature with a lump of blond and something dark. Slowly, the foggy features regained back their earlier form. The mesh of a face was replaced with the same sharp features and a sneering face.
"You called," the reflection said, smiling.
"I need an answer from you, but keep it true."
"Always, my King," answered the reflection softly, eyes flashing dark.
"Always is not good enough," Jareth shook his head. "For what is always but forever…?" He nearly smiled.
His image frowned. "Careful, my King," it warned a cold look in its eyes. "Your power might stretch over many creatures, but doesn't bode well with me. I am, in every sense, your equal."
"And that is why I called for you."
They stared at each other for while, the same mismatched eyes gazing in each other, the same frown plastered on their face. Finally, the mirror-king snarled, "This is ridiculous, and I have better things to do. You have a question for me. Better be off with it soon."
"Not until you promise to answer me honestly and true."
Displeased, the mirror-king scowled at him. The dark cape behind its back swayed ghost-like, ripped by unfelt and unseen wind. "Very well," the reflection snapped finally. "You have my word on that."
The Goblin King tilted his head, his face like an unreadable mask. "I want to know how I can forget the pain," said he slowly. "My heart bores through me in every moment of my existence. I cannot stand it any longer."
The reflection regarded the King coldly. "Your problem is your heart," said it at last.
"Yes, I'm aware of that!" The Goblin King snapped impatiently. "Would you tell me something I don't already know?"
The reflection gave him a face. "As I said, the problem is with your heart," repeated it, "and matters of heart are those of love..." it hissed through its teeth.
He snorted. "That's preposterous, even from you!"
"Oh, truly, my King?" The reflection bared its sharp teeth, smiling mockingly. "Then why is it so that every morning you promise you won't care about her anymore. Yet still, every night in the shadows of your room you summon her image in your crystals?"
Involuntary, the King yanked in a sharp breath.
"Answer me why do you lay awake during nights, staring at the dark, and curse the same images you've earlier seen, unable to deny that the hollow pain in your chest remains only because of her?" the reflection hissed. "She denied you. You gave her your world, and she broke it into two."
Jareth flinched but didn't look away. "She was but a child," he said silently.
The reflection laughed. "Even you don't believe in your words." It shook its head, and the locks of white hair flew on its face. "If you're to forget the pain, you must realize what's the cause. Only then can you rid of it." It pulled itself straight, gazing at the Goblin King. "I have given you the answer you seek. What will you do, depends only on you," bowing, it told him. "I bid you now my farewells, Goblin King. May you never bother me again."
The surface of the mirror blurred, smearing up the image of the mirror-king. And when clear again, the mirror only reflected the frowning Goblin King staring at himself.
That night he made up his mind. Instead of summoning his crystals, the King turned his back on his room and the memories calling for him. Hesitating, he walked at the window, placing his hands on the windowsill, and gazed at the sight opening below him: the far stretching forms of Labyrinth. He inhaled deeply and listened to the wind that howled around before transforming into his owl-form; and spread his wings.
He flew over the Goblin City and its tiny houses, heard shouts and songs of his goblins. Never stopping, he flew over the Junk Yard, the Bog of Eternal Stench and the Hedge Maze.
When his feet finally touched the ground, he stood in the garden of eternal twilight. With a grim face, the Goblin King gazed around him, at the drooping flowers, silently rustling trees and dark grass beneath his feet. Somewhere in the distance, slithering forms of shadows slid through the ground. He heard them howling.
Jareth started walking, barely paying attention to the shadows that massed and followed him. When he finally reached the centre of the garden, a whole army of them was following him. He felt their hunger and heard their sounds. But still they lacked the strength to approach him.
"King of Dreams, make us whole," they begged from a distance, staring at him with gleaming eyes. "We're tired of night and wish for the light…"
"Silence!" Jareth snapped. "You have no more hope. You were given away! Shadows you are; and as shadows you shall remain."
"But memories of past prevail: those light and pure dreams we were. Please, return us to those whom we lost and who lost to you."
He looked at the nightmares, lost dreams of those who failed to solve his Labyrinth. A sense of hate burned his guts. He felt sick and tired of hearing and seeing them. "Begone, or I'll destroy you all!"
Desperately howling, the shadows dispersed and escaped. For a while, he stood frozen, before went on his knees. He stared at the ground before started fervently shoveling through the lawn and the first layers of wet soil by his hands. When he finally quit, perspiration pearled on his forehead. His gloves and his jacked were covered with mud and dirt. Jareth leaned backwards, tired and resolute at the same time.
He lifted his hands, staring at the dark gloves. Slowly, he took a hold on the glove of his right hand and pulled. The leather creaked as he tore it off. For a moment, the King stared at his revealed hand -- his lean, longer fingers and smooth white skin. He hardly recognized his hands as a part of himself. Then his expression froze. He pulled off the other glove.
Placing his bare hands on his chest and at his royal crest, Jareth closed his eyes and listened to the rhythm of his heart, pulsating, thrusting in his chest. His fingers were cold against his skin, colder than the sharp horns of his crest. He inhaled deeply, listening to the scared thumping of his heart.
"How you turned my world, you precious thing… " Jareth whispered and, with closed eyes, shoved his hands through the skin of his chest. He groaned, feeling the blood coursing through his veins. Red sparks appeared in his eyes; the strength fleeted his body. He shivered as in cold, but uncaring of the pain, dug further. Deeper, the Goblin King thrust his hands until they met his heart. Gently, his fingers curled around the slippery, burning heart. He heard a sickening 'snap' when the organ detached from its place, and opened his eyes. He looked down beating heart in his hands.
Carefully, the heart's beatings slowing down, he lowered his hands and froze, when it started shining with an eerie light. The blue light illuminated his bloodied hand and the grass around him. The light was so bright it hurt his eyes, and he had to turn his face away. Further away, the shadows started wailing, fearing the King's heart in their land of desolate and abandoned dreams. He sighed. It wouldn't last, he knew. No dream lasted at Nightfall's Land.
Hesitating, the King turned his attention back to the glowing heart and stared at it. His hands trembled, and the blood oozed from the wound in his chest.
"Love without your heartbeat," he murmured, shaking his head. "But I can't live within you…" He released it and saw his heart falling: its glow faded away, and, only then, with the return of the dusk, returned his haste. Hurriedly, he started piling up the soil on the hole, covering the glow of his heart.
The King left the garden with the gash in his chest already starting to heal. Nothing would remain of it but a memory of words and a need to retaliate.
With his own hands Jareth buried his heart. It was only fair, he smiled then; she would do the same.