Once touched


The official Bardic Scribe of the Goblin King

Paisley Rose



I own it not,

I get no pay,

I have to write

Or the King will slay….

(it rhymed…)


The Labyrinth and all its inhabitants are the sole property

Of The Jim Henson Company.

Can I help it if they don't treat it right and the King has other ideas?



There are certain rules and regulations that must be observed when one is dealing with the community of beings known as the Fae.

Don't ever ask a nature spirit's name. This is bad manners and, besides, they won't tell you. It is said that knowledge of a faery name by another confers power over the faery on that person.

Never eat their food, even when offered, because something may be asked for in return. Accepting the faery cake may put you under an obligation to them.

Some nature spirits dislike being disturbed by humans or even being seen by them. Never intrude. If they run from you, don't give chase and if they ask you to leave, go.

Never put a faery down or make comparisons that put them in a bad light. Claiming, for instance, that a child is fairer than a faery is certain to provoke their anger.

Some traditions warn of even speaking of the faeries.

Above all, tread lightly.

Or stay away. An Irish lady was asked if she believed in the little people. Her reply was that she didn't believe in them but that she knew they were there. Maybe she had the best idea.

People carried off to fairyland cannot return if they eat or drink there. Fairy and human lovers can marry, though only with restrictions whose violation ends the marriage, and often, the life of the human. Some female fairies are deadly to human lovers. Fairies may resemble humans in size. Female fairies may be fortune tellers, particularly prophesying at births and foretelling deaths. Celtic folk beliefs generally paint fairy rings as dangerous places, best avoided. Mortals who have danced with the fairies are rarely safe after being saved from their enthrallment. Often, they find that what seemed to be but a brief foray into fairyland was indeed much longer in the mortal realm, possibly weeks or years. The person rescued from the fairy ring may have no memory of their encounter with the sprites. In most tales, the saved interlopers face a grim fate.

*Sarah Williams should have known this~

Chapter 1.

It should have been the happiest day of her life, but it was far from that. Sarah Williams lay in bed, demanding that the sun not rise that September morning. A demand like so many others she'd made in recent days that seemed to be going unheeded. The sun was rising, the birds outside her bedroom window were singing and Sarah Williams was not at all happy about any of it. Pulling the eiderdown pillow over her head, she closed her big green eyes tight as if that would keep the dawn from arriving. "Just stop the world and let me get off," she moaned into the mattress of her canopy bed.

Moments later she heard the light tapping on her closed door, and the cheery voice of her stepmother greeting her. "Good morning you lucky girl," Karen's voice was more sugary than usual. "What a lovely morning for a wedding!" The woman entered the room and pulled the drapes back allowing sunlight to stream into the room. "Come on sleepyhead," she giggled. "You've got to get ready."

Sarah sat up, looked at Karen with an expression of contempt, "Must you be so frickin' happy so early in the morning?"

Karen paused and pursed her lips. "What did you drink last night?" She didn't really take the insult from her stepdaughter too seriously. Over the last few years they had become closer as Sarah had matured.

Having second thoughts about taking this out on her stepmother, Sarah hung her head, "I'm sorry Karen; it must be the jitters, I really didn't drink last night."

Karen's happy smile had already faded, and was in no hurry of return. "Sarah," she came over to the bed and took a seat, "Is something wrong?" She reached out a comforting hand to the girl she'd helped bring up.

"No, what could be wrong," Sarah lied without looking at the woman; she didn't want Karen fretting, not today. "I'm just stressing…." She stretched and pretended to put things right. "I'll take a shower and start my hair…. Could I have a cup of coffee please, before my mother arrives?"

The woman with strawberry blond hair was not convinced. "Sarah, if you have doubts…"

'Have doubts,' Sarah thought to herself before she spewed another lie to the other woman. "What doubts could I have," she asked airily. "Jeff is just about the most wonderful man ever born… he's successful, he's handsome, and he's got a great future ahead of him… he's perfect… and I should be the happiest girl in the world."

"But you're not," Karen's voice was low and gentle. "I can see it, you're not happy…"

Sarah shook her head, "I'm committed," she insisted with a positive attitude. "Daddy and Linda think this is the best thing in the world… that I should be grateful the man looked twice at me… that he's~"

Karen stood up briskly, "I don't care if Daddy and Linda are happy with the arrangement…" she protested positively. "I care about you, you Sarah." She bit her lip, "I don't mean that they don't…"

"Karen," Sarah leaned forward. "Today is my wedding day… I'm just having Bridal Nerves… that's all it is, Bridal Nerves."

Icy blue eyes watched the stepdaughter rise from the canopy bed. "If you say so…" she headed to the door. "I'll get your coffee."

"Thanks," Sarah said stretching once more, "I'll hit the shower and everything will be better." Once the other woman had exited the room Sarah slumped back down to the bed, her shoulders sagging. It was harder than she'd thought to fool Karen. And if she could not fool Karen how in the world was she going to fool the rest, she was not that good an actress! She was not Linda Williams, actress extraordinaire, the woman could even convince herself it need be. Sarah on the other hand was not that good. She was going to have to work harder to pull this wedding off.

Sarah thought about Jefferson Davis Daniels, the man she was about to take as a husband. Jeff was everything she'd just told Karen, he was handsome, rich, and successful. He was everything most girls dreamed of, attentive and completely able to support a wife in a grand style. He was tall, dark and dreamy, but there was just something he lacked, something that irked Sarah to no end. Jeff for all he was, was not in the slightest dangerous. He was not cunning, or plotting or even mischievous. His dark brown eyes were like rich chocolate, and while full of life, didn't seem to have the power of a pair of eyes like stormy seas. In a nut shell, he wasn't anything like the Goblin King. But then no one on earth was, and it was a fact that Sarah had to accept.

Forcing herself to go to the bathroom where she pulled off her long linen night dress, she stepped into the shower and stood still while the water bombarded her. Closing her eyes she thought about the changes in her life since the night she'd accidently wished her brother into the hands of the Goblins and their King. At fifteen she'd gone through a long rebellious stage, and had been a most miserable and spoiled brat. She could see it now, all too clearly. She had blamed Karen for the failings of her parents, when poor Karen had little or nothing to do with it. She had heaped coals of anger on both Robert, her father, and Karen's heads while leaving her mother Linda and Linda's paramour blameless. All that changed on that stormy night, the night the Goblin King had come to answer her request.

After that night she didn't call Toby her half brother anymore, he was her little brother, not a half. She also took a new look at Karen, and saw a woman who had put her father's needs ahead of her own. Karen was absolutely the perfect wife for a lawyer, and the perfect hostess. Sarah had to admit that most of the requests made by her stepmother were more than reasonable, and that her taste while not as flamboyant as Linda's was impeccable and classic. She resolved to be more reasonable in her dealings with her stepmother, and it had made a vast change in their relationship.

When Toby was no longer in a crib but ready for a junior bed, it had been Karen who'd suggested the trade in rooms. The canopy bed, she'd observed was more girlish, and Toby would be fine in Sarah's bedroom. She pointed out that Sarah was growing into a young woman and really needed the larger bedroom with its private bath, and that Sarah's furnishings her vanity and other items matched the suite perfectly. Robert smiled and agreed. It had been Sarah who had been hesitating, but could not explain why. After all, how does one say to one's parents, 'I can't go in that room… that's the room I wished my brother away in and was challenged by the Goblin King…' No, it sounded nuts just thinking about it. Sarah's vanity had been moved in, and the young woman took a deep breath before entering. She'd half expected to find Hoggle, Didymus and Ludo looking back at her the first time she'd sat down at the vanity; however they didn't appear, not then or after. Sarah began to wonder if she'd lived the adventure at all…

High School was over all too soon, and Sarah attended the local junior college. No longer interested in the stage or in her mother's world, she took classes in journalism and creative writing. Her first article being published in the Nyack Villager spurred her on. She'd been only eighteen when they published her account of a local art festival. Then when she was nineteen she'd been offered a part time position at the paper, which led to her doing an interview with Jefferson… and the rest, was history as they say. Now one short year later Sarah was going to waltz down an aisle and become Mrs. Jefferson Daniels; unless something or someone was able to stop this insanity.

Sarah found a steaming mug of fresh brewed coffee sitting on the vanity, waiting for her. Taking her seat, she lifted the mug gingerly and looked in the mirror. "Hoggle where are you when I really need you," she lamented before sipping the piping hot brew. "I could really use your comfort my old friend." She moaned pitifully before lowering the mug back to the coaster that Karen had thoughtfully placed on her pretty white vanity.

The refection in the mirror didn't show the weathered face of the gardener from the Labyrinth. The only image in the mirror was a young woman whose youthful beauty had blossomed into womanhood. Sarah put moisturizer into her hand, worked it into the palms of both hands and then applied it gently to her flawless skin. She'd been blessed with her mother's good skin and beauty, and her father's good senses. While she knew she was pretty, she didn't count on good looks alone to get her through life. She'd buckled down and applied herself in both high school and her college courses. She could have had a great career as a newspaper woman, or even as a novelist for that matter. She had written a children's storybook that had been very well received. It was her father who had pressed for her to wed. Now she wondered why she'd been so quick to give into her father's insistence.

She looked at the picture frame sitting on her vanity, the one that contained the portrait of her intended. Jefferson was handsome, no mistaking that; his big brown eyes were full of confidence and manly pride. He was a man's man, enjoying polo and fishing equally. He was well spoken and well accepted. He was the kind of man most of Sarah's high school buddies were looking for. He was as comfortable in a saddle as he was a board room, and a skillful dancer. Sarah looked at the dark, handsome face, and shook her head. Turning to look at her reflection she turned her attention back to her makeup. This was her wedding day and she should look her best.

"Don't you look wonderful," a breathy female voice asked disturbing the girl's concentration.

Sarah didn't have to turn; the voice belonged to Linda Williams, her actress mother. "Mom," she greeted quietly.

Linda, dressed in a peacock blue Chanel suit that fit her like a second skin, moved into the room as if the home was still hers. "Add a touch of blue to your liner," she suggested, "It will give those green eyes a hint of mystery." She took a seat on Sarah's bed while the girl continued her makeup.

"How are you, Mom?" Sarah asked cordially.

"Wonderful, of course," Linda purred with reason. Her career was soaring, and her long term relationship with Jeremy Eden had blossomed into a well heeled marriage. "Jeremy and I are booked for a tour of the continent with the play this winter." She boasted proudly.

"That's nice," Sarah said truly happy for both her mother and Jeremy.

"Yes, well," Linda removed her gloves and shrugged. "I was actually going to suggest that you and Jefferson take some time to join us, perhaps around Christmas in England."

Sarah paused, hesitating in her movements, "I think Jefferson has us booked with his family in Virginia for that time, Mom." Sarah heard the slight resentment in her tone, a matter that gave her some concern. While she liked Jeff's family, she really didn't want to spend the entire Christmas season with them at the hunting lodge they kept.

"Oh, well maybe next year," Linda said oblivious of her daughter's concerns. "We'll be in Budapest for Easter, perhaps then." She flicked an imagined dust mote off her skirts.

Continuing with her makeup Sarah smiled, "Perhaps," but she had her doubts. Jeff had planned out a year long's itinerary, and very little of the time was going to Sarah's family. Jefferson was a man on the move up, and had told Sarah he expected his wife to support his upward climb. Sarah wondered what kind of upward climb the man could be making when he was already a success! His business sense was amazing, and it was rumored he was going to head into the political arena. Sarah shuddered involuntarily, and completely unnoticed by her mother.

"So did you tender your resignation," Linda asked blithely.

"Yes," Sarah heard the hardening edge and worked at softening her feelings of animosity. "They were very understanding," she added.

"Why wouldn't they be," Linda teased, "After all, you're going to be very busy with Jeff and his schedule. Much too busy to be bothered with covering silly things like art fairs or even that Renaissance Faire. You're going places Sarah." Her mother sounded prouder of the fact that Sarah was 'going places', then she'd ever been of the work she'd done for the paper.

"Yes," Sarah said quietly, "I guess I am."

"Time to get started on that hair," Linda suggested pointedly. "I do hope you're going to put it up…"

"Yes Mother," Sarah answered knowing that she was going to have to if she hoped to get the veil to sit right. The complicated veil with its elaborate head piece had been her mother's idea, not hers. In fact the wedding dress had been her mother's idea as well. Now she was stuck with a veil she didn't like, a wedding dress that she hated, and a groom she didn't want.

Linda looked at her jeweled wrist watch, "Better get a move on, the photographer will be here in an hour."

"Yes, Mother." Sarah went back to the bath to finish drying and curling her hair.


Toby stood in the doorway, watching his sister talk to her mother. His lips set in a grim thin line. While he didn't dislike Linda, today he really was not happy about her being there. He didn't like the way Sarah was just going along. It was so not like her, this was not the normal behavior of his sister at all. For as long as he could remember Sarah had fire and spirit, and a sense of adventure, but this was not the way she was behaving today. Toby had seen no spark of fire in his sister in weeks, no, in months. Not since the announcement of the pending wedding. He moved away when she'd retreated to the bathroom to dry her hair. Slowly he moved to the back stairs that would take him to the kitchen of the big old Victorian house. His mother was putting the final touches on a breakfast plate for him, and smiled sweetly as he sullenly entered the room.

"What's the matter grumpy Gus?" she asked as she poured his juice.

"Does Sarah have to get married," he asked sullenly, placing his elbows on the table and cradling his chin in his hands.

"Now Toby, we've been through this before," Karen ruffled his unruly shank of hair. In the past few years the blond hair had come in thick and wild. No matter how they cut it, it seemed to have a mind of its own. "Sarah's grown up and deserves to have a house and home of her own, and a family that she's starting."

"Sarah can get married," Stormy blue eyes looked up at her, "I just don't want her to marry that jerk," he glowered.

"Toby," Karen admonished, looking about to make sure no one heard the slur against Sarah's intended. "I told you not to call him that. It's not nice!"

"Sorry," he said with a sniffle.

"It's alright," she promised, "Sarah will be home from her honeymoon in time to see you in the fall pageant, she promised." Karen tried to sound encouraging.

Toby had his doubts; Sarah had missed several events of late. Jeff had other plans, and Sarah had gone along with him. "She'd better," he warned darkly.

If Karen had heard the thinly veiled warning she had chosen to ignore it. "Eat, and get back up stairs and dress, the photographer will be here in an hour." She wiped her hands on a towel, "I'm going up to finish dressing myself, and help your father find his cufflinks." She paused for a moment to look out the back door. "Oh dear," she sighed, "Looks like a storm is brewing."

Toby watched her as she took the back stair case up to the floor above and the bedrooms. He walked to the door, the storm outside mirroring the one in his eyes.


Linda fastened the last of the thirty buttons on the back of Sarah's sleek gown, "Now didn't I tell you this was better than the one you were so sold on?" She boasted looking at the fashionable wedding dress. "You're a modern bride," she cooed.

Sarah hated the gown. She hated the long gloves and the revealing draped neckline with its lack of sleeves, and the 'mermaid' sweep of the bottom of the dress. It was Linda's taste, not hers. Her mother's praise of the dress was giving her a headache; she closed her eyes to the pain in her throbbing temples. There was so little of this wedding that she felt had been her idea… Not the dress, the veil or even the date had been Sarah's choosing. Not any of it~ including the groom. Sarah kept her eyes closed for a moment longer than she needed to, silently wishing something or someone would stop this insanity.

Toby, now dressed in his little ring bearer's tux stood in the doorway of his sister's room. "I think it's ugly." He said clearly leaning nonchalantly on the door frame. Standing there, dressed as he was, his arms folded across his chest, he looked far older than six.

Linda snorted at the little boy, "Don't you have something to do?"

"No," he said unfolding his arms and shoving his hands deeply into his pockets. "I just have to stay clean until the photographer gets here."

Looking down her nose at her ex-husband's second child, Linda frowned. "Don't bother your sister now, she's getting ready." There was a dark warning in her voice, a voice that was usually kind and generous with Toby. "Don't you want her to look perfect?"

"Yeah right," he snorted right back at the woman. "Sarah, Jeff is on the phone, says he needs to talk to you right now." He stepped back out of the room, calling over his shoulder, "Maybe he's changed his mind."

"Little monster," Linda growled, "I swear that child is half goblin sometimes!"

Sarah, started by her mother's words gulped hard, "No he's not." She said defending her brother. "He's just unsettled by all the changes, and I for one don't blame him." She moved away from her mother huffily.

Linda felt a pang of guilt for upsetting Sarah, "I'm sorry honey, nerves you know."

Sarah moved to the hall where she picked up the extension to speak with her groom, "Jeff this had better be important," she warned. "I'm swamped here, and the photographer will be here any moment now."

Jeff laughed carelessly; "Sweetheart, this is very important," his voice was confident and robust. "You'd better pack that extra bag we talked about; we're going to be extending the wedding trip… I've received a rather prestigious invitation from the governor of Virginia!"

"How nice for you," Sarah sighed, not really as impressed as she knew she should be; "When?"

"Right after we return from Spain," he said still feeling pleased with himself, "Straight through to when we are due at my parents for the Thanksgiving Holidays."

Sarah, unaware that Toby was in the hall watching and listening, pursed her lips and stated in a very flat manner. "That won't work for me, Jeff. I promised Toby I'd be at his holiday recital, you know that."

Toby's body stiffened just as the first rumble of thunder sounded over head. His eyes began to narrow, and his lips thinned to a hard line. From where he stood he could clearly hear the voice of Sarah's groom on the phone. Toby always felt the man spoke much louder than he need to, all to be noticed and taken seriously. Toby's dislike of Jefferson was igniting to hate.

"Oh come on Sarah, surely he has enough attention from your father and his wife." Jeff sounded slightly annoyed. "I'm talking the governor! This is much more important than some silly school pageant."

"Jeff, I gave my word, and my word still means something to me," Sarah said and looked up as the shadows changed in the hall. The light from the window shifted, and Sarah saw the dark clouds rolling in. "Just great," she muttered. "Jeff couldn't we go to the Governor's mansion after Toby's recital?"

"No," Jeff said harshly. "I've already accepted for us."

"Well I already told Toby I'm attending his recital," Sarah countered. "And I made the engagement long before you got this invitation."

"He'll just have to understand," Jeff sluffed off the boy's sure to be hurt feelings. "Some things are more important than his recital."

"That's not fair," Sarah said, regretting the words as they exploded out of her lips.

"Life's not fair, time that spoiled brat learned that Sarah." Jeff stated without concern, "You and your parents baby the hell outta that kid, and it's time he learned a few facts of life. I've accepted and that's that. I'll see you in the church," the line went dead.

"Jeff, Jeff…" Sarah shook the receiver at the ceiling and the rumbling overhead. "Damn it!" Turning she saw Toby, "Not now," she warned as she stalked back to her room. Linda had gone down to greet the photographer; an old friend of hers was doing this shoot as a favor. Sarah could hear the voices of her mother and stepmother down in the foyer.

Toby followed Sarah into the bedroom, just as the lights began to flicker and the skies darken in earnest. "Sarah, you promised," he growled. "You promised you'd be at the recital."

Stressed and angry, Sarah stomped her foot, "Toby, not now!"

"Yes, now," he argued reaching for her arm. "Are you going to be there?"

"I want to," Sarah said pulling her arm free as the first bolt of lighten flashed. She looked at the rattling windows, now why did that strike a chord? The rain pelted the windows in long hard sheets.

"Want to shamon-to…" her brother railed. "Are you going to keep your promise?"

Wanting to pull her hair out, and to rip off the gown, Sarah backed away from the boy and his coming tantrum. "I may not be able to," she admitted feeling a sense of defeat that was foreign to her being.

"You lied to me!" he screamed.

Linda and Karen both heard the scream down in the foyer, and looked at one another. The photographer looked up at the stairs before looking at the shocked faces of the two women.

"No, I didn't," Sarah railed right back. "When I said I'd be there, I really thought I could be…Toby, you don't understand…"

"I hate you," Toby pulled off his tux jacket, throwing it to the floor and stomping on it. "And I hate this stupid wedding! And most of all I hate that stupid man you're going to marry."

"Toby," his mother's voice came from the stairs. "Toby what are you doing?"

Glaring at Sarah, he extended his hand, his index finger wagging in the flashing of lightening. "I hate you Sarah, and I wish the Goblins would come and take you away… right now!"

Sarah blinked; she knew those words all too well. "Toby…no…" she looked up as the lights flickered and went off. Sarah felt the flickering electricity in the air and screamed.

Lightning flashed and thunder hammered the air. Toby gave out with a high-pitched screech of his own, the storm raged on over Sarah's house. The clouds boiled. Rain lashed the leaves on the trees. Thunder was followed by lightning.

Toby was listening. What he heard was an unnatural silence within the room. Sarah had stopped screaming so suddenly it scared her brother. He looked back to where she had been standing only a moment ago. The bedside light was out. "Sarah?" he called to her softly. She did not respond. There was no sound coming from within the room or from out in the hall, no sound at all coming from anywhere inside the house. The only sound was coming from the large French windows and the storm outside.

A white owl was flapping insistently on the glass; Toby could see the light from the landing reflected in its great, round, dark eyes, watching him intently. The whiteness of its plumage was illuminated by a series of lightning flashes that seemed continuous. Behind him, a goblin briefly raised his head, and ducked down again. Another did likewise both snickered and jeered. Toby didn't seem them; his eyes were fixed, locked on the owl's eyes.

Lightning crackled and flashed again, and this time it distracted him attention from the window by shining on the clock that stood on the mantelpiece; he saw that the hands were at thirteen o'clock. He blinked and was staring distractedly at the clock when he felt something nudge the back of his legs. He glanced down; something was moving across the carpet on scaly legs like a lizard's, with talons for toes. Toby's lips parted, but made no sound.

Behind him, something snickered. He spun around and saw it duck down again behind the chest of drawers. Shadows were scuttling across the walls. Goblins were prancing and bobbing behind him. Toby was watching the chest of drawers. Like the thing on the floor, it had a scaly, clawed foot at each corner, and it was dancing. Sarah's dresser and vanity were also dancing wildly .Even the tux jacket he had thrown on the floor was scurrying away.

Toby wheeled around, mouth open, hands clenched, and saw the goblins cavorting. They ducked away into the shadows, to evade his eyes .He looked for something that would serve as a weapon. In the corner of the bride's room was an old prop broom that had been used by Sarah in a play. Toby took it and advanced upon the goblins. "Go away. Go away," he demanded, trying to sweep them up, but the handle of the broom twisted in his hands and slithered out of his grasp.

The storm wind rose to a pitch. Lightning made daylight in the room, and scared faces suddenly began to vanish into cupboards, drawers, or down the cracks between floorboards. As the thunder boomed and the wind shook the curtains, a blast of air blew the window open violently. Between the fluttering curtains the white owl entered.

Toby wrapped his arms around his face, protectively and cried out. He felt the wind blowing his hair around, but the flapping had ceased. Between fingers he peeked out, to see where the bird was perched. Perhaps it had flown out again. A prolonged crackling of lightning was throwing a giant shadow on the wall facing the window. It was the shadow of a human figure. Toby pirouetted around as if in slow motion, with a grace he had no knowledge of.

Silhouetted against the stormy sky was a man, a vaguely familiar man. He wore a cloak, which swirled in the wind. Toby could see that his hair was shoulder-length and blond, the same shade that Toby's hair was. There was something else about his hair, its wild cut was familiar and Toby fought the urge to reach out and touch the strands that seemed to float on the air. Something glinted about this stranger's neck, an amulet of some kind; more than that he could not see in the dim light.

"Uh ...," Toby cleared his throat having for a moment forgotten all about Sarah. "Who are you?"

"Don't you know?" The man's voice was calm, almost kindly. Lightning traced the veins of the sky and lit up his face. He was not smiling, as one might smile on greeting a stranger, nor was his expression fierce. His eyes were fixed upon Toby's with an intensity he found compelling. When he took a step toward the boy, into the light shining from the doorway, Toby did not retreat. If his eyes and voice had not hypnotized him, the golden chain around his neck might have. A sickle-shaped ornament hung from it, upon his chest. His shirt was black, loose-sleeved, with silken cuffs at the wrist. Over it he wore a tight, black breastplate of armor. He was shod in black boots, over fitted black breeches, and on his hands were black gloves, soft well worn leather. His cloak attached to his shoulders and there was a high collar on the black as midnight garment. Accompanying him was a very strong scent, one that lingered like spices and fresh air. Surrounding him was a swirl of some sparkly glittery substance that as soon as it touched the floor or walls vanished.

"I ...," Toby answered. "I ..." The humming that he had thought he heard in the air was now quite distinct, and musical. The stranger smiled at his hesitancy, Toby had not expected that. When he spoke, his voice was a whisper. "You're ... him, aren't you? You're the Goblin King..."