Leaving behind the disgraced gargoyle heads, they continued down the hallways, Jareth with an added spring in his step, and Sarah seething silently at him. Ambrosious was indifferent; he trotted along quietly, ears back, just waiting for something bad to happen. After several more turns, they arrived at a small grotto with a flight of stairs leading upwards, and a door to the right.
"Where do we go?" Sarah asked, "Keep to the path, or up?"
"Neither," Jareth replied.
"Neither?" She repeated.
And with that, he leaned against the wall, crossing his legs. Sarah stared at him quizzically, but his smug expression made it clear he had no intention of further explaining himself. So she plopped down on the stairs, a determined look set on her face.
They looked at each other for a good ten minutes, before Jareth, whose arrogance had worn off a touch, spoke up.
"Aren't you going to ask me why?"
"No," Sarah replied simply.
"Why not?" He asked.
"Because you want me to. You want to tell me, but you aren't going to, not until I ask. But I'm not going to ask. I'm not going to let you have that satisfaction."
"Your stubbornness is a most unbecoming quality, my dear Sarah. You were much more fetching when you were cowering in fear when I came to collect your brother."
Sarah, who had worn a sulky expression prior to this statement, now took on a frightening look.
"Of course I was cowering in fear!" She replied angrily, "You threw a snake on me! Have someone toss something poisonous with big fangs on you and see what you do!"
"It wasn't poisonous," The Goblin King corrected, sounding a tad hurt, "Don't be ridiculous. I wouldn't throw a poisonous snake on a young girl."
"Oh, but sending her through a maze of death is fine and dandy, huh?" Sarah shot back, crossing her arms.
Jareth quit his resting position and stood up to glare down at her.
"That was your choice. I tried to persuade you to turn back, but you wouldn't listen. Do not forget, it was you who summoned me."
"I didn't mean to!" Sarah exclaimed, standing up to face him directly, "I never thought it would actually work!"
"Hmph!" Jareth sneered, "So like a human. Always speaking before thinking."
Sarah's face turned red, her hands balling into fists. She was about to tell Jareth, in most unladylike language, exactly where he could go and what he could do, when a sudden sharp tremor stole her attention. Soon, she found herself standing on level ground, as the staircase had sunken into the walkway, and revealed a new door.
"There," Jareth said, looking back at her, "You see? Patience is a virtue, one that you obviously do not possess. You're welcome to ask me which door is the right one again, and because I'm so generous, I might even tell you. If you are willing to apologize for your inexcusable behavior."
Sarah instead chose to shoot him with a glare so venomous that it made Ambrosious yip and cover his head with his paws, and Jareth feel the hair on the back of his neck prick up. Her glare wasn't one that simply said, "Drop dead"; no, it could only be taken to mean, "I hope you choke to death on your own intestines", or "I wish it were physically possible to tear out your skull and beat you to death with it". Sarah then marched into the new doorway resentfully, leaving the Goblin King and Ambrosious behind.
The dog hesitantly uncovered his head. Seeing that she was gone, he gazed up at Jareth and whined.
"Don't you look at me like that," the Fae said, "How was I supposed to know she would get that way?"
Ambrosious whimpered again, tucking his tail between his legs.
"Now you're just being stupid," Jareth replied as he stepped into the doorway, the dog following behind, "Besides, if she murders anyone tonight, it will be me."
Meanwhile, in a thick patch of forest not far away, Hoggle was finding himself in a difficult situation as well. When he had seen the army of trolls approaching, he had, against his better judgment, ducked into the Labyrinth to go and warn the Goblin City. But half-way through, he had spotted a troll sentinel on patrol, and realized that Edorin must have led a group of his elite to take the Castle. Now, with the troll army on the outside, and Edorin on the inside, Hoggle was stuck in the Labyrinth, one of his least favorite places. And without the Mirror Portals, he couldn't tell Sarah what was going on. So the dwarf did the only thing he could do: he hid. Until he became painfully aware that neither Ludo or Sir Didymus had the common sense to follow his lead, that is. Grumbling about their stupidity, grabbing a garden hoe to defend himself, and (for one of the few times in his life) summoning his courage, Hoggle went back out into the Labyrinth to find the two courageous morons that Sarah called her friends.
He wasn't having much luck; besides the troll, he had only run into two terrified goblins and a lopsided bush that looked sort of like Ludo.
"Just my luck," Hoggle grumbled, heaving his hoe back on his shoulder, "The trolls invade, and I gotta be the one ta go out into the thick of it. This is all Jareth's fault, this is! Goblin King! Ha!"
He trudged on, cursing under his breath, until he heard a strange noise coming his right. Hoggle stopped, readying his makeshift weapon. It sounded like someone yelling. He hurriedly pulled aside a few thick branches and looked in.
A group of shaggy red creatures were dancing around a goblin, who was hopelessly tangled in the branches of a gnarled tree. A small, cloaked figure was trying unsuccessfully to shoo them away.
"Aaaaye!" One of them said, plucking off his head and hoisting it up to eye level with the goblin, "What 'cha doin' up there, bro? That don't look no fun!"
"No fun at 'taaal!" Another agreed, "Why don't cha get down?"
"What do you think I'm trying to do?!" The goblin yelled angrily, twisting around, trying to pull his cape off the tree branch.
"You goin' about dat all wrong, bro! Pull off ya arms, den ya feet!"
"Take yourself apart, den put yourself back togedder on da ground!"
"Here, we'll show ya!"
The first one reattached his head, and pulled off his right arm, lifting it up and grabbing a hold of the goblin's leg. It yanked hard, caushing the goblin to cry out.
"Stop!" a female voice cried out, the hooded one trying to block off access to the tree, "Stop it! You're hurting him!"
One of the red creature stooped down to examine their newest find.
"It's a girlie!" He announced eagerly. The others crouched down beside him.
"Aaye, he's right! It is a girlie!"
"A girlie wit a pretty head!"
"Hey, girlie!" One creature chimed, his head turning upside down, "Can I try on ya pretty head? I always wanted ta see what I looked like as a blond!"
"Me next, me next, blond girlie!"
The small figure pressed her back against the tree.
"Leave Leija alone!" The goblin shouted, thrashing violently against the tree, "You lay a finger on her and I'll see to it that…!"
But the red things paid no attention. Two of them seized her by her arms while a third tried to pull off her head. She screamed.
Without realizing what he was doing, Hoggle charged into the clearing. With a calculated swing of his hoe, all five of the creature's noggins came off without much resistance.
"Aaaaaye!" One of the heads exclaimed, rolling in a circle, "I think I lost me head again!"
"Mine too, bro!"
"Me body's gone!"
One of the heads gave a shrill whistle. The bodies turned towards them.
"Oye! Over here, over here!"
The shaggy red bodies dropped the cloaked figure and hurried over to fumble for their heads. Seeing her fall, Hoggle dropped the hoe just in time for him to catch her. Her hood fell back, and soon, he found himself nose to nose with a beautiful, blond-haired gnome. Having pretty girls drop into his arms was a new experience for Hoggle, and the shock proved a bit too much for his system. So he accidentally dropped her onto the ground.
"Ah!" Hoggle croaked in surprise, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean ta! Ye ain't hurt, are ye?"
The gnome rubbed her cheeks, most likely to check if they were still there. Seeing that they were, she stood up and gave a small bow.
"Oh, yes, I'm fine! Thank you so much!" She said gratefully, "You saved me and Turnok from those awful creatures!"
"I…I did?" Hoggle asked, glancing over to where the creatures' poor bodies were trying unsuccessfully to locate their craniums, "I mean, I did!"
"Have you happened to see His Majesty the king, or a human girl with brown hair?" Leija asked, "We were traveling with them, but got separated on the way…"
"…king? Human girl?"
"Sarah?! Ye mean she's here, in the Labyrinth?!"
"Yes!" The gnome said, "She should be with our Lord. We must find them, before the rest of the trolls reach the Labyrinth. Please, will you help us?"
She looked at him pleadingly. Her green eyes were mesmerizing. They shimmered and glittered in the light, like…like….plastic.
"…a'course I will!" He finally managed.
Leija smiled warmly.
"Oh, thank you!"
"It's nothing'," Hoggle said, picking up his hoe, "I can't let ye wander about the Labyrinth by yerself, can I?"
"She's not by herself, you stupid dwarf! She's with me!" A voice howled.
The two of them looked up. An infuriated goblin swung on the branches above them.
"That's my friend, Turnok," Leija admitted, "Do you think you could help him?"
"I dunno if I can," Hoggle lied, casting a resentful eye upwards, "It's awful high up. Maybe we should jus leave him there a'while."
Leija gave him a beseeching look.
"Oh, alright," The dwarf mumbled.
I'm really sorry for how long this chapter took! Our family's been going through some difficult issues this week, but they've been mostly resolved, so I had enough time to finish this chapter! YAY FOR MOCHAS AND CHOCOLATE-COVERED ESPRESSO BEANS!
Thank you so, so, soooo much for your reviews! I tried to answer all of them, but I might not have…if I didn't answer yours, I'm really sorry! My next chapter should be out in half the time this one took (as long as doom doesn't rain from the sky again). It will have more Jareth/Sarah, another new character, revelations, and more Troll Lord deviousness! But tonight, my tank's running on just about empty, so I'm gonna crash in a few minutes…..*passes out on her laptop and drools; Jareth proceeds to poke her with a stick*