Haroo! Another chapter up! Hope you like it! I really like this chapter. It's really light and just plain fun ^_^
Disclaimer: *sigh* I GUESS I don't own The Labyrinth...I guess...but no seriously, The Labyrinth and all its original plot and characters belong to Jim Henson Company and Tristar Pictures. All original plots and unrecognized characters are my own.
That said, Enjoy!
"This is delicious! Thank you very much!" Sarah exclaimed. She was holding a greasy baked good in a cloth in her hand. It was rounded and slightly sweet with a paste in the middle that was dark and had a curious salty-sweet taste. It reminded her of a doughnut, but it wasn't.
The goblin who made it beamed under the praise, and scuttled off to fix her new queeny a package of them. She liked her new queeny. Queeny smelled nice.
Sarah held out her treat to Jareth, "Do you want some?"
Jareth's eyes widened at the gesture, but otherwise took it in stride. He took her hand and guided it to his mouth, taking a bite as he kept his eyes trained on her.
"Delicious." He said as he was swallowing, his voice husky. Sarah averted her eyes toward the goblin that was coming back to them. She'd only meant to not eat it all by herself. How did that turn into such a…sensual experience?
"Here y'are, lady queeny. I've fixed ya a special 'un fer you t' bring 'ome. Come see Nini again!" squeaked the little gobliness. She fairly hummed with eagerness.
"I will definitely be back. Thank you, Nini." Sarah smiled broadly at her. The exuberance these creatures so openly displayed was infectious.
Even as Jareth pulled Sarah away, Nini was jumping up and down and waving furiously to them.
"I will send these to your room." Jareth said as he took the package from Sarah's hand. In a blink it was gone. They began to walk again.
"You know, goblins are certainly happy. I don't think I've seen one who looked even remotely upset." Sarah said, as they made their way through the merchant's district. It was interesting to walk by the wood-and-mortar buildings that were really only a foot taller than her. It really made her feel tall, something she'd always joked about wanting to be.
She felt something brush up against her leg, but paid it no mind. By now she was used to the constant touching of her dress and arms so that she barely noticed them.
"Yes. Even when goblins are upset, it usually doesn't last for very long. To them, there is too much to do, and too much to explore, to dwell on emotions like sadness or anger. Today they are delighted to have a new queen. Especially the younger goblins. Goblins are mortal, you see, and are generally used to having change in reign. But since I am not mortal, there hasn't been a chance for them to experience the excitement of a new monarchy." Jareth said. He placed Sarah's hand under the crook of his arm and gave it a squeeze. Sarah felt her cheeks warm at the unexpected pleasure of it.
Goblins were stretching themselves out, trying to entice the king and queen over to sample their goods. Sarah wanted to, but Nini's had been the fifth stall she'd been to. She couldn't possibly eat any more food, or look at any of their crafts. She made a note to come back so she could see them all at her leisure.
"Lady queeny!" called a wizened voice. It was so unlike the squeak of the other goblins that Sarah automatically turned toward it. It was a lady goblin, old and shriveled. She had a bandana that held her hair and ears back, her nose long and straight, and her wrinkled face a dingy purple.
Sarah remembered this gobliness. She was the one that had tried to help her that day she'd tried to escape. Sarah felt her heart constrict with embarrassment as she remembered how she had treated this generosity.
"Oh, hello! I remember you. I'm so sorry about how I treated you—"
The old goblin waved her apology away as she hobbled toward with a makeshift cane, "Ah! Pay it no mind, milady. Ye were sc'red, was plain to see. Kingy had done ye bad, make no mistake o' that."
Jareth frowned, and Sarah squeezed his hand hard to keep him from saying anything. She had been scared, and if he couldn't handle the creature speaking plainly, then tough for him. "All the same, thank you for your kindness, even if it wasn't taken well. What is your name?"
The goblin drew herself up proudly, "Am Lach, I is. Always be gladin' to be helpin' the queeny if'n ever she needs it." Lach took Sarah's hand and pressed her face to it. Sarah could feel the paper-thin fragility of her old skin.
"Thank you, Lach." Sarah said. Lach gave her a toothy smile and hobbled away.
Jareth sighed, "The problem with old goblins is they get wise as well as smart."
Sarah chuckled, "I wouldn't call that a problem."
"Just wait." He said as they moved again. Sarah cast Lach another glance before turning toward their path. The Goblin City was just as much a maze as the Labyrinth. There were intersections and forks and loops that Sarah couldn't make heads or tails of. She supposed it would just take time. Jareth veered right.
"We won't be seeing all of the Goblin City—that would take far too long—but I did want you to at least get a feel for the capital of your country. Eventually, you and I will take a tour of the Kingdom to meet your other subjects."
"What else is there besides goblins?" Sarah asked.
"Take your pick, really. The Goblin Kingdom is the home of many different races. We have the Halflings—those that can turn into various animals at will; we have dwarfs in the mountains; the sprites of the sea and the forests. There are all manner of animals, some predominantly magical (like dragons or the kelpies) and then others that you would recognize in the aboveground. There are even elves, faeries, and daemons here, though only a handful of each."
"Daemons? Like the demons of my world?"
"I'm not sure, but I don't think so. I had not had enough time to discover all of your creatures in the Aboveground." Jareth gave her a shrug.
"Demons in my world are kind of religious spirits. They are usually evil, tempt us to do evil or try to hurt those that are good."
Jareth laughed, "Then especially not. Daemons are not spirits, and are not certainly not inherently evil. Your instructress will cover the distinction between the Immortal Three, and what daemons are, but they are not what you describe. Not all of them, anyway."
Sarah nodded, and spent the next moments in silence as Jareth led her to the residential part of the city. She watched the hustle and bustle of the goblins as they worked. Some stopped to greet her and touch her, as per custom, but even they went back to what they were doing. She noticed that there were no gender distinctions between goblins: she watched as females would chop wood and tinker with projects alongside males, and the males, in turn, would clean and cook alongside the females. To be honest, the only way she could tell the difference between them was the clothing. She thought about how Knut said that there was no distinction between male and females, but she was looking clearly at females in coarse dresses and males in tunics and trousers.
"Jareth," she said as he took another right turn. "One of the servants told me once that male and female goblins don't have gender separation, but I'm looking at goblins dressed in gender-specific clothes. And goblins have names that are clearly boy or girl."
"Ah." Jareth offered her a nod of approval, "Goblins have always had names. I don't know if you noticed, but aside from the clothing, there is no visible difference between goblins and goblinesses. There is no way to tell them apart. When they are first born, though, their…gender is quite obvious, so their dams will name them accordingly. This is to avoid confusion and save time when it comes time to rut."
"And the clothes don't do that?"
"Actually, clothes are a relatively new addition to the goblin lifestyle. They covered themselves, obviously, but when I came into power, gendered clothing became the fashion. At first, I'd made it mandatory in my castle servants, but they liked the idea so much that the Goblin City has taken it up. Goblins still don't much care about who is male and who is female, but it is another way for goblins to feel instep with other kingdoms. But enough of that; we are here."
What 'here' was, Sarah wasn't quite sure. As far as buildings went, the house was far bigger than the others-about the size of a normal two-story house, it was grand and imperious when compared to the goblin homes She noticed that all surrounding roads seemed to lead to it.
"What is it?" Sarah asked.
"You'll see." Jareth said, mysteriously. He went up the stairs leading to the wide double doors. The handle was built low for goblins, but the doors were large enough to accommodate the king and his queen.
He knocked, and there was an excited chattering that could be heard on the other side. The door flung wide open, and out came two goblins dressed in white, one male and one female. They trembled with excitement.
"Ooooh, your majesties, welcome welcome. I is Toq," the male goblin tittered. He was a green pallor with a bulbous nose and small ears and large eyes. "An' 'ere is Knot." He gestured to the female goblin with ruddy skin and a nose that curved up cartoonishly. They both pressed their faces into Sarah's dress.
"Good day to you, then, keeper." Jareth greeted.
"We is so glad kingy and queeny 'as come." Said Knot, smiling at Jareth when she stood back from Sarah. "The little 'uns has started openin' they eyes, they 'as. They'll need touchin' from the kingy, and now the queeny."
"Lead the way, then." Jareth said, and the goblins were gone down the hall.
"'Little 'uns'?" Sarah said quizzically as Jareth lead the way into the house.
He smiled, but only repeated, "You'll see."
The inside of the house was a mix between homey and sterile. There were a few pieces of furniture, and some decoration to warm the house, but it was sparse, and everything was scrubbed clean and put in its place. She was led down the hallway, to two sets of stairs—one that lead up, one that lead down. Toq had disappeared, and Knot was talking away, leading them down the dark stairs. Sarah grabbed Jareth's shoulder before she lost him in the darkness. He held her hand high to make sure she didn't trip.
"…the dams be still restin', Knot 'ave it. Poor things be bone tired, makin' no mistake o' that. The little 'uns are kept in th' dark 'n warm till theys 'ave they eyes ter see. In a day o' sommat, they see they dams for the firs' feedin', and th' las' time 'fore Knot and Toq take 'em over. Knot reckons this be the largest brood yet."
Sarah saw a soft light began to illuminate the stairs as they continued to descend and noticed that it was steadily getting warmer the farther they went. When she reached the bottom, she felt sweat gather on her forehead and cling to her braid. The heat down here danced on the border of suffocating.
Another light went on, and it was Toq who was lighting candles on the sconces. Sarah was struck with the powerful aroma of cured wood. The room was well furnished for what Sarah would guess is the basement. The walls were of stone, but the flooring was shining wood, and there were rocking chairs and basins and bassinets that lined the adjacent wall. In the middle of the room were two high backed chairs. Suddenly Sarah knew where they were, and what this place was.
"Th' light won' be botherin' the little 'uns if'n they only be on fer a time." Toq announced. "Sit, sit, yer majesties. We is going to make sure the little 'uns be fittin' to meet ye."
Sarah felt a shiver of pleasure run through her as she sat down in one of the high-backed chairs. She watched Knot and Toq carefully inspect each bassinet.
"Sarah, you are positively beaming." Jareth remarked, as if he hadn't known this would be her reaction.
She gave him a wide grin, "I love children, especially babies. I can't wait to see what goblin babies look like."
"Well, that's good, because you'll have to hold each of them." He said.
Sarah giggled, "Oh? You won't find me complaining. Why?"
"It's a tradition that each goblin brood is to be met by the ruling king—or queen. It is said to create a bond of loyalty between subjects and monarch."
Her eyebrows shot up, "That's a lot of goblins. You're expected to hold every goblin baby ever born?"
He laughed at her expression, "Not anymore, no. Once it was tradition that the king or queen touches each new broodling. However, the Goblins have grownlarge as a population; it would be impractical for me to hold every broodling that is born. The Goblin City is the first and largest hive of Goblins, but it is by no means the only one. More than likely, the leader of each individual hive takes up the task. I do, however, retain the responsibility of the broodlings in the City."
"So you've held every goblin in the Goblin City?"
"Yes." Sarah marveled at this. It sounded so time-consuming. What if President Bush had to hold every newborn in Washington D.C.? That would take up his whole presidency.
Knot came to them with two bundles in each arm. She placed the first with Jareth, then the last in Sarah's outstretched hands. The swaddling was about the size of her forearm, and she tucked it gingerly between her chest and her arm. She could feel the breathing from the cloth, and had to remind herself to not rip it open. Knot reached down to peel the fabric from the face of the babe.
Sarah had to choke a squeal in her throat, though Jareth and the goblins both startled at the noise.
It was so cute!
The little one she held in her arm was a pale blue in color, with a dark blue patch of hair that surrounded a singular horn no bigger than her nail. It's eyes were tightly shut, and its snout reminded her of a pug.
"Milady, ye mus' bring the little 'un t' yer neck." Instructed Knot gently. Sarah glanced at Jareth to see he was already doing so, rocking slightly. "They 'as agood sniffer, they do."
She pulled the swaddle up to her neck, as she was told. She felt the warm face of the babe against her skin, and a sniffle as she heard it breathe. It cooed softly, the sound not unlike the mewling of a kitten. She bit down on her cheek hard to keep another squeal of delight in, but couldn't hold in the smile. She imitated the sound softly.
"Milady." Toq called to her, bringing her out of her reverie. He held another bundle for her to take. Reluctantly, she surrendered the light blue babe to Knot in order to take the next one.
On and on this went for each babe. Sarah found that rather than dissipate, her happiness continued to grow with each broodling she inspected and held. Goblins, it seemed, had no shortage of variety. Each babe was unique, whether by color or by features. She found them utterly adorable. However, she was only allowed mere seconds with each one, and she understood why; according to Knot, these little ones could only spend so long in the light while they were this young. With nearly 60 broodlings, they had to be quick in order to integrate the scents and allow them to return to darkness. Still, Sarah wanted more time with them. Every so often she would look at Jareth, and watch as he was gentle with the little goblins. Sometimes he would catch her gaze, and they would share tender look and a matching smile. Sarah might have worried about these looks if she weren't otherwise preoccupied.
After about a half-hour—perhaps more, Sarah had no sense of time—all the babes were returned to their cribs and everyone else had ascended the stairs and adjourned into a parlor room near the front of the house. Sarah sat beside Jareth on the crude sofa.
"Ah, Lady queeny, I dunnot think there be more pleasure than tendin' to little 'uns." Sighed Knot as she sank into a chair. Toq returned with a platter containing a pitcher, two goblets, and a few damp towels. So engrossed with the babies was she that Sarah hadn't realized how damp she was from the sweat. That room was certainly warm.
She patted her neck with the towel, and took a long drink of water from her cup.
"When can Knot be lookin' fer the queeny's broodlings?" Knot asked expectantly as she fanned herself.
Sarah choked on her water. She coughed violently and looked at Jareth, who looked amused at the blunt question.
"Well, I…uh…that is, I hadn't really…" Sarah sought Jareth for assistance. 'I'm in a marriage with your king that I didn't consent to, and kids is the last thing I want to think about' hardly seemed like right thing to say, true though it may be.
"Faeries take longer to begin their broods, keeper. We are newly Bonded, and do not feel the need to add to our family quite yet." Jareth leaned forward toward Knot, his tone firm and ending the subject.
It was clear that the goblins were trembling under the hard gaze of their leader, so Sarah stood. "Thank you very much for your hospitality. With your permission, I would very much like to return and watch the progress of our newest additions to the city."
The statement was clearly unexpected—the goblins' eyes were bulging, and Jareth gave her an unreadable look.
"O…o' course, my queenie. Anytime ye wish it, Toq is honored…"
"It be Knot's pleasure, it would!"
The goblins quivered with happiness at the distinction of their queeny's attention a second time!
Jareth stood as well, set his goblet on an end table, and gave a courtly bow toward his subjects, "I thank you for the pleasure of your hospitality and the delicate care of our future goblins. My lady and I must take our leave, and we bid you good day and good luck with the newest brood."
The goblins bowed so lowed that their noses nearly hit the ground. Jareth took Sarah's hand and escorted her out of the house.
"I believe you enjoyed that." Jareth said, smirking.
"Ha-ha. Laugh it up. Where to next?" Sarah said, pointedly ignoring the fact that she did enjoy it.
"One last stop for the day. The gardens." At Sarah's glance, he clarified. "The plantations. The Goblin City usually imports most of our goods, but we dohave a few fields and an orchard. The goblins are quite proud of them, and as it is summer, I thought they might enjoy showing off their work."
"You mean you might enjoy showing off their work." Sarah quipped.
"A little bit of both. What king wouldn't take pride in the work of his citizens?" Jareth said, grinning with satisfaction.
"Alright, alright." Sarah said. She looked around and noticed the late afternoon gave a golden glow to the city. "If we're going to go, we'd better hurry."
"I do believe you are right, my lady." Jareth gave her a mocking bow.
Sarah rolled her eyes. "Then let us go, my lord." She returned with an exaggerated curtsy.
Jareth laughed and lead her down the path that would lead to the fields.
I hope you liked it! Don't forget to review! They are crack. Also I have learned that I can reply to some reviews, so that will be fun. Expect replies, but don't expect spoilers :P Until next time! It should be up soon!