A Picture of Sarah

Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen, for my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great — You have no power over me.


Carefully a furry hand reached down into the hidden pouch. The paw brushed the edge of a small glossy piece of paper then quickly withdrew. Sir Didymus was glad the picture was undamaged by his recent quick yet fierce battle with the Fire Gang. He triumphed, as he always did, by his sheer skill in battle. Only one creature had ever bested him and Sir Ludo was now a very dear friend. If only Sir Ludo were here now, he might not be so very afraid. Or so weary. His poor hind legs were killing him. But he had promised and Sir Didymus always kept his oaths.

The Bog of Eternal Stench was not far ahead now, just on the other side of this large hill. If only he had his faithful steed to carry him onward but Ambrosius had been taken by the Goblin King not long after Lady Sarah escaped. He hoped the poor beast was alright. He topped the ridge and tasted the perfume scented air that had once been his home. He never did understand why all those who passed through had complained of a horrible stench. But to him the air was a sweet and wonderful.

It was getting to be what counted as night Underground and his keen warrior eyes could just make out Hoggles Castle ahead, the two stories of stone and towers poked out of the tree-lined Bog. The Goblin King had been very serious about making Hoggle Prince of the Land of Stench. He lived far better than most of those Underground, having a few hundred goblins who had been unlucky enough to fall into the Bog to boss around. Not that that stopped Hoggle from complaining, he always found something to grumble about. Sir Didymus had long ago determined that he liked it that way and was not happy unless he could complain. And do so loudly.

With a sigh, Sir Didymus resigned himself to the gripes Prince Hoggle would come up with this time. Hopefully Hoggle would be too happy to complain too much. After all, he was bringing him a gift today. Hoggle loved gifts of all kinds and since this one came from Lady Sarah herself, he would treasure it all the more. It was his pleasure to bring it to him. If only he didn't have to hand deliver it as requested.

He knocked on the ornate door shaped like a long pointed goblin nose and entered when told to.

"Hoggle, my dear friend," he said closing the door behind him, "I have a lovely gift for you!"

"And what might that be," a cold yet musical voice before his eyes even had a chance to adjust to the brightness.

With a start, Sir Didymus squinted and bowed low, his tail almost perfectly perpendicular to the floor, "Your Majesty!"

The Goblin King, lounging across Hoggles small throne, examined him silently. Was it just his imagination or did those cold eyes linger momentarily on the secret pocket? Sir Didymus wondered if the King knew what he was bringing. Hoggle was cowering behind his throne, looking terrified, his fancy clothes seemingly in tatters. He shook his hand ever so slightly, Sir Didymus understood it to mean be careful but he didn't know why. This was the King after all. He waited politely for the King to speak.

Finally the Goblin King raised his chin and spoke, "Well Sir Didymus what is this marvelous gift you have brought for Prince Humperdink?"

"Hoggle," Hoggle mumbled quietly, earning him a long look from the King. He cowered back even further and didn't say another word.

He could not let the King have Sarah's gift, it was for Hoggle. And he had sworn to deliver it only to him. But to lie to the King? Maybe he could bend the truth ever so slightly. Puffing out his chest importantly he said, "Why friendship of course, what greater gift could there be?"

The Goblin King smirked, "Ah yes. Friendship. I had forgotten how close you two are. Always have been." He watched Sir Didymus squirm in discomfort for a few seconds then continued, "But then that wouldn't be the complete truth, would it?" He stood, "But I tire of these games Sir Didymus, I have allowed them to go on for far too long." He held out his hand, "Give it to me."

Sir Didymus stepped back slightly, "And what might that be Your Majesty?"

The Kings eyes flashed in anger and the smirk disappeared, "I thought I made it clear that I was through playing games. I know she summoned you and I know you returned with something to deliver to our resident coward here. You will give it to me or I will remind you of the lessons you were taught after the first incident six years ago."

Sir Didymus flinched unconsciously but was determined not to break his word. Now give this only to Hoggle, the kind voice said in his head, we had it made especially for him. It was his honor on the line and not even the King was going to stop him. He bowed low again, "I am sorry your Majesty but I cannot she bade me to hand deliver it to Hoggle."

The smirk reappeared and the Goblin King moved aside, "Then by all means."

Sir Didymus bowed again, "Thank you Your Majesty." He approached Hoggle who was frantically shaking his head. Sir Didymus wondered why he was doing this, "Why are you shaking your head in such a fashion Hoggle? It will not harm you."

"Don't give it to me you idiot of a dog," Hoggle whispered.

Sir Didymus still did not understand, "But I was made to swear that I would. I must."

"Can't you see what he's doing," Hoggle continued insistently.

"Oh calm down old boy," Sir Didymus said reaching into the pocket and drawing forth the paper, "With compliments from Lady Sarah." He held it out for Hoggle to take but Hoggle was staring at the King behind him.

The King motioned, "Go one Prince Hoggle and take it unless you want to find out what it takes to be the eternal King of the Land of Stench?"

Gulping Hoggle quickly grabbed the gift and scanned it. It was a picture, just a simple picture. But it was a picture of Sarah. She was still as beautiful now at the age of twenty two as she had been at sixteen the last time he'd seen her. And sitting beside her on a park bench in front of ocean like waves, was her ever faithful friend Ludo, now in disguise as a simple dog. A big dog but a harmless one to untrained eyes.

"Give it to me." Hoggle looked up to see the Goblin King standing in front of him, sharp eyes offering no mercy for defiance. Hoggle held it out and the Goblin King snatched it, eyes combing the small picture. The smirk grew, "You've finally given yourself away Sarah dear. Hiding from me all these years, always escaping just when I began to move, it was all very clever of you but with this one picture, I know just where to find you. And I don't forget." He remembered the two others in the room and his grin turned shark like, "Or forgive."

*AN* Well, we're about to start out on a strange and interesting journey together. This is just a prologue of what's to come.

Read and Review if you feel like it. Or don't. I'm open.