I hope you all enjoy this next chapter!
"You wish for me to retrieve, Sarah." Jareth stated calmly.
"Is that her name?" Roarke enquired, though he had no real interest in discovering anything of a personal nature. His interest lie in discovering what she had done to the Labyrinth. For whatever happened in the Labyrinth affected the entire Underground.
"Yes," Jareth retorted, gritting his teeth. "That is her name."
"No matter," his father replied, effectively dismissing any rebellious anger that his son was displaying. "How long since she has returned Above?"
Glancing at his thirteen hour clock, Jareth replied in a terse manner, "Three hours at best."
"Three hours by mortal standards, or by Fae?"
"Either way it does not matter." Then, Jareth added with a malicious grin. "She has refused my offer. Therefore, the point is moot."
"Do you honestly think that such a thing makes a difference?"
"Of course it does!" Jareth exploded. Refusing to be put off by his father's quelling stare, Jareth continued in the same venue. "There are rules to be followed."
"Rules," Roarke questioned with a derisive rise of his eyebrow. "Since when have you held yourself accountable to the rules?"
It was true that Jareth did not follow rules well. He knew this. He found them constricting, and basically useless. And, since his kingdom was on the very borders of his father's entire realm, Jareth never felt particularly inclined to follow them.
"This is different," Jareth smoothly interjected. "There are some rules which even I realize must be followed. This is one such rule."
Roarke reseated himself in his overwrought throne. Then, while waving his hand through the air in a careless gesture stated, "Concessions have been known to have been made in the past. When I ruled this kingdom I broke a few of the so-called immutable rules as well."
Jareth, unable to keep silent, snapped angrily, "And we all know what a stunning success that turned out to be, now don't we?"
Looking Jareth square in the face, Roarke simply said, "I have no regrets."
His father's casual attitude toward this subject, of all things, infuriated Jareth. "No, of course you do not. All the regrets fall conveniently at the feet of others."
"This is not an auspicious beginning to our agreement," his father commented with wry cynicism.
"Thus far," Jareth shot back, "I have agreed to nothing!"
"True," Roarke acknowledged with a speculative gleam in his mismatched eyes. "Though, in the end you will. Of this I have no doubt."
"You are that certain of me," Jareth asked quietly.
"Of course," was Roarke's immediate answer. "I know your weakness, Jareth. I always have. But, out of respect for your mother I have not exploited that weakness."
"How touching," Jareth sneered, before continuing in a contemptuous manner. "The fact that you are willing to do so now speaks volumes of your respect."
Was that a flicker of remorse on his father's face? Jareth dismissed it as a trick of light. "It cannot be helped. There are forces far greater than personal concerns at work here."
Lowering his eyes, Jareth admitted, "I will not deny that Sarah exhibited a certain amount of skill in how she maneuvered through the Labyrinth. Other than that, I took no notice of anything else of great importance."
"Yet, the book took the unusual course of representing you, and this realm in its factual reality." When Jareth made to disagree, Roarke maintained his belief by adding. "There are a few variations, but on the whole this kingdom is reflected with remarkable clarity. That, in and of itself, is highly suspect. Normally, it taps into the imaginings of the child and adjusts itself accordingly."
"This is not the first occurrence of such a similar nature." Roarke's mocking expression caused Jareth to reluctantly tack on, "Of course, it has been long years…"
"Long years?" Roarke remarked with an incredulous curl of his lip. "Is it your intention to be purposefully obtuse?" Sighing in exasperation, he said, "You cannot be tied to the Labyrinth, this I know, and not recognize this extraordinary happening."
"What of the rights of the dreamer," Jareth questioned, ignoring his father's observations. "The terms have been fulfilled. To bring her back now would be a violation of those terms."
"It is true," Roarke mused, "that, that particular game has run its course."
Jareth knew from his father's calculating expression that he had something up the proverbial sleeve. He did not disappoint.
"It should be the epitome of simplicity for a new game to be constructed." Then with a negligent shrug of his shoulder, his father added, "You are, or so I am told, the King of Games."
"A new game?" Jareth echoed his father's words. Then, through heavily lidded eyes, he remarked blandly, "What you really mean is for me to trick her into returning. Trick her the way in which you had tricked my mother." Jareth was furious. "I will not take Sarah from her home!" Pushing forward, he exclaimed bitterly, "As you once did with my mother. Nor will I fill her head with nonsense and empty promises!"
"Tread carefully, my son," Roarke instructed Jareth firmly, his face cold and shuttered. "You speak of things in which you have little knowledge."
"I know enough," he scoffed, his disdain clear. "As for the rest… there are those who are all too happy to fill my ears with the truth of the matter."
"Gossip," his father replied, unruffled. "Nothing more. Your mother was not as ignorant of the truth as you seem to think her to have been."
"More lies." Jareth made his accusation with a voice filled with scorn. "You weaved for her a non-existent world in which there was no escape; a fantasy adventure that she had no hope of winning. You set her up to fail!"
"Tell me, for I am curious, how is what I have done any different from what you too have done? You answer the call of wishes just as I did. We are no different, you and I."
Jareth's eyes, so like his father's, narrowed. "I do not use trickery, nor guile to further my own purposes! Do you think that I am ignorant of the fact that you initially went to my mother's home with an entirely different agenda?"
Roarke didn't even have the common decency to look embarrassed at being caught out.
But, after a moment of silence he did ask, "How is it that information which has been kept secret these many years manages to make its way to you?"
Looking smug, Jareth replied, "Not everyone feels it necessary to lie and cheat in order to stay in good standing with the High King."
Gracing Jareth with a contemplative stare, his father remarked, "So few are in possession of the facts. I wonder who it might have been who has taken it upon themselves to enlighten you?"
Jareth knew that this was his father's way of trying to ferret out information. Well, he could dig until the trolls came home, but he was doomed to remain ignorant in this case. Jareth meant to keep the identity of his informant under wraps.
"Not your mother," Roarke stated with assurance. "So, it could only be one of those who had first-hand knowledge of the events. One who was there when I returned to Moira's home."
Shaking his head from side-to-side, Jareth promised, "It will do you no good, father. There are those which even you cannot control. Those who hold allegiance only to the Labyrinth, and to the one who reigns there." Sinking into his own throne, Jareth announced with satisfaction, "And just like them, you cannot force your will on me."
Resting his lips against his steepled fingers, Roarke regarded Jareth with steely resolve. "True. But, there are others who can be prevailed upon to take up the task which you refuse."
Leaning his head on his fist, Jareth allowed a mocking smile to cross his thin mouth. "My subjects are my own. Even the High King cannot command them. Only the Lord of the Labyrinth has control of all who reside in this land."
"Oh, how triumphant you sound. Though, it is a small triumph at best." Cocking his head to the side, his father asked, "Have you forgotten that you are not the only one tied to the Labyrinth?"
Jareth shot up in his throne, tension crackling like a living entity around him. Breathing in anxious breaths, he exclaimed, "You do not plan to retrieve her yourself?"
Chuckling in genuine delight, Roarke responded, "The notion does hold a certain appeal." Jareth clutched convulsively at the arms of his seat. "Alas, court duties keep me fully occupied. Yet, if you remain steadfast in your denials, I will be left with no alternative other than…" Roarke's voice trailed off.
"...Other than to have Jasper go in my stead." Jareth finished, his eyes flashing hate. "He would never lower himself to the extent as to go to fetch a mortal from Above."
"He will if I ask it of him." Now it was his father who sounded triumphant. "Unlike you, he does as his king and father bids."
"Yes," Jareth snapped in disgust, "Jasper, the ever obedient son. Do you never tire of his sycophantic ways?"
"You think your brother too attentive?"
"Half brother," Jareth stressed their familial connection. "He is as you" – and that wretch of Fae woman you now call wife – "have made him, the absolute epitome of Fae royalty. A master of obedience, in possession of exquisite snobbery, and well taught in the ways of useless, courtly etiquette."
"You may deride your brother all you wish. Never-the-less, he will bring the girl back if I ask it. Which, I will, unless you relent."
"You know as well as I that he has no regard for humans! Nor has he ever had the inclination to make an effort to understand them, or their ways." Jasper abhorred any interaction with humans unless he could dally with them for his own amusement.
"If that is what must be done," replied Roarke, sounding not the least bit concerned over Sarah's well-being.
Roarke watched as Jareth made his way to one of the large, high arched windows. Roarke knew well the view from that particular vantage point. The Labyrinth. There in all of its beautiful, wild, majestic mystery. How many times had he, himself, stood where his son now stood? How often had he gazed at the massive structure below attempting to fathom its well guarded secrets? Yet, only once had he glimpsed into the eye of the Labyrinth. For a tiny fraction of a moment he had beheld its fascinating depths, and he would never forget that moment. It haunted him still.
Bracing him self with a hand to the side of the window, Jareth spoke. "I will go for, Sarah."
"A wise choice, my son," answered Roarke, sounding quite satisfied.
Jareth spun around, facing his father once more, and added sharply, "Remember your promise."
Nodding his head, Roarke replied in a congenial manner, "But of course. Upon your return with the girl; I will hold to, and honor the words spoken between us here this day."
Wary, but taking his father at his word Jareth said, "Avail yourself to the comforts of my home. When you are refreshed, one of the goblins will see to your departure." Jareth hoped that his father would partake of food and drink, and then immediately return to his own realm. He had, had more than enough of his father's company. "I will return shortly."
"With the girl," Roarke's insistent demand was posed as a question.
"Yes," Jareth snapped back, "with the girl."
Jareth should have been filled with a strong sense of relief at his father's exit as he was taken away by one of his goblins. But, he was not. As long as his father remained in the vicinity of his mother he would know no sense of real peace.
With a snap of his fingers, a crystal appeared in Jareth's hand. Yes, he thought, I will go to Sarah. I will do as you command. But, I will do so on my own terms as well. I will discover for myself what power she holds.
"Prepare yourself dear, Sarah," he whispered beneath his breath while turning the crystal to and fro. Gazing deeply into its rounded contours, he added, "I am coming."