A/N: *peeks out from behind enormous curtain* H-hello everyone. I'm still here. Special thanks to everyone who didn't give up on this story. I haven't given up either; I've just been plagued with business and writer's block, and then business again. This chapter gave me a lot of trouble. I couldn't get the words to flow properly, so I hope you enjoy it.
Hoggle stopped Sarah in front of a rather large tent (in comparison to all the other tents) and swept an arm towards the opening. "His majesty King Menelaus's tent," he grunted, "Now get going."
"Thank you, Hoggle," Sarah replied with a small smile, putting emphasis on his name.
Sarah wanted to be anywhere but there. She wanted it so badly, she thought she might vomit. What was Menelaus going to do to or with her? Dread building up in her stomach, Sarah slowly pulled the tent flap back and stepped inside.
The king, who was lounging on a large chair (Sarah marveled at how he managed to acquire such a piece of furniture in wartime), looked up when she entered.
"Ahh," he greeted, rising and clapping his hands together, "Princess Sarah. It is a delight to have you here with us." Sarah frowned for a moment, before she snapped on an obviously false smile.
"The pleasure is all mine," she replied, curtseying with more flourish than necessary. She couldn't show Menelaus how terrified she was, so she was dishing out heavily on the sarcasm. Hopefully he would interpret it as anger instead of fear.
He did. His grin faded, and he crossed his arms. "Very well," he said, his voice losing much of its lightness, "Enough with formalities. I assume you know why I brought you here."
Time to play dumb.
"I'm afraid I don't, your majesty," Sarah replied innocently, "I was hoping you would enlighten me."
Suddenly, Menelaus's face grew dark as he uncrossed his arms. "Do not toy with me," he hissed, leaning in so his face was inches from Sarah's, "You know very well why you were brought here."
Sarah blinked. His voice was foreboding and frightening, and she struggled not to react. "If I know, why are you asking me?" she asked, trying to keep a hint of fear from creeping into her tone.
"Courtesy," Menelaus replied curtly, pulling out of Sarah's personal space, "Courtesy and respect. You are, after all, a princess."
"Have you brought me here for negotiations then?" Sarah inquired, trying to stall. Perhaps Odysseus had already spoken to King Jareth. If she kept the conversation going long enough, she could wait until he found her-
That was ridiculous. The Goblin King was High Heir, the ultimate authority. Why was she wasting time speaking to King Menelaus? If she was to act like a haughty princess, she needed to act the part entirely.
Before the Sprite king could answer her inquiry, she spoke up. "I refuse to negotiate with persons other than the Goblin King, High Heir," she stated firmly, hoping she sounded authoritative enough, "He is the only one I am obliged to submit to. You have no power over me."
For a moment, Sarah was afraid Menelaus would strike her. Her words had obviously struck a sore spot in the king. The cords in his neck tightened and she could see a vein in his forehead protruding slightly. However, instead of raising a hand against her, the king turned around and took several heavy steps away from her, his boots leaving deep marks in the ground. Internally, Sarah breathed a sigh of relief. Her relief was cut short, though, when he turned around with an expression that was borderline manic.
"Is that so?" he asked in a voice too quiet to bode well for her. Holding her ground, Sarah nodded.
"It is fortunate, then," Menelaus smirked, "That I have not brought you here to discuss negotiations. In fact, that is the furthest thing from my mind, little princess. Your purpose here is two-fold, and you will aid me whether you consent or not."
Sarah's mask slipped for half a moment, and she struggled to maintain her disinterested and haughty composure. "There you are incorrect, Sprite King," she replied, her voice miraculously unwavering, "Nothing you do or say can convince me to aid you in any schemes you have concocted. I will conduct any and all matters with the High Heir only."
This time, the mention of Jareth caused Menelaus to turn and furiously overturn the chair he was previously seated in. "You will cease to mention the Goblin King from this moment on!" he roared, whirling back around to meet Sarah's terrified gaze, "I am the authority! I demand respect!" He gripped Sarah's arm tightly, and she winced from the pressure. It took self-control she didn't know she had to calmly look him in the eye. He was obviously not sane, and the wild look in his eyes only confirmed it.
"Please release me," she ground out, tugging on her arm in attempt to get out of his grip. He did, slowly releasing each finger and then finally pulling his hand back. Sarah backed away slowly, not wanting to startle the king into doing anything more violent yet also wanting to put as much distance as she could between them.
"I suppose I should to tell you what it is you shall be doing for me, as you seem to be so willing to aid me." He remarked sarcastically. Sarah flinched as the back of her legs hit the desk, and she was unable to do anything but nod in response to the king's statement.
Ignoring her discomfort, Menelaus remained standing in the same place, clasping his hands behind his back once more. "I have brought you here for two purposes," he began, "The first being the most obvious. You and I both know that Prince Arden plans on launching an attack on our camp. He would not have traded you otherwise. With you here at our camp, it child's play to concoct a story depicting your kidnapping, which as we both know warrants a direct attack on our camps.""
"You plan on ambushing the elves," Sarah concluded after a moment of silence, taking hold of the desk's edge and holding it so tightly her knuckles turned white, "But that will only happen if King Priam gives the order to launch the attack. You are counting on Arden's ability to convince his father that an attack is necessary."
Menelaus shrugged. "Obviously," he snipped, "It will happen. But that is trivial. There is another reason I brought you here." He began to pace the ground, and Sarah grew uneasy. The king was obviously unstable, and she didn't like watching him move. Slowly, she pushed herself away from the desk, not wanting to be cornered against it.
"Rumors have been spreading around my camp like wildfire," the king continued, oblivious to Sarah's unease, "Especially ones revolving around the house of William. Perhaps you could give me some information regarding your family."
Sarah's blood ran cold. Menelaus knew about the prophecy. There was no denying he had at least some idea of it. Breathing deeply, Sarah tried to stall. If only she could find the Goblin King. He would know what to do. But Sarah was on her own; she had to rely on her own wits if she wanted to make it out of the tent without giving the Sprite King too much information.
"What do you know about your brother, Toby?" Menelaus asked, too impatient to wait for Sarah to reply, "Specifically, how... talented he is."
"I hardly know anything about my little brother," Sarah answered, relieved that she wasn't a suspect, but terrified that the king was keeping an eye on her brother, "I haven't seen him since he was very young."
Menelaus grunted. "Indeed," was his brief response. He moved to sit upon the desk and lean on his hands. "Well, you aren't completely useless to me, despite knowing absolutely nothing about your family."
Narrowing her eyes, Sarah snapped, "I will not be a tool for you! I am not a spy you can simply pump for information."
That was obviously the wrong thing to say, because suddenly Menelaus was off the desk and inches away from her face. His hands gripped her shoulders so tightly that they quickly began to go numb, and Sarah was certain there would be finger-shaped bruises mottling her shoulders in seconds.
"You are in my custody, and you will be whatever I want you to be," the king hissed, spit flying from his mouth in his fury, "If I say you are a spy, then you will be a spy. If I decide to send you back to those elves, then that's what will happen. I tell you to dig trenches, you bloody well will dig trenches. You have no rights here, little princess. You are nothing more than the skills you possess."
If Menelaus hadn't been holding her so tightly, Sarah would have been shaking like a leaf. The Sprite King was absolutely terrifying. She quickly dropped her face, unable to look the king in the eyes. They held so much hate and malice, she suddenly found herself wondering if she would even make it out of the tent in one piece.
Slowly, Menelaus released his grip on Sarah. His face still loomed over hers, and as Sarah turned her gaze up to meet his, she saw that his pupils were dilated to the point that his irises were hardly visible. He looked truly deranged. It was then that Sarah realized she had to stop counting on the Goblin King coming for her, and think of her own way out of this.
First off, she was going to have to play along with the Sprite King. If he snapped again, Sarah was certain she would suffer more than a few bruises. Carefully, she opened her mouth to inform him that she was willing to make a compromise.
However before she could say anything, Menelaus swung an arm towards her in a move that looked as though it would catch Sarah across her face. "You will be silent!" he shouted, his patience completely run dry.
Stumbling backwards, Sarah tried to dodge the king's flailing arms. She managed to stay clear from his swinging limbs, but tripped over her own feet and landed on her lower back. Her tailbone throbbed painfully, but she ignored the sensation in favor of scrambling backwards away from the advancing Sprite King.
As Sarah awkwardly pulled herself off the ground, she quickly decided to drop all plans of waiting for Jareth. Menelaus looked as though he was literally about to explode with pent-up rage. Backing up towards the tent's opening, she suddenly bolted out the flap. The only thing on her mind was getting as far away from Menelaus as she could, and as close to any possible allies as she could.
Faintly she could hear Menelaus hot on her heels, calling for someone to grab her. Sarah hoped she would find help before he or anyone else was able to catch her. As she tore through the camp, Sarah began to panic. She had no one to help her for certain in the camp except for two people. The odds of finding either of them were not in her favor at all.
Sarah had made it halfway across the camp when someone caught her by the lacings of her dress and tugged her backwards. Landing on her already bruised tailbone with a cry, Sarah turned frantically to see who had grabbed her.
It wasn't Menelaus. He was several yards behind her with two other soldiers, having been unable to keep up with her pace. Instead, by standing soldier had caught her and brought her to the sand. He was tall, almost as tall as Jareth, and he had piercing blue eyes that looked oddly familiar. They widened in shock as they took in who exactly Sarah was.
"S-Sarah?" The boy was decorated as a general, obviously not a foot soldier.
"Oh my gods," Sarah breathed, "Toby?" She quickly picked herself off the ground and choked back an unexpected sob. He was so grown up, standing before her, wearing his uniform and looking so much like an adult, like a king.
His eyes filled with tears as well, and before Sarah could even register what was happening, he had wrapped her in a bone-crushing hug. Sarah buried her head in his shoulder, trying to keep her sobs at bay. Finally, after ten years, she was able to see her little brother again.
"I'm so glad you're safe," he choked out, doing his best not to lose all composure, "We were always so worried about you, you know, not being able to hear any news from you." Toby pulled away, still holding onto her shoulders gently. "You look so grown-up."
Sarah laughed, a watery noise that hardly sounded human. "You're one to talk," she sniffed, smiling through her tears, "You're taller than me now."
Toby smiled sheepishly. "It's been a while," he admitted, "But how did you get here? Why are you here?" Turning to King Menelaus, who had been watching the exchange in silence, he repeated his question. "Why is Sarah here?"
Suddenly, Sarah clutched tightly to Toby's uniform. "Don't let him take me with him," she whispered, "Toby, you can't let him take me."
"We were in the middle of negotiations, General," Menelaus replied smoothly approaching the siblings, "Now, if you would hand her over to me, we can continue them."
When Toby opened his mouth to protest, the king's eyes darkened. "That's an order, General," he barked, his madness seeping into his voice, "You will obey, unless you desire to be flogged."
For a terrifying moment, Sarah thought Toby might actually release her to the Sprite King. However, he gave her a reassuring squeeze instead, and shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Your Majesty," he replied, "But I can't do that. The princess is under my protection. She will be coming with me." Toby gave a slight bow and began to turn away from the king. However, the Sprite King's voice caused him to stop.
"She will not be going with you," Menelaus spat, "Fifty lashes, for insubordination. Seize him!"
Quickly, the two soldiers accompanying the king jumped forward, reaching to grab hold of Toby's arms. Toby reacted just as fast, giving Sarah a quick shove. "Get out of here!" he hissed, "Find someone you can trust." Lowering his voice, just before the soldiers got a grip on him, he whispered, "I'll find you. Don't worry about me."
With a nod, Sarah pressed a quick kiss to her brother's cheek and took off running for the second time that day. She knew she had to find Jareth this time. He would be the only one able to put a stop to Menelaus, and hopefully catch Toby before he was whipped.
The Sprite King was chasing after her again. Soon he would overtake her, as Sarah was far too exhausted to continue running at her current pace. Turning sharply around a tent, she did the only thing she could think of.
She screamed for Jareth.
With the tent empty, Jareth now had no idea where Sarah and Menelaus could be, but he was determined to find them. They hadn't been gone long from the tent; Jareth could feel it. Spinning on his heel, he continued down the line of tents, magically flipping each flap aside as he stalked.
"Menelaus, you coward!" he bellowed, ignoring the shocked shouts from each occupied tent he opened, "Come out and face me! Or do you quake behind the skirt of a mortal girl?"
His rage practically blinding him, Jareth had nearly reached the opposite side of the camp in a matter of minutes without any sign of the Sprite King. Instead of cracking air surrounding the Goblin King, his fury had caused him to lose so much control of his magic that he was surrounded by his own miniature sandstorm. The magic swirled and roared around his head, but the sand did not come in contact with his person.
However, Jareth noticed none of this, his mind totally wiped of all coherent thoughts save for one.
He wheeled about, reason slowly seeping into his thought process. He needed to get a grip on himself, starting with his magic. Closing his eyes, Jareth focused all his attention on reigning all the loose magic back into his control. After several moments of breathing deeply, Jareth opened his eyes to find his personal sandstorm had completely vanished.
Having finally gotten control of his senses, he glanced back at the path of destruction his rage had left. Tents barely held on to their skeletons, the air was clouded with dust, and soldiers were still stumbling out of their tents in confused shock. The mess had only just registered in his mind when Jareth's attention was drawn to his left.
Someone was calling his name. Immediately, the Goblin King knew it was Sarah. He took off like a bolt towards the sound, a cold knot settling in the pit of his stomach. If Menelaus had harmed Sarah, he would suffer a slow, painful death. As he ran, Jareth was planning all sorts of ways to punish the Sprite King for his insubordination. But first, he needed to find Sarah.
He dove between tents, this time ignoring all sense of direction. Trusting his instincts, he followed the gut-wrenching sound of Sarah's terrified cry. Any being who failed to scramble out of his mad path in time was shoved aside as he ran.
A flash of dark hair dashing behind a tent caught the corner of his eye, and he quickly changed course, sprinting towards the obviously female figure. "Sarah!" he shouted fairly certain he'd found her, "I'm here!"
The figure whirled around, and Jareth was relieved to see that his guess was correct. Sarah began to run towards him, but something caught her arm, jerking her back. She let out a pained yelp, and Jareth quickly reached the girl, only to find King Menelaus holding her arm in a vise-like grip.
"Menelaus, release the princess," Jareth commanded in a breathless voice. He hadn't realized how fast he had been running until he stopped and found his heart was threatening to burst out of his ribcage.
Sarah looked exhausted, and her cheeks were stained with tear tracks. However, she looked otherwise unharmed. For this, Jareth was extremely grateful. Their eyes met, and relief visibly spread across her features. She looked at Menelaus before looking back at Jareth.
"He's got Toby," she gasped, barely holding in the tears filling her eyes, "You have to help him. He's going to whip him. Please."
It took quite a lot of self-control not to rest his hands on his knees and catch his breath, but Jareth somehow managed to stand tall and look dignified. "It's going to be all right, Your Highness," he reassured Sarah, "General Toby shall not be whipped. Now, Menelaus, let go of the princess."
"Like hell the General won't be flogged, Goblin King," Menelaus snarled, "Jareth, why is you want me to release her? We were having such a... pleasant chat, weren't we, Princess?" He gave her arm a rough jerk, and Sarah let out a small noise of discomfort.
"Hardly," she grunted, trying to delicately pull her arm from his grip, very mindful of the bruises making her limb so sensitive, "Let me go. I don't have to negotiate with you any more. And you're hurting me." Her voice wavered
"Enough, Menelaus," Jareth snapped, his patience long since vanished, "By the power that is my own, given to me by the gods to wield as High Heir, I command you to release the princess."
Expression darkening all the more, Menelaus slowly let go of Sarah's arm and gave her a shove forward. She stumbled, and had Jareth not caught her by the shoulders, she would have hit the sand. Pulling her close to him, Jareth felt her arms encircle his body, and he gave a sigh of relief. She was alive and, for the most part, unharmed.
"It hardly matters anymore," Menelaus spat, his eyes flashing dangerously, "The elves will be here any day to strike battle on our camps."
Jareth's brow furrowed in thought for a moment before he finally comprehended what Menelaus meant. "You're completely mad," he breathed in furious horror, his arms unconsciously tightening around Sarah, "And utterly depraved. This isn't some game, Menelaus. You've signed the death sentence for thousands of honorable soldiers, you fool!"
Eyes narrowing, Menelaus straightened up to his full height. "They are expendable," He shrugged, "The end justifies the means."
"The end being what?" Jareth demanded, "What do you hope to gain by this, you fool?"
"What belongs to me! This is the only way to completely destroy the elves-"
"Enough!" Jareth shouted with a wave of his hand. Shackles immediately materialized and wrapped themselves around Menelaus's wrists. "You will be placed under arrest until the High King can decide what to do with you and the absolute horror you have managed to set into motion."
A/N: Phew. Well, if any of you are still out there, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. If you're not too angry over the wait, please drop a review. I'd love to know what you thought of this chapter, especially since it gave me so much trouble.