A/N- Ok, I know this is awful since I'm only like half way into Of Dreams And Broken Things, but when inspiration strikes...what is one to do? I have some solid ideas for this one. I hope you like it. With that said, feel free to let me know. As with most authors on this site, I am a review whore. So yes, hammer me with all your delicious comments =D Anyways, updates of Of Dreams And Broken Things will continue at a fairly regular pace, alongside this one, so hang in there. Alright, here it goes (fingers crossed)-
Disclaimer: I do not own anything Labyrinth, its characters, Jim Henson Productions or David Bowie. This story is of my own fiction and purely for entertainment use.
Chapter 1, A King, A Board, And A Pawn
The air was cold and still, emanating a haunting chill over forgotten icy stone. The sensational claws of foreboding were all that ripped through the void deprived of all but shadow and solitude. It was dark, the only visibility being the few precious inches of stone floor revealed by the weakening light of a torch. It flickered and spat, waging war with the seizing hands of creeping shadow. Slowly the light moved, step by step. The only clue as to the passing of time were tessellating creases of stone tiles moving through the clarity of golden light. The room existed within this small boundary, it held mass and reality within the unstable ring of light, and threatened destruction by the engulfing darkness; it was suffocating. It was emptiness. It was nothing. It was eternal. It was everything.
The echo of lonely footsteps layered one another, resonating within hidden walls. Time ticked to the haunting metronome, and came to a halt once they reached their destination in the center of the room. Light from the torch danced over the emerging form of a stone pillar. It was stale and lonely, waiting one eternity after another for the hope of light to breath life back into it. It was plain, revealing nothing significant but a golden saucer atop the plinth. The light flickered white across the saucer, revealing the dark fluid pooled within. All was still until the remnants of echoing footsteps faded back into the abyss.
Slowly, the light descended, touching down into the bowl. It crackled and roared as the flame took hold of the dark liquid, spreading its golden hue. The torch retracted, waiting expectantly as the light in the bowl grew and beamed.
The fire seemed to dance in a magical show of allure and awe as wisps of flame and tendrils of light twisted and twirled their way up into the darkness. They spun and constricted, creating a vine that stretched and burgeoned into an impregnated ball of light. The glow shifted and grew, bubbling into a fiery blossom. Sparks flew from its stem, and escaping waves of fire swayed and twirled like falling leaves.
And then the light started to dim. Soft sparkles drifted and fell back to the saucer, snuffing out as they made contact with the once combusting liquid. The light hardened and took volume while the blossom continued to flourish. When the enchanting moment was over, the rest of the fire dimmed, revealing the golden rose that hovered in its wake. It glowed, and swayed in an non-existent breeze, floating just over the pool of black liquid which rippled and shimmered as remaining sparkles continued to fall.
"No good can come from a King who beacons at such an hour." Came a chilling hiss with snake-like sensuality, echoing through the darkness.
"Must the King's company always equate to notions of foul play?" Answered a voice much darker.
"A King whose company is shared for a price, invariably costs most foul indeed." The voice answered, changing from an ominous echo to something more -feminine. There was a low rumble of laughter from the shadows.
"You know me well." Answered the King most sinister.
"I know your game. After all, I am the board." Said the echo.
As the mysterious voice faded into blackness, the rose started to twitch. The petals of the flourishing bloom began to twist and pull. In a sight almost as magical as the formation of the rose itself, the head of the flower dispersed as it spread into the glorious wings of a flaming butterfly.
The angelic glow fluttered its wings, and slowly glided about the pillar. Its form appeared to lag, making it seem as if there were multiples of itself as it glided from one side to the other. It started to glow brighter, making up for the lack of lighting from the once present fire.
"So what does your company cost me, Goblin King." The voice was distinctly woman now, and sounded vaguely irritated. Jareth's face remained impassive behind the flickering light of his torch.
"You know why I'm here." Jareth said, echoing the weighted darkness around him.
"I get so few visitors...you say you're here to keep me company; and I do so adore the art of pleasant conversation. Please, humor me, My King." Said the voice, presumably emanating from the strange magical butterfly floating in front of Jareth's face. The Goblin King's expression tensed, but revealed nothing else.
"You know what tonight is." His voice was low and rumbling. His eyes watched as the creature fluttered this way and that.
"Tonight is a night, like many others." It responded. Jareth did his best to restrain his irritated sigh.
"You can not keep her from me." His voice was harsh but contained.
"It is my soul obligation to protect her -from all those who may wish her harm." The voice annunciated. Jareth felt his ears give an involuntary twitch.
"You believe me to wish her harm?" Jareth said, sounding half amused.
"I believe you to be up to no good, Goblin King." The voice was quick to retort. Jareth's lips curled in a toothy sneer.
"But, do you believe me to wish her harm?" His voice was lighter, more pronounced.
"Harm comes in many forms, My Liege." Said the woman-butterfly-fire thing.
"Three years, you've kept her from me. I will wait no longer." He chose to change directions.
"You forget your place, My Lord. You do not command me." The voice grew with considerable intensity. Jareth bit back his anger.
"I am well aware of our -arrangement." He forced his voice to be slow and clipped. "But, you forget yours. She is of age, her will independent. You may no longer bar her from me." Jareth's voice purred with increasing arrogance.
"The Labyrinth will protect its Champion. I will do what is necessary to protect my master." The woman's voice was cold and distant. Jareth bit the inside of his cheek.
"You are still under the impression that she requires protecting. I wish her no harm...quite the opposite in fact." He said, letting his grin show through. The butterfly slowed.
"What is your game, Goblin King." It said after a moment. Jareth's sneer widened.
"I thought you knew?" He asked with sheer mockery.
"Enlighten me." Responded the woman.
"I plan to take her hand." He said, sounding ominously genuine.
"The girl? The girl who made you and your kingdom crumble, the mortal who denied you and all, the child who bested you at your own game?" The voice rambled in disbelief, making sure every description made a heavy blow against the Goblin King. Jareth took a very, very deep breath.
"The woman. The woman who made faithful allies of my subjects, the being that stood as my equal, the only living soul to ever solve my Labyrinth. Who better to rule by my side than my Labyrinth's Champion? Who better deserves the title of becoming the Goblin Queen?" He stated quickly, correcting all of the woman's intended insults. He'd had a hard time swallowing the pride that kept him from admitting such things, and had actually bit the inside of his cheek while saying it, but he'd been preparing for this.
"I smell something foul." The voice muttered. Jareth stifled a laugh.
"All games have their tricks, but I assure you this is my intention. What better way for her to rule you and you to protect her than having her here? At your side as well as my own?" He tried to reason with the insect, struggling to give it an honest smile.
"The fearsome Goblin King holds no grudges over the mortal girl -a child- who beat him to the very thing he's strived for, for hundreds of years?" The magic-flaming-butterfly wasn't falling the Goblin King's charms so easily, seeing the strain he put into his smile. Jareth's brow twitched, and his mouth pressed into a hard line. She was being condescending on purpose...she was trying to unravel him with his own rage. He was smarter than that -it would come in time.
"All the more reason to take her as a faithful ally." Jareth's voice was strong with eons of practiced sincerity. If butterflies had facial expressions, this one would be scowling.
"Her will is strong, stronger than you know. The years have only made her more fierce. Her soul feeds from mine. We are connected. You cannot take her, even with the ward removed. She must come to you willingly, Goblin King." The voice informed, she was starting to come around. After all, the Labyrinth needed to be ruled, and its master needed closer safe-keeping. While It was sure Jareth was certainly up to no good and didn't believe an ounce of sincerity he had put into his words, he had verbally proclaimed to take the girl is his Queen, that alone granted her some level of protection. While Jareth protected her from the world, the Labyrinth would protect her from Jareth.
"She will come." Jareth said, hiding his victory smirk behind the shadows.
"This is a dangerous game you play." Said the voice.
"I know the rules." Jareth's voice bubbled with cynicism. The butterfly continued to float.
"As do I." It responded. Jareth's body tensed in a stance of dominance.
"Then you know you can not interfere." He said. There was a pause.
"I will do what I must. My will is at her behest." The voice was as sharp as a razor's edge. Jareth pushed his snarl inward.
"Her behest is naught. With my command or not you will remove the ward. In this you have no choice." The Goblin King's voice hissed and rumbled. There was a lengthy silence as the two entities regarded one another. The butterfly floated and fluttered, registering the Goblin King's burst of anger and haste. He was determined she do this, she might even go as far as to say he was desperate...he was planning something, and she had a sickening inclination as to what. The butterfly continued to brood, realizing that if she were to gain any further knowledge she must allow him to make his move. The next words spoken were with blatant trepidation.
"...Very well. As His Majesty's request, the ward will be lifted upon the hour of her eighteenth year. You are free to look upon and approach the girl." The voice was cold and sterile, regretting the words as soon as they were spoken, but he was right, she had no choice. The Labyrinth's concealing ward ended with Sarah's childhood, and she was by no means a child anymore. The glowing entity fought a strain of worry at the thought, knowing the dark intensions of Its King.
Knowing he had crossed the threshold of victory, Jareth let loose the bindings on his snake-like grin, letting his inner motives play openly across his face from ear to ear in the flickering light. As if It were sensing the dark aura pour out of the deepest, blackest regions of Jareth's brain, the creature spoke up again.
"You may look and touch, but you can not keep. She must come to you of her own free will Goblin King, do well to remember." There was an inaudible sense of worry behind the sternness in the glowing insect's voice. Jareth's smoldering grin settled into a humble curl of the lips and his eyes narrowed on the beguiling figure.
"And you know what will happen once she does concede of her own free will." Jareth's voice was low and ominous.
"Yes." Affirmed the voice. Jareth's brow twitched in haughty amusement.
"Then you know you are powerless." The arrogance in his voice went unmasked.
"My power lies with her. Do not underestimate her again. It will be your second greatest downfall." The voice said, taking another stab at her imperious King's ego. Jareth felt a low heat in his chest, angry that he was being scolded by a butterfly.
The voice of the Labyrinth held its weight in gold. She knew the Goblin King to be selfish and arrogant, and had already assumed his true intentions. He wanted the girl, he wanted the power, he wanted the Labyrinth. Yes, they were playing a dangerous game indeed. The outright demand of the Goblin King spoke volumes to how much protection was needed, not just for Sarah but for the Labyrinth as well. But, he was right. In this instance, she held no power over his or Sarah's actions, and knew she would hold even less after what he was foreboding. But, that was all just a part of the game, raising the stakes. She knew her hand, and unknown to Jareth, knew his hand as well. She'd allow him this victory, allow him to stack his deck and build his bluff -a bluff she would call out all or nothing. There were plans, and there were plans. And the wisdom of the Labyrinth would weave Jareth's against itself, for his own sake, for Sarah's sake, and for most of all, the Labyrinth's sake.
Choosing to shake off the Labyrinth's stinging comment, Jareth instead responded with the joyous ascendancy he wielded far too well.
"I have no where to go but up. And, now that I have your official blessing, I believe that is exactly where I will go." Jareth said, giving a more than necessary and overly exaggerated bow and roll of the hand. Ah, yes, chivalrous gloating at its finest.
"Be wary, My King. Things may not be what they seem." Warned the voice, chirping in while Jareth's head was still descended. He felt the pull of a smirk, and stood before the pillar with easy grace, taking hold of the lapels of his jacket as he responded.
"They rarely are." He said with a tilt of the head and the quirk of a brow. He was happy, more than happy. The spirit of the Labyrinth's attentions narrowed. All the dark frustration and demand was gone. Surely, that wasn't a good sign. Jareth then vanished, both into and away from the darkness, leaving nothing but the echo of his final few words.
In the first few moments of resumed solitude, the golden glowing butterfly continued to flutter through the murky depths of hollow darkness, contemplating the consequences of the gateway she'd just opened. Slowly, the glow started to dim as the creature glided closer and closer towards the golden saucer atop the pillar. With the grace of a wayward feather, it touched down on the liquid, sending sparkling ripples across the surface. As the glow receded, the wings of the butterfly draped and cast over the pool of liquid, both sinking and dissolving into it in a colorful swirl like the rainbow of gasoline mixing with water.
And then the light was gone. The room was blank and endless once more, the sole pillar forgotten, leaving nothing but the haunting notion that the integrity of both their bluffs now rested in the ignorant hands of an eighteen-year-old girl, and could only hope that she'd been lucky enough to be dealt some semblance of a wild card. For her part, maybe then she'd have an inkling of hope towards leveling the playing field. The entity gave an invisible sigh, sending a slight breeze throughout the hollow. Already, the odds weren't looking very promising. The Goblin King rarely lost, only once, only with her. Perhaps that was enough leveling on its own? And in that, the spirit of the Labyrinth found the reprieve it needed to back up the reasoning for the hole it'd just placed Sarah in.
The iridescent glow of the digital clock loomed silently on the nightstand to the side of Sarah's bed. 11:59 pm. One more minute and she'd be another year older, but she didn't know that. She was fast asleep, curled up under the mass of cotton and comforter she'd cocooned herself in.
It was late May; the weather was at that odd transition between Spring and Summer, meaning bolstering hot days and crisp cold nights. She'd left the window open, letting the cool night air wash out all the humidity and heat the day had baked into her room. She gave an involuntary shiver in her sleep, feeling a sharp, chilling breeze suddenly blow across what little skin that was left exposed to the night air. She murmured, and rolled onto her side. As she settled back into her stupor, her unconscious self was unable to acknowledge that the strong burst of air was not the result of an innocent breeze.
There was a creaking of wood, and a faint scratching sound, breeching the calm tranquility of the night. Sleek talons clawed onto the windowsill, bracing as powerful wings flapped to an abrupt halt, sending the surge of air that had breezed over Sarah.
There was a pitter patter as a large white and golden owl shuffled along the windowsill. It leaned across the threshold, ruffling its feathers as it did so. It soon fell quiet, and the alien bird tilted its head, observing everything from a perpendicular angle.
The owl's large black eyes scanned over its new surroundings. A blue and silver haze blotched itself between roaming shadows. Normally, he wouldn't be able to see much from the shadows, but his owl-vision allowed him to see clearly in the darkness. Everything seemed so familiar, yet the room held a strange unwelcomeness reminiscent of a land yet to be discovered. In that theory, it was true. He'd never been in Sarah's room before, only watched from a nearby tree. Yes, it did seem familiar. He recognized the white post bed and matching dressers and shelves. He even recognized the orange and green tacky wallpaper and her poster of M.C. Escher's staircase hanging on the wall. He didn't know if it was a smile or a grimace he felt threatening to break the cold expression of his inner self. What he didn't recognize and immediately noticed was the clutter free organization and absence of all her toys and stuffed animals. Gone were her dolls and teddy bears and boardgames, replaced with rather highly sophisticated books, DVD's, pictures of friends, random memoirs and assorted electronics. The walls were decked with posters of presumably popular musicians and classic to modern plays. Aside from those few accessories, her room was bare, the only scatter being the sprawl of textbooks and notepads open on a work desk. As he looked around, he saw the only other light was coming from a clock on a bedside table. 12:00 am.
As the owl examined the now other worldly room, he couldn't shake the low wave of unsettledness that came with it. His head returned to its upright position once his gaze fell over the mound of blankets atop the twin bed. His keen eyesight did little to reveal the form beneath, she was covered in blankets with her head turned away from him. All he could see was the cascading mass of her midnight hair falling over her pale blue comforter. He felt a flare of excitement and swooped into the room, sending another gust of air, and causing tendrils of Sarah's hair to go up in gentle wisps.
Sarah shivered again, rolling in the opposite direction. The blanket fell down her shoulder, and she frowned in her sleep, continuing to fidget under the absent blanket.
After a whimsical twirl of feather and fabric, Jareth stood before the bed in all his sparkling glory. He was wearing an outfit similar to that of his last moments with Sarah three years ago -white pants, white shirt with a feathery cape, less dramatic this time of course- a result of just shifting from his owl form. His entrance held its usual grandeur, though he minded not to wake her. She was facing him now, thick waves of hair blocking out her face. His heart was pounding, he'd left the heart of the Labyrinth and the Underground so fast -all the anxiety of the past three years was culminating to this moment. Oh, there were so many things he wanted to do. Should he wake her? Have his wicked way then and now? Or wait and draw out her agony? Should he leave her sleeping, and rip her from her fantasies and throw her into her nightmares? There were countless paths to follow from one end of the spectrum to the other. So many things he wanted to do. So many things he was going to do. And as he stood, giddy as can be, he realized just how excited he was and, rather reluctantly, pulled the reigns on his whirling mind. Gods, calm down! Soon, you'll have all of eternity to taunt and torment the poor girl. Savor this moment, this peace, after all it may very well be her last. Besides, you're here on business, remember! He felt an inner smile at the resolution. Taunt and torment, yes two of his favorite past times. He'd had fun toying with her back then, but she was a woman now, and that meant a whole new kind of taunt and torment. After a moment, he took a breath, quelling his frantic burst of excitement.
While keeping his attention on Sarah, Jareth peered around the room once more. It was far darker without his night-vision. He couldn't get over how different everything was. He was expecting...what was he expecting? Toys and boardgames? No, surely not for a girl her age. But for some reason, the absence of the things that labeled her childhood left something uncanny within the depths of his thoughts. But, that was precisely the reason he was here. She wasn't a child anymore, so this should come as no surprise. What was he expecting again?
Once his eyes lazily made their way back to his sleeping beauty, he felt a flare of unbridled curiosity and knelt down on one knee and leaned over the bed. He waved a gloved hand above her, sending a pulse of magic through her in-order to insure she would not wake. He then cocked his head to one side and focused his gaze on her muffled features. Unsatisfied, he brought a hand to her forehead and swept away the layers of raven colored hair.
Jareth's eyes narrowed, and he felt a disturbing emptiness as he gazed upon Sarah for the first time in three long years. She had aged, very much so. Her face was longer, more angled, any trace of baby fat long gone. Long and feathered lashes splayed along her cheeks and her cranberry lips parted only slightly as she took one shallow breath after another. The soft moonlight cast a glimmer over her hair and a luminous hum over her pale skin. She was striking. Again, the uncanny feeling returned, causing his brow to furrow. Why was he so caught off guard by this? Of course she looked older, she was older. Was he really expecting the same fifteen-year-old brat from so long ago? An inner part of him grumbled, knowing the answer was yes. He chided his own foolishness.
Sarah shuffled her shoulder up into her cheek in her sleep, effectively drawing the brooding Goblin King from his curious contemplations. Jareth's eyes narrowed on her bare shoulder and reflexively drew the blanket up and over, ridding himself of any further distractions. He'd waited three years for this, since the very moment he'd realized the full extent of Sarah's victory. He'd been kept away for so long, barred from looking at her, even knowing where she was. He felt powerless. It drove him mad. And now she was here, so close to being his. He needed to keep focus. He'd reap the fruit of his spoils soon enough, and the fact that the very sight of her pale and exposed shoulder was labeled a distraction confirmed his need for stronger discipline. No matter the games they played, no matter the part she played in them, he needed to stay above it. No matter how much this was about Sarah, this wasn't about Sarah. He'd told himself this mantra over and over, now realizing his very words held little to no hold over him. He became angry with the realization, blaming her for his own petty coveting.
And as if that was the tear that had reopened a long forgotten wound, Jareth's thoughts started to fester. The way she lay so peacefully, enjoying the serenity of sleep, relishing in her picturesque human life, while he endured night after night of turmoil and frustration. Every day he thought of her, her image rose and fell with the sun. Everything. Everything about her -from the prize she'd stolen from him to the wanton feel of her would-be caress. He wanted to ravage her in every possible sense of the word. Could she say the same? While he highly doubted it, frankly he just didn't know. And he realized in that instant that, that was what griped him so much. Three years with nothing. He had no idea how she had grown and changed. No idea of her thoughts and dreams. Perhaps it was this inability to act that drove him so. The need for such information infuriated him. Why did he care? It certainly didn't matter. He glared at the complacent expression that donned her hauntingly beguiling face, and another strain of anger wormed its way through. She really has no idea what she is, does she? All these years..and she's just a normal adolescent. She has no idea of the power she wields, power that should belong to me. Does she even remember the Underground? For some reason, his mind's eye now perceived Sarah's numbing expression as irritatingly smug. Jareth's thoughts started a vicious rampage of ill-thought out assumptions, disgusted with questions he'd never thought to ask. Soon, he found himself snarling at the immobile starlet in front of him. Why was he so angry with her? She was sleeping, doing nothing ill or vein in the slightest, the exact opposite in fact. Was that it? Was he spiteful of her peacefulness? Again, the voice in the back of his mind rang through -What were you expecting? He forced back any further anger by grinding his teeth. It doesn't matter. She will fit my plan regardless. I will make her remember, I will make her forget. She will give me what I want. And then, what ever's left will be mine for the taking as well. His thoughts snarled.
It was then that he decided on a course of action, the question of her thoughts and dreams coming back to him. He brought a hand to her temple, and ran the backs of his fingers down the side of her face. His eyes narrowed, and he succeeded in hiding the ghostly smile creeping along his face. A part of him chastised his actions, for allowing himself to give in -to spite of all things. He knew it was childish, he was better than that, always keeping his emotions reserved and in check, but right now he just didn't care. The sight of Sarah's metaphoric halo brought a wave of unexplained resentment and unhindered irritation to the forefront of his mind. Yes, he'd weave his way into her mind, crawl under her skin and shatter her nerves -see how she really felt, learn what she really remembered and undoubtedly use such information to his advantage. Soon, he would know Sarah's dreams, he would know her nightmares. He reveled in the power he held to decide which he would grant her. And then a more delicious thought came to mind. ...maybe I'll be generous, and give her something...more. The glint of his sharp teeth shone like a predator's fangs in the pale moonlight. In the next moment he was gone, leaving nothing but the faint echo of his laughter to wash over Sarah as she started to toss and turn.