I'm baaaaack! I haven't posted here in YEARS. Having a daughter has occupied all of my time and writing took a backseat. I've decided to ease back into it, so here's a new Laby fic! I'm rusty, and I'm writing this as I go, so be gentle! Hope some of my old readers are still around. Enjoy!
Standard Disclaimers: Jim Henson owns Labyrinth. I'm just borrowing it. -NICO
The cold marble underneath his hands felt as if it would give way under the strength of his grasp. His iridescent eyes glared out across the landscape, which already looked entirely different than it had just hours ago. At first glance, The Labyrinth looked just as it had fifteen years ago when all of this started. But if one took the time to survey, they would notice the differences. The lush greenery that had blanketed several large forests was starting to brown and shrivel. Stone walls were crumbling and falling into themselves. Neatly cobblestoned pathways looked cracked and worn, with a few long stretches decimated completely. Statues that had stood for a millenia were seemingly melting into sand.
Everything, Jareth mused for what wasn't the first time in fifteen years, was falling apart.
For someone who had lived for longer than he could recall anymore, fifteen years was the equivalent of a mere blink in time. And at the rate things were going, his Kingdom would be nothing more than a desert of dust and sand in the same amount of time. His hands tightened on the balcony ledge again at the thought. A soft rap at his chamber door, audible only to those with Fae blood, drew him momentarily from his somber reflection.
"Yes," he stated, his rich voice flat as he walked to the center of the room. The heavy wooden door, made, on his request, from the rarest materials found in the land he ruled, cracked a bit more down the center as Markayus gently pushed it open. "Forgive me for the late hour, Sire, but we have more news of the Frelinthian clan," Markayus said in the businesslike tone that Jareth frequently found irritating. He regarded the slight, scholarly Fae disdainfully. Jareth was used to the presence of other Fae now, though it had taken several years. After the incidents that took place fifteen years ago, it became necessary to interact more with his Royal counterparts.
Jareth scoffed inwardly. "Necessary" wasn't the right word. "Mandated" more fit the bill. Word of what had happened, and of the subsequent damage The Labyrinth was suffering, spread quickly. Before he could refuse, the Council of Fae elders had intervened, sending reinforcements.
Markayus was one of these reinforcements. Having spent a great deal of time as an advisor to Jareth's father, Markayus was efficient, proper and practical.
The precise three things that made him all the more irritating to Jareth.
"What is it?" He asked, already knowing the answer. "They have left The Underground, Sire," Markayus replied, holding up the worn and leathered scroll he held in one gloved hand. "Earlier this morning they all relinquished their Magic." He flipped open the scroll with one exacting motion. A silvery, glowing signature from the chief of the Frelinthians was visible on the bottom, joining several dozen others. Markayus searched Jareth's face for a reaction. "That's the fourth clan to leave this week," he pointed out, hoping the urgency would register with his king.
"I am aware of the numbers, Markayus," Jareth drawled, turning his back and heading back out on the balcony. Markayus followed.
"At this rate, it will be nearly impossible to repopulate with new citizens, let alone reinstate the allotment of Magic each is required to imbibe," he noted.
"I am also aware of that," Jareth said through clenched teeth, his patience already being tried. He was well aware of the facts, he didn't need some piddling, interfering little insect list them off to him.
"We also have been monitoring the decay at the Lona river," Markayus continued, his voice tight with restraint as he struggled to maintain composure as he recognized the signs of his king's famous temper, "The water levels are two inches lower than they were at this time last month and-"
"Have you brought any news that might make me rethink cutting your tongue out with my letter opener and feeding it to the first creature to fly by my balcony," Jareth interrupted suddenly, his voice low with a menacing quietness that was more frightening than a bellow. Markayus swallowed hard and pushed his glasses higher up on his nose as nervous perspiration had caused them to slip. He flipped through his notes for a moment and then stood silently, too afraid to tell him that there was no good news. "Then that will be enough for tonight," Jareth said, his voice still deadly low.
"Yes, Sire," Markayus replied, slowly closing up his meticulous notes. Jareth turned his back to him and grasped the balcony again. Markayus began to leave, but then turned around to take in the sight of the imposing figure on the balcony. A long, heavy black cape billowed out behind him, lifting in the night breeze every once in a while to reveal the dark figure beneath, clothed also entirely in black. Wild, white-gold hair framed a face that appeared to be carved from stone. His sillhoute was sleek and strong, yet his posture hinted at an air of defeat that comes with a King whose land was slowly dying and whose subjects had begun to give up on him.
Despite his better judgement, Markayus cleared his throat. His sense of duty forced him to say what he was about to, but fear for his physical well being screamed at him to remain silent. "Perhaps," he said, his voice tentative, "Perhaps it is time to bring her back," he squeaked.
The marble crumbled under Jareth's grasp.
"Sweetie!" The woman gasped, her thin, tanned fingers flying up to her mouth. "It's absolutely incredible! You're a genius!" Sarah smiled slightly and blushed under the compliment."
"It's nothing, Margo," Sarah replied humbly.
"Are you kidding?" Margo backed up a bit, her arms spread out at her sides, "THIS is certainly more than nothing!" Sarah raised her eyes and regarded the piece of art before her. It was an abstract, just like the thousands she had created before, but still seemed to have the haunting effect that seemed to trump all other creations. Sarah regarded her manager, a sweet if not slightly eccentric woman, and noted the wonderment on her cosmetically (and surgically) enhanced features. Sarah recognized the same fascination, the same pure awe that washed across nearly everyone who viewed a piece of her work.
It made her stomach roll.
"I'm telling you, Sarah darling, when I see something like this I wonder how you could ever talk about retirement. You have no idea how much money you still have out there to make!" Margo exclaimed, her eyes still scanning the large canvas.
"I have enough money," Sarah replied quietly.
"Well then think about all the money you'll be depriving me of!" Margo replied, her loud voice and laughter reverberating off of Sarah's studio walls. "Honestly sweetheart, you just keep getting better. And this," she gestured again to the mesmerizing, dangerously beautiful piece of artwork before her, "Will sell for millions. I'm certain of it."
"Well after you take your cut, just make sure the rest of it goes into the trust," Sarah said, as she had so many times before. Margo scoffed.
"And people call me strange," she said, smiling at her young client. "Oh Sarah, why not actually use some of that money for yourself! Take a vacation! Buy a new wardrobe! Or for God's sake, move away from this bumpkin town and join us in LA to enjoy the 21st century!"
"I like the country, Margo," Sarah replied, laughing a bit. "I could never live somewhere with so much noise and congestion." She wrinkled her nose.
"What you call noise and congestion I call 'living the good life.' I doubt you even have a Starbucks in this town," Margo replied disdainfully. "Also, I'll have you know that there's congestion here too. My limo was stopped for a good twenty minutes on the way here because there was some sort of giant, deformed horse stopped in the road."
"A Moose, I would guess," Sarah laughed. "Well, technically they were here first."
Margo smiled and brushed a lock of salon created blonde hair out of her eyes with a perfectly manicured finger. "Still counts as traffic." She took a long look at the thin, pale woman before her. Dressed as she always was, a plain black t-shirt and worn, ripped jeans, she looked younger than her thirty years. A heavy veil of thick chestnut hair hung down the sides of her thin face, framing enormous green eyes that always looked too sad to belong to such a gifted person. Sad was a good word to describe Sarah, Margo decided, and suddenly felt a the familiar pang of unexplained sympathy for her. "Oh Sarah," she sighed. "Why not come with me back to LA? A friend of mine is opening a new club downtown, you could come along. Maybe meet some friends? It doesn't seem right, you here in the middle of nowhere all alone."
"I'm not alone, Margo," Sarah protested.
"Your cat doesn't count, darling," Margo said, eyeing the lazy ball of fur in the far corner of the room, snuggled up on a plush but worn catbed.
"I'm fine, Margo, really," Sarah said, forcing herself to smile again.
"At least make plans to visit your family," Margo urged. "Have you even told your brother about how rich he's going to be when he turns 18?" Sarah shook her head.
"He doesn't know about the trust," she replied, her voice soft.
"Well why not tell him? You hardly ever enjoy your success...or even talk about it, despite all of those high profile interviews I keep setting up and you conveniently forgetting about," Margo jibed.
"I'm sorry Margo. I just don't feel...right...bragging about what I do." Sarah apologized, searching for the right words. Before Margo could protest, Sarah continued, "But you're right. I haven't seen Toby in months and my father and Karen have been asking for a visit for a while now."
"Wonderful, honey, I'm sure they'll be thrilled to see you. Would you like me to arrange your travel?"
"I can handle it, thanks, Margo," Sarah smiled again. Margo smiled back.
"I'll have this latest masterpiece picked up either tomorrow or Thursday," she said. "And I'll keep you posted on the sale. I'm sure it will go within minutes of listing, just like the last one." Sarah nodded, following Margo as she headed back towards the door. "Have a wonderful time with your family, darling," Margo said, pulling on an expensive pair of sunglasses and giving Sarah a hug. "And let your brother know about all that money! Hell, all my older sister ever gave me was a black eye for ruining her favorite sweater." Sarah giggled. "Oh don't laugh. It was the 80's'; sweaters were very fashionable," she said, hugging Sarah again. Margo opened the door, where a sleek, impossibly shiny black limo waited for her.
"How much time do you think you'll need for your next piece, darling?"
"Not too long," Sarah replied quietly. "I'll call."
"You're an art dealer's dream, Sarah darling," Margo said, heading towards the limo. "We'll be in touch!"
Sarah watched from her doorway, waving as the expensive vehicle turned down her long, dirt driveway out to the dusty road, leaving a cloud of debris that shimmered in the late day sun behind it. Slowly, she returned inside, reaching down to pet her still sleeping cat as she reentered the studio. The cat roused and stretched, following its master to where she now stood, in front of an even larger, blank canvas that was already set up next to her latest completed work. "Margo doesn't ever have to wait for too long, does she, Atticus," she asked the cat, who mewed at its name and wove itself between her legs.
Sarah stared up at the blank canvas and sighed. "There will never be a long wait as long as I can do this," she whispered, gently waving her hand across the canvas in one slow, deliberate motion. As her hand swept past, the canvas suddenly sprung to life with vibrant colors, each swirling and layering perfectly across each other until another painfully beautiful piece of art was completed in mere seconds. Atticus mewed again, sounding a little anxious.
"Yeah, I know," Sarah said quietly. "It scares me every time too."