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"Once upon a time, there was a beautiful young girl whose stepmother always made her stay home with the baby. And the baby was a spoiled child, and wanted everything to himself and the young girl was practically a slave. But what no one knew was that the King of the Goblins had fallen in love with the girl, and he had given her certain powers. So one night, when the baby had been particularly cruel to her, she called on the goblins for help," Sarah recited as she sat with Toby tucked into her side.
He was bouncing with excitement as she read the story he loved so much.
"Are goblins real, Sarah?" her little brother asked as he touched the book with his tiny fingers.
"No, Toby, it's just a book. Make believe, remember?" Even as she said the words, they didn't feel true on her tongue.
The nightmare from so many years ago always tried to pry its way from the recesses of her mind when she read this book. She had managed to finally pick it up without having chills run down her arms or her mind play tricks on her.
There were times she could have sworn she saw that damn owl's wings fluttering against her window, or a goblin's little feet running across her floor while she lay in bed.
She knew none of it was real. Now, seven years later, she could read the book to Toby every weekend, like he begged, without the nightmares or mysterious sounds.
She didn't much mind reading to him either; after all, this was her favorite book, too. The characters were so alive and beautiful to Sarah, and the king was merely a dream so long as she didn't picture herself as the damsel or Toby as the little boy she wished away.
"Say your right words, Sarah!" Toby squealed from beside her, poking her in the arm and pulling her out of her thoughts and back to their weekly ritual.
She pulled her cap tight on top of her head and leaned in close. "'Say your right words,' the goblins said, 'and we'll take the baby to the castle, and you will be free.'" Sarah giggled as Toby's eyes grew wide with delight.
"But the girl knew that the Goblin King would keep the baby in his castle for ever and ever and ever, and turn him into a goblin."
"But I like goblins!"
"Toby, you gonna let me finish this, or should I call upon the Goblin King to turn you into one?" She regretted those words almost instantly. Frowning she looked back at the book and began again.
"Oh, can I be a goblin, Sarah? Please!"
"Let me finish the story." She shook her head, laughing as Toby pouted.
"So the girl suffered in silence. Until one night when she was tired from a day of housework and she was hurt by the harsh words of her stepmother, and she could no longer stand it..." Sarah continued dramatically, looking over at Toby to see that he was once again captured by her words.
"I can bear it no longer! Goblin King! Goblin King! Wherever you may be take this child of mine far away from me!" Sarah and Toby both giggled as her voice went higher and higher. This, out of the entire book, had to be their favorite part.
The story went on like that for almost another hour until Sarah could no longer keep her eyes open. She was positive the unmoving little boy was asleep beside her as she let herself drift off.
Snuggled tightly into her twin-size bed, she sighed as her dreams took her away once again.
Toby, who had remained quiet beside his sister, giggled as a thought came to him. Slowly he wriggled his way free from her grasp and grabbed the book from her lap.
Sometimes at night, when Sarah would read to him, he'd wait for her to fall asleep so he could play with the goblins that hid themselves in her small room.
They'd dress Sarah up, the goblins promising that the king thought she was most beautiful this way.
"And he loves her?" Toby asked the smallest of the goblins as they pulled a sleeping Sarah flat on her bed.
"'Course he does." The smallest nodded as he shuffled around the room, watching as the others gathered what they needed.
"How come when I said the words before they never worked?" Toby asked, scratching his head as he looked at the words laid out before him.
"'Cause we wasn't ready," a tall goblin with stringy hair and a shield grunted.
"Sarah's gonna be okay?" he asked as he walked around the bed, his eyes on his big sister.
"'Course she is," One of the taller goblins smiled a toothless grin as he smoothed out Sarah's hair.
"You want Lady Sarah to be happy, don't cha, kid?" the tall goblin asked him as he pulled off Sarah's shoes and flicked them across the room.
"Watch it!" One of the Goblin's hollered as the shoe smacked into him, sending him sailing into a wall.
"But she can't read to me if she's gone," Toby murmured, thinking aloud and dropping the book as he rested his chin on Sarah's hand. She was sleeping so peacefully, and Toby wondered if she was dreaming of the Labyrinth. Did it look like the images from the book? Was there a Hoggle waiting to help her?
What about Ludo and Sir Didymus? If she got lonely, would they play with her?
"We'll read to ya." An older goblin bumped Toby's hand away from Sarah, making him scowl and plop onto the floor.
Toby thought about it for a moment. He did like the way they told him stories, how they danced around and acted out the scenes. Sarah was good at storytelling, but she was no goblin.
"Whaddya say, kid?" the meanest of the goblins asked with a glare. He was tired of doing the king's bidding, and this kid needed to make up his mind before they made it up for him.
"Okay!" he finally said as he stood up and opened the book once more.
"Now, we's gonna shake her awake, and you's gonna have to say the words," the fat goblin announced as he jumped on the bed and landed beside Sarah's face.
"You can't hurt her!" Toby's eyes grew wide as he watched the smiles on the goblins faces turn darker.
"Who said anything 'bout hurtin' her? King would have our heads!" The short goblin looked at the little boy in horror, as if he'd just been accused of murder. One hair, the king had said. One hair and I'll toss you all into the bog. No way would they hurt Lady Sarah.
"Good." Toby nodded as he took a step away from the bed like they had rehearsed.
"'Kay, now remember the words, kid," the meanest goblin said as he turned back to Sarah. He was ready. All they needed was the kid to say it, and boom, they could go home.
"'Cause she ain't our kin." The fat goblin laughed, grabbing Sarah's ankle.
"Oh. You're sure she loves the king?" he asked, suddenly feeling unsure. The goblins didn't look so nice anymore as they all grabbed a piece of Sarah.
"Yeah, okay," the fat one said with a shrug as they all began climbing the bed one-by-one, using the heads of the one below them as steps.
There were eight goblins in all surrounding Sarah, each one moving into position just as their king had ordered. They'd practiced this for years now, readying the Lady Sarah for their king.
"Ya know your words, right, kid?" the fat goblin asked as he grabbed a handful of Sarah's hair in his short fat fingers.
"Yep! Do I get to meet the king?" Toby asked, bouncing in place. The king had only ever come to him in dreams and whispers, though the goblins had brought him crystals as presents from him. He hoped that today he would finally get to see him. He had so many questions about the Labyrinth and his castle.
"Soon, kid." The meanest was getting extremely impatient. He'd been wanting to wrap his hands around Lady Sarah and have a go at her for years. Now, all that stood in his way was this tiny kid that the king claimed he needed.
"On my count," the smallest of the goblins shouted as he shot a look at the meanest. "Don't you ruin this!"
"Shut up and count," he spat back as his fingers itched toward Lady Sarah's mouth.
"One!" The smallest began as all their grips tightened at once.
"Two!" Sneers and dark smiles could be seen on all their faces as the wind outside began to howl.
"Three!" Bright white light flashed from outside the window as thunder boomed, and trees could be heard snapping. All the goblins jumped at the sound; it was the alarm they needed.
Each goblin took his mark, their hands and feet and mouths holding Lady Sarah down as she suddenly woke. Her screams were cut off as the meanest of the goblins slapped a filthy hand across her lips.
She tried to bite down on the nasty little fingers, tried breaking free from their hold, all the while promising herself this was nothing more than a nightmare. But each hold told her otherwise, every hand growing tighter as she tried to escape. She could feel her hair being pulled harder and harder every time she tried to move her head to see them.
Toby was frozen in shock across the room, his eyes as wide as saucers as he watched his thrashing sister. He felt so small then, so terrified at what was happening.
"Now, kid!" the goblin at Sarah's foot shouted over the thunder outside and Sarah's muffled screams within the room.
"Read it now!" another shouted at Toby, jarring him out of his daze and bringing his eyes away from his sister. Toby locked eyes with the chubby goblin screaming at him and then stared down at the book.
"I wish the goblins would come and take you away..." Toby clenched his eyes shut as he recited the words. He didn't need to look at the book to know the words he was shouting over the outside sounds. He did know that the louder he shouted the less he could hear everything else going on around him.
And so he read. Over and over, he repeated the words, screaming and crying as he went. He wanted Sarah to stop moving, and he wanted the goblins to leave.
Most of all he wanted the Goblin King to take his sister. He wanted him to take her now.
"NO, TOBY!" Sarah screamed, shaking her head just enough to jar the goblin off her face.
"No, you don't!" He jumped back on, grabbing handfuls of her hair and yanking until she cried out. Tears streamed down her face as she tried to beg Toby with her eyes to stop.
Not this, Toby…anything but this, she thought as the filthy hand smacked her again.
"Keep her mouth shut!" a tall goblin roared as he pinched her wrist, making her yelp.
"Keep going, kid," they all said as another round of thunder struck and the window began to shake.
Toby turned in his spot and crouched on the floor, covering his ears as the goblins argued and tried to keep his sister on the bed.
"Say your right words, Toby!" they all shouted as Sarah sobbed and bit into her tongue. She could taste the blood spilling into her mouth as she watched the chaos around her.
Please, she thought, please don't let them hurt Toby!
"Do it for the king!" Another round of shouts erupted in the room as her struggles became useless against the small army of goblins holding her down.
"Right now!" Toby choked out, and suddenly the room went completely quiet. Nothing but harsh breathing and pitch black surrounded them as Toby's words echoed in their ears.
"Toby…" Sarah whispered, just as she heard the sinister laughter of the man she thought she'd dreamed up long ago.
I want to thank JaspersDestiny for beta'n this for me. It meant a lot that she did this, even though it took me forever to get it to her. She is like a writers wet dream!
PandorasFF pre-read and made sure I kept this as close to canon as possible. Her happy flailing is what has kept me punching the keys on this keyboard.
Judo, I hope you enjoyed this. Readers show me some love. Dipping your toes into a new fandom is scary shit.
There are 3 chapters in all and I have been wanting to write this forever so I really hope that you guys like it.
See you guys tomorrow.