- LABYRINTH II
...             ...


CHAPTER XIII

Jareth led her down the hallway at a quick pace.  His mouth did not move in speech; only the sharp clickclack of his boots gave any sound to indicate his mood.  Sarah was of an equal silence, but her expression spoke adequately for her.  The Goblin King had glanced once at her down-turned mouth and wondered why it was he did not feel overjoyed that Sarah had realized the imaginary leash he had created for her.  Out of the corner of his eye he watched her; her eyes stared straight ahead, her face indicating to him that she had stopped thinking about the situation entirely so that she might focus her anger.  She was lovelier in the dress now than she had been five years ago; her anger caused her loveliness to flow over into a very definite beauty.  He came closer to her side and tightened his grip about her arm as they walked.  She gave a startled look up at him, then examined her arm.  His eyes glowed blue as he tossed her a mocking grin.  The slender curls about her face fluttered at the sudden strength of her breath, her eyes becoming wide, as if she were thinking that he would perform a malicious act of passion on her youthful body.  He bent his had back and laughed at her foolishness, his laughter frightening her more so than his stare, and causing her body to tense visibly.

            "Come now, Sarah, you do not think me to be that wicked, do you?" he teased.  "As if I would make wanton use of you, in front of a cheering horde of goblins?"

            "I"  She seemed at a loss for words, her anger returning in place of her surprise.  "I don't know what you'd do."

            He turned his face forward, his expression sobering for his next statement.  "Of course I wouldn't.  I would take you to my chambers for that."

            She looked up at him suddenly, wonder and fear dancing in her eyes.  He did not acknowledge her frightened stare or change his expression, so she faced forward, her angry countenance taking on a more terrified aspect.

            "Five years since our last encounter," he finally remarked. "Quite a long time."  She said nothing in reply.  "You've noticed that my castle has some new additions?" he asked. She still remained mute.  Her silence was a new method of rebelling, but it was just as well.  It would help him gauge the results of his next question.

            "How did you contact your friends, Sarah?" he asked, concealing the extreme curiosity and suspicion in his voice.

            Her eyes widened and she tilted her head.  "Contact them?" she eventually replied with caution. "What do you mean? They rescued me."

            She was responding to his inquiries. He knew why.

            "They couldn't have," he deduced. "You came into the throne room through a different door than they did."

            "We were separated," she replied coolly.

            He smiled broadly at how easy it was; he could see through her like a pool of water.  "You've become a good liar. But not good enough. Those two passageways don't connect."

            "I don't have to tell you," she bit out. "I'll do your favor because I have no choice, but that's the extent of it. My responsibility stops there.  And it's a responsibility I never asked to have."

            The problem with a pool of water is that it sometimes throws back one's own image, leaving the inside obscure from the viewer looking in.  He was past anger. She was cooperating to the degree that he needed.  That was all that was important.  "Very well," he declared quietly.

            The absence of force in his statement left Sarah surprised and confused.  With the loss of her memories and the constant fluctuation of her emotions, Jareth knew that she would soon be powerless to dispute with him.  She feared him enough for him to go to the next stage in his plan.

***

            They finally entered the dining hall. Sarah observed the room in bewilderment. She had never seen such anarchy before! Goblins were everywhere, either stuffing their faces or having food fights. Jareth led her to the far end of the table; she stood quietly as he shoved two goblins from his and her seat.

            He pulled her chair from under the table and helped her to get seated before he did so himself. Obviously trying to charm her into doing whatever he liked, she thought; his counterfeit hospitality was not misleading her.

            He motioned for one of the goblins to come to him and he whispered something into its ear. The goblin left the room and came back a few minutes later with two trays. He placed one in front of Jareth and the other in front of Sarah. Jareth speechlessly began to eat the meal. Sarah did not. She continued to glance fixedly at the tray of food. Her body told her she was hungry, yet she did not feel like eating.  The day's occurrences still plagued her mind, causing the appetite for thought to replace her appetite for food.

            Jareth put down his fork gave her a concerned look; she would not fall for his false worry.  "You are going to eat, aren't you?" he asked.

 

                                   

"I'm not hungry," she replied in a neutral tone.

            Jareth watched her from the corner of his eye. She was not a child anymore and she did not act as one. She had grown up. Mentally and physically. She was obviously aware of the real world and had learned to deal with it. He had been watching her over the years, but only as if he were watching a motion picture. He only caught the most important glimpses of her life; he hadn't often thought of her as a living person. The only time he regarded her as being human was when he remembered the way she had been in the past; that was the only version of Sarah he knew how to relate to. Now she was aware of his deceitfulness and caught on to his tactics, but she was also obviously not fully aware of them, or she would have been gone with her friends by now. He had to learn to relate to the Sarah of the present and put it to his own uses. He would find her new faults; he was already beginning to get an idea of what one of them was.

            "Are you sure you don't want anything?" he asked again. "Dessert maybe"

            She cut him off.  "No. Thank you," she replied softly.

 

 

Her former depression came over her as she looked at the necklace. She might die on the journey, whatever it was. If she did, her friends would be stuck as charms forever.

            "What are you thinking about, Sarah?" Jareth asked warmly.

            Sarah clenched her jaw and replied, "Nothing important. May I be excused?"

            "You can't escape. There are guards posted"

            She cut him off. "You must be quite afraid that I'll escape," she said quietly, almost to herself.

            Without another word, she got up from her seat and walked quickly out of the room. It makes me wonder who has the most control here? she thought to herself as she made her way to the throne room.

***

He was tempted to scold her for her remark, but she had said it quietly and timidly, and it meant she was slowly breaking away. She was finally doing as he had hoped she would, so he had no complaints. If that was so, why did he feel a slight tinge of guilt deep down?

            "Hoggle! Come here!" he cried.  Two goblins entered the room, holding the dwarf by the collar.

            "Yyes, your majesty?" Hoggle replied timidly.

            "Bring some rolls and refreshment to Sarah. See if you can persuade her to eat," Jareth commanded forcefully.

            "Yes, your majesty," Hoggle answered as he took the rolls and wine glass and started to leave the chaotic room.

            "And, Hoggle," Jareth called after him.

            The dwarf turned around, his body tensing.  Jareth's expression softened and he quietly said, "Talk to her."

            Hoggle's expression changed to one of confusion and shock, yet he obediently replied that he would.

***

Sarah had found her way to the balcony, a small area that outcropped from the throne room. She had just begun to appreciate the view when she heard the sound of footsteps. They could not have been Jareth's, for they were soft and closely spaced. It was most likely a goblin in that case; she hadn't much interest in anything that moment, least of all goblins. Neither did she have the curiosity to find out if her conclusion was correct.

            She leaned on the banister and bolted upright when the footsteps stopped right behind her.

            "Sarah?"  The voice was familiar and comforting.

            "Hoggle! How did you escape?!" she exclaimed quietly as she turned to face her friend.

            "I didn't," he replied. "Jareth sent me."

            Her eyes moved to the wine and bread in his hands. "Oh, he did, did he?" she said with lack of enthusiasm.  She turned around and leaned on the banister again, the incoming breeze blowing her hair away from her pallid face.  The underground spread out before her, the pale moon highlighting the tops of the Labyrinth walls.  It was there that Sarah had met all of her companions; it was also where Jareth had sent Hoggle to thwart her once before.  Now, Hoggle was no longer the King's ensign, for he had gained the courage required to listen to his conscience and betray the evil Jareth, but Sarah could not help but think of how much he resembled his former self.  Hoggle eased to her side and looked up at Sarah's drawn face; Sarah saw out of the corner of her eye that Hoggle's frown had deepened.

            He lowered his eyes and spoke.  "Sarah, I know's that you're thinkin' what the resta them was thinkin' whiles we were in Jareth's dungeon.  I'm still scared'a Jareth; I admit to that.  But I ain't his slave no more.  If I thought doin' somethin', anything, would help get you outta this mess, you know I'd do it in a heartbeat, missy.  I don't wanna be turned into nothin', but I value your safety more'n my own.  I've been missin' yer company, but I'm sorry it had ta happen under these conditions."

            Sarah looked at him; his appearance was pitiful, but she loved him anyway.  "Oh, Hoggle, I'm sorry, too.  I didn't think you were involved with Jareth anymore, but I apologize for thinking anything like that.  I know you'd do anything for me because I feel the same way about you."  She bent down on one knee and went to hug the dwarf.

            "You've got to eat something, Sarah," Hoggle remarked quietly. "You prob'ly haven't eaten since you got here."

            "I haven't eaten since however long ago it was I left." Sarah remarked.

            "Then you must be hungry," Hoggle concluded.  Her stomach began to churn as soon as he finished his remark. She slowly turned around.

            "I suppose I am hungry. I'll take the food."

            Sarah noticed that some of the strain had disappeared from Hoggle's face, yet some remained. This ordeal wasn't any easier on him than it was on her.

            She accepted the food and took a bite of the bread; she chewed the dinner roll slowly and swallowed. Anything would have tasted good to her at that moment.

            It began to strike her as odd that Jareth would allow her friend to bring her some food. A lot about Jareth's attitude seemed odd, now that she thought of it. It was something more than insanity. She couldn't quite place her finger on it, but there was something going on inside of him.  Were his rapidly changing emotions part of his plan, or were his emotions so totally out of his own control?

            "Whose idea was it, Hoggle?"

            "Whose idea was what?" he asked.

            "I mean, whose idea was it to bring this food to me?"

            "It wadn't mine, not that I wouldn't of if I had the chance, but I'as afraid Jareth'd pounce on me 'n' chew me up if I'da opened my mouth"

            "I understand, Hoggle," she interrupted, "but whose idea was it?"  Sarah could see that Hoggle felt embarrassed for not offering to bring her food himself.

            He swallowed and replied, "Jareth's."  Her brow furrowed. Things continued to mystify her more and more.

            "Jareth's?" she asked.  "Why would he want to bring me anything? What exactly did he say to you, Hoggle?"

            "He says to me,`Hoggle! Come 'ere!' So I come and he says to me,  `Bring some food to Sarah. Sees if you can get her to eat.' So I get the food and starts out of the room and he calls my name again. I turn around and he says, all concernedlike,`Talk to her.' I tell you, it gave me the creeps."

            "Why would he be concerned?" Sarah asked herself.

            "My sentiments exactly," Hoggle replied.

            Sarah went over the question many times before she came up with a viable explanation.  "He's probably putting on an act," she said after awhile.  "He's all concern and I'm supposed to be all putty in his hands. He must be insane if he thinks I'm stupid enough to fall for it. He can do a better conjob than that."

            "You're prob'ly right," Hoggle remarked.

            "Look do me a favor. Before you go back to him, get a new glass of wine and rolls," Sarah said.

            "What good would it do? He's already got you booked on errands of his for no less than a week. It'd be a"

            "You don't understand," Sarah interjected.  "Whatever he has me here to do, I'm doing because my friends are at stake, not because I'm afraid of him. Don't you see? I have to use every chance I have to let him know that he can't make me back down. Do you understand now?"

            "No, but"

            "That's okay. You don't really need to understand. I can't explain it. Just do as I ask. I know I'm doing the right thing. I just can't go so far that he turns you into a metal charm, also, because of my actions."  Hoggle gulped at this last remark.  "Don't worry," she reassured, "I'll be careful."

            An awkward silence followed. Somehow, Sarah felt she wouldn't see Hoggle again for a long time. Her spirits dropped to an even lower level than they had already been, and her heart ached over all the things that she would have to face over the next few days.  If only she and Hoggle could escape

            She gave a glance over the edge of the banister. The distance it was to the ground seemed to get larger a few seconds after she began thinking of jumping off of the ledge and running away.  Jareth must have put a control mechanism in her head so that any chance she had of escape would be thwarted. She knew the distance it was to the ground wasn't that far that it was only an illusion but she didn't have the courage to jump.  Anyhow, she couldn't leave Hoggle here.

            She thought of the trip to her room and how she had been blind the entire time. This was no different.  The height began to make her dizzy and she stepped back into the throne room.

            "You'd better go, Hoggle, before Jareth gets suspicious. Don't forget to do what I asked."

            "I won't. Umtake care of yourself, Sarah."

            Sarah began to smile in spite of herself.  "You too."  She happily watched as Hoggle waddled his way back into the dining room.

            She took a small sip of her wine as she thoughtfully walked about the throne room. Everything was so overwhelmingly different. The splendor of his castle was much more now than it had been when she last came.  Either Jareth's tastes had changed, or he was decorating for a special event.  Perhaps she was a part of that special event; God, she hated the idea of being a major part in any plan of his.  Why had she ever willingly asked him to come to her those four years ago?

            A door slammed down the hall, startling Sarah and causing her to drop the glass of wine.  Unharmed, the glistening glass of wine continued to trickle its contents in an enlarging pool on the floor.  Sarah worried over the mess she had made, but soon replaced her worry with wonder when the wine did not stop flowing.  Just as she bent over to pick it up, a female goblin began shuffling across the room with a basket of dirty laundry.  Sarah glanced up at the goblin, her eyes wide with fear.  The goblin would surely run immediately to her king to disclose the knowledge that Sarah had once again foiled his plan.  Sarah did her best to mock innocence.

            "Oooh, great sky, that 'tis a mess, ain't it?" cried the goblin, cheerfully.  She put down the basket beside Sarah and declared,"Well, dearest, looks like'n you'll need some help to clean't up."  She grabbed some of the filthy clothes and helped to mop up the pool with one hand, while hurriedly picking up the glass with the other.  Sarah had noticed her quick motion when returning the glass to its upright state, and was suddenly troubled by the goblin woman's overweening kindness.

            "Thank you," Sarah finally managed to get out.  "I've been on edge."

            The goblin woman looked up at Sarah with a sincerely  worried expression. "I know y'have, dearest, I know y'have."

            Confusion took over Sarah's countenance; she had never known any goblin to be so gracious.  "Here, let me help you," she said as she picked up one of the garments and began to clean.  "II can't believe I wasted a whole glass of such good wine."

             The goblin continued to look down at her work as she mumbled, "Lass, don't'cha be drinkin' anymore o'that stuff."

            Sarah caught on to the woman's effort to hide her speech and continued cleaning just as she was.  "It's enchanted, isn't it?" she whispered.

            "Ay, 'tis," the woman replied.

            "How so?" prodded Sarah.

            "I d'not know, dearest; you'd know better than I."  Once the job was finally through, the woman declared in a loud voice, "Well, I'd be guessin' that'll do the trick."

            Sarah picked up the wine glass and rose to her feet.  "Thank you,ma'am, I really appreciate your help."

            "T'was nothin', I assure you.  Take care."  The woman winked her eye and began to walk off.

            Sarah watched her travels, grateful for the help she had offered.  After she was finally gone, Sarah, knowing Jareth was probably watching, stole a casual glance at the wine glass.  It was no longer full; she was somewhat surprised at this occurrence, but soon realized that, if Jareth was watching, he would cover his tracks as best as possible.

            Her mind wandered to the enchantment of the wine; she was sure that it contained a spell that would draw her memories, or make her speak her thoughts at his will.  Her mind was what it seemed he wished to control.

            If only she could beat him at his own game.

***

Jareth had been watching Sarah vigilantly; he knew she was coming back to the dining hall.  He put away his crystals and awaited her arrival while he sat in the chair at the head of the table, his fingers touching in a thoughtful manner.

            The room was finally empty of the goblins and the mess they had created while eating their meal, giving silent way to the echoing footsteps of the timid, approaching Sarah.  She looked uncertain in her journey and  beautiful in her uncertainty.  Her glittering gown reminded him of past days; he wished he might have a second chance to dance with her.  Unfortunately, the wine that would have allowed him some brief measure of control over her had been spilled, destroying any pleasant possibilities.  He almost regretted that she would only be able to allow him closeness with her through his own manipulation.

            "Did you change your mind about dinner?" Jareth asked, his face expressionless.  The fingers of each of his hands closed about each other and he rested his chin on them.

            "I, uh, I spilled the wine," Sarah replied, proffering the empty wine glass.  "A goblin helped me to clean it up."

            She seemed more timid, yet less terrified around him; he didn't know what to make about her change in demeanor.  He took the glass from her.  "It is no matter.  I can provide you with more, if you should like."

            Sarah gazed at him with wide eyes for a moment before looking down at the floor.  "I am hungry.  I should like something to eat"

            "Oh, so you are no longer feeling rebellious on the topic of dinner? Not planning to waste any more of my pantrys fine meals, I hope.  He looked at her knowingly and stood up. Very well," Jareth began as he motioned toward a goblin sitting in the kitchen's doorway, "I can provide you with any dish "

            "But I would like to eat it in my chambers, if it's all the same."

            Jareth stopped cold.  There was the rebellion again, yet in another of its ugly forms.  She would try to ingratiate herself through an appearance of fear, all the while planning away in that pretty head of hers.

 

            "It is not all the same," he replied icily, his mouth curving into a frown.  "You seem to ignore my warnings, Sarah."  He rose from his seat and stared into her eyes.  "Do you truly wish to eat in your chambers?"

            Sarah looked at him with confusion a moment.  Her eyes wandered the room, as if she were lost.  Finally, she straightened and replied, "Yes, I do.  I see nothing wrong in that wish."

            The room was silent for only a few moments; Hoggle's soft footsteps echoed in the hall as he approached the two rivals.  Sarah's eyes widened in a sudden realization.  A fleeting grin passed across Jareth's face.  Hoggle looked up at the two, and, upon noticing Jareth's expression and the terror it seemed to invoke in Sarah, he stopped and grimaced.

            Jareth began to wave his hand toward Hoggle, but did not finish his spell, for Sarah grabbed his wrist, thus preventing him from taking her remaining friend away.  He looked at her with mild surprise in spite of the extreme shock that suddenly shook through his frame.  Her own fair face was frozen into a mixture of extreme anger and fear.  For a split second he thought that he might be the servant and she the true queen of the kingdom.  His flesh pricked with the feeling of her nails unconsciously digging into his soft, pale skin.  A doubt zipped along his spine and into his mind, causing his reaction to her bold action to be delayed.  But not for long.

            "You are correct, Jareth," she finally said with a sudden composure in her stance, glaring coldly into his eyes.  "I see nothing."

            With a sudden surge of violent anger, Jareth ripped his hand from her surprisingly strong grasp; his force was so strong that it sent her reeling to the floor, landing on her backside.  Amazement encompassed her countenance as he deliberately spat, "You will learn."  The blue fire raged in his pupils.  It surged and pulsated with his breathing.  It shook his entire frame to an eerie tune.

            Hoggle was shaking frantically by now.  He looked at Sarah; she seemed held captive by Jareth's stare, just as Jareth seemed engulfed in subduing her.  The dwarf's brow wrinkled for a moment before he finally made a mad dash out of the room.  Jareth's attention suddenly went to the retreating Hoggle; he threw his hand toward the dwarf swiftly and silently.  Sarah pleaded that the Goblin King cease, to no avail.  Hoggle's running figure had been replaced by the very air; only a metal charm remained to remind Sarah of his existence.

            Sarah rose to her feet.  Jareth stood as menacing as ever, seeming unshaken by the entire ordeal.  He stepped slowly toward her, taking advantage of every tool of fear that he possessed.

            She remained unaffected by his intimidation.  The only evidence of weakness she displayed was the unending river of silent tears that rolled down her cheeks.  The Goblin King inched ever closer toward her, the muscles in his jaw tightening in resolution.  Mere centimeters away from her face, he stared into her brown eyes, but, try as he might, he could not stare her down.

            He raised his hands; her face became more bitter.  "What are you going to do?" she asked with a spiteful grimace.  "Do you plan to hit me?  Do you think that you might hurt me more than you have?  Because you couldn't possibly injure me anymore.  You've taken all away from me that you ever had any power to take away.  I might have lost all of my friends, but I'm no longer at your mercy."

            He had not intended the hand motion as a violent gesture, and was somewhat taken aback at her interpreting it as such.  Instead of acknowledging his surprise, though, he replied to her statement.  "On the contrary.  You are now at my mercy more than ever, Sarah.  Do you think I have wasted all of this time and energy for naught?  Come, now," he smiled flirtatiously at her, the blue escaping his pupils and the calm demeanor returning.  "You surely do not take me for a fool?  You will wish to return your friends to their former states.  And you have only one method of doing so."

            She sighed, as if in capitulation to Death himself.  "I have to do your favor."

            He ran a finger against her chin; she pulled back slightly, as if it took all of her will power to keep from fighting him.  "You are brilliant as well as lovely, if not too quick to catch on."  He suddenly took hold of her chin and forced her to look into his eyes.  "But, do not think for one moment, Sarah, that you are more brilliant than I.  I will ultimately win the battle."

            Instead of recoiling, Sarah declared, "And do not assume that you are superior to me.  I will ultimately win the war."

             Doubt, confusion, and anger flooded into Jareth like a tsunami, defiant to his logic.  Yet, instead of pondering it, he succumbed to it, and, with a wave of his hand, Sarah's eyes rolled up into their sockets and she fainted, falling into his arms

           He looked down at her quiet figure as he cradled her in his arms.  "Lovely," he mused, "but delusional. .

Jennifer Connelly     David Bowie    Jim Henson            C     C