- LABYRINTH II
...             ...


CHAPTER XVI

            The pandemonium of the busy throne room had somehow been shaped into a semblance of order, the goblin maids tending to the cleaning duties, the goblin guards continuing to do the exact opposite of their obligations.  Jareth stood in the center of the small room, conveying orders and directing traffic.

            This was a day to celebrate triumph. The Goblin King's plans were on the verge of being put into action and newfound power was almost at the tips of his fingers. Frustration swelled within him as he brought to mind the simplicity his task could have taken on; if only he could have merely transported Sarah to the plateau!  Even if she had refused him, he would have merely threatened to launch her friends from the summit of the structure.  Unfortunately, the stone enclosed within the shadows of the caves atop the plateau would interfere with the work of his crystals.  Mediocre power and immense power could not mingle or be utilized in the same precinct without some type of catastrophe.  To make matters worse, his own power was not great enough to ferry Sarah to her destination at the moment.  Besides, as it was said by elfin legend, a great journey had to be made in order to retrieve the powerful talisman, or the magical item would not reveal itself.  Surely the elves had designed it this way so that the receiver would have proven their worth.

            He pointed to a stumpy goblin and called out to him, "You there!"  Looking around as if to see that he was the focus of attention, the goblin began to fidget.  "Find some rations," Jareth commanded cheerfully, surprising the victim of his attentions with his buoyant spirits. "And you," he continued, finding a new dolt to point his finger at, "find some mountain-climbing equipment!! Hurry!"

            With an energetic burst, the Goblin King pounced onto his throne, standing tall above the creatures in the bustling throne room. "Everyone to work! If it's at all possible, I want my treasure by the end of a seven-day turn! Then we will rejoice!"

            Isabelle skipped into the room from the archway to the left of Jareth. Her brown hair swung from side to side and glittered unusually in the light, capturing the sparkle of her warm brown eyes and blending with her cream-colored face. Holding the tattered ends of her skirt in her slender hands, she trotted happily across the floor and stopped to look up at Jareth. His happiness was reflected in her face as he towered over the room of servants, calling out demands and reprimanding idiocy. The black pupils of her glittering eyes expanded and swallowed the irises as she took in his sight as a child would that of a hero.

            Veering his concentration from handing out tasks to speaking with the small goblin girl at the foot of his throne, Jareth hopped smoothly from the large chair and bent down to Isabelle's height. Jareth lifted her high above his head as she giggled with extreme pleasure, then settled in his throne and situated Isabelle on his lap.

            "How has your morning been, my dear?" he asked very dutifully.

            "Lovely," she stated happily as she brushed a wisp of long hair from her face.

            With a wistful smile he questioned, "And what is your fancy, my dear?"

            She was suddenly grabbed by Sooty, who declared, Come child, put on your shawl, youll take cold in this place!

            You know, dearest Sooty, I was speaking to her at the moment, Jareth proclaimed without anger.

            That's all good'n well, yer highness, but I'd have to be takin' care'o the girl.  She looked away from the grinning Goblin King and whispered into Isabelles ear when he wasnt looking.  You could swear the man was in love, by the way hes acting!

            You think so Sooty? Isabelle asked excitedly, her sudden happiness briefly catching the wandering Jareths eye.

            Shh...Child hush, doncha let him hear that; aint nothin worse than tellin a man hes in love when he dont wanta believe it.  She put her hand on the girls shining hair.  Doncha think nothin of it, itll wear off by tomorra.

            Jareth finally reverted his attention back to the girl.  Well, sakes woman, are you done with her now?

            All yours, yer highness.

            Now, what is your wish, dearest Isabelle?

            "A wish, dear sir," she declared with poetic emphasis.

            A playful grin tugged at the corners of Jareth's mouth as he prodded further, "What would you wish, my dear?"

            "To fly, if you please!" she exclaimed with delight.

            "Then, so be it," he proclaimed.

            Silently and gently he placed her on the floor as she gazed at him with wide, tender eyes; reverence was reflected in her facial expression. Jareth swept his hand gracefully through the air above, as if to catch something overhead.  As he lowered his hand to Isabelle's height, a glistening crystal sphere was in his palm, spinning and twirling madly in place.  A gentle blow released the crystal from his grasp and sent it on the wind, gliding through the air and veering around to Isabelle's back. The young goblin turned her head to watch it as it oscillated between her shoulder blades, a gleeful and wondering look on her face. With a sudden discharge of illumination, the crystal globe burst as a bubble, causing Isabelle to blink in response. The dazzling glow diminished to expose a pair of iridescent wings that had adhered themselves amidst the girl's shoulders.  Effortlessly the wings began to flap, flitting with such speed that they no longer had linear definition, but were light-reflecting blurs against her back.

            She giggled with extreme pleasure as she escalated toward the ceiling, towering over the numerous gawking servants of the palace.  Growing accustomed to the luminous, housefly wings, Isabelle soared through the throne room, swooping low and grazing the floor with her fingertips, hovering in front of the mirrors to admire her wings, turning somersaults in midair.  As she did so, Jareth broke out into song:

 

                        There once was a child,

                        Whose wish was to fly,

                        To pass all night entities in her flight.

                        In one sudden blur,

                        A star fell for her,

                        And with that wish she owned the night!

 

            Isabelle swooped down and fluttered in rounds about the Goblin King's crown, teasing his free-flowing hair as she did so. He was pleased to see such happiness in her expression. For once he found joy in causing another happiness besides himself.

            He continued to chant:

                        Fly, fly high!

                        Owner of the sky,

                        Bring down a star for me.

                        Capture the moon,

                        And the sky's navy blue,

                        In your eyes for all to see.

 

            Isabelle drifted along the walls of the room, finally floating back down and hanging above Jareth, her small, fragile hand stretched out for his. Tenderly he grasped her delicate hand as she navigated him and a procession of attendants through the grey stone hallways and into the tremendous dining room. Throughout the journey, Jareth sang:

 

                        "Hello lovely maid!"

                        A stranger once said,

                        "What I would do to fly with you!"

                        As she fin'ly did part,

                        He called with a start,

                        A request into the night so blue...

 

                        "Fly, fly high!

                        Owner of the sky,

                        Bring down a star for me!

                        Capture the moon,

                        And the sky's navy blue in your eyes

                        and take them to me."

 

            The parade of goblin servants formed an awkward circle around the long table at the hub of the banquet room, joining the king in his melody to the little girl:

 

                        Oh my!

                        She flies high!

                        Pass on by!

                        Touch the sky!

 

            Isabelle glided further into the air and perched herself atop the chandelier, causing it to jingle and sway a she rested on its wire frame.  She grinned contentedly at the onlookers gathered below her.

            Singularly, the Goblin King continued with the remainder of the tune:

 

                        If she only could know,

                        That the moon's soft, warm glow,

                        And the stars in their rhythmic dance of light,

                        Belonged only to her,

                        And were not meant to stir,

                        From her dark, deep, and silent black night.

                        Fly, fly high!

                        Owner of the sky,

                        Keep all the stars for you.

                        Hold your white moon,

                        And the sky's navy blue,

                        In your eyes so lovely and true.

 

            Drifting from her position on the chandelier and its tinkling glass adornments, the young goblin zipped through the room and down the corridors, back to the throne room as a long line of servants stormed after her, Jareth in the lead.

***

            Sarah awoke to the sound of music and laughter. Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she laboriously rose from her reclining position in the bed and maneuvered her legs from under the restless silk sheets.  As she looked down at her bare feet, she tried to recall to memory occurrences of the night before.

            Only vague images of sweet dreams captured her mind's eye. Astonished that she had not waken from her slumber because of the strangeness of sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, dilemmas that had been vexing her, and the enmity that had been seething within her, Sarah was tempted to pinch herself to confirm the fact that she was not dreaming.

            The most recent memory she had was that of the harassment the guards outside of her door had put upon the small goblin girl, the abrupt appearance of Jareth, and his show of concern for the young girl and her well being.

            Music wafted into her room from the floors below; she rose from the bed and sauntered toward the dresser and its mirror. The notion of using it to spy on the inhabitants below crossed her mind, but upon reaching the dresser she found the mirror to be missing. Inferring that Jareth knew that she had once used it to find her companions, Sarah cursed herself for having been so obvious the night before; during their walk to the banquet hall she had let him manipulate her, and had watched with inactivity as he proceeded to take her friends away.

            He handled her emotions like playthings; swindling her out of the control of her own thoughts and memories was probably a mere diversion to him like tossing a rat into a maze and seeing what it does.  She chuckled at the irony of her thought.  "Guess he's already done that to me," she mumbled.

            Frigid rock stung her bare feet as she walked across the room in utter frustration, nervously moving her fingers and rubbing her hands, searching for a plan that would not be found. She shifted to the tapestry-like rug that was placed inconveniently about a yard away from her bed and restricted her pacing to the small region that it covered.

            Downstairs she could detect the various sounds of rejoicing, merrymaking, and the delight that accompanied it,  wondering why she could not shed all of her troubles and feel their delight, as well. Her curiosity begged for her to find out the source of the jubilation that was occurring below her. A briskness took the place of the sluggishness of her walk; she snatched her robe and pulled it on and rushed to her chamber door. She slid the small panel aside and gazed out the narrow opening, only to find herself eye to eye with a repulsive-looking guard.  Jerking back and shouting in surprise, Sarah regained her composure and gazed through the hole, looking into the yellowish, bulging eyes of the guard once again. It seemed quite absurd to Sarah for the Goblin to be standing so terribly close to the door, apparently waiting for her to open it.

            "Whad're you starin' at?" it questioned as it scrutinized Sarah through the aperture.

            Sarah had learned that the only way to converse with these creatures was to bring her mind to an extremely low elevation.

            "That's what I was going to ask you," she stated plainly.

            "I asked first," it declared indignantly.

            "I was staring at you," Sarah replied. "Now it's your turn."

            The guard rolled his eyes upward as if trying to decide what it had been looking at, but never had an opportunity to.  Sarah poked her fingers into its revolting eyes and swung the door outward, ramming it into the guard as she raced down the hall. After turning the corner, she spotted an ornate door that was slightly ajar.  Time being her enemy at the moment, she did not glance within before she took refuge in the room.  Luckily, Jareth, nor anyone else, was awaiting her arrival there.  She peeked through the crack and saw the goblin ricocheting against the walls, his helmet clanking as he made his blind search for his escaped prisoner.  Soon he found the stairway, and Sarah could hear him bouncing down the steps, letting out a yelp with each meeting with the ground.

            With one last glance at the goblin, Sarah silently shut the door of the room she was in.  A long sigh escaped her lips as she put her back to the wall and slid down against it, drawing her knees to her chest. She swept the hair from her eyes as she gazed in wonder at the contents of the room.

            The stone floor was lit from one angle by a stained glass window to the right of her; it was very similar to the stained glass window she had encountered in her first bedroom.  Large tapestries covered the other two walls of the room, and the entire room possessed the closeness of a chapel.  On the opposing wall was an entrance made completely of a thick layer of cut crystal with two silver doorknobs placed in the center.  Patches of tinted light came in from the colorful glass windows and shed rays of light onto the dusty air.  The cut-crystal door captured these rays, giving it a shimmering iridescence.

            Sarah rose from her location at the base of the wall and steadily made her way toward the majestic doorway, preparing for an attempt to peer through its exterior and see what could lie beyond.  Different hues of illumination flickered across her face as she passed the beams of color that had sifted through the stained glass window.  Stopping a few feet from the doorway, she bent over to glance inside.

            Suddenly, a stone from the ground raced up from its position in front of the crystal portal, creating a long column of rock that was stationed between Sarah and her destination. The stone column was her height and, with silent fluidity, the once flat surface of the cylinder-like formation shaped and molded itself into what resembled a face.  Its thick grey mustache covered the upper lip, the lower lip fat and comical, protruding from beneath the mimicked hair as if it were swollen; the rock column lacked a nose, but this was because its eyes were so enormous that they covered the area that a nose might occupy.  Its voice was deep and harsh, and it looked a lot like Hitler.

            "Don't breathe on the glass," it commanded hoarsely.

            "Excuse me?" Sarah said, still in shock from the column's sudden appearance.

            It twitched its mustache indignantly and replied,"That nose of yours, which you probably think is so adorable, is most likely full of all kinds of oils and germs and all of those other disgusting things that people carry, and, once you press it on this glass, it will ruin its magnificent splendor and someone will have to risk getting whatever diseases you might have when they rub it off."  It twitched its nose disgustedly.  "Then again, you probably wouldn't care."

            Experience was on Sarah's side, and she knew better than to let the creatures of the Underground cause her any hindrance. If she couldn't defy them, she could always outsmart them; and Sarah was very certain of her own intelligence.  She ignored the grouchy piece of stone and squinted her eyes to make out the shapes beyond the doorway; it was difficult, because they were distorted by the cut of the crystal.  Obviously displeased by Sarah's lack of attention, the stone column went on to grumble to itself about all of the inadequacies that humans portrayed and how the world might be better off without the faulty creatures.

            Sarah slid to the right of the grumbling column and commenced to walk past it, when another stone column shot into position directly beside it.  The face that formed from the solid rock was more youthful and showed a softer expression.  Its thin lips broadened into a kind smile as its small, human-like eyes squinted above its blossoming cheeks.

            "Aw, come on Cantankerous I'm sure she didn't mean any harm," the shorter, gentler column countered on her behalf.

            "Of course she did.  Besides Altruist, the other avid human who says he rules this castle told us not to let anyone in," Cantankerous explained.

            "Avid?" Sarah said, cocking an eyebrow.  She smirked.  "Jareth, of course.  Must agree with him there."

            Another column popped above level to the left of Cantankerous at this moment, seeming to be female by the full, grey eyelashes and feminine lips.

            "What he means by avid is greedy," the female column interpreted to Sarah.

            "I know," Sarah replied, chuckling at the situation.

            "I don't need you to translate for me Consiliate. If the human wants to know what I mean she can use her microscopic brain to figure it out, or she can find a dictator," the gruff column argued.

            "That's a dictionary, not a dictator, Cantankerous," Altruist pointed out.

            Cantankerous almost seemed to blush in embarrassment as he replied, "Well, um...yes...that's what I meant to say.  But, back to the point she needs to leave!  That is the main point! Like I said, the human with the unkempt hair told us not to allow anyone near the premises.  So, go away rude girl!"

            "You're a hypocrite, and that's not what the man said," Consiliate asserted.  "He said not to allow anyone near the premises who did not have the password."  She focused her attention back to Sarah.  "Do you have the password?"

            Sarah bit her lip and replied,"Well, I-"

            "See, she doesn't know it," Cantankerous declared impatiently.

            "I bet she knows it," Altruist claimed, "she's just having trouble remembering it."

            "In that case," Consiliate added with excitement, "we'll have to help her along."

            "Oh no, we are bloody sure not going to help her along!" Cantankerous retorted.

            "What harm could it do? Even if she doesn't know, giving her a clue isn't going to help her guess it. However," Altruist continued, "it will bring it back to mind if she does know it."

            "Nothing doing!" Cantankerous cried.

            "Listen you grumpy old goat," Consiliate ordered, "if you don't shut that fat lip of yours up I'm going to show you what for!"

            Sarah considered the unlikely triplet of stones: one being kind but short-tempered, the other grouchy and ill-mannered, and the third having a loving nature that would not allow him to participate in any argument that involved two short-tempered beings.

            Watching the scene with a great deal of amusement, Sarah tuned back into the verbal confrontation.

            "And how do you plan to show me what for?" Cantankerous snickered.

            Consiliate's voice took on a sense of doom as she replied, "You don't want to find out."

            Cantankerous's sarcastic grin shrank, his facial expression went blank, and he became silent. It appeared she had well-know methods of biting back which left him speechless.

            "Now, how does three attempts at the password sound?" Consiliate asked Sarah with a sudden cheerfulness, looking to Cantankerous for opposition, but finding none.

            "And a hint," Altruist added, smiling.  At this remark Cantankerous looked as if he might argue, but he seemed to think about the female column's threats and decided against it.

            "And a hint," Consiliate confirmed.

            Sarah thought about the number of possibilities for a password and wondered what would happen if she was incorrect all three times.  "What is the hint?" she asked.

            The two kinder columns looked to each other as if trying to think of one, and Altruist finally spoke up, "It's a name."

Feeling somewhat relieved that the possibilities had been narrowed down, Sarah furrowed her brow in thought and rubbed at her cool hands nervously.  Logical names ran through her mind as she rummaged for the most probable ones.  Unfortunately, her knowledge of Jareth's personal life was limited and she had few names to choose from.

            "Toby," she guessed, almost certain that it would be incorrect.

            Consiliate looked doubtfully to Altruist and replied,"I'm afraid not."

            "Jareth," she stated hopefully.

            "Uh, uh," Altruist replied gloomily.

            "I wonder if she even knew it in the first place. She's not even close to getting it right," Consiliate said with disdain to Cantankerous.

            "I told you," Cantankerous declared scornfully.

            "I'm sorry dear," Consiliate said to Sarah sincerely, "but we're going to have to turn you in to the owner of this castle. Just be cooperative and give me your name."

            Sarah paused and thought about the alternatives.  Consiliate seemed to know what she was pondering for she added, "He'll find you anyway if you don't."

            There was a great deal of truth in this statement and Sarah decided to give them her name just for the sake of finding out the consequences.  "Sarah," she stated in despair.

            "Well, I don't believe it!" Cantankerous exclaimed as his face flattened back out into the smooth rock surface and the column that bore him slid back underground, unexpectedly removing him from sight.

            "Good show!" Consiliate complimented with excitement as she too disappeared into the stone floor.

            "I was sure she'd get it right!" Altruist declared happily as he joined his friends and once again became a normal portion of the tiled, rock floor of the chamber.

            Suddenly alone, Sarah stared at the ground in disbelief at her incredible fortune.  Not only was she shocked to see them depart so quickly, but was astounded as well to discover that Jareth had used her own name as a password into what seemed to be an important room.

            Carefully stepping over the station that the stone characters had once been standing in, Sarah made her way to the front of the lovely door and apprehensively turned the carved, silver doorknob, swinging the heavy, crystal sheet with silence and ease.

            The vault beyond was of modest size, lined with golden bookcases that held knickknacks and other ornaments of all sorts, including leather bound books, the spines of which were blanketed with elegant gold and silver letters.  An ebony, iron-rod sofa was positioned on the opposing wall, velvet cushions neatly placed against the arms and support of the dark, metal chair.  The object that seemed of greatest significance was the large crystal globe in the center of the room. Its spherical surface was braced by a black and gold wire frame that rose about a foot from the granite tiled ground, the glass formation itself three feet in both width and length. Protruding from the wire frame of the globe's support was a bowl-shaped apparatus, another small sphere resting in its nest-like design.

            Anxiety took over Sarah's emotions as she approached the mysterious object.  She took in its existence with wonder as she circled the sphere numerous times.  The sound of music and merriment once again drifted into her once oblivious ears, allowing her to ponder its cause another time.  Synchronized to her thoughts, the depths of the globe shimmered spectacularly and it revealed to her an image of the bustling throne room.

            Goblins scurried about the room as usual, Jareth looking on contentedly, the young goblin maid from the previous night sitting in his lap.  Man and girl communicated, laughing frequently at each others remarks, somehow dividing both an age barrier and jumping the hurdle of difference of origin.  No longer seeming cruel and coldhearted, Jareth baffled Sarah with his abrupt fluctuation of character.

            Sarah diverted her attention from the scene within the tremendous crystal globe and surveyed the shelves of ornaments. Bare feet silently touching the ground as she moved steadily toward the shelves, she noticed an oriental ebony box that looked much like the jewelry box she had encountered in the clearing behind her home.  Airy music touched her senses as she turned the superb case over and pressed the sapphire that was the nucleus of the underside of the box.  Effortlessly sliding open, the panel moved to reveal three compartments and a twirling princess in a white gown.  The tinkling music coming from the jewelry box mingled harmonically with the music coming from the jocular celebration occurring in the throne room.  This time she was able to remember what the small figurine represented. It was a representation of her in the white gown of the hallucination. Sarah could not comprehend why she seemed to be one of the many themes displayed about this castle so frequently.  She almost felt like an aging part of its history, an emblem that children of the future would remember and honor.

            A single gold key was sheltered within the gold-lined box. Sarah took it, virtually out of reflex, wondering what use she would ever find for it.  There were probably thousands of keyholes within the castle and chances were slim that she would find the particular one that this key belonged to.

            Gripping the key firmly in her hand, Sarah swung around to glance at the glass sphere again.

***

Isabelle climbed from Jareth's lap and landed softly on the stone floor.  Continuing to sit, Jareth bent over and spoke to the young goblin.

            "Isabelle, dear, do you remember the lady that was so nice to you last night?" he asked as he brushed the hair from her eyes. She had been a beautiful child while human and she still was, despite the transformation.  He thought about last night and how the guards had mistreated his young servant, how it had been occurring for months, and how he had known nothing about it.  Even though he had placed the mirrors throughout the castle for accessory cautiousness, the looking glasses seemed not to protect what was most important to him.  Hoping that the song and flight throughout the lower levels of the palace would make it up to her, Jareth promised to himself never to let harm come to Isabelle again.

            "Yes," she replied.

            "Her name is Sarah. I want you to bring her some clothes and ask her if she needs anything," he requested.  "Be polite; it's very important that she feels welcome."

            "You said you'd take me through the Labyrinth one day," she stated hopefully.

            "Yes, once I take care of a few things," Jareth replied.

            "Why is she here?" Isabelle questioned with curiosity.

            "To do me a favor," he declared.

            "Oh."

            Jareth handed some garments to Isabelle, whispered something in her ear, chuckled, and prodded her to go.  Merrily she walked out the door to the side of his throne and made her journey to Sarah's chambers.  Jareth watched admiringly as she happily got to work.  Not once had he regretted saving her from an abusive family; she was like a daughter to him.

***

Sarah watched the scene within the crystal and quickly realized that Isabelle would be in her room very shortly. Hurriedly she left the room of knickknacks and carefully closed the cut-glass doorway behind her.

The imprint of the gold key pressed firmly into her hand as she hastened to the bedroom and its scarlet and purple satin sheets.

Jennifer Connelly     David Bowie    Jim Henson            C     C