Лабиринт - LABYRINTH II
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CHAPTER XXVII

Vindar was perched atop the leader of the Spangores. It was easily distinguishable from the rest of the birds because of its silver harness that sparkled with inlaid jewels of various colors. The birds flew in a V-shaped formation, the flock closing in on Jareth's castle. It was night, perfect for a surprise attack. They would rescue the captured elves, come Hell or high water.

            Vindar stretched his spindly arm toward the sky and signaled for the great flying beasts to surround the castle from the sky. They did so without a second inclination and, once the command was given, they set down at the foot of the castle, prepared to do battle with the goblins of the Goblin City if the need arose.

            Elves dismounted from the grand birds in threes and placed their hands on the hilts of their light elfin swords. Some went as far to draw them out, while the less bold merely held them, keeping them in their sheaths but ready to bring them to light the instant they saw reason to.

            Goblin guards, equaling the hundred or so elves in number, came out of hiding places around the castle to face them. They held their weapons at the ready. Jareth had been prepared for this.

            "Goblin King!" Vindar shouted, facing the lowest parapet where Jareth usually came out to make his speeches. "Come out! We have some business to settle!"

            Jareth came onto the balcony and peered over calmly at the group of elves. His whispery black garments rippled in the wind. "What business do you have to settle with me, son of Sage?"

            "Let my father and the other elves go! You have no right to keep them as prisoners!"

            Jareth cocked an eyebrow and shifted the staff he was holding to the other hand. "Is that so? It seems to me your father is the one who has betrayed my trust. Since I accepted him into my domain as a brother of this kingdom, I think he should be punished as a traitor of this kingdom. You would be in my dungeons, as well, had you not escaped your deserved punishment!"

            "This is a violation of the Code of the Seven Kingdoms! If you had a score to settle with my father, he must be sent to his own kingdom to have his punishment decided upon!"

            "Don't play me for the fool, Vindar. I know your people would slap him on the wrist in order to appease me and let him go on his merry way!" Jareth said with mock amusement. "I appease myself."

            "Those are fighting words, Goblin King!"

            "So they are." Jareth examined his nails and buffed them against his sleeve with nonchalance.

            "As you wish! We will crush you in battle and get our people back!"

            "Believe what you like." Jareth nodded to his troops and disappeared back into the castle.

            War began.

***

Jareth flew through the room in a flurry of silk and chiffon, his boots clip-clopping against the stone floor. He swung the door to Sage's quarters open violently and called angrily for the elf.

            Sage was nowhere to be seen.

            Jareth swept out of the room, slamming the wooden door behind him and turning blue with fury.

            "Guard!" he screamed, losing all control of himself.

            A goblin scurried into the hallway and cowered before him.

            He bit off his words. "Go... find... Sage. Put out the remaining troops and throw him in the dungeon! Swallow the key! I don't want to see his scheming face again! Go!"

            The Goblin King rushed out of the room and clanked his way to the throne room. He seemed to think better of it and brought forth a crystal, sweeping his hand over its curved surface and transporting himself to his destination.

            He walked to the long, oval-shaped mirror and Toby's image appeared in it.

            "Are you ready to see Sarah?" he asked the little boy with a wide smile, struggling to force back the venom that was discharging from his spleen.

            Toby declared that he was and stepped back to reveal all of the items on his bed. Atop the pile of clothes, toys, and books was the stuffed bear, Lancelot, alongside the ceramic unicorn.

***

Sage discontinued the use of his talisman once again.

            "So it's Sarah's brother that Jareth has been making promises to, has it?" he mumbled to himself. At the present he had found safe haven within the bedchamber of the goblin, Sooty.

            Sooty opened the door, having just arrived, and closed it carefully behind her. "Yer elves'er out there, right now, doin' battle with the king's men," she revealed.

            "I had hoped it wouldn't come to fighting," Sage remarked pensively. "I hope Vindar will be all right out there."

            "I wouldn't worry 'bout it if I was you, sir. Them goblins are just a bunch'a scaredy cats, s’all they are. They get pricked on the figner and they go to howlin'. Believe me, I bandaged lots'a pricked fingers."

            "I will take your word for it, dear lady," Sage replied. "But meanwhile, I have to send warning to Sarah about her brother. It's too bad I used up the last communication on her talisman. If her powers were stronger, I could have given her one of stronger magic..." Sage looked at a worn tapestry from his seat in the corner of the room. Pictures of brightly colored birds that were woven into the fabric nearly caused a light bulb to flicker over Sage's head. "That's it! I shall contact the Magicmockers! They will gladly bring the news to Sarah!"

***

Birds of all colors and shapes called the Magicmockers gathered in a circle at the clearing at the foot of Shadow Mountain to listen to a scrawny red bird who had news to tell.

            "Sarah's brother is in trouble," he continued in his high-pitched voice, "and Sage wants us to go warn her!"

            "Where is she?" a bird of a gruffer voice asked from his position in the circle.

            "At the very edge of the Whispering Forest, where the wood meets the grasslands. Who's gonna go with me?"

            Every bird in the ring raised his wing to indicate that they would accompany Rattlebeak.

            "Then what are we waiting for? Let's go!"

            A horde of small, feather-covered bodies rose into the sky, chirping a high-spirited battle-cry.

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