The defeat rankled, naturally. It had been so very long since anyone had dared to face him that Jareth had almost forgotten how annoying the escape clause was when he lost. She had believed, and believing children were farther and fewer between now. But he was an honest goblin, according to his lights, and kept to the ancient bargain: tending to the changechildren whose parents and sisters and keepers had not cared enough or dared enough. His realm was smaller than ever; its tenuous existence dependent on fewer than a dozen battered books waiting patiently for readers on dusty shelves.