The Goblin King stepped into the darkened tavern out of the waning light of the sunset, in need of a stiff drink and a good night's rest.
I'll settle for the drink here. I'd be wary to close my eyes for more time than it takes to keep the blasted dust out of my eyes in this realm.
He'd been traveling all day since he'd crossed the Gateway. If it was up to him, he wouldn't be here at all, but by request of the High Queen, he came.
It wasn't a long quest, a day's travel, deliver a message, and home in another day. The Queen felt The Goblin King would be the best suited for this particular errand.
Still, this was no place for a Fae King to dawdle long. The only Fae that spent time here were brash young ones looking for adventures of a certain nature before becoming respectable Faire citizens.
But The Goblin King wasn't exactly respectable.
Respected, feared, avoided, yes.
He liked it that way. Which is what made him the perfect candidate for this particular little errand. Even in Between, most avoided a direct confrontation with him.
"What can I get ya, fancy pants?" The rather large bar keeper asked as Jareth approached.
"A private booth, and a bottle of whatever passes as your finest." He answered.
"Gonna cost ya, Fae."
Jareth flipped a gold crown onto the bar. "I'm certain this will more than cover it."
It was Fae gold, rare here, at least insofar it was given and not stolen.
The barkeeper bit it, nodded, grabbed a bottle and showed him to a booth in back, pulling back a ratty, filthy curtain and gesturing. He set the bottle down and turned.
" Two glasses please. Clean. I'll have company soon."
He removed his cloak and draped it over the dirty seat, using it as a shield to keep the layer of greasy dirt from sullying his clothing. By then the barkeep had returned with two reasonably clean glasses. Still, Jareth used a bit of magic to make certain nothing poisonous or unsavory lurked within.
Jareth felt the Shadow King's arrival before he saw him. The dark magic reaching out, brushing against his own and recoiling.
The Goblin King's power wrapped around him as a protective shield.
A minute later the curtain was lifted and a small Imp peeked in. Jareth gave the creature a withering stare, and it cringed and dropped the fabric. "He's here, Boss."
A black glove pushed the curtain aside, and he slid into the booth.
Green eyes met blue. "Shadow King."Jareth nodded.
" It's hard to believe The High Queen would bother to send a Fae of your stature to meet with me. "
Jareth smirked. "Only here am I thought of so highly, I'm sure. Faire is not so fond of me or my Kingdom, it serves merely functionary. Procurement, imports, exports, home of The Lost and The Lonely. Faire exiles, and Goblins."
"Yet you are the gateway to the Earther Realm from Faire."
"We call it Aboveground, but potato, po-tah-to." Jareth answered. "Please, have a drink. I bought the bottle." He poured them both a glass. The clinked them together and drank.
Jareth grimaced. "That's terrible." He gagged a little. "Goblin Ale is better, and they strain it through their socks."
The Shadow King poured himself another. "It's not bad, for here."
"You must have an iron stomach." The Goblin King watched him drink it down. He poured himself another then gestured to the dark haired King to take it.
"So, Goblin King, what brings you to my little slice of Paradise?"
"I have this, for you." Jareth handed him an envelope, sealed with magic, magic only he as Ruler of Between could break.
The Shadow King took it, and slipped it into the pocket of his cloak, the dark fabric concealing and protecting it from prying eyes until its master could open it later.
" Do you know what it contains?"
Jareth's brow rose. "I do. Of course. But as I know there are at least half a dozen spies watching and listening, I'm not foolish enough to speak of it here."
The dark haired ruler of Between chuckled. "Wise. You came prepared. So, the gossip is an Earther girl bested your creation." He leaned back, a glint of humor in his eye.
Jareth grinned, his sharp teeth catching the light and glittering. "That was years ago. The situation has changed. You know turning a Fae's head can have consequences."
"And what were the consequences? Death, revenge, a scourge of sock stealing Goblins?"
"Well, luckily for both of us, myself and the girl, now grown woman, we managed to find a much more amenable solution. And as it's a rather recent development, I'd like to return home as fast as possible."
The Shadow King's jaw dropped. "You have her. And she came willingly?"
"Wholeheartedly. My lovely Champion is now my Queen. And it was a very mutual attraction. She called upon me."
The look in his eyes turned to an expression of tenderness.
Well, this is unexpected. A Fae in love? With a Earther female? "What's it like? Having a human as a partner?"
"I would imagine it depends upon the human. My wife Sarah and I are well suited. Thinking of taking a human bride, Shadow King?"
The dark haired man just smiled in an elusive fashion. "Where would I find a willing one? I doubt a human could survive this place long. Most days my survival is in question. "
"Humans are more powerful and resilient than we have been led to believe. My subjects love their new Queen and do her bidding without question. She has a kindness towards them I'm admittedly lacking at times. They respond to it. It's strange but for some unfathomable reason, it works."
The Shadow King listened closely, intrigued." Maybe I'll be as lucky as you are then. "
Jareth held up his glass." To human women. Passionate and beautiful. "
The two monarchs talked through the night, developing an odd sort of friendship neither expected, discussing human women and Fae gossip, bad elf poetry, loyal scribes, goblin shenanigans, drunk unicorns, and annoying Death Cults.
By sunrise they were singing and laughing drunkenly as they stepped outside, arms thrown over each others' shoulders.
"My friend, it has been a pleasure." Jareth said as he barely managed to swing his body up onto his horse. "Farewell...what was your name again?" He squinted as he tried to remember.
"Lorn. My name is Lorn." The Shadow King replied. "It truly has been. Will you visit again? Bring your Queen next time. And by then...who knows? Maybe I'll have my own. Though I would be hard pressed to find one here."
"Ahh yes. Perhaps someday, I can convince The High Queen to give you passage to Faire. Then you can visit The Goblin Kingdom."
The Goblin King reached down offering his hand in friendship. An unlikely alliance to be sure.
The Shadow King took it. "Maybe. It's doubtful, but I do hope we meet again. Perhaps the scribes will write a grand adventure for us. Someday. Safe Travels."
He turned to make his way to the dark castle in the distance.
Jareth watched him for a long moment, then pulled his cloak tight around his shoulders and turned towards home, to his beloved who was waiting for him to return.