Sarah heard the doors open behind her. Her heart leapt into her throat and pounded against her breastbone. She had not seen him since that night.
She heard the guard's footsteps as they stomped up the aisle, and within that stomping noise, leisurely boot clicks she knew all too well.
Sarah screwed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, opening them slowly.
The Goblin King was not 3 feet away from her, staring at her.
"You! What is she doing here! Jorwyn! What is the meaning of this! I told you not to bring her here!"
Sarah gulped. Fear temporarily gripped her but she forced it back.
She was not one to back down. She made her back ramrod straight and looked him right in the eye.
"Apparently, Goblin King, I'm hear to save your ass."
The crowd erupted and Jareth lunged to grab her.
He was pushed back by guards and Jorwyn stepped in front of her to shield her from his rather irked brother.
"You know I had no choice in the matter Jareth." He answered. "By right she is required to be here. She must do her duty as your Champion."
Sarah turned to Jorwyn. "His note said I didn't have to be here."
Jorwyn ignored her.
Jareth eyes blazed at Sarah. "I need no champion. Take her home. I do NOT want *her* here."
Sarah expected he might be upset, but the way he looked at her was not only frightening, it made her a little sad. She didn't care for him much but she certainly didn't hate him. "I will do this alone!" He commanded loudly.
"SILENCE!" Came from the dias. Everyone froze. "Your Majesty, approach." The man at the head of the table demanded of Jareth.
Surprisingly to Sarah, he did, though he took the time to send a searing look of ire at her before he did.
"This is your Champion. This girl beat the Labyrinth." The man said matter of factly.
"Yes." Jareth ground out.
"Come here girl." The man who spoke to Jareth said to Sarah.
Jorwyn squeezed her hand and tilted his head as a gesture to go forward. Sarah slowly, reluctantly did. She was even with Jareth but stayed out of arm's reach.
"Your name, mortal." The man said. Up close Sarah could see he looked barely past middle age but n his eyes you could see the wisdom of thousands of years.
"Sarah Williams...sir." She answered.
"You can refuse. But he cannot tell you to refuse. If you choose to abdicate your place as champion, you may go home and have your memories removed. You will never know you have ever been here today if you wish."
"Refuse, Sarah. Don't be a fool." Jareth growled.
Sarah turned to address him directly. "Don't tell me what to do. You don't want my help. Fine." Sarah turned and walked down the aisle as Jorwyn chased after her. "Please Sarah wait."
Sarah was fuming. How dare he. What an asshole! Fucking Jerk! She thought as she made it to the doors.
She was jerked back and found herself looking up at Jareth's brother. "Sarah I know he can be difficult but please listen.."
The booming voice interrupted again. "The Champion of The Goblin King has chosen. Jareth will undertake the trials alone. If he wins, he will retain his throne. The penalty for losing is death."
Sarah stopped. "What did he say?" She asked Jorwyn.
"That is what I was trying to tell you. Maybe I should have earlier. If you do not help him, if he loses..he will die. My brother is many things. He drives me insane. He is my only family. As a king I am unused to begging..please. You are his best chance."
Sarah sighed. Damn damn damn. She could not let that happen. He may be an jackass, but she did not want to see him dead.
She moved past Jorwyn and power walked back up the walkway pushing people out of her way.
"Wait a minute here. I did NOT choose." She said. "I did not say yes or no. I need to speak!" She raised her voice until everyone quieted and looked at her. "Fine. I accept. I'll help The Goblin King. I'll be his...champion. " She turned to Jareth whose expression was one of shock that she defied him. "But you HAVE to stop pissing me off or we are are going to end up killing each other."
He crossed his arms and glowered down at her. "You are a fool. I will have to watch out for you every moment and you will most likely not survive in any case. I will have no magic to protect you."
"I will protect my damn self. Let's just get this over with. What do I need to do?" She addressed this question to the man who was obviously the leader here.
"You and The King will be placed in the Northern Forest. You will have 13 days to get to The Labyrinth. If you do not make it you will forfeit. You will return above and The Goblin King will be put to death. If you do make it, from the time you cross into the Labyrinth, you will have 13 hours to reach the castle. Consequences for failure are the same for Jareth. Also, as you will have lost the Labyrinth, the child you won back will be returned."
Sarah went rigid. "Wait what?! No! you can't have Toby! Let me think.."
"You have accepted Champion. It is done. You will return to the castle and report tomorrow at dawn. Be prepared." Then he turned and walked away.
"Jareth you can't let them take Toby! I won!" Sarah begged The Goblin King. She was frightened for her now teenaged brother.
"I tried to warn you. You refused to listen. Now we must win or all of us will suffer." Jareth scolded her like a father to a child. "If you would have refused it would just be me at risk."
"Jareth I..." But she wasn't allowed to speak to him further, he was led away.
She turned her ire of Jorwyn and Penelope. "You did NOT tell me they would take Toby back. You can't have him!"
Jorwyn stood tall. "We do what we must do to save our kin. Certainly you can understand that. We must go Sarah. Penelope will return with us."
The Queen bowed in acquiescence to her husband.
One more time Sarah was pulled down the same infernal aisle and as soon as they passed the doors, all she saw was black as her head swirled and she knew they were leaving.
Sarah was livid. She tried to work off her energy by walking around the castle. It didn't work. She finally returned to her rooms, changed and bathed and laid on the bed, fuming.
Scar crept up on the bed and laid his great head on her stomach.
"What Am I going to do? I don't want to stay here. I have to protect Toby. He may be 14 now but he is still my baby brother. Gah!" She turned and pounded the pillows.
Hot tears traveled down her cheeks. "How did I get back into this?"
Scar moved up and licked her face, whining. Sensing her distress."What will happen to you Scar?"
She felt a change of air pressure. "Your friends are here and demanding to see you, should I send them up?" Jorwyn said.
She pretended she didn't hear him.
"Just so you know, I did not know about your brother having to come back. I would not do that to anyone. I know what it is to want to protect someone."
He moved closer to the bed and continued. He knew she was awake and could hear him. "Sarah, I told you Jareth is difficult. That is true. He is also my blood. When we were children...our parents.. well they were murdered. Jareth blames himself to this day because those responsible wanted his magic. They died protecting him. It is my duty to do the same."
She sniffed and sat up. "I think he can protect himself quite well."
"You are right. He can. I must do everything in my power to tip the scales in his favor. I believe you will be able to assist. You are incredibly strong willed."
"What will happen to Scar?" Sarah asked.
"He can remain here, or you may be able to take him with you. He is not magic and would not affect the journey, we can ask. If not, maybe your friends will volunteer to take him on while you are gone. I swear on my life, nothing will happen to your beast." Jorwyn declared.
"Please, send them up." Sarah said almost a whisper.
He nodded once and left, and the 3 appeared seconds later.
A chorus of "My Lady!" "Sawah!" And "'Bout time!" all ran together, making her smile as she flung herself off the bed and into their arms. Didymus even had Ambrosius with him.
The old friends sat on the floor and talked, reminiscing. They made her laugh and she was grateful for their unconditional friendship. Scar got along famously with Ambrosius and oddly enough took a liking to Ludo, and Ludo liked him too.
After several hours Hoggle insisted they leave, as Sarah needed to rest. He stayed behind as the others went out the door.
"Wish we could go with ya Sarah. Ain't allowed for any of Jareth's subjects though. You will win. I know ya will. If they won't let ya takes the dog The King will let us know and I will take 'im to my cottage. Kinda small but it'll do. Ya know nothing' will happen to 'im."
Sarah bent down and hugged him tight. "Thank you Hoggle I think I will take you up on that. Scar would be better off here. I'll be fine. The Rat will be fine." She said grinning at her use of his nickname for Jareth.
When she was alone, Sarah sat on the lounge next to the fireplace and pulled a blanket off the bed and made herself cozy.
It was going to be a long night.
Sarah stretched and yawned, watching Penelope flurry around the room. She had thought she would not sleep and didn't even realize she had until there was a pounding on her door.
"Now, Lady Sarah you should really wear this, it is a good traveling outfit." The Queen was saying as Sarah sat on the lounge she had slept on. She was holding up some rather ridiculous outfit that looked sort of like an equestrian outfit but with a fitted skirt with leggings underneath.
"I'll wear my jeans, thanks, They are sturdy and comfortable. A skirt would get in the way and be far too bulky." She said.
"That is just not proper." The petite blonde declared.
Sarah stood up and faced the queen and her servant. She liked the woman but damn she was bossy and this prim and proper crap was getting on her nerves. "I don't care. I'm going to be comfortable. Thank you for your help but please leave me. I will be ready in an hour as promised." She hustled the protesting women out the door.
She took a quick bath and packed her things back into her backpack. She grabbed the blanket she had slept with and a pillow from the bed, and rolled them together tightly, then used a long scarf she had found in the wardrobe to bind it tightly and tie it onto her backback. The bedding was lightweight so it did not add much to the amount of weight she would be carrying on her back. It was a good thing she loved to hike and backpack when she got the chance so she was used to doing this.
With a last look around she called Scar to her side, leashed him, and together they went down to the throne room where Jorwyn and his wife were waiting.
As she entered she was glad to see Hoggle, Didymus, and Ludo waiting to say goodbye and see her off. She kneeled down and hugged the dwarf first then the fox knight. She then stood and let Ludo engulf her in his great arms and hold her tightly to his furry torso. "Sawah brave friend." He said. He pushed a small glittery rock in her hand. "Luck."
Sarah sniffed back a tear as she cradled the smooth stone in her hand.
"Thanks for coming guys. Everything will be fine you'll see." She solemnly handed Hoggle Scar's leash and the sack containing the cans of food. He would need more than what was there but at least it would cover a few days. She knew Hoggle would figure something out. He hunted and fished so Scar would probably end up spoiled by the time she returned.
"I trust you guys to take care of him. If I don't come back..." She started.
They were going to protest so she held up her hand.
"If I don't come back, promise me you will look after him and give him a good home here with you all. The King already promised me he could stay. To send him above without me would send him to his death so it would be better if he just stayed. I love him, and I love you all. You are all my best friends. It's right you could all be together."
Didymus stepped forward. "You have our word, My Lady. He will be cared for. Ambrosius will be glad to have a companion."
Jorwyn moved to stand next to her. "We must go, Sarah. It is time. They will be waiting. We cannot be late."
She nodded to him as he took her arm. With a long look back at her friends and Scar whose brown pleading eyes almost broke her heart, her and Jorwyn disappeared from the castle.