SETTING: Labyrinth Valley

QUEST 1: Hatched
CHAPTER 1: Mark of the Beast


The short trip she'd taken in order to escape the city went without great incident. With the hood of her cloak pulled over her head she turned only the occasional eye with no questions asked. The city had certainly become the exact opposite of what she'd seen upon her first arrival for the streets were now robust with ceaseless activity. It would take time to get used to feeling this sword on the side of her hip, Sarah thought while the massive south gate of the city wall entered her eyesight with its guards posted on either side of the towering wooden doors. When she approached the massive rings that adorned the entryway, two short armored soldiers stepped in front of her and crossed their spears at the tips in front of her.

"Halt!" One commanded, with the other chiming in shortly thereafter with, "None may pass here!" Sarah's eyes strolled from one metal helmet to the other, widened with confusion. "What?" She asked, feeling concern tingle in her spine as she tried to keep her face hidden. "You mean to tell me none can leave the city?"

"That is correct!" One of the small guards chimed. "By the order of the king we are to remain posted here to ensure the safety of Goblin City! There are invaders roaming around, you know!" The other guard stood up a little straighter as pride swelled in his small, armor covered head. This seemed to serve confusion on a bigger plate to Sarah. She crossed her arms in front of her belly to keep her cloak wrapped around her. "Um, not to deny you.. great gentlemen your duty of.. guarding this gate," she stated, trying to imitate a bit more of a deeper tone in her voice in effort to accent her disguise, "but wouldn't it be better to be outside the gate in case the invaders come?"

The guards paused for half a second before they turned to look at each other, armor clattering with each quick movement either of them made. After that brief glace, the pair returned their hidden eyes upon Sarah and straightened up their little bodies again. "Perhaps you are correct!" One of them answered. "Yes, certainly the invaders would be more likely to come from outside the city!" Came the agreement of the other whom soon turned around to begin directing the lesser-ranking guards. "A grand plan! We will meet them.. outside! You must be a great strategist! We thank you for your advice!" Came the gratitude of the first before he, too, joined the second in directing the others outside. Sarah took advantage of the open gate and slipped herself outside the wall. She expected a large garbage yard outside, just as it'd been when she arrived a year ago, but now what she saw was a brilliantly green hedge maze that'd been blanketed by the warm sun she had still not come used to this close to the city. Without hesitation she quickly slinked into the walls of the hedges.

The maze wasn't that long and, upon exiting the other side, Sarah's eyes were greeted with a sight that stole her breath clean from her lungs. The labyrinth was monsterous in size compared to what she remembered. To her east she saw its winding walls proceed into a mountain range. To the south, directly in front of her, the trees began to grow so thick she couldn't see where the labyrinth continued onto. To the west seemed to be a sun baked desert though she couldn't tell from where she stood and there was no way to know what was north of the city. Not from where she was. The trail that carried out from underneath her feet declined effortlessly into an enormous hill laden valley that, she estimated, was once the garbage yard she had expected. At the very bottom of the valley she was able to see what appeared to be an intersection where the trail split into eight different routes. There was something else there, too, but she couldn't make it out from where she stood, so it was down to it she decided to walk.

It took the better portion of a half hour to get as far as the intersection given the sheer size of the valley. As she neared the unknown object she was able to make out the shape of a thick post on which sat eight arrows pointing in eight different directions, one underneath the next, with no words written to help her know what went where. Across the trail in the valley, not too far from where she stood, she could see a saddle ready black horse grazing idly on the rich, emerald green grass.

SETTING: Goblin City

CHAPTER 2: A New Face to an Old World


The sight of the entirety of Goblin City was nearly chilling. Every building that once housed one of the many little beasts that Sarah and her troupe had battled a year ago seemed to be completely empty. Dust rolled across the earthen streets. No sounds welcomed her ears while she strolled the avenues which only served to heighten her suspicious nervousness. As she had noticed, not even a single chicken plagued the sidewalks.

"This can't be right," she said aloud to herself and stopped at an intersection to look down each direction of road slowly, carefully hunting for any symbolance of life that might be able to answer a question for her yet there was none. "I've been here this long and have only seen one goblin," she noted, allowing a grin to slowly caress over her lips while she nodded her head, a thought manifesting between her ears. "Maybe that's what he meant," she said softly. "Maybe his kingdom has failed and now he has to rely on me. Maybe I really do make the rules!"

As though on cue an echoing, high pitched cry cut through the silent skies overhead that sunk into a gutteral sound, something that she could identify as a roar though to what animal she couldn't begin to comprehend. All she knew is that the sound immediately slew terrified adrenaline into her chest and she was compelled to quickly throw herself against the wall on the shady side of the nearest building, hurriedly covering her mouth to avoid screaming. Whatever that thing was, it was close. Her hazel eyes rolled skyward though the cloudless daylight overhead held no answer to her silently screaming question. After a moment of deciding whether to stay or run, she flashed her gaze over toward the intersection from which she'd just come only to see a massive shadow pass over, one so large she couldn't make out a definitive shape from where she stood. Again she cast her eyes skyward though whatever it was had already departed. Another call came out from the creature though this time it seemed to be getting farther away.

She stayed where she was against that wall. All she could tell is that it certainly wasn't like anything she'd encountered in the labyrinth the last time she had come. In moments she heard the creak of wooden shutters and began to look around, spotting the faces of goblins that'd been hiding within their dwellings each carefully peeking from their homes to look around the outer world. Once apparently deciding it was safe, they began to slowly, cautiously step out into the streets. Sarah began to thank her fortune for, from where she was standing, she'd not yet been seen.

SETTING: Jareth's Palace

CHAPTER 1: A New Perspective


The castle looked remarkably different from the last time Sarah had wandered through it. Perhaps this time she was in no hurry and not being chased by goblins, thereby fowarding her the opportunity to actually take in her surroundings.

The castle was a bit unimpressive as far as castles go. No magnificent stone pillars, marble columns, red carpets and persian rugs. Instead it boast a sandy gray color. That which was made of wood was a deep shade, most likely something resembling walnut. The hanging and perched candleholders were all made out of this wood along with the large dining table. She wouldn't so much as describe it as bleak, but certainly unsettling enough to question how Jareth even came to be a king, considering the stereotypes that govern royal impressions.

She managed out the throne room door and into the courtyard hallway, carefully checking around the corners as though expecting an ambush, though without incident. One of many lessons that was taught to her in this land a year ago played on repeat between her ears: take nothing for granted. Now that the entire layout of the Labyrinth had changed, she wasn't even certain if it was the Goblin City that she was going to come out upon. Half of her hoped she wouldn't. There may be no goblins in the castle, she thought, but there'd be no way to avoid them in an entire city.

The hallway stretched outward on either side into places her eyes could not reach from where she stood. About halfway down the hall to her left looked to be a niche in the wall that led to a spiral staircase which appeared to ascend to the higher levels of the castle. The rest of the wall on the opposing side of the hall yeilded to a door directly in front of her. Memory serving her right, she thought, that door must be the one to lead to the outside.




Sarah began to approach Jareth, the white long tailored dress billowing around her ankles from a breeze from where she could not tell. Her eyes were fixed on the goblin king's and her face stoic. She'd reached the end of her mission and now it was time to deliver the final blow. "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered," she said, "I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City. For my will is as strong as yours, and my--"

"Stop! Wait!" He raised a hand, palm turned toward the girl. "Look, Sarah," Jareth offered to her, raising a crystal sphere perched atop his fingertips. His eyes that barely expressed any symblance of emotion carried within them a vague shadow of hopefulness. "Look what I'm offering you. Your dreams! I ask for so little. Just let me rule you, and you can have everything that you want."

Sarah watched his face, her gaze unbroken even to the crystal that he presented on its outstretched pedestal. Silence was the ruler between them for what seemed as a moment frozen in time atop the lone island the pair occupied. Her lips parted, and from them spilled the dagger that was to be the key to her release. "You have no power over me."

She shot up to a seated posture in her bed, finding nothing but the dark of night surrounding her skin that'd been dappled with cold sweat. She breathed heavily, her heart still pounding in her chest so loud she barely heard the rain that was pouring against her bedroom window. They were happening more and more; these dreams of the final showdown with the Goblin King, Jareth. The victory that'd won her brother back from the clutches of the Labyrinth one full year ago at the stroke of midnight. At first it the dreams were every now and again until the past couple weeks. Then they were coming every night, sometimes more than once. What could this mean? Why was this resurfacing? She looked at the clock which read 11:55pm. Suddenly, as though aching through a premonition, she pulled the blankets off of her and pulled herself free from the comforting mattress. The light was switched on and it was to the drawer of her vanity that her hands were quick to reach. Without hesitation she began to rummage roughly through the scattered contents. "Where is it?" She groaned in discontent. "It's in here somewhere! Ah!"

In her hands she held something she'd not bothered to look upon since her past adventure's end. A white paperback book with the illustration of what appeared to be a maze on the front. Without thought she opened the book to the middle and froze upon finding that no text was printed. She flipped through a few more pages and found the same thing. "What is this?!" She asked herself and threw the book down on the vanity's desktop, then looked at her increasingly terrified face in the mirror. Just then the clock on the wall behind her rang once. Her head snapped around to look at it as a bolt of lightning accompanied by a crack of thunder animated the night outside her window. "One," she counted. After a brief moment, "Two." Then, "Three." Another bolt of lightning and clap of thunder rolled outside. "Four," she counted as each tone of the clock rang, her chest tightening as anticipation combined with adrenaline seared her veins. "Eleven," was the count, then, "twelve.." She waited. No final tone came. No other sounds than the tick tock talking to the steady rain outside. Her held breath was finally released in a sigh of relief. Her eyes turned back toward the vanity to look at the book again but when she saw the mirror it was as though she were looking at her own room from outside. The clock reflecting in the mirror read 13, and a thirteenth tone rang in her ears as the sound of a horn in a canyon.

Her eyes shot wide open and she quickly turned back around again, faced with a view she had never again anticipated seeing. Stretched out in the valley before her, underneath an ominous copper red cloud, she could see the white brick walls of the Labyrinth. "No!" She yelled, and turned to reface the mirror in an effort to escape but the vanity had vanished. In its place stood an old twisted, leafless tree. Perched on the lowest branch was a white barn owl staring directly at her.

It was him.