Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > 3,564 Clappers Later

And Justice for All

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

On the other side of things, fighting through the necessary bureaucracy. The best intentions...

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Romance - Published: 2017-07-20 - 5735 words - Complete

Chapter 13 - And Justice for All

Morgan had been waiting nearly half an hour to get a hearing before the High Court. In this building status or species meant absolutely nothing at all - all comers were treated equally so the line usually sprawled out the door in serpentine fashion. Out on the steps leading up to the High Court Complex it was common practice to buy a better place in line but armed guards at the doors stopped it from going on indoors; the Guard of the Federation were the only beings allowed to carry iron. She would’ve preferred not to be here at all, stuffed between gnomes and dwarves and tiny biting flower fairies along with a few others of her own race from all walks of life, with the only assurance being that they would be heard sometime between now and the rest of eternity. Morgan sighed and shifted feet again; she wasn’t about to soil her pearl-highlighted, deep-cut black velvet dress by sitting on the dusty, dirty floor. She smoothed down her long red hair.

At least in the old days the High King could finish his business in half a day’s time without sending anyone away empty-handed. Back when our titles actually meant something. It was one thing to frequent the High City for influential friends, lovers, and the freshest tidbits of gossip, and many people did, Morgan included. It was quite another matter to try to avail oneself of the judicial system. She had deliberately avoided the High Court at all costs, even paying off possible informants and taking bribes in turn to keep the peace without interference. But today was different. Jareth was in serious trouble and instead of trying to contact one of his brothers he had chosen her to be his eyes and ears and hands in the Underground. It was a task she was most certainly capable of but that choice alone made her worry. Jareth didn’t like receiving help from anyone for any reason at all, and especially not from a woman. He must’ve gone through an awful lot to get to this point.

It was old news that he had gone missing years ago, leaving the Labyrinth in chaos and uproar but after what was deemed a healthy length of time he was officially pronounced dead; it was inconceivable that a sidhe could survive in the human world, or any other for that matter, for several months unaided. The last envoy sent to the Aboveground came back half-dead from iron poisoning in only three hours time. It seemed so crazy that Jareth could be dead, though; he was simply too stubborn to die, she thought with a rueful smirk. And then came his life signal out of the blue, giving his precise location: he had been Aboveground after all! But he had made no further attempt to contact her, which was initially disturbing - his power was obviously very weak. Why didn’t he just wish himself back? So she did the only thing she could do - sent out a beacon of her own in hopes of making a temporary communication channel. Which had succeeded just last night so here she was. At least she was finally next.

A tiny fairy was exiting the judging chamber - the little beast hissed at her and streaked away laughing. Lovely, she thought; the only reason they were even allowed there was because of their extraordinary talent with the gardens and plants. She heard herself announced and the door to the right finally opened just enough that she could walk through it. There was no such thing as a grand entrance here - one had to bow and scrape like the lowliest peasant to receive any favor from the judges at all and Morgan was doing her best to act the part although her jaw was slightly clenched. The room was set up like a cross between an old theater and an arena with the judges seated imposingly high in front and the spectators seated at the sides in three levels. Attendance to such proceeding was purely optional but many used it as a means of political maneuvering, either seeing or being seen by others there or the petitioner. Others were simply there for the show. And a show it was; it had been getting worse over the centuries. The judges held their positions for life - not one of them had been replaced since their stationing after the War of the Houses and it did their wonders for their egos, sense of entitlement, and self-importance. All fifteen of them bowed in slight without even bothering to stand as they once had.

May the spirit of our father curse this ridiculous farce, she thought as she finally rose. They were all male, grey-haired sidhe, groomed to look perfectly identical as if they didn’t look imposing enough. No one could even speak their names; they were The Fifteen and they claimed to act as One. The man in the center addressed her.

“Lady Morgan Ravensong,” he slowly savored the name, almost as if taunting her, “it has been many moons indeed since you last chose to grace us with your presence.”

“Nearly seven centuries, milord,” the scribe on the floor rang out.

“Yes,” he steepled his fingers, smiling predatorily, “it would seem that you do not like us.” There were rumors of people being sentenced for such and lesser ‘offenses’ in recent years. Morgan knew that she was treading dangerous ground but she wasn’t about to let this bunch of aging bullies intimidate her!

“Of course not, my lords,” she oozed saccharinely, forcing a smile, “it’s just that some of us live so well within the boundaries of the law that we have no need to go to court.”

He seemed satisfied. She dropped the smile.

“But today I must plead my rights as a citizen of the Federation in full.”

A murmur went through the crowd.

“Silence! Explain yourself.”

“I have just received communication from the Goblin King.”

The room was in immediate uproar; the story of Jareth’s disappearance was infamous.

“Quiet before I sentence the lot of you to a week’s community service!” the judge yelled at the room in general. That calmed things down in a hurry. “Now then, do tell us what you would wish us to do. What did he say? Leave nothing out.”

“It was a very short communication, as if he had lost quite a deal of his power and could do no more.” She closed her eyes. “It is the kind we used when we played as children, what we were taught for emergencies: location, health and anything else possible.” She looked up at them again with hardened purpose. “He is Aboveground, gentlemen. The iron is interfering with what abilities he has left. But the strange thing is he is gaining power!”

“But, Lady Ravensong, that is impossible!”

“Yes, I know, so I asked him again and got the same response! His vitals correspond! He is gaining his power back.”

The judge actually stopped to make a note. “Most curious. Do continue.”

“Other than his current predicament he is quite well. There is a roof of sorts over his head and he doesn’t hunger. There was something about who he was staying with but it all just came across as an incoherent jumble and we had to abandon it; it was proving difficult for him to sustain the bond, he was draining far too quickly. One word he managed to get across right before the link was severed: clause.”


“There is no doubt in my mind that he is referring to the legendary escape clauses buried within our books of law. My request is to visit the Library of the Federation and without delay. His fleeting glimpses of my memory may be his only chance of returning home alive to his kingdom and his family.”

“Is that your full petition?”

“Yes it is, my lord.” She nearly jumped as the herald on the floor began to shout from only a few feet behind her.

“The Lady Morgan Ravensong has finished her petition! The floor is now open to debate, deliberation and contest,” he declared and struck the small copper gong he held in his hand. She felt the Petitioner’s Chair appear behind the backs of her legs and sat down in relief. It was an exact replica of the stuffed leather chairs where the judges sat - another symbol of ‘equality’ - but it had obviously seen better days; the stuffing was starting to show through the right-hand side of the seat as if a few hundred people had dug in their nails there, nervously awaiting their fate.

The other fourteen judges could now openly argue the case in front of the whole room. This was usually the entertaining part for the audience (Morgan didn’t even think of them as a jury; they hadn’t been utilized as one since the first century of the Federation). The nameless Lords had no respect for persons and often insulted the subject, the petitioner or both without any thought for social consequence. Matters which had been carefully hidden for years were dragged into the light of day as it pleased the Court; it was as if the very walls had had ears for many, many years. The Court’s resources were never spoken of out of fear of trodding on toes but it had been long-suspected that the Book of Shadows of the High Kings still existed and was being secretly employed by the fifteen men seated before her.

Oh shit on them already, she thought, there’s hardly anything that they could possibly say to change what anyone thinks of either of us now.

The one second to the left began. “While Lady Ravensong here is a classic example of a reformed royal and an upstanding member of society, may the Court be reminded that her elder brother Jareth is most certainly not to put it mildly. I move to deny the petitioner’s request. If he has survived this long on Earth, may he long so remain.”

“I second.”

“Now wait just a minute, gentlemen! Aren’t you forgetting Jareth’s kingdom? What is to be done with the Goblin Lands?”

“It can be divided equally amongst the surrounding kingdoms, the Labyrinth dismantled. The land can finally be put to a decent use.”

“Oh be serious! You honestly propose to divide the Labyrinth, a structure that holds not only lives but life and even a limited sense of consciousness? Do you realize how difficult it would be to control?”

“The current Goblin King is in no condition to control it at all.”


“Even if we conjure him back, he may not even be fit to rule and I loathe the thought of him running free with nothing to do but cause trouble.”

“But what of the goblins? There’s a reason they’re there. It takes a devious mind to anticipate and control others of a similar character. It was decided that Lord Ravensong was ideal for the position. I don’t think that’s changed.”

“The only reason Jareth has any bearing at all is because the land and creatures in question were so undesirable that no one contested the late High Bastard’s will.”

Morgan had been gritting her teeth, trying to maintain a coolly passive exterior but the final comment that judge #12 made finally got under her skin and she shot out of her chair.

“Now look here, you old wretch! How dare a peasant upstart like you call my father-”

SILENCE!” screamed the judge in the center. Morgan actually felt her vocal chords constrict; she couldn’t speak! The judge sighed. “If I have another outburst from you, I will be forced by the law to throw you into this building’s oubliette for five days for contempt of court, is that clear Lady Ravensong?”

All she could do was nod yes, shakily sitting back down. She saw his right shoulder shift slightly and she was suddenly released; he must’ve made a one-handed symbol under the table, she reflected. She’d only heard stories of the old methods of controlling another sidhe but she had never seen this one in practice, let alone experienced it! Suddenly ill at ease, she did her best to act demure and unassuming. The fourth judge looked down at her but continued to address his peers.

“I believe what Lady Ravensong was passionately trying to convey just now was that while Dalin was a ruthless tyrant…he was also a doting husband and a caring father.”

Morgan thought her jaw would drop at the sight of momentary regret on the judge’s face. Had he known him?! But the moment was over and he turned back to face the judges.

“But what is done had to be done and it is long finished. We are speaking of Jareth now. If he cannot rule, what is to be done with him?” The fifteenth judge, who had been listening quietly to the banter, presently spoke.

“Gentlemen, I hold no more love for Lord Ravensong than any of you but I believe we run an even greater risk stranding him aboveground. In the worst-case scenario he could die and a mortal discover the body. Do you realize how quickly they would know he isn’t human? All he would have to do is bleed! The last thing we need to be dealing with is more human problems than we already have. I motion to favor Lady Ravensong’s petition. We can see what kind of condition he is in when he gets here but getting him here is vital at this point.”

“I second.”

“All those in favor say ‘aye’.”

“AYE!” The room rang with their voices. It was unanimous. The judge in the center spoke.

“Rise, Lady Ravensong.” As she did so the chair disappeared again. “We are honoring your request but you must keep us informed of any further communications you receive so that we may better assist you. When you adjourn back into the Waiting Chamber you will find a small bench on the far wall situated between two doors. Sit there and the caretaker of the Library will be signaled to assist you at his earliest convenience.”

“I will keep in touch. Thank you, my Lords.”

“May we continue to support one another as brothers and sisters of One Family forever!” It was the traditional ending statement of the Court.

Some family, she thought as she bowed and scraped her way to the door to the left and exited the room. The line was the exact same length as ever. A dwarf with a hefty tool belt was entering the Judging Chamber. She found the bench immediately - it was the only place to sit in the entire room and moreover it hadn’t been there before. If there had been more than one she would’ve been lost; there were so many doors in the corridor that ran past the Judging Chamber that she could scarcely count them, yet none were marked and all were locked. She crossed the room to her appointed place and sat, feeling a light burst of magic that signaled her presence as she did so. With nothing else to do she watched the people in line. Under any other circumstances she would’ve retrieved a book from home but the building itself put a damper on magic use.

Poor babies, are we afraid of a little insurrection? she mused. Apparently. It was depressingly unlikely but the fact that they were actually this paranoid gave her hope that one day things would change for the better. Then again that kind of thinking was precisely what had landed them all here in the first place. Maybe it really was for the best to simply try to maintain the status quo; things could always be worse.

It didn’t seem to matter how many years went by, it always seemed strange to her to see so many different creatures all stuck together in the same predicament. At least the smaller ones were free to speak to one another. Morgan almost envied them; it wasn’t easy being one of the most powerful beings in the room. Different social standards applied to sidhe; they were expected not to speak to any but their own kind unless it was absolutely necessary, such was the importance of their very existence. That alone wasn’t easy because there were so few of them left: the War of the Houses had nearly decimated the species because so few men had returned home. Due to difficulty of reproduction their numbers had dwindled to a couple hundred at best, with barely a fifth of those being from the old upper class. If there wasn’t miraculous intervention and soon, the species would die out. To date, no one had been desperate enough to dilute the breed but tests were scheduled to use humans from the colony the very hour the number dropped below one hundred. Magic they had not but they were surprisingly compatible physically being the highest beings of their own world. Perhaps it was so in all the worlds but that talk was best left to theologians.

Suddenly a familiar tug at her consciousness derailed her train of thought, a mechanical yet gentle ‘Greetings, sister.’ She looked up and immediately picked Kavin out of the line; he was watching her with his usual detached interest. Of all of Dalin’s children, the one that resembled most closely his father was the only one who never knew him. With his thick-boned figure, harshly chiseled face and short, spiky fire-red hair, he looked like the poltergeist of the old High King. She smiled in return, pulling a small calling card out of the left wrist sleeve of her dress and got up, affixing it to the seat so her presence would still be known, walking over to him. While he had no heart nor any emotions at all, he cared for people in his own strange way, the way one carefully handles a creature one is studying. He wasn’t smiling - he never smiled - but his expression was neither unkind. He addressed her.

“What brings you here? I thought you avoided this place like the plague.”

She tried to contain herself. “…I found Jareth. We nearly talked last night. I’m trying to bring him home but I have to visit the Library.”

His eyebrows lifted above his deadpan eyes. “Most interesting. Can I be of any assistance?”

“I’m not sure. I have to find the escape clauses and try to contact him again.”

“Then I can help you. The law section is on the fifth floor, row 178 on the left-hand side on top; force the steward to bring a ladder, he won’t do it on his own. I doubt he’d even take you to the correct floor; he hates ex-royals. I once wasted the better part of a week getting the run-around in there looking for ground ownership records.”

“Thank you, Kavin.”

“No need; I am your brother, am I not?”

She smiled at his simple logic. “Most are not as honorable as you.”

“It makes no sense, though; being honorable ensures that others will return my favors when I call on them.”

“I hope it shall always be so. What brings you here today?”

“More of the same. I have to override a backward-thinking old noble who doesn’t want copper pipes in his house for water. I’m moving to make indoor plumbing a universal ordinance. It is ludicrous that humans aboveground have this simple thing and we do not. I was also going to get permission to build Jareth his birthday present. 2,000 is sort of important in our society and with his being Goblin King I was thinking of building something large and destructive.”

It was all Morgan could do to not laugh aloud, biting her lip, trying to control her merriment.

“I just said something amusing, didn’t I?”

“Yes, I was just imagining the ensuing mayhem with those ridiculous creatures he claims to govern. He really can’t - mostly he just keeps them from escaping,” she said, the smile leaking on one side of her face. A look of sudden comprehension overtook his features and he solemnly nodded.

“That makes sense but I lack the imagination to come to such conclusions myself. It’s frustrating when no one will explain to me why what I just said is so funny while everyone else clearly enjoys a joke at my expense.”

“They just don’t understand you,” she said with a sympathetic, familiar smile. His eyes went wide and he gasped like he was suddenly struck with an idea.

“It is entirely possible! I do have a 380 point I.Q. by the human test.” Subtlety was always lost on him but Morgan wasn’t about to burst his bubble; this was as close to happy as he got.

“I thought it was only 320.”

“I found an updated copy and scored higher.”

“Well, congratulations!”

“Thank you, I intend to put it to good use.”

“I’m sure you do.” The petitioners ahead of him had gone through rather quickly - check that, some of them hadn’t come back out, that was always a bad sign. It was his turn already. She could hear him being announced inside.

“Lord Kavin Ravensong…again…”

She was glad that he didn’t understand their biting sarcasm; such petty nastiness always went right over his mechanical head.

“Good luck,” she whispered. ‘And to you, sister. Remember my offer,’ she heard him say as clear as a bell in her mind as he strode into the room completely unabashed and gave his signature short, stiff bow. The door closed.

“Lady Morgan Ravensong?”

Morgan turned quickly to see who had addressed her and felt her knees turn to water. It was obviously the library steward but she could scarcely believe her eyes: it was a gryphon! He sat up on his hind lion’s legs with his mighty wings folded behind him. Her calling card was skewered on a foreclaw and his giant eagle’s head was sharply scanning the room for her. She swallowed hard. There were very few things indeed in the world which Morgan was actually afraid of and this was one of them. Gryphons were infamous for asking people impossible riddles, holding the victim in thrall with their wild, penetrating, predatory stare. Over 90% of the time the poor person was unable to answer and was devoured on the spot. The gryphon never begrudged the few who were lucky enough to be wiser or cleverer than itself, however, and usually gave them a priceless bauble out of the creature’s own hoard of treasure as reward for surviving the ordeal. Even though these individuals invariably pawned the trinkets and lived in luxury for the rest of their lives, the chances of coming away unscathed were so slim that it simply wasn’t worth the risk. Humans were a favorite prey but gryphons weren’t picky eaters and it was a well-known fact that many were perfectly capable of taking down a full-grown sidhe if they could catch one by surprise. The creatures had an insatiable thirst for knowledge so in retrospect she knew she shouldn’t have been as shocked as she had been to find him here; in all probability he was truly the most capable librarian they could find! But it was dangerous keeping such a creature in the city. Before her mind started speculating who they were feeding him she quickly shoved the thought away and started to cross the room to him.

“I am she.” His yellow eagle eyes instantly flicked to her face, making a pit in her stomach. She could swear he was smiling.

“Ah, now how can I be certain that it’s you?” he taunted, pointing a claw. “There are so many people in this grand, old hall and no one sitting in my chair-”

She raised her left arm and her calling card flew into it as quickly as if it been attached to a rubber string. His beak parted involuntarily. To be able to pull off a stunt like that in a place so warded against magic was an incredible display of strength. She smiled a knowing smile, pushing the card back up her sleeve. Two could play at this game. He regarded her sideways, knowing he’d been had.

“At least you don’t waste paper,” he grumbled. “This way.”

He got up and padded over to the door to the left of the chair. Even though he was down on all fours he was still enormous; he came all the way up to Morgan’s waist. The door opened automatically for them and she followed him inside. And gasped. The Library of the Federation was rumored to be beautiful but the few people who had been allowed inside were unable to accurately describe it’s magnificence. It looked less like a library and more like a temple. The entire structure was round with a large atrium-style opening in the center, showered in colored light from the stained glass window in the ceiling high above it. Fluted columns of solid lapis lazuli wrapped in gold leaves lined each of the levels, the shelving vaguely visible through the clear quartz flooring. The ground floor appeared to be marble and inscribed around the circle of the base in the old sidhe tongue was the slogan of the Federation, emblazoned in gold, set into the floor. The entire place just screamed power and might and for the first time in many years Morgan felt very small for a moment before steeling her resolve. It was only a library.

The gryphon had caught her gawking. “And you thought we had no taste,” he said smugly, sitting up in front of her. “Now then, I’m not paid to indulge tourists. What were you sent here to find?”

“Law books. The oldest we have.”

“Ah, well then, that’s simple enough,” he replied congenially, “just a quick hop up to the second floor and-”

“It’s the fifth.”

He quirked his head. “Are you omniscient, my lady?”


“Then it’s the second-”

“It’s the fifth.”

They regarded each other for a moment like opponents in a dangerous game. He began to slowly circle her.

“You’re awfully sure of yourself there, considering that you’ve never been here before.” He stopped right behind her. She could feel his hot breath on her back. “Or have you?” His accusatory tone set her on edge. The truth was on her side but what was that in the face of the suspicion of the Court? She forced her voice to remain calm.

“My brother, the young Lord Ravensong, has a photographic memory. I shall be needing a ladder as well.”

The gryphon sighed, annoyed. “The walking brain,” he said acidly, “I should’ve known.”

Morgan heard his enormous wings flapping and looked behind her just in time to see him neatly scoop her up beneath her arms with his monstrously strong forearms, lifting her off the ground. She had to bite her lip to keep from screaming in surprise and instead ground out, “What in the name of-”

“Hold on tight, my lady,” he threw the title at her as if it were an insult, “I should so hate to drop you.” And with that he began to bear them upwards; the atrium was just large enough for him to pump his massive wings. To his amusement, Morgan was hanging on - for dear life! This was certainly the last thing she had envisioned herself doing today! True, it was faster than a staircase but there had to be a better way to do this. She had never been up-close-and-personal with a gryphon before and, while they were obsessively cleanly creatures, she noticed that he had a distinct, musky odor to him and while it was not altogether unpleasant she hoped it would come out of her clothing. He brought them in over the guard railing of the fifth floor and set her lightly on her feet with a surprising sense of touch before landing himself. The sight would’ve been dizzying to a human, a sea of shelves with study tables interspersed throughout and just enough light to see by, no more. No shelf numbers, either.

Perfect, she thought, mentally rolling her eyes. The only possible clue was a small seam in the translucent floor that ran smack dab into the edge of a nearby shelf but didn’t seem to come out the other side. That has to be one, so that means… She did a quick count of the shelves and found that they ran seven long in a row. They had to run clockwise; counter-clockwise was very ill luck indeed. She counted off 25 rows and started around the bend with the gryphon close at her heels. Upon reaching the correct row, she quickly strode down the corridor. 175...176...177...178, left side… It looked awfully dusty up there, not to mention badly lit - there were lamps on the tables but that was the only source of illumination. Enshrouded in this darkness was the history of their entire civilization, carefully hidden away from the eyes of the world. She longingly ran her hand along a set of books she recognized as having belonged to her father. Obviously many more had been added to the High King’s collection over the past millennia, painstakingly transcribed by countless hands, countless voices, waiting to be heard, waiting to be finally understood as a whole so that there could be light in the world once again. Currently, there wasn’t even a ladder in sight. She reluctantly turned to the gryphon. “Would you get me a ladder as I had originally requested?”

“Now, now,” he teased her, managing to look parentally scolding with barely any moveable facial features, “what’s the magic word?”

Morgan could think of several that would cool off this impertinent creature if they were anywhere but here but she could see that she would get nowhere without placating the wretched beast. She smiled a little too sweetly. “Please?”

He walked over to a nearby table and lightly leaped on top, grabbed something out of a quill jar with his beak and jumped back down. To her surprise it was a tiny ladder. He carefully set it on the floor. “Put it under your right foot.”

Curious and with no alternative she did so and immediately her foot was in the first rung of a wooden ladder with slight gilding here and there.

Clever, she thought as she hiked up her skirts to climb it. Of course the books she needed were way up at the very top and she needed both hands to hang onto the ladder and her dress. “What am I supposed to do, grab it with my teeth?! I need both my hands just to be up here!”

The gryphon was lounging on the floor, watching. “Your problem, not mine,” he replied lazily.

Oh really? We’ll see about that. Letting go of her dress she grabbed the first hefty tome and deliberately dropped it.

“HEY!” the gryphon roared, racing to catch it. It was quickly followed by four others in rapid-fire succession. She gave a very pointed sigh of smug satisfaction and descended the ladder. Only to find the gryphon blocking her exit. “You think you’re so smart. I would be more careful than that if I were you, my lady. Do remember what I am.”

“Ah, but is being cast out of the City and stripped of your prestige and treasure worth satisfying your pride?”

He was growling but he backed up enough to let her down. She wasn’t used to relying on her bravado to save herself like this and it was beginning to wear on her nerves a little. She made her way over to the table where the books were stacked and sat down. The gryphon leaped up onto the table and impertinently lay down, resting his head on his paws like a housecat, facing her from only about two feet away. She smiled.

“Do you mind or must you read over my shoulder?”

“I must, my lady; it is my duty, especially since you were so careless with these just now.”

She resigned herself to the annoyance and pulled down the first one, opening it. She was amazed and a bit disgusted to discover that for as important of documents as these were, they were not even warded against aging and decay! Perhaps the Federation liked the idea of their law books being weak - it meant that they could easily be altered. Or destroyed. Perhaps the gryphon had a point, she thought warily. It would be painfully simple to damage one of these. Maybe others had already tried. But nothing could’ve prepared her for what she saw when she turned the flyleaf: it was the official Document of Federation! How much power this little piece of vellum carried! How many lives it had destroyed. There were flourishing signatures strewn all over it, the page was completely covered, not an inch of free space remained. She swallowed hard and fought back a tear - the name of the man who had murdered the High King was here in a bombast hand near the bottom left. He was still alive; quite a number of them were. What tore at her heart most surprised her, though: she could feel the intention of the drafters as if it were fresh! With what joy and ambition and forward thinking had this document been forged! Not one person who had helped make it had thought that ill it was and evil would come of it. It had genuinely been meant for the good of all. How far reality had fallen short of their glorious, far-reaching dream. She presently collected herself and turned the page, beginning what she knew would be a long fight through sadistically tiny print.
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