Categories > Movies > Labyrinth > The Rat Who Calls Himself Jareth

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

in which Hoggle gets hornswaggled into helping...

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2017-07-22 - 3193 words - Complete

Chapter 3: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

The Throne Room was about as bad as Sarah had expected and then some. It was worse because the bedraggled Goblin Army - what was left that hadn’t deserted to go hide - had come back and the whole room was full of squabbling goblins, some nursing wounds, some bickering about who was less tough, and some openly fighting with weapons just for the heck of it because they were disappointed that the contest had been dispatched so quickly! Sarah had to fight back the urge to run away herself - they had been chasing her less than five hours ago - and instead contemplated their condition, knowing logically that none would dare lay a finger on her now.

She now knew instinctively that they were practically immortal, but, man alive, what an existence! She was beginning to have an odd feeling of pity for her ‘subjects’. They had all once been human children and in a manner still acted like it. They were grotesque, filthy, and spoke a strange pidgin dialect somewhere between English and what sounded almost like Japanese. What this rabble desperately needed was a good, strong leader, one that would actually take care of them, one that wouldn’t add more poor souls to their number. It was with this attitude that Sarah calmly crossed the room and, with a sudden adrenaline rush, sat down on the throne. As she did so, one by one they gradually stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at her, equal parts amazed and terrified. The Goblin King had survived!!! Something was different but even the brightest among them failed to place it, the enchantment on Sarah was so strong. They saw her as Jareth, as they had seen all those who had come before her, as they had seen that first foul little imp. Once she had the room’s attention she addressed them, feeling her power surge a little for the first time, almost like a cue of how to handle the situation. She inwardly smiled.

“I must say, I am gravely disappointed in all of you this day, but since I’d rather not have the whole castle and town reeking of Bog, bring me the dwarf Hoggle immediately. And if any of you harm him in any way, you had better hope you can swim.”

As one they made a rush for the exits and the room emptied. It was oddly satisfying watching them run from her just once more. On an instinctual impulse she reclined sideways in the throne, just as if she had been doing it her entire life. Granted it actually was more comfortable but the thought that so much of what she was doing already was unconsciously automatic was rather unsettling. She watched a black chicken leisurely amble its way across the room. The others could be food at any moment but this one was someone’s pet. She just knew. It was an equally unsettling thought that one of those creatures was actually willing and able to look after another living being voluntarily.

A vulture eyed her briefly from one of the small, glassless round windows. The quiet made her suddenly lonely. She thought again of William. How had he ever managed to occupy himself to keep from going crazy here? He had to have had a hobby of some kind, one that would have consumed centuries of time. Something to do with the outlying maze, perhaps? It was the first time since the transformation that she had considered its nature and found the concept of figuring out how it really worked seductively compelling, an idea that could actually keep her well occupied. If she could…

NO! She had to stay focused on what she was doing here. She sighed. Upon reflection, she could’ve just spirited Hoggle here but she had already decided to exercise her power as little as possible so she wouldn’t get used to having it - or, rather, so it wouldn’t get used to having her. The less chances she gave that thing, the better. Besides, obtaining her liberty was something that probably wouldn’t happen quickly anyway. It would have to be carefully planned out. She couldn’t just rush home.

Sarah was overcome by the sudden overwhelming urge to look in on her father and stepmother and Toby using one of the crystals to scry but quickly squashed the idea. Using this to spy on people was just plain creepy and, besides, she probably wouldn’t like what she saw at the moment. They were probably worried sick and had reported her to the police as a runaway by now but the situation couldn’t be helped. She’d be lucky if she could make it back during their lifetimes. And to get back she had something downright bizarre to figure out.

How could Sir Didymus become king? The thought was totally preposterous but she knew William was right. He really was the perfect candidate. A true knight in honor, bravery, and chivalry, Didymus seemed an odd match for this world. Even with his ego, his general goodness and intelligence made him stick out like a sore thumb. Had he always lived here? Or had he been tricked into coming, as was obviously the case for many others? Perhaps Hoggle would know. At any rate, she needed the dwarf’s help. In spite of his cowardly, pragmatic nature, he understood this place and seemingly everyone in it. An insider’s opinion would be of great value at the present. Perhaps it would give her an idea as how to get the ball rolling. Or the crystal, as it were, she thought as she remembered the one that had rolled past her in that dark tunnel. And she couldn’t let Jareth get in the way.

There was a sudden commotion coming from the hallway. They must’ve found him near the city! A phalanx of goblins burst into the room and promptly heaved a hogtied Hoggle to the masonry stones at her feet. He was blindfolded and gagged as well but, fortunately for her retainers, he didn’t have a single scratch.

“Good work. All of you get out. I want to deal with him privately,” she said brusquely and they instantly complied, relieved that the entire army had gotten a scapegoat. Sarah bent down and undid his blindfold. His eyes were big as dinner plates and she instantly regretted scaring him so badly, but this had to look believable for everyone else. She carefully untied his gag and now he just looked up at her, puzzled at how gently he was being handled, certain the worst was yet to come and about ready to soil him drawers. He was a traitor and everyone knew it. It had to be why he was here in this state. No amount of pleading would save him now; he was simply awaiting his punishment in silence and the suspense was driving him crazy. Jareth seemed to be trying to make up his mind as to what to do with him, which was a very bad sign considering how instantly decisive the king was usually.

Sarah helped him sit up so he could see her properly and looked into his enormous grey eyes in earnest.

“Hoggle, it’s me.”

Now he really looked confused.

“Of c-c-course it’s y-you, yer Highness.”

Sarah was suddenly afraid. If she couldn’t make him recognize her, she didn’t have a prayer! What if… She had never consciously fought this spell but there was a first time for everything. She closed her eyes and concentrated as hard as she could stand on who she used to be: just plain old Sarah Williams, only fifteen years old, living with her parents, going to school, playing dress-up, playing with her sheepdog, and as she did this she began to feel her appearance slowly changing. This, of course did not go unchallenged. Jareth was absolutely furious with her and was desperately trying to lure her back with feelings of absolute power and freedom and immortality. Not to mention trying to break her concentration with brute force and physical pain. It was like a titanic game of tug-o-war with her own body in the middle. She knew she couldn’t hold out much longer and, to the best of her control, brought back the current stasis rather than risk losing her personality in the heavy backlash that had been looming at any second. She was totally exhausted and panting from the exertion when she opened her eyes. Hoggle was openly gawking with his jaw on the floor.

“Sarah?” he barely dared to whisper.

“Yes.” Without another word she made the rest of his bonds vanish and he ran into her outstretched arms as she fell to her knees. “I’m so sorry I had to scare you!”

“Oh, it’s nothin’, missy,” he said a bit gruffly, ruffled at the sudden emotional outburst. “Anything less woulda looked mighty suspicious for that crowd.” He pulled away and looked her up and down, shaking his head in wonder. “Never woulda known it was you. That’s an awfully powerful spell you’re wearin’. How did you ever defeat Jareth? I assume that’s what happened or ya wouldn’t be here in yer current condition.”

Sarah went to answer him and found that her vocal chords wouldn’t work! She tried and tried to say what happened but her own body was fighting her! Hoggle quickly surmised what was happening and motioned for her to stop, nodding sympathetically.

“Wouldn’t be the first time he shut somebody up. Figures he’d do it at the end. You can talk as long as we don’t discuss it, right?”

She sighed. “That would seem to be the case.” Sarah thought a moment. “What do I look like to you? Is there anything that looks even vaguely different? I have to at least look female!”

The dwarf frowned. “Hard ta say. I always figured Jareth was one o’ them creatures what could change their appearance. Got bored with how he looked every couple a centuries and changed it up a bit-” He suddenly stopped mid-thought and slapped his hand over his mouth, eyes wide with the realization of the truth and Sarah nodded very slightly, as much as she dared. “Mercy me.”

“Hoggle, you’re here because I need you.”

“Anything, Missy!”

“That’s ‘Your Majesty’ to you!” the Goblin Queen snapped. The words were out of Sarah’s mouth almost before she realized that she had blurted them and it was her turn to look surprised!

Hoggle had jumped a bit when it happened, but upon seeing her own reaction he had a sneaking suspicion that there was a lot more going on here than met the eye. He scrutinized her a moment. Yes it was there, along with his friend. What he had always taken to be Jareth was layered on top of Sarah, almost mixed in, and the thought was definitely unnerving. Best to play this on the safe side.

“Yer Majesty…” he addressed her with just the slightest rueful smile as Sarah turned bright red in humiliation, nodding, closing her eyes for a moment as she sat back down on the throne.

“Hoggle, how much do you know about Sir Didymus?”

The dwarf blinked. “Not that much, I’ll admit. Want me to go get him for ya?”

“No! It’s imperative that he doesn’t know about this beforehand or the whole thing will fail!”

Hoggle looked supremely suspicious. “What exactly are you thinkin’ about, yer Majesty?”

Sarah leaned forward and motioned him close. “Didymus has to become king,” she whispered.

Hoggle gave one guffaw in spite of himself. “You’ve gotta be joking!” She wasn’t smiling. “You ain’t joking!”

“Hoggle, I got to talk to William briefly and he seemed to think that Didymus might be able to break this vicious cycle if anybody here could. I know it sounds crazy but the more I think about it I’m afraid he might’ve been right. I think he had been considering it himself but ran out of time.”

“Who’s William?”

Sarah went to answer and once again had magical laryngitis, which was an answer by itself. Hoggle simply nodded. The last king, had to be. William, eh?

“But in order to do that he has to wish someone away and run the Labyrinth and, frankly, I can’t even begin to think how this is going to work!”

The dwarf sat back on his heels and scratched the stubble on his chin, narrowing his eyes in thought. He hadn’t been Jareth’s toadie for centuries for nothing. He didn’t pride himself on the fact anymore but he had plenty of experience being a snake in the grass, a tattler, a false beacon of hope for dozens of runners, misleading them as the king saw fit and reaping the material rewards there were to be gained by doing this. Didymus had to have a weak spot, a foible - everyone did - but what? The little canine’s conduct was pretty much flawless; Sarah was right on that account. Perhaps getting just a touch senile…no, not senile enough for that, he mused. Maybe they could talk the thing out.

“Well, here’s what I do know about ‘im. He showed up here about, oh, what would it be? Six, seven centuries ago, lookin’ for a quest. Lookin’ for work was more the shape of it. He flat-out refuses to talk about his life before he came here but I think he was in trouble somehow ‘cause he always refused to be paid for his services in lieu of …well… I never found out. He kept comin’ away from the castle time and again looking awfully disappointed. And it wasn’t like Jar- the Goblin King was shafting him. He was always favored by the crown - whoever wore it, actually, come to think of it. Between you and me, I think what he wanted the King would’ve gladly given him except he couldn’t. He was finally knighted instead - public affair, only one in the realm - and that was the end of that. Still got assignments but less as the years went by. Didy just refuses to own up to his age and kept begging for dangerous work. He was finally farmed out to the Bog when his nose went. Gave him a sense of something to do without actually putting him in harm’s way. Probably the most decent thing the Goblin King ever did. Don’t ever mention that to him, though.”

Sarah laughed, nodding; he was vain about that. She suddenly stopped short. Did Didymus worry about that? Was that the Achilles heel that would throw a monkey wrench into the whole plan? Hopefully complete cheerful denial of a problem was enough to offset the threat of the spell. She shook it off, noting Hoggle’s concern.

“Oh, just thinking about something that probably won’t be a problem. But speaking of problems, what would really be helpful here is Didymus’ problems, things that annoy him. Can you think of any reason he would ever get upset enough to blurt precisely what I need him to blurt without thinking in a hissy-fit? I know it works; that’s what happened to me.”

“Happens to most people.” It wasn’t a bad idea. The one thing working against the miniature knight was his temper, which was considerable once provoked. Sometimes he’d actually get so worked up over something he’d start barking! Hoggle gasped. Of course!


“Didymus’ badly abused sheep dog? What about him?”

“What about him?! What’s not about him! Yeah, Didy tries ta ride the thing, has that fancy saddle and all, but Ambrosius is the worst mount in the world! Doncha remember? Nine times out of ten if there’s any danger at all, he rears and leaves Didymus high and dry ta fend for himself on foot! I’ve heard the knight lose his temper with that cowardly beast more times than I can remember! It was practically an ongoing joke in the Goblin Army’s barracks for years, which is saying something for them. I’ve tried ta talk him into just keeping the dog as a pet but he’ll have none of it. He’s determined to ride that filthy mongrel until he breaks his neck!”

Wishing away Ambrosius?! It was about the most absurd idea Sarah had ever heard of. And at the same time she knew that, in all probability, it was the only viable option. It had to be someone Didymus knew and liked well enough to stake his life for. His ‘steed’ was obvious. A service animal that was that unserviceable and was still kept had to be loved. Sarah felt like a rat for what she was considering undertaking here but, really, she didn’t have much of a choice. Sir Didymus was a good friend and she would be betraying his trust by doing this. And she was coercing Hoggle into helping her to do it. The dwarf noted her change in mien.

“Feelin’ low?”

She nodded.

“I can’t tell ya how glad I am that you ain’t used to it.”

“I will be if we don’t hurry,” she whispered, shifting uncomfortably, feeling Jareth stir at the prospect of making the life of the 517th runner living hell in a myriad of creative ways.

Hoggle drew back a bit. Whatever this was, it was obviously all Sarah could do to keep it in check. He wouldn’t always be able to trust to her good nature if the current state of affairs was as it seemed.

“Don’t worry, yer Majesty. We’ll get you outta this,” he said gravely. “Now, what you need ta do is get me to him. Gettin’ under his skin should be easy after that.”

“I haven’t transported anyone before.”

“It looked easy when…William did it. He just said where I needed to go or who I needed ta be with and tossed me a crystal and wham! I was there.”

Sarah had her trepidations but it sounded straightforward enough and she wasn’t about to dig that infernal tome back out. She willed a crystal into being, the possibility of traveling from point A to point B, with this being point A.

“Hoggle, go to Didymus, but just far enough away that it looks like you happened upon him yourself,” she said and, practically praying that it would work right, tossed the crystal to the dwarf, who caught it and vanished right on cue. She instantly had another on her fingertips and collapsed into the back of the throne in relief when she saw he had gotten there in one piece, with Sir Didymus just a little ways off.

The game had begun.
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