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

Firey in the Hole!

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

pyrotechnic mayhem

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2017-07-22 - 2025 words - Complete

Chapter 9: Firey in the Hole!

Jareth had been pacing the turrets, as he was often wont to do when the game was afoot, keenly watching his little ex-champion, genuinely curious to see how he fared, but at the arrival of the Fireys he extinguished the crystal, not caring to watch his demise. Fate could certainly be cruel but that old knight had truly striven with his rather than just accepting it, fighting tooth and nail to be free of it. Jareth had once attempted to directly help him in an unusually altruistic mood, but what was required was only just within his grasp if he was willing to undo his own spell in the process and finally meet his long-deferred punishment, something which he could not possibly allow. So, like the liar he was, he strung along his little retainer with promises of new spells and knowledge that needed to be gained, but at length he gave up the ruse and knighted him afresh, employing him in truth. The novelty appealed to the king and Didymus was so caught up in his characteristically overwhelming sense of duty that he had had no objections, at least not at first, unaware of how the years raged by just outside of Jareth’s realm. After a time, Didymus almost seemed to forget - he was so preoccupied - but clearly in his heart of hearts he had never actually given up. So many things had happened to that man that he had had absolutely no control over or even any say in, Jareth reflected. At least he could claim his death as his own and finally be free beyond the circles of his torment.

A scuffling sound attracted his attention and he looked over at the source: Ambrosius had come up the stairs in search of decent company. Jareth remembered then that, for all the useless canine obedience training Didymus had tried to put this animal through, he had successfully managed to teach him how to open and close doors in lieu of an apology for Ambrosius’ current form. Upon noticing the difference in the girl he saw, the sheepdog started to whine and back away, but Jareth smirked and called him over in a magically friendly tone of voice and he came at once. This was an odd prize to be sure, the king thought, scratching him behind the ears. He honestly had no idea what the goblinization spell would do to an already bespelled animal but he was in no hurry to find out; he could wait until the appointed hour to make the old payment.

Ambrosius licked one of his hands. Her hands, he noted with dark amusement, looking down at the delicately-boned fingers, the young shapely body of his new female incarnation. Kings were practically passé on Earth now. Perhaps this was just the change he needed to become relevant once more. Jareth allowed some of Sarah’s femininity to show through the disguise as he sauntered on down the stairs to the Throne Room. He couldn’t wait to see his minions’ collective shock.

For you see, William Cooke had made a very serious (albeit understandable) error in judgment: Jareth was most certainly a person still, just one without a permanent body, to the point that he and his power had nearly become separate entities. He always thoroughly enjoyed toying with his victims, giving them the illusion of control, but at times he took the reigns in truth and such instances would be blotted from the memory, the source of poor William’s misunderstanding and Sarah’s current predicament.

Which meant that Will had been wrong about Sir Didymus as well. Jareth showed no partiality; the personal vices or virtues of his hosts meant little to him. The knight had, however, presented a very unique and potentially serious threat to the current status quo, the magnitude of which was only comprehended by Jareth himself. But the matter was all but concluded. It didn’t matter now…
Fireys in general could run with the speed of rabbits; in no time the troop that was carrying Sir Didymus reached the North wall of the Goblin City, with the Castle directly behind it. Rather than going over at that point, however, Hoggle led his party of misfits a quarter-mile South to the East wall. Needing no rope, the Fireys simply linked together like a Barrel-o-Monkeys and easily scrabbled up as a unit.

“Now what? I don’t see nobody!” one called.

“All ya gotta do is get their attention. Try fire!” Hoggle yelled back up.

“Hot dog!”

“Great idea!”

Without another word, the troop tore off into the city. Sir Didymus was aghast.

“Thou didn’t!”

“I certainly did,” the dwarf replied punchily. “It’s the only way we’re gonna get the army outta the way long enough for ya ta sneak into the Castle. Come on!”

“I have never participated in something so underhanded in all my life!” Didymus scolded as they backtracked to the rear of the fortress.

“Ya wanna save Sarah and yer mutt or doncha?”

“Of course, but-”

“Then shut yer trap; we gotta give them Fireys ‘bout a minute before you goes in.”

Didymus crossed his arms and leaned against the wall in undignified silence as his companion listened intently for the utter chaos that was about to be unleashed…
The switch in the king’s appearance had been fun at first, but his goblins had asked the same set of inane, unimaginative questions enough times in a row to annoy him and, rather than attempt to explain or exploit the change, Jareth tiredly changed the spell back to its regular setting, masculine once more. He had magically coaxed the sheepdog into the Throne Room; he was currently curled up at his new master’s feet, enjoying his attention - at least he didn’t crazily put him in harm’s way or attempt to run him all over the countryside. The goblins had all but settled down as well, some playing games, some napping in corners. It looked like it was going to be a quiet win after all…

At least until he heard the high tower sentinel screaming, “FIRE! FIREYS IN CITY!!!”

Jareth leapt to his feet and ran to the window, wide-eyed: to his amazement and rage he beheld an entire troop of unusually large Fireys dancing across the rooftops, hooting and hollering for the locals to come out and play. And no less than three of them had unintentionally started a block of houses on fire! The Goblin City had been built according to medieval code standards and, in consequence, the streets were more like narrow alleys and most of the buildings were practically on top of each other if not joined together in rows. There had only been one other fire here centuries ago and it had nearly decimated over half the city before they managed to get it out.

Clearly his subjects, who usually couldn’t remember what happened five minutes ago, remembered that incident - it had made enough of an impression; goblins were pouring out of the Throne Room and the Alarm Bell was being rung furiously without so much as a single directive. Down below he saw the emergency fire brigade - such as it was - forming the beginnings of a bucket line at the fountain in the square while detachments of the army were foolishly trying to route Fireys out into the open and shooting at them to no effect. Or, rather, not the intended effect; they did succeed in making the Fireys angry. And angry Fireys fought with fire - it shot out of their long, thin fingers and poured out of their gaping mouths, the pupils of their eyes ablaze. They almost seemed to be made of it! In under five minutes Goblin City was an inferno, the smoke so thick it was beginning to irritate Jareth’s human eyes and lungs; he could barely see past the square. There was enough stone masonry inbetween that even if the whole city was leveled the castle was in no immediate danger. It would be a damn nuisance having to rebuild from this catastrophe, though.

But, beyond that, there was something outrageously strange about all this. Such an incursion on the city had never happened. It was true that there were Fireys in the Dreaming Forest due North of the castle, but never had they even thought to travel this far South away from their natural habitat and food sources. Unless…

It couldn’t be.

It was impossible.

It could only mean one thing: Didymus was here!

Had the situation not been so terribly dire on several counts, Jareth would’ve laughed at the trick: his old retainer had effectively emptied the entire fortress of enemy combatants without so much as an ‘en garde’! But as things stood the army was gone - he could scream until Sarah’s throat was raw and they still wouldn’t come back - and now…

Jareth took the stairs two at a time up to the Enigma Chamber (what Sarah had quaintly mentally named after a modern illusionary artist), thinking dark thoughts about a man he had once been foolish enough to attempt to help, with Ambrosius bounding after him, the spell of blind obedience falling easily into place.

The old Earthling proverb was true: no good deed went unpunished. Jareth swore it was his last.
Didymus was listening to the commotion in the City that he couldn’t help but feel partly responsible for because he had made no efforts to dissuade the well-meaning Fireys from this dismal outcome. His companion was also listening, but with a look that could only be described as grim satisfaction.

“Thou shouldst be looking to employment elsewhere thyself after this debacle, Sir Hoggle,” he whispered. The dwarf shrugged off his concern.

“I have a funny feelin’ you’ll have plenty of time to thank me for this. Ludo, come on out! It’s time!”

Sir Didymus hadn’t even seen the yeti he had hidden himself so well in the foliage. “Sir Ludo!” he exclaimed in surprised delight.

“Ludo…help brotha,” the beast quietly rumbled with a big, simple grin, lumbering up to the wall. Crouching down on his immense hands and knees, he made an almost inaudibly deep sound in the back of his throat, concentrating with his eyes shut tight; within seconds, one of the large rectangular masonry stones popped smartly out in front of him. He picked it up as if it were no heavier than a pebble and put it to the side, creating a hole just large enough for the miniature knight to sneak through.

Didymus glanced back at his compatriots for a moment, not knowing what to say. Their bond ran deeper than blood.

“Go on,” the dwarf roughly urged him, “this ain’t no time to get all sappy. We’ll stay right here…”

Ludo paid Hoggle no heed, however, and scooped up the little knight in a big bear hug.

“Tis good to see you too,” Didymus returned it, squished as he was, fighting back fond tears. Ludo carefully set him back down on his feet and tapped him in the direction of the hole with one enormous finger, his animalistic brown eyes hopeful.

“Thank you, by brothers-in-arms,” he addressed them, his emotions brought to rein. “With any luck I shall see you again soon.”

And with that he ducked through the hole and was gone.

Hoggle let out a huge sigh, sagging against the wall. Didy was in. He had done everything he could and now it was all up to the knight. Ludo sat down beside him on the ground, donning the classic pose of ‘The Thinker’, his chin resting on a fist.

“Didee…Sawah…Jaweth?” the beast sounded off the names with a furrowed brow.

“I know it’s confusin’, big guy, but it’ll be okay,” Hoggle reassured him, reaching way up and skritching behind Ludo’s right horn.

I hope, he thought, glancing uncertainly up at the high tower.
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