Categories > Movies > Labyrinth

Take Your Straight Line for a Curve

by shadowlurker13 0 reviews

medieval flashback - and the worth of humanity

Category: Labyrinth - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Published: 2017-07-22 - 1921 words - Complete

Take Your Straight Line for a Curve

By Shadowlurker13


Once again, I don’t own Jareth. I don’t think I’d want to, actually. Too high maintenance. ;)

The calls usually came at night, when the perpetrator had the most cover, when the rest of the human world was asleep. It was just as well for the safety of his goblins and himself; the prospect of coming aboveground was risky in itself since man first discovered iron. Fortunately, he and his company made such an impression that none yet had maintained the presence of mind to try anything truly dangerous.

Jareth Ravensong was not yet 1,100 years old and at times he felt that his youth was painfully apparent, although in truth it was only so to himself. Nevertheless, he was making great strides forward in his governing ordinances and political relations. He had held absolute dominion over the Labyrinth for a century now but the job he was currently being forced to enact was a completely new concept: taking unwanted humans - to form a colony! He had nearly laughed in Queen Amara’s face when she suggested it as the price of a peace treaty. She had always been a radical from what he had seen of her in the High Court, and while he secretly sympathized with her at times, her stand on equality for the species consistently puzzled him. He agreed to the contract under duress; the alternative would’ve been to either abdicate or face the complete and utter destruction of the entire Labyrinth, which was her right at that point. And now he was bound by law to come aboveground at any time, day or night, to steal - no, exchange babies for baubles: beauty, a husband or wife, wealth, land, dreams, you name it, anything he could do.

It was disgusting to be quite honest. Usually the wishers were selfish and wanted to be rid of their children or their siblings or their sibling’s children for any number of petty reasons. Jareth thought he had more or less seen it all. But, in all seriousness, it didn’t much matter. Humans were an inferior species, possessing less magic than even the tiniest, stupidest goblin. Their lives were quick as the grass and they bred like mad. Who was going to miss a few here and there? True, certain ones were beautiful, he could understand the passing interest some Sidhe had for them, but they were so fragile that it was amazing the species had survived this long. Must be the numbers, he reflected.

So it was no surprise to him when he was summoned a few hours before dawn one day to the attic of a house connected to many others like it in a large, dingy human city. Little did he know that this brief visit was about to change his life forever. The wisher was little more than a child, thirteen perhaps, but there was no doubt that it was her baby. When he appeared she fell prostrate before him. The wishers all had a certain look of terror about them, when the realization of who they had just summoned sunk in. She was wearing only an undyed cotton shift that was very roughly woven and the room smelled of blood and something else. It was then that he saw the infant lying on the bed, still attached to the afterbirth and soaked in amniotic fluid, crying. She must’ve made the wish the moment she had given birth! Jareth was openly livid, his face white and his eyes blazing with fury. How could anyone be so heartless toward one so fragile, so innocent? She was no doubt freezing from being left wet, not to mention hungry for the first meal her own mother was denying her!
“In the name of the gods, WASH HER!”

“Yes, sir!” she terrifiedly bleated, looking up into the maelstrom in his eyes.

In spite of his youth he was quite the imposing figure because his powers were at their zenith. She quickly got up and took the baby to her washstand and rinsed her clean. To Jareth’s surprise she was being very careful, even cooing and talking to her gently as a caring mother would, kissing her tiny fingers, her pink cheeks, her eyes. But the girl didn’t have the nerve to cut the umbilical cord, the knife suspended in midair right above it. At the setting on of his master, a small goblin jumped up on the table, swiped the knife from her trembling hands and made quick, clean work of it; it was all she could do not to scream at the sight of the ugly little thing. It flashed her a knife-sharp grin before darting back behind the bed faster than any shadow at a short command issued by his lord in a language she couldn’t understand. She took a worn-looking tartan-weave shawl, the only cloth even vaguely suitable in the sparse room, and wrapped the baby, kissing her sweet face one last time before approaching the Goblin King again on bent knees, offering her up properly. Tears streaked her face and her eyes were red with crying.

“Her name is Gwendolyn, your majesty,” she choked out.

Jareth took the newborn from her outstretched hands and gave her a cursory look-over before handing her off. She was healthy and strong. No doubt the colony would be thankful for another girl; there were far too many boys as it was.

“Her name is no longer your concern!” he snapped icily. “Now, what do you wish of me?”

“That she is well cared for.”

“And you care so much for this child that you want her gone as she exits your very womb and begins to breathe!”

“I love her!” she exclaimed passionately. “I have only known her for a few minutes and I love her! My first daughter! I beg you, care for my child!” she wailed, hands folded in petition.

Here was an unprecedented state of affairs! Was the girl mad? He could’ve simply made a trinket and disappeared then and there but it simply wouldn’t do; he had to know. His expression was still serious but there was no longer anger in it but it was enigmatic as the sea.

“Why did you do it?” he asked her quietly. She closed her eyes.

“My mistress is a very strict woman. She is very pious and expects chastity of her waiting women. She would cast me and my child out if she thought I had behaved as a whore. It is winter here in the mortal world, sire. We would either starve or freeze to death. I have no family yet living. Wherever you take her, she will be better off than if she remains here.”

Jareth was shaken to the core. He had heard of the depths of human passion and how much they were often willing to risk or sacrifice in the name of love, even their own lives. But he had never witnessed it firsthand and it made him feel cold in comparison. Surely no Sidhe loved like this! Or perhaps they simply didn’t allow themselves to out of their great fear of weakness. The thought alone was jarring. What made one strong, anyway? What was the criterion? Could not this be a great strength indeed? Strength of the heart? He quickly brushed the thoughts from his mind - there was no time for them now. He continued as gently as he could muster but it felt awkward.

“I can assure you she will be well looked after and raised, and by a human woman no less, but this is not charity, child. This is a business transaction, a barter: one child for one wish. If it is within my power to grant you, all you must do is name it and it shall be yours.”

The girl looked absently at the corner of the room, lost and bleary. At last her gaze hardened.

“Make me forget her,” she whispered. She dared to look up at him again. He was handsome in a strange, harsh sort of way but he had an air of unearthly coldness about him that chilled her to the bone. She could’ve sworn there was regret in his eyes for a moment, though. He brought up his right hand and a perfect crystal appeared on his fingertips. She lightly gasped as her eyes went wide. It was always so, he thought.

“Oblivion is yours,” he announced grandly. “Take this, and when you awake in the morning it will be as if she never existed at all.” He gave a quick command to the goblins who were there and some of them looked more than a bit surprised. But orders were orders unless one enjoyed being dunked in the Bog. They quickly began to straighten up the room, one throwing the refuse of the birth out of the window down into the street below; it was so filthy no one would notice. Another was busy on the bed, scrubbing the blood stains out of her thick, wool blanket. “You will no doubt be lashed for laziness for rising so late this morning but neither your mistress nor the household will find a trace of the baby.”

“Oh, tha-”


She started. She had forgotten that it was extremely taboo for the Good People. But she had to say something.

“Please forgive me, your majesty, but it is greatly appreciated all the same.” He was about to extend the crystal to her when he hesitated and it vanished.

“I want to see the child again.” Another quick word brought over a larger goblin who had been quietly talking to the baby in a sing-songy fashion. Jareth took the baby from him and cradled her in his arms. The girl could barely stand to watch.

“Please, your majesty…”

“You made me wait,” he said quietly before returning his attentions to the little one. Her unfocused eyes were half-closed and she had a serene little smile on her face. She was beautiful, well-nigh glowing with life. “Her name shall not be Gwendolyn, but Guinevere.” There was the slightest of smiles on his face but it quickly disappeared as he snugly positioned her into the crook of his left arm and held out the crystal at last. The girl took one last anguished look at her baby and seized the crystal with a cry of agony and such desperate speed that it took him by surprise. In the next moment she fell, unconscious, to the straw-covered floor. Not the most comfortable of beds but at least she wouldn’t freeze; the fire in the grate was still burning.

A bell in a nearby chapel started ringing for morning Propers and as one the goblins all vanished in a panic. But Jareth hardly seemed to notice. He looked from the baby in his arms to the mother and back again, trying to control his emotions, trying to remind himself that they were an inferior species. And knowing in his heart that he would never believe it again. Guinevere reached out and caught his gloved pointer-finger, gurgling. “And aren’t you going to be treated like a queen, with all those boys fighting over you,” he whispered to her gently. He proceeded to carefully wrap his cloak over her for protection and, glancing about the room one last time, disappeared.
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