A group of thieves gathered around a small bonfire, their eyes glinting with greed in the light of the fire. Each man had a bundle of stolen goods. Not anything valuable of course. The trio stole anything solely for the satisfaction that someone in the great world was upset, and they caused such misery. So not only were the tooth decay ridden, flea bitten, rotten husks of humanity consumed with want, they were also cruel. The leader of the gang sat on the highest rock, which was only a foot off the ground, and he had the most swag tucked away under his person. By taking out a small knife and banging it against a old copper pot he relinquished, he gained the full attention of his fellow brothers of dishonor.
"My friends, tonight we celebrate a.." He came to a slow with his speech, already stumped since he really had no reason to call for a celebration. To cover his folly, he cleared his throat, put away his knife, and started over. "My friends, tonight is a night like any other. We had a good run," he said with a smile, patting one of his large parcels. "And I'd like to thank you two for being my accomplices." The other robbers nodded in approval of being.. approved and urged their boss to continue onwards. As the talkative individual obliged, the humans did not notice two lumpy shapes moving on the outskirts of the firelight, keeping to the shadow of the forest. But someone else did.
A rapier found its way into the breast of both Junk People. The creatures crumpled underneath their pile of treasures, buried by the very things they loved the most. Hidden still in the shadow, the murderer wiped clean his blade with a handkerchief he produced from the pocket of his jacket. The very dark blood turned the white cotton a ruddy brown. Then Faen Diavolos stepped out into the circle of light, announcing his presence to the ignorant three before him, causing them to huddle together in surprise.
Hours ago, there was a disruption. Faen felt it in the cosmos, a domain only one of his heritage could enter, and it summoned him forth from his dark place. Disruption led to corruption and that was one of Faen's favorite things. Whatever the source was, it summoned him right to the enchanted forest of the underground, with no trace of it for Faen to catch. Except for a scent. A very human scent. That smell alone brought him to the three cowering men before him.
Before the bumbling fools had a chance to speak, with a light flick of his wrist, the surrounding shadows came to life and, at a startling speed, gobbled up two of them, leaving the leader who liked to hear his own voice. But for some reason, the crusty old man had nothing to say. Instead, he stared up helplessly at the man, who still towered over him even though he sat on a elevation. His cracked bottom lip trembled and finally, he spoke. Or begged. "Please, don't hurt me!"
This seemed to offend Faen. He put on a look of hurt and shushed the thief who started to sob into his gnarled hands. Thankfully, Faen's hands were gloved and he placed one large palm on the man's shoulder, sitting down next to the pathetic human. Being so close to the waste made Faen's insides turn but he exhaled slowly to contain his violence.
"Now I am going to answer one question and one question only. That's it. All you have to do is answer me." The old man nodded, tears streaming down his cheeks. Faen detected the growing stench of fresh urine. Disgusting. "I am fairly new to these parts. But there is something odd going on. I can tell. Where could I find the source that is making everything so peculiar?"
The dark youth gave the man some to compose himself before answering. With a wary tone, the old man began to speak of a a woman that was new as well and she was sending Junk People into his turf, whatever that meant. Yet the name Ariadne stood out. Faen smiled and while he did, he gripped the back of the man's shirt and sent him tumbling backwards into the shadow where he met the same fate as his brothers. A name was all Faen needed. It was something to go on. Becoming lost in thought, Faen called to the shadows and they wrapped themselves around his frame, taking him into the nothing from where he came.
But in his haste for information, Faen did not check the corpses of the Junk People for pulses. And one of them managed to survive. It recovered and dragged itself away to tell its mistress of the news, and possible enemy.
Unless there were specific reasons for them, fires in the maze were generally minimal since most folks (yes, even goblins) had the good sense to be tucked away in their beds. What light did appear came and went across various points of the Labyrinth as fireflies did. The Arid flats were the only consistent source of activity in the late evenings and in the night. Junk people were by nature more nocturnal and it was during the night hours when they were most likely to sort out there personal business. On this night in particular the Junk People were holding a tribalistic celebration.
And like a blazing beacon, the Arid Flats burned more brightly than it ever had.
Although Ariadne tended to remain in seclusion during these kinds of ocassions where she could concoct her vigilant plans and measure out the various ingredients of her ways, but tonight she was celebrating as well. Even if her reason were diffrent than that of her unwilling minions. Ariadne was celebrating because, regardless of how her plans proceeded after this point, Ariadne knew the depth of the blow she'd struck to the fortitude of the Goblin Kingdom. Sometimes it was very good to play by the rules, she thought coldly to herself. In this particular case things had shook out in the sorceress' favor. Jareth, if he had any sense at all, would remain out of Ariadne's way for a good long while and if he ever did decide to take up his fist against her the witch would be more than ready for him.
For the briefest of moments, Ariadne almost thought of frowning for not having had Jareth die outright during their last encounter, but as much as Araidne woul rather have just disposed of the man outright, she couldn't afford to kill Jareth until she was firmly seated on his throne. The knowlege served as a minor annoyance to her senses us she shifted slightly upon her throne.
Speaking of thrones...Per the occasion, Ariadne had arranged for an Elizabethan like throne to be moved from her vast personal chambers and into the open air near the center of the arid flats which opened up into a rounded field accented by large boulders. In the Labyrinth there seemed to be almost no change in the climate whatsoever beyond an occasional cool breeze and the temperature seemed to always remain the same. All around the Flats heaps of carefully formulated rubish burned and as they burned the Junk people formed large circles around them moving with absolute deliberation and a quickness that seemed odd in comparison to the weight many of them carried upon their backs. Although it wasn't an exact science the largest loads usually indicated the oldest ages and downward. Along with their dancing the Junk People sang and chanted to their pulsating music made mostly of pounding on whatever was at hand. It was almost hypnotic and the heat generated from the fires was deeply oppressive. So much so that it wouldn't be unheard of for several of the Junk People to pass out or completely succumb to the heat at some point in the night.
"Such a wonderful force, fire." Ariadne remarked languidly to no one in particular as she stared unseeing at a spot to her right where a small heap was burning. "So easily contained, shaped, and controlled. And yet, if you happen not to watch it, given half the chance, it will quite overtake you and devour everything it touches. Even when its snuffed out all it takes is a single spark to reignite the flame again."
As she spoke this Ariadne saw something slowly coming towards from her left within her peripheral vision. It was two of her minions. Both seeming entirely out of sync with the rest of their kind who were all engaged in ritual dance and devotion. Ariadne didn't move nor make any indication for them to approach although the larger of the two, obviously higher in rank per its size, ambled forward to come around the back of the throne and whisper something into Ariadne's already bent ear.
Apparently the Arid Flats was honor bound to entertain a visitor. If guests were coming it would of course be in bad form for Ariadne to refuse to receive them. When Ariadne replied she barely moved in any way.
"Let him come to us if he feels so inclined. A bit of shadow, I find, is most complimentary to the firelight."
A desperate pray in the crushing silence of the emptiness that swallowed up everything. All except Faen. A moment of weakness had struck him. The faces of the three men Faen murdered without hesitation were not eager to let the dark souled killer go on without some doubt. And it was squeezing in his chest. Sometimes the guilt came after he killed. Another drawback to being a child of two sides of the coin. It was disgusting.
Alone, his mind raced and thought of the unspeakable. The light was becoming stronger but still not nearly enough to snuff out the dark. A soothing thing to take note of. Yet it was there and hungry to encompass the mind, body, and soul. What eternal suffering. Faen had not done enough to feed the darkness, the darkness that he loved and understood. There was a certain kind of safety of knowing what exactly was inside of oneself.
Recovering from his panic, all insecurity was placed back into the deep pit that Faen had created when he was a child. In that abyss was memories of goblins and the face of a beautiful princess, someone he knew he might never meet in his lifetime. His lifetime was immortal. He slipped back into the underground, appearing on the Arid Flats, the portal delivering right where he wanted to be. In the distance, he saw fires. Fires meant long, long shadows. A smile crept on to his lips, years washing away from his face. A child on Christmas Day.
Feet made no sign. Eyes kept steady. It was not long before he came upon smells and sounds of familiar creatures. They triggered memories which only made his rage flare for a moment. A personality flaw. No one is perfect. Not even Faen Diavolos.
There was no point in delaying what he wanted. A great fan of instant gratification, he wasted no time getting the attention of one the lumpy things nearby. Faen didn't learn the name of the ones who walked through garbage. He just knew they were unpleasant, like vermin and splinters. But still he bowed remembering they were subjects, not just waste of the cosmos.
"I hear you have a new ruler. A woman that goes by Ariande. I would like to request an audience with her," he said, that odd smile plastered on his visage. Being so polite to things so beneath him made his stomach ache.
The little toad, as they looked like toads to him, hurried off. Apparently Faen was expected. How strange. Thinking back, he didn't exactly aim for the hearts of the two Junk People who wished to attack the thieves. Another note to make. Always go for the vitals. No more games. He wanted his arrival to be a surprise, catch the woman off guard. Next time, he had to use the shadows to deliver himself right into the witch's chambers.
As he waited, he sat down on a large boulder that looked somewhat like a head and polished his rapier.
Ariadne was not inclined to come to anyone. No matter how impressive their entrance into her domain was. If Faen wanted an audience with the witch he would have to come to her directly and make his inquiries plan. It was in Ariadne's nature to make people wait and, while the Junk People might have seemed relatively ineffective in very small numbers, in the Arid Flats there were many many more of them than most people might have possibly imagined. If nothing else Ariadne most certainly hand the home advantage when it came to the flats.
While Faen might have felt disappointed that has presence had been announced, he still had the advantages of his parentage (however he might have defined it) as well has innate abilities to recommend him. While the dark sorceress was aware that someone quite interesting had come to appear in the Labyrinth apparently intent on seeking her acquaintance, she had little notion of who she was dealing with. As far as the witch was conserned this was all the more reason to error on the side of caught and make Faen wait.
"The man. He has come, my Lady." One of the other Junk People said once Faen had taken to polishing his rapier.
"Mm. And in record time too. I'm quite impressed. Let him wait another hour or so. I will not see the current proceedings of my people interrupted solely for the sake of a young man I have not formally been acquainted with. Tell him that if he will not wait the hour then he will not be admitted or received in the fashion an individual such as himself deserves. I have had such little time to prepare for proper company, after all, and I would not want to put the young gentleman out any more than he already is." Ariadne's tone was light an demur but just underneath existed the cold sharp edge of of a heart that knew no compassion and harbored only contempt.
"Let him wait. And when he has waited long enough, I will be ready to engage him."
The Junk person stared, its gray ashy mouth agape for a moment while Araidne expressed her demands. Once she was through it just as quickly shut its trap and ambled away quite a bit quicker than one might have imagined to relay the message and make to make the preparations it knew Ariadne desired and expected.