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Joby Jones

The quintessential lost girl

0 · 701 views · located in The Underground

a character in “Labyrinth: New Tales of the Underground”, originally authored by diabolicalxdamsel, as played by RolePlayGateway


Name: Joby Jones

Age: 25

Physical description: Joby is a bit short at 5'5 with a thick mass of black curls and big dark eyes She wears a pair of grass-stained cut off jeans and a tye-dye shirt with her company's name emblazoned on the front. More often than not, dirt peppers her already freckled face.

Occupation: Gardener, landscaper and aspiring writer

Personality: Joby is the epitome of one having her "head in the clouds." Even as an adult, she immerses herself into a world of fantasy. As a result, she can be painfully air headed and difficult to motivate outside the realm of plants and writing. She is kind and cheerful in a way that reminds one of a Disney princess singing to all the woodland creatures, and she's nearly just as foolish. Growing up in the same town with the same faces has caused her to develop an overly generous sense of judgment, a tendency to trust people she shouldn't, and a pitifully tragic gullibility. Her childlike innocence can be charming or obnoxious depending on who one talks to. Despite her sunny disposition, she possesses a tremendous amount of fear; a fear long ago awoken from an unspeakable trauma. Much of her recklessly lofty hopes as well as her inability to embrace adulthood and begin a real life can be attributed to this fear. She is fairly sensitive and tends to take negative comments personally.

History: Joby is the only adopted child of Peter and Diane Jones. She was taken in by them around the age of nine. The couple had already reached middle age when they took her in and had always wanted a child. She was spoiled and doted upon as she grew up, and her new mother fed her on fairy tales and folk songs. Joby was quickly drawn into the realm of fairies and developed a particular fondness for changelings. Growing up, she was told that she was special, she could do anything, and all those other things parents tell their children. Like most children, Joby later learned that this wasn't the case in reality. She went to college, but dropped out her second year due to a combination of stress and some bad experiences with some classmates. She fished her degree remotely, but never developed the drive to pursue a better job. She got her first big break a few years ago when she was recruited to do some landscape work for the critically-acclaimed novelist and local celebrity, Sarah Williams. The author could relate to the girl's vivid imagination and lofty ideology, and slowly became a friend and mentor. She often tells Joby that the fantasy world is fun, but everyone must grow up and develop some sensibility. Recently, she passed on to her a very special book. To her stammering and shocked face, Williams said "Just take it, girl. I can quote it by heart."

So begins...

Joby Jones's Story


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Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Joby Jones was not a morning person, but she had spent most of the last eight years waking up at six o' clock to tend to plants and create backyard wonders. As soon as her alarm went off, she smacked the snooze button reflexively. She rolled over with a groan, pulling the sheets over her head in dismay. Spring landscaping at the Millers, she thought. The Millers had the biggest yard of her company's clients, and they requested her services quarterly. She hated the Spring session most of all because it entailed two days worth of hauling, digging, clearing dead brush, laying mulch, and shaping the yard to the Millers' exact specifications. They favored her work because she wasn't afraid to suggest her own ideas, and her imagination could create a scene that bordered magical. 

Finally, she managed to get herself in a vertical position and up on her feet. She quickly ran a comb through a mess of curly, black hair and smoothed it back with an elastic headband. She slid into a pair of grass-stained cutoffs feeling grateful that the long winter had finally passed for good. She threw on a tye dye tee shirt with "Carroll Creations" emblazoned on the front. She picked up a little red book entitled The Labyrinth and slid it into her back pocket. She recently received it as a gift from one of her favorite authors and icons, Sarah Williams, and she fell in love with the story. She could definitely see how it inspired Williams to construct her own fantastic series about how a girl lost in a magical world found her own power. Joby took the book everywhere with her, and would take occasional breaks thumbing through its pages and lingering over her favorite parts.

She tied the laces of her dirt-coated work boots and ran out the door. Luckily, her company was a short walk away, and they provided her with a truck during work hours. She checked her phone noticing that she had left a little earlier than usual. A tremendous yawn signaled that coffee was in order. Just then, a little cafe' appeared out of the corner of her eye. She couldn't remember noticing it before despite her daily trek. She trotted across the street hoping it was open.

Sure enough, the OPEN sign blinked in bright red neon, but before Joby had reached the door, the crystal on display caught her attention. She paused, her head slightly tilting, eyes alit with curiosity. She pulled out her book, grinning as she reread a scene in which a goblin king had used a crystal sphere to spy on the heroine as she traversed his dizzying lair. Crystal balls weren't the things of goblin royalty in her world though, they were associated with...fortune tellers! She entered the cafe with a little burst of energy. She beamed at the owner like she knew her as well as a neighbor.

"Hi! Could I get a coffee to go and...well I'm not really looking to buy, but I was wondering who is selling that crystal ball? This might sound silly, but I was just wanted to know if the seller does know, like fortunes."

She bit her lip. It really was a silly question to ask, but she couldn't deny her love of anything close to resembling real life fantasy. Clairvoyants definitely fit the bill.

Uh huh.

It wasn't even noon and Mim already had her first good candidate. The dark haired girl practically seemed out of time and space and Mim could detect a heightened kind of imaginative thinking that made her finger tips twitch with anticipation. 

"Good morning." Mim drawled as she took her sweet time filling Joby's order. "That crystal there is something quite special. While there are of course imitators out there, other crystals of similar appearance, I guarantee you'll never find one in this world quiet like it. It was a...Contribution, from a private owner. Quite the magician I'm told. They say that if you take it and turn it just so in your hand the crystal will show you wondrous things. Things quite beyond ones imagination. As for the seller, that would be me. Madam Mim, at your service."

Mim passed Joby her coffee.

"My you are a pretty thing. What could a girl like you possible need to know about her future? The world, as they say, is at your fingertips. Or, at least, it should be. As it happens I do give readings, free of charge for the time it will take to drink your coffee. If that is, you have the time."

Joby's mind carried on steps ahead of Mim's descriptions as she pictured some ancient bearded wizard peering into the sphere and whispering incantations. She imagined a flamboyant stage magician who practiced real magic in private. She thought of the story that she still grasped in her hands and fondly caressed the spine with her finger. She refocused and tried to reign in an air of scoffing disbelief. Of course she knew that the ball had no true inherent power, but she was also well aware that her curiosity often got the better of her and would have her asking questions long after the time she was supposed to start pulling weeds. Already she was intrigued by this woman in the daring blouse. Even her name possessed a mystical quality even if it were made up to draw in patrons.

Joby didn't feel very pretty with her grubby uniform and calloused hands and the world only sat at he fingertips of the bold, the daring, and the unafraid. All that stood within her timid reach was a grass stain on her shorts which she began to idly scratch at while she pondered a response. Her terminal honesty got her in trouble a time or two, but she kept her heart an open book.
"Well...I guess I feel like I've grown out of the landscaping business," she said, her eyes still darting back to the sphere. "I've been in this rut for so long, and there is so much I'd like to accomplish. I just want to know I'll ever get out and do something worthwhile. Oh, but I should really get going."

She pulled out her phone to check the time.

"I have a huge job to finish today, and I've already been here can't be right...a minute?"

No way could that be right. She glanced around the cafe for another clock to tell her that she needed to run and run fast. The one on the wall showed the same thing. Joby blinked, trying to figure out how a coffee could be made and a conversation start within sixty seconds. She really did spend too much time in her head. She gave a small, embarrassed laugh.

"Gracious, I guess I do have a little more time. You must have made that coffee quicker than I thought. Okay, well I'd love a reading if its not any trouble. Getting my fortune told is on my bucket list, and I do want to see if this dream of mine will ever pan out."
She also had millions of questions to ask about this mysterious contributor and if he ever performed in town. At twenty-five, she was still a sucker for magic shows.

She pulled out her wallet. "How much do you charge?"

"The reading is free with the coffee purchase and since you've already bought that you don't owe me a thing." Yet. Mim thought as she smiled at the girl and pulled a worn deck of tarot cards out from behind the counter. "One coffee, one question, one card."

In a gracious swipe that rivaled a Las Vegas card dealer, Mim fanned the deck in a long line out along the counter. "Pick and all will be revealed."

Joby bit her lip as her tingling fingers lingered over the yellowed cards. Now that I'm here, I don't know that to ask, she thought. Of course she wanted to ask "Will I be successful?" "Will I be happy?" "Will I go traveling?" and all of those other cliches people ask. If this was her only chance, she wanted to cover it all. She thought about her hero. She focused hard. Will I ever have a life like Sarah's?

She moved her hand back and fourth over the smooth line of cards and drew. Her card depicted a ghoulish looking mask with a pair of long spiraling horns and a handle with a bony claw grasping one side of it. She handed it it Mim.

There certainly was something interesting about Joby, something in her destiny line that piqued Mim's interest. Not many humans anymore were gifted with a predisposition for encountering real magic. Most had lost the will to believe long ago and over the centuries the connection between the human world and the world of Faerie dwindled. Mim's kind had a magical obligation to attend to the human world. Perhaps because there was a symbiotic relationship between them, but it was getting harder and harder for creatures like herself to do their jobs.

This girl was different though. Mim could tell she was a rare kind of exception to the common. Well that was indeed an interesting point. Mim also detected a magical trace on the girl's person. She was under someone's protection. Mim could feel the magical influence butting up against her own. But it was less of a persona and more of a thing, like a charm. Such things were usually in the form of an object. If Joby was indeed being protected by someone else's magic that made Mim want to know the girl and how she'd come into such protections. 

"Well, well, well. Look at that. Life as you know it is coming to an end, my dear. You should be delighted. Nothing does more for a young woman's constitution than getting the chance to transform into something completely different than you once were. Congratulations." Mim sounded genuinely delighted.

Joby's heart stopped for a moment. Was this woman reading her thoughts? Or was the reading true? She wasn't entirely sure that she like how Mim phrased things.

"I don't know if I should be gratified or nervous. The fortune sounds awfully vague about whether that end will be a happy one or not." She read enough to know to never jump the gun when receiving news from clairvoyants. "But then again, anything beats another eight years of digging as long as I have the time to write. She slid the red book back into her pocket.

"Well it's been wonderful talking to you, ma'am but I really need to get going. You have a lovely store. I'll definitely be popping back in."

She extended a hand for a parting handshake.

"And thank you for the reading. I really hope things pan out."

She turned to the door. She hesitated, turning her attention back to the spherical crystal. There was something about it that still held her attention. She looked back at Mim one last time.

"By the way...just out of simple curiosity...whats the asking price of the crystal ball?"

She thought bitterly about the meager twenty some odd dollars she had. She knew she couldn't afford it, but maybe she could find a buyer. The Millers liked to collect oddities.


Mim pretended like she was trying to remember but inside she was gleeful with triumph. 

"You know, that thing has been in my window for so long at this point anything would be a profit. Tell you what, just for some extra good luck since your life is seemingly about to take such an interesting turn, I think I could part with it for a solid twenty. No tax, my treat." Mim said sweetly with just a hint of shrewdness for good measure.

Ah the game was almost afoot.

Blissfully unaware of any impending trouble, Joby fished out her wallet and parted with her twenty dollar bill. Luckily, she filled the truck last week, and the Millers were a short drive. She wouldn't need to refill the tank today.

"Sounds fair to me."

She couldn't wait to have it in her hands.

Mim practically floated around the counter and passed Joby on her way to the display plucking the crystal up before presenting it to the girl in exchange for her bill. A satisfied smile was on her face.

Once Joby took the crystal Mim's work would be done. Although the sorceress didn't have the power to activate the crystal's magic she was convinced that Joby could. Like all of Jareth's crystals the orb had the power to show people their secret dreams. It also had the power to fulfill them, and she did not doubt that the strange girl in front of her wanted her fantasies to be real more than anything. Possibly at the expense of her common sense.

Then again, wasn't that what the fools journey was about? Like all fools Joby had a kind of protection about her that Mim hoped for the girl sake wouldn't let her down.

Only time would tell.

Mim waited for Joby to take the orb from her before she spoke again. "Oh. Before I forget. A word of warning."

Mim paused for dramatic effect. 

"Be careful what you wish for." Mim said slyly, meaning every word.

She took the orb and held it into the light. Turn it just so. Whatever that means, she thought as she tilted and rotated it until an image took shape. Joby saw a scene of an older version of herself seated at a long table before a line of excited fans. Books were piled on the table around her, and she was signing copies for everyone. Yes, but what is going to be my inspiration? What inspired Sarah? The scene shifted flying over a vast tangle of forest and an all too familiar treacherous maze.

"Odd. Looks like some place I've read about."

She cocked her head to one side, her eyes somewhat blank and glassy as they fixated on the orb.

Joby snapped herself out of her trance. She quickly busied herself with tucking the orb gently inside her purse.

"Well thank you very much, Madam Mim. Have a great day."

With that, she turned towards the door and and pulled the handle.

She didn't step out on the streets of Boston.

She stopped in her tracks and gasped at the scene before her. From her place on a tall sandy hill dotted in short, scrubby bushes, she could see a great maze made of ancient brick walls in the distance. At the center sat a fortress-like castle with tall buttress towers built on top of a steep, rocky mountain jutting before a sepia-colored sky. Her jaw dropped. She knew where she was, but she struggled to believe it. She spun around, but the door she had stepped out of was gone. No no no no. This isn't happening. All she could see was a vast, tangled forest looping around the hill and even crossing into the labyrinth. 


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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Hoggle the Dwarf Character Portrait: Madam Mim
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Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Hoggle the Dwarf
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"Mim? Are you there? Is this a joke?"

Joby sighed and pulled out her book. It never specified which turns to take or how the maze was traversed. She read about some of the monsters inside such as wildly energetic, and dangerously unpredictable Fire Gang and the dark and creepy Shaft of Hands. She decided her best chances of getting out would lie within the Goblin City. A smile crossed her face. I should be scared she thought I should be worried that I'll be trapped here forever and I'll never be found and my folks won't won't know what happened to me. Maybe I'll worry a little later, but right now, I just have to explore.

She took a big swig of coffee and proceeded to step her way down the hill, pleased that her boots kept her from slipping. Soon, she made it down and found a huge wood and iron door. She pushed them, but they wouldn't budge. She banged the door with her fist.

"Hello? Anybody in there? I'm afraid I'm a little lost and I think I could find someone inside who might be able to help me get back home."

Hoggle was due for the castle any time now but he was impossibly behind in his chores and refused to go running off to Jareth's side until some of his more important duties were concluded. The lawn gnomes had been grumbling at him all week about how some of the hedge creatures were back talking them when they were trying to give certain area a trim. Parts of the stone maze also needed some maintenance and Goggle had spent most of his morning trying to dislodge a goblin who had gotten themselves stuck in a drainage pipe. Needless to say, he was beyond busy that morning and while he knew Jareth didn't expect everyone to show up at the drop of a hat he also knew better than to be one of the last to arrive. Hoggle was planning to head to the Goblin City shortly but he wanted to stop back at his hovel to drop off some of his equipment before he left. Making his way back towards the bluff side of the wall, the dwarf was suddenly distracted by the most obnoxious kind of pounding and yelling from someone one the outside of one of the entrance gates. 

"Cor, what now?" Hoggle muttered as she shook his over size head and made for the entrance rushing towards it. "Gwah, let me through."

At Hoggle's insistence the doors unceremoniously swung open to admit the grounds keeper. 

"Now now what all this about?" The Dwarf inquired before he really bothered looking at whoever it was that was making a scene.

Joby smacked a hand against her mouth which had promptly dropped at the sight of the goblin. Holy shit, this is real. Okay, okay, Job. Chill. Act like this isn't your first time ever seeing a REAL LIFE GOBLIN. She took a breath and smiled as she approached him.

"Sorry, sir. You startled me. I'm not really sure how it happened, but I got lost and I'm not sure how to get home from here. I'm hoping someone in your city may know of a way out. Could I be granted entry?"

She looked upon his skull cap and vest and then looked at her own clothes. She figured that she looked quite silly. She glanced through the open door so she wouldn't stare at the creature, but all she saw was more wall with the hint of a silver spire peeking out. Still stunned, she tried to settle into what appeared to be a reality for her. She conjoured a air of casual ease, flexing her fingers that had begun to tingle as her frantic heart hastented the blood flow in her veins. An idea occured to her. She pulled out her book, and showed him the cover.

"See? I-I'm familiar with the goblin city." She was always a terrible liar. " I just need some directions through the labyrinth."

Another chilling thought entered her head. What if I'm going crazy and I just banged on some poor person's door and now I'm talking to them about a Goblin City?

"Um...this...this is the goblin city, isn't it?" she asked apprehensively. Please, please, please don't let this be some bizzare version of another breakdown she thought.

 To his surprise Hoggle found himself faced with the one thing he couldn't have planned for that morning. After booming through the Labyrinth's entrance the Dwarf found himself looking at what appeared to be an entirely out of place human. Hoggle new she wasn't supposed to be standing there because if Jareth had brought her due to some enchantment the entire kingdom would have been instantly alerted that a magical bargain involving the Labyrinth had been struck. It wasn't something that happened every often. Maybe just once every hundred years or so and Jareth had already filled his Quota of human meddling when Sarah Williams had been brought into their fold.

What the devil was this woman doing here? Hoggle's trade mark self preserving fear set in almost automatically. Something strange was going on and at the worst possible time too.

"First of all, I's don't know you, girl. So the polite thing ta do would be to make my acquaintance before yous go begging any favors. Secondly, if ya be wanting into the Labyrinth then you could just try knocking and asking to be let in. Politeness goes a long ways around here. Though I really don't be recommended that you go in there since you clearly don't knows what your doing Inspite of your supposed familiarity with these parts." Hoggle rattled off with an air of mild indignity.

"what be your name and how did you happen to come by these parts? yous look like you don't belong here at all and clearly that's the case by your own admission." Hoggle muttered trying to figure out what he was supposed to do with a lost human who only thought she knew what she was talking about.

He wasn't about to give her more information about the maze than he had to until he knew some more of the details behind how she'd gotten where she was. so...CUTE! Joby thought still standing with a hand covering a wide smile. I just wanna mush that giant grumpy face and...Stop that, Joby. Manners. He's just another sovereign being who, like most sovereign beings, would not like his face mushed. Oh, he's speaking again! In my language!

Joby shrugged as Hoggle pointed out her little white lie. "Heh heh. You got me. Okay, so I've only read about the Goblin Kingdom, I never really planned on visiting, but I'm probably more familiar with it that anyone else back in my city."

She turned a little pink at his scolding.

"I'm sorry, that was a little rude of me I guess. I kinda didn't think anyone would be nearby and it's quite a big door; I didn't think knocking would be heard."

She didn't really know how to properly address a goblin, so she managed a curtsy.

"Well, my name is Joby Jones and I'm from a place called Boston. You see I was just leaving a shop there whenever I found myself on top of that hill over there. I've left a mall and went into the wrong parking lot once, but never have I ever found myself in an entirely different place. I popped into a cafe' to see if the owner of this crystal ball in the window could read fortunes and-"

Joby gasped, remembering how she caught a brief peek of the city within the sphere and the foretelling of her own life.

"Oh man. I don't know of that Mim lady knew that the magician's ball could do this."

She leaned against the wall, finding comfort at the touch of solid matter as she drowned in a sea of perplexity. This is just fiction. Nothing more.

Then an idea came to her. What if I just look into the crystal again. I'll just focus my boring boring dirt...with boring perennials. Ugh, whatever, I really shouldn't be here. I have to go. She opened her purse. Her face went from irritation, to confusion, to fear.

"It's gone! The crystal ball is gone!"

She frantically searched the ground around her on her hands and knees.

"It's about this big and perfectly clear. Oh, I think I might be acting rude again. Sorry."

She took a moment to compose herself.

"Right," she said straightening herself up on her knees so that she was about eye level with the goblin. She held out a hand in greeting. "I don't believe I got your name, sir."

Orb? Mim? Boston?!? These words were not words Hoggle wanted to hear and CERTAINLY not on the same rambling sentence. 

"Grraw! That meddling witch! She's as bad as anything. So she's the one who be responsible for this. Great, just great." Hoggle muttered trying to decide between being angry or afraid and not being able to pick between the two. "I don't knows how she did it but she must'o gotten ahold of one of Jareth's crystals. Can't say that's ever happened before. And anyway it wouldn't just disappear. Not if it wern't offered to you specifically in exchange fer a wish and if you's got it from Mim you probably paid her in money for it. That means its probably...Ah! There. At yur feet." Hoggle pointed to it. "I'd advise you to take it and whatever you do hold onto it. Don't put it anywhere off your person. Gwah. Here put it in this thing and keep it on yous. I dont car where. As fer me I aint touching it."

Hoggle took a large silk pouch off his belt and handed it to her.

"Now. My name is Hoggle. And there aint no need to be treating me like a gentleman cause I aint one. A wave'll do for the likes o' me. If you didn't get here cause of that orb then Mim must oh transported you here herself. She's one o the few beings round here who can do that kind o thing which means as far as I know she be the only one who can get you back home again. I guess against my better judgement I should take yous to the castle with me and try to get everything all sorted out. I don't know hows you know anything about the Labyrinth, we haven't had another human here in a awhile but your here now so I'll wager there's a purpose."

"Bad?" asked a perplexed Joby. "Oh, I thought she was just fantastic, and I got a fair price for the ball. I'm certainly getting way more than I bargained for. Oh, but I guess it's not very nice to sell stolen goods. You say this thing belongs to a Jareth? I'll be happy to return it. It was worth the twenty bucks just to see this place."

She thankfully took the pouch and scooted the ball inside it. She slid the item into her purse, catching herself tilting slightly at the unexpected weight. 

"Well I'm very pleased to meet your acquaintance, Hoggle, and if you ask me, you look as gentlemanly as any other man I've ever seen."

Something at Hoggle's hip caught the light, and Joby's attention. She noticed a small collection of rings, bracelets, and necklaces attached to one of his belt loops. Sarah was right! she thought Some of the creatures here do like jewelry.

"Well as I said" she sated aloud "I have read about the Labyrinth. A friend once gifted me with a book, and told me some things about this place. Speaking of which, is it true that some residents carry mountains of junk around on their backs? Can the Bog of Eternal Stench really make you smell bad forever? What about a wooly giant that can summon rocks and make them move with his voice?"

She walked towards the entrance of the labyrinth, her face glowing ever brighter with excitement. She turned back to Hoggle.

"Oh, a purpose would be even better! Could it be destiny? I've never been too big on the prospect of destiny, but I am just thrilled to be here. Is Mim really here too? Does she live here? That was incredibly nice of her to bring me here, but I wish she would have let me call in sick or something first."

She popped her head in through the entrance. Turning from left to right, all she could see was a straight, endless path.

"Huh. I kinda pictured it....twistier."


Just as Joby and Hoggle began their journey towards the castle beyond the goblin city, the goblins Nogel and Trizz were whizzing through the goblin city.

"HALT ANY FURTHER PREPARATIONS. WAIT FOR ORDERS FROM THE KING!" Bellowed Nagol as they flew through the downtown streets.

"DWARF! DWARF!" Trizz cawed, apparently hyper focused on the errand Jareth had sent them on. 

They wove through the Labyrinth's walls.

"That dwarf is prolly at the entrance as usual." said Nagol. 

It took some effort for Trizz to carry his friend high enough to get a good view. In the distance, they saw the entrance's gates sitting wide open.

"Guests already?" Said Trizz with a hint of irritation when he noticed Hoggle was walking with someone unfamilar. "Don't these fools know to get to the castle from the forest?"

As they got closer they could see one figure standing next to the king's dwarf servant. The creature looked rather unusual for a faerie, but the underground possessed a wealth of different beings. It wouldn't be unusual of them to see a new species. Trizz honed in on the dwarf, barreling down towards him. Nagol panicked and began to flail. 

"Oi! Slow 'er down, you blasted pigeon!"

"Quit movin' and maybe I won't drop you! DWARF!"

"DWARF! By order of the king, we command you to halt!"

The goblins landed heavily, causing Nagol to stumble before falling over and crashing at Joby's feet. Free of the extra weight, Trizz hovered face to face with Hoggle, glaring at him with a pair of beady black eyes.

"There you are, Heckle. The king wishes to speak to you right now."

Nagol got to his feet, grumbling as he dusted himself. He wore a tight-lipped frown as he studied the new visitor. She certainly wasn't dressed for a ball. The creature looked nearly as messy as his own kind, but she possessed a similar height and frame as his king. 

oby heard a sharp cry pierce the air. Looking up, she saw the most peculiar silhouette thrashing in the air. She heard it say something about a dwarf as it neared. She tapped Hoggle on the shoulder and pointed. The shape seemed to be approaching them at increasing speeds. As it reached the entrance, Joby realized that the shape was made of two goblins. 

How are they doing that? She thought with a combination of delight and amusement. 

The bigger one had nearly collided into her shins before straightening himself and looking up at her with a soured face. He was a bizarre looking thing with a protruding pot belly that hung over a pair of stick thin bony legs and tremendous feet similar to a frog's without the webbing. She squatted down before him, large eyes twinkling.

"Well hi there!" She said brightly extending a hand.

and inhaled deeply. He leaned back, blinked, titled his head, and sniffed again. Confusion washed over his face. Something wasn't right. He peered back up at her, his expression growing dark. 

"Yer not from the underground." He said with suspicion. 

He studied her clothing. What in the world were those bulky things on the creature's feet? He got on his knees and took a whiff much to the amusement of the creature which promptly started to go into a small fit of laughter.

"Friends of yours, Hoggle?" He heard her say.

"His name is Goggle" he snapped before continuing his study of the stranger. He circled her, his nose registering a bouquet of strange scents. 

She smelled of the familiar things like pine, jasmine, and damp earth, but he also caught traces of an unfamiliar, bitter smoke, of hot tar, and a rich sweetness he couldn't name. His stomach dropped. He backed away. He turned on his heel an marched towards the dwarf. He grabbed the collar of his vest and yanked him down to his level.

"Is that a human" he said just above a whisper. "Explain yourself dwarf before I have Trizz escort you to the Bog of Eternal Stench personally!"

"Gwah, don't you go yelling at me! And the NAME is HOGGLE. Anyway I don't know what this girl is doing here anymore than you two do and I don't be needing anymore trouble ta'day. I was just on my ways the castle, thank you very much; and anyway you two bird brians couldn't force me to do nothing if yer life depended on it. If His Majesty was that anxious te see me he would come himself and not bother sending the likes o' you two to fetch me. Now everyone just shush up and lets all get organized. His Majesty clearly aint going to be happy about her being here. He don't like unexpected guests, besides humans popping in and out o' his domain. But I can't very well leave her here either, now cans I? So why don't we all just go to the castle and sort out all this nonsense there." Hoggle encouraged with some amount of strength as he waved the whole lot of them towards what appeared to be a solid wall, uninteresting in hearing any more arguments from anyone.

"Look everyone just stay with me and we should get there fast enough." Hoggle demanded. "Oh and as fer, yous. Toys better take my arm or something. Whatever you do walks straights ahead and don't stop till I do no matter how badly you think yous should. Got that?"

Technically Hoggle was about to reveal one of the many secrets of the maze and at the moment he didn't really care if it was wise to do so or not, all he knew is that he wanted to get to the castle as soon as possible and a part of him was starting to get a strange kind of sinking feeling. Like a storm was about to break somewhere.

Trizz scowled at the arrogant dwarf. "We were told to bring you to the castle as soon as possible and we're gonna make sure that's gonna happen" he said. Nagol still eyed the human with suspicion and anxiousness. Hoggle was right. The king wouldn't be thrilled. No goblin was safe from a rampage caused by an unexpected visitor, especially a human one. He wasn't too thrilled about the prospect of being present when he saw her. But he saw no other way around it so he took a deep breath an nodded.

"Fair call, Dwarf. Lead the way," he said.

Trizz on the other hand grew more and more irritated at the servant's demands. "You aren't the boss of us," he snapped as he fluttered further ahead.

Joby grinned at Hoggle's tenacity and no-nonsense attitude. It certainly left the king's stooges at a loss.Her face quickly darkened however, whenever he said the king would be unhappy about her presence.

"Oh, do you really think so? I really hate to be this much trouble," she said as they approached the wall. Keep moving? she thought as she grasped Hoggle's arm It's just wall.

Her body tensed as she stepped forward, preparing to bump into solid matter.

echnically Hoggle out ranked most of the Goblins and intellectual beasts that served the Goblin King. Not only was he a member of the the advising Labyrinth council and a ranked member of the knighthood, but Hoggle also had a royal title and position that came with a unique amount of privilege and responsibility. He was for all intents and purposes the primary Keeper of the Grounds. A position that should have afforded him much respect and consideration. However, the Goblin's tended like children to take their cues from Jareth and since the Goblin King rarely seemed to bestow even the basic level of honor on the dwarf most of the more active and self aware goblins tended to follow their master's example. Hoggle also seemed uninterested in asking for any common courtesy with the exception of his name, which only seemed to agitate the problem. Although in some circles his heroics during the Quest of Sarah had garnered him some amount of acclaim. Never mind that such attention and recognition seemed to embarrass and vex the man considerably.

Hoggle got no respect because he asked for none and expected very little from anyone. He generally preferred to see himself as unimportant and often leaned on his many faults for a strange kind of internal support. In many ways it was far more desirable to be seen as a coward than a champion, though the truth was that Hoggle had always been equal parts of both.

As it happened when Joby walked into what she thought was a wall, she seemingly passed directly through it along with the rest of them. 

Knowing this would likely cause the woman to flatter Hoggle was sure to catch her by the purse and tug her forward lest Joby get away from them. If she did Hoggle had no intention of wasting time trying to find and redirect her again. He was deeply eager to get to the castle as soon as possible and even going the short cut directly through to the center it would still take a good twenty minutes on foot. The dwarf was worried as much as the goblins were. Hoggle couldn't remember a time in recent history where a human just popped in from the above world. Although Sarah Williams had been human she had explicitly activated a magical element and specifically wished her brother away. The fact that Jareth had brought her to the underground had been a separate but related matter.

He wasnt sure what Jareth would do under the present circumstances and almost any reaction was possible.

Joby shut her eyes for a moment. Her feet didn't stop. She never felt a wall. She opened them again."Oh, now that's just awesome," she said. As they moved, she could get a better view of the various structures, plants, and creatures the peeked over the walls. She would catch herself feeling a stiff tug at her purse as she stopped to gape at the wonders around her. She had to watch her footing as a tiny, chattering person, no taller than her hand, scurried across the ground. She passed by a bush blossoming with beautiful red and yellow flowers. She reached to touch one. It reared back, hissing and exposing a row of sharp teeth. "Oh my...ack!" She nearly stumbled over as she felt another yank. The dwarf was much stronger than she would have thought. 

She turned to her very focused companion and then to the two goblins. She noticed that the three of them wore a similar expression of determination and concern. They were quiet and absent of any pleasantries. Not that she was expecting a warm greeting (well maybe a little) or jovial camaraderie (but it wouldn't have hurt to have it...all her books had chummy teams of friends), but she never anticipated that a journey through a gobling kingdom could be so....somber. The tiny goblin sat on his partner's shoulder, wringing his wiry hands. The bigger goblin began stared ahead, jaw solid and fixated as he trudged along. Seeing this, Joby began to feel a little nervous.

"What's the matter, fellas? Just looking at the three of you makes me think we're heading into the lair of some ferocious beast rather than a king. Why do you look so worried? I'm certain this was all a misunderstanding and someone will surely get me back home pronto. But in the meantime, can't you cut me some slack? I almost got bit by a flower. Eight years in landscaping, and I've never seen perennials with teeth. What's that about? Oh, and what's that"

She pointed to an armored goblin mounted atop a squat, scaly creature with tufts of fur. It had large feet, a long neck, and a small, flat face. The two other goblins snuck up behind her. Trizz have her a sharp pinch in the back with his beak.

"Stupid nosy human needs to be quiet and keep moving" he said as Nagol fought back a laugh. "Curiosity is a dangerous thing for an ugly Above Grounder to have.

Joby rolled her eyes. She shouldn't have expected goblins to be of a hospitable sort, but she still didn't like having this once-in-pretty-much-never experience to be dampened by their attitudes.

She sighed and kept moving. She managed to keep silent, admiring the the sights in passing. Finally, their uneasiness penetrated through her. She reached into her purse and grasped the crystal ball. She felt the cool weight against her palm. She wanted to bring it back out into the light, but she worried that the goblins would go on another tirade. She thought about wishing her way back home and looking into it, but the truth was, she truly didn't wish to go home just yet.

In preparation for the other Council members arrival Jareth had magiced up a large round table in the throne room and was presently making low conversation with Meriel about her role in the upcoming events. Because he was not sitting upon his throne Jareth almost seemed like just another royal consultant and he might have been mistaken as such since Jareth did not bother with the typical royal regalia like a crown. If anything the horned amulet he wore was the only indication of his authority and even then it was hard to if the object had any significant meaning or not.

The Hall was left mostly decorated and really the goblins had done an impressive job even if the business was largely unnecessary. Jareth marked their effort and made a mental note to reward them later for it.

Since Hoggle's party was being escorted by more than one goblin the guards were more quick to wave them along though the dwarf hesitated somewhat when the approached the doors leading into the hall.

Hoggle was afraid, afraid of why he was being summoned if not afraid of Jareth himself. "O'gawd. Best gaurd yourselfs. I got a felling this aint going to be pleasant."

Joby required a deal more pulling and prodding as they reached the goblin city. Her eyes greedily drank in every sight around her. A magnificent parade of creatures passed by. She saw goblins grooming themselves in the reflections of pots and pans. Cobblestone paths were being swept. Lanterns were being illuminated by goblins balancing on awkward ladders. Everyone looked very busy and for the most part too busy with their own business to notice her presence. Perhaps she would have been disappointed if she werent already preoccupied with trying to burn the images into her memory.

"I have to say that this is the most fascinating place I have ever seen. You have quite a splendid city here, Hoggle," she said giving his shoulder a fond pat.

Her mouth gaped open as they rounded a corner. Jutting into the heavens, the spires of the castle glittered in the sun. They passed under a long row of wide arches as they approached the first door. Joby cheerfully waved at the goblin guards that returned her greeting with a couple of bored grunts. They halted before the door to the throne room. Even the other two goblins grew silent and uncomfortable. Nagol stared at the floor, shuffling a foot while Trizz straightened out the bows on his horns.

She tried to give Hoggle a reassuring smile. "Well even if it is, it isn't like its your fault. If he gets angry at you, I'll be sure to remind him that you are a wonderful employee and that you acted properly within your duties. Surely he can't berate you for doing the right thing. We'll just tell him how I got here, give him this ball, I'll get sent home, and you can get back to working on more important stuff, piece of ca-" She stopped herself. Sarah once told her that one should never say "piece of cake" when journeying through the goblin city. She said it was bad luck. "I mean, simple."

She took off her hairband, tossing her curls around her face and shoulders. She hated having to meet a king in grungy clothes, but she tried to tidy herself a little. She took the satchel containing Jareth's orb and clutched it in her hand, letting it hang over a stain on her left leg.

After about a minute Hoggle finally screwed up his confidence and with an audible gulp pushed his way through the doors letting his goblin companions hold them for Joby since he knew they would prefer to keep a healthy distance between themselves and the dwarf.

Hoggle didn't anounce himself he simple walked cautiously forward in a shuffling manner slipping off his skull cap to hold in his hands.

Jareth was standing half hunched over the table which also served as a large moving map of the Labyrinth and surrounding lands as he quietly pointed out spots of interest making comments about this and that as Meriel nodded and pointed out others.

At first Hoggle wasn't sure if Jareth realized he was even there. A silly notion considering Jareth knew on instinct who was in the castle at any given time. Hoggle was about to clear his throat when Jareth addressed him without looking up.

"Ah Hoggle. So glad you could finally join us. Please have a seat." Jareth said.

Now there were a few significant points that Hoggle noticed with some mild surprise. For one Jareth almost never called him by his proper name and for another there was no malice or mockery in the Goblin King's inflection and tone. Instead his greeting and request were genuinely respectful and although Hoggle knew the logical reason behind this he was so used to Jareth insulting and mistreating him that this rare level of respect almost felt inappropriate to the dwarf who felt mightily more comfortable when Jareth was being nasty to him.

"I'm sorry to pull you away from your duties in the maze but it couldn't be helped. I've called you hear under the specific faculty of advisement." Jareth said seriously and directly glancing slowly in Hoggle's direction with almost improbable humility and tact.

When Jareth caught the look on the dwarf's face however, his face feel into a deep frown. "Dear god, what?"

"Guhm, nuthin." Hoggle muttered in a brief display of cowardliness.

"Don't play with me Hogbr-" Jareth intrupted himself and corrected obviously trying to maintain a measure of decorum that wasn't natural to either of them. "I mean, Hoggle. Please if there is something wrong, tell me what it is. I have had more than enough bad news and you adding onto it isn't going to diminish it." 

"Well...Um..." Hoggle began sweating under the pressure of telling Jareth their new problem. He'd never quite been in such a position.

Jareth was beginning to grow impatient and quickly stood to his full height. "Report, Captian!" 

Hoggle's mouth dropped open as he scrambled to his feet to stand in attention. "Sir! Its a human girl. She just popped in upon the bluff. I knows it wasn't you who brought her here and the lady has requested an audience with you. She says she has one of your crystals and that the Goodmother Mim were the one to give it to her. She's here. Now. Waiting ter speak to you. I'm sorry your Majesty, but I saw no other choice but ter bring her along with me."

"You brought a human girl here? Now?!?" Jareth had to muster up all the self control he had not to explode on the grounds keeper who he knew was quite terrified of him in this moment.

Cracking under the pressure Hoggle couldn't take the suspense any more and threw himself out of his standing position and at Jareth's feet. "Please, Sire, Have mercy! Gwah!"

"You're a good dwarf, Hoggle" Joby whispered as a final reassurance. Nagol and Trizz pulled the doors open making sure to duck behind them until they were summoned.

Jareth didn't have to adorn himself in noble regalia for Joby to instantly register that he was the king. She deduced that he wasn't a higher ranking servant because he never seemed to divert his attention from task to task, his face possessed no trace of distracted fretfulness as worn by one expecting impending doom at the slightest disaster. He gazed down at the table with the steadfast concentration of someone who had others to worry about such minuscule details. She studied him for just a moment. He wasn't quite what she imagined. She pictured him more elaborately dressed and she imagined his hair to be...more voluminous. Then again her book was proving to be more fictional. Oddly, Sarah seemed to know more about the true Goblin Kingdom than the book itself.

Next to the king stood the most stunning being Joby had ever seen. 
Her hair stood out around her and the soft lavender material of her dress rippled in the drafty hall making her look as if she were made mostly of air. The shape of her body was the only thing human about her from Joby's perspective. Even she could register a mighty force being restrained behind the mask. She lowered her gaze as not to stare at her. 

She fought a smile that had begun to tug at her lips. The king spoke to his servant with an unexpected politeness. 

And Hoggle built him up to be a monster. she thought, but the two goblins still looked uncomfortably tense. But then his voice rose. The power it held was palpable, and even Joby's peppy demeanor suddenly grew a little solemn. 

A familiar pang of doubt buried its fist in the pit of her stomach as the king grew impatient. She grasped Hoggle's satchel that contained the missing orb. A long gone voice from her childhood echoed somewhat tauntingly in her skull. 

Nothing but a burden...a burden.

She bit her lip. Seeing her companion melt into a heap, she cleared her head and took a step forward. With her former glee having been dampened, she carried herself in a dignified seriousness. Without thinking she took a deep bow, placing a hand on the back of Hoggle's head. 

"Your Majesty, I can attest that your servant wouldn't let me out of his sight whenever he found me, and he brought me straight to you."

She tried not to succumb to her own tendency to over explain herself. She simply reached into the satchel and gently scooped the ball in her hand. 

"I bought this under the impression that you had intended to sell it."

She looked up at him with an apologetic expression, her facade of propriety beginning to crack beneath his humorless gaze. "Look, I really don't want to be any trouble. I'm not entirely sure how I ended up here. I just thought that maybe you of anyone would know how I could get back home. You simply have a marvelous home and these three have been a great help and are certainly undeserving of any punishment because of me."

She was rambling again. She held out the orb, cheeks burning with a multitude of little embarrassments, all directed at her own shortcomings before the brilliance of these otherworldly beings.

"I'm terribly sorry if my being here brings you any trouble. It wasn't my intention to steal from anyone. I hope this can get sorted out quickly.

"Get up! And sit down!" Jareth hissed at his groundskeeper.

"That witch Mim will pay for this..." He murmured before he finally looked Joby full in the face for the first time.

Jareth eyes dilated when he got a good look at the girl who had suddenly taken on what Jareth observed to be a solemn submissiveness that he realized was perhaps not natural to her general character. Joby's eyes were large and heavy lidded. So large that they made her mouth and pointed but rounded face seem unusual. More elfish then he was used to for a human. Here brown eyes were eyes of a dreamer, of a child; a lost little girl who never quite grew up. Sensitive, so sensitive. And Jareth assessed her as his unique abilities allowed, he could sense powerful even domineering dreams. Dreams that where so forceful they demanded to be taken as seriously as her reality. Their allure was greatly seductive and may have tempted Jareth to peak into them had he not got the overwhelming impression that any intrusion into her fantasies would be experienced as a violation. Her world was not for him to see or tamper with and so Jareth denied himself. There was something else, something private that disturbed the Goblin King and pricked at memories he couldn't quite bring forward into his awareness. 

This girl, this creature, felt familiar to him. Intimate. Like they shared an important secret that neither of then could quite recall. The feeling unnerved him greatly and made Jareth want to retreat from Joby and tear away his gaze from her. For the briefest of moments Jareth experienced what could only be described as fear and a more elusive kind of shame. Both feelings Jareth screwed down into himself unwilling to show even the slightest indication of his thought to anyone watching him, though he suspected that both Meriel and Hoggle noticed his prolonged hesitation. The other goblins wouldn't notice it but Hoggle and Meriel would.

Finally Jareth managed to force his attention onto his crystal, the one Joby was holding out to him and encouraging him to take back from her with her apologies. Jareth didn't want to touch it. A part of him was afraid of it for some reason. As if by taking it back from her he was admitting to a kind of complicity in her situation. 

Instead of taking it back Jareth held up his hand between them in a deflective manner. 

"I don't have the ability to send you home. Whether you realize it or not you've come to this place on your own accord or on Mim's. I 'm sorry, but I can't bring you back. You'll have to find another way. You have nothing I want and i having nothing to offer you." The last part of his statement sounded genuinely regrettable. 

"As for that crystal, now that you have it you might as well keep it. Consider it a consolation to your predicament. In your world that crystal has the power to manifests your dreams, in mine it has the power to become whatever you need it to be. So keep it and use it as needed but beware offering it to others, there are many who would like to have it for themselves." Jareth told her evenly.

"What is your name, girl?" He asked finally.

She saw his chin tilt casually in her direction. She wanted to be placid, steady, aloof, but when she caught his gaze, she felt a chord strike through her core and it reverberated through her whole body. Those eyes. Joby knew those two-toned eyes. The notion froze all other thoughts. As he dissected her, she trudged through the thick fog of her past, trying to seek a face whose features had long faded into obscurity. She caught the briefest of...something...break the surface of Jareth's stern expression, like something had almost taken him by surprise. 

Quit being ridiculous. She scolded to herself. 

She slowly blew out a small puff of air from her lips when he finally looked away. She didn't realize that she had been holding her breath. She bit her lower lip at the realization that her presence in the city was in some small portion her fault. Sure maybe Mim welcomed her with open arms, sure she wasn't too forthcoming with the orb's actual power, sure she even stole it from Jareth to begin with. But Joby knew that it was her own foolish longings that transported her.

At last, a hint of real fear took a hold of her.

"Another way? But how? What am I supposed to do now?"

It had never before occurred to Joby that she wouldn't get home. And this king wasn't going to help. The mesmerizing sort of fascination she had felt previously dissolved into a mixture of hurt and alarm.

"Well I certainly don't have anything to trade for my ticket home," she said in a voice tainted with bitterness. She took note of her attitude and took a moment to collect herself. "Sorry."

The held the orb in both of her hands peering at the flickering glitter of candlelight reflected from its surface.

I need to get home. she thought I need to get home. I need to clear dead brush from the Miller's house. I need to clean my apartment. I need to call Mom and Dad. Nothing happened. 

She frowned. I probably broke it.

She turned back to Jareth. "My name is Joby," she said mustering a weak smile. She wanted to tell him how she knew him too, how she read all about him, and how he seemed so very different than the tyrannical king of lore. Instead she pushed the book deeper into her back pocket.

She slid the orb back into the satchel and into her purse.

"Joby Jones of Boston."

Boston. The word reverberated like a drum in Jareth's ear.

Sarah Williams had been from Boston. The events of that Labyrinth quest were not so removed by time that Jareth had forgotten. In the few years Sarah Williams had been able to maintain magical contact with her friends in the Labyrinth, Jareth had watched her as well, having fulfilled her destiny. Her case had been such a difficult one. Crafting her adventure had pushed Jareth quite to his limits on more then one level and in the end the girl child had nearly managed to convince him to abandon his own world in favor of a half imagines dream. 

Was there a connection between this girl and Sarah? That would be irony indeed. 

"Again I'm very sorry. My hands really are tied in this matter. What I can assure you is that Mim will be dealt with by me personally. she cant go around hiding in your world forever. When she does return I will be sure to hold her for you and perhaps you can convince her to take you back to the otherside. She does not have the same restriction of power that I do. In the meantime I suppose you're just going to have to make the best of your predicament. You're direct difficulties are not my concern and as you can see I am a very busy man. Now if you would so kindly step from the hall I must speak with my people." Jareth was dismissing her.

As much as Joby's situation was unhappy it was not the most pressing problem on the Goblin King's list to attend to just then.

Joby sank to her knees. There's no way out of this, and he's giving me nothing. No kind of assistance, just "I'm sorry" and off he expects me to go. Cant even be bothered to offer a spare bedroom or directions to an inn. She was stuck here for an indefinite amount of time and the seemed care little that an outsider had become trapped inside. Wasnt that a bad thing? It had been many years since she had felt so utterly trapped. She clenched and unclenched her hands to keep them from shaking, but it didn't work. First, she focused her anger on the king, but he wasn't entirely deserving of her hatred. I wanted this she thought glumly. Now she had to live in it. She read enough about the laws of magic to know that enchanted items never entirely favored the possessor. She tugged Hoggle's arm, hoping she could get the dwarf back on his feet.

"What do I do, Hoggle?" she asked in a low, desperate voice. "How long long do you think I'll have to wait? Hours? Days? Weeks? I certainly can't tap my toes together and wish myself home, especially with this hunk of glass."

She got to her feet and clutched her purse with one hand and held it in front of her.

"I mean, what can this thing even do?" she asked, giving it a shake. "Oh great crystal ball, I could really use some help right now....See? Nothing happened."

Amazing. It was amazing to Jareth how women never failed to misunderstand him and make utter ridiculous assumptions about what he would or would not do for them. For one, Jareth literally could not travel between worlds unless he was summoned or unless the deep goblin magic had been activated in which he could then travel on there coat tails. Sarah for example had asked asked that her baby brother be taken away, yet when the magic had been activated it had not been Jareth who abducted the child but rather the goblin's. Jareth had simple been dragged into the situation to save the girl from herself. It wasn't his fault that Sarah had never asked the right questions and gone on nearly to the end taking everything he had done for her for granted.

With the exception of Meriel, every woman he'd ever meet was the same in this regard.

For another, why was it his responsibility to fix the girl's problems as if she was incapable for doing anything for herself? Unlike Sarah this Joby person was not a child. She did not really need constant hand holding and supervision and if she met some kind of terrible fate within his domain, that fate was not his fault. The crystal he was allowing her to have was beyond generous. To give over such a powerful tool to a human would no doubt garner scrutiny from some circles but it was the best protection he could offer her. He'd already explained to her its purpose and yet she seemed not to understand. the crystal was not a magic lamp, it's power was limited and it would only respond to very specific requests and only if they were truly a need and not just a desire or a longing.

Furthermore, Jareth had good reason not to have her in the castle. For one he didn't want the responsibility and it wasn't as if there weren't any number of places she could seek aid and shelter in the Labyrinth. He also didn't have time, much perpetration involving the castle needed to be completed and the last thing he needed was a pie eyed human running about the castle in a constant state of wonderment. Yet if Joby had asked for asylum directly and specifically he might have had a harder time saying no. 

"Hoggle, why don't you take a few moments and assist your new friend here. and please hurry. I cant tolerate anymore delays." Jareth tone was worn but firm.

Hoggle who had gotten to his feet by now looked from Jareth to Joby, looking like a man who was caught up in the middle of argument. Hoggle took Joby's hand and began to gently pull her towards the exit.

"Come on Joby, it's going to be OK. Let's step out into ta the hall for a second." Hoggle encouraged

Joby smiled at her companion. His sudden gentleness softened the sting of the king's dissmissal. "Thank you, Hoggle. I'll try not to keep you too long. I'm sorry about all of this trouble."

She straightened her shoulders in an effort to recoup some of her dignity. She knew she must have looked pitiful sitting there in a daze at the realization of her situation. With a good deal more grace, she bowed at the king again.

"Thank you for your time, Your Majesty." She tried to keep her tone even and respectful. It wasn't in her nature to be confrontational or pushy, and most definitely not in the presence of someone who could have her locked away. "I'll send your servant back in promptly. I apologize for interrupting your meeting."

With that, she slung her purse back over her shoulder, regarded the rest of the room with an apologetic bow of her head, and quietly but stiffly walked out the door.

She hated herself for her cowardice. She had the nastiest tendency to shrink before stronger personalities. She could have pleaded harder, insisted that he do more, reminded him that a human like herself had absolutely no business being in his kingdom to start with. But no, she did what she always had done.

I'm sorry. Ugh. She loathed those two words. Over the years they had become a default phrase that had been long void of its intrinsic meaning. She used it when her father raised his voice, when her boss teased her about forgetting to sweep the truck bed on mulch days, during a breakup after he told her a thousand "Its not you's." Anytime she sensed the slightest hint of disharmony, she was there, figuring out her part in it and fervently apologizing for mistakes that weren't even hers. It was an old, nasty habit she had developed under the roof of a woman who attributed her own misery to Joby's existence. After seven years in that nightmare, she would dive into bullets to maintain peace. Paired with her years of working in the service industry, and Joby made a lovely doormat.

She heard the door close behind her. She shook her thoughts out of her head and sat down against a wall. She pulled her knees up and rested her chin on them.

You have nothing I want and I have nothing to offer you. Jareth's words clanked dully in her skull. How could he have nothing? He was the damn KING. Weren't humans generally a BAD thing to have in a magical realm? That's how most of the stories went, and the humans that were meant to be in a magical realm were welcomed with open arms and big feasts. She hardly got either reaction from the fearsome king of the goblins. Just a "sucks for you," "I'll see if I can find the lady that did this sometime in the future," and an "okay, you can go now." 

She sighed. She figured the she had only been in the realm a few hours. The Millers would have called. Her boss Jerry too. Her folks were on vacation. She hoped that they hadn't been contacted. She would have hated to know she spoiled their much needed break.

She turned to the only person she felt had tried to help her.

"Well on the bright side, Hoggle, the king didn't get angry." She thrived on silver linings. She took Hoggle's hands and gave them a squeeze. "Regardless, I want to thank you. I know helping humans isn't part of your duties, and I know that you probably had plans to get far more accomplished today so I'd like to give you something.

She opened the smaller pocket of her purse and dug around. "A friend once told me some dwarves had a fondness for jewelry. Sadly, I hardly get to wear bracelets or rings in my line of work, but I have something else that's just as shiny. Ah. Here it is."

She presented him with a small, silver colored hair clip adorned with dozens of red plastic rhinestones. "Thank you for for getting me through the labyrinth in one piece and for getting me an audience with the king. Perhaps it was in vain, but I don't want such a splendid journey to be entirely fruitless."

She took out the orb again, her momentarily smiling face growing sour at the sight of it.

"Now, if you could show me how this thing works, I promise to leave you be for good. Well, okay maybe I can't promise that. I can't even get around this place without you. Real nice of your king in there to have drawn me a map." 

The orb suddenly felt incredibly light. She curled her fingers and heard the crackling of paper. Looking down, Joby saw that she was holding a roll of old parchment. She blinked, head slowly tilting to the side as she opened it. The wording looked almost runic and were unreadable, but all the streets in the city were marked as well as the castle grounds. She lowered it, looking stunned for just a moment.

"Well...okay then. Now where do you suppose I should go first?"

Hoggle waited to comment until the were safely behind closed doors. 

"Yeah well that be because he's too worried to get too upset. I aint seen Jareth use THAT much restraint in a long time back there and I don't like when he's so damn polite ta me." The dwarf shivered as if he was trying to shake off a chill. "He ain't a bad person really. though i wouldn't goes as far as calling him a friend. Frankly, he looked almost afraid ter take that crystal back from you. Like it would show him something he was afraid to see or sumethin. You know it works different for him then you. He actually gave yous the ability to call on him if yous need him. That orb be as much a way to summon him as it be a tool to give you what you want. In all my years I ain't ever seen him give one to anyone else sept one other person."

Hoggle sighed. "Look, I's got somthing fer you too. It aint going to be as useful to that orb but I don't want you going and getting yourself into trouble cause ya went somewhere without knowing. So here."

Hoggle reached to his many precious jewels that hung at his belt and picked from it a blocky looking compass and passed it to her. "OK. Take this. It'll help you get back through the maze. The Labyrinth tends to shift alot so even if you's know where your going it can be hard to get there. This compass follows the shifting patterns and will help you's get where you want to go as long as you know where your going. It'll also help you find peoples your looking for. You just got to be clear about it." 

When Joby suddenly offered him a present the dwarf blushed a deep pink. "Guh ya don't have to go doing a nice thing like that. I'm just doing my job helping you along. It's part of what we Labyrinth knights do. But huh, since you're offering and all...I guess I could take it. O' friend of mine gave me something similar once. Plllaaastiiiic. Never seen a material like it."

Hoggle took the hair clip from her and examined it while Joby played with the orb.

"Jareth aint exactly the forthcoming type. He's got this thing about letting people figure stuff out for themselves. Some sort of personal philosophy he's stuck on. See, he believes in people and because he believes in people he almost outright refuses to help them unless he's bound to it by a bargain." Hoggle explained.

"but anyways I better get back in there..." Hoggle was interrupted by the orb flashes as a map appeared. "Well there's you go it seems like you know how to use it just fine."

"A quick word of warning before I's go. Whatever you do stay away from the arid flats, that be where all the junk piles start and avoid the enchanted forest too unless you want to find yourself in a different place all together." He warned her. "I's got to get back in there. I'll try to find you again when I'm through if you decide to go off on your own."

"Im sorry I can't helps you more, but this be bad timing for everyone." With that Hoggle dropped the hair clip into one of his pouches and prepared to go back into the throne room.

Hoggle seemed awfully nervous about the state of his king. Joby couldn't fathom what in the orb the man could possibly be afraid of. She turned back towards the door reevaluating her initial judgement. She should have known by now that characters were far more complex than what was written on the first page. She felt sort of touched by the fact that she had been one of only two people to be granted with such a powerful token, and it reassured her that perhaps things weren't entirely bleak.

"Oh I certainly hope I don't get myself into that big of a mess. I have all the help I need right here."

She took the compass, the needle shifted, unsure where to point to at the time. "Oh, this will be incredibly helpful."

She smiled at the bashful dwarf. "You've earned it." She noticed the little elastic band of beads encircling his wrist. It was a dated looking little piece, reminiscent of the eighties. Plastic. So at least one human has been here before. Wait. One of her favorite books included a scene in which the heroine presented her helper with that exact sort of bracelet. She stared at it for a moment, her brain struggling to connect impossible dots. She could hardly believe the notion when it crossed her mind, but she couldn't shake the nagging suspicion that she could be right. 

"I'd love to hear about her sometime." she said distractedly.

She nodded at his next comment. She admired anyone who encouraged independence, but she wasn't so sure if an ever-changing labyrinth full of tricksters and traps was the wisest of places to begin cultivating that trait. For all of her shortcomings, Joby learned early on how to take care of herself. Of course her mother's neglect played a role, but it was the resulting need to feel useful and necessary among her new family and peers that really turned Joby into a reasonably capable adult. 

"Well I've been doing things on my own for a little while now. Never had to navigate a new realm, but this map seems pretty clear. Oh, but that part just moved!"
She looked down at the compass. The needle moved too.

"Wow. So I guess I'm set." She still felt a little uneasy about being left alone, but her new items provided some relief.

She had no plans to traverse a giant junkyard. The forest sounded interesting, but certainly not worth the trip if it meant getting even more lost.

"You've been a tremendous help already." she said. "I think we've kept your king waiting long enough. Tell him that I honestly do appreciate this gift. Us humans are a literal folk. If we aren't told things directly, a misunderstanding usually follows."

She got up and once again bowed to Hoggle. "Take care, Sir Knight. You serve your city well."

With that she turned and strode towards the door.

Nagol and Trizz followed the dwarf, eyeing the pouch that contained his new treasure.

"She didn't give us any presents." Nagol griped.

"Stupid human" pouted Trizz.


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