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Madam Mim

A somewhat unreliable "Goodneighbor".

0 · 144 views · located in The Underground

a character in “Labyrinth: New Tales of the Underground”, as played by CassilineVow

Description

Physical Description: Mim is a buttery faced woman with natural red hair that occasional looks strawberry or blond. She is decidedly feminine in body and mind and enjoys flaunting her good looks whenever possible.

Personality: Mim can be a bit haunty and indignant and enjoys playing coy when it suits her. She is however quite knowledgeable about many things and quite willing to assert herself. While she's not really wicked she doesn't go out of her way to be good either and seems to have a general amorality to her.

Equipment: Mim can generally be seen with a long thin tubular wand about two feet in length. Mim implies the implement is magical and does enjoy sticking it in peoples faces when speaking with them. but it actually magical applicability is unknown and there are some that suspect it is merely a prop Mim uses for show.

History: Mim is a "Good Neighbor" and this suggests some level of magical ability although the strength and nature of her talents have not been confirmed. Mim greatly enjoys the human world and visits it frequently going so far as to run a actual business. However per the rules of her kind Mim cannot remain in the above overlong lest she become trapped for a lifetime. Its rumored that this actually did occur sometime in the 1920's, and Mim appears to enjoy that ara of human history specifically talking fondly of it from time to time. She is however Underground born.

Mim runs "Madam Mim's" A small new age cafe and retailer that sells weird objects and crystals. She is sometimes seen reading peoples tea leaves or giving tarot readings to patrons.

So begins...

Madam Mim's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Contrary to the common belief of anyone who wasn't an actual Denizen of the Labyrinth itself the chaos, so often associated with the Goblin City and the castle beyond it, was restricted to the busy goings on of managing life in the Underground. There were chickens to be slaughtered, kegs to be made for the purpose of storing beer and other foodstuffs, and laundry to be done. Goblins weren't exactly the cleanest creatures in the Underground but even the grimiest of the lot took an occasional monthly bath.

There were a lot of fallacies regarding the general nature of how a Goblin City was actually run. Like any other metropolis the goblin Denizens took pride in their various trades which consisted of but weren't limited to metal and leather crafting, the manufacturing of spirits, and the tending of both chickens and hogs. There was also a deep sense of culture within the city; although in all fairness you often had to be either a goblin or a child to appreciate ballads about farting and epic stories depicting conquests over who was going to eat the last sweet roll. Believe it or no Goblin culture was chalk full of rich and undoubtedly colorful history, fashions, music and social oddities of all sorts. One just had to live there to know it.

Then of course there was the castle itself; a magnificent sight to behold and a social utopia in its own right. The castle, when not being magically manipulated for the sake of defense, was vast and kept largely in working order. Most of the goblins that resided within its walls where a little bit more refined then their other brethren, a little more articulate as well if not always all together intelligent.

At the center of it all was Jareth. The Goblin King. Regardless of what anyone actually thought about his personality, Jareth made for an effective and efficient ruler. That was his job after all; ruling over the goblins and by association the very labyrinth itself. Or at least, this was what most people understood his purposes within the goblin kingdom to me. Only Jareth himself knew the scope of what was and what was not true. Nevertheless, Jareth took pride in his perceived position as well as his vast responsibilities. Maintaining a working Labyrinth along with governing a kingdom wasn't as easy as it might have seemed. There was always some part of the vast maze under construction as the stone pathways often had to be repaired or refashioned due to natural ware and tear.

Since nearly a quarter of the Labyrinth was made up of hedges, small lawns, and gardens; Gnomes had to be regularly brought in to reshape and manicure the green areas as goblins by nature weren't really inclined towards gardening. It took a lot of work to maintain a place that, for all logical intents and purposes, most intelligent beings would never willingly step a foot into. But in a way...That was the greater beauty of it all.

Yet for all that Jareth had accomplishing he was still just one mortal man. Oh yes. Jareth was quite mortal indeed, despite the rumors that were scattered throughout the Underground claiming otherwise. If he was somewhat magically endowed due to the nature of his position, his illusionist abilities were secondary to the man who actually possessed them.

At current the Goblin King was out of house. Flying no doubt as he always did in the early morning before the sun had yet to fully rise off the horizon line. While Jareth's crystals were effective when monitoring one thing at a time, they lacked the ability to present the greater picture that was the Labyrinth as a whole. For that Jareth was much keener to observing things for himself from the sky. There was also the escape his morning flights allowed. Jareth did not leave the confines of the Labyrinth often as his presence was often in such high demand. His morning flight was often the only chance the Goblin King got to have a moment to him self and even then his trips were often cut short by the demands of his people.

The present morning was no exception.

No sooner had Jareth just begun to relax and enjoy himself did the mysterious magical link that connected the Goblin King the the more private area of his domain began to tingle and demand his attention. It was sort of like having an annoying internal buzzer that told Jareth when he was being summon back to the castle either by the Goblins or someone else. While Jareth could technically ignore the summoning if he wished to in this case, his sense of responsibility wouldn't allow him to ignore the intrusion and since his mornings were almost always guaranteed to be interrupted anyway Jareth was inclined to simply cut his flight short.

It took only seconds for the Goblin King to return to the throne room of the castle which was actually a large rectangular reception hall and enthroning area different from the smaller circular observation room he had once used to observe the whereabouts of a mortal girl who had been stupid enough to get caught up in a fairy enchantment. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. The throne room was mostly empty and minimally decorated. While Jareth kept the castle in good working order he was not the type to drape his surroundings in opulence nor was there any need to clutter the place up with to much furniture since the goblins were notoriously hard on things and it was best to give them little ammo to playfully attack each other with or destroy in the celebration of their goblin revelries. 

Flying in swiftly through a high up window the form of the barn owl landed before the high backed throne that was situated on a low dais within the room. Just before the owls claws made contact the owls form shifted into the Goblin King practically right in front of the guest whose presence had summoned him.

"Mim! What, may I ask, are you doing here?" Jareth inquired in a annoyed and menacing manner.

The doe eyed curly haired strawberry blond woman who dressed in a almost obscenely low cut cotton candy pink gown jumped back from where she stood when she turned her face idly only to suddenly find an annoyed looking Goblin King grimacing at her from the atop the step of the dais where he no doubt had appeared. 

"Oh! Your Majesty, can't a lady make a social call?" Mim instinctually stuck her long thin wand uncharacteristically behind her back as if she was afraid that Jareth might grab it and snap it in two if he got too annoyed with her.

The worry wasn't exactly unfounded since Jareth certainly wouldn't have tolerated Mim or anyone else dangling anything in his face. 

"I'm here on formal business anyway. You know, there's rumors that you're becoming quite sedate. I'm here to tell you that the High Council is getting rather concerned over your lack of contribution. Human's need us Jareth, and all of us are expected to eventually pay our dues. Don't you think you've been sitting around in this dump with your little pets moping long enough?"

"First of all Mim, the High Council has no jurisdiction over what I do or do not do with my time. Unlike you and many others of our race, I do not merely live to offer wayward advice and assistance to passing human's stupid enough to get themselves into magical and melodramatic situations. My purpose is to govern this kingdom among other things and I take those tasks very seriously." Jareth muttered pointedly at the women whom he did not particularly like.

"Secondly, the goblins are not pets. They are powerful magical beings that must be tended to and given structure. You will treat my subjects with respect, Mim; or kindly get out of my domain. And anyway why are YOU playing messenger? Your own track record assisting human's is not exactly pristine. I find it hard to believe someone from the High Council sent you of all people to lecture me." Jareth challenged still standing and staring daggers at her.

"Oh, your majesty. How your words wound me." Mim muttered without sincerity as she swooned slightly and placed the back of her hand against her forehead. "I'm just passing on rumors out of courtesy. Excuse me if you'd rather not hear them. As for your...Subjects. I meant no offense. Please excuse me."

At this Mim bowed deeply in pardon. Caring little for whether Jareth accepted it or not.

"Anyway, I didn't come here to lecture you although I would much appreciate if you'd magic up a seat or pillow or something. I am a guest, after all."

Mim waited for Jareth to oblige her refusing to continue there conversation or leave until he provided her with an appropriate level of hospitality.

Jareth ultimately appeased her using one of his crystals to manifest a flowery pink flowered tuffet with gold cord before he took his own seat upon the throne. 

"Thank you. I'm glad to see that wasn't so hard." Mim said before tip toeing around the tuffet and settling upon it. "I've volunteered to extend to you a message from the High Council. Its your turn to host the the Council's Centennial Ball. You do have a kingdom after all and in this case you are obligated to accept. Here."

Mim produced a large envelope from her skirts and tossed it in the Goblin King's lap. As she did this she also grabbed part of a gold tassel hanging from the back of the tuffet and ripped it off, palming it in her wand hand as she fluttered her eyes as the Goblin King in a satisfied manner.

"Well," Mim said on an exhale. "I think that about does it for me. I'll be going now I think. Busy busy. I simply can't wait for you to make good on the Council's demands. You know I'll be there. With bells on."

At that Mim winked at the Goblin King before she stood and swished her wand once in a circle in front of her. Her presence popping in a explosion of pink tinted sugar scented bubbles leaving only her sugar sweet scent in the air and the abused tuffet behind.

Jareth was glad to see the the pink monstrosity go. Although he didn't consider Mim to be a threat or anything other than an annoyance, Jareth didn't trust her unexpected appearance and was wary of why the woman was bothering to grace his door. Jareth plucked the envelop Mim had thrown at him out of his lap and frowned at it. There could be no mistaking its origins or authenticity and the implications unnerved him.

Mim was correct. 

If the High Council of the Goodneighbor's were commanding that Jareth host the Centennial Ball then he could not refuse them. Part of his custodianship of the Labyrinth and the Goblin Kingdom dictated that he offer up his holdings for their use. The problem was that Jareth didn't like the idea of anyone having such unregulated access to his domain. There was powerful secrets hidden within the Goblin Kingdom that would prove difficult to protect if he had to contend with alot of high minded magical folks of various abilities and influences tromping about the castle, the goblin city, and perhaps the Labyrinth itself.

Jareth had never enjoyed political intrigue and balls always seemed to bring out trouble. Besides the various Good and undoubtedly Bad Neighbor's that would be in attendance, invitations would also be extended to the far off surrounding kingdoms who were more likely to secretly squabble over power and influence. Apart of Jareth did not savor the possibility of the Goblin Kingdom being included in the folds of anyone else's plans.

The Goblin kingdom was a neutral sovereignty for a reason and Jareth intended to keep it that way. Not bothering to open the formal notice Jareth signed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand hoping in vein that he could wish this part of his responsibilities away.

As for Mim, being what essentially amounted by human standards to be a Fairy Go(o)d Mother; Mim was gifted with certain advantages other magical folk were not. Namely Mim had the ability to transport at will between the magical world of the Underground and the Above world of humanity. To be sure she took full advantage of this ability.

Mim greatly enjoyed humans. She found many of their vices to be appealing to her and since she had no concern for money or status she could more or less selfishly use her presence in the human world to entertain herself. Among other things Mim enjoyed a good party and she liked vain vices of beauty and glamour. But being what she was was not all fun and games. Technically Mim was a Go(o)d Mother and there was an expectation that she occasionally use her powers and abilities to guide certain human's down a better path.

It was basically the whole Cinderella story. Every century or so Mim was supposed to answer the call of some unfortunate sap and liberate them from their earthly woes. While the mechanics were a little vague if Mim didn't do it she ran the risk of having her powers dwindle and her magical influence taken away from her. A fate Mim had no intention of ever submitting to. It was bad enough that she could only stay in the human realm for a limited time every day if she didn't want to get temporarily trapped and reduced to the abilities of a mortal for an entire lifetime.

Mim had been there and done that and it generally was not an experience that she was eager to duplicate. Even if she had eventually coped and even enjoyed the experience after awhile.

The Cafe she ran in Boston had originally been a genuine source of income and shelter when Mim had accidentally lingered too long and gotten stuck for the duration of a natural human lifetime in the Above Ground. Now it served more as a nostalgic reminder of her time in Boston as well as a kind of trap for unsuspecting humans Mim had a mind to "help". And sometimes, just sometimes, Mim liked to cause a little trouble of her own just to spice things up. The rules of her kind did not stipulate that she couldn't cause as much trouble as she cured. And sometimes causing a problem was much more amusing than being the solution.

Mim smiled to herself as she popped into existence in the back room of her cafe shop. Instead of the cotton candy pink gown she'd worn while visiting the Goblin Kingdom, Mim was now dressed in jeans and a peach colored bodice over a transparent cream colored undershirt that was gathered at the shoulders. The tight jean and low cut bodice was bordering on inappropriate for the workplace but since Mim was the boss she dressed as she liked. 

"Come on, you stupid thing." Mim muttered as she held up the golden cord shed stolen from the tuffet she'd been sitting on to the light and shook it once and then twice in her hand.

After about half a minute the cord suddenly transformed back into a round clear crystal. Innocent looking and flawless.

"Bingo." Mim whispered in satisfaction. "You should fetch a pretty penny to the discerning eye of some unsuspecting schmuck. And with any luck Im bound to have a little fun."

Mim pulled a handkerchief from between her breasts and briefly polished the crystal before she hovered to the front display window and set the crystal on a small silk cushion with a small sign in front of it reading "BEST OFFER". Mim then moved over to the shops door and turned the hanging sign over to OPEN.

Now the only thing left to do was to wait.

While Mim waited in the above to stir up her own mischief, Jareth spent the rest of the morning making plans. 

His first order of business was to discuss plans for the castle itself. Besides the trivial importance of writing up invitations and hand picking who was and was not to be formally invited, Jareth had to figure out what he was going to do about the goblins themselves. While typically unorganized when left to their own devices, Goblins had an amazing ability to organize when they were given a unifying task. On some level the species had a sort of collective voice and mind space that could be tapped into. such as the time Sarah Williams activated the Goblin's magic and awoke them from their individual slumber. The taking of Toby Williams had been masterfully organized and had had little to do with Jareth himself until after the fact. In that situation Jareth had simply been a messenger and the situation had not really involved him directly until Sarah Williams had entered into a bargain with him specifically.

When it was warranted the goblins could focus their attentions and produce impressive feats of theatrics among other things. Yet in general they were perceived as stupid, foolish, and dirty creatures. Likened in some places to vermin. Hosting the ball presented the unique challenge of staving off such catty presumptions. Of which Jareth knew there would be many both secret and obvious. The solution of course was to enchant the goblins in the same way he had once enchanted them when he's preyed on the inner desires of Sarah Williams dreams. So long as people were in the castle the goblins would take human form. An enchantment that was limited to the castle itself. Jareth was not made of magic after all, and while the power of the Labyrinth amplified his abilities greatly even the Goblin King had his limitations. Jareth would have to anchor the enchantment to the castle itself since he did not have the stamina to uphold the spell by himself. But in doing so he also wouldn't have direct control over the spell at all times. In any case it couldn't be helped.

There was also the matter of consulting the Labyrinth's advising council. A task he was not particularly looking forward to simply because it was a nuisance to bring all of them together at once especially over such matters as he had to discuss with them. 

Sighing Jareth summoned his Labyrinth guards and ordered them to summon the Labyrinth Council to assemble as soon as possible. With his luck the business was going to waste the entire day.

While the Goblins preceded to do his bidding, Jareth got up out of his throne and made his way to his observation tower. Unlike the goblins who scurried about the castle quite quickly, Jareth used his abilities to get to places in the castle at will. while it still typically required him to walk through an entrance, he could more or less come and go wherever he wanted in the castle. The observation room was a favorite place for the goblin king because the high window allowed him to look out over the maze. For once the space was more or less empty with the exception of a goblin or two that had passed out or fallen asleep ans it was unlikely Jareth's presence would disturb them. Steping easily over a goblin curled near the center of the room Jareth went to his window perch and summoned a morning dove.

Most of the advising council could be summoned from various places in the Labyrinth. The only exception was the White Huntress who was technically not a denizen of the Goblin Kingdom. Jareth would send word to Meriel himself as they in some ways governed their own domains and therefore were more qualified compared to the others. Meriel almost never set foot in Jareth domain, Mostly on principle. She was an aloof creature and one of the few people Jareth treated with reserved respect and tolerance mostly because Meriel was just as formidable as he was and it was important that he maintain a working relationship with her. Removing a small not from his sleeve requesting her presence, Jareth gave the note to the morning dove and quietly requested that the animal be so kind as to deliver it to her. The dove seemed to have to problem with this and took off graciously into the sky.

Jareth smiled to himself just then, wishing he had time to do the same but his business was too pressing and he had no other option but to return to his throne room and wait for his guests to arrive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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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 readings...you 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 for...um...that 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.

Gotcha.

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. 

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Hoggle the Dwarf

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Madam Mim Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: The White Huntress Character Portrait: Hoggle the Dwarf Character Portrait: Queen Mab Character Portrait: Elspeth Empyrean Character Portrait: Ozias Sayer Character Portrait: Scheherazade Character Portrait: Ariadne Character Portrait: Marten Gwyndion Character Portrait: Prince Dedric of Astraea Character Portrait: Magdalene

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YOU KNOW YOU'RE A NOTHING CHILD" snarled a towering black dragon. Joby couldn't figure out if it was growing larger or if she was shrinking smaller. She tried to run but her legs wouldn't budge.

"WHAT ARE YOU EVEN GOOD FOR? the creature roared FOR BEING ANOTHER BURDEN I HAVE TO CARRY THANKS TO YOUR DEAD BEAT FATHER? FOR BEING A BLACK STAIN IN MY LIFE? LOOK AT YOU WITH THAT BLANK, STUPID FACE! ARE YOU EVEN THERE? HELLOOO! ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING? ANSWER ME!"

The dragon stepped closer, its march causing the earth to tremble. All she wanted to do was to turn and flee, but she was helpless.

Yeah, you just keep sitting there staring into space. said the dragon leaning in close, its eyes glowing a smoldering red "I have something that will get your attention." With that, it reared its head back, opened its mouth, and released a fury of fire.

Suddenly, Joby was eight years old again sitting in an unsteady dining chair in a cramped, yellowed kitchen that reeked of smoke and burned tar. She could feel a hot pain in her left arm, she looked up to see a pair of watery, crazed blue eyes burning a hole right through her soul as sure as the cigarette was burning through her skin.

Her eyes snapped open.

She could vaguely make out the large, wooden beams above her. She sighed and tried to relax back into her pillows.

Seventeen years later and that last night still haunted her.

She could remember the torrent of insults as she sat stock still facing the window, eyes fixated on what looked like a barn owl perched on the fence around her yard. Her mother stepped in front of her blocking her view as she carried on while Joby chose another means of escape by creeping back inside her own mind. It would be after that first and only incident of physical abuse, after her mother shut herself back up in her bedroom, after Joby crawled into her own bed made of layers and bed sheets and old clothes, that she would be taken away by a bizarrely dressed man and left sleeping on the front porch swing of her future parents twenty-five miles away with a note asking them to take care of a girl with a name that wasn't hers.


She tried to go back to sleep, but she could hear the bustling of activity outside. Inside, things were quiet which meant that Mag had already gone. This would be the day all the the kingdoms were to arrive at the castle. Today was also the day Finchie had told her that her dress would be finished. In exchange for her labor, she only wanted something simple. No embellishments or fancy accents necessary. After all, she planned to simply blend in and just enjoy watching the spectacle. She felt like a party crasher even going in the first place, but Mag invited her, and there was no way she was skipping out on the chance to see people and creatures from the whole Underground. She also looked forward to actually looking like a proper lady for a change with dirt-free nails and tidy hair. The commotion outside got to be too much. She sprung to her feet and threw open her window. The early morning air nipped at her face with its chilly breath, and she fetched a shawl which she threw over her dressing gown. She took her perch at the window sill, letting one leg dangle outside over the wall. Still bleary-eyed, she gazed across the city, almost jumping at the sight of the sudden straight path cutting through the twists and turns right to the castle which also looked possibly bigger or brighter than she had remembered it looking yesterday.

"It's absolutely garish, I do agree." Jareth had a way of seemingly just being there suddenly in the presence of people.

Half the time it was simply that people didn't notice him right away or that he didn't wish them too which was almost the same thing.

"I think you would not be surprised by how much effort it took me to get the maze to formulate that pattern. Not surprisingly its very sticky about matters of its own defense." Jareth was leaning his back into the wall just next to Joby's window sill with his arms crossed as he looked out along with her over his maze still rather bemused that he'd convinced the labyrinth to open itself up the way it had. It was perhaps the first time in centuries if ever that the maze had such a obvious and direct path running through if.

Joby jumped with a squeak and grasped the window frame to keep from falling back onto the floor. She spun around and glanced up to discover the Goblin King standing just behind her.

"My room has a perfectly functioning door you know," she said as she regained a normal pulse. She had been told that the man had quite the knack for appearing out of the blue, but she never expected to receive such a visitation. She tried to smooth her stubborn curls as she got to her feet. He was lucky to catch her awake.

The fact that he began to talk to her so casually took her by surprise, but she decided to go along with it. She also heard plenty about his frequently shifting moods. She took a bow before turning her attention back outside.

"I can imagine. Even now, I can feel her discomfort." Her brows drew together and her lips tugged down in a frown. "I don't like it either."

The tension in the city was so palpable that she felt her own uneasiness grow. She tried to shake it off, straightening her shoulders and facing her visitor.

"You know I ca-"

The familiarity of his face caught her off guard momentarily.

I swear I know that face...those eyes.

She found her words again.

"I can't say that I would have ever expected you to drop by here, Your Majesty. Is it Mim? Do you have any news?"

The tone of her voice struggled between hope and disappointment.

Jareth noted silently how Joby refered to the Labyrinth as a her. Was it possible that she so instictually understood the moods and personality of the great maze? possible and very unusual. Jareth also noted that Joby had a different feel to her than when they'd first met. She felt like one of them, instead of like an outside intruder. Such adaptability and calibration to the underground was surprising in such a short ammount of time. It was almost as if she'd been born to there world.

The familiarity he felt towards her also caught Jareth off guard. while he was accustomed to dropping in on people as if they were already in the middle of a conversation, with Joby it somehow felt like an old conversation had been interrupted and that it was one Jareth instinctually kept trying to continue with her without remember what the original dialogue had been.

"She is a trifle unhappy with me but end the end she knows perfectly well that I serve her first above anyone else." he said it lightly and then changed the subject quickly. " I have it on good authority that Magdalene has invited you to the ball and that you have a lovely dress and everything. I also see that you're doing well under the curcimstances. you've made friends as most girls like yourself are apt to do...But I do believe I still owe you some consideration as a guest in my kingdom that I perhaps had not thought to extend to you before. To this end I would like very much if you would consider joining my private party during the ongoing festivities over the next few days." Jareth tried to ask casually but since he really did need her to agree there was a tinge of urgency in the request.

"Mim will be required to be there and the benefit of you being in my party means we will both have our chance to deal with her together since she's taken it upon herself to meddle with us both simultaneously." Jareth debated the wisdom of telling her more then this but ultimately he figured it would be better if she understood that by agreeing to his request she was taking on a role of some importance.

"There's something else...Im asking this of you as a personal favor to the kingdom if not to me. The labyrinth has always served as a connection point between our worlds. It's my duty to faithfully represent that union in my party. For all intents and purposes you are currently the best representative I could ask for to stand in for the Above. Will you agree to join my party and stand up with me when needed? It's very important and it must be your choice."

"As does the rest of the kingdom I believe," commented Joby thoughtfully. Despite whatever choices he made in recent years, the goblins seemed to hail the man as a fine leader of their kind.

She smiled at what she perceived to be a change in the man's attitude toward her and his unexpected gift of courtesy and kindness. Her heart leapt at the notion of being a special guest, but she kept a lid shut firmly over her excitement as to not make herself seem silly in the Goblin King's presence.

She felt slightly apprehensive about facing Mim again mostly because she wasn't sure if the woman was entirely at fault for her presence in the labyrinth. After hearing about the usual methods that people had used to arrive to the Underground, Joby questioned how exactly she managed to arrive. Sure, Mim facilitated the trip, but sometimes Joby felt as if maybe, possibly, she had been...invited. When she saw the city through the crystal in her shop, she remembered feeling a pull of sorts, like a powerful, invisible hand motioned her to come inside and she happily obliged. Still, Mim had intended to stir trouble, and Joby wasn't going to take any hostility towards the city that had accepted her as one of their own.

Her initial excitement faltered a little at Jareth's final request. Already, people from the Underground were crowding into the city, people that would surely be watching. For all of her grandiose daydreams and wishes, Joby really didn't do so well in the spotlight. She thought about standing there in her simple gown, in her mortal, boring body before a crowd of ageless, powerful beings all with the ability to look right through her, measuring up her inadequacies. She looked back out the window, Jareth's request echoing out into the walls like a desperate plea, as if they were asking the same. Joby swallowed, realizing that this was her chance to return the kindness the city and her new friends had granted her.

She breathed in, put on a brave face, and nodded.
"I'd be honored," she said sincerely.

~@~

Now that the festivities had begun in the kingdom the castle beyond the goblin city loomed ominously upon its hill at the center of the Labyrinth. All its banners representing past rulers flying except for Jareth. Jareth had no banner perhaps because he did not consider himself a real king nor was he. The goblin king had more in common with his Goodnaighbor cousins and was both a man and a magical being, regonized and also disregarded as someone of any real importance outside of the great maze. Jareth prefered matters that way and had worked very hard over the centuries to keep his exact activities and purposes shrouded in obscurity. But now the worth of his kingdom was destined to be put on display and whether the other powers believed in him or not no one could dispute the hearty magical significance of the Labyrinth or the castle that stood in the center of it.

Jareth had ensured in his protection of the castle's greatest secrets and properties that once people entered the main hall, any time they tried to go anywhere outside of their designated quarters or one of the great mirrored ballrooms, the would find themselves back where they started. Even queen Mab herself was expected to respect the castles boundaries unless invited by Jareth to do otherwise. While this meant that guests had limited access to the castles interior, most were free to enjoy the pavilions and gardens Jareth had linked directly to specific exit points within the castle's grounds and everyone was informed that it was I'll advised to walk the maze itself and it had its own interests that were not completly within Jareth's control. Respect of the magical nature of the kingdom was paramount and edicts regarding the matter had been passed down by the High Council on Jareth's behalf.

the other purpose to limiting guests to the ballrooms and their personal quarters within their specific groups was to avoid any unwanted conversation. If people wanted to whisper and plot Jareth saw no reason to give then the advantage of privacy in his own home. The ballrooms had any number of corners and semi sequestered area for people to whisper and plot with each other. Whether they realized it or not the goblins would be carefully listen and would report anything of interest to Jareth as the need to know occurred. while the goblins wouldn't catch everything, they would do their best and Jareth himself would be highly attentive to the goings on around him.

Now the great hall was already filled with people nd the rooms in use would accommodate as many an nessisary without ever seeming cramped. everyone would have as much breathing room as they required with perhaps the exception of Jareth himself who would not have the luxury of being comfortable no matter what kind of mask he put on for his observers benefit.

the first order of business was to greet every great household personally as they arrived, with queen Mab and the rest of her Council and entourage due to arrive last since it was they who were really the guests of honor and Jareth only the host kingdom. After speaking with Joby Jareth had informed her that Hoggle, Sir Didymus, and the others would meet her and escort her to the castle to sit in his party. She was instructed to remain silent until Queen Mab arrived and formally acknowledged them.

Jareth would be in his most menacing attire that day.

Dressed in his full black firm fitting goblin armor that made his shoulder mantel and heavy embroidered cape make him look much taller, much more feral, and much more menacing then he'd perhaps looked in years. Once again Jareth had fashioned his hair in a large wild mane and one could have almost sworn his teeth and ears looked slightly more pointed then usual making all who looked upon him forget that he had any real humanness to him. the horned amulets he always wore was hidden but its emblem rose up upon his breast plate. Jareth was in peak form, his very life force permeating much othe the space because his magic was so tightly woven into everything around everyone. there could be no question who was lord and master in this place and first impressions were important. If Jareth was to be seen Asa villain and dark sorcerer by most of the people in attendance then that was the role he would cast himself in for the moment. everyone was taken back by his presence, even is own subject who had not seen the Goblin King put forth so much effort and ability in recent memory.

Everything was in place. Everything was ready to be set in whatever motion the other players wished things to flow. Jareth had decided he would not fight against the tides of fate nor would he cower before anyone. Queen Mab would expect the very best from him and he could feel her power, even now, pressing up against his own weighing and measuring him.

Jareth was the Goblin King and there was a reason he had dominion over one of the most important if misunderstood species in the underground. He would live up to people's first expectations of him and turn the rest on their ear when the time was right.
Try as she might, Joby could not loosen the knot that coiled tightly around the pit of her stomach. She sat in one of the stools in Mag's kitchen, hands clasped on the table, a nervous thumb drumming against her wrist. Today was the day. For two weeks, she had walked along the Goblin City as a nurturing friend and accepted visitor. Now she was to be elevated as a symbol, as a physical representation of what made the ancient city and integral and necessary part of the Underground. It was an honor and a privilege that she felt unworthy of bearing.

She didn't even know what was to be expected of her, if she were capable of achieving those expectations, how she was to conduct herself, which fork was she to use for the main course.

She had to step outside.

She padded barefoot out the back door into Mag's little gated garden. In the open air she could breathe. She leaned against a pillar, next to which say a scrubby little bush covered in yellow flower buds. She reached out to touch one.

I bet you look lovely in full bloom, she thought.

Just as the notion crossed her mind, the the petals of that bud sprung open, the others quickly following suit.

Joby gasped, whipping her hand back. She stared at the flowers, then down to her open palm, then back to the flowers, then once more at her hand. She flexed her fingers. She didn't feel any sort of odd sensation. Was this normal? Was it a good thing? A bad thing?

She heard a sudden loud knocking from the front door. Finchie had arrived with the dress.

She chalked up the incident as something typical and entirely harmless before pushing the thought from her mind and running back inside.

Finchie strode inside as soon as she opened the door. The old goblin carried a small satchel and wore a wide, toothy smile.

"I hope I'm not late, honey" she said. "So many damn outsiders crowding about, interruptin' how we carry on here, not ta mention the walls having been shifted about to accommodate, took my usual route and nearly wandered into the Forbidden Forest. However, I have yer dress and I think you're going ta be quite pleased."

"You're an absolute saint, Finch. Um, where is it?"

Finchie winked and opened her satchel. A dark green bird made from what appeared to be some sort of fabric leapt out and began flapping around the room.

"Now, I know yew said you wanted somethin' simple, but I 'ad a feelin' the king was going to ask you to be our representative, so I made a few changes to the original design. A girl like yew shouldn't have ta face the High Council in something so dreadfully plain. I have ta say, this is one of my proudest creations."

With that, she snapped her long, wiry fingers and in a poof of smoke the fabric bird unraveled and tranformed into the most stunning gown Joby had ever laid eyes on.

She took a couple steps back, hand over her heart and slowly shook her head.

"Oh, Finchie....th-this is too much...Oh, I couldn't possibly....you really shouldn't have gone through all the-"

"Trouble, honey? Nonsense! Yew know Jareth ain't the only one here capable of performing a few tricks. It took no time ta whip up this beauty. Now I didn't make it fer ya just to stand there and gawk at all day! Put 'er on!"

Joby circled around the creation that hovered motionlessly above the floor.

"I don't even know how to get in it."

Finchie shrugged. "Like this I reckon."

She waved a hand, and in one fluid motion, Joby's clothes were whipped from her body and the gown glided across, the fabric going right through her until it hung perfectly from her shoulders. Another wave of Finchy's hand, and a full length mirror rose from the satchel.

Joby blinked at her reflection, hardly recognizing the woman in front of her.

Layers upon untold layers of chiffon-like fabric cut into spade-shaped petals expanded out and around her waist into a wide, full skirt, the fitted bodice looked like a thick multitude of bare branches that intertwined and crossed over each other, thinning out as they extended around her shoulders and stretched all the way down her arms and towards a few of her fingers. The branches hugged her body as if she were made of them. The whole ensemble was a deep, dark green accented in glittery dew-like silver. Somehow, Finchie managed to change her hair and face as well.

Her curls, tamed at last, coiled in large, loose loops, stopping just at the nape of her neck to frame her heart-shaped face. Her freckels, though not entirely gone, were faded, her lips stained a deep shade of maroon, and her eyes accented to stand out most of all. She looked like some otherworldly being born from the earth and the sight alarmed her and brought a sense of comfort at the same time. It could be her disguise, she could creep back into her imagination and create an identity of someone far braver and far better suited for her role. She put herself in the mindset of a noblewoman well acquainted with the world of diplomacy and magic.

Then, looking down at Finchy, the illusion was temporarily shattered by an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. She dropped to her knees, throwing her arms around the small creature.

"This is unbelievable Finch, you have just saved my night. I don't know how I can possibly thank you enough."

Finchy stiffened, being unaccustomed to such an outpouring of emotion. Heartfelt feelings were usually unexpressed and avoided as much as possible in the Gobin City. She lightly patted the girl's shoulder.

"Alright, missy. Just see to it that that blasted council leaves here happy and that will be thanks enough. Now if yew keep dirtying up that gown, I'm gonna take it back."

Joby quickly stood, brushing off the skirt.

"Right! Sorry, so sorry! I promise that I will do my best to do some good for this place."

"I know you will, honey. I better git goin.' Yer party ought to be here soon ta pick ya up."

Joby teetered on the verge of tears as she watched the goblin disappear back into the city.

Shortly after Joby was ready Mag arrived with their entourage which consisted of Mag who was mounted an a white and gray Fell Pony in full pristine plate armor with her hair combed back in a tight efficient bun. Behind her were fifteen armored goblins, some of the best and most Intellegent and educated Mag had trained. Behind them was an open seated platform being carried by for strange little fluffy black goats with long sturdy horns that steeped back behind their head and curving up at the tips. The four goats walked in unison carrying the platform atop the elongated length of their horns And upon the platform were seated sir Didymus and the Sleeping Wiseman with his alert hat looking about as well as a uncomfortable looking Hoggle who was dressed in blue velvet and the child-like Tilly-Whim dressed in her pink Tulle ballerina dress occasionally whispering things into Hoggle's ear and smiling. Near the back of the procession was a enclosed seated box big enough for a human person to comfortably sit in with uncovered windows that allow the person inside to look out but also allowed others to look in. The box was being carried by four squat goblins. more of Mag's guard and behind it was another platoon of fifteen goblins soldiers.

Upon stopping in front of her home, Mag swung down from her pony and approached the enterance of her home, not bothering to go directly in. Mag was in her regalia and would follow the good for. Of her position. When she knocked the door opened on its own accord catching Joby while she was standing in the center of the room.

Magdalene smiled slowly at the impressive sight and, remaining just outside the entryway bowed slightly and offered Joby a gloved hand

"good morning, My Lady. Your box awaits you. Please permit me to take your hand and assist you to your seat. I will ride beside you. I promise. His majesty awaits our arrival in the castle."

The arrival of Mag's procession brought with it another wave of anxiety in Joby, especially after her friend bowed to her in greeting.

"Aw, do you really have to go through the formalities, Mag?" she said as she bowed in return. But of course she did. Joby lived with her long enough to know the knight was a professional through and through even among friends. She took her hand, perhaps grasping it a little tighter than she intended. Her heart beat so intensely, she could feel the blood rush to her head. She smiled in greeting to the guard, and stopped to take another bow as they approached the platform that carried the rest of her party.

She beamed at Hoggle. "You look just dashing, Sir Hoggle. It is a privilege to be travelling to the castle in the company of the Goblin City's finest."

She straightened her shoulders, trying to muster a formal air about her. She acknowledged the rest of the party with the same respect, but inwardly, she fought a compulsion to squeal and gush over the adorable Sir Didymus. She broke the persona momentarily to compliment Tilly-whim's tutu, speaking to her as one would a small child.

As she approached her own box, her heart sank a little. She felt somewhat uncomfortable at the prospect of being hoisted on the shoulders of others as if she were a monarch. She took the time to pay her respects to the carriers.

"I am honored to be carried on the mighty shoulders of His Majesty's outstanding guardsmen."

She stepped into the box with the assistance of Mag. As the door shut behind her, she exhaled a long breath. She leaned into the back of her seat. Already, she felt overwhelmed by the burden of her position. She had the gown, the escorts, the prestige, but nothing could quell the nasty little voice reminding her of all of her shortcomings.

She was driving herself crazy. She had to pull herself together before she reached the castle.

She had an aunt who had been instrumental in pulling her out of her own mind. She taught her how to calm herself whenever she became nervous or frightened through a series of breathing exercises. All though her adulthood, Joby used them. She closed her eyes, focusing on her breath and heartbeat. She hardly felt the movement of her box as it lifted. Her breathing slowed. Her pulse normalized. She centered herself.

You can do this. Everyone here is on your side. You're not alone this time.

She opened her eyes. She was ready.

She held onto her serenity as her entourage passed through the growing crowds.