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Queen Mab

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

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Queen Mab is one of the highest ranked, most influential members of the High Council. She is of faerie nobility and takes tremendous pride that her kingdom is a bastion of faerie civilization. She takes no pleasure in dealing with goblin kind because she finds their culture and manners to be crass, unruly, and appallingly disorderly. She also cares nothing for Jareth. Not only does she believe that his blood makes him unfit to manage the Goblin Kingdom, but she also feels that he doesn't belong in the realm at all. Still, she supports the Council and usually maintains an air of stiff civility when in the presence of the king, though sometimes she cannot resist the occasional snobby quip at his expense.

Appearance: She possess a face that can shift to make her look older or younger, though she usually looks about middle aged. She wears an elegant, leavender gown with a white train usually carried by bush pixies. She wears a veil secured by a brass, antlered crown. Two pendants dangle from delicate silver chains around her neck. One is a tear-shaped pearl of wisdom to give her clear thought, though her own prejudice often clouds her judgement. The other is a silver jeweled spearhead to symbolize her power over her kingdom's military. But her greatest enchanted item is worn around her left finger. It is an emerald ring that grants her the ability to read the true intentions of others. It has been the only thing that has kept her from dismissing the Goblin King;s right to rule entirely because she has seen that he truly does take his position seriously.

So begins...

Queen Mab's Story

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Character Portrait: Queen Mab

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"It's time to get ready, Your Majesty." said a slender pixie with a wood-like body. "Your gown is finished and your crew is ready for dressing."

"Thank you, Roenak" replied an unhappy Queen Mab. She had just finished her usual morning routine popping into the human realm and toying with their dreams. Those who had kind hearts and good intentions dreamt of all their wishes coming true, while those that were selfish and unkind received terrible nightmares. She had a particularly hateful deposition towards unfaithful humans, and could sometimes curse them with diseases. However, her kingdom was maintained by the pillars of virtue, compassion, and balance. She would be spending her afternoon far away from all three. She long dreaded this day. Today was the day she would have to go to that nasty Goblin Kingdom and play nice with that ridiculous Jareth. She found his lot to be unkempt, greedy, mean-spirited, and disorderly. She couldn't imagine how Jareth held any position within the council at all.

She stepped into her bedroom and was immediately whisked behind her dressing screen. Her handmaidens quickly changed her into a soft lavender gown with thick full sleeves that gathered into a pair of slender cuffs from which tear-shaped pearls hung upon. Intricate woven stitching adorned the collar which hung off her shoulders. Her handmaidens gathered her long blonde hair and laid it over a over a long, white chiffon train. They also laid chiffon over her head and placed a bronze circlet that was dotted with amethyst and pearl and antlers protruded from the top.

Her carriage for the day was pulled by a fleet of large blue butterflies that sped her unpleasantly swiftly from the confides of her glittering crystal city snuggled cozily inside a deep cavern. She wrinkled her nose as she watched trees zip past her window.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Queen Mab

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Mab sat alone in a large, onyx-colored hall before a small altar. The only light glowed from a silver, shallow basin filled with water. With eyes closed, she began to chant in the long vowels of her first language. From her robe she pulled out an ancient, tattered satchel. Her voice echoed, growing louder as it reverberated across the vaulted archways until the whole room seemed to tremor in the sound. Any time she wished to take a peek at upcoming events, she performed a ritual relinquishing any personal urges to shape the currents of fate.

In her youth, she believed her right of rule held some influence over the destinies of others. She meddled in the affairs of beings both in the Underground and Aboveground. She learned that fate was a efar stronger force than she could ever fight, and that fighting merely complicated the inevitable and caused unnecessary suffering. It was a lesson all rulers faced, a lesson that if not learned and accepted, could have devastating consequences.

She was hoping her dear Jareth had been a good pupil.

Rulers were bound to make mistakes, act selfishly, and try to use their power to bend the world to their desires. It was when those rulers failed to realize the parameters and limitations of that power and thus threatened the well being of their lands that the High Council stepped in. The Goblin King's actions in the incident of Sarah Williams sparked a wave of concern throughout the Underground. It was probably the first bit of real press that the Goblin City had received in centuries. Rumors flooded the Empyrean blaming Jareth for sparking a devastating plague in the kingdom, the Astraeans feared another incarnation of Lord Darkness had seeped into the king's heart, and people everywhere began to question the legitimacy of his rule.

She felt bad for him, she really did. He had long ago taken on the burden of isolation that came with overseeing the Labyrinth and suddenly all eyes were on him, a man who had been essentially ignored and forgotten by the rest of the realm until he committed a crime.

However, as leader of the High Council, she had to set aside any biases and affections for the boy and examine his use of power under the context of his recent actions and behavior. She had the entire Underground to consider and its preservation relied largely on the delicate balance between Light and Darkness. Those who dared disturb that balance for personal gain were seen as criminals of the highest degree. Such a crime even cost one of the princes of Astraea his power, his crown, and further soiled an already bleak reputation. Mab hated that she had to scrutinize another so soon after the last sentencing, but it had to be done. Jareth had been a blessing to the Labyrinth in the beginning; she had to make sure he wasn't leading it into another age of destruction.

Though she couldn't see the future in its entirety, she wanted to catch a glimpse of what was to come and the players involved. She reached a point of absolute clear-headedness in her chant. She reached into the satchel and cast a handful of smooth, multicolored stones inscribed with runes into the basin. She arched a brow, tilted her head and looked deeper. A chuckle pierced the silence, echoing through the vast hall.

"Well this should be interesting."

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.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Queen Mab Character Portrait: Scheherazade Character Portrait: The Childlike Empress Character Portrait: Glinda of Oz

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The crowd all slowly turned to the great vast doors at the far end of the hall moving back a bit to make room more out of a sense of collective respect than necessity. All parted the was as well between the long walkway and Jareth's enthroning area where his party all stood in their raised box.

Zade who had been standing near Sayer originally moved away from him slowly towards the closed doors and the room filled with pregnant anticipation and heavy magic. Slowly Zade made her way to the side of one grand door. Her white robs dripping in gold bangles and accents native to her home land. In her good time she turned to the amassed crowd.

"Ladies and gentlemen. The High Council thanks you greatly for your willingness to be with us on this day. The Centennial Ball is a time of communion between all people and beings. All of our destinies entwine along a single great tapestry of existence. In this place and time we come together, lost children in a vast wilderness of life, myth, and magic. All of you are beloved to us and in this time and place we are all equal, all united as one force. We are the children of legend, myth, and legacy. May our stories never be forgotten, may we come together in unity and peace always. In Queen Mab's eyes were are all her children and as such, she has come here this night, out of love and devotion to us all." At the end of her speech Zade bowed deeply to the crowd as the doors swung gently open and unseen trumpets sounded announcing the entrance of the other lesser Council members.

The procession was lead by the Childlike empress who was presently laying upon a great silk pillow twice her size. She was clearly still in full repose. Curled like a cat upon the pillow looking sickly but presently at peace. The pillow was being carried by willowy faes who moved so seamlessly that they were hardly noticeable.

Next, a few feet behind was the tall and broad Glinda of Oz. Her hair was a dark auburn and fell practically to her waist in wild ringlets curls against her white and gold dress. Her look was regal and honorable as she waited for Zade to join them in the procession, her middle aged beauty was stunning and full of wisdom and strength.

Finally, came Mab herself.

Broad and womanly as if she'd given birth a thousand times over and knew both the pain and joy of it. Though she was beyond middle aged in appearance her beauty was timeless and familar. Stoic yet warm. Inflexible yet accommodating. Her expression was mysterious and her presence weird and otherworldly. Her skirts were layered thick and long flowing and her dress was adorned with flowers, seeds, and and nuts. Her power and majesty was palpable and not a single person in the room felt as if they could hide from her knowing and all seeing gaze as she both scrutinized and accepted all that was around her. Escorting the high Fairy into the room was Mr. Tumnus, a jovial sort of fawn and only male council member who had long been in the services of the Pevensies. Of the lot of them, Mr. Tumnus looked the happiest to be there as he waved and nodded to the crowd.

The procession walked a quarter of the way into the hall when Mab put up her hand and in a voice that filled the entire room without forcing her to raise her voice, she said. "We come in Friendship, Fidelity, and Peace; to right what has been left broken and undone as well as to celebrate what is still good and whole. Our world is a fragile thing that many of us are compelled to take for granted. May you all be grateful for what you have achieved, for who and what you are, and for why you are all here. Your presence among us goes beyond unity and gracious joy, you are the embodiment of our greatest hopes and our most compelling wishes. Not everything we do in this place will be happy, but we must all try to see the wisdom and more importantly the opportunity of it. Who comes to take my hand?"

"I do." Jareth approached the procession slowly and with great purpose. His eyes were narrowed as he locked his gaze on Queen Mab who was both rival and mother to him. Both is redeemer and his judge. how he loved and was oppressed by her.

"Come onward, O' King of the Goblins and make thy self known." Mab's own words were articulated carefully and in a calculated fashion as she watched him approach showing no fear or superiority about it.

We have come to test you.

The other lesser Council Members moved aside so that Jareth could approach. The tension in the room was high and fine. For a moment Jareth stood before Queen Mab's direct presence. A presence that would have made a lesser person quiver where they stood at that range.

Jareth held steady though and when Mab extended her hand to him Jareth sunk down before her on both knees and hung his head in tribute to her, not in submission but tribute. "I am your faithful servant, welcome to my home, Aunt."

"Jareth, I do think you mean your lair. Don't confuse the two ideas. Now rise and by all means introduce me to you're party. I dare say, I think I see some interesting faces." Mab remarked as she implored him to rise and take her arm.

All of this was clearly heard by everyone in the space.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Queen Mab

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Jareth waited for Mab to quietly acknowledge the others while he kept a more nonchalant eye on Joby as well. Carefully noting Mab's choice of words regarding the girl. There was still a great mystery about the woman. A matter Jareth had not had time to follow up on when she first arrived. Mab saw something in her though, something Jareth had sensed but had not wanted to unearth. Because Joby had not directly bargained with him, Jareth had resisted the temptation to look inside her dreams and sentiments and now he was even more glad that he hadn't pried. Whatever Mab saw, it was likely something she knew to some degree before she arrived. The fact that she wasn't making her thoughts known proved that Mab had reason's to protect the girl's privacy for the moment.

When he saw Joby begin to falter a little under Mab's scrutiny he signaled Mag to help support her discretely from behind since he was unable to break form himself and assist her. He did agree however with Queen Mab that it was right for Joby to be there standing with them.

The thought conjoured up unexpected images of Sarah Williams, another raven haired human who, under different circumstances might have been the one to face Queen Mab as Joby was doing now. There was a connection point there that Jareth didn't like to speculate on. He was sure she wasn't a Williams relation and he was also sure now that they he and Joby had some kin of connection to each other. A connection Mab knew of and found to be amusing.

Jareth wasn't amused. The whole business of the Ball and the parties in attendance felt invented and it greatly disturbed him to know that something was being planned around him without his awareness or consent.

Nevertheless, there was little Jareth could do about it just then. He would play his part for the moment and when time allowed, try to make sense of it all.

"Come, Mab. Your place awaits."

"Yes." Queen Mab remarked in passing as she allowed Jareth to escort her to the slightly raised throne so that she could address the amassed. "Well now. Why don't we feast and make merry. I will take hearings with the individual kingdoms in stride."

Mab then leaned slightly towards Jareth who was standing beside her. "In spite of everything, you still never cease to surprise us William. Your actions both distant and near have a way of coming full circle in a most shocking fashion."

"I am as your great design intended me to be, O' Aunt." Jareth replied flatly.

"My design, is it? Trust me child, if your character were of my design alone we wouldn't be sitting here together in this place." Mab replied idly.

"A placeholder, Majesty. That is all I am so far as the High Council is concerned." Jareth was not going to allow Mab to get under his skin just yet.

"Your words and not mine, child. I always found it curious how little you value your own abilities." Mab dug a bit further.

"I am your servant, Majesty. But you and the Council are not my first priority and never will be so long as I hold this place." It was almost a threat.

Mab was most satisfied.

"Indeed. Be careful, William. Your time in this place is a fragile thing." Mab warned.

"Nothing lasts forever, Mab. Not even in the Underground. You know that better than I. Let us not quarrel just yet, shall we? Whatever it is you and the others have come here to do, I will be waiting. In the meantime, let us be…friends."

The entire conversation was spoken in low tones between them, Mab could conceal as much as she could project.

"Do me one favor William…" Mab mentioned.

"I saw. I will attend to her as best I can, Mab. You should not have made her come, now that she is away from Fantasia and outside the refuge of the Ivory Tower she will weaken. I will do what I can for her while she's here, but you must allow the Childlike Empress to leave this place as soon as possible. Whatever you have planned, do it quickly." A hint of anger swept through his final words." As Jareth bowed stiffly and excused himself for a moment.