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Queen of the Forgotten Desert.

0 · 347 views · located in The Underground

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


Famously married long ago to a Persian King with a terrible tendency to behead his wives, Scheherazade thwarted her own demise by weaving an ongoing story for 1,001 nights for her husband to avoid being beheaded. The king was so eager to hear the conclusions of her ongoing story ever night that eventually he forgot to fear her infidelity and eventually gave her his trust. Scheherazade remained happily married to the King until his eventual death. Due to her contributions and mastery of the world of imagination she was eventually invited to continue her reign in the underground and has ruled there in the forgotten desert ever since.

Appearance: Zade' appears to be about forty. Her age frozen forever in time so long as she rules in the Forgotten desert.

Personality: Zade' is gracious and sharply intelligent. Not one to pass judgement until she has all the fact and is sure they are the real facts. Even then her judgement are practical and based in fairness even if fair isnt always really fair for those involved. At this age in her life she is both the seductress and the eternal mother. Her dominion is over the Jinn, both the benevolent but enslaved and the jinn of darkness. She controls them and is not a woman to be trifled with. Her people are however highly reclusive and rarely barrow their allegiance to others.

Equipment: Zade' travels on a large ornate carpet about the size of a standard mortal roof on a house. When not in use the carpet rolls and shrinks down to fit in her hand.

Zade also carries a magical lamp and also has in her possession a magical lantern that never goes out.

Magical Ability: Besides her ability to command the jinn, Zade can weave amazing verbals tales that come to life in a kind of cloud like a screen. People are said to become entranced by her voice as long as she continues her storytelling.

History: Zade' father was the King's Vizier. When the king murdered all the available virgins he married in his realm. The Vizier was forced to offer up has daughter. Zade' also has a brother. But he has been missing for a long time and Zade presumes he is dead.

Zade' is a member of the High Council. Hand picked by Queen Mab long ago.

So begins...

Scheherazade's Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Ozias Sayer Character Portrait: Scheherazade
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There was only ten days left before the Ball was to begin and Jareth had spent most of his time leading up to those last ten days weaving powerful magic. A task that had been all consuming, cumbersome, and draining on the man's abilities. Most of the castle would be off limits and the rooms and spaces that were to be made available were built on illusion. Queen Mab would expect no less from him and the magic he was employing was as much for her benefit and scrutiny than anything. The hardest part would be enchanting the castle Goblins because it required Jareth to divide his attentions between playing host and maintaining the spell. If he tried to do both at once the energy required would be too taxing. Instead Jareth had to craft a slow spell that he could pour a surplus of his magical energies into ahead of time and that would last the duration of everyone's stay.

The entire process was complicated and exhausting and while he was working on it he refused to give audience even to his Goblins. The task of making smaller preparations had fallen on Hoggle's shoulders. Unknown to most outsiders when Jareth was busy the general maintenance of the Labyrinth fell to Hoggle who handled his duties with uncharacteristic authority. Indeed, despite their strange dynamic Jareth was entirely grateful to have Hoggle in his service and entirely planned to reward the man for his effort as soon as the festivities were through. Jareth was actually quite fond of rewarding his people whenever possible, he just usually did it discreetly. 

RSVP's were coming in from all over the Underground. But Jareth didn't have time to concern himself just then with the political and social ramifications of who was to attend.

He did make an exception to this rule when, one morning, the great hall's door blew open and a cascade of golden sand poured forth into the hall urged on by a wind that smelled strongly of cinnamon, jasmine, and cloves. Jareth who had been sitting upon his throne looking haggard and ill, sighed to himself as he was startled from his disgruntled repose. So...Scheherazade was come at last. 

Scheherazade was one of the women of Legend. Granted eternal life for her contributions to the world of Faerie and beyond. Besides ruling over her own domain she was also the primary emissary of Queen Mab herself. Yet she was not exclusively bound by Mab's will alone and was free to act on her own accord.

Her arrival in the Goblin Kingdom was accented by beautiful and exotic music as well as a dry rain of glided sand that sparkled gold. The sand would no doubt be gather by the various labyrinth denizens and added to the wine vats and breads, or gather in small bags and traded for other goods. It was a personal blessing from Scheherazade as she road cross legged upon the opulent and over sized magical carpet with her entourage. Scheherazade would see to it that there was feasting in the kingdom that night to reward the goblins who would halt their work and spend the rest of the day and night celebrating in the streets prior to their pending duties.

When it was time for Scheherazade to finally make her entrance into the great hall the sand that had spilled transformed and her arrival was preceded directly by and entourage beautiful dusky dancers draped in eastern finery and other servants and entertainers. Some wearing the bound sign of indentured service. Finally Scheherazade was carried into the hall on a cushioned box and set down in the center of the hall by her menacing Jinn protectors.

"Ah, Scheherazade. Your mastery of dramatics puts my own flare to shame." Jareth muttered with tired respectful air of amusement.

"You flatter me. Aziz-am. I have come to provide you with some respite and my company." Zade was a dark beauty draped in red and gold rimmed scarves.

"I'm grateful. You are, of course, the first to arrive and I am glad of it." Jareth was relieved.

"I have brought my children to help with your preparations. Certainly Queen Mab would not wish for you to so exhaust yourself upon her account. So from now until the start of the upcoming festivities you are to rest and recuperate your strength." Zade' commanded as she stood before his throne and bowed deeply, more as a sign that Jareth was to agree with her than of her own obedience to decorum. 

"I suppose I should have expected your support." Jareth remarked almost apologetically.

"Oh, Aziz-am. You are too close to your causes. It is rare I have seen such dedication by someone who is as much a prisoner as he is a servant." A large cushion was brought to Zade' so that she could sit beside him as the others entertained them.

"I've never regretted my internment here, Zade. I don't even know what I would do with myself if I could leave this place." Jareth admitted. "This is my home. The goblins are as much my children as as the jinn are yours. Would you willingly leave them?"

"No." Zade agreed. "I would not."

"Where will you stay?" Jareth inquired at length changing the subject.

"My people will set up our encampment outside the Labyrinth's western wall. We prefer the broken earth to your greenery." Sade' explained.

"Wise. You always were wise and very beautiful. Tell me, Zade'...Why have you not wed again. Its been a thousand years, I think your kingdom is ready for a new bond mate. " Despite his exhaustion Jareth smiled wickedly.

"Are you volunteering, Aziz-am?" The exotic woman asked.

"No. I don't think I could match your stamina." Jareth remarked jokingly. "But surely there will be any number of ideal candidates arriving in the coming days. I would be most delighted to officiate a wedding."

Zade' laughed loud and free.

"You should take a bond mate for yourself while your at it. Or at least a bed mate. You're prowess is as legendary as my dream stories. You deprive the court of your skills." Zade teased.

"I am a magician, Zade'. Not the devil himself. Women as you well know tend to resent me for providing the very things they most dream for." There was a ever so slight race a bitterness in this remark.

"So take a man then. They're desires are more simple and easy. You know quite well you could have your pick of either companion. Any of my own children would be honored to serve you." Zade teased, though she was quite serious given that her people we famous for their pleasures and hospitality.

"You are too generous, Zade. And you know absolutely well enough that I'd never deprive you of one of your precious jewels. I am quite happy as I am." He reassured her.

"So you say, Aziz-am. So you say. But you of all people should know that you cannot fool another keeper of dreams. You may be master, but I am queen." Zade' remarked grinning.

Jareth was not of a mind to argue.

The next person to arrive in advance was the Empyrean Keeper, Ozias Sayer.

Sayer strode into the main hall, quite surprised at how strikingly different the castle, normally in a constant state of muted disrepair, looked to the naked eye. He grinned a little as he continued forth, staring at the portraits on the wall of previously heralded leaders throughout the course of millennia. Even they looked slightly more appealing on canvas than they did years ago, when Sayer had first visited the Kingdom as a more youthful version of himself.

He'd left three days previously, traveling with his own entourage of about fifteen Empyrean knights, all wishing to make a name for themselves as part of Elspeth's advance security team. Some of the younger knights had never before left the celestial kingdom and were surprised to feel the solid ground beneath their feet after their obliging and fairly friendly luck dragons spirited them from The Sky to The Ground under the cover of night. Elspeth would be arriving in a matter of just days, choosing to correspond with Sayer via message birds.

Outside the castle his squires had caught sight of a few tall, exotic-looking attendants who were sweeping up piles of fine golden sand. Sayer laughed to himself; were the goblins residing in the kingdom, operating as Jareth's devoted subjects, even transformed into far more visually-striking props to be cast about the grounds? Jareth certainly was going all-out for this thankless affair, indeed.

He couldn't help but feel a little bit of anticipation at the thought of having a chance to meet with Jareth again. The two were old friends; he'd been a terrific host to him and other Empyrean travelers who came along to help the royal nephew in his trek around the world to familiarize himself with other lands and customs in his preparation to become The Keeper, when Elspeth was not quite a teenager. Sayer was certainly raised to be the ideal warrior and the sharpest thinker in any room he walked into, but he found that most others who proceeded along the path of life he was put upon were often dull, dreary, and terribly boring. Jareth was none of those things--he had plenty of stories about plenty of things, and was far more intelligent than anyone really gave him credit for. Sayer had seen him a few times since that initial meeting and never tired of listening to his tales and quick quips. Jareth had even once insisted that he find a suitable marriage match for Sayer, which was waved off with a laugh and a profession that it would take quite a woman to make him consider leaving his station as The Keeper.

Sayer approached the grand set of doors leading into Jareth's throne room, but was stopped by a pair of silver-armored knights, who each held up a huge hand in unison. "Stop." The stereo-echo of their conjoined voices boomed throughout the stone hall. "State your business."

Sayer nodded and lifted up the corners of his mouth in a polite but self-elevating smile. His silver armor glinted refractions of light onto the walls and floor, even though there was no window to stream any sunlight upon him. "The Keeper of The Empyrean has just arrived in the Goblin City and wishes to report to Jareth," he responded politely.

Scheherazade was still entertaining when Ozias arrived and the goblin guards asked him to halt. Placed in a much better mood now that Zade was with him Jareth strode personally to the still open doors, still tired looking but much improved, to that she could level a grin at his old friend.

"Well well well. Look who is gracing my door. Is it he? The prince of sun and sky?" Jareth's tone was projected intentionally deep, rich, and booming. "Come to play once more in the dirt, I see. Good. It can only serve the Empyrean who shine and glisten with morning dew and sun beams."

The goblin guards were smart enough to back off when Jareth approached.

The goblin king kept a straight face just as long as it took him to clasp Ozias's forearm and pull him into a boyish hug. "I'm glad you are come, my old friend. I see life in the Empyrean has served you well." 

Jareth clapped Ozias on the back and escorted him further into the hall.

Sayer returned the shoulder clap enthusiastically and grinned widely. "Why, if the Goblin King hasn't changed his hair," he stated mock-dryly. "You look quite smaller without that former mane of yours." He did enjoy ribbing Jareth about his flashiness, especially because Jareth had the sense of humor to roll with him. He nodded and gestured his head to indicate the presence of his entourage behind him in the hallway. "Please let us know where we may be most helpful in preparations for this massive undertaking. We thank you for being our most gracious host."

He nodded again, and took in a deep breath, then let it out. "Ahh, that's better!" he said brightly. "Now that I've gotten the formalities out of the way, let's catch up and spend these days well."

Sayer looked further down past Jareth, and spotted the exotic-looking woman not far from Jareth's throne. He blinked as he studied her pretty skin and her calm expression, the richly-colored robes adorning her. Perhaps those reports of handsome goblins had been false--were they Jinn, instead?

Sand. There was sand. It all made sense. 

Sayer smiled broadly, enchanted by the rare hue of the beautiful woman's eyes. "Jareth, this is the most beautiful sight that I have ever seen while in the Goblin Kingdom," he confidently stated, purposely so she would hear him. "I would love for you to introduce me to your lovely guest, as Ozias Sayer, Keeper of The Empyrean."

"Ah, yes. Allow me to happily make introductions." Jareth knew when to take a hint and he also happened to like putting too very formidable and lovely people together. "May I announce Ozias Sayer, Keeper of the Empyrean Empire as well as cousin and champion of the Lady Empyrean herself, Elspeth. Sir Keeper, allow me to introduce the legendary story weaver Scheherazade. Queen of the Forgotten Desert. Mistress of the golden sands and first arbitrator of the High Council and second to Queen Mab herself."

Jareth stepped aside as Scheherazade raised her right bronzed hand to signal her servant to provide Sayer a seat. "Sayer jan, come and sit. The High Council is eager to formally meet the new young Empyrean and is curious to know if she will abdicate or take a bond-mate. As you know a decision must be made but, I at least, wish to see your lady happy in life. It is rumored that you are a potential inheritor of the Empire. Do you aspire to lead?" 

Scheherazade voice was rich and dripped with warmth, wisdom, and feminine mystique.

Sayer knew when to turn on the charm. For years he'd maintained that no women in the world were more beautiful than those of The Empyrean; typically, it was just a way to stir friendly animosity amongst his friends from different kingdoms, who would all, of course, say the same about their kingdoms. (Except for Jareth, perhaps.) But as he stood staring clumsily at the dark beauty with the honeyed voice, he found himself challenging his own notion he'd been so quick to volunteer and put upon others for so many years.

The light-haired Keeper stepped forward politely and bowed his head in a show of formal respect to the woman from a land far away. "I'm delighted to finally make the acquaintance of one of the most legendary story weavers of all time. Your beauty is even more luminous than I was led to believe by your reputation." He smiled and offered his hand. The woman complied with custom and offered her slender hand, strung with jingling shiny metal rings. He leaned down to kiss the top of her hand and winked evidently, then politely allowed her to pull her hand back to her lap as he took the seat provided for him.

He drew his spine up calmly. "Yes, The Empyrean is honored to receive the task of governing her realm," Sayer began. While talking, he examined Scheherazade's beautiful eyes. Were they speckled with amber, or a brilliant moss green? "She's young. Spirited. Takes the job seriously. Believes in fairness. Driven," he rattled off. "Of course, she's my cousin and I've known her her entire life. I believe she's more than capable to reign for several centuries." He took his eyes off of the exotic storyteller's and then turned to Jareth instead... a less attractive prospect, but he certainly was not keeping the same level of cool that he reserved for women back in his home kingdom. "We are still in the process of seeking a suitable husband. If she does, she will not abdicate the throne. This has made searching for a potential suitor very difficult. Typically princes and kings want to remain in their own homes. But Elspeth will not leave hers." He glanced back to Scheherazade. "That's all fine by me. I don't wish to be The Empyrean. I rather like my station in life where it is."

Jareth felt Sayer looking at him as he mentioned the pressing task of his cousin taking a mate to rule with. The subject had been one of the reasons Ozias and Jareth had become friends as young men. There had once been talk of a union between his family and the Empyrean. At the time, Jareth was still very much a boy. The idea of being betrothed to a stranger didn't seem strange to him which is why his family had approved. As a boy Jareth had seemed to like the idea of some far off empress waiting to entwine their destinies together. As a child the idea had given him a noble sense of purpose. This sense of purpose had brought Jareth to the Goblin Kingdom where it had been his intention to train under King Ethan and become a knight of the realm. If he was to be bound to an empress someday it seemed only right and good that when the time came he be something more thank just his parents' son. But just as Jareth had begun his training and befriended Ozias who had gone home with good words and impressions, war began.

Ivor the Hammer Fist had been a plague on the land. His brutish power both seductive and unforgiving. Jareth had been serving in the castle when Ivor had come and he had seen the gentle king Ethan crumble under the other man's weight. That's when things had changed in the Labyrinth and civil war had nearly destroyed the kingdom. Who Ivor hadn't killed in the kingdom, he had enslaved and Jareth found himself caught up in it and cut off from his family. As much as people hated Ivor he had been a powerful leader if a war hound. The real terror within the Kingdom had been at the hands of Ivor's chancellor Riggs. A powerful dark sorcerer and a cruel man who particularly enjoyed enslaving children. Jareth's chief concern during that time had been survival and he'd never talked about the actual day to day events that had occurred in the castle during that time. As much as Ivor had been a tyrant, Riggs had been a monster and Jareth's quiet defiance had greatly agitated and enticed the evil man.

Eventually when Ivor fell it had been Jareth who had evacuated the castle and broken many of the enslaved children out of bondage. He had remained behind, determined to ensure that a worst fate would not befall the kingdom when Ivor was finally vanquished.

In the end Riggs plan failed and Jareth was given a chance at his own liberation. Now a young adult he'd been given the right to return to his intended destiny. But Jareth's experiences had altered him. The Labyrinth that had long been his home was in ruin. Many of the young humans that had been enslaved were now not just parent-less but displaced. For his deeds in the castle the surviving Labyrinth Knights had promoted him to the position of knight. An honor that had come at a terrible price.

Knowing all of this the Labyrinth Knights had approached Jareth with a proposition. A proposition that would change his destiny if he accepted.

Jareth had accepted and in doing so he's let everything he might have been up until that point go. He's become the Goblin King and took up the task of restoring the Labyrinth to its former beauty if not its former glory. He had devoted his existence to those who had been forgotten, left behind, and gone unwanted and in return had become a forgotten unwanted man that had willingly stayed behind. His family had never understood his decision nor had those he had had to break with. He was far certain that his relationship with the Empyrean outside of Sayer had been forever compromised and since almost no one knew the exact detail of what had gone on in the Labyrinth and castle during and shortly after Ivor's reign, people had made their own assumptions.

"I think you will find Ozias that the young Empyrean will have her choice of any number of worthwhile suitors and just in the nick of time. While I'm sure coming here isn't her first choice, there isn't a better place to be in the coming days. I don't think you'll have anything to worry about." Jareth assured him dryly without looking at his friend.

"Marriage is a common theme at the Ball, Sayer Jan. I may be in the market for my own husband. As for our mutual friend, he says he will never marry. Perhaps we should try to persuade him towards another way of thinking." Zade hide a knowing smile behind her head scarf.

"Nonsense. I am the King of goblins and faerie folk. As such my manners are atrocious and I've become a wild cruel thing. Full of mischief and trickery. Anyone that would have the likes of me court them would have to be a raging masochist indeed." Jareth rattled off sarcastically.

"Don't mock yourself, Aziz-am. If your recent adventures have proven anything it is that you are far from the caricature you are so fond of cultivating. But if it pleases you to be contrary then so be it. Sayer Jan and myself at least do jot take matters so seriously. Now no more talk. We shall have dancing and music. My children are eager to entertain and must be allowed to demonstrate."

Sayer kept his mouth shut. While there were plenty of things that he could think of to say to Scheherazade, running the gamut from fluffy small-talk to at least mildly inappropriate suggestions, he knew that it would behoove him to not say a word about the family's history with Jareth. It wasn't his place to discuss it without Jareth or Elspeth's consent, not to mention that he didn't feel that he completely understood all the things that had transpired previously.

He watched the discussion and nodded along. Elspeth certainly was panicked about finding a suitable husband, but at the present the task wasn't on her mind as much as was her disdain for having to attend the Centennial Ball. He'd thought of reminding Elspeth about how massive gatherings of rulers of the realms usually meant alliances and grudges were to be formed with equal ease, and how it could work in her favor. He now regretted not saying it to her, but still felt a sense of satisfaction upon hearing Jareth and the beautiful woman from the desert both affirm those intuitions.

Sayer glanced over his shoulder to see what it was that the woman had in store for them.

The show began with a series of multicolored scarve dancers, all women. dancing the dance of the seven scarves, while the acrobats and fire eaters distracted the eyes in the background. Then came the tiger chiefs who were so bonded to their animals that the creatures acted like large kittens under their care rolling about happily with each other in mock play fighting that both animal and keeper enjoyed. Next came the enslaved jinn with their menacing dark and oversized looks and gnashing teeth as they blew blue smoke that filled the room like a screen.

It was then that Zade began to speak in her native tongue as she spun the story of The Young King and the Black Isle. Though she spoke in her own language the images were so powerful as they formed upon the smoke that it was as if Zade was speaking multiple tongues as she told the story from the main character's perspective.

"MY father was king of the city which was here situate: his name was Mahmud, and he was lord of the Black Islands, and of the four mountains. After a reign of seventy years, he died, and I succeeded to his throne; whereupon I took as my wife the daughter of my uncle; and she loved me excessively, so that when I absented myself from her, she would neither eat nor drink till she saw me again. She remained under my protection five years. After this, she went one day to the bath; and I had commanded the cook to prepare the supper, and entered this palace, and slept in my usual place. I had ordered two maids to fan me; and one of them sat at my head, and the other at my feet; but I was restless, because my wife was not with me; and I could not sleep. My eyes were closed, but my spirit was awake; and I heard the maid at my head say to her at my feet, O Mes’udeh, verily our lord is unfortunate in his youth, and what a pity is it that it should be passed with our depraved, wicked mistress!—Perdition to unfaithful wives! replied the other: but (added she) such a person as our lord, so endowed by nature, is not suited to this profligate woman, who passes every night absent from his bed.—Verily, rejoined she at my head, our lord is careless in not making any inquiry respecting her.—Woe to thee! said the other: hath our lord any knowledge of her conduct, or doth she leave him to his choice? Nay, on the contrary, she contriveth to defraud him by means of the cup of wine which he drinketh every night before he sleepeth, putting benj 1 into it; in consequence of which he sleepeth so soundly that he knoweth not what happeneth, nor whither she goeth, nor what she doeth; for, after she hath given him the wine to drink, she dresseth herself, and goeth out from him, and is absent until daybreak, when she returneth to him, and burneth a perfume under his nose, upon which he awaketh from his sleep. "

" When I heard this conversation of the maids, the light became darkness before my face, and I was hardly conscious of the approach of night, when my cousin returned from the bath. The table was prepared, and we ate, and sat a while drinking our wine as usual. I then called for the wine which I was accustomed to drink before I lay down to sleep, and she handed to me the cup; but I turned away, and, pretending to drink it as I was wont to do, poured it into my bosom, and immediately lay down: upon which she said, Sleep on; I wish that thou wouldst never wake again! By Allah, I abhor thee, and abhor thy person, and my soul is weary of thy company!—She then arose, and attired herself in the most magnificent of her apparel, and, having perfumed herself, and slung on a sword, opened the door of the palace, and went out. I got up immediately, and followed her until she had quitted the palace, and passed through the streets of the city, and arrived at the city-gates, when she pronounced some words that I understood not; whereupon the locks fell off, and the gates opened, and she went out, I still following her, without her knowledge. Thence she proceeded to a space among the mounds, and arrived at a strong edifice, in which was a kubbeh 2 constructed of mud, with a door, which she entered. I then climbed upon the roof of the kubbeh, and, looking down upon her through an aperture, saw that she was visiting a black slave, whose large lips, one of which overlapped the other, gathered up the sand from the pebbly floor, while he lay, in a filthy and wet condition, upon a few stalks of sugar-cane."

"She kissed the ground before this slave; and he raised his head towards her, and said, Wo to thee! Wherefore hast thou remained away until this hour? The other blacks have been here drinking wine, and each of them has gone away with his mistress; and I refused to drink on thy account.—She answered, O my master, and beloved of my heart, knowest thou not that I am married to my cousin, and that I abhor every man who resembles him, and hate myself while I am in his company? If I did not fear to displease thee, I would reduce the city to ruins, so that the owl and the raven should cry in it, and would transport its stones beyond Mount Kaf. 3—Thou liest, thou infamous woman, replied the slave; and I swear by the generosity of the blacks (and if I speak not truth, may our valour be as the valour of the whites), that if thou loiter as thou hast now done till this hour, I will no longer give thee my company, nor approach thy person, thou faithless one! Dost thou inconvenience me for the sake of thine own pleasure, thou filthy wretch, and vilest of the whites?—When I heard (continued the King) their words, and witnessed what passed between them, the world became dark before my face, and I knew not where I was.—My cousin still stood weeping, and abasing herself before him, and said, O my beloved, and treasure of my heart, there remaineth to me none but thee for whom I care, and if thou cast me off, alas for me! O my beloved! O light of mine eye!—Thus she continued to weep, and to humble herself before him, until he became pacified towards her; upon which she rejoiced, and arose, and, having disrobed herself, said to him, O my master, hast thou here anything that thy maid may eat? He answered, Uncover the dough-pan; it contains some cooked rats’ bones: eat of them, and pick them; and take this earthen pot: thou wilt find in it some buzah 4 to drink. So she arose, and ate and drank, and washed her hands; after which she lay down by the side of the slave, upon the stalks of sugar-cane, and covered herself with his tattered clothes and rags."

"When I saw her do this, I became unconscious of my existence, and, descending from the roof of the kubbeh, entered, and took the sword from the side of my cousin, with the intention of killing them both. I struck the slave upon his neck, and thought that he was killed; but the blow, which I gave with the view of severing his head, only cut the gullet and skin and flesh; and when I thought that I had killed him, he uttered a loud snore, upon which my cousin started up, and, as soon as I had gone, took the sword, and returned it to its scabbard, and came back to the city and to the palace, and lay down again in my bed, in which she remained until the morning."

"On the following day, I observed that my cousin had cut off her hair, and put on the apparel of mourning; and she said to me, O my cousin, blame me not for what I do; for I have received news that my mother is dead, and that my father hath been slain in a holy war, and that one of my two brothers hath died of a poisonous sting, and the other by the fall of a house: it is natural, therefore, that I should weep and mourn. On hearing these words, I abstained from upbraiding her, and said, Do what seemeth fit to thee; for I will not oppose thee. Accordingly, she continued mourning and weeping and wailing a whole year; after which she said to me, I have a desire to build for myself, in thy palace, a tomb, with a kubbeh, that I may repair thither alone to mourn, and I will call it the House of Lamentations. I replied, Do what thou seest fit. So she built for herself a house for mourning, with a kubbeh in the middle of it, like the tomb of a saint; after which she removed thither the slave, and there she lodged him. He was in a state of excessive weakness, and unable to render her any service, though he drank wine; and from the day on which I had wounded him, he had never spoken; yet he remained alive, because the appointed term of his life had not expired. My cousin every day visited him in this tomb early and late, to weep and mourn over him, and took to him wine to drink, and boiled meats; and thus she continued to do, morning and evening, until the expiration of the second year, while I patiently suffered her, till, one day, I entered her apartments unawares, and found her weeping, and slapping her face, and repeating these verses:—"

" I have lost my existence among mankind since your absence; for my heart loveth none but you.
Take my body, then, in mercy, to the place where you are laid; and there bury me by your side:
And if, at my grave, you utter my name, the moaning of my bones shall answer to your call."

" As soon as she had finished the recitation of these verses, I said to her, holding my drawn sword in my hand, This is the language of those faithless women who renounce the ties of affinity, and regard not lawful fellowship!—and I was about to strike her with the sword, and had lifted up my arm to do so, when she rose—for she knew that it was I who had wounded the slave—and, standing before me, pronounced some words which I understood not, and said, May God, by means of my enchantment, make thee to be half of stone, and half of the substance of man!—whereupon I became as thou seest, unable to move, neither dead nor alive; and when I had been reduced to this state, she enchanted the city and its markets and fields. The inhabitants of our city were of four classes; Muslims and Christians, and Jews and Magians; and she transformed them into fish: the white are the Muslims; the red, the Magians; the blue, the Christians; and the yellow, the Jews. She transformed, also, the four islands into four mountains, and placed them around the lake; and from that time she has continued every day to torture me, inflicting upon me a hundred lashes with a leathern whip, until the blood flows from my wounds; after which she puts on my upper half a vest of hair-cloth, beneath these garments.—Having said thus, the young man wept, and ejaculated the following verses:—"

" Give me patience, O Allah, to bear what Thou decreest! I will be patient, if so I may obtain thine approval.
I am straitened, indeed, by the calamity that hath befallen me: but the Family of the favoured Prophet shall intercede for me!
Upon this, the King, looking towards the young man, said to him, O youth, thou hast increased my anxiety. And where (he added) is this woman?—The young man answered, She is in the tomb where the slave is lying, in the kubbeh; and every day, before she visits him, she strips me of my clothing, and inflicts upon me a hundred lashes with the whip, while I weep and cry out, unable to move so as to repulse her. After thus torturing me, she repairs early to the slave, with the wine and boiled meat.—By Allah, O youth, said the King, I will do thee an act of kindness for which I shall be remembered, and a favour which historians shall record in a biography after me. "

"He then sat and conversed with him until the approach of night, upon which he arose, and waited till the first dawn of day, when he took off his clothes, and slung on his sword, and went to the place where the slave lay. After remarking the candles and lamps, and perfumes and ointments, he approached the slave, and with a blow of his sword slew him; he then carried him on his back, and threw him into a well which he found in the palace, and returning to the kubbeh, clad himself with the slave’s clothes, and lay down with the drawn sword by his side. Soon after, the vile enchantress went to her cousin, and, having pulled off his clothes, took the whip and beat him, while he cried, Ah! it is enough for me to be in this state! Have pity on me then!—Didst thou shew pity to me, she exclaimed, and didst thou spare my lover?—She then put on him the hair-cloth vest and his outer garments, and repaired to the slave with a cup of wine, and a bowl of boiled meat. Entering the tomb, she wept and wailed, exclaiming, O my master, answer me! O my master, speak to me!—and poured forth her lamentation in the words of this verse:—
How long shall this aversion and harshness continue? Sufficient is the evil which my passion hath brought upon me!"

"Then, weeping, as before, she exclaimed again, O my master, answer me and speak to me! Upon this the King, speaking in a low voice, and adapting his tongue to the pronunciation of the blacks ejaculated, Ah! Ah! there is no strength nor power but in God! On hearing these words, she screamed with joy, and fell down in a swoon; and when she recovered, she exclaimed, Possibly my master is restored to health! the King, again lowering his voice, as if from weakness, replied, Thou profligate wretch, thou deservest not that I should address thee.—Wherefore? said she. He answered, Because all the day long thou tormentest thy husband, while he calleth out, and imploreth the aid of God, so that thou hast prevented my sleeping from the commencement of darkness until morning; thy husband hath not ceased to humble himself, and to imprecate vengeance upon thee, till he hath distracted me; and had it not been for this, I had recovered my strength; this it is which hath prevented my answering thee.—Then, with thy permission, she replied, I will liberate him from his present sufferings.—Liberate him, said the King, and give us ease."

" She replied, I hear and obey;—and immediately arose, and went out from the kubbeh to the palace, and, taking a cup, filled it with water, and pronounced certain words over it, upon which it began to boil like a cauldron. She then sprinkled some of it upon her cousin, saying, By virtue of what I have uttered, be changed from thy present state to that in which thou wast at first!—and instantly he shook, and stood upon his feet, rejoicing in his liberation, and exclaimed, I testify that there is no deity but God, and that Mohammad is God’s Apostle; God bless and save him! She then said to him, Depart, and return not hither, or I will kill thee:—and she cried out in his face: so he departed from before her, and she returned to the kubbeh, and said, O my master, come forth to me that I may behold thee. He replied, with a weak voice, What hast thou done? Thou hast relieved me from the branch, but hast not relieved me from the root.—O my beloved, she said, and what is the root? He answered, The people of this city, and of the four islands: every night, at the middle hour, the fish raise their heads, and imprecate vengeance upon me and upon thee; and this is the cause that preventeth the return of vigour to my body; therefore, liberate them, and come, and take my hand, and raise me; for vigour hath already in part returned to me."

" On hearing these words of the King, whom she imagined to be the slave, she said to him with joy, O my master, on my head and my eye! In the name of Allah!—and she sprang up, full of happiness, and hastened to the lake, where, taking a little of its water, she pronounced over it some unintelligible words, whereupon the fish became agitated, and raised their heads, and immediately became converted into men as before. Thus was the enchantment removed from the inhabitants of the city, and the city became repeopled, and the market-streets re-erected, and every one returned to his occupation: the mountains also became changed into islands as they were at the first. The enchantress then returned immediately to the King, whom she still imagined to be the slave, and said to him, O my beloved, stretch forth thy honoured hand, that I may kiss it.—Approach me, said the King in a low voice. So she drew near to him; and he, having his keen-edged sword ready in his hand, thrust it into her bosom, and the point protruded from her back: he then struck her again, and clove her in twain, and went forth."

" He found the young man who had been enchanted waiting his return, and congratulated him on his safety; and the young prince kissed his hand, and thanked him. The King then said to him, Wilt thou remain in thy city, or come with me to my capital?—O King of the age, said the young man, dost thou know the distance that is between thee and thy city? The King answered, Two days and a half.—O King, replied the young man, if thou hast been asleep, awake: between thee and thy city is a distance of a year’s journey to him who travelleth with diligence; and thou camest in two days and a half only because the city was enchanted: but, O King, I will never quit thee for the twinkling of an eye. The King rejoiced at his words, and said, Praise be to God, who hath in his beneficence given thee to me: thou art my son; for during my whole life, I have never been blest with a son:—and they embraced each other, and rejoiced exceedingly. They then went together into the palace, where the King who had been enchanted informed the officers of his court that he was about to perform the holy pilgrimage: so they prepared for him everything that he required; and he departed with the Sultan; his heart burning with reflections upon his city, because he had been deprived of the sight of it for the space of a year."

"He set forth, accompanied by fifty menjuks and provided with presents, and they continued their journey night and day for a whole year, after which they drew near to the city of the Sultan, and the Wezir and the troops, who had lost all hope of his return, came forth to meet him. The troops, approaching him, kissed the ground before him, and congratulated him on his safe return; and he entered the city, and sat upon the throne. He then acquainted the Wezir with all that had happened to the young King; on hearing which, the Wezir congratulated the latter, also, on his safety; and when all things were restored to order, the Sultan, bestowed presents upon a number of his subjects, and said to the Wezir, Bring to me the fisherman who presented to me the fish. So he sent to this fisherman, who had been the cause of the restoration of the inhabitants of the enchanted city, and brought him; and the King invested him with a dress of honour, and inquired of him respecting his circumstances, and whether he had any children. The fisherman informed him that he had a son and two daughters; and the King, on hearing this, took as his wife one of the daughters, and the young prince married the other. The King also conferred upon the son the office of treasurer. He then sent the Wezir to the city of the young prince, the capital of the Black Islands, and invested him with its sovereignty, despatching with him the fifty memluks who had accompanied him thence, with numerous robes of honour to all the Emirs; and the Wezir kissed his hands, and set forth on his journey; while the Sultan and the young prince remained. And as to the fisherman, he became the wealthiest of the people of his age; and his daughters continued to be the wives of the Kings until they died."

( )

The story was cativating and might as well of been a live action play only more real. When Zade was finally finished the smoke disapated and the scarve dancers returned with food and refreshments.

Everyone clapped and Jareth looked more than impressed, if mildly distracted. "Masterful as always."
Eventually as the day went on Jareth begged Sayer away from Zade and her entertainer so that they could get the more serious business of having Sayer insppect the lodging he's reserved for Elspeth and her people. 

Figuring Elspeth was unaccustomed to being on the ground he had taken it upon himself to place her and Sayers quarters at the castle's highest point. Their rooms were large an circular being tower spaces and Jareth had the Goblins construct a sky terrace ajacent to Elspeth room that would allow her to walk out among the open air while still remaining away from everyone else.

"What do you think, Sayer. Will it do? I was thinking of having the hanging and bedding done up in the Empyrean's favorite color. I suspect this will be her first trip to the ground so I thought it might be better for her to at least have an environment that reminds her somewhat of her sky home. The ceilings are enchanted to reflect the changing sky and will alter as the sky an the Empyrean's mood dictate. If you're people have any other requests you know I will do what I can to accommodate them but I must admit I wish this ball weren’t happening." Jareth confessed.

Jareth finished showing Sayer around before he settled upon the arm of a chair near the vanity so that he could speak candidly. 

"You know how matters of state go. Frankly, I'm worried. Deeply so." He confided.

"Well, most importantly," Sayer started, "you know how women are. Their favorite color changes every five minutes." He looked up and admired the evening blue ceiling, made even more delightful by the presence of birds taking flight far away. "This really is quite delightful."

He leaned against the window nearby and looked out over the sky terrace briefly before turning his attention back to Jareth. "You are right, the tide is against you right now," Sayer stated plainly. "From what whispers I've been able to hear from other protectors of realms, I understand that several different parties are not looking upon you favorably at the moment. And neither is Elspeth." He drew in a sigh. The ceiling's sun sparkled off of his spotless armor. "She's under the impression that the entrance of humans, such as Sarah Williams, also ushered in the entrance of a plague that ended up killing a segment of our population, including the Former Empyrean and his Queen. Her parents, my beloved aunt and uncle." He shrugged. "She's held these beliefs for only a brief period of time, but I do not know if I share those beliefs. There seems to be something more pressing. Elspeth would have been despondent no matter how her parents died, but I find it difficult to believe she ought to place the blame on you. But I'd like to know if there is any merit to this before I do start to try to slowly break her out of that belief. I'm hoping that a marriage possibility will emerge that will take up her energy, instead."

"She what?" Jareth was momentarily truly stunned by this revelation and also secretly hurt that Sayer was suggesting that there was even the slightest possibility that such a notion could potentially carry any weight.  then again, why shouldn't Sayer be objective and open to all possibilities? while Jareth considered Sayer to be a friend they'd not been involved over long in each others lives and had more or less kept up with each other from a distance. 

"Causing plagues now...I must say that's a new unsubstantiated skill I haven't had assigned to me before." A corner of Jareth's lips threatened to curl in disgust at such a ridiculous notion. "And how am to recant such a baseless accusation of the heart?"

Jareth sighed and slid into the chair he'd been perched on. "As if things couldn't get more complicated regarding this blasted ordeal. why do I feel as if I’m preparing for an assassination? Does anyone have any notion of what I’m doing here? what I have done all these centuries? Does all of my efforts mean nothing to everyone?"

Jareth crossed his arms and legs. "We'll, let them come then. The who lot of them with their hysteria. As if I will be the only one in attendance with darkness in my heart, if not blood on my hands. I know I don't have to make you promise you will do whatever you think is good and right. everyone will expect that much from you if not from me. You can afford to be noble and righteous. You are the prince of sun and sky and I know you'll act on your position. It's something I've always admired about you. you are everything I can not afford to be after all."

Live without the sunlight,
Love without your heart beat.

I...I, I, Can't live within you.

Sayer held a hand up reassuringly. "Jareth, I know you have powerful magic," he started, "but you are not the sort who would use it to instigate death upon others."

He turned his head to survey Elspeth's quarters again, and then back to Jareth. "Elspeth is convinced, but I'm not," he continued. "She lost her parents. She's upset. I can comprehend and even empathize. But I've done my own investigation into her allegations and that yielded no substantiation of those claims. I have not shared the news with her yet, but I will when I discover what had indeed caused that plague. I want to be able to explain the true cause of what had occurred with her if I am to challenge the notion that you caused the plague. But I am actively seeking the proof to not just protect you, but to keep her justly informed and to keep the kingdom safe. 

"Now, as for any potential of assassination, you must calm yourself," Sayer added calmly. "My advance team outside the doors possesses fifteen brave Empyrean knights. Elspeth's personal detail contains thirty and I plan on adding another fifteen to arrive after she does in order to contribute fifty of my best men in order to ensure Elspeth's safety, and your realm's, as well."

Jareth had been thinking more along the lines of a character assassination but never the less he knew Sayer's intentions were good. In some respects Sayer was right, Jareth was prone to worry when something specific agitated him but then again that's what came of always being so isolated. If something dire was going to occur Jareth realized he was just going to have to go along with it without losing sight of who he was. Besides, some things were not about him. The plague for example was part of the concerns of the Empyrean and had nothing to do with him. The moving and shaking of the other kingdoms were also not his concern so long as the kingdoms intended to keep the Labyrinth out of their affairs. Even the High Council's agendas were much bigger than the Goblin Kingdom alone. This knowledge brought him into a more placid mindset.

"What will be is what will be, my friend. I think for the moment everything is in order and that's enough for me. You should go back to the main hall and enjoy yourself. My work is just beginning." Jareth encouraged him.


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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.


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, is too much...Oh, I couldn't 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.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jareth The Goblin King Character Portrait: Joby Jones Character Portrait: Ozias Sayer Character Portrait: Hoggle the Dwarf Character Portrait: Elspeth Empyrean Character Portrait: Marten of Astraea
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Characters Present

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


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Prince Dedric of Astraea Character Portrait: Ozias Sayer Character Portrait: Elspeth Empyrean Character Portrait: Scheherazade
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Sayer rolled his eyes dramatically and turned about to avoid having to watch Dedric, who'd broken in before having a chance to obtain his approval. He'd briefly met him once during his travels from lands distant from The Empyrean. He shook an errant lock of hair out of his eyes as he half-listened to the conversation and half-watched the crowd, full of familiar faces, many of those he'd seen during those travels. He waved a friendly hello to Snow White, and marveled at the attire Sir Didymus had chosen for the occasion. He gave a respectful nod to Madmartigan and Aslan, both talking to one another for what must have been the first time since the last Centennial Ball.

It was then that he finally spotted Scheherazade, both her beautiful skin and white robes making her bask in a glow that made her stood out from the others around her as she stood speaking to a growing group of enraptured guests, smitten with every word she spoke. He blinked as he felt his chest tug. She really was a lovely woman, he observed to himself as he still maintained a listening ear on the two royals behind him.

# # #

Elspeth eyed the Astraean prince carefully as she listening to his well-practiced voice speak to her as though more familiar with her than he really was. She tilted her head as she considered what could possibly lead this Astraean to come to her so aggressively. She'd always been taught to not be too trusting too quickly--something she knew she was susceptible to. She truly did want to be outwardly demonstrative of her good feelings... but always felt as though making any error would cause some kind of horrific problem she couldn't think or figure her way out of.

Maybe she was constantly afraid.

... the thought had never hit her before.

She smiled behind her mask. Maybe it was time to stop being afraid.

"Prince Dedric," she greeted brightly, concealing her surprise over him slighting the host of the event. She dutifully extended a hand toward him. Despite the fact that hearing him say such things truly was gratifying, she wasn't sure about divulging her feelings. Or her secret. The one that Sayer didn't even know. Or the fact that she almost felt an electric sense of familiarity when finally locking eyes with Jareth. A strange feeling. Almost as though a white buzz lifted the stress and disdain from her mind and allowed her a brief moment of calm. The moment where she might have considered that he wasn't a monster.

She blinked her eyes. She admonished herself briefly. She knew better than that. Jareth's charms were no match for her own psychological resilience.

"I trust your journey treated you well!" she stated politely. She turned her eyes to focus on his response, and suddenly felt the pierce of his blue eyes capture her attention. She quickly surveyed his face. He was handsome. She'd always heard that Prince Dedric was easy on the eyes. To her, that was an understatement. She smiled behind her mask and blushed. Maybe her hunt for a suitable husband wouldn't be too difficult here...

She blinked. No. No sense in getting ahead of herself. Besides, that's not what she was there to do.

And then it hit her. That familiarity with how he spoke to her about Jareth...

... did he know?