Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words A to Z: L
Word Count: 1,174
Date Written: 14 June, 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
He thinks sometimes that life itself is an enormous labyrinth, with all its twisting turns, deceiving obstacles, and multitudes of pathways that all lead to nowhere wherein any one desires to end. His own labyrinth certainly is an elaborate oubliette; all of those who must stay within have surely been forgotten by the upside world, himself included. It seems odd to Jareth that some one can forget a man as elegant, beautiful, and sensual as he, but it has happened time and again. Every girl who has come to him has, in her own time, forgotten him.
It's on nights like these where it's just another pathetic and entirely unmemorable girl trying the same old, tired story through his castle walls that the Goblin King, with all his power and wisdom, is left to wonder if the right one is ever going to come. He has seen so many through his own labyrinth that it seems quite improbably that he will ever locate the right girl to break his curse, and the distressed damsels who need his life's lessons are as numerable as the stars themselves. Nowhere near as bright, but certainly as numerable.
He sighs more with boredom than tiredness as he gives his order to defend the castle. He wonders if he's truly the only one who remembers that this story has been done time and again. Perhaps Hoggle and Sir Didymus remember a few of the other girls, but the Dwarf never admits to anything he thinks might endanger his hide and his little Knight speaks with such flowered speech that it's any one's guess half the time as to just about what exactly he's carrying on. The Worm remembers, but he's little help, too, as his Missus never lets him wander far from their hole in the labyrinth's endless walls.
The labyrinth is truly endless, not that any of his supposed visitors have realized it. The little brats always think they outwit him and his labyrinth, but if it wasn't for the help he gives them, as per his own rules of etiquette, they would never survive their journey through his world. He toys sometimes with the thought of not giving them the help they need, of not submitting to their truthfully very yielding wills, of devouring them for he is so hungry and so weary of this game . . . But the very ones who first set him up as King of this place would know, and he does not relish the thought of another visit from them anywhere within the next century or two.
Even he has rules to which he must abide. If he did not, he would have left this land long ago, but then, too, he would have left behind the very creatures who depend on him for their survival. He's not at heartless as the humans and Hogwart think. He will not abandon his subjects, such as they are, until he's certain they are in hands that can protect them. They may not care truly for him, but over the eons he has been trapped in this world, he has come to pity them, if not like them to some degree.
They need a master. They need some one not just to rule over them but to watch over them, as well, and he fills that role daily. Why, it was just yesterday that he kept a Goblin from climbing into the wrong end of a lit cannon, and Gods only know what trouble into which the Dwarf would descend himself if he did not have the threat of the Bog of Eternal Stench hanging constantly over his ugly, little head. They may think he's cruel, but he knows he's the only thing that keeps them alive.
That, perhaps, is why finding the right girl is so difficult. She must not only be able to match wits equally with him. She must be able to take his kingdom, and take care of all those within it. Too many of these squeamish, little brats would stomp on the Worm at first sight, and that's not even considering those who scream and try their hardest to run in the opposite direction at the sight of a single Goblin.
There was one once, Jareth remembers, who did not run. She did not shy away from any of the creatures within his realm. She rescued Ludo, fought the Goblins and Fieries, and even befriended the Dwarf. He still hears her name whispers sometimes by the fungi on the walls. Of all the girls who have come through his labyrinth, she came the closest to being the one to take its reins from him. He would have gladly given them to her, too, if only she had not chosen to put her brother before every one else, her own happiness included.
And that, right there, really is the problem. Those few who have entered his domain and who could have possibly stayed and reigned after him have already had other responsibilities. They would be completely without honor to put aside their siblings in favor of ruling a kingdom into which they were not even born, and none without honor can do what must be done here. That is the true conundrum: how to bring some one to his realm who has no responsibilities for which they must return to their own world when he can only lead them here by snatching a child.
It's impossible really, even for a King with all his might and cunning, and that is why he must stay. The children of this realm need him, and it doesn't matter if they're green and scaly or teeny, little worms. And the children of the above realm need those he would have come after him. None can be abandoned, and so just like those who travel his labyrinth, he is forced to turn and turn and turn again and always return to the same place from whence he started.
There will never, Jareth realizes, be an answer to his predicament. There will never come one who can best him and stay, who can rule after him, for they all must return to their own world and their own charges. They are each Queens of their own domains, although so much smaller than his. They must rule those for whom they must care, and so he is left to rule the ones here.
Jareth smiles and sets out to see his Knight. If he must stay here for eternity, at least he is not alone. The Goblins make him laugh. The Fieries can be fun. Worm is a true confidante, never sharing a word he speaks with even the Missus, and there's nothing quite like a Knight pledging his allegiance freely and lovingly to you or a Dwarf to lick your boots. He grins, eyes twinkling. Yes, indeed, there are fates far worse than his, being a screaming brat for one. He'll take his labyrinth any day, or century, over the fallacies of the human race.