The rain died down, but the sky remained gray. The castle slowly moved through a series of low major and minor chords, with an occasional diminish that sounded through the air like soft chimes.
Jareth watched the crystal, seeing a young woman with long blond hair. The music of the castle went hesitantly to a wistful tune that was Alice's song while she had been there. He allowed a few more moments of watching the girl who had graced his past before he bent his will to the present. The young girl faded and her image was replaced by the older woman who looked at him without seeing him, heard his voice without remembering him. He frowned slightly, forcing his will through the Eyes of the Labyrinth. Some areas had had their views return, but not one Eye showed him the children or the man. A gentle squeeze and the crystal vanished.
He returned to the window that looked over the Goblin City. Below him, the streets were muddy, the once brave and cheerful scraps were now wet and dull. A few goblins peered out of their doors; some carefully, quietly hurried to their posts outside the castle.
Walking up a street to the castle was the youngest boy. Biter's brother, he thought. Brother. That name will do, for now. He's a friendly, likable boy. This one could possibly stay. After all, he asked to be taught; he would be easy to train, the king mused. The boy was dry and wearing a leaf on his head as he trotted up the road to the castle, using the Red Brick Route from the outer wall. Where are the others? the king wondered. The boy had the unmistakable look of naive confidence and a bit of glitter magic about him, and more important, he seemed to be by himself.
A slight, bitter smile replaced the frown as Jareth drew up a crystal and looked through it to the boy and saw a worm. So that's where he's been, he thought, amused. The predatory smirk became bigger as the boy came closer and was just a few yards from the castle door. "Open," the king commanded the doors, but his smile disappeared when the house-elf suddenly appeared at the boy's side and ushered him out of sight.
"Hello Chaucer," Wilf said. "Where is everybody?" he asked as he took him by the arm and hurried him through the city.
"Wilf come with Chaucer, get some food and talk to Leia."
"Isn't Leia in the castle?" Wilf asked as he looked up at its walls.
"Leia is at Soldat's house, right here," replied Chaucer. He pushed the door open. The small house had everything together in the same room, with a few cupboards on the walls. A picture of Soldat, Chaucer and some other pointy-eared beings graced one wall, with postcards and a poster of Las Vegas around it.
Leia was standing by a window, looking as if she'd thrown a temper tantrum, with steam rising off of her skin and her clothing. "It's not fair," she complained to Wilf. "We were having a parade and it rained and everybody ran away. I'm hungry."
"I had some tea with some worms," Wilf said. "They had lacewing fly wings and some biscuits, but I'm hungry now."
"Soldat not have much food," Chaucer commented as he went through the cupboards, peering into half-empty jars and opening wrappers. "Chaucer find bread with mint jelly."
"I hate peppermint," Leia sulked.
"What kind of bread? I'll have some bread," Wilf said.
"Fluxweed bread," Chaucer answered, dividing up the loaf.
Leia watched Wilf eat some bread, then she had some too.
"I didn't get wet," Wilf announced. "I put this leaf on for a hat and it kept me dry."
"I made everyone dance," she bragged.
Chaucer was rummaging through a wardrobe.
"Wilf and Leia and Chaucer need to dress like goblins."
"I don't want to dress like a goblin," Leia scowled. "I'm a princess."
"Leia will be a warrior goblin princess," Chaucer said. "Very powerful."
"Can I be powerful too?" Wilf asked.
"I'm more powerful," Leia said.
The two children argued while Chaucer laid out their clothes.
Richard followed the blaze of the trail as the brick walls became dressed yellow sandstone. Suddenly the trail ended at a dead-end. He tried to climb the wall but could not find a hand hold. He went back the other way, and took a different turn, one that he hoped would lead him to the boys. One way led to another, each further from the boys' last track. He started to feel tired and realized he was still wet from the rain. He found some stairs and decided to sit and rest for a moment.
He wished himself dry, grateful that not all of his magic was in his missing wand. It took the wish a few minutes to be fulfilled, but while he waited, he tried to remember his History of Magic class, and the few things that had been discussed about other universes. He remembered one of his school mates had been forced into a defective Vanishing Cabinet, disappeared into another universe and came out the worse for wear. He couldn't remember anything more about it except that he spent a long time in the school's hospital wing under a quarantine and refused to talk to the St. Mungo's staff of where he had been.
He sighed and forced himself to relax, forced himself to remember the history classroom, remember the teacher, Professor Binns, and what he had taught in a lesson in Richard's sixth year.
The professor had a dry, reedy voice (he was, after all, a ghost). The chalk wrote by itself of the black board a word: Time. "In some universes, time moved fast; in others, slow," the professor said.
"Exits and entrances to other universes are not necessarily the same. Sometimes the way back is the same as the way in, but not often," the professor droned on. Richard relaxed a bit, pleased that he could remember as much as he had, annoyed that there was something he was forgetting. He sighed and picked himself up. "Back to work, Healer G," he told himself and marched up the stairs to the next level of stony passage ways.
The rain stopped, but Lenny was now waist deep in water. He could see what looked like well-tended fires below him, but he couldn't see who had built the fires. "Go down," he ordered the Gobstone.
It slowly lowered itself until Lenny was able to scramble out of it, causing it to tip and spill water that flooded out the closest fire. His teeth were chattering, so it was with some difficulty he said, "Go ahead and empty yourself out."
It tilted over, pouring out the rain water and flooding the closest two fires.
He hiked over to the next fire and warmed himself. He'd just gotten to the point that he had stopped shivering and was feeling comfortable when he heard high voices approaching from a distance. He ran back to the Gobstone and climbed in. "Go up," he shouted, not waiting to sit properly down. He almost fell out but quickly caught his balance. He was peering over the edge to see to whom the voices belonged when something large and hard with a soft fur hit his head and fell into his lap. It was hairy, and he turned it over and screamed: It was a round red head with round fiery eyes and a grinning mouth. It laughed when it saw him, and he threw it out immediately. "Get out of here!" he shouted. The Gobstone drifted up. He looked down and saw strange beings taking their heads off and throwing them up at him and falling short.
Shaken, he looked over to where the Gobstone was floating to, and he caught a whiff of stench. "It's the stinky place," he said to the Gobstone. "We can't go there."
He looked around and saw that the castle was now some distance behind him. He couldn't see much of the Goblin City from where he sat, and very little of the Labyrinth. He wondered where his friends were and worried if he would ever get home.
From his cave, Bruce watched the giant Gobstone float through the sky disappear behind some trees and then float off again. "Lenny," he mutttered. "If you don't bring that thing over here and get me out, so help me. Or at least send me the other one."
The Gobstone slowly drifted away.
Bruce watched the sentry below as he built at fire in a small pit by the bridge and started to heat up a pot of soup and unwrap some bread. He realized that he was starving. The place still stank, but his appetite was keen. If he was to eat, he would have to get food from the sentry. Stealing was out of the question. The only way he could get something was to ask, or maybe trade. He had nothing in his pockets and he was afraid that if he begged, the sentry would laugh at him. He thought of how he could talk the sentry into giving him something to eat, when he remembered a story of someone else who had had the same problem.
Hope it works, he thought to himself as he boldly forced himself to march out of his cave and to the sentry.
The sentry was a goblin, a few inches shorter than he, with long furry arms and a round head with a helmet on it. His back was to the boy, and he did not hear him until Bruce was a few feet from him. The goblin jumped up, drawing his small sword and tripping over his cooking fire at the same time.
"Hello. I'm Major Tom," Bruce lied. "I come in peace."
The castle slowly played a succession of major chords. The castle doors remained open. A few goblins took heart and sneaked back in to their posts, the door guards pretended that they had never left. Jareth watched them with a bored, displeased look on his face. He rolled up a crystal and let it float aloft. "Soldat, returned," he softly commanded.