Beauty's sword glimmered against the light as she stepped into the throne room with stealth. Jerin and Estella had already rescued her and they remained close behind to witness her next move. Kirakah hardly missed and while she was weak from Livia's attacks, she knew she had enough power to send Jareth's child back to her desolate realm. Sitting upon the curved throne she saw her watching over some of the goblins turned into zombie slaves.

Leaping out of the shadows Kirakah kicked one of the zombies out of the room. Livia saw the protector advance and cried out in rage. "I'll have your essence!" she shrieked, but Beauty had no fear of her words. In a matter of seconds the zombies were either decapitated by her sword or kicked out of the throne room.

Livia hissed and attempted to throw Beauty a frightening glance, "You're mine!" she screamed. Beauty merely smirked and held her sword in front of her, "And I thought men were possessive." she laughed. Livia didn't have the same sense of humor and ran towards her with her arms extended ready to
clutch Kirakah into a tight grasp.

She easily dodged the attack with a quick spin of her body. Livia growled upon realizing her error but wasn't able to stop Beauty from cutting a portal from the air. Focusing upon her motions Kirkah felt she had the correct dimension in mind and cooed at her enemy, "Time to go home Livia."

She growled in response as the portal glimmered in the middle of the room. It appeared as a large patch of light so Livia felt it was easy to avoid. Kirakah had other plans though and jumped away from it so fast it appeared as it was impossible to find her. Livia sneered and attempted to grab the protector nonetheless and after a series of advances found herself standing directly in front of the portal.

Kirakah wasted no time and extending her leg kicked the woman back into her world. She screamed at defeat and Beauty merely smirked as the portal closed behind her. Livia could be heard no more and Beauty called out to Jerin and Estella, "It's over now, I don't think she'll be coming back soon."

From the hallway, Aeris heard the voice of the protector. "Jareth…in the throne room…"

He nodded to her, still helping her along, though she could feel herself getting stronger by the second. "I know." They moved into the throne room, where Beauty stood in triumph, her eyes shining and her face flushed from the rush of battle.

Aeris smiled weakly. "You did it."

"And the other?" asked Estella. "What became of him?"

"He’s stopped…for now. I don’t know how long it will last. Or what we’ll do with him."

There was a silence, and Charlatan stepped into the room. Jerin’s eyes narrowed.

"Come crawling back now that your daughter’s not on top of things?" he sneered. "You should have been pushed through the portal with her."

Aeris sighed and walked across the room. She got between Jerin and Charlatan, walking slowly and carefully, but with great purpose. "Leave her alone."

"Herald," he began, looking more like Jareth as he admonished her. "After what she did, you’re not going to—"

"In the end, Jerin, the only crime she committed was loving you. She might have been Estella. Once, she was Estella. Think on that before you speak to her again. Your words might not be so short on understanding…or kindness."

Charlatan made a soft sound behind her, and Aeris turned to see that tears were forming in her eyes. "You meant what you said in the dungeon…"

"Of course I did. I meant all of it." She looked back at Estella and Jerin. "I think…this is where we say goodbye."

Jareth nodded. "It would seem so."

Estella moved forward, extended her hand to Aeris. "In friendship, Herald."

"In friendship, Storyteller." They smiled together, the bond between them suddenly sealed. There was a nameless parallel between them, something almost mystical. Something that transcended dimensions.

Jerin looked at Jareth. "Father…I mean, Jareth…"

The Goblin King held up his hand. "It’s alright. I’m not your father. But I hope that if I am ever fortunate enough to have a son, he will grow to be the man you are."

"We must go," Kirakah warned. "While the portal is still open."

They began to walk towards the light, and suddenly, Aeris bowed. "Thank you, Protector," she said humbly. Jareth, to her surprise, did the same.

"And you are welcome," she replied, a smile touching her beautiful face. Estella slipped through the portal, Jerin close behind her. Charlatan began to move through, paused, turned to look at Aeris.

"Thank you, friend. I will think on what you said." She moved into the portal, and finally, with an almost nonchalant wave, Beauty went last. The light dimmed, the portal closed.

Aeris and Jareth stood silently watching the space where it had been. She started, remembering. "Necrodemos!"

They raced back down the corridor to where they’d left him…he was gone. But there was a note…

*****

She walked beside the still form of Necrodemos smiling widely. Her long black hair waved around her supple shoulders and her observant blue eyes watched as the man slowly awoke from the power of Euphoria's thread. In seconds he walked toward the Herald after sniffing the air. The woman only snickered in return and chided, "Would not a rose by any other name smell as sweet?"

He laughed and reached out for her, "But you are the sweetest one Aeris and I live for your fear."

She laughed louder in response to his advance as a variety of colors swirled around her body, "But you also know in this realm nothing is as it seems."

Necrodemos slowly stepped back as the smell of roses left his senses. Before his eyes the vision of Aeris changed to reveal a tall woman with lavender hair and violet eyes. Glamour sparkled around her multicolored wings as they vibrated with magical energy. She gave him a sharp stare and asked, "Do you not know me?"

He nodded, his eyes narrowing. "Euphoria…" But there was fear inside him.

She sensed it and took a step closer. In her fine fingers glamour flashed and formed threads that glimmered in the light. "The victim now becomes the oppressor." She chided. She extended her hand to him and the threads shot out to wrap around his body. In moments he was completely covered by her magic and could do nothing to stop it.

She watched him squirmed and looked upon the cocoon that held him tight. Focusing for a moment the threads shifted until they shrunk into a tiny bottle that held him captive. It was unsure how long it could hold him, but it would do for now, until Aeris could realize her full power and vanquish this threat forever.

Smiling, she picked up the bottle and it disappeared in her hand, back to its place on the shelf of the Hobgoblin’s rooms. "The fabric of dreams fulfills destiny with strong threads of fate." She left a note on the floor for the Herald, those words shining on the parchment in brilliant, changing hues.

 

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