After they had recovered from their shock, they explained it all to Mabel and Dipper. How every couple of years, a Sarah would come into the Labyrinth, seeking her brother Toby. How sometimes the Sarah would fail and how sometimes the Sarah would succeed. But how always the Sarah would end up forever in the Labyrinth in the end. Part of the walls and paths. To Sarahs, the Labyrinth was their form of Death. An endless limbo, lost themselves and making their successors lose their way, forever.
And they remembered the kindness of each and every Sarah. They remembered every hug, every kiss, every party. And they remembered Jareth wiping all of their memories clean after each Sarah had become part of the endless maze. Wiped their memories, until all they remembered was that every new person entering the Labyrinth could only ever be a Sarah.
They told Mabel that each Sarah always came into her own on the 13th stroke of the clock. Mabel had found her brother on the 12th.
They hadn't noticed that the goblin army had overtaken them. The goblins started forming what resembled ranks. They started surrounding the little group.
'So... you solved the labyrinth in 12 hours. You've got me back. There's one hour left. There's goblins all around us. What d'you wanna do?' Dipper asked Mabel, as the goblins closed in.
'Hey Hoggle... Didn't you say anything about all the Sarahs being stuck here?'
'Yeah, they're all part of the walls,' Hoggle said casually, inserting a finger into his ear and wriggling it around.
'How about we get them out of the walls?' Mabel asked, a slow smile creeping onto her face.
Dipper nodded, then remembered she couldn't see him.
'Good idea' he said. 'Any idea where to find them? We could use some backup.' he added.
Sir Didymus seemed to know the answer.
'My good lord, I believe one of them is in a cave on the edge of our current playing field.' He said.
'Then that's where we're going. Ludo?' Mabel said.
'Yeeeee?' Ludo asked in his slow voice.
'If I enter the cave, can you ask your rock friends to close it behind me so I can save Sarah?'
Ludo seemed to consider this.
'Saaavee Sawaaahh' He said. Mabel took that as a yes.
Ludo, Sir Didymus, Hoggle and Mabel stood back to back, looking at the goblins.
Not looking at her, Hoggle thrust something backwards into her hands. A package, wrapped in a bit of fabric.
''ere.' He muttered. 'Maybe it's useful. I had it laying around. Can't do a thing with them'
Mabel was reminded of how sometimes Grunkle Stan would give them presents under the guise of 'overstacking the shack'. She smiled. Hoggle reminded her of him a lot, only different.
She opened the package. The contents were cold. In it was a pair of solid iron knuckledusters. She remembered Grunkle Stan owning bronze ones.
'Iron won't kill goblins, but it makes them pass out something bad' Hoggle muttered.
Mabel put them around her fingers. They fit perfectly. Suddenly, she was certain that Hoggle did not have them 'lying around' He must have made them himself. She remembered gnomes and dwarves having a love and affinity for iron.
'Thank you, Hoggle' She said sincerely.
She clenched her fist around the knuckledusters. She hoped Grunkle Stan would be proud of her.
'For Sarah, then!' She yelled, and charged at the uncoming goblins head-on.
The first goblin went down with a yelp. If Mabel high-fived hard, her punches were even harder.
Ludo quickly took the lead with his long legs and arms, making a path for them. Dipper bounced on his back.
Halfway the battlefield, they stumbled onto an entrance of the labyrinth.
Dipper, always the tactician, said: 'We need someone to guard this door!'
'Go! GO!' Hoggle shouted at them, turning around and facing the goblins. He took a sword from a passed-out goblin and started slashing left and right. The rest entered the labyrinth, Didymus leading the way.
Years of following countless of Sarahs into battles had rubbed off on Hoggle, and his muscles remembered the fighting. Before long, his sword broke. Hoggle inspected it.
'Bloody Jareth,' he muttered, tossing the sword aside. 'Trust a Goblin King to make swords out of silver'
A goblin tried to bite him. He kicked it in the privates. The goblin went cross-eyed and fainted. He suddenly remembered his iron-toed boots. He kicked the nearest goblin in the ankle. The goblin went out like a light. Hoggle smiled. This was going to be fun.
Sir Didymus and Ludo made a path to the cave. The hedge that made up this part of the labyrinth was being torn down. Didymus turned around.
'Here it is! I'll keep them off, fair lady! Come on, Ambrosius! HAVE AT THEE, FILTH!' he said, and dashed back into the battle, keeping the goblins at bay with his iron spear.
Mabel stood in front of the mouth of the cavern. She hesitated. An apprehension of what could happen to her inside a locked-up cave began creeping into her legs. They felt like jelly. Dipper saw what was happening to his sister. He wished he could come with her into the darkness. He wished his leg wasn't broken. He wished a lot.
'Mabel-' he began, but Ludo interrupted him.
'Shhhhh...' Ludo said, putting his finger in front of his mouth. He yelled into the cave. It echoed. He sniffed the air.. He smiled.
'Cave fwieeend...' Ludo said to Mabel, patting her on the head. 'Cave saaaffeee...'
'Well, that's good enough for me' Mabel said, gathering all of her courage. She turned to Ludo, who crouched down. She hugged him, and then Dipper.
'Be safe, bro-bro.'
'Be safe, sis.'
Mabel nodded, and wiped a tear from her eye. Then she went into the cave. When she was inside, she looked back at Ludo and nodded.
Ludo yelled his rock-summoning-song. Stones began to roll in front of the door to the cave. Mabel turned around and didn't look back.
Ludo, still carrying Dipper, went back into battle to protect the entrance to the cave while still staying close enough to hear Mabel. While Hoggle and Didymus were actively engaging with the goblins, Ludo simply chose to throw goblins as far as he could throw them, while Dipper, imitating something he saw in a movie once, threw rocks at the goblins from Ludo's neck.
He hit one of the goblins with a particularly nice throw.
'Fiiiiinneeee hit' Ludo complimented him, picking up a goblin and throwing it at five more, who were carrying a catapult. The catapult broke and the goblins passed out.
'Woooo! Take that! That was great, Ludo!' Dipper cheered, punching the air with his fist. Ludo's big hand came up and patted Dipper softly on the head.
'Di-pper fwieeeend' Ludo said.
'You're my friend too, Ludo.' Dipper said, and hugged Ludo around the forehead.
Ludo's fur tickled his face. Dipper sneezed. Ludo rumble-laughed deeply. Dipper could feel Ludo's shoulders shake.
'Ki-tten' Ludo laughed.
Rocks rolled in front of the mouth of the cave. Mabel didn't look back. She waited to let her eyes adjust to the darkness. Then she noticed it wasn't dark at all. There was blue light coming from above. Bioluminescent fungae were all over the ceiling and the top of the walls. It wasn't much, but it was enough to see by.
Water dripped from the stalactites on the ceiling and formed little pools on the floor. The air smelled like wet stone. The cave was cold, colder than outside, and Mabel could see her breath forming clouds in front of her. She wished she had brought Dippers hat inside. Stalagmites stood round her. Some of them took shapes of creatures. Animals. People. Women. A specific form stood next to her, the stalagmite looking like a lady in a poofy dress. Her hands were raised up in a dance without a partner. Because of the water dripping down from the ceiling, the lady seemed to be weeping through closed eyes.
She stood still in the perfect middle of the cave. Mabel took a deep breath. She began saying things she hoped the statue wanted to hear.
'I know who you are,' Mabel said to the stalagmite. 'All of you. And I know what has happened to you. And I know it was wrong. He took- He took your brothers. He took mine, too. He gave you thirteen hours to solve his labyrinth. He gave me thirteen hours too. You all took the challenge. I did, too. You made friends in the Labyrinth, and solved it in thirteen hours. Because of the ones you made friends with, I could solve it in twelve. Ludo. Hoggle. Sir Didymus. They helped me give my brother back. I can't give you yours back. But I can give you time. The thirteenth hour is for you. Will you take it?'
Nothing happened. Mabel's breath formed clouds. Water dripped from the ceiling. The statue wept. Mabel's damp sweater clung to her skin. Her feet were cold.
She looked to the statue of the lady again and stood up on tiptoe to stroke a drop of water away from its cheek.
'Come on, Sarah. Please,' Mabel said sadly. 'It's time to go home.'
It began slow. The fungae on the ceiling started glowing just a little more.
Gradually, the room started to grow warmer. Mabel's breath stopped forming clouds.
Her sweater started steaming in the warmth. The room was bathed in a glowing blue light, that made everything visible.
The statue stopped weeping. It opened its eyes slowly, as if it were in a stop-motion film. They were a beautiful brown. It blinked, and then made eye contact with her.
'Hello, Sarah' Mabel said, smiling.
And ever so slowly, the statue smiled back.
A whisper ran through the air, a rose-scented wind that came from nowhere and everywhere. The statue's dress fluttered like butterfly wings.
Home, the wind said. Home.
Outside of the cave, the first figure stepped out of a destroyed hedgerow. It coughed. The figure rubbed its arm, where a catapult had left its mark. It shook itself until all the leaves had gone out of its eyes and hair. Then the figure turned to the goblins.
Long brown hair flew in the breeze. Stormy grey eyes frowned upon the goblins. The figure put her hands on her hips.
'That wasn't fair.' Sarah said.
At the beginning of the Labyrinth, a worm with a scarf and blue hair got a tremendous fright as one of the Sarahs stepped out of the wall and smiled at him, before making her way to the right path, to help her other self that had gotten lost in there.
Other Sarahs followed.
Two guards, one liar and one truth-teller guarded two different doors. Their shields grew hot, and they dropped them on the ground. From the red-and-blue wooden shields stepped two red-and-blue figures. The figures soon got their own colors back.
And two Sarahs looked them in the eyes.
'Well, which door do you pick?' They asked together, smiling. The guards just stared.
'Sarah?' one said.
'Sarah.' The other confirmed.
'Sarah' the Sarahs said.
The guards stood aside and opened the right door for them in one go.
An enormous flock of white pigeons landed on the junkyard to form a form made of feathers. A Sarah in jeans, a blouse and vest stood up and picked up an old teddy bear. She smiled and kissed it before she laid it down again and walked to the Goblin City.
Back inside the cave, the stone Sarah was quickly crumbling. Mabel helped her, rubbing hands over arms and the fluttery dress the Sarah wore. When the Sarah was clear, she wrenched her feet free.
She looked down at Mabel.
'Did you see Toby?' The statue asked. Mabel shook her head and looked down in sadness.
The Sarah hiccuped, and shed one last tear. Then she bent down and hugged the thirteen-year old.
'Thank you' she whispered in Mabel's ear.
'You'd have done the same' Mabel said, with absolute conviction. The Sarah nodded.
Outside the cave, Ludo roared. The stones rolled away. The sun shone into the cave in a blinding light. The Sarah covered her eyes.
Mabel and Sarah stepped outside. Mabel was swiftly picked up by Ludo, and put onto one of his shoulders. Dipper sat next to her on the other. They high-fived.
'Mystery Twins!' they cheered.
'Anything interesting happen while I was caved-in?' Mabel asked conversationally.
Dipper pointed to the battle. The Sarah from the cave had turned to the goblins, and was tackling them using some very fancy footwork. Then Dipper pointed further down the Labyrinth.
Countless of Sarahs from countless of times and ages streamed out of the labyrinth, joining the ranks of their other selves. Some wore the poofy dress like the one in the cave. Others wore simple tunics.
Some were young, others were old and had to be helped by their other selves.
All of them had the same eyes. All of them stormy grey and serious.
Soon enough, the goblins realised that they were deeply outnumbered. There were two Sarahs for every goblin. This wasn't a battle to be won.
All the goblins fled back to the city.
The Sarahs and the small crew of Mabel, Dipper, Ludo, Sir Didymus and Hoggle stood cheering for a moment. Then, Hoggle turned to one of the Sarahs. He tugged on her poofy dress. She looked down.
'Hello Sarah.' Hoggle said.
The Sarah smiled.
'Hello Hogwart.' Then she laughed. 'I'm joking. Hello, Hoggle'
'I'm sorry, Sarah. I forgot' Hoggle said.
'So did I. But it's okay now.'
'Yeah. Though... there is a lot of you.'
The Sarah laughed again. It was a very pleasant sound. She looked around.
'And all of these are me? Us?' She asked, looking at the other Sarahs, most of which were trying to greet Ludo, Hoggle and Sir Didymus as well.
'That's our guess,' Dipper said.
'Can't we just be one Us?' The Sarah asked. The other Sarahs all looked at Dipper and nodded.
'I don't know... Mabel?' Dipper asked. He and Mabel were put down on the ground by Ludo, now it was safe.
Mabel considered Dipper's query.
'Hug it out?' She suggested.
There were choruses of 'Yeah that's about the nonsense this place wants...' and 'well we can always try something else if this fails...' in the crowd.
One of the Sarahs looked above her.
'Hey, what's that?' She asked.
There was a bubble, floating through the air above their heads. It was floating directly toward Mabel.
It landed directly on Mabel's nose.
Mabel and Dipper disappeared into a cloud of glitter. Some of the Sarahs panicked, but the one from the cave rallied them all together in a huddle.
'Ok, Sarahs, here's what's going to happen...'
Mabels nose itched.
'How you turned my world, You precious thing You starve and near-exhaust me Everything I've done, I've done for you I move the stars for no one'
It sounded like an age-old song, Mabel thought. She thought she should have heard it before, but no matter now. She opened her eyes. She was very tempted to ask the age-old question 'Where Am I?,' but thought better of it when she saw the Goblin King looming above her.
She scrambled to her feet. She and Jareth stood on a floating platform, lost in space. A part of the castle, once. Perhaps a tower. Dipper lay at her feet, unconscious. Thank goodness, Dipper was safe. She stepped over him, stood protectively in front of him.
'Give me the child' Mabel said, following a script inside her head, even though her brother was not a child anymore and she had him right behind her.
'Mabel, beware. I have been so generous with you. It took me so long to find you. You broke my crystal. You broke my nose. I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you. Look what I'm offering you, Mabel. Your dreams...'
The King turned his hand, and a crystal bubble appeared inside it. In it, Mabel could see people dancing. Yet another party. Yet another Mabel Land.
'And yet I ask for so little. Just let me rule you and you can have everything that you want. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.' The king's voice begged persuasively.
Mabel looked up at him. She didn't believe this. First an entire labyrinth of death traps, and now THIS?
'… Sorry, yeah. Mabel here. Quick question,' she said, raising her hand. 'What the FUCK?'
'Mabel, just... Stay with me. Wear pretty dresses and eat good food all day. Forget about your brother. Become my queen..' The king begged.
Become my queen... Become my queen... Become my queen... Become my queen...
'You know, I once met a boy very much like you. He had the best wardrobe. He told himself he loved me. Then he demanded that I'd be his queen. But I've just realised something, you stupid-face.' Mabel replied.
'And what is that?' The king asked, humouring her.
'He never had power over me. And neither do you. D'you hear me, ya jerk? You have no power over me.'
The clock struck thirteen.
Jareth sighed, and threw up his glass ball. A huge wind that smelled of deserts and snakes swept over them. Dipper opened his eyes and blinked confusedly. Mabel took his hand and helped him to his feet. She slung his arm over her shoulder.
Mabel felt herself and Dipper floating away from the platform they were standing on.
'Oh, and guess what?' Mabel jeered at the king, as she and Dipper started falling away from the Goblin World. Jareth sneered at them, but looked confused.
'You hold no power over them, either. Bye, Sarahs!' Mabel grinned, and blew a kiss with the hand that wasn't holding Dipper's.
The last glimpse Mabel saw of the Goblin world was a single brown-haired girl in a simple blouse, tunic and jeans standing behind the Goblin King. The girl waved at the twins. Iron glistened on her hand. Then she tapped the King on the shoulder. The king turned around. The Sarahs swung back her fist.
The clock finished striking twelve.
Mabel and Dipper stood together in Dippers room, holding hands. They looked around, and then cheered and jumped up and down in a circle.
'DID YOU SEE THAT?'
'THAT WAS AWESOME!'
'I BET HE WENT OUT LIKE A LIGHT!'
'HOGGLE MADE HER KNUCKLEDUSTERS, TOO!'
Then Dipper and Mabel noticed at the same time that Dipper's leg was completely healed.
Mabel looked down at her own hands. The knuckledusters were gone. She felt down her sweater. No grappling hook.
She went into her own room and found Candy and Grenda sleeping peacefully on the bean bags. Her grappling hook was in its normal place on the little pedestal. She went back to Dipper and they talked together for a while.
'Pssst' came from somewhere.
'Dipper? Did you just pssst me?'
'No, I didn't, I think it came from...'
'...The mirror?' Mabel asked.
And there, in Dippers mirror, stood Hoggle.
''Ello kiddos' Hoggle said.
'HOGGLE!' Mabel called, and tried to hug Dipper's mirror, sadly in vein.
Hoggle laughed. 'I'm afraid you can't do that, kid. I've just come to say... goodbye.'
Mabel nodded. She was sort of happy, but sad, too. Like the day they had to leave Gravity Falls.
'How... How is everything there?' Dipper asked.
'You've left the Labyrinth in a better state than it was when ye both arrived, that's for sure' Hoggle smiled. 'The Sarahs have a lot of plans. But we won't tell you just yet. I... I...'
'Well, out with it!' Mabel said, smilingly. 'Find words, and put 'em in a sentence!'
'I'vealsocometogiveyoubothagoodbyegift' Hoggle said. He took something out of his pocket, and placed it on the reflection of Dipper's desk. Dipper and Mabel turned around. There, on the real desk, was a pair of iron knuckledusters, engraved with a shooting star. There was also a large slingshot complete with rocks, engraved with a pine tree. Dipper laughed when he saw the rocks were also engraved with images of kittens.
Gifts from Hoggle and Ludo, to Mabel and Dipper, respectively.
They turned back to Hoggle in the mirror. A large fluffy head came into view.
'Thank you, Hoggle' said Mabel.
'Thank you, Ludo' said Dipper.
'You're welcome' said Hoggle.
'Weee-lll-coome, fwienndd' said Ludo.
'We won't forget you guys' Mabel said, tearfully.
'...See you next spring break?' Dipper asked hopefully.
'Yes' Hoggle replied hesitantly. 'Yes, we hope so.'
'Theeen thiiingggss beee-ttteeerr' said Ludo in his slow voice. He sounded so sure of himself that Mabel and Dipper believed him. Ludo and Hoggle started to fade.
The twins smiled and waved at their new friends, as they faded from view in the mirror.
Then Dipper's laptop uttered a familiar tone.
Mabel answered the call.
'Grunkle Stan! Grunkle Ford! You'll never BELIEVE WHAT JUST HAPPENED...'