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Labyrinth

Chapter Text

From the beginning, magical realms have clung to the world like parasites. Shadow-worlds, all of them, where creatures crawl, searching for lost souls. A desert realm, where it was always night-time. The land of the fairies, a frozen wasteland with holographic trees. A Nightmare realm, which we shall not speak about. And a goblin world. A Labyrinth.

Once upon a time, a girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth to claim back her little brother. She succeeded, and the Goblin King raged. Decades after that, another girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth for the same reason. She failed, and the Goblin King smiled.
Countless Sarahs have been wandering the Labyrinth, in search of their lost brothers. Failing, walking away, succeeding. Some accepted the hand of the Goblin King, others turned away from him. All died, in the end, becoming one with the endless walls. Countless of Sarahs, in countless of endings.

Until now.

 

'SLEEPOVER! SLEEPOVER! SLEEPOVER!' The cries of the technically-teenagers took over the small suburban house in Piedmont, California. Candy and Grenda had come over to visit Mabel and Dipper for spring break, and it was bound to be one heck of a half-week. Their parents were working overtime as always. They had had dinner together and then Dipper had retreated smilingly into his own room, leaving Mabel to her friends. He wanted to do some more research on the fairy dust he kept in a jar under his bed.

'I brought books!' Candy teased, holding up the latest romance novels from her bag. Grenda and Mabel both started making grabby hands for the dollar-store pages, and Candy distributed them with a smile.

After a while reading them together, Candy adjusted her glasses.
'It seems the new trend in novels is that a king falls in love with a girl, but she has to be tested before she can be his. I am not sure what to think of this. Listen: "Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here, to the castle beyond the Goblin City, to take back the child you have stolen" But yet she has not fought at all! All she did was cry until some worms came to help her! And surely a girl would not want to be underground, being Queen of the Goblins?'

'Ha!' Mabel called. 'I was asked to be the Queen of the Gnomes already.'
'And Queen of the Goblins would totally not be good for your reputation!' Grenda yelled. 'Like, EUGHH'
'Yeah! Queen of the Gnomes would be better than Queen of the Goblins!' Mabel shouted. 'Just imagine, all those goblins wanting a goodnight kiss! YUCK!' Mabel made a face. The others laughed.
'Hey, anyone up for karaoke?' Mabel asked.
The other girls nodded, all bored with their books.

After at least an hour of karaoke songs like Don't Start Unbelieving, We Built This Township on Rock and Roll, Straight-up Blanchin' and the all-famous 'Taking Over Midnight' (Though Dipper refused to leave his room to sing it with them) the three girls were all resting on the big blue, green and pink bean bags in Mabel's room, thinking about life.
The church bell in the chapel opposite their house struck twelve with a definite sound.
BONG.
'Mabel. Truth or dare?' Grenda asked.
BONG.
'Ummm. Truth!' Mabel replied
BONG.
'ERR...Is it nice to have a twin brother?' Grenda asked.
BONG.
'Yep! It's great! Dipper's my best friend! Together with you guys of course!' came the cheerful reply.
BONG.
'My sisters drive me up the wall sometimes' Candy said, hanging upside-down on her green bean bag.
BONG.
'Yeah, that just happens with siblings sometimes, I guess. Sometimes I wish that the goblins would take Dipper away as well...'
BONG.
There was a loud scream from the other room.
BONG.
'...but I never mean... it... Wha' was that?' Mabel finished. She looked over at Candy and Grenda, but it seemed as though they were frozen.
'Guys? Candy? Grenda?' Mabel waved her hand in front of Grenda's eyes. No reaction. She turned on a laser pointer and shone it on the floor, but Candy didn't even react to it.
Mabel noticed that the church bell had stopped ringing.
She felt all the blood drain from her face.
'… DIPPER!' she yelled.
She stormed out of her pink bedroom and across the hall, where Dipper's bedroom was. She practically knocked down the door, but Dipper wasn't there. His posters of swamps, self-drawn mazes and the confusing Escher print fluttered on his wall.
She frantically checked under his bed, his desk, his wardrobe. No Dipper.
Dipper was gone.

Mabel sunk to the floor. Had she... Did she just... But she didn't...
Mom and Dad! Their Grunkles! Surely someone would know what to do! She took out her brand-new cell-phone, (a sturdy, pink, foldable thing) and tried to dial a number, she found she could not get the number right. The clock on her phone said the time was 00:00. It was as if she were in... in a dream. She considered going to SweaterTown, because Dipper always seemed to find her if she was in SweaterTown.
But Dipper was gone. And she should find him first. Just like he had found her, once...

Her thoughts were interrupted by a loud BANG. The window blew open. In blew a hot wind, the sort of wind that reminds you of deserts, snakes, and scorpions. Not at all like the rain they had had in California for the past months. With the hot desert wind came an enormous amount of glitter, sticking to everything.
Mabel, who was used to glitter, didn't even blink. She just stared, open-mouthed, at the figure stepping through Dipper's window. He was tall, though just about everyone seemed tall to Mabel. His hair was spiky on top but long on the bottom, and he wore the best makeup Mabel had ever seen. He was alien-like, but beautiful.

'You have SO MUCH GLITTER!' she gasped after a few moments. 'AND YOUR MAKEUP! AND THAT HAIR!!' Mabel ran around the man, reaching up to pet his hair and stroke his coat-tails, her fingers getting covered in glitter. 'Did you do all of this yourself? The sequins? And the glitter? Where'd you get the fabric? Who are you?
'Do you not know?' the stranger said, and something clicked in Mabel's head. It was as if she had always known.
'You're him, aren't you? You're the Goblin King.' she said, delightedly. 'You look so much better than on my book cover!'
'Oh, well done, child' the Goblin King said, smirking and slow-clapping with his gloved hands.
'You haven't seen my brother around, have you? He looks like this.' She pulled up her hair and looked sleepy and paranoid, a perfect imitation of Dipper.
'What's said is said' replied the Goblin King.
'What do you mea...You... You took him? But.. I.. I didn't mean it!'
'Oh, you didn't?' the Goblin King asked, looking sarcastically surprised. 'OW!' His sarcasm slipped away for real surprise and pain, for Mabel had just kicked him in the shin.
'Give. Me. Back. My. Brother, you CREEP!'
'Oh Sarah... OW!' the Goblin King said, clutching his leg. Mabel kicked hard.
'It's MABEL. AND IF YOU DON'T GIVE ME BACK MY BRO-BRO, I. WILL. FETCH. HIM. MYSELF.' she said, kicking him in the shins to punctuate her words. The Goblin King tore himself away from the kicking 13-year-old and, from a safe distance, looked down on her in disgust.
'As you wish... Mabel' he said.

Before Mabel's eyes, the surroundings changed. Where Dipper's window had been, there was exactly as she had expected. Dry leaves crunched under her shoes. The air smelled like deserts and the reptile house in the zoo. With the wind, there was a whiff of a foul stench, the sort of stench that sticks. Beyond lay the Castle, surrounded by the Goblin City, surrounded by the Labyrinth.

'Do you still want your brother back?' the Goblin King asked. He quickly dodged Mabel's kick.
His voice now came from behind her back. She felt his breath on her hair. She resisted the urge to throw her head back and head-butt him in the nose.
'Then time is short... You have 13 hours to solve the Labyrinth, or your little brother will become one of us... Forever. Such a pity...'
From behind Mabel, a clock started ticking. She didn't have to turn around to know that it would have 13 hours, but she turned anyway. The Goblin King had disappeared, leaving only a trail of glitter on the trees. She kicked the clock for good measure.
The clock went clang.
Then she looked around in her pockets. Lint, a ballpoint pen, some coins, three pieces of candy, her attack glitter, treats for Waddles. Not very useful. She wished she had her grappling hook with her.
Then she remembered something that her Great-uncle Ford taught her, the week before they left.

It was because she was having so many nightmares about not being able to escape Mabel Land.
Whenever she opened her eyes, she could still see it. She could still see the stuffed animal trees and the giggling river and the judge at their trial. Blind to the real world, she had screamed. Ford was with her in no time. But she could not see him. She tried explaining in her sobbing voice. Ford had understood.
"Mabel, listen to me. I need you to close your eyes." he had said
She had done so. His six-fingered hand had slipped in hers.
"Can you feel this?"
She had nodded.
"Keep your eyes closed. Reach out and touch something in Mabel Land. Can you do that?"
Mabel had reached out, but couldn't touch anything. She had shaken her head.
Ford had brought her hands to his face. It had been stubbly, he had not shaved yet. He brought them down to his coat. His coat always felt cold to the touch.
"Can you feel my face? My coat?"
"Y..Yes, Grunkle Ford"
"Good. Now, keep touching my coat, and open your eyes."
When she did, she could still see Mabel Land, but she could also see Grunkle Ford.
"Can you see me?" He had asked.
"Yes!"
"Good. Now. Open your eyes again."
Somehow, Mabel had. And when she did that, she saw hers and Dippers room. She saw Waddles, on the foot of her bed. She saw Dipper hovering over her, looking worried.
"Do you see, my dear?" Ford had asked gently, hugging Mabel close. Sometimes you simply have to feel what's really there and open your eyes again."

Bearing this in mind, Mabel closed her eyes. She could still feel the heat of the Labyrinth, but she could also feel the soft touch of Dipper's carpet under her shoes instead of the crunchy leaves. Keeping her eyes closed, she started to walk, knowing her way around the two bedrooms by heart. She felt for Dippers doorway, and started for her own room.

In his castle, the King himself, Jareth, stared into his crystal ball. He was holding an ice pack on his leg.
'Why. On earth have you brought this... creature to me?' he murmured threateningly to one of his subjects. 'Where is Sarah?' he demanded.
'I don't know what happened, your eminence. She had the right hair, the correct eyes, a childlike attitude and a little brother... We thought she was a Sarah!' the subject said in a squeaky raspy voice.
'This is not a little brother. This is a teenager.' Jareth looked over at Dipper, who was unconscious with the goblin draught he had been forced to drink. The boy looked exactly like his sister.
'...a twin, even. Hmmm. Interesting...' he mused. Jareth had kidnapped many babies and toddlers, but never a twin before. He looked back into his crystal.
Mabel had disappeared.
He checked again. A red flash appeared in his eyes. Almost all the goblins took a step back.
He picked up the goblin he was talking to before by the scruff of its neck.
'HOW.' he demanded, rubbing the nose of his poor subject onto the glass surface. 'IS SHE ABLE TO DO THAT. NO ONE LEAVES MY LABYRINTH!'
'She didn't, your grace! Look! There she is!' The little goblin squeaked, pressing his finger to the orb.
And indeed. Mabel, opening her eyes, had appeared again, half a metre to her left, looking quite pleased with herself.

She had put her grappling hook in her sweater before she opened her eyes and went back into the Labyrinth. Better to keep that dumb king on his sparkly toes.
"I'm coming, Dipper." she whispered, hoping her brother could hear.
She hoisted up her socks and made her way down the path that would lead her to the Labyrinth.

Chapter Text

On the outskirts of the Labyrinth, a dwarf named Hoggle was squirting pesticide at fairies. He didn't even really know why, he just did. He always did, until a Sarah came by. He vaguely wondered when that would be.

'HALLO!' a loud voice came next to his ear. He jumped so high that he bumped his head against one of the fairies, who fell unconscious to the floor.
'Aa! Who said that!?' Hoggle yelped.
'Just me!' said the voice next to him cheerfully. Hoggle turned. Pale girl. Nice eyes. Long dark hair. Child-like clothing. Right on time.
'Oh, it's you.' he said.
'You know me?' the voice asked.
'Of course I do, Sarah. Haven't you got somewhere to be?'
'Yes I do, but I'm not Sarah. My name's Mabel. What's yours?' the girl named Mabel stuck out her hand for Hoggle to shake.
Hoggle eyed it suspiciously. 'My name is Hoggle' said he, shaking Mabel's hand.
'THAT'S THE BEST NAME. Hello Hoggle!' Mabel cheered. Hoggle frowned. This was odd. The Sarahs usually didn't remember his name at first. But Mabel wasn't a Sarah. Maybe the cycle was broken, somehow...

Hoggle shrugged and went back to spraying the fairies. Mabel watched him for a while. Also strange. Most Sarahs tried to help the fairies.
'Could you tell me where the door to the Labyrinth is?' she asked after a minute.
'I could.'
'That's great!'
'What's great?'
'That's a good question. Not much today is 'great'. Lost my brother, met someone who abuses glitter's majestic properties... I'll be honest with you, today is kind of a bummer, Hoggle. What's great with you?' asked Mabel
'With me?'
'Who else?'
'What's...great?' Hoggle asked.
'Well, it's kind of like metal bars, or like a furnace, but I mean great as in-'
'No, what's great?'
'I asked you!' Mabel said.
'What?' Hoggle replied.
'You'
'Me?'
'You're great?'
'I am?'
'That's great!' Mabel cheered, jumping up and down and clapping her hands.
'This is starting to grate...'
'I agree, you're really giving me the run around here, Hoggle, as if I'm not already dealing with enough.'
'What...' Hoggle began, but the gleam in his eye had vanished during this exchange and now he frowned. He tried to find his way back to being the befuddler, but he was, for a long moment, himself befuddled. 'Me?'
'Yes, you. You're giving me the run around!’
'Am not!'
'Are too!'
'Then just show me the door!'
'It's right there!' he exclaimed, and threw his arms out before him, signalling a large area of the wall that slowly opened before them. It was like being in a haunted house in one of those movies that used to give Dipper nightmares when they were younger, and a low, sinister grumbling noise persisted as the doors revealed to her a space, obscured by an eerie smoke. Mabel considered it grimly before turning once more to Hoggle, a big smile now lighting up her face.

'Thank you, Hoggle!'
'Yes,' Hoggle said, disgruntled, 'Well, when you ask the right question-'
'What question?' Mabel asked.
'What do you mean, what question?'
'What was the question?'
'I asked, 'what question'?'
'Which one?'
'The one you're asking about.' said Hoggle.
'Yes, what was it?' said Mabel.
'What?'
Mabel blew a raspberry. 'We are getting nowhere quickly with this back and forth, my well-named friend. Thank you again for all your help, my brother needs me and I really must be going.'
'But...you never asked the question!'
'I asked lots of questions!' Mabel countered, already walking away. 'Surely one of them was the right one!'
She was through the doors before Hoggle could stop her, and he sighed in defeat, leaning against the wall and thinking back over the past 30 seconds of his life. A fairy flew too close to him, derailing his thoughts, and he sprayed at her twice in irritation. Had she asked the question? He couldn't be sure...

 

As the doors to the labyrinth closed behind her, Mabel could hear a faint voice.
'You'll never make it, you know! You take too much for granted!'
'You can always come with me, new friend!' Mabel yelled over her shoulder. The doors stopped closing.
'...not how it works, not how it's done...' Mabel heard Hoggle mutter from beyond the wall.
The doors slammed shut with a thud.
She was alone. Roots crept along the grey path in front of her and the grey path leading back, though not to the beginning. She picked a side that felt right, and started to skip again. Nothing happened. She didn't come to any turns, nor were there any side-paths. All that she saw were roads and roots and glitter covering those roots. She frowned. Then she grinned.
'Take too much for granted, huh? Well, let's see what you think of THIS!' Mabel yelled, turned, and ran... headfirst into one of the walls of the Labyrinth.
As she sat against the opposite walls, nursing her bruising forehead, she heard a chipper voice coming from beside her.

 

''allo!'
'…'allo to you too. Where you at?' Mabel said confusedly.
'I'm over here! I'm the worm.'
And sure enough, a worm with blue hair and a red scarf sat next to her.
'That's quite a bruise you got there.' the worm said.
'Yep.' Mabel said brightly. 'Can you tell me if it's bleeding?' She bent over so the worm could see.
'Not bleeding, but you're gonna have a bleedin' swelling.' the worm said cheerfully, after examining her forehead.
'That's ok, I've had worse' Mabel grinned dazedly at the worm. 'D'you know the way through the labyrinth?' she asked.
'Who, me? No, I'm just a worm,' the worm said apologetically, shaking his head. 'Wanna come inside, have a cup of tea, meet the missus?'
'I'd really really like to, but I've gotta find my twin brother'
'A twin? King's never had twins in here before, no.. He'll be interested'
'I hope he'll be sore. I kicked him' Mabel said angrily.
'You kicked Jareth?' the worm said. 'What did he do?'
'Treated me like a kid.' Mabel replied. 'Wait, his name is Jareth?'
The worm nodded. 'Where is he then, that twin of yours?' He said.
'In the Castle beyond the Goblin City...'
'Oooo, you've got a long way to go, miss. Tell you wot, you just go to the spot where you bumped your head... good. Now step two paces to the right. Ok, now go forward.'
Mabel did. She passed through what seemed to be solid walls.
'I KNEW there was a doorway somewhere!' Mabel said.
'Oh, yah, it was just two paces to the right!'
'The castle, is it left or right?'
'It's left, but that's not the right way, miss. You gotta go through an entire hallway of bad things before you get to that there castle. You'd probably lose your mind. The last one sure did. Became a statue.'
'And the right way?'
'Is to the right of you, miss. It's a long way...Sure you won't come inside, have a cuppa tea?'
'...can I have it to go? Dipper needs me'
'With a name like Dipper, he does.' the worm replied.

Mabel went right. The stones changed from grey to yellow. The first part was wet and chilly, but this part was hot and sweltering. She saw a yellow stone pillar with hands on it. One of the hands pointed to the castle, so of course, honouring her friend Quentin Trembley, Mabel went in the exact opposite direction.

***

Meanwhile, at the Goblin Castle, the Goblin King was trying to make Dipper do funny things.
'I see it in your mind, human child... The lamby lamby dance. Sing for us, boy.' he demanded.
'Shove off, man. Stop bothering me.' Dipper folded his arms. The Goblin King raised an eyebrow.
'You dare disobey me?'
'Hey man, I don't belong to you. I can't disobey you. Sure, you can hurt me, but judging by your ankle it seems like my sister hurt you first. You really want to deal with that again?'
Jareth looked slightly put-out. But only a little, and his cocky façade soon came back on. He dropped his ice-pack from his ankle. He grabbed Dipper by the collar, lifting him up to his face.
'..don't you dare disrespect me in front of my subjects. Soon you will be one of them...' he spoke softly. Dipper just shrugged.

'Sure beats dance class.' he said, feeling braver than he had felt since last summer. He... He felt like... He felt like Wendy. Ignorant and brave in the face of danger. Plus, what was a guy with Gideon hair and fairy makeup when he and his family had stood up to the biggest demon in the Nightmare Realm?
This wasn't real anyway. Probably a weird dream. Bill couldn't be the only dream demon, right? Besides, even in his dreams, Mabel would probably come and get him. He'd do the same for her.
The King dropped Dipper on the floor. Dipper scrambled to his feet, and ran. He leaped over some goblins on his way to the door. Dipper opened it, and...

Ran into an Escher painting. Dipper looked around. The ledge on which he was only a couple of feet long, and ended in nothing. The stairs were upside-down. Some turned into one another like a sadistic mindscape. The floor ended halfway the ceiling, and the ceiling stretched out into the sky.
He sank to the floor.
'This isn't real, this isn't real.' he continued his mantra for a couple of seconds before he heard the shuffling of the goblin feet behind him. He collected all of his courage, and convinced himself that there would be an invisible bridge of some sorts beyond his ledge. He walked back a bit, and jumped.
He fell. He fell a long way, though not as long as once in the Bottomless Pit. As he fell, he saw that somehow the floor became the ceiling again. He saw the ledge from which he had jumped, and the goblins that were waiting for him.
'Come on, man, wake up, wake up...' Dipper prayed to himself.

He tried to stop falling. He tried to slow down. It didn't work.
He landed on the ledge with a slam that rattled all the bones in his body. His left leg folded underneath him and made a horrible squelchy crunching sound.
The pain that shot up his foot and his leg, all the way up to his spine, felt very real indeed. Dipper screamed.

 

Numb with pain, Dipper found himself being picked up by rough hands. Three goblins carried him back to the throne room, and put him near the foot of the throne. Dipper raised his head to eavesdrop on the King.
Jareth, sitting on his throne, turned to one of his subjects. A secretary, by the look of it.
'Next time we're back to kidnapping babies. This one doesn't even bear any resemblance to the babe' Jareth said.
'What babe?' came the squeaky reply.
'Babe with the power...' Jareth said automatically.
'What power?' the goblin said.
'Power of...' Jareth started. Then he thumped the goblin on the head. 'STOP IT. We're not singing! OUT! ALL OF YOU!' the King kicked at a nearby goblin, but hit Dipper in the face. Dipper felt his teeth jam all the way through his lip. His head hit the floor with a thump, and he blacked out.

 

***

Mabel sipped her tea. She was lost once again. It looked like a courtyard, but almost every road lead to a dead end. She had tried writing on the floor with her ballpoint pen, but the pen didn't work. She had also tried leaving a trail of tea, but the tea evaporated on the rock heated by the sun.
It was hot. Hotter than the hottest day in California. The heavy air smelled of hot stone and sand.

Her pink shooting star sweater was sticking to her back. She felt somewhat comforted by the familiar weight. She had been through many adventures in it, and was glad they would share another. It was very hot, though, but she couldn't take it off, otherwise her grappling hook would be revealed. She was almost certain that the Goblin King was watching, but better be sure anyway. She went left, right, right, left, left, left, left, right again, then straight ahead. Then left, right, left, and then she turned around and walked backwards for a while just to see if that worked.
It did. She bumped into something.
'HEY!'
'Hey!'
There were four voices, but they seemed to be speaking in pairs of two. She turned around.
Two huge wooden shields blocked two doors. One with red decorations, and one with blue ones. Behind each shield there was a dog-like creature with two heads. One on top, and one on the bottom.
The upper parts seemed to be arguing with each other, while the bottom figures growled and snapped at each other with sharp teeth.

 

‘Told you it’s this one’ said the blue one.
‘How do I even believe anything you say? You’re a liar! You’ve been a liar for all your life!’ Said the red one.
‘That’s a lie!’
‘Oh? Oh? Then tell me one thing you’ve said that was true!’
‘This door is the safe door!’
‘It isn’t!’
‘Is!’
‘Isn’t!’
‘Guys…’ Mabel said reproachfully.
‘SHUT UP, SARAH’ the two guards snapped at her. She shut her mouth angrily and sat down on a nearby pillar, trying to work out which way to go now.
The red one continued his rant: ‘How can you expect me to believe you after all this time? You led all them Sarah’s through the bad door. You killed all of them!’
‘I didn’t! You did!’ Shouted the blue one.
A fight broke out between the two. Mabel rose to her feet, but she knew that she wouldn’t be able to help the two or stop them. She had heard about this sort of fight before, and it didn't end well...
The blue one seemed to have the upper hand, but the red one was fierce. With a sharp growl, he shoved the blue one through the blue door.
‘There! That’s the right door. See? Nothing is happening!‘

 

The blue guard skidded to a stop only a short ways in. Nothing dangerous-looking jumped out at the guard – still, the creature hunkered slightly, turning his head to survey the area in a quick, paranoid way. He stood shaking in place. He hadn't wanted to admit it, but he'd been manning these doors so long, with so few visitors, he'd forgotten which door was which. They all had. He'd merely presumed the red guard would choose the right door.
Mabel could hear him whimpering. '..oh, no...' his small double-voice carried back out to her.
'Uhm…’ Mabel said.
'No worries' the red guard told her. 'He's just being dramatic'
Then, they both gasped.

The blue guard was all too aware of what happened next, and knew all too well there was no point in running – back, forward, up, down, over...he'd heard too many others make that mistake. Some Sarahs, even. To his mind, the worst deaths were of the ones that tried to outrun it. If he was to die, he'd prefer to die cowardly than foolish. Better standing than running. He braced. He waited... How long was this going to take? It never seemed to take this long when he just had to listen. Why had he stood by, and listened to others die? He could have helped… He could have… Could have…

He felt it before he saw it. It was the sort of pressure you get when you’re underground. It was like the air was pressing. Tightening. The walls were closing in.
It took others longer to clock this, loud as it was; the walls made an awfully slow progress as they pushed in – even the ceiling, which didn’t make sense, but to be truthful, what thing in this place did? He was simply too familiar with the stone-on-stone grinding sound to have the privilege of spending any amount of time looking around him, innocently wondering, What's that curious noise? So close, and getting closer... And of course, by the time they realized, they'd try to unmake their choice. To go back the way they came, only to have one final, crushing realization.
This impossible, nonsense room they entered could not be exited. That was the moment that truly broke them, he thought, and that’s the reason why he would not be such a fool, he would not turn to confirm this, the second he did it would happe-
A fwip sounded nearby, and something disturbed his hat. That's new, he thought, and wondered what sort of evil this room was exactly, to greet his unwillingness to embrace its full horror by conjuring up new ones. He whimpered and raised his hands to his hat, eyes scrunched shut as though that might somehow lessen the unpleasantness of what he found there...

His hands curled around strange metal loops, and as he pawed around them he got the impression they extended from one long rod, both loops arching out and away in opposite directions, ending in an arrow-head – he tightened his hands around it in curiosity, which was a mistake, as he suddenly found himself yanked backwards, his head being pulled first and the rest of his body sailing along with it, and he shrieked in alarm as the doorway sped past his vision and he flew past a small figure and landed a ways away from the door, closed now, but he wasn't supposed to see that, his sight of the door was supposed to be lost the second he stepped inside this godforsaken-

'Oh my gosh, are you okay?' Mabel asked
'I'm alive?!' the guard squeaked, hands letting go of a hook that thudded to the ground, taking its poor, impaled hat with it. It slapped its hands to its head, then its chest, then his legs. 'I'm alive?!' he repeated, shriller this time, followed by an abrupt, hysterical laugh.
'Uh...yeah.'
'You saved me!'
'I mean...the events preceding that were Not Very good. I should have stopped you both, but…’
Mabel was interrupted by the second guard knocking her aside. They threw off their shield. The second guard knelt over its companion, and stroked his head.
Then the red guard turned to Mabel.
'You saved my brother.’ he said in pure astonishment.
'This is your brother? I'm looking for my own brother. The King took him.’
The second guard nodded. Tears streamed down his face.
'I... I didn't know, I promise.’ he said, partly to Mabel, partly to the blue guard. 'I didn't know that was the wrong door all along... I'm so sorry...

 

Mabel understood. She had heard of this riddle in Dipper's nerd books. True, false. Choices, choices. 'Will you allow me to go through the other door? I'm sorry, I would stay, but... My brother.’ Mabel said tentatively.
'For your brother, yes.’ the red guard said.
'Thank you. I hope you both don't do this thing again. My grunkles... I mean, you gotta stick by your brother. Even if he's being a stupid-face.’ Mabel said.
The second guard nodded. 'And may I hope the same for you. Fighting with your sibling just... sucks. And choosing between one of these crap doors is even worse.’ it said, gesturing at the doors. Mabel nodded.
She knelt over the first guard.
He merely stared up at Mabel, glossy eyed and seemingly still just in a pretty finite state of Holy Heck! Holy Heck! What In Heck! Holy Heck!
'Um.' She reached into her pocket and pulled out one of the sweets Grenda's grandmother had given her that morning. She hated them, they tasted like something you weren't supposed to like until your taste buds had been to hell and back, or just entered old age, but Grenda's grandmother had called them soothers, and she thought maybe this guy could use something soothing right about now. 'For, uh...for the...everything? For the everything!' She stroked the hair of the blue guard.
The red guard rose, and opened the second door for her. 'Go now. Seems like I have some talking to do with my brother...'
'Just one last question. Are you the truth teller?’ She asked him.
'Perhaps.’ said the red guard, smiling slightly.
Before it closed behind her, she could hear the red guard fussing over his brother.
The brother, the blue guard, finally spoke, after a long while of giggling.
'Don’t worry about me, I’m fiiiinneeee.' He hiccupped.

 

It turns out there are things worse than certain death. Mabel took a few steps through the door, thinking that Sparkle Man sure did have a repetitive streak with choices and Mystery Doors going on in this dizzyingly evil labyrinth of his. Must have gotten lazy at some point, all this intricate planning and yet he returned so often to door puzzles. Mabel was so caught up in her judgement of the Goblin King, she didn't hear when the red guard behind her called 'Wait, I forgot! You have to wait, or jum-'
Too late their words registered, and Mabel was falling, falling, falli- oh! She stopped sooner than she expected, though in her defence she'd experience some pretty lengthy falls. At this point she just stoically accepted it when gravity went runnin'.
Upsettingly, it seemed what had prevented her fall was just...hands. Just a bunch of hands extending out of the narrow shaft she'd been falling down. They pinched a little too tight on her arms, or held her legs up just a tad too noncommittally, and she was torn between discomfort and thinking she'd be dropped any second now. She was reminded of crowd-surfing at the Woodstick festival, though that had been much more fun.
'So...um...hello?'

 

'Up or down?' the hands asked in unison, somehow. Talk to the hand, cause the face ain't present. She could picture Dipper rolling his eyes at that joke. She could imagine Grunkle Stan beating her to the punch making that joke.
Mabel considered the question. Not for too long. Up seemed the right way to go. That was the way to the castle. Down might bring her there too, but when had underground tunnels ever done anyone any good? Not in her life. Not in any the movies she'd watched. Underground brought danger. Up top, she at least knew some of the dangers that awaited her. And honestly, how badly could Jareth's next door-puzzle mess her up? Oh, now there are three doors? Choose one, open another, change or keep your choice... However will she choo- syke! She'd seen this episode of Myth Busters. Next door trick, Glitterbug.

 

'Up, please' she said, meaning to sound more decisive, but she was still quite disgruntled at this whole disembodied hands scenario. If she smiled at them would they smile back? How? If she had lipstick she might be able to draw lips along their index fingers, give them some makeshift lips so she knew if they were happy, or annoyed or pouting.
'Are you sure?' they asked, and she just about held back from asking where their mouth holes were.
'Yup, yup! Absolutely sure and certain! Up, up and away.' She wanted to get a hand on her grappling hook just in case they didn't keep their word, but she couldn't quite dislodge either arm from where they were held, and instead had to just have faith that they would do as she asked.
Sure enough, she found herself being lifted back the way she came, the hands continuing to never grant her a properly comfortable support. By the time she reached the mouth of the hole, she was fairly certain those hands had given her arms and legs a few light bruises. 'Um...thanks, hands. You've been very... handy.'
The hands didn't answer, at least not audibly, and she again cursed herself for having no lipstick with her. Even some marker! A sachet of ketchup! A glitter pen!
'Oh, that all worked out then!' a voice sang, and Mabel saw the red guard had not yet returned to his post, and stood watching her, something like pride in his eyes. His blue brother still sat on the ground behind him. He smiled at Mabel.
'You're alive!' The red guard said.
'Nope! We're not! We're aaallll dead!' its brother said happily.
Mabel bade them goodbye and walked on.

***

'Master, we have found the girl' The goblin was fidgeting with his hat while he talked. It was obvious that he didn't want to say anything, but judging by the little match clutched in his paw, fate had decided a different direction for him. His name was Zareez, not that he had much use for it now.
'Ah, in the oubliette, is she? Exactly how it should be. The dwarf will lead her...' The king said, delighted on how his plan was developing.
'Actually, your eminence...' Zareez said.
The King got that certain look in his eye. Zareez cowered before him.
Zareez spoke so fast that he skipped every comma that could have been in the sentence.
'Well you see she first shoved one of the guards through the wrong door and then she saved him and then she got the right door and the helping hands asked her if she wanted to go up or down and she chose up and now she's... almost... out...' Zareez finished lamely.
'And how, may I ask, did she save the first guard?' The King asked.
'We... couldn't see, my lord.' Zareez hung its gnarly head. He didn't deserve this. He had always been a good subject. Or at least he thought so.
Jareth walked over to Dipper, who was in a gilded cage in the middle of the throne room. He banged his sceptre against the bars a bit and watched the wounded teen shift and scowl in his sleep.

'Truly a new thing, twins...' He mused. 'Oh, go away, Zizi.' He said to the goblin. Zareez stumbled backwards. He banged into the bars of the cage, making the cage rattle and Dipper shudder in his sleep. Zareez shook his head to get rid of the pain, making his ears flap.
Jareth snapped his fingers. Somewhere in the Labyrinth, the Dwarf called Hoggle found himself transported from a dark oubliette to a sunny hedgerow.

Chapter Text

Hoggle stared around. There were hedges all around, as opposed to the dark oubliette he had been in before. In his mind, it seemed as though a memory played, but he knew that that was once again a trick made by Jareth. Jareth talked to him in the memory-trick.
'Hedgeward. Find the girl and lead her back to the beginning. If you do, you will be spared the Bog. The Yeti is with her. Get rid of it.
And oh, Hedgeward? If you make friends with her, you will be hung by your ankles over the Bog of Stench. But if she kisses you, I'll make you a prince!' The King said. Hoggle asked 'prince' in his head and a new memory-trick surfaced. This one was shorter.
'You'll be Prince of the Land Of Stench!' Jareth said, laughing. Hoggle sighed, and got on with his assignment.

As Hoggle rounded a corner in the sunny hedgerow, he saw that Mabel had once again found herself a new friend. A red-haired yeti named Ludo was tagging along behind her, holding her hand and looking fond of the girl. Ludo's horns had grown a lot. He had also grown taller, Hoggle faintly recognised. Was Ludo tall or was Mabel small? Hoggle didn't know. He fell into pace behind the yeti and the girl. He scraped his throat. Mabel turned around and looked at him delightedly.
'HOGGLE!' She said, throwing her arms up and smiling. She went over to hug him, but Hoggle took a few steps back, alarmed
''Ello little lady' Hoggle said.
'Hi! Did you decide to join us after all? This is Ludo! He's so soffttt!!!' Mabel said, rubbing her cheek over Ludo's arm.
'May-bel fwieeeend' Ludo said in his odd voice. He patted Mabel on the head with a huge hand.
'Yeah, we are!' Mabel cheered, smiling up at Ludo. She whispered to Hoggle: 'He doesn't talk human very well, but he's being a huge help by getting me through the labyrinth!' She smiled up at Ludo. 'Don't you, Ludo! You're helping me find my brother!'
'Fiiind bwo-ttheeerr' Ludo said, smiling at Hoggle.
Hoggle had to think fast. '...Well, it is a rookie mistake, taking advice from a yeti. They're famously bad with directions.' He told Mabel conspiratorially. 'Look at this. Hey, Ludo. Which way's the castle, left or right?'
'Ri-iight' Ludo said.
'Ach, no it isn't you big dum-dum' Hoggle said, in a fake-fond voice, flapping his hand as if to say look at this guy, always making jokes. 'Castle's this way! Follow me!' He added, waddling to the left path. Mabel and Ludo shrugged at each other, and followed him.

They exchanged jokes for a while. Hoggle found Mabel and Ludo quite fond of his bad jokes, and Ludo could make various funny sounds with his body, to Mabel's delight.

After about an hour of finding their way they came to a patch of forest which Mabel and Ludo didn't recognise. In fact, it was another way to the beginning of the maze, like Jareth had commanded Hoggle to do. Hoggle didn't want to do it. Really, he didn't. He didn't want to betray Mabel. But the idea of betraying the girl was nothing compared to the rage (and stench) that Jareth would unleash upon him if he didn't. So he brought all the people that came into the maze back to the beginning. He sighed. The next bit was no fun either. They were walking through a narrow hallway, first him, then Mabel and then Ludo.
'See, little lady? This place is a piece of cake!'
There was a small sound as of stone grinding together and a muffled gasp as the yeti fell down the hole Hoggle had conjured up by saying that last sentence.
Mabel looked around.
'Ludo?' She asked
'Eh, probably got lost..' Hoggle said. He took her hand and tugged her along a bit further. 'Come along now, wouldn't want that brother of yours ta be waitin' for so long, right?'
'...right.' Mabel said, bummed that her new fluffy friend had vanished so soon.
A glass ball rolled away from them in the tunnel. Where it came to a stop, a creature sat. It was a
hobo with a big beak, wearing ratted clothes and a big hat that covered his face.
'Well, well, well... What have we here...' The hobo said.
'n-nothin' Hoggle stammered.
'Nothing?' The hobo said, getting up from off the floor and revealing himself to be the Goblin King himself 'Nothing, nothing, tra-la- OW!' He said, for Mabel had once again kicked him.
He stepped away from her.
'I'm surprised at you, girl.' He said. 'I thought you would be cleverer than this... Following Hedgewart?'
'Hoggle' said Mabel.
'Hoggle' said Hoggle.
'Whatever,' said the king. 'He's just trying to trick you! Oh, didn't you know everyone works for me in here?' He smiled.
'..What?' Mabel said
'He is just trying to lead you back to the beginning, my pet' The King said.
'Hoggle? Is that true?' Mabel said, turning to the dwarf. 'I thought... I thought you were my friend'
'Hahahaha,' the king chuckled. 'Silly girl. There are no friends here. Just cleaners...'
With that, he threw his glass ball down the corridor, and vanished. A horrible rattling sound came from the end of the hallway, and a metallic sort of drill emerged from the darkness. Hoggle yelped, grabbed Mabels arm and ran for his life. They took a side road and emerged into a stony corridor.
Mabel, who had been paralysed with fear, anger, and grief, turned to Hoggle.

'You tried to betray me? Lead me back to the beginning?!' She shouted at him. Oh no. Her throat began cropping up. Soon the tears would come.
'...only a little, maybe? But listen-' Hoggle said.
'I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND! OW!' She shouted. She had tried to kick him in the ankles, and, failing that, stepped hard on his toes. Her foot had hit something hard. Her eyes teared up at the unfairness of it all.
'What the heck?'
'Iron-toed boots' Hoggle said apologetically. 'You need to listen to me! I am a coward, and Jareth scares me. If I didn’t obey him, he'd...'

A small sniff made him stop talking. He looked at the girl in front of him. She stood near the wall of the corridor. All anger had gone from her face, to be replaced with a terrible sadness. Tears fell down her cheeks and were sucked up by her sweater.
'I thought you were my... friend' Mabel whispered, silent tears streaming down her face. She didn't even try to wipe them away.

He hadn't seen it before. How incredibly young she was. Her façade of anger had dissipated and all that was left was a little girl, missing her brother. He wondered how old she was. Normally, the Sarahs that came into the Labyrinth seemed about 16. This girl couldn't be sixteen if she wore all the makeup in the world.
Mabel had slumped down, her back to the wall. She put her sweater over her knees and put the collar over her head. She trembled with sobs. Hoggle was reminded of a little hedgehog, hiding in its prickles. He knelt down next to her.
'Hey, little lady...' He started.
'SweaterTown is not accepting any callers right now...' Mabel muttered.
Hoggle had forgotten how to deal with kids. Sarahs usually just ended up smarter than he was.
He didn't have any siblings and he had forgotten about his parents.
He would have to deal with this in pure Labyrinthian Logic, mixed with Mabel logic.

Hoggle sat down next to Mabel, his back to the wall as well. He took off his vest, and put it over his broad head. It barely fit to cover his eyes.
'Mabel?' Hoggle began.
Mabel sniffled from below her sweater. Her small voice came out muffled by the wool.
'Didn' I tell you that SweaterTown is closed to outsiders?'
'You did.' Hoggle said. 'But I'm in VestVille, and we are neighbours to SweaterTown. You gotta listen to your neighbour, right?'
Mabel gruffly admitted that, yes. SweaterTown would have to listen to its neighbours.
'The mayor of VestVille requests an audience with the queen...' Hoggle began.
'President.' Mabel corrected.
'..President of SweaterTown.' Hoggle finished.
'Why?' Mabel asked.
'Because the Mayor of VestVille is pretty good at telling stories, and has a couple about the Labyrinth.'
Hoggle peeked out of his vest. Mabel has stopped shaking. Her head was turned towards him. It was obvious that she was looking at him through the wool.
Hoggle didn't wait for a reply. He simply started.
'Did you know that there is a space here in the Labyrinth that is a complete forest? Yeah, it's not as hot as in here, but there are even crazier guys as in these halls. That guy we saw with the bird on his head? Ha! He was nothing compared to the crazy Flamingo Cats... Hoggle wiggled his fingers to indicate scaryness.
'Catmingoes?' Mabel asked. It was unclear if she was weeping or interested.
'That's right. Catmingoes.' Hoggle nodded. 'They are funny, until they find out that your head don't come off. Their heads do, ya know. They play football with them. Polo. Bowling. Golf.'
'Mini golf?' Mabel asked. Hoggle could sense that he had hit a certain spot.

'You kiddin me? You already met them! They play mini golf all the freakin time!' Hoggle said, standing up to enunciate his story. 'They take off their heads and slam! They shoot it off into the distance with one of their legs. Then one of the others makes a little gate for the head to roll through. I've seen them do a competition once. It's amazin what they can make of themselves. I once saw them form a full windmill, complete with blades!' While he told the story, he had mimed the actions the Catmingoes did. Mabel giggled. She didn't come out of SweaterTown just yet, but it seemed she had enjoyed the story.

'On the outside on the Labyrinth lives an enormous coward. He sprays at fairies cause they be littler than he is. He is a dwarf, but don't have a beard. His face looks like a dog's behind, and trust me: his behind looks even worse.'
Mabel giggled at the cheap joke.
Hoggle continued. 'He sprays at fairies and waits for new Sarahs. When they come, he is as confusing as possible so they'll get mad inside the labyrinth. Why does he do it? Cause the King can hurt him. The King wants to put him face first into the Bog of Stench...'
'A bog of stench?' Mabel asked, getting curious.
'No, no, 's not the bog of stench. You have to speak the capital letters. Bog of Stench. See?'
'Bog of... Stench?'
'You got it.'
'… What's so bad about the Bog of Stench? Why, does it smell that bad?' Mabel said.
'You have no idea' Hoggle said darkly. 'It's sticky. Touch a single drop and you'll smell bad forever'
'Whoa, We... I mean, I, shouldn’t go there!' Mabel said. 'If I don't like Dipper when he doesn't shower, I'll hate it in there!'
'No, we shouldn't.' Hoggle confirmed. 'Alrighty then, kiddo.' He had decided Mabel was simply too small to even be called 'Little Lady'.
'Let's go find your stinky brother.' Hoggle said.
'You mean you'll help me?' She asked.
'I guess'
'Why?'
'Cause I- I'm done with being Jareths puppet. He only set me to lead you back to the beginnin' so he could turn you against me. Argh, it's what he does best after all.' Hoggle said to Mabel.
Mabel peeked out of her sweater. 'You really mean it?'
'Really really' Hoggle said, pulling her up.
Mabel smiled a damp but wide smile, showing her braces.

 

They walked in silence for a while.

'Hoggle?' Mabel asked after some time.
'Hurmph.'
'Why does everyone keep calling me Sarah, anyway?'
''Cause you are a Sarah, ain't you? A Sarah named Mabel.'
Mabel paused.
'What do you think a Sarah is?' She asked.
'Yehknow, just a person who comes into the labyrinth to try and solve it, who imagines it's all nicer than it really is and is disappointed in it later, and who disturbs us in our daily work?'
'That’s... That's a tourist.' Mabel said.
They rounded the corner. Mabel saw something familiar on the ground, and darted forward.
'What the heck is a tourist?' Hoggle asked the walls.
The walls didn't reply.

Mabel ran towards the thing on the floor. She stopped. She knew it!
On the ground in front of her was a fluffy brown hat.
She picked it up, and sniffed it. It smelled of Dippers hair. Despite the heat, she put the hat on her head.
'I'll be there soon, Dipper...' She promised softly.

 

***
Everything hurt. Dipper felt like he had just aged 60 years. Now he understood how Grunkle Stan felt every morning. He forced his eyes open. He raised himself up on his elbow and looked at his left leg. He winced. It lay at an unnatural angle, all bruised and blue. He couldn't see any blood or broken skin, though, thank goodness. He raised his hand to his head. There was a bruise on his forehead where the king had kicked him. He also had numerous scrapes and bruises from where he had fallen. This dream sucked. He decided to stay down a little longer. There was some sort of fur on the floor, but it smelled of mothballs. Well, better than cold stone.
Still pretty groggy and half-numb with pain in his head and leg, Dipper sat up further and looked around. He seemed to be in a large ornate golden birdcage with thin bars. Dipper felt watched from all sides, as the King had had him placed in the indent in the middle of the floor. All around him goblins were loping about, being useless. Some of them looked at Dipper as if he was one of the curiosities in the Mystery Shack.
'Aaaw, does the poor kid need a huggg?' One teased.

A very small, very old, childlike fear made itself known through the haze of pain. Dipper remembered the puppets in the amusement parks. Dipper had always told Mabel that it was the haunted house that gave him nightmares, but it was the puppets all that time. Not speaking, just gesturing. 'Here, I'm fluffy! Come hug me!'
Dipper didn't want to be hugged. He didn't want to take a picture, even when Mabel tugged him along. The goblins looked like the puppets from his nightmares. And Mabel wasn't there to help him. He didn't even have Wendy's hat with him. He was totally and utterly alone.

Dipper turned on his side facing the throne. There were less goblins there. He lay down, pulled his knees up to his chest with a small whimper and closed his eyes again.
Maybe things would make more sense when he woke up...
Maybe Mabel would be there...

 

***

'There's a way to the Goblin City, but it's a bad way to go. It goes through the Bog of Stench..'
'...You told me about it before. Is it really that bad?'
'It is. But it might be the only way to get as fast as we can to the city'
'Okay. What do I need to do?' Mabel asked.
'...Was hopin you weren't gonna ask that' Hoggle muttered.
'Uh oh' Mabel said.
'Uh oh covers it. Jareth told me that if you kissed me I would become Prince of Stench. So that's the quickest way, but you needn't...'
'Oh, is that all?' Mabel asked. She darted over to Hoggle and put a kiss on his knobbly head.
'There ya go. You should have told me you wanted a kiss!' She smiled fondly.
Hoggle was about to give a sarcastic reply when the ground fell from under them. They slid down a steep stone slide, Hoggle yelling in fear, Mabel laughing and shrieking in glee. They landed hard on a stone ledge. Mabel looked around interestedly. It truly was a bog. Green slime oozed down the walls, there were dead plants everywhere surrounded by thick murky goop. Because of the air in the tunnel, she hadn't breathed in yet. Then she did, and immediately wished she hadn't.

It was the sort of stink that made itself comfortable, wrapping itself around your shoulders like a damp blanket. The air was damp. Mabel and Hoggle started sweating immediately, adding their own smells to the mixed city of smells that already lived in the Bog of Stench. Hoggle layed down on the floor, gasping and choking.
It smelled like a mixure of farts, vomit, rotten eggs, rank frying pan fat, the bottom of a thrash bin, three week-old milk with fish in a summer heat, the bad places of a hospital and those hairs that clogged the shower drain at home. Mabel buried her nose and mouth into the collar of her sweater. The smell of her own sweat was a hundred times better than the smell outside.

She walked down the path, dragging poor Hoggle with her, when she saw she could go no further. There was a steep ledge where the path ended. Right then, a terrible roar sounded, and rocks fell, right down the ledge. The avalanche had made a slight hill for her to go down. She shrugged, and thanking her lucky stars, went down the path, where she and Hoggle were met by a heap of familiar fur.
"Ludo!" She said, her voice muffled by the sweater.
'Smeelllll...' Ludo whined, trying to clog his nose.

Chapter Text

The smell was deafening. Biologically that seemed improbable, but this smell somehow managed to attack every sense. Every couple of meters, their eyes would tear up, and they'd have to wipe them away using their sleeves or wrists. The murkiness of the Bog of Stench made them not only inhale the worst scents they could imagine, but it was also damp and hot. The damp silent wetness of the swamp was only perturbed by the various fart and burp noises that emerged from the stinking bog. At first, Mabel thought it was rather funny. Fart noises were after all the first thing she laughed at when she was young. But after a couple of minutes, the noises, the slippery rock and the stink of the Bog of Stench was enough to make Mabel miss even Dipper's Worst Teenage Boy Smell.  
 
Ludo seemed to agree. 'Smeeelll' he grumbled, waving his hand in front of his nose.  
'Urghhhh' said Hoggle, pointing to the right. He had been saying not much more than 'Urrrgghh' in the last couple of minutes, but he had also been showing the way.  
Mabel took off Dipper's hat and put it under her sweater. She didn't want to risk it smelling even worse, for Wendy's sake.  
After five more minutes (though it was hard to tell) they came to a bridge, where Hoggle let out his loudest and longest 'UUUURRRRGGGH' yet.   
'What is it? The smell is the same here, right?' Mabel asked.  
Hoggle pointed at a figure standing in a little toll-booth near the bridge.  
'UUURRRGGGH' Hoggle said again, pointing at the figure. Now it was less a sound of suffering, but more of annoyance, like those three people you always get in front of you in school hallways.  
 
'Do you direct your "URRRGGGH" at me, sir?' The figure asked, and stepped outside of his little toll-booth. Now it stepped into the snot-colored light, they could see that it was a sort of fox-like creature, with huge mustachio-like whiskers and an embroidered coat and pants, finished by a elaborate blue hat with a yellow feather in it. They all stood in silence for a while, looking between Hoggle and the fox. 
'URGH' Hoggle said finally, indicating the entire place.  
'He means that this place is YUCK, not just you' Mabel said kindly. 
'This place? This place? Well, child, I must say you insult my good home! For truly, this place is terrific! Just smell that sweet summer-breeze!' The fox said.  
'Smeeellll' Ludo said.  
'It does not smell at all, sir!'  
'Yah, it does. It smells like heaps of goblin-dung and rotting cabbage!' Hoggle said. 
'Nah, it smells like bad tuna and rotten eggs and mould!' Mabel said. 
'Nuh-uh. Goblin dung' said Hoggle. 
'Tuna!'  
'Dung!' 
'Tuna!' 
'Cease this!' said the fox. 'If I, Sir Didymus, say this is a good smell, then a good smell it must be. I am a fox, sirs and madam. My sense of smell is keener than yours.' 
'Smeeeelll' said Ludo, not wanting to be left out.  
'Why, sir, doth thou provoke me? En Garde, great beast!' 
And with that, the fox named Sir Didymus leapt onto Ludo. Ludo simply batted one hand to get the fox away, but Didymus held on. A fight broke out between the two, during which Hoggle managed to cross the bridge.  
'Hey! None crosses the bridge without my permissi-OW!' Sir Didymus yelled, for Ludo had just stuck him headfirst into a treetrunk.  
Didymus emerged from it, a few seconds later.  
'Dear sir! You have truly shown me what fighting is! From now on I name you brother, and will be your friend until the sun sets in the east!' 
'Ludo got bwoo-tthheeerrr' Ludo said.  
'And to you, good lady, I thank you for not crossing the bridge. For you know, none may cross this bridge without my permission!' Didymus finished. 
'Well, I need to find my brother...' Mabel said. 'You... don't want to help us, by any chance?'  
'A QUEST! A QUEST! FINALLY! A QUEST! Fair lady, I pledge my sword to you, and my steed. AMBROSIUS, COME HITHER!'  
With that, a furry dog came out of the murky shadows, and Sir Didymus climbed onto him.  
'AAAW, HE'S SO FLUFFY!' Mabel squealed, letting the dog smell her hand. The dog reared up unto his back legs, and licked her face.  
'YOU'RE SO CUTE! LIKE WADDLES! Gosh, I miss Waddles...' Mabel sighed.  
'Is this "Waddles" your steed, dear lady?' Sir Didymus asked. 
'Well, kinda... Yeah. Yeah, he is, but he needs to grow a bit more. Shall we go?' 
'Yes, of cour—Wait. My sacred oath! None may cross this bridge without my permission!' 
'How about you give us your permission?' Mabel asked.  
'That... Is a very valid point, my lady. Permission has been granted! ONWARDS, AMBROSIUS!' He charged forward, then came to a sudden stop.  
'Oh, Great Scott, where are my manners! Ladies first, of course!'  
'Why thank you, gallant knight!' Mabel said, bobbing a little curtsey. Sir Didymus was overjoyed and bowed back, taking off his hat.  
Mabel considered the bridge. It didn't look good. It looked like a bad bridge. It was a small rope bridge, riddled by mould and rot, it seemed.  She thought she would maybe get over her fear of the bridge as she got over the bridge, but she took her grappling hook from under her sweater anyway.  
 
And she was absolutely right to do so. As soon as she had gone halfway the bridge, the board underneath her crumbled apart like slimy mouldy apple pie. Thinking fast, she shot her grappling hook upwards. It lodged in a tree trunk, and stuck. The tree rained green murky slime on her. She managed to avoid it largely, though a sizable chunk fell on her head. She felt it run down her long hair like an egg cracked on your head. She shivered. Now she would never feel clean again, as long as she was in the Labyrinth. Ah well, she'd just have to get out of it.  
 
The only problem was, she had lost all velocity that the grappling hook could have given her. She hung suspended by the grappling hook over the murky depths of the Bog of Eternal Stench.  
When he saw what had happened, Ludo began to roar. Hoggle came back to see what the trouble was, just in time to witness the effect of Ludo's roar. Rocks tumbled from the walls and landed in the bog, making little fart noises, but also making a little path for Mabel to safely land on. She quickly went over to Hoggle, who tried to help her get the gunk out of her hair.  
'Why dear brother, does thou summon the very rocks?' Didymus asked, turning to Ludo. 
'Suuurreee. Rocks fwiieeenddss' Ludo rumbled, smiling. He stepped on to the first rock. It made a fart sound, but it held his weight. Ludo made his way over to Mabel and Hoggle, closely followed by Sir Didymus and his dog-steed.  
'There! Light!' Hoggle said.  
They all went over to check it out, and found yet another part of the Labyrinth. This part certainly smelled better and was covered by dense forestry.   
'This one leads straight to the city!' Hoggle said.  
'Ah! A battle! I can smell it coming!' Didymus rejoiced. 
'You can't smell at all, ya daft fox' 
'Oh, but I can!' 
'Can not' 
'Can too!' 
'Can not' 
'Can too!' 
 
This went on for a little while. Meanwhile, Mabel slid back to the back of the little group. She had tried brushing her hair out with her grappling hook, but that had failed. She still smelled like the Bog of Eternal Stench.  
'May-belll smeellll' Ludo told her affectionately. 
'That's right, Ludo' Mabel said. 'And I'm afraid that I'll smell bad forever...'  
'May-bel fwieeendd.' Ludo said conclusively.  
'Do you mean you'll still love me, even though I stink forever?' Mabel asked hopefully. 
'Fwieeeeenndd' said Ludo.  
'Thank you, Ludo' said Mabel. 
Ludo smiled.  
 
After a while of walking through the forest, they were all starting to get really thirsty. The sun beat down through the wet leaves, making the forest damp and steaming. Where the sweat in the Bog of Stench had clung to their skins, this sweat ran down their backs in little rivers.  
'Waaa-tteeerr' Ludo rumbled.  
'Yeah, yeah. We're all thirsty. Wish there was wa'er around 'ere, but...' Hoggle trailed off. He waddled off into the bushes, followed closely by Mabel, Didymus and Ludo. 
They stood together in front of a very large fountain.  
'Fountain of Water' its sign said.  
Mabel laughed, while Hoggle scoffed at the stupid name. Sir Didymus seemed to think it was a perfectly normal name for a fountain.  
Mabel was already going forward to it, when Hoggle held her back.  
'Hang on there, kid.  What if it's a trick? What if it's poison?' he asked. 
Mabel simply pointed to Ludo, who had dunked his face into the water and was taking huge gulps.  
They waited for a moment to see if anything would happen to Ludo, but Ludo merely stood, seeming content and hydrated, waiting for them to use the fountain too.  
Didymus lead AMBROSIUS to the fountain, too, so they could both drink.  
Mabel shrugged at Hoggle. She took off her shoes, and went into the fountain. She held her hair under the water first.  
 
The water on her dirty hair felt like a blessing from above. She stuck out her tongue to taste it. It was sweeter than she thought. The sweet water from the fountain filled her mouth. Bubbles came up around her. She felt... good. The air was cooler here. The scent was good... It smelled of warm wood, like in a sauna. Soft music filled her ears. 
Her hands went down to stroke soft fabric that clung to her chest and fluttered around her legs. She blinked slowly and looked down. A white huge ballgown swished around her feet. It had poofy sleeves and a whole lot of sparkles. Her hair, which usually hung down her back, was done up in a beautiful style, curling at the nape of her neck and piled on her head like the ladies in the paintings Mabel had seen once at the museum. Soft silver framed her face and tinkling silver chains came down her neck. She glanced in the mirror next to her. She looked like one of the fairies in one of Dipper's favourite movies: The Ring King. She sighed in delight. 
 
She swayed, admiring the dress in the mirror. The dress fluttered like wings in a breeze. She looked closely. The skirt was made of wings. Slight and small butterfly wings in all shades of white. The butterflies flapped their wings. They were alive.  
Her hand was taken by a stranger, and she was spun around into a dance. The stranger she danced with wore a mask with a bird beak and feathers framing the face. Behind the mask, beautiful eyes glistened invitingly. Before she could open her mouth to speak to him, she was whirled around to the next partner. This one was tall, and an even better partner than the previous one was. The stranger smiled. The glamour was so powerful that Mabel smiled back. She allowed herself to be swept up in the dance. Her feet were floating, her dress fluttered. She turned and twirled. She danced and sang along to the luring songs of the party. Everything sparkled. It was so pretty. It was so perfect.. Like Mabel Land... 
 
'...time to burst your BUBBLE!... you don't want to be in this fantasy world... ... We'll do it together... Let's grow up together... grow up together... come home... a good person, Mabel ...open your eyes again... Hahaha! That's my girl!... Mabel...Mabel...MABEL!'  
 
The voices of her family rang in her ears. Where was Dipper? And if everything was so perfect, where were Grunkle Ford and Grunkle Stan? And why on earth was everything so shiny? Mabel rubbed her eyes, dislodging the glamour. She saw she was dancing with the Goblin King. He took her hand and spun her around. She was reminded being spun around by Grunkle Stan, though the King was taller and less broad-shouldered. Now that she could see through his glamour, she could see that the King's gaze wasn't one of beauty, but of cruelty. And he didn't feel like Grunkle Stan, with his easy-going attitude and old-man-knees. This felt... more refined, somehow...Predatory. She missed her Grunkle. 
 
 Suddenly, it was like she could hear his voice again.  
'… giant freakin trap! Get the heck out, pumpkin!'  
'..Okay, Grunkle Stan.' Mabel muttered, and tore herself away from the dance. She ran to the edge of a party, where a giant mirror stood. The mirror didn't reflect the party, and Mabel knew why. 
'I can't believe I gotta do this stuff again' she muttered. She picked up a giant candelabra, and smashed the mirror.  
 
She fell, and it seemed she fell forever, as if she was in the bottomless pit. Glitter and feathers fell around her. She remembered a girl named Alice falling down a hole as well. Then she forgot. She remembered being stinky. She recognised she wasn't anymore. Then she forgot.  
 
 
She woke up with a cry of 'Dipper!'  
Then she wondered what a Dipper was.  
 
Then, for no reason to her, she got angry. She remembered being angry a lot, lately. But why? 
Well, she was sure she was a good person. She felt it deep inside her.  
If she was a good person, why would she be so angry if it wasn't for a good cause?  Tears filled her eyes. But they were good tears. Strong tears.  She let the anger fill up her entire body, until she stood tall with pure rage. And with the rage came remembrance. 
 
She screamed her defiance against the night sky.  
'DIPPER PINES IS MY TWIN BROTHER AND YOU WILL NOT ERASE HIM FROM MY MEMORY! YOU WILL NOT TOUCH MY OR MY FAMILIES MEMORIES AGAIN! I WILL PROTECT THEM ALL, AND I WILL BRING THEM ALL BACK!'  
 
She started to walk. She only noticed now that she had fallen into a sort of garbage dump. It didn't smell as bad as the Bog of Stench, but the entire area was grimy and grey. Figures moved between the thrash piles, picking up items and taking them away. Mabel picked up a glue gun and looked at it confusedly.  
'Well, now dear, wouldn't you like to have all your pretty little craft supplies back?' The thrash pile next to her moved. It revealed the form of a thrash lady, who seemed to carry her entire house on her back.  
'NO!' Mabel screamed in her face. 'I'VE JUST COME HERE TO GET MY FREAKING BROTHER BACK. GO AWAY!' Mabel turned and ran, tossing aside the glue gun.  
 
*** 
Dipper watched the King stare in his crystal ball, looking at Mabel yell against the sky. He was glad. If something had made Mabel angry enough to make her yell at the sky, he was certain Mabel would be here soon. But the king watched her every move... 
The clock was at half past eleven. Dipper made up his mind. If this was a dream, he was sure as heck going to make it end well. With his broken leg he couldn't do much, but he could give Mabel time.  
 
Dipper watched his sister take the sky to task in Jareth's crystal ball, something like pride swelling in his chest. He wasn't sure that anything would come of her doing this, but he appreciated the sentiment nonetheless, and envisioned the sky turning a few shades paler as she unleashed her fury upon it. 
Jareth's gaze as he watched this was cool and calculating, and Dipper found himself thinking of Gideon, and the gnomes, and about how Mabel had probably reached her limit with strange men's expectations of her. 
'You're not doing anything new, you know,' Dipper found himself saying, sounding bored despite the pain he was in and his exhaustion. Jareth looked up, upper lip curling in distaste. 
'I'm quite sure your little mind has already collapsed under the pressure of all that it is I'm doing here.' He smirked, and Dipper glowered. 
'Stupid logic defying stairs,' he muttered. They'd made no sense, they were something to be appreciated as art, not navigated like...physically.  
 
Jareth seemed content in his insult, and peered back at the globe. Dipper watched him. It was true, there was a lot about this place he found viscerally upsetting. But he was used to upsetting. More, he was kind of bored with it. Broken legs hurt like hell and his Escher adventure had scrambled his head more than he'd like to admit, but he'd suffered worse, and he'd survived it. He'd survive this, too.  
 
And Mabel? Mabel never had any tolerance for men who sought her affections via trickery and sabotage. He was pretty sure half of what was driving her journey through this manifestation of Jareth's narcisscism was just how incredibly done she was with things like this happening to her. They were kids, man! How many times was she gonna have to deal with this? How many times was Dipper going to go head to head with an aesthetically challenged villain? 
 He didn't care anymore.  
'You're still doing nothing new,' he told Jareth, who sighed. 
'The Labyrinth is a-' 
'Bore.' 
Jareth glared up at him. 'The Labyrinth is-' 
'Overrated.' 
'Do not interrupt me.' 
'Or, what, you'll get mean? Let me brace for that, man, such a shocking demeanour change might give me whiplash.' 
 
Years of politics and Sarahs had made Jareth forget what actual insults were like. Sarahs never insulted him. They just cowered before him, always looking beautiful. And he had been so frightening. Those were good days.  
He wasn't sure about it before, but he hated teenagers with a passion now. Especially twins.  
Babies, now. Babies were easy. Half of his army had been babies, once.  
He regretted that he couldn't hurt Dipper all that much. At least, not before the clock struck 13. He had tried hurting a Toby once. That didn't end well. His face and... other parts still felt phantom pains from the rage of that particular Sarah.  
 
Jareth walked to the end of the room, trying not to hear Dipper's insults. Dipper responded by raising his voice.  
'AND YOU NEED TO RECONSIDER YOUR LEGGINGS!' Dipper shouted. 'THEY'RE TOO TIGHT AND IT'S UNHEALTHY, BOTH FOR YOU AND EVERYONE AROUND YOU!'  
 
That did it. With a growl, Jareth went over to the cage and grabbed Dipper at the collar. He carried him one-handed to the Escher Chamber, as Dipper called it in his head, and casually threw him from the ledge. Dipper fell.  
And was caught again by the King, who was upside-down. He held Dipper above the abyss, again by his collar. 
'Oh, Mason,' the King taunted. 'Don't you know your sister will choose to stay with me, in the end?'  
'She won't. And my name is DIPPER!' 
Dipper bit the King's hand.  
Dipper was dropped again. And caught. Taunted at. And dropped. Until the whole world went upside down and his stomach rebelled against him. And yet he fought. He thought it would be the end, every single time Jareth dropped him. Sometimes Jareth didn't catch him quickly enough, and Dipper felt more and more bruises form. His ribs were cracked, he tasted blood in his mouth, and yet he fought.  
 
 
 
*** 
 
Mabel ran and ran, and as she ran, she could hear footsteps behind her. But these weren't the footsteps of king or goblin. They sounded like... Like...  
'A dog?' Mabel whispered to herself. 
'Verily, good lady! Onwards, Ambrosius! To the City!' Sir Didymus called, astride on Ambrosius, who was running along beside her.  
'Where's the-' Mabel began, but she soon found out where the rest of her friends were, for there came Ludo, knuckling along on his long legs and arms, holding Hoggle under one arm like a football.  
Hoggle said something, but his mouth was muffled by Ludo's fur.  
Sir Didymus, however, was about to say the same.  
'Ambrosius, HALT! We have arrived, good lady!' 
 
They stood together at the entrance to the city. A guard stood napping at his post, his bronze armour gone half-green with water damage.  
'Where do you reckon Dipper is?' Mabel asked in a whisper. 
'e's probably at the tallest tower' Hoggle said morosely. He had just been put down by Ludo, and looked glum about the whole situation.  
'Then that's where I'm going. Can you distract the goblins?' Mabel asked. 
'Of course, my fair lady! To WAAAARR!' Sir Didymus yelled and knocked over the guard to the city. It fell with a clang and woke up. Ludo opened the doors to the city.  
Hoggle turned to Mabel.  
'How are you getting there?'  
Mabel once more took her grappling hook out of her sweater. She winked.  
'See ya!' She smiled, and shot upwards.  
'Call us when you need us! ONWARDS, AMBROSIUS!' Sir Didymus called after her, already fighting the goblins.  
 
*** 
Mabel swung quickly around the city using her grappling hook. She giggled to herself. Grunkle Ford would have a field day if he saw her like this, swinging around like a superhero. 
When she came to the tallest tower, she hoped the rope would be long enough.  
It was.  
The sounds of the battle dimmed as Mabel landed lightly on the floor of the throne room. Months of using her grappling hook had given her immense control over the thing. She looked around. The giant clock next to the throne was at a quarter to twelve. Where was Dipper?  
She didn't see him, but she did see an incredibly big glass ball. It looked important. Using her grappling hook, she threw it out of the window. She could hear it shatter below.  
 
She started opening and closing doors. One room held an enormous amount of white pigeons that all flew out when she opened it. Another held a mountain of glitter. Mabel didn't want to do anything with it, for once. Another held what seemed to be the entrance to a forest, much darker than she had seen before. A figure with a lantern walked in the distance, singing a forlorn song.  
She closed that door quickly.  
 
When she came to the last door, she heard Dipper. 
 
'Do your worst.' Mabel heard Dipper's weak voice from beyond the door. 'This isn't real, anyway' he said.  
 
She opened the door to reveal a chamber of upside-down stairs and cray-cray ceilings.  
Jareth held Dipper by the collar over a ledge. Neither of them saw her. They were just fixed on each other. Rage poured from the King's eyes.  
Dipper's legs were dangling above the abyss below him.  
'Don't test me, boy. I have an army' Jareth said.  
Dipper swallowed, but bravely replied: 'I have a sister'  
'And I have a GRAPPLING HOOK!' Mabel yelled from across the room. Her grappling hook was shot with terrifying accuracy and hit the Goblin King square in the face. He stumbled backwards. He dropped Dipper on the ledge. Dipper yelped in pain.  
 
The King went from an upright position directly to a horizontal one. Mabel waved at Dipper from across the psychedelic room. Dipper waved back weakly. He said something from across the room. Mabel found she couldn't hear him. 
So the Shiny Man wanted to make her fall, did he? Let's see what the Power of Mabel had to say about that!  
Mabel considered the ending platform before her. She saw the path continuing underneath it.  
She faintly recognised that this was a thing that rational-thinking people would never do.  
She also recognised that she had never been a rational-thinking person.  
 
'Mabel, you can't do this! This place makes no SENSE!' Dipper yelled from across the room, panic in his voice. Mabel either didn't hear him, or didn't listen.  
He saw Mabel stepping forward. She was going to fall. She was going to... 
Dipper closed his eyes. 
'This isn't real... this isn't real...' Dipper whispered to himself, rocking back and forth slightly.  
'Dipper...' There was a small hand on his shoulder. Mabel's voice came from beside him. He opened his eyes and looked over. She was there. He touched her sweater sleeve. It was there too. He pulled her into a tight hug. He could feel the spikes of her grappling hook under her sweater, but he didn't mind. Mabel was here now. He felt her putting something on his head. He couldn't see it, but he smelled and felt that it could be nothing else but Wendy's hat.  
'Pat, pat' she said softly in his ear, while patting his back. 
He sniffed away a sob and chuckled. 'Pat, pat' he replied, returning the gesture. 
They let go.  
'Thank you for coming to get me.' he said. 
'Any time, bro-bro.' she replied. 
 
'Hey, Mabel?' 
'Yup?' 
'How did I get here?' 
'Weeeelll...' 
'Oh no.' 
'Dipper, I swear I didn't mean it!' 
'What did you do?' Dipper asked.  
The words came out in one long rant. 
'Well it was me, Candy and Grenda, and we were playing Truth or Dare and I chose Truth and then Grenda asked is it nice to have a twin brother and I said yeah sure Dipper's my best friend and then Candy said that her sisters are annoying sometimes and I said yeah it's what siblings do and I said... I said that sometimes I wished that, like, the goblins would take you away too but I also said that I'd never mean it but then that stupid king had already taken you and I kicked him and...' 
'Hey. Hey.. Mabel. It's okay.' 
'No, it's not, Dipper. I feel so bad. I'm so sorry.' 
'Well, if it's any consolation, I feel the same way about you too sometimes.' Dipper said. 
''Course you do, I'm your sister.' Mabel started to smile.  
'So I get to feel that way, and you don't? That's not fair.' Dipper said teasingly, poking Mabel's side. Mabel giggled and nodded.  
'And hey, Mabel?' 
'What?' 
'You still came to fetch me, right? You even kicked a king.' Dipper said, punching Mabel playfully on the shoulder. 
'For you? Always, bro-bro. Besides, I think you hurt him more.' Mabel said, punching him back. Dipper laughed, and then sighed. 
  
'I still don't think I can do this, Mabel. This place isn't real. We'll fall...' 
'But Dipper... It is real. It's a real place.' Mabel said softly. 'And we're going to get out of here' 
'But it makes no sense!' 
'Nope, it doesn't! But neither do I,' Mabel said defiantly. 'Hold my hand and close your eyes.'  
Dipper obeyed.  
'Now get up and walk' Mabel said.  
'...But...'  
'No butts except for ours out of here!' Mabel said in a gruff voice. Dipper smiled. 
'I wish my butt could walk. Think I broke my leg. Ow! OW! OWOWOWOWOW...' he said as he tried to stand up. He sat down again.  
 
Mabel looked at Dipper's leg. She pretended to put on a stethoscope and listen to his leg. Then he tapped his leg. Dipper let out a loud 'OW!'. 
'Yep. Yep...' Mabel said. 
'So what's the diagnosis, Doctor Mabel?' Dipper asked laughingly. Mabel turned away, frowning. 
'Sir... I'm afraid you have... a LEG!' She said, while turning around dramatically. 
They laughed. Then Mabel crouched down. 
'Piggyback ride, bro-bro?' 
'You know it, sis.' 
Dipper clambered onto Mabel's back.  
'Woo, you need to eat more, Dip-dop! You're a lightweight' she joked.  
'Take off your hat, we don't want it to fall' Mabel said. Dipper did so. 
 She started for the upside-down stairs.  
'MABEL! WAIT!' Dipper said, tightening his grip, afraid to fall. 
'Nope!' Mabel said happily, and put her foot on the first step. Dipper closed his eyes. 
But the sensation of falling never came.  
 
Instead, Mabel simply walked along the disorienting paths, singing a made-up song. 
'Do-do-doo, walking down some crazy stairs... do-do-doo... carrying my brother to freeeedom!'  
'Mabel, how are you doing this?' Dipper asked. 
'Kinda easy, really,' Mabel said. 'you just gotta believe it's real and then you just don't fall.'  
'But why did I have to take off my hat then?' He asked. 
'Well, your hat don't know that.' Mabel said.  
Dipper was even more confused than before.  
 
They ended up at the outskirts of the castle. Mabel's new friends were waiting for them. The goblins had gone away to regroup for another battle.  
The king's clock struck twelve.  
'Hoggle, Ludo, Sir Didymus, Ambrosius, this is my brother, Dipper,' Mabel introduced them. 'His leg is broken. Ludo, could you maybe...' she added. Ludo picked Dipper up and put him on his neck. 
Then they started for the big gardens on the other side of the Goblin Castle.  
'Bwooootherrr?' Ludo said, as Dipper held on to Ludo's horns. 
'Yeah, he's my little brother' Mabel panted. 
'By fifteen minutes' Dipper added grumpily. 
'Well, it certainly is splendid to meet you at last, Tobias' Sir Didymus said, trotting alongside him on Ambrosius.  
'She just said his name was Dipper, you idiot!' Hoggle added. A faint trail of memory started to make his way into his brain. His head hurt.  
'If you need us... if ever you need us...' He had said. 'I'll call' Sarah had said... Sarah. Sarah... Sweet Sarah... But more than one, surely.  Many Sarahs. Too many to count... All lost... All part of the walls... Endless Sarahs...  
Hoggle gasped. Beside him, Didymus and Ludo did the same. They stopped, legs failing to work. They all shouted the same name, at the same time. 
'SARAH!' 

Chapter Text

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.  
 
Home... 
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. 
 
Home... 
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.  
 
 
Home... 
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. 
 
Home... 
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... 
GIDEON.  
 
'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.  
 
*** 
 
BONG. 
BONG. 
BONG. 
BONG. 
 
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!' 
'SHE JUST...' 
'BAM!!' 
'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...

Chapter Text

Once upon a time, a girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth to claim back her little brother. She succeeded, and the Goblin King raged. Decades after that, another girl named Sarah went into the Labyrinth for the same reason. She failed, and the Goblin King smiled.  
Countless Sarahs have been wandering the Labyrinth, in search of their lost brothers. Failing, walking away, succeeding. Some accepted the hand of the Goblin King, others turned away from him. All died, in the end, becoming one with the endless walls. Countless of Sarahs, in countless of endings.   
 
Until now.  
 
Now, a gentle queen rules over the Goblins. All the Sarahs into one.  
Sometimes, people still come into the labyrinth to wander around the glittering walls. They squeeze their noses and laugh at the Bog of Stench, feel their way around the dark parts of the forests and make friends with the creatures that walk the same roads they do. They kneel before the queen, and gain advice from thousands of lifetimes. 
 
All are seen home safely. 
Sometimes, they even stay.  
 
 
The End.