Curiosity and Nightmares
Rating: M (T for now)
By: Shadako [FF] Cuz Iz Hot [DA]
Sixth Chapter: A guardian cast out.
Jack's gaze lingered on the ceiling of North's guest bedroom; one hand resting above his head while the other played with his staff lazily. In the distance he could hear the booming voice of the bulky Russian but he couldn't be bothered to get up. So far none of the other guardians had called for his aid or even recognized his presence here much; so why should he follow them around like some dog waiting for orders? Yeah, not gonna happen any time soon. If they wanted him to participate in preparing the North Pole for any possible attacks or forming epic battle plans then they better tell him or he wouldn't move an inch. Maybe it was a bit childish of him to act like this in such a dire situation, but honestly, he didn't feel much like a part of the guardians right now. Nor did he feel very useful being here at all. If it weren't for Pitch filling him in on what was going on he would still know close to nothing.
Speaking of the devil; the dark spirit had been gone for a while now. As well as the horrible nightmare that had been so keen on following Jack. And as weird as that sounded; even to himself; somehow Jack kind of missed the presence of the annoying horse now. At least he had something to do while it had been here. Now he was stuck with lying around in this room alone and his own thoughts. Something he really didn't appreciate right now. Because he couldn't keep them from wandering to places they should never have gone to in the first place. Like back to the message he had received from the man in the moon; or the way his body had been frozen in place when Pitch had invaded his personal space during their last encounter. If he acted like that around an enemy just because his stupid hormones started doing a number on his brain, he wouldn't be alive and kicking for much longer; that much was for sure.
With an annoyed groan he rose from the bed; jet again he had gone back to thinking about the Nightmare King. What was wrong with him? That was Pitch he was thinking about, for the sake of it! He wasn't that desperate and lonely. Or at least that was what Jack tried to tell himself. With both hands the snow spirit rubbed through his white hair in frustration. Only a few days ago things had been so nice and simple; like they always had been. He was causing mischief and entertaining kids. And now? Now he was faced with a menacing evil trying to destroy everything Jack cherished; the guardians basically ignoring him; MiM talking crap and his own brain actually considering Pitch as a possible love interest. Seriously, how much worse could things get?
The winter spirit grabbed the fluffy pillow next to his head, pressing it down onto his own face as hard as he could. He simply refused to keep thinking right now. It was starting to give him a headache and he just wanted some peace and quiet from it all. So with his eyes closed forcefully by the pillow he would have no other choice but sleep. At least while he slept he could turn his brain off for a while. And maybe he would wake up finding out it was all just a really, really unpleasant dream.
Yeah. Most likely not, but hope always dies last, right? Jack willed his body to relax and his mind to do the same. Naturally sleep wouldn't come easy. Maybe he should go find Sandy and ask for a little aid with that. Or freeze his eyes shut with his staff. Whatever would work...
Wisps of dancing shadows enveloped the large dark globe in the depths of Pitch's lair. Golden orbs followed their every movement, trying to find a pattern in the way they slithered over the surface. There had to be an opening. A way to get rid of the lurking darkness blocking his view. But so far he came up blank; the mist would not budge to reveal the vile energy of it's master below. That insane Necromancer knew that Pitch could become a problem, so he made sure to cloak the globe and made it impossible for the Nightmare King to find his hideout this way. As annoying as it was, but apparently the dark spirit would have to use far more time consuming methods to find out where that damned undead was hiding. Even his trusty nightmares had not been able to find him so far.
With a snarl Pitch averted his gaze from the globe; one hand reaching out to pet the muzzle of the closest shadow mare. The Lich King was no fool; he knew too well who commanded the nightmares and shades. He knew that Pitch would try to interfere with his plans if he found him. That Undead's magic was strong enough to ensure his whereabouts were not revealed unless he wanted them to be. But even he could only conceal so much. The Lich would make mistakes eventually; and when that time came, Pitch would be aware of it. His shadows would notice and track the other dark being down. It was only a matter of time before he would find the Necromancer. Hopefully that would be soon; each day that passed would only leave the Souleater growing stronger. A truly unpleasant thought.
Even if the fear and terror he invoked in the humans with his deeds also fuelled Pitch's own powers. In the end it wouldn't do any good, dead humans didn't feel anything after all. The inevitable fight would become so much more trouble if the Necromancer had his magic fully restored. Nothing Pitch looked forward to.
The mare he had been casually petting snorted softly, pushing her head against her masters cloak. Pitch looked down to her; surprised by the nightmares sudden show of affection. That one sure was acting weird. What had happened to her to behave so strange was beyond the dark spirit. But then again it wasn't as if he cared all that much. He had other things to focus on.
With one last glance at the globe and the lovesick nightmare he shook his head slightly before heading into the deeper levels of his lair. He had some preparations to make if he had to face that insane, undead menace yet again...
Blue eyes followed the track of water droplets Bunny left behind after he had exited one of his tunnels. The rabbit had been out trying to track down the latest activities of the Lich King and his minions and to gather more information. That apparently had involved walking through pouring rain for a while judging from the wet fur and the annoyed expression on the guardians face. Jack couldn't help but grin at the wet Pookha. Now that served the grumpy rabbit just right.
Shaking of the remaining water as best as he could, the Easter Bunny walked up to North. The bulky man was busy looking over some old pages and maps when he noticed his fellow guardian enter. They exchanged a few words Jack couldn't quite understand and the rabbit left again.
It was the next day and so far nobody had made an effort to fill the winter spirit in on what was going on. Since staring at the walls of the guest room and counting little reindeer on the curtains had become too boring, Jack had opted for lounging around the globe room. Only to be mostly ignored once again. Yay for him. With a sigh he let his head fall back against the couch he was half lying across. Sadly sleeping had done nothing to soothe his troubled mind. Quite the opposite, actually. The winter spirit had awoken multiple times due to awful dreams of haunting golden eyes and stomping hooves. Maybe he was slowly going crazy. Or he just had had one too many shadow horse encounters lately. Probably the latter.
“Ah, Jack, may I have word with you?” Huh? Oh, North had turned his way, beckoning him over. Somebody was finally talking to the snow spirit. Miracles do happen!
He got up from his couch; the big bearded man gestured for the boy to follow. Jack gave a quick nod and walked after the bulky guardian into one of his private rooms. Toys and a plate with half eaten cookies adored the workspace when they entered. With large hands Santa moved all the clutter aside to make room for himself to lean against a wooden workbench. Jack had entered after the man, pulling the door shut. Somehow the lack of the usual jolly smile on North's face made the winter spirit quite uneasy. He rarely saw the boar of a man looking so serious. To tell the truth, Santa could be really intimidating if he wanted to be. Twirling his staff between his fingers a little nervously Jack leaned against the door frame; waiting for North to speak. Hopefully he wasn't in trouble again...
“Ah, Jack, it appears as if what you've told us is indeed true. Even if we had hoped it would not be.” A frown ghosted over the face of the older spirit. Jack could only roll his eyes; of course it was true. Why else would Pitch have rotting corpses lying around his lair? The younger spirit suppressed a slight shiver at the thought of the dead body. He really hoped he would never have to smell anything like that again.
“The King of the Dead has indeed returned; and he is here in the mortal world no less.” Jack could only nod; already knowing that much anyway. Pitch had been so kind as to fill him in on that part already. While he listened to Santa he couldn't help but notice how much older the man looked with his brow furrowed in worry. So even the bulky Russian was that concerned about this undead monster? Wow; this new bad guy had to be some awful dark being indeed.
“You may not know much about the danger we are about to face; but know that he is not to be taken lightly. His powers are far more sinister and vile than anything you can imagine. And he will not hesitate to use them.”
North turned away from the winter spirit after those words, walking up to one of the large windows in the room. His weary gaze lingered on the horizon.“This world is in great danger, Jack. And so is every one of us.” Not only did North look much older, his voice sounded the part, too.
The winter spirit felt a shiver of dread run down his spine. He had known the situation was bad, but he hadn't really imagined it to be this bad. Jack had stopped toying with his staff and was instead gripping it tightly. Before he could even think about what he wanted to answer, the older spirit was already talking again.”There will be changes made in the workshop. We must prepare for battle.”
A strong hand reached out to trace the edges of a little toy plane that sat on the windowsill next to the old man. “We must do everything in our power to protect the children.” Somehow Jack felt like North wasn't even talking to him anymore. The man seemed to be lost in his own thoughts, gaze lingering on the small toy. A strong feeling of sympathy rushed through the younger spirit.
It took only a moment for the older guardian to force reality back into focus, turning around to face Jack again. Whatever memory he had been lost in shoved aside. “Allies of ours will be arriving here shortly. We had to inform them about the recent events. This may not be their domain, but this foe is threatening all of us. While they are here in the workshop magic wards will be in place. Nothing that isn't invited may enter. “
Jack raised a brow at this new information. Allies? So far he only overheard Tooth or Bunny talking about other spirits and mythical creatures occasionally; he hadn't met any of the guardians allies in person. Normally such an information would leave him with a goofy smile and quite exited. But somehow the thought of getting to meet other immortal beings sounded less thrilling now. Especially if they were here to discuss how to deal with a insane villain trying to slaughter all mortals. The snow spirit bit his lower lip in agitation. So this was a really big deal if the guardians even involved the other realms. Jack didn't feel ready for something like this at all.
A strong hand on his shoulder brought his attention back to the big man in front of him. North's face had softened now that he was directly speaking to the youngest guardian. “Listen, Jack. I know all this may be a bit much; but I have to ask you to stay put for now.”
Really. Wasn't that exactly what he had been doing here these last days all along? The white haired boy grimaced at this new information. So he was stuck here for even longer? Great.
“No one knows how strong the enemy really is; nor can we tell if he is aware of us already being alert to his presence. All we can say is that a war is coming; and we need to be prepared. And with we I mean the ones that have great experience in battle and know what this monster is capable of.”
Jack's jaw tightened at that; his shoulders stiffening under the large man's hand. North gazed down at him with an apologetic look that clearly told that he was sorry. But that didn't change the meaning of the man's words at all. They were doing this without Jack. They didn't think him though enough to handle that bad guy. Or too inexperienced or whatever. A grim expression had settled on the snow sprites face; defiance showing as bright as day. “What? You can't just ignore me and-!”
The rant Jack was about to go on with was cut short by North lifting his large hands. “Now, now, listen, Jack. Nobody is ignoring you. But try to understand; we are facing an enemy neither of us is capable of defeating right now. We simply do want to keep you safe.” The fatherly tone in Santa's voice and the gentle smile forced the guardian of fun to close his mouth. There was no arguing with North right now; and Jack knew it. The logical part of his brain understood the decision the other guardians had made somewhat, but the rest of it wanted to cry out in frustration. Of course they wanted him safe, but he wanted to do something to keep them safe and alive as well, not just sit by and watch.
“Fine.” He ground out, hands still gripping his staff tighter than necessary. North smiled down at him with a nod. “I knew you would understand.” A strong hand patted Jack's shoulder affectionately. “Of course you are free to leave the workshop, but stay close to the pole.”
With that the big Russian stepped away from Jack and opened the door to leave. Before he made his way back to the globe room to give more orders to the Yetis North stopped one more time.
“Oh, and Jack? Try not to be rude to any of our guests, no? They are very powerful beings and some might not take kindly to being disrespected. It's best you stay away from them.” Even if the last words were said in the usual jolly tone Santa's voice normally held, Jack couldn't help but grimace at them.
So he wasn't allowed to do anything useful, to leave the area or even to get to know the other immortals who were going to show up? Pushing himself off of the door frame the winter spirit stalked out of the workroom with a sour expression. This whole situation just went from bad to even worse. Really, this was going to be nothing but awful from here on, and Jack knew it. Just why was everyone against him lately? Awfully frustrating wasn't even enough to describe the current situation. Just why did everybody think him incapable of handling anything? He wasn't a kid, for god's sake. Even if he sometimes acted the part...
With yellowed pages of an old book almost crumbling under his delicate fingers, Pitch was seated in an eerie ancient library. He rarely visited this part of his domain; the hall so far below the surface he almost forgot that it was even there from time to time. Shelves sculpted from black stone that went up higher than you could even see, dusty statues and ornaments telling stories of long forgotten times. The air was damp and the only source of light were black candles that decorated every other piece of furniture or stack of books on the ground. The blue flames always flickering and no matter how much time had passed since the last visit, the candles would never burn down. The magic enchanting the whole hall was far older than even Pitch himself. He disliked this place for that very reason. The powers that worked here were not his own, jet he could not get rid of them, no matter what. Of course he had long since accepted the ancient magic and simply tolerated it in his domain, but that didn't mean he had to like the place. The information the ancient books and scrolls provided could be quite useful, however. Well, at least if he managed to find the right ones.
So far he hadn't found a single trace about a possible weapon that could have been used against the Lich King. There had to be something, the Nightmare King knew it; but finding the desired information in this maze of a library was a rather hard task. The last weapon that was used to strike the insane Souleater down had vanished from existence along with it's wielder. So using it again was out of the question. But what else would suffice in defeating pure darkness?
Pitch knew that his powers could not banish the other netherworldly spirit; for they originated from the same source of power. He was as much a being of the dark realms as the Lich King was. Sure, he could fight him, but the finishing blow had to come from someone else. Naturally, a normal weapon wouldn't be enough to strip the Necromancer from his powers, either. No, it had to be something stronger. Something embedded with a different kind of power.
With a sigh he placed the book on the obsidian table in front of him. It was no use; maybe another ancient tome would hold more usable information than this one. While Pitch tried to decide if he should try yet another book, the silence of the endless halls between the shelves was disturbed by restless whining and whispers. The shadows called for their master. The dark spirit rose; abandoning his task for now. Leaving the book on the table Pitch stepped into the shadows; reappearing in the entrance hall of his lair. His eyes scanned the black globe briefly; the mist was still clouding his vision.
The fearlings and nightmares around him were agitated, apparently having gathered some rather important information. The Shadowmancer beckoned one of his mares to his side; placing his pale fingers against her strong neck. The images of what the shade had witnessed poured into Pitch's mind; the master of the mare seeing them as through her very eyes. He had ordered his nightmares to keep watch of the north pole; he needed to know what those fools were up to after all. And apparently they were taking the situation rather seriously. The workshop of North appeared more like a fortress by now. Every corner was guarded; strong magic shielding it from any possible intruders. He could tell just from seeing the place from afar that something big was going on. Pitch couldn't help the smirk tugging at his lips. Maybe he had underestimated the old guardian a little bit.
“Interesting.” The dark spirit let his hand slip away from the shadow mare, walking up to the globe once more. His fingers trailed over the black wisps, deep in thought. “We better keep an eye on them. Can't have them make any foolish decisions just yet, now can we.” With a pleased smile Pitch vanished back into the shadows while his Nightmares set out into the world above; going back to their observations. Things were finally beginning to get interesting; so a little visit to the Pole was in order for their master.
Another chapter, yay! This one is pretty much just to build up the story some more. Pitch and Jack will meet again in the next chapter, and there will be some epic planning on how to get rid of Mr. evil monsterguy.
So while you wait for that, review, because it makes me happy! <3