This is a story about a boy with undecided believes who finds himself caught in the middle of of battle- one of good and evil, and of morality and belief. On the way he will discover many unheard and undiscovered secrets and myths, all the while trying to find his own path, and why he is able to see things that most can't see.
EDIT: 14/8/13 Man this was written ages ago. I may have to re-write a lot of it as my writing has sharpened and is now alot more expressive than it was now. I hope its still sophisticated enough in this story as it is important for the rest of the series.
CHAPTER 1: THE ONE WHO SAW THE NIGHTMARE KING.
No child, for a long time, has been able to see the Nightmare King.
He was a dark, looming and forgotten figure than once haunted the Dark Ages of mankind, but as of the present day he retreated into the mere fragments of myths, down to the point of becoming only a monster that even the smallest children did not truly believe existed. Jo Mgeeth had heard of the Boogeyman, but he was certain there were more frightening things than some monster in the closet.
Jo wasn't really interested in legends. He was an anxious, nervous yet stubborn boy of ten, stunningly quiet and kept to himself. To him, believing in fairy tales and legends that protected you were for smaller children. Then again, he wasn't sure. Who did bring presents to the children all over the world, if not Santa? The parents? It seemed more likely than anything else...
And the eggs on Easter? Maybe his older sister, who sometimes came to visit from her home in Scotland, hid them? She was one of the only people in his family that was interested in him. His parents and older brother didn't believe in things like that either. And even If Jo did believe in Santa, he still wouldn't get all the presents with all the furniture he liked to kick after an argument. Or when the bullies at school decided to beat him up or insult him for the most trivial things.
It had been earlier in the day when Jo heard the matter being discussed by some other children and their parents.
It was cold and bitter, the icy wind nipping on his nose uncomfortably, and his loose winter coat wasn't the best protection from the winter.
He was standing alone in the snow-covered street outside his home, his blond, straight locks ruffling in the chilly wind. Across the road, a group of children were prattling on about Christmas, the upcoming holiday. Somewhere asking about legends like the Tooth Fairy, Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, all wondering the same thing:
"Why can't we see them?"
"Because they use magic. But, some say if you really, really believe in them, you might just catch a glimpse..."
The mother's charming monologue was cut off by an old man's gruff, scornful laughter. Alecavnder ran an old antique's shop- the kind of antiques that were said to be cursed, bring bad luck or were owned by those who held misgivings for others.
Jo didn't really like the old man, having been called a 'skinny little gnat' by him more than once. Yet he was curious as to why he was laughing at the mother's comment.
Maybe he was just being a rude old cook.
"Don't tell them that." He said once his laughter ended. The mother frowned at him sourly, but the children turned around and stared at him, wide-eyed.
"Why not?" one of them asked.
"Because. If you believe in them, and start see'n 'um, you just might see the nightmare king...if you believe in him..."
Jo was instantly interested. He hadn't heard of that story before. So, as the mothers led their children away and disappeared around the corner, Jo wandered over to the other side of the road where Alecvander was unpacking another statue- one in the shape of an exceptionally ugly crow.
"Um, sir..." He asked in a husky, barley used voice. Alecvander looked at him sharply, sending him a questioning frown. Jo retreated, holding up both hands up a little.
"So it's you, runt? Off with you, I'm busy."
"I was only wondering...who is the nightmare king, exactly?"
The old man froze, his angry expression fading away. He seemed...away in thought for a moment. The curious yet baffled expression was making him uneasy. He was about to leave when Alecvander said:
"You...want to know? are you sure?"
Jo's heart began beating fast. Was this one of those scary stories, the ones where if you heard heard them something bad would happen?
It was just a story. It couldn't hurt.
"Yes. I want to know..."
The old man shook his head, laughing quietly. "If you say so...You don't believe in spirits and fables, do you? well. You might not believe this one."
Jo said nothing, waiting for him to continue. He rubbed his hands together to warm them up as the man started speaking.
"It's more of a myth than a story, mind you. It's said that thousands of years ago, a man appeared of a tragic past. He loved nothing more than to cause fear in others, and every night he plagues the dreams of children- and maybe even adults- all over the world. He hides in the shadows beneath your bed and haunts the cupboards, he makes the wind howl in dark forests and strikes terror into even the bravest hearts."
Jo bit his lip "So he's the... boogeyman?"
"That's one sugar-coated name for him. But it's not his real one."
"Then...what's his name?"
The old man looked straight at him. Something in those old, grey eyes seemed to spark with... amazement? Surprise?
"Many names he's called. By those who's dreams have been corrupted. Those who's souls he has been possessed with his dark magic..."
The description of this Nightmare King was beginning to scare him a little.
It's not real. It's not real.
"Something about you...an aura. I think you're a very special boy, Jo. Maybe I was wrong about you after all..."
Jo was completely baffled at the change in this man. At first he seemed like an old, rude cook who hated people, and now he seemed like a wise person who'd known too much in his lifetime. He seemed to have aged a decade in a moment, and his face had lost all its scorn. It was is the old him had been washed away.
"An aura? what does that mean?"
"A sense of power- of strangeness, of importance, of magic." He looked back up at Jo, his eyes suddenly urgent.
"Remember this name, Jo, should you see him. Remember this name..."
Jo leaned forward, completely frozen, listening intently.
"Pitch. Pitch, The Nightmare King."
Jo watched as the old man wandered back to the antique shop entrance, the crow statute under his arm. Jo, his legs numb with tension, turned away. As he walked back over the road, he head Alecvander calling gruffly.
"Be careful, mind you. They are more powerful that you could ever imagine..."
Later that night, Jo couldn't sleep. The old man's story had scared him more than he thought, but also the crazy cook's idea of him having an 'aura' of magic.
There's no such thing as magic...no such thing as magic.
After much tossing and turning, Jo fell into a restless sleep.
Not too far away, a dark figure slipped through the shadows of the night, avoid the eye of the watchful, silver moon.
The Nightmare King appeared through the air on a rooftop, casting his sharp gaze of the rooftops, watching as golden sand fluttered about.
One stray line of sand ventured a bit too near him. Smirking darkly, he stretched out a bony hand and gave it a soft, seemingly harmless tap.
Immediately the golden colour was stained with black, spread all the way through it, turning the dream into a terrifying nightmare.
"What a pity, to have a nightmare so close to Christmas..." He murmured quietly to himself, smirk still in place.
Then, he sensed something. A powerful, tense fear was brewing in the dreams of a particularly frightened individual.
And the nightmare had come as easily as a breath.
Pitch found himself interested. What kind of nightmare was occurring nearby? Well, might as well find out.
Silently, he slipped into the shadows.
Jo was having a horrible dream.
He was wandering through a foggy, blurry forest. The trees were blank as were the blades of grass beneath him.
He felt as if he were being watched- no, as if he was hiding from something. Trying to get away before it knew he was there.
Suddenly, he saw a rabbit rush in front of him. With all the tension built up in his heart, he jumped back, gasping.
Then, he hurried through the trees, ducking over branches. He was still running when he heard a horse's whinny echoing through the forest. It sounded distorted and threatening.
It was just a horse. Just a horse.
Suddenly he could hear it galloping... really close.
He turned around and saw a giant black mare galloping towards him, it's red, narrowed eyes blazing with malice at is drew nearer.
Jo turned on his heel and stumbled a little before breaking out into a run, huffing and panting. He could hear it behind him- it was so close, it's breath on the back of his neck. He tripped on a root, landing on the dirt floor on his stomach. He turned over only to see the horse standing up on it's hind legs, ready to slam it's hooves down right on his skull.
Just as the hooves fell, he screamed.
His eyes snapped open. He could feel the blood rushing through his veins, his legs and arms felt numb. His throat was dry and his heart was beating at a hundred miles an hour.
Just a dream. It's not real. Just a dream...
The blankets he was shivering under were pulled right up to his eyes. Only his wide pupils and pale hair were uncovered.
Suddenly, he sensed something, and held his breath. His eyes widened. There was someone watching him. In the room.
Someone is in here with me.
His heart began beating even fast. He couldn't bring himself to look over. He couldn't.
Somethings there. Some-one is there...
Suddenly, he heard someone chuckle. A man.
the voice had echoed through the room as if it were in a cave. It seemed to come from all around him, left, right, above and below.
Slowly, very slowly, he turned his head to the side.
His heart almost stopped.
A tall figure was looming over him, wearing a smirk dripping with malice. His skin was grey, his attire black, and he was surrounded by shadows in the darkness of the room. Then, his eyes met his own. A pair bright, yellow, green-tinted eyes that bore straight into his soul.
He couldn't help it. He gasped sharply, sitting straight up, his hands grabbing the bed sheets until his knuckles turned white. All the while his gaze never leaving his.
The man's smile began to face, replaced by expression of mild surprise, and perhaps disbelief, his penetrating gaze never leaving his own.
Slowly, he sat down of the edge of the bed, so the both of them were at eye-level.
Jo just stared at him, frozen in unbelievable terror. He'd never been more afraid in his life.
The man tilted his head, as if idly curious.
"Can you see me?"
It took Jo a few moments to register what he had said. Slowly, he nodded his head, his hazel eyes widening even more.
Obviously, the figure in front of him hadn't been expecting that. His petrifying gaze moved away from him to look to the side, as if deep in thought.
He looked back at him sharply, causing the boy to jump slightly. Then, he asked in a low, dangerously quiet voice:
"Do you know who I am?"
Jo opened his mouth, only to close it. The man tilted his head, the faintest trace of a smile returning at this display of terror.
Remember this name, shoulder you see him. Remember this name.
He took a breath, and in a husky voice barely more than a whisper, he answered in a stammer:
"P-Pitch, The Nightmare King..."
Now it was Pitch's eyes that widened, even if it was only slightly. Then, he chuckled.
"Clever boy." He reached out and patted his head a little. Jo shuddered.
Despite how frightening this man was, he didn't seem about to harm him- at least, he didn't see any knives nearby.
"H-how...how do you..." He shook his head a little. He couldn't even speak he was that shaken.
"...Bring the Nightmares? Simple really." Jo could have sworn he'd heard an accent. English?
Jo had recognized so easily, being English himself and thus having an accent too, but for the boogie man to have it?
Pitch held out a grey palm, and suddenly a slithering cloud of black sand rushed in from the shadows, forming a ball in the middle of his hand.
Jo, curious despite himself, reached out to touch it. His finger met the cold, silky sand, and he immediately withdrew when it suddenly morphed into another shape.
It was a horse- eerily like the one in his dream, he noted with a shudder- and it began galloping around the man's palm before vanishing into the darkness around them.
"The Sandman's specks are all to easy to corrupt, you know."
The Sandman. Jo searched his memory for information on that particular name.
"Oh right. That man who makes you sleep by sprinkle sand into your eyes..." he murmured.
"Hm. Someone's being doing their homework, it seems."
So if the Sandman brings dreams, then...Pitch corrupts them.
It was insane, but it actually made sense. A little.
"I must say, I'm actually impressed. Not many children have looked the Nightmare King in the eye and spoken to him. Not many are that brave..."
Pitch grinned, show a set of sharp, frightening teeth. "Farewell for now, boy. Who knows? maybe our paths will cross again..."
The spirit of fear stepped back into the shadows, and the dark cloudy swept away from the room, out the window, and vanished into the night.
Just like that, he was gone.
Jon slipped out of bed on shaky, numb legs, stumbling over to the window. Breathing shakily, he unlatched the window, opened it, and stuck his head out.
The cool winter air was fresh and calming. Jo took a few deep breaths to calm himself. His heart was still pounding after what had happened.
It really did happen, didn't it?
He stared along the empty streets, wondering if, by any chance, the spirit could still be there.
Jo found nothing.
Silently, he drew his head back in and closed the window, making his way back to bed.
He curled under the covers, pulling them over his head, hoping that when-if he fell asleep, no nightmares would come creeping in.
He'd go and see Alecvander tomorrow. Tell him what happened and...
...Well. He had no idea what next.
Ender of chapter 1.
I'm hoping the other characters, like North, Tooth, Sandman and Bunnymund, will appear further on.