Luna: Hmmmkay, delving wildly with no map or compass into the realm of Rise of the Guardians. I make no secret of the fact that my support falls squarely in Team Fearling. All hail our beloved Boogeyman!
This first chapter and subsequently the story was inspired by 'No Light, No Light' by Florence and the Machine. I will be having lyrics per chapter, a song that inspired or links to that specific chapter in some way or even just set the mood for me as I was writing. I hope you enjoy the music as well as the story.
You are the hole in my head.
You are the space in my bed.
You are the silence in between
what I thought and what I said.
You are the night time fear.
You are the morning when it's clear.
When it's over, you will start.
You're my head and you're my heart.
NO LIGHT, NO LIGHT
The sky above was dark, blended seamlessly into the shadow that seeped along the alleys and crawled across the street, only split by jagged forks of bright white light that tore the clouds apart, doing more to frighten the small cluster of children cowering behind the remnants of the Guardians, than to reassure them of their safety. This light in the darkness was no comfort of any kind and with no Dreamweaver to protect against the onslaught of Nightmares, there was much to be frightened of.
Pitch was a malevolent silhouette against the bright spark of the lightning, revelling in the despair that was drawn to him from the hearts of those below, the proud steed that bore the King of Nightmares kicking impatiently at the rooftop as it stared down at the weakened gaggle of supposed immortals with hunger in its molten eyes. The fear was intoxicating, imbuing the air with a heavy scent that only increased as the loud clatter of horse-hooves bit crescents into the road, followed swiftly by the hushed voices of the fearlings, the whisper of black sand swallowing the ground inch by inch as the darkness circled in close. Streetlamps failed, long twisting tendrils stretching high to steal the light, the Moon long since drawn behind the blanket of Night.
Jack looked up from his defensive position in front of the wilting form of the Guardian of Wonder, North crouched heavily over his sabre as he fought to keep upright, Tooth tucked under his arm as she gave her last strength to keep him on his feet. Her wings fluttered uselessly at her back and the usual streamline that was her feathered form in flight looked diminished set upon the ground. Somewhere behind them, Jamie whimpered, small arms wrapped tight in terror around the twitching bundle of fur that was Bunnymund, the other children huddled together, fingers clutched into the excess fabric of North's luminous red coat, eyes darting nervously from shadow to shadow, glassy with fear.
"Still don't believe in the Boogeyman?" The sharp note of triumph in Pitch's voice rang out in the still air, crisp and gloating and Jack raised his staff, fresh frost blooming across the length of it as his grip tightened, eyes slits of glacial ice, "You've tipped the balance too far. There's no fear without hope, Pitch! You need the Guardians!"
"Quite wrong, Jack." The sharp enunciation of his own name sent a bone-deep shiver down the length of the Winter Spirits spine but he held himself rigid, "They need me. Without fear, there cannot be courage, or caution, or common sense. I have always been. Fear has always been. Without me, there is only chaos."
"And this isn't chaos?" Lightning shone in the pale of Jack's hair, silver strands turned to pearl in the sudden flash as he swung his arm wide in a sweeping gesture to the burning glint of golden eyes waiting in the wave of black sand like fiery torches in the dark.
"No, Frost," A cruel smirk curled the shadow's on Pitch's ashen face as he leaned forward ever so slightly, the Nightmare shifting beneath him, tossing it's fluttering mane with a snort, "This is just a bit of fun."
A loud shriek from behind made the younger spirits head turn fast enough to cause whiplash, pink lips parting in an unintelligible yell as he swung his staff high, not fast enough or close enough to break the thick twisting ropes of dark sand that wound tightly around little Jamie's legs, dragging him up into the cold, bleak open air. Hazel eyes were wide in fright and in his arms, Bunnymund pawed at the colourful stitching on the humans' pyjama shirt as he tried to settle the boys madly beating heart, "It's alright, Mate. We're alright."
The normally cocky twang of the Australian accent wavered uncertainly and Jamie squeezed his eyes shut, small body curling up into a ball around the tiny form of the Guardian of Hope.
"The good thing about belief is that it must have time to spread," Pitch had moved in mere seconds, shadows extending ragged fingers to curl about him until he was indiscernible in the dark and his sharp smile and malicious eyes were fixed on the dangling ten year old mere feet in front of him like wriggling bait on a hook, "Time I am not inclined to give you."
Clenched eyes sprung open wide and Jamie let out a high-pitched noise of distress as coils of shadow wound down from his trapped ankles, face paper-white with fear that Pitch seemed to breath in like a cloud of soothing incense, "Five delicate little annoyances and your oh-so-precious last light in one place is not so much a threat as a joke." The Boogeyman's laughter seemed to creep from every corner of the street, something that began as a soft bubble of glee growing to an echo that could torment souls and Bunnymund scowled from the tight clasp of Jamie's arms, unable to do much in defence of the poor child, "Pick on someone your own size!"
Long smoke-shaded fingers reached out to tug tauntingly at an overlong ear and Bunny hunched down with something akin to a squeak as Pitch leaned in close, teeth startlingly bright in the lack of light, "You'd make a fetching pair of slippers." Jamie cried out again, cradling the small Guardian closer as if his very safety resided in the little rabbit, eager to protect what he could and the thought alone was enough to twist the Nightmare King's lips at the naiveté of youth.
"Well, this has all been very entertaining..." A snap of the fingers was all it took, the shadows that snared the boy pulling tight and dragging him into the dark, mouth opening wide in a bloodcurdling scream as he watched himself slowly disappear, whisked into the terrifying clutches of Fear itself, the last of him to fade an extended reach of twitching fingers as he stretched towards the stricken form of the one who restored his belief.
"Jamie!" Jack reached out as the struggling figure was swallowed up, vanishing into thin air, the deafening scream the only proof that he had been there at all. The winter spirit launched himself skyward after the retreating cloud of Nightmare sand as it carried away his first Believer, grasping fingers not close enough to catch anything but a useless handful of glitter.
"Jack, no!" Tooth's voice was world's away, the rush of Wind in the Sprite's ears overloud as he reared back, shaking the remnants of the sand from his skin, head spinning as he frantically sought out some sign of Jamie or Bunnymund. None were there to see, the roll of thunder a deep feral growl before lightning split the sky, nothing left but equine shapes against the black, "Jack, come back, please!"
Pitch was nowhere to be seen, and Jamie's last frightened note faded into the night much as he had. The Nightmares however, had different agenda's, nickering as though communicating with each other as they prowled above ground, two making a sharp beeline for him as though he were a marked target, separated from the pack of stragglers in the middle of the street. The fine snowy hair at the nape of his neck tickled as if cold as he noticed the intensity in their lamp-like eyes.
These ones wanted blood.
One managed to wriggle in near enough for him to feel the disturbance of cool air against his cheek as it kicked too close for comfort, its fine powdery tail whipping against his face in passing. Jewel eyes slammed shut , the gritty sensation on his tongue and under his lids making him recoil violently as he scrubbed at the sand that clung to him, certain at least a little of it had already wormed its way down his throat. His eyes burned, blinded as he held his staff high, one arm protecting his face as the braying and snorting creatures surrounded him, many of them it seemed as they finally managed to drown out the rattle of the storm.
"Jack, get out of there!" North's voice was much quieter than he had ever heard it, distance stealing its strength and Jack chanced to look up, eyes still stinging as though salted and through the blur he could see the many spores of dark sand that surrounded him, glinting in the air like dark little fireflies. They spun, dancing in circles, forming a sparse orb around his floating body that was closing in fast, the Mares kicking more of the foul stuff at him in volleys. Jack held his breath, fighting to get out of the trap that had been set but each way he went, Nightmare sand bit at his skin and the Mares used his distraction as weakness. The slow tingle in his fingers rent a horrified cry from his dry throat, the first sign that something was sorely wrong, and the blue of his hoodie was fading under the black of the dust that attached itself to him.
"I can't... Help!" His skin felt dirty, tainted and a slow, heavy feeling overtook his limbs, a delayed sort of lethargy that plucked at his energy reserves with thieving little fingers and wound itself around the staff in his hands like the first spun threads of a cocoon.
"Pitch!" The angered shout was lost in the storm, now directly overhead with no rain to wash away the black that spread like ink over his hands and tangled in his hair. The hood that he pulled up to shield his face was no longer its normal faded shade of Caribbean blue but it was better than the noxious fume of darkness that swarmed around his head.
"You look in need of a nap, Frost." The whisper was silk-soft and very close but Jack could not see through the veil over his own eyes, and if the King of Nightmares did not want to be found, with the game this far in his favour, he wouldn't be.
A sharp jerk to the back of his sweatshirt urged the Frost sprite to turn, shooting out a sharp stinging spray of ice without any finesse whatsoever, the Nightmare caught in the path of the strike rearing up, sharp hooves planting their full weight into the boy's chest. Jack let out a distressed yell as his tenuous grasp on the Wind faltered, gravity hooking her torrid little claws into his body and yanking him out of the sky too fast for Jack to catch his breath. The call for aid was caught in his throat, stuck as he plummeted towards the icy pavement without a sound.
"Jack!" He wasn't even sure if that was Tooth, or North, the frightened crying of the children mixing horribly with the howling of the Wind as she tried to catch her charge and the excited whinny of the Mares as they followed their quarry, determined to finish the job.
Jack closed his eyes tightly, thin body braced for the coming impact from either above, or below, or even both, but when it came it was much softer than anticipated, long arms curling like tenacious snakes around a narrow waist. Those arms held his weight easily and the warmth that accompanied them was just this side of comfortable but as Jack dared to peek open one eye in caution, his suspicions were confirmed, and any relief he felt evaporated. A burning golden gaze fixed on his face, a fount of many emotions. Pitch had never been shy. At the Tooth Palace, the South Pole, in his own Lair, the Nightmare King's emotions were a brand to be pressed to the skin of all who dared look him in the eye and now was no different, though it was much closer than Jack was prepared for and all the more potent for it. A vicious need to win swirled vibrantly in the eclipse of the dark spirit's eyes, and a sensual heat that made the winter spirit push back from his carefully held position against the elder, chests intimately flush and one obscenely warm hand indecently low on the Frost Sprite's back.
"You should have taken my offer, Jack." Though the voice was smooth and coaxing, sticky sweet like honey drizzled directly onto the tongue, the piercing look he graced the boy with was dark fire, "All of this could have been avoided."
Pitch could feel the length of the younger spirit against him as that slender body bristled, shadows stretching forth their wisps of fingers to subdue the little Tricksters arms, smoky tendrils wrapped thick around snowy wrists and winding calmly up the Shepherd's crook clasped in a china-white hand.
"Such hostility, Jack." Blue eyes widened uncertainly as Pitch moved, if possible, further into his personal space, a scant inch between their noses as fingers far above the degree of his frigid body temperature soothed almost gently across the tender skin of his brow, melting the delicate layer of frost there, "A pity..."
Darkness wound around bare ankles, inching its way up as if relishing every piece of pale flesh it stained and Jack kicked, tugging in a hurried and sloppy manner against the shadows that kept his wrists. "Pitch, stop!" His voice was nothing more than a whisper as his weighted limbs were pulled wide and helpless, lips parted in a condensed breath of panic as the shadows climbed higher, carrying with them a searing heat that covered his knees and clung like tightly wrapped bandages. Jack felt himself drawn close to the embodiment of Fear, the feeling soaking into his skin like liquid soap, permeating his bones with a chill he hadn't felt in an age. The fingers at his brow trailed up, carding patiently through his wind-tousled hair and he squirmed, a low whimper muffled into the shoulder of the elders cloak as the darkness gripped at his hips and leeched up higher. Air was pushed from his lungs in a strangled cry, the heat stifling as it squeezed and lips pressed to the cool shell of his ear, "Don't struggle, Jack. It'll all be over soon."
"Pitch," His own tongue was solid lead inside his mouth and the terrifying feeling of no feeling at all where the glisten of shadow stained him made every muscle he could still control, tense without his permission, "S-stop..."
It was so hot, unbearable against his skin and as the shadow began to crawl up over his chest, he could finally see it. Nightmare sand seeped upward, climbing over him like spreading paint, the colour of his thin clothing dyed black under the onslaught and the lightheaded sensation that forced his vulnerable body to collapse in his enemy's hands set off the warning bells in the forefront of his mind. It was past the time for panic but as he opened his mouth to speak, all that came out was a softened whine, no breath left to plead.
Pale fingers tinted under the spread of the sand, the sleeves of his hoodie, his upper arms and all Jack could do as it danced up the column of his throat was close his eyes and sink into the fiery heat of oblivion.
Pitch caught the boy fully as the swooning body finally surrendered, cradling the fair face to his chest, dark glitter sprinkling from ruffled hair like pepper, his other hand prying the staff from a limp hand. Such a difference it was, no longer spiralled with the soft sparkle of frost, the length of ancient wood now dull in the brief forks of lightning that continued to carve the sky, nothing more than a shadow, much like anything else, without the boys touch to restore its glory.
His fingers, in complete contrast to before, were starkly pale against the curve of Jack's sleeping face, the boy completely overcome by the strength of the black sand and it fit to his shape like a second skin. It had taken much of it to finally put him under, but it would be worth it in the end. Everything would be worth it in the end.
Pitch did not spare the gathering of weaklings below any thought as he finally gave in to the temptation, leaning down the bare minimum needed to press the thin line of his mouth to the apple of a dark sanded cheek, breathing in the fresh scent of Nightmare and fallen snow. Jack did not stir and would not for some time.
"Antarctica." He decided quietly to himself as he finally allowed himself to look at the last line of defence. North was on his knees, a fetching look for the Guardian of Wonder, the Tooth Fairy a devastated glimmer of emerald feathers under his arm, face streaked with tears as she cradled the children in her arms, all of them curled up to her in fear. This was all he had left to ruin, all he had to dispose of and then nothing would stand in his path. They would believe. Finally.
"Yes," The Nightmare King tightened his grasp, "Antarctica."
It was a place for them. Their pinnacle of understanding. A frozen wasteland where all was black and white, stark and blunt as the taste of fear and the bite of winter. The place they understood each other most, and the place that Jack had flatly refused to join him. A place for the Frost Sprite to right his wrong. Antarctica would sustain the boy until he was finally ready to take his deserved place under the shadows wing. Until he came to his senses.
"You'll see Jack." Eclipsed eyes were victorious beacons in the darkness, "There is no match greater for the cold, than the dark."
Luna: Reviews would be greatly appreciated. I'm aiming for as in character as possible. Let me know if I fail? I'd hate to disappoint...