Read: Well, there is no excuse for my very late update other than lack of inspiration. Right now I'm looking for a proper picture for Jack's outfit. If anyone can help me out with that, it'd be great. :D
Settings: Still in the Ice Palace, a fierce battle between the King of Nightmares and the King of Winter has commenced.
Title: The title of chapter 5 refers to Jack's companions in his three hundred years of sleep.
Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.
Chapter 5 "The Darkness, the Silence, and the Cold"
It was dark and it was cold. There was nothing around him, just an empty black space. It had been like this for a long, long time. And he didn't know if he could take it anymore.
Sometimes though, he would hear something now and then. A sweeping of robes, a soft rapping against something fragile like glass, soft footfalls and…
Was someone crying?
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Jack, my son."
Jack? Was that his name? Is that what he was called?
It's been so long, so so long. He's been trapped in this place forever and he hardly remembered anything before the darkness, the silence, the cold.
Then the crying started again, more agonizing than before. It sounded painful, and cold, and sad, and lonely. And Jack- if that was his name- wanted to reach out to it, to call…
But he couldn't escape the place he was in. He was trapped. So instead he sat in the darkness, in the nothingness, in the coldness, listening to the old whispery voice apologizing to him again and again, calling out to him again and again.
And Jack didn't- couldn't understand why.
Why was the strange creature sorry? Did he know this person who called him son? Why wasn't he helping Jack get out of wherever he was?
Jack couldn't tell time in the strange place he was in. He couldn't tell if it was day or night, he was only aware of the never changing darkness and coldness surrounding him. If anything did change, it was that the darkness seemed to become darker and more oppressing around him. And the voice calling out to him, talking to him, weeping seemed to grow weaker and more muffled and Jack began to worry.
His heart was in pain, although he didn't know why. The voice was leaving him now. The darkness was biting into his skin, trying to get to him, to drag him into an even lonelier place than this void of nothingness. But the cold was protecting him, keeping the darkness at bay and him protected. But everyday the darkness grew stronger and the cold could only do so much.
Finally, one day, the voice that whispered and cried for him for over a thousand times finally stopped.
And Jack, to his horror, found himself truly alone for the first time.
"Crikey! He's as cold as ice!" Bunny yelped when frost began to cover his fur. He was tempted to let go of the prince of Winter but the child looked so helpless and fragile that the pooka grudgingly held him tighter as though afraid that he might break.
The boy in his arms really did suit the title 'Ice Prince'. If not for the white hair and pale skin, then for the clothes he wore that clearly signified his royalty.
The Winter Prince wore a white dress shirt with an equally white buttoned-up long-sleeved tail coat with blue linings and frost patterns and silver fastenings designing the front. He also wore a pair of tight white pants with blue frost patterns on the sides and silver chains on the pockets. His flat boots were stark white as well with blue laces. He had a hooded cape with fur on the hood around his shoulders, and on his head, looking extremely brittle and fragile, was an ice circlet with a blue gem stone in the middle to signify his princely status.
"Oh. He's so precious." A buzzing of the wings alerted the giant rabbit to the sudden presence of his fellow guardians who had rushed to his side. He looked up to see Tooth looking at Jack with searching amethyst eyes, her fingers itching to reach out and pry the closed mouth open.
However, before things could get awkward, North was suddenly there, placing a hand on the fairy queen's shoulders. "Tooth, not now. You can coddle boy later. For now we have to get mal'chik to safe place!"
Sandy bobbed his head rapidly as he pointed to a broken portion of the ice palace wall, big enough for them to go through and hide in the next room.
"Good idea Sandy!" North said with an approving nod, the old Santa turned to Bunnymund who was shaking lightly at the cold emanated by the boy and from the ice palace itself. "Bunny, give boy to me. You seem like you cannot handle anymore coldness, no?"
Grumbling, but grateful, Aster deposited the surprisingly light boy into North's burly arms. "I'll lead the way and see that it's safe." Bunny said as his ears tipped forward and his nose twitched to catch a scent of any nearby lurking nightmare.
"Lead the way then old friend!" North said as he carefully jostled the young prince to a proper position. Bunny nodded and hopped forward swiftly, carefully keeping an eye out for any stray enemy. Tooth followed with Santa behind them, and Sandy brought up the rear, his sand whips aloft ready for anything unexpected.
No one noticed the pair of golden eyes watching them from the shadows.
It hurt! It hurt!
The dark was seeping into him, curling against his skin, and Jack wanted to scream but couldn't… wanted to cry but didn't know how to.
Someone was tapping at his glass, a muffled voice he never heard before chiding as Jack slowly heard something crack. Suddenly there were more tapping noises and the cracking sound in Jack's ears grew louder.
But the darkness continued to seep in, but then suddenly darkness wasn't the only thing inside. Something golden was trying to keep the blackness at bay, and it was soothing him as well, as though it knew he was in pain.
'Hold on.' It was a whispery voice that came from the sands itself and Jack stiffened as he felt the sands overtaking the darkness, stopping it, taking it away…
But then suddenly there was a scream and a flash of blue.
Both the black and golden sands exploded out of sight and Jack was engulfed once more into the protective embrace of the coldness that was his companion in this void of nothingness.
And as suddenly as the blue light came to disperse the darkness, it vanished and suddenly… suddenly…
There was warmth.
When before there was only darkness and cold and a hard but smooth surface keeping him aloft, now there was an opposite and totally new sensation presented to him.
It was soft and warm and Jack could literally feel life thrumming under his fingers, a faint warmth stirring in his chest reminding him a feeling he once felt so long ago, a feeling he had long forgotten and he could not pinpoint.
And then that warmth and softness was suddenly encompassing him, holding him up, and he felt the strange creature against him shiver and Jack knew it was because he was cold. He pursed his lips, the warmth was becoming uncomfortable now, unnatural to someone like him who was in the companion of the cold for a very long time, but Jack did not have to worry long when another pair of arms took him.
"Bu-" A new muffled voice, sounding strange in Jack's ears, thick with an accent. "-to me." The arms were colder than the creature holding him before. "-cannot handle anymore-?" It was still soft and warmer than him, but more bearable in a way. Being in this new creature's arms alerted to Jack to anew aura.
Like the other that held him and literally exhaled life and warmth in his touch, this person also exhaled a certain warmth albeit more different and more contained that the one before. The creature before made Jack feel like he was on fire, but this person made Jack feel like he was buzzing in the warmth. Not as cold as he liked, but still pleasant.
And then suddenly he was being jostled. A strange sensation of movement made him crinkle his eyebrows in confusion.
Were these strange creatures taking him somewhere? What of the darkness and the cold that had been around him for a long time? Where were they? And that whispery voice that had gone silent, was he alright? Was he still crying somewhere?
Jack wanted to move, to struggle and open his eyes, but his body laid lax against the arms of the one carrying him.
For now, it seemed, he was stuck like this. Numb and unmoving like always.
But Jack find that he did not mind at all. As long as these strange and warm creatures stayed close then Jack didn't mind being a helpless bundle of burden.
After all, he was no longer alone.
Tooth winced as she covered her ears from the loud explosions going on behind them. Bunny growled as his sensitive ears rang from the noise pollution going on around them, hopping swiftly away from the battle grounds on.
Sandy flew beside Tooth, golden eyes alert as they looked around while North worried himself over the light bundle in his arms.
"Is it natural for him to be so pale?" Father Christmas asked as he kept up with the three other legends around him. "And is he even breathing? Bunny, you sure he is alive, yes?"
"Of course I'm sure mate! I'm the guardian of Hope and Life. His pulse is faint but I can hear it. And of course he's pale! He's the Winter prince! He has to look his part!" Bunny called out behind him.
"He is so small and so light…" North said as he jumped over a fallen debris. Sandy flew closer to Santa and nodded his head as he also watched Jack, unconscious in North's arms. "Is this child really new guardian? Perhaps Manny has chosen wrong? Made a mistake?"
"Exactly what I said, mate!" Bunny called out again. "I mean he's the Prince of Winter! Technically the prince of everything that's mischievous and sneaky! What we need is a responsible guardian! And look at him! Nothing more than an ankle-biter!"
"He may look like a child, but he is three hundred years old! Give him a break, Bunny!" Tooth huffed and the Easter pooka rolled his eyes.
"Oh come off it, sheila. You just wanna see his teeth that's all."
But then the two were distracted from their conversation when Sandy waved a golden flag in forn of their faces, telling them to be quiet. Tooth flushed in embarrassment while Bunny snorted.
Satisfied, Sandy huffed as he spread the dream sand around them, going through the shadows to make sure that no nightmare was hiding among them.
Bunny finally slowed down as he slowly reached a dead end. Behind him, Tooth and the others stopped as well, looking around to make sure that they were safe.
"So? What're we gonna do now? Take the kid to the sleigh and make a run for it?" Bunny asked coolly, not even panting from the exert of energy.
"But…" Tooth said as she fluttered about. She could still distantly hear the sounds of war. "What about Old Man Winter?"
"Da, we cannot leave our old friend." North agreed gravely.
"Well, we aren't much help really." Bunny said as he tapped his foot on the ground impatiently. "Can barely get in there to help him against Pitch."
"Then, what do we do?" Tooth asked fluttering restlessly. "We can't get Jack involved in this."
"I do not know." North sighed and he turned to the guardian of Dreams. "Sandy, what do you think?"
The old star turned abruptly, momentarily distracted when all of the guardians attention turned to him, however this distraction was enough for a certain minion of darkness.
A dark horse made of nightmare sand suddenly bounded out off a collapsed pillar and towards the bundle in North's arms.
The guardians barely had any time to react before, said nightmare successfully grabbed a certain ice prince by the cloak and away from the guardians of childhood.
Sandy extended his whips of sand but the nightmare neatly avoided it as it galloped towards its master, not far.
"We have no time to waste!" North said as he began to run after the dark horse. "Hurry! We must get to boy before Pitch!"
"You don't have to tell me twice, mate!" Bunny said as he let of all inhibitions and ran as fast as he could towards the minion of darkness. Tooth was buzzing behind him and Sandy had formed a jet plane with his sand to catch up with his comrades.
Notes: Now to update my other fics. Just to warn you I like updating 'Ice Cubes' the most.