Disclaimer: I own nothing that is not a completely original idea (if it matches with anything in canon, it's not mine, in other words)
A/N: I'm sorry that this has gone for so long without any updates, and even sorrier that I've added so much and taken even more away. I know it must be confusing, so I'll start off by telling you to read it from the beginning for sure!
Also - Warning for gore and harsh imagery!
I'm going to let ya'll decide if you want me to keep updating one chapter at a time before it's done, or if you'd rather I finish it and then post.
Long ago, the world was bathed in light and joy, and this time was known as the Golden Age. Years and years passed, each happier than the next. There were heroes that kept the fear and darkness of the world locked away, and they were very brave and strong, and so the world flourished.
Then everything broke apart. No one knows what happened, but suddenly the land crawled with nightmares beneath every eave, and despair grew in the streets. The sound of a child's laughter was forgotten, and the sun was washed with grey.
The Dark Ages had begun. Far longer were they than the Golden Age, each bit of joy snatched up by the ever watchful Nightmare King. His name was Pitch Black, and he ruled with shadows creeping out from the corners - horrific dreams that plagued the people night and day. Indeed, these years stretched for several centuries, and then shockingly, they stopped just as suddenly as they had begun. One night, no monsters lurked, and no dreams were fouled.
The world slipped out from under the shadows, and thin ribbons of wonder and life made their way back out into people's hearts. Without explanation, all of a sudden they could remember the brighter days, and recall the lightness of bygone years.
Soon after, a deep hope began to well up, and stories were told again of how things had once been better. Good dreams made their way back into homes, filling houses with peace.
Pitch was not heard from or seen again, but the light in the dark had seemed to vanish as well.
Nearly half an age had passed, and certainly many human eras, in what seemed to only be a moment. People eventually forgot how awful things had been, and the Dark Ages became history, which fell into a type of legend, which turned into stories that Katherine the Teller passed on. Children became the only ones who believed in things like Pitch Black, the King of Nightmares and bad dreams, and the Man in the Moon, who watched over the world from far above. Things that many people had fought and died for faded into children's fairytales, the people of the land slowly changing until they warred among themselves, no longer content with simple happiness and peace.
Life went on. Kingdoms rose and fell, small villages and towns seeming to change with the landscape and the seasons.
One night, without meaning to, the moon shone at an odd angle to the maple tree. We might never know why, but a single, thin strand of light was cast into a hole in the ground. Far, far underground it traveled, until it came to rest on a round stone. The stone was the end of a pommel, attached to a dagger that was buried deep in someone's chest.
Pitch, King of Nightmares and Darkness, lay across the ground, a dagger made of diamonds and tears embedded in his heart. A twinkle in the knife reached for the moon, leaving the pommel for the shine. Then another, and another, until a boy no older than seventeen lay at Pitch's feet. His hair was the color of starlight, and his skin pale as snow. In fact, it was exactly the color of new frost.
Before anything more could happen, the moonbeam jumped, and snatched the boy from the ground in a burst of light.
And so the Nightmare King lay alone, the dagger buried in his heart, a heart that hadn't beat in over a thousand years.
Just as the ray of moonlight left, it heard a chilling sound, echoing around in the darkness and the deepness.
As for the boy, we only know that the moon took him. Soon after, a young mother in a village not far from the maple tree gave birth to a baby named Jack. He had brown hair, brown eyes, and a heart made for mischief and games.
"Jack!" His sister's face vanished, and freezing water rushed in, dragging at his clothes and pulling him down. Down, back into darkness.
The moon drew close, seeming to whisper to him. His skin was cold and frigid, and the color had fled from his hair once more. Eyes the color of a winter sky opened as he broke the surface, air pushing him up until he stood on the ice. He stared up at the sky, then down to where his hands were regaining their feeling. He had a brown cloak on and ragged pants that stuck to his skin.
Feet slipping a little as he moved, he stumbled, breath whooshing out in a white cloud. His foot hit something, and he picked up the hooked staff that was on the ice next to him. It was heavier than he thought, and the long back end smacked into the ice behind him.
A crackling hiss echoed around, and the boy turned to see whorls and spirals of frost curling out from the tip of the staff. He smiled.
He had been in the town for two days, and knew now that not a single person could see or hear him. They couldn't even feel him, and he couldn't touch them. He sat on a rooftop cross-legged, watching the snow fall. He couldn't remember anything, no matter how hard he tried, and even if his skin wasn't cold, he couldn't help but shiver. He hadn't slept, and he didn't know if that was okay or not, but he was never tired, so he sat in the dark alone at night.
It was odd, to say the least. The wind tugged at his hair, whispering for him to dance with it. The breeze was brisk and had carried playful flurries over the woods with it.
Blinking, the boy looked up, searching for the speaker. He had believed everyone to be asleep. Who was this?
Standing, he raised the staff, the wind rushing up behind him to lift him into the sky.
"Frost?" His voice cracking, the teen climbed higher towards the clouds and the spinning currents of atmosphere, where the air was thin and ice raced over his skin.
"Is that me? Who are you?"
His eyes turned to the moon, and something in him whispered, 'Jack Frost' in response to the voice.
Sounding like it agreed with the voice, the original speaker said one last time, very firmly, Jack Frost.
"Who are you? Hello? Is anyone out there?" He finally cried, flinging himself through the clouds towards the moon. For hours he called, searching for the person who had spoken, listening for the voice. But there was no answer, and no one to answer him.
It was hot and dry. A lizard raised its head, eyes swiveling. It could hear a thumping, but it couldn't tell where the sound was coming from.
A light rumbling came from over the rise, and then stopped. After a long moment of silence, the lizard went back to sleep, too warm and full to bother investigating.
Just over a hill, there was an oasis, a huge reservoir of water surrounded with date palms and bush. Smaller trees dotted the land, and bright flowers hung in vines and threw sweet, fragrant scents in the air. Over by the far bank, there was a large rock with strange symbols carved into it.
The inhabitants of the land might dismiss it for Aboriginal markings, but the swirls and leaf-like designs were unique. An odd little sinkhole was just beyond the rock, shaded by a fat fern and a drooping date palm.
For too long the sinkhole had remained still. Usually, on a nice day like this one, a few of the people that lived there would be gathering fruit for dessert, taking them back home to the Warren.
Instead, the sands had been silent for nearly four months. A great rumbling had come from the ground just before that. It had shaken the oasis for a long time, but eventually it had died down and stopped.
Nearly four months ago -
Screams tore through the air, war shouts mixed with the crying of babies. Mothers wailed over broken children and husbands on the ground and the smell of smoke and burning fur coated the tongues of the warriors who fought. Young and old battled the assault on their home.
Black beings writhed about and danced down the street, slashing at anything they could reach, rejoicing in the blood and the stink in the air. The great flowers that bloomed high in the sky were trampled and crushed into the mud, the plants that lay in fields smashed and ripped from the earth. Chunks of dirt had fallen from high, high in the roof of the Warren, twisted bodies lying under them.
Pooka battle cries rang, their weapons clashing ferociously with the black figures that invaded their home. Some were throwing the last of the exploding powder, bright colors hiding the burned skin and bloated carcasses that came after.
Some of the Fearlings dissolved into wisps of shadow, but sadder were the ones that stayed, dead eyes staring up at the sky. Those were the ones that had once been real children, snatched from their homes and changed into monstrous creatures only fit for the darkness.
One Pooka soldier stumbled through the bloody, muddy street, tears running down his furry face. His body was smeared with gore, and his sword was almost black with the lifeblood of his enemies. The battle had been raging for hours, and he ached fiercely, a wound on his side numb, and his shoulder burning where he'd been stabbed with a spear.
When his home came into view, he raced for the door, hanging from one hinge and blackened. Inside he found his mate, cut open with their litter -
He turned, losing what was left of the last meal he'd eaten all over the floor.
Whirling, he found his youngest son, only 60 years old, standing in the kitchen doorway. He had his boomerang out, clutched with both hands in front of him. He swept his son into his arms, weeping tiredly. Their bodies met in a squishing, slippery mess, but they gripped tightly.
After a moment where they just clung in a shaking ball, the father held him out at arm's length.
"Aster, you must go to the surface and hide! There will be tunnels left unguarded in the chaos. Nobody will notice a kit if it is quiet and quick. I will join you as soon as I can."
"But Papa, where do I go?"
Mind racing, the father thought of Santoff Claussen. It wasn't too far by tunnel, and Aster was capable enough, even if he was far too young. Not to mention that it was unlikely anyone would be guarding that branch of the tunnels right now. That settled it.
"You know the east tunnels," he looked at his son, "near the lily fields?"
Aster nodded, ears flat against his head in anxiety, looking very young as he clutched his too-big boomerang. His eyes were big and round, the dark black of the markings on his forehead standing out.
"Take them to the fourth intersection, and turn down into the southeastern route. Follow the left wall until you reach Santoff Claussen. You'll know the gate when you see it – it has a picture of the Big Root on it, and it's very cold to the touch."
He ushered him to the door, looked out and down the street to where the tunnels loomed in the distance, and hugged him again.
"I will see you very soon. Be careful and stay low. Stay away from the fighting wherever you can," he whispered into his kit's ears, squeezing one last time before taking the boy's little hands in his.
They hurried to the edge of the house and he pushed Aster into the brush line, watching the spot where he had disappeared for a moment before taking a deep breath. Then, gripping his sword, he headed back to the battle, a new determination filling him.
Slipping through the trees and tall flowers, Aster rounded the large boulders that marked the pass, the yawning mouths of the many tunnels gaping before him. They dotted the side of the large hill like combs in a beehive, different sizes and heights intermingled. Further in it was a network of crisscrossed paths and hidden entrances; you had to know where you were going to keep from being hopelessly lost.
Fear made his ears flat and stiff against his head, and Aster peeked out from the fern where he hid to check if the way was clear. There were soldiers guarding the tunnels, but they were Pooka, and wouldn't stop him.
Breaking cover, he raced on all fours for the mouth of a large tunnel, ducking around a large boulder to stop just inside, shaking.
The only sentries he would meet from then on were the huge stone golems that patrolled the tunnels. Aster stepped through the darkness, light given only by glowing lichen and lanterns.
There were tunnels to every part of the world, but as he went deeper, it got colder and colder, until he had stopped shaking in fear and begun to shiver from the chill.
An explosion shook the earth for a moment, and the tramping of feet echoed and then disappeared. Then he came upon the gate. It, like all gates, was a large stone slab at the end of the tunnel. This one had frost covering it and the image of a large, gnarled tree curling up to spread it's leaves over the top. A shout rang out in the distance and Aster quickly pushed through the thick syrup-like surface of the barrier. The stone rippled into an ethereal image of itself to let him in, sealing and hardening behind him again.
Suddenly it was quiet, and the wind was biting into his fur. Snow blanketed the ground, and the trees were like grasping hands reaching for the fat grey clouds in the sky. Feet going numb, the kit ran forward. Evergreens and pines stretched out beyond the empty hands of the sleeping trees, and masked any village that might've been there.
Stumbling through the thorny brush, he climbed over roots that seemed to snatch at his fur, yanking off bits here and there. For nearly an hour the young Pooka went, until the only thing he could feel was the grip the wind had on his face.
Wind howling, teeth chattering, the only thing he had was the drive to go forward, and even that was waning.
Was the fighting over yet? Had his father and the others driven the monsters back? Was he even going the right way? How would he know?
Just as Aster started to get tired, he found the first sign of hope. An oak tree stood tall thirty feet away, and a little to the left. When he reached it, he saw another and another after that. Following the trail of oak trees, he found a huge mass of thorns and creeping vines that bunched imposingly together. For a moment, all was still, the kit absorbing the bigness of it, feeling very intimidated.
Looking up, he could just see the top of the wall, reaching the bottom of the tree branches. A rumbling growl came from behind, and he turned to see a giant black bear. It must have been at least 10 feet tall at the shoulder, and not altogether solid. It glided forward as it walked, not slowed by brush or snow. As it neared, Aster held out his boomerang. He'd not had much practice with it, but he could swing straight, and it would be close range.
But the bear didn't react beyond a snort and a snuffle. Breezing past him, the thing faded and it was quiet again. With limbs like water, the young Pooka just turned and kept heading for the wall. There was a lilting song to the wind now, but he ignored it, trudging doggedly forward.
Surely this was Santoff Claussen. He had heard tales of their defenses, and a giant ghost bear seemed plausible. In any case, he was covered from tip to toe in unidentifiable black gore, and he smelled rank. His hands were frozen and his fur was wet and stiff. He was numb from his feet to his knees, and he was exhausted. Not to mention heartsick.
He could remember when the screaming started, because his little sister had run into the house, her arms full of daisies and poppies, yelling for their mother. The smell had been so out of place when they had hidden behind their brothers and sisters, cowering underneath their parent's bed, holding hands until things had gone quiet. He had choked when she let go and started to slide out, unable to speak beyond mouthing her name repeatedly. The flowers she'd had before were partially crushed, scattered across the front of the room as she edged out the door into the hall.
Alone and frozen, he had stopped breathing when a scream and a roar came, the former cut off and, a thick gurgle making him squeeze his eyes shut and stuff his fist in his mouth. Snot dripped down his face and tears leaked out. For the longest time he stayed there, too scared to move.
It was only when heavy footsteps had run through the room and back out, the front door making a shattering sound, that he allowed himself to take his hand out of his mouth, pressing his face to the floor instead. Then all was silent again, and a trembling started in his body, shaking him so hard his teeth chattered and his head hit the wall.
He must have been there for hours, for when he came out, even the street outside had fallen mute, and the rusted smell of blood had soaked into everything. The den made him retch, sobbing harder when he saw his sister cut from her chest down the front of her dress, unspeakable things fallen below her hanging body. The monsters had pinned her to the wall with a shattered piece of wood, a spray of blood covering her and stretching half the room. His other siblings lay here and there, a few dresses pushed up and pools of blood surrounding severed limbs. His mother was the worst.
Her stomach had been gutted, and he finally lost it when he saw the half-formed kits spread over the dining room table, nothing but so much bloody pulp.
He didn't remember getting his sister down, or shutting the front door. No memory of taking the two unborn babies and putting them next to his mother would come to him, even years later. It was for the best. There was no need for him to recall how he had had to scoop up his oldest brother's head and put it with what he had thought was the right body, or the feeling of walking through the mess and slipping more than once.
Instead, he could feel the slippery edge of his boomerang when he took it from its hook, and hearing the door bang open. Holding the weapon in front of him, he had crept through the house and stood in the doorway, half-hoping they had returned to kill him too.
His father leant against the far wall, retching and sobbing.
Numb lips had croaked, "Papa…" and here he was, wading through the snow.
Now he touched a thick vine of thorns, the largest prongs almost a foot long and wicked sharp. They could impale a body with little problem, and he crept into them, careful of where to step. Squeezing through and under lines of thorns, he almost cried when he saw the end after who knows how long of pulling vines and pinching ropes of smaller thorns. Bleeding from dozens of small cuts, he stumbled out the others side, seeing lights dancing before he tripped and cried out, collapsing.
Suddenly everything was too much, and he could hear shouting before the world went white.
The finding of the young Pooka was the only sign that the Warren had been attacked, and Santoff Claussen had immediately dispatched soldiers to try and help, but it was too late.
Things like rescues and reinforcements are always too late in stories, and so it was here. Instead of the sounds of metal on metal, the soldiers arrived to hear an eerie silence, and the decimated bodies of the tunnel guards were their only warnings of the scene ahead.
Mourning lasted for months that stretched into years, but the cleanup lasted only a week and a half. That was the longest they could keep Aster from returning, and they got much done before he snuck out and back into his home.
In the time between leaving and coming back, the Warren had been cleaned of the dead, their bodies buried in the fields. The blood had been cleared, broken homes and silent streets all that remained. Omric and the others had tried to help him, and visited often to try and talk the youngling into coming back to Santoff Claussen, but he would hear none of it.
After months of this, Aster had finally had enough, and closed the gates to the outside altogether. Now the one way in and out of the Warren was the oasis far above, and its small hole behind the stone, and nobody knew where the oasis was beside the Pooka. So Aster alone knew where it was, as all the others were gone, buried beneath the hills of flowers that slowly came back to life. Even the giant flowers that had towered up to the false sky of the Warren grew back over the years; the scents of sunflower, orchid, and lemon lily swept away the smell of death eventually.
Homes were rebuilt by hand, and new grass and vines soon covered what was once ravaged earth, blossoming into memorial plants that wrapped around the houses. Doors were sealed, and windows covered. Each building was shut up tight and preserved, rebuilt and as close to the original as the young Pooka could make them.
Within 20 years, the village was nothing but a memory, overgrown with beautiful ferns and flowers that swayed in the breeze.
Instead of taking up his old home, Aster had carved out a rough place of his own in the side of a hill on the opposite side of the Warren. He visited the old village rarely and seldom for reminiscing. Instead he turned the portals on one by one, and explored the world. With nothing else to do, he read and refined his skills. He eventually forsook the heavy brocade and silks his kind had been prone to wearing in favor of growing out a thick coat like the surface rabbits and wearing nothing except his weapon straps. He was completely covered in his fur, and the only ones he could've offended no longer cared, so there was nothing to stop him.
Still, he was quiet, and a loner. He took care of his Warren and the oasis above; making sure everything grew and flourished.
And so life went on, for nearly 130 more years. Pooka were extremely long-lived, and most counted it as a blessing. Aster stayed for the simple reason that suicide was so detestable he couldn't fathom it. Yet, he had nothing to live for.
One night, something made him go to the surface. Just a feeling; like a tug in his gut.
When he reached the top, he heard a soft voice - a gentle voice, whisper, "Aster. Are you lonely?"
Frozen, the Pooka nodded slowly. It sounded very much like every family member he could recall the voice of, all mixed in one.
"I can give you a purpose, but you must do something in return," the sound seemed to ride the wind, wisping around him so he couldn't pinpoint it. Cautiously, he nodded again.
What did he have to lose?
"You must return Hope to the world, and I will give you instructions on how to do so."
Swallowing, the Pooka spoke for the first time, "But I have no hope to give."
For a long moment there was only the sound of the outback around him. The gentle lapping of water as the wind stirred the surface of the oasis and the howls of dingoes in the distance. Then the voice answered him.
"I will give you your hope. But you must do this for me first. I will send you seeds to plant, and tell you what to do."
Aster wasn't sure what to say. In the end, at least he would have a purpose and something to do.
"Why me?" He whispered, staring at the only thing he could see, which was the moon.
It seemed to glow at his question, and the voice said, "Because you know more than most that Hope is precious, and I know you will protect it with everything you have. I would trust no one so much as you to see to it that the children of this world know Hope. Will you be their Guardian?"
A vast emptiness seemed to shiver in him, and he took a shuddering breath, and he agreed.
A/N: Sorry! This is going to be a long note. You guys might be able to tell, but I chose to twist both movie and book series to my story, and neither really matches up with this storyline. However, you will definitely recognize little bits here and there from each. For instance, Pitch and 'Jack' were imprisoned where they fell in battle, with 'Jack's dagger keeping them trapped.
There isn't going to be any space travel or anything like that, because I recognize my limits and know that I cannot write decent sci-fi (I'm much better at fantasy.) So give up on Bunnymund being a space rabbit - it is not happening. He's not the right age, and you'll have to deal with it.
For those of you who don't know, 'Jack' was a person called Nightlight before he became Jack Frost, and I made it so the MiM rescued him when he 'woke up' and gave him a chance at a real life. Falling into the lake screwed that up and he became Jack Frost – a reincarnation of Nightlight, if you will – because the MiM couldn't bear to give up on his old friend and protector.
One major difference is that he has no recollection of his previous life, and he probably never will. He gets his baby teeth back from being human, so he gets that, but nothing further, because Toothiana wasn't a guardian back then, she was still with her parents, and so she wouldn't have those memories to give him. The guardians were formed after Nightlight stopped Pitch, made to keep him from ever returning.
The attack on the Warren was during the DA, and Nightlight and Pitch were imprisoned on the day the DA ended. Nightlight stabbing Pitch was actually what halted the DA and froze both of them. The attack was about 100 years or so before the DA ended, and Jack was under the ice for about 90 years. I realize that by doing this I'm seriously fucking with the real time of the world, but there will still be 300 years of Jack being alone before he meets the others.
So here is the timeline insofar as this chapter needs it.
The Golden Age, then Pitch was turned into the Nightmare King.
Near the end of the Dark Ages (about 100 years before they ended) the Warren was attacked and everyone except Aster was slaughtered. 50 years after the DA ended, the MiM contacted Aster to become the Guardian of Hope. He didn't do his first Easter for 10 years.
So the Warren was attacked, Nightlight and Pitch were imprisoned, Aster became the Guardian, 1300 years passed, Nightlight woke up and the MiM saved him but Pitch took another 200 years to wake up fully, Jack was born and lived for 17 years, Jack fell into the ice and was frozen for 90 years, when he got out he became Jack Frost and didn't remember anything. 300 years passed, then the RotG happened and our story resumes after about a year or so. It's all in order, but the math is so fucked so I'm not even going to try. Deal with it.
I'm pulling all of my information from 3 sources.
1) The RotG wikia.
2) The Guardians of Childhood book series that RotG was based off of.
3) I add a lot of shit in that I made up. So 'my imagination'.
Okay. Here we go!