Prologue

"Oh, Jack. I'm so sorry." Tears welled up in Tooth's amethyst eyes. All five guardians were standing in the globe room, saying their last goodbyes to the winter spirit.

"You don't have to do this, mate." Bunny's heart felt like it was being torn to shreds.

"Yes I do. If I don't-" Jack started.

"We know." North pulled the winter spirit into one last hug. The others joined in. It was getting harder and harder for Jack to keep his tears at bay, but he knew he had to stay strong, for his family. He broke away from them and made his way over to the open window.

"We'll come and rescue you, Jack, we promise." Tooth's voice cracked as the tears began to spill.

"I know." Jack looked back at them.

Sandy made an image of the five guardians all together again as he silently cried.

"Sandy is right. We will be a family again soon." North smiled through his tears. "Good luck, Jack."

"Thank you." He turned and flew out the window. The four guardian's hearts shattered when they heard him sobbing as the wind reluctantly carried him towards his doom.

"We will save you, Jack." Tooth whispered. Bunny watched as the boy disappeared into the gloomy grey sky.

"We promise."


27 years later

"I told you."

Pitch circled the old, rickety cage that hung from the ceiling. If one were to stare at it they might see a small, cowering figure inside.

"I told you they wouldn't come." Pitch sneered up at the figure. "I told you that you should have given up hope long ago."

"I did." A small, raspy whisper came out of the shadows of the cage.

"Good. Now, I want you to repeat after me." Pitch went silent as he waited for a response. When none came he continued. "The guardians are evil."

Silence.

"Come on now." Pitch snarled.

"The...the guardians are...are..." The small voice croaked out.

"Do go on."

"Are...evil."

"Good. Now repeat that aloud until you lose your voice, then repeat that in your head until you pass out from exhaustion." Pitch grinned as he watched the small figure nod vigorously. He as he left the room he could still hear the child muttering the phrase under his breath; voice filled to the brim with fear.

"The guardians are evil the guardians are evil the guardians are evil..."

Pitch turned to him one more time.

"Believe it, Jack."


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