A Note from me: When I say 'reviewers are saints,' I mean that in a way to say: reviewers save the story, since I have a tendency to lose hope/interest in stories that I initially write, it makes it very difficult, and makes myself very self-conscious after the first chapter is posted. Like every human being, I thrive on positive criticism and yearn for constructive criticism. So I ask you, reader, very humbly, that you leave a thought in for my story, so I may better myself and forge onward.
A quick motion to note is that, unlike other stories, this one does not have a clear plot. And, to the positive, it means that I won't tire of the story very soon. But, as a negative, it means that it will update rather sporadically, as interest comes to it, or as an idea on how to advance the plot comes. This also means that, as my brain hits dead-ends on how to advance the story comes, hiatuses will also. So, expect me to stay to this story, and keep an interest in it, but also please try to understand its ups-and-downs.
There are usually very little souls in the Antarctic. Usually very little children to preserve hope, wonder, joy… and that was just as one spirit contented. He was a winter spirit, wandering aimlessly for centuries now, his cornflower hoodie pulled over his snowy hair, no amount of chilled breeze enough to make him quiver, and that was just as he was used to.
At the edge of one powder-coated cliff, he sat down, sighed; his bare feet digging their digits into the snow, now like a child burying their feet into sand by a beach. Except here, there was no beach. Only ice and frost. Only emptiness.
Though one could never truly say Jack Frost was capable of feeling cold, he would be quick to protest… if there were ever a soul to protest to. He did feel cold, though not on the outside, against his alabaster skin, but on the inside; every ounce of his heart beating a chilled absence through his veins, enough to send bumps up his back, against his arms. Years upon years he'd accumulated, no longer as a human, but a spirit, and yet in all of those years, his hopes of being seen fluttered from his frigid heart, as attempt after attempt for a child to say his name and believe have been snuffed out. In his mind, snow-covered children played innocently around him, eyes of bliss and frost, throwing snow upon each-other, every flake of snow made by his hand, every snowball left without an illustrator acknowledged.
So he left himself alone. Far alone, in the deepest, coldest part of the Earth, where no child could ever believe in him, or disbelieve.
He brought his knees close to his chest, cloaked in the brown pants he'd woken up with. There was no use in crying anymore, no use in feeling sorry for himself. But it was as though there was no use in trying anymore either, no use for one last-ditch effort. He'd tried that one too many times. Surely, he was a spirit! He should keep his head up; but as many times as the words to do so circled in his head, just as many times he was reminded that there was no-one out there to believe in him, and his hope waned. He remained as he was. He sighed; with his wooden crook close at hand, he made a few snowflakes aimlessly, watched them flow in the breeze. From the cliff, they fluttered off into the sunset, glowed ardently across the rising sun, and drifted away, out to the beyond, out to the world… where, at least, they'd be seen, by one life or another.
Jack Frost's life as a sprite had been filled with hope and promise. Very often, earlier in his life, he would try to fill the lives of the children with happiness and fun, with the promise of snow days and blizzards, his snowballs able to bring about the playfulness and willingness in the children he'd surrounded himself with. He would lead children on sled races, through villages, cities, around construction… anything to bring a touch of joy to a lonely child… But now, almost five hundred years past that time, his hope of being seen – being felt and loved – flaked away, froze his heart, moved his body to the lifeless southern pole. He had always been there to bring joy to a lonely child, but there was never a soul to bring joy to a lonely sprite.
Despite the fact that he claimed he wouldn't internally, his eyes pricked with cold tears, his mind racing with the memories of the children he'd brought sheer ecstasy to, and how often he was turned away, despite his efforts, his trying. For five hundred years, he'd tried to preserve his hope, ignored his own satisfaction of being believed in to make the children happy. But there was no end. He wept.
"Now, now, Jack…" The snow grew black in whips, beams of darkness tracing around the disheartened winter spirit like snakes cornered by a predator, yet glittering radiantly against the sunlight. They encircled him, and the snowy-haired sprite, with a gasp, eyes small, dared to turn an ocean-blue eye to meet the maker, crook glowing a bright blue, flushing with a sprits of snow crystals, ready to attack should the need come.
The wisps of darkness met jointly to a pool of ebony ink, rising tall to form a man, clothed only in impenetrable black, with a name matching to fit: Pitch Black. He smiled softly, though sinisterly, at the spirit. "No need for tears." Although he would have preferred to look sincere, the ill-will of his intentions bested the falsehood of his smile. He took a bow for the wandering winter soul. "And no need to aim that staff at me either, child." He waggled a finger patronizingly, body bent slightly forward just so, as if giving a lecture. From the wisps snaking beneath him, darkling creatures formed from the shadows, eyes glowing yellow and malicious; Fearlings surrounded the winter spirit.
Jack's eyebrows furrowed in worry, rising, and he shifted around to get a good view of all the creatures surrounding him. Skinny things, they were, with slender bodies – taller than him, no doubt – and cold expressions; long, spectral claws were outstretched, ready to tug or grip or tear at any part of the spirit they, in mass numbers, surrounded. He gasped softly as the Nightmare King – eradicator of happiness, devourer of hope, who feasts upon fear – drew a hand out in a halt, whereby those hundreds upon hundreds of horror-terror creatures obeyed thusly. They drew away.
Oceans of eyes fixed on the gray-pale hand, then slowly moved up to its owner, and Jack was trembling; ever-so subtly, he was trembling, his breath misting out as vapor upon each passing gasp. He backed up slowly, his bare feet crunching against the snow.
"You don't need to be afraid of me, Jack." Pitch stated simply, smiling, his arms folded behind his back. The sprite remained silent. "After all, we're a lot alike, you and I."
The snow-haired male glanced away, his brain wracking with the possibility of hidden motives in Pitch Black's words. After all, the man was the admiral of darkness; what could he possibly want with a lowly, lonely sprite such as Jack? "What… What do you mean…?" He asked hesitantly, shaky with chill, a snap of fear snaking down his spine, his voice an uncertain baritone.
Pitch chuckled richly at this, his accent a thick English as he spoke, as he had always. "So he speaks." He smiled a crooked smile. "What I mean by that, little spirit, is that I know what it's like." Jack made to question, but Pitch forged on, answering his question thereafter, "I know what it's like not to be believed in." His voice entered a whisper, low and dramatic, almost as though a secret.
Jack glanced up, eyes locking with the golden yellow. He attempted to shrug off the statement, as though it didn't mean anything to him. "So what?"
"So what, Jack? So what? So what if I'm not seen by any passing soul? So what if, every time I try amusing them, amusing myself, satisfying anyone, they blow me off and worry about Santa Claus, or the Easter Bunny, wonder what the Tooth Fairy is going to leave for them under their pillow?" He gave a single wry laugh. "The minute you mention 'the Boogeyman' or 'Jack Frost,' they're just a figment. There is no-one to preserve fear, as if every day a child lives is one of bliss and without a single ounce of negativity. There's no explanation for those wonderful snow days, no wonder why a simple toss of a snowball can bring so much joy to a child, provoke them to enjoy the winter and snow you bring them. They take it for granted, Jack – you and I – they take us all for granted. We're never seen, never felt. Never enjoyed or cherished. We're forgotten, empty." And even as dark as Pitch Black was, there was a tinge of sorrow in his voice. "Lonely."
The winter sprite's expression softened, his crook lowered. "But why…? Why should I come with you? You're… You're darkness."
"And what is light without darkness, Jack? It's nothing."
"You'll hurt them. Even though I left them – the children – I never… never want to hurt them. They never did anything wrong."
"Never did? You're telling me that their belief in North is as the same level as their belief in us? That the fact that they continue to believe in the highlight of winter, but never the harbinger?" He cried out, laughing sarcastically in almost a pant. "You're saying that's fair that they can feel the Easter Bunny's fur, touch a feather on the Tooth Fairy, and yet they simply walk right through us?"
Jack hesitated. "N-No…"
Pitch's voice gained urgency. "Besides, what goes together better than cold and dark? Imagine the things we can create, the gateways to sprites tossed aside we can open! Imagine the possibilities, Jack; imagine how children will see you, how they'll finally believe in all of those souls left asunder. We can join them together."
"But the children –"
"– Can believe in something new. They'll mature faster, Jack, learning to cope with negativity. They'll cherish happiness so much more; they'll never take it for granted again, never take us for granted again." Jack's eyebrows furrowed, bit his lower lip, twisted his crook around a few times. He was scared, scared to hurt the innocent children in the end. "You realize… I need you, Jack. I've never… never been so close to someone like me. I've never seen another spirit feeling the way I do. Someone cast aside, left to rot in emptiness… I need you." His yellow eyes were pleading. Behind the piercing gold was true sadness, true need. He dared to move closer to the winter spirit, and although Jack took one step back, his crystal eyes met liquid amber, and Pitch tentatively took Jack's naked, frigid, pale hand in both his grays, rubbing it gently with one of his thumbs. At this, the Fearlings finally ceased, escaping back into the pool of dark surrounding Pitch, replacing with a simple shadow. "Please, Jack. Please… Please help me."
The blue-eyed spirit gasped softly at the gesture, overwhelming pity and sympathy emitting towards the darkling spirit. His dark eyebrows were knit, confused. What if this was all a hoax? What if the King of Nightmares was to use him? But even with all of the ill-will preceding the black spirit, Jack couldn't shake the touches of sincerity, couldn't deny the possibility of being believed in, never being lonely again. He sighed, nodded slowly, "I… I'll help you, Pitch."
The warren was filled to the brim with untouched goodies. Every egg in every inch of the grassy land begging for candy in their mouths, for color to be painted upon them, for a stash-away spot in a backyard, a shoe, a fan, and a child to find them to lift up that child's spirits. And even though the previous Easter hadn't passed too long ago, there was not a single way the Bunny in charge was going to fall unprepared for the one upcoming. He would work tirelessly, except, of course, when hibernating season came around (which conveniently happened to be the same time as his natural, animalistic hibernation), to which he'd rest as such.
The Guardian of Hope was well at work getting the primary paint flowered onto each egg, every single one waddling over to one station or the next, ready for their permanent look to be bestowed onto them for later. Bunny was usually not so uptight about transitioning from one Easter to the next, but, this year, he was feeling particularly stickler, since last Easter was almost missed due to his negligence. He promised himself, the children, and every other resident of the warren – warrior egg, walking egg, bunny, chick, paint flower, river and all – that this would never happen again.
As he was delicately painting an intricate design on an egg, his ears perked up; a feeling resonated against each hair follicle along his inner ear, sent a wave of disturbance through his heart. A child was losing hope. The Easter Bunny set the sentient egg delicately onto its feet, allowing it to scuttle away, as his great ashen ears, cloaked in fur, attuned to the exact spot of the distress. He thumped the ground twice – made to make a rabbit hole sent straight to the spot – but just as he did so, an aurora cast across the scape of the sky. It was the Call of the Guardians, made from the Aurora Borealis.
Bunny groaned. "Oh, love a duck…" And although he wanted to find the source of this emptiness – this lack of hope – his duties called for otherwise. With a moment of hesitation, spent glaring angrily at the timing of the aurora, he resealed the hole, created another. This time, the destination was set for the North Pole. The child would have to wait.