Disclaimer: I don't own Rise of the Guardians.
However! I do own this bloody plot and this damn world along with a few well thought out ideas.
A/N: Why hello all you lovely people, welcome to Intricate Kingdoms. Some things you'll want to note before you read the Prologue below:
1) The world is divided into North, South, East, West Kingdoms with the Middle being called Tribes due to more tribal based lifestyles compared to the more medieval/advanced Kingdoms. It is the Earth but at the same time it is not our Earth as we know it. I will flush this out as the story goes on.
2) The Eclunar Crystals essentially rule each area noted above, even the Tribes. If the balance of the crystal within a Kingdom is upset then it turns that Kingdom into a wasteland till a rightful King appears- which can take anywhere from mere days, months or even centuries.
3) There is technology in this world, but there are limits depending on what Kingdom/Tribe you are in. For example North's Kingdom has basic cars and electric lights—but there aren't cell phones yet-but the Tribes barely have running water. More to come on this as well as the story continues. This is an adventure after all, things have to be explored!
4) Bunny is a Pooka in this story, but can shape shift. I will flesh him out a little more and hopefully explain him efficiently within the first Chapter.
5) This is going to turn into a Romance between Bunny and Jack, if that isn't your forte then run now! Run for the hills before you get stuck too! Also it's going to escalate quickly so strap yourself in lol.
One thing I need from you, the viewers: How long would you like each Chapter? Currently going on 5K words for the first Chapter, hopefully that's a good number for you guys ^_^ It's fitting for me because it allows for ample description and still allows me plenty of space to work with. Waiting on a Dream is a bit hard with a 3K word limit hehe.
Special thanks to my editor who encouraged this story one day and very special thanks to Shanatic for giving me the A-OK for this story after reading the Prologue below and then she got a sneak peek at the first Chapter ;)
Got it? Good. Onto the Prologue with ya then! Also note: This is when Bunny is 11 years old, still a kid...thus the reason it's a Prologue :)
Prologue: The Kingdoms
North had been surprised when Lillian, a flame from his younger days who had slipped through his fingers, had arrived from the docks a month ago after Pitch had finally found her—and her son. She had been on the run for months when the letter she had sent him finally arrived in his hands and it had taken sending his advisor, a trained soldier and tracker himself, to find her and escort her to safety personally before the members of her late Husband's Tribe could catch her and kill her. The Tribe was fearful of something, that much he understood, he just hadn't known what it was at the time. Now, though…now he understood. The reason for their fear currently sat right in front of him.
Lillian's son, E. Aster Bunnymund, looked so small in comparison to North's large desk and chair. He barely even took up a quarter of the chair and his clothes were still a tad too baggy for his thin frame. Of course if the boy actually ate it would help to fill his clothes out a little better, but he had his reasons for not eating. He was worried about his mother; sick with the Bleak Cold from the Southern Kingdom Pitch had retrieved them from when North had finally received Lillian's letter and had sent the man to retrieve them both. Bunny, a nickname he had told North to call him by since it was his mother's favorite name for him, looked so small and insignificant when he had first arrived. He was literally a walking body of malnutrition, skin and bones, and North had to admit he was worried that the boy had caught the Bleak Cold as well—only to find out it was just a minor cold from the chill of the Southern Kingdom.
North, when he'd first met Bunny, hadn't seen why his Tribe was trying to hunt him down and kill him. Initially North had thought they were trying to kill him because of his mixed heritage, the child of an outsider from the Pole Kingdom and their late Tribe leader Orab Bunnymund. However North had been informed by Lillian that Bunny stood a chance of turning into one of the Tribe's Pooka warriors, beings that were supposed to be Bunny's Tribe protectors and warriors whenever it needed them, but because of the introduction of chocolate from the Northern Kingdom the Tribe had turned sour towards their Pooka warriors and began to commit mass genocide—seemingly at random. Anyone within the tribe that showed signs of being a warrior was killed, no questions asked, and nobody had a clue as to why. Not even North could get the Tribe Elders to answer his request for information regarding why they were hunting these beings down.
It was lucky that North had received Lillian's letter when he did, and luck continued to guide their path as Pitch had found the two somewhat easily within the Southern Kingdom after shortly arriving within its walls—Lillian having taken off from the Tribe when she had heard the cries from the opposing shacks that acted as their homes. She had taken a long drawn out path to escape the Tribal hunters who had been hot on her heels all the way up to the Eastern Kingdom, hunting down Orab's son with a perseverance that spoke volumes for their version of a Kingdom. She had dragged Aster from his home in the center of the Tribal lands, the place with the most vegetation and warmer climate, to the Western Kingdom, followed by a ship to the Eastern Kingdom and ending with their final route looping back into the Southern Kingdom where they met up with Pitch when he found them and Lillian finally let the Bleak grip itself into her bones when she realized her Bunny was finally safe.
She was recovering these days, but only with the help of North's longtime friend Sandy from the Eastern Kingdom. Sandy was the middle child of Sebastian Mansnoozie and a Doctor who was both mechanically and magically inclined while specializing in severe cases of the Bleak Cold. He had arrived not a day after North had summoned him, eager to see if he could help North's intended wife and had done exactly as North had hoped: He had worked magic and now Lillian was recovering at a fairly healthy pace, even if the Bleak was going to forever be in her bones until they found, if there was one, a cure. Until then, though, North had ensured Lillian that even if she did pass by some odd chance that her Bunny was safe in his Kingdom, and to ensure that North had claimed him the Prince of the Kingdom—even without the Eclunar Crystal recognizing him, but then again North had a feeling it would eventually name him his heir anyways. He felt it in his belly—and it was never wrong.
As North gazed down at the boy who was sitting erect and looking uncomfortable in the amount of clothes he currently wore. He was wearing a pressed deep red colored tunic shirt with a high neck that halted at the middle of his throat, pressed black pants and on his feet was a pair of black polished shoes. Apparently Bunny had never worn actual clothes before. He had spent the first three days in the Kingdom running around 'nude' to them in nothing more than a pair of boxers that he swore were nothing more than flimsy 'shorts' and in his Tribe mindset that was overdressed. It had nearly caused North to die of laughter as Pitch had tried, with desperation, to get the boy to dress properly for the first few weeks as he adjusted to the Kingdom's standards of 'dress code'. The image of Pitch chasing around a nude Bunny would forever cause a smile to break across his face. Currently Bunny was fully clothed, but North knew the moment he let the boy go that he was going to run to his room, strip down to his knickers and then dash to the Hospital ward to sit with his mother. Sandy, luckily, never seemed to mind the boy's 'nudity'.
North cleared his throat, watching as Bunny jumped in his overly large chair and looked meekly up at him. He could see that the boy was still slightly wary around him and it made his heart tighten sadly. He wanted this boy to feel like he could talk to him about anything, wanted him to realize that he was his son now and he definitely wanted Bunny to know that he was going to be loved in the Kingdom—eventually. Until he could get Bunny to understand this, and he knew it would take longer than a month, then he'd continue to treat the boy with respect as if he had always been the Prince. North grabbed up the thick book on his desk and sat it in front of Bunny, tapping his index finger on the cover and glancing to him with his piercing blue eyes as they met the large Spring grass in sunlight green eyes of Bunny.
"What's in this book?" He asked, wondering if the boy had even begun to read…let alone if he even could.
"That's the book that outlines all the Kingdoms." He replied easily enough, his accent odd to North's ears. It sounded like some strange branched off, colonized, version of Pitch's clipped and enunciated accent—but held more of a rugged edge to it. "Ya told me ta read it and Ah've been doin' it like ya told me too."
North cocked a curious brow. "So you know how to read?"
North hadn't meant to make it sound so demeaning, but it seemed as if Bunny hadn't minded and had picked up on the curious tone North's voice held. Bunny sat forward slightly in his seat and nodded. He reached a small, tanned, hand forward and after flicking North's finger off of the cover of the book with two quick motions of his hand he opened the first page and began to recite what he read there.
"The Eclunar Crystals, keepers of the North, South, East, West Kingdoms and Middle Tribes." He began, glancing up at North briefly before North simply nodded and waved for him to continue. "These Crystals are the guidance of the Crown, picking and choosing Kings, and sometimes Queens, that are best fit fer the throne of that Kingdom. Each generation of the Crown requires the Crystals ta pick and choose the heir fer that Kingdom, the heir usually providing a much needed service fer the Kingdom at the time that it picks the King." Bunny cleared his throat. "Guided by the Crystals of the Moon each Kingdom has a recognized King that will provide his service ta the Kingdom, which can be seen in the crystal's color that—should the King be providing his rightful service—is milky and clouded. If the crystal is eclipsed and dark the King has turned his back on his Kingdom and the crystal has rejected the King and the Kingdom until a new, rightful, King is recognized." Bunny glanced up to North, blinked twice before he then said, "That's what's happenin' down at the Southern Kingdom, innit? That bloody place was freezin' cold!"
North chuckled at the boy. "Yes, actually, that is what is happening. Nobody can get into the Castle there to figure out what is happening to the Crystal within the throne room."
"Mum says that ya were picked by the Northern Crystal here, even though ya were from the Pole Kingdom like her." Bunny stated, beginning to twitch from having been seated for longer than ten minutes.
"I was. At eighteen I was chosen as the King for the Northern Kingdom." North nodded, grinning to Bunny. "Tell me, if you were chosen next how would you react?"
Bunny made a face. "Ah can't see mahself being picked, Ah'm considered a 'beast' up 'ere." North's brows rose in surprise as Bunny said that. He hadn't a clue how self aware the boy was until that moment. "But, Ah suppose if Ah got picked…well Ah guess there would be a particular reason fer that choice then. Ah don't think yer Kingdom would like it, though."
North chuckled, shaking his head. "Dah, I don't think they would be pleased with it either." North then leaned to the right a bit and smirked. "But they cannot contradict the Crystal, just as we can't."
Bunny nodded, flipping the page and gazing at it before he turned the next page. It went on like this for a moment before North gripped the front cover of the book and flipped it closed. North placed both hands on the desk and he loomed over Bunny, making him shrink back with wide eyes. North smiled down at him.
"How about a quick quiz?" North asked. "I ask you Kingdom and you give me name of King chosen for that Kingdom, their known attributes and then you tell me if we are at peace or war with them."
Bunny gulped. "Okay."
North nodded, pushing back from the desk and straightening. "If you get them all right then I will let you out early today and you can skip Pitch's table etiquette by hiding with your mother."
Bunny's eyes widened with glee and he sat forward. North wanted to laugh as Bunny sat erect again and his young face took on such a stern and serious face that North knew he'd be able to handle the Kingdom with ease should he ever need too, even if they didn't particularly like the 'savage' Prince.
"Northern Kingdom, please." North stated, pushing back from the desk and beginning to pace around it. He watched as Aster's head nodded absently as he began to tick off thoughts in his head. "Bunny, out loud please."
"Ah, right." Bunny chuckled and North froze for a moment from hearing the boy laugh for once. He blinked, rechecked his memory as he heard an echoing of the laugh and then smiled warmly as he realized that the boy might finally be loosening up around him. "The Northern Kingdom is ruled by ya, Nicholas St. North of the Arctic Crown. Out of the five outlaying Kingdoms ya were chosen by the Eclunar Crystal ta rule as the North's King until yer time of passing. The crystal chose ya because of yer ability ta see wonder through the world, even in the darkest of times and that wonder is reflected through yer Kingdom. Yer Kingdom is known for their inventions, the varying four seasonal climates and yer region's ability ta grow a variety of food types within small borders. Currently ya are not at war with anyone, but the Southern Kingdom is currently a force ta which ya are considerin' going ta war with in order ta help the People under the Crown there."
North nodded, feeling an absurd amount of pride in how put together that entire answer was. Bunny was surprisingly intelligent for someone so young and North wondered if Lillian was serious when she said that the Middle Tribes weren't as dumb as people believed them to be.
"The West Kingdom?" North asked, laughing when Bunny's nose scrunched in distaste and disgust.
"But those are all sheilas…" He murmured and North found himself sniggering at Bunny's immature outlook on the Western Kingdom. Finally Bunny sucked in a sharp breath. "The Western Kingdom is ruled by a multitude of sisters, but specifically ruled by Queen Tina Bloodfeather of the Western Crown. Out of the eight outlaying Kingdoms she was chosen by the Eclunar Crystal ta rule as the West's Queen until her time of passing. The crystal chose her because of her ability ta collect and activate various memories from past historical events within their large library that sits high in the sky. Her Kingdom is known for their knowledge, Amazonian like tendencies and their fierce flying female soldiers. The West is always the second into a willing war if any knowledge or memories that could be lost is at stake." Bunny glanced up to North. "Innit that where ya got Toothiana from?"
North nodded. "Lillian and I wanted a sibling for you my boy and since your mother is unable to carry we sought the knowledge of the Western Kingdom, who gave us the help we needed."
"That why she came from an egg?" Bunny shook his head. "Ya know that's strange, don't ya?"
North chuckled. "But you like her, right?"
Bunny's eyes glittered for a moment before he blushed. "Yea…Ah s'ppose…"
North grinned. Bunny had been inseparable from his mother's side at the moment because she had Tooth near her twenty four hours a day and Bunny would never admit out loud how much he enjoyed his little sister's cooing and gurgling laughter. However North happened to know Tooth got her nickname because she kept tugging at Bunny's teeth whenever he smiled. The girl seemed to hone in on the things and she had actually pulled one of his loose teeth out by accident.
"Bunny, the East Kingdom please." North stated.
"Dr. Mansnoozie is from there, innit he?" Bunny asked, tilting his head and nodding when North did. "Ah thought so. The Eastern Kingdom is ruled by Sebastian Franco Mansnoozie of the Eastern Crown. Out of the three large outlaying Kingdoms there he was chosen by the Eclunar Crystal ta rule as the East's King until his time of passing. The crystal chose him because of his ability ta bring forth restful peace ta innocents during darker times, often times offering his Kingdom as neutral territory when war looms on the horizon for any Kingdom. His Kingdom is known for their languid lifestyle, restful hot springs and warm deserts. They are rarely at war with anyone, instead choosing to offer their Kingdom as a refuge for warring Kingdom's innocents."
North once again smiled towards the boy. "Very good Bunny. You are impressive when it comes to how much knowledge you have acquired in such short time."
Bunny beamed, his position going erect again as pride shot across his features. "Thank ya. Ah've been comin' in here a lot ta read." Bunny's pride dipped as he ran an absent finger over the book in front of him. "Readin's been helpin' me ta take mah mind off everythin'."
North's heart clenched as he sighed, figuring he might as well get the next part of the quiz over with now, though it saddened him to bring it up—especially since the wound was still fresh and he felt as if he was rubbing sand on it. "Bunny…The Middle Kingdom please."
Bunny's head dipped and North heard him suck in a breath between his teeth. "The Middle Kingdom is ruled by a cluster of Tribal Elders, but most notable of them was Orad Bunnymund...my father." North's heart lurched at the utter sorrow that cracked Bunny's voice. He watched as Bunny sucked in a sharp breath to collect himself again and then continued. "Out of all the Elders in the outlaying Tribes the Eclunar Crystal chose mah father ta rule as the Middle's 'King' until his time of passing. The crystal chose him because of his connection ta our Earth and how he was able ta manipulate the vegetation and heal ailing individuals. Now, with the passing of mah father, the Eclunar crystal has chosen his brother, Burnum Adoni, who is known fer being a fierce warrior. The middle Tribes are best known fer their exotic vegetation, expansive meat selection and vast fields and meadows durin' the rain season ta which their herds graze. The Tribes are constantly at war with one another and rarely seek outside help or involve others in their civil wars."
North was hesitant in placing his hand on Bunny's shoulder. He wasn't sure if the boy would flinch or not still from his touch, but he settled with placing a gentle hand on the boy's shoulder and giving it a light squeeze of comfort. Bunny, surprisingly, lifted a hand and gave his large hand a brief squeeze in return, even if his hand only managed to give a single digit a squeeze.
"Good. Let's see," North lifted his hand and began to pace, "we covered the North, our home. Then we covered the East, Sandy's home. From there we went West to Tooth's home, even though she is your sibling. We then went to the Middle Tribes." North halted and turned to Bunny. "The South, please."
"That's that cold place…Ah hated that place." Bunny murmured before he said, "The Southern Kingdom is ruled by Krampus Frost of the Southern Crown. Out of the two Kingdoms within that territory Frost had been chosen by the Eclunar Crystal ta rule as the Southern King originally until his time of passing, but of late the crystal has since abandoned its King. The crystal had chosen him because of his ability ta refresh the South and clear the path fer its bi-seasonal changes, but he has stopped his work and had let the Blizzards overtake the Kingdom. His Kingdom was known fer their lavishly made ice structures and sculptures, parties, Elementalists and their various fun games. Today the Kingdom is bleak, the inhabitants losing themselves in the harsh Blizzard that has not let up in twenty years while their Elementalists have all since died off or lost their magic. Yer about ta go ta war with them in order ta remove the current King forcefully since he refuses ta step down."
North nodded. "I am so proud of you Bunny." He then tilted his head to the door that lead out of his private study that doubled as his office. "Now if I were you I would run now before Pitch comes."
Bunny's eyes widened and he nodded furiously, his hands shooting for the constricting throat of his tunic and beginning to untie the elegant knot that acted as a button there as he sprinted to the door with a quick speed. North chuckled as Bunny slipped out the door and barely closed it before Pitch came sauntering into the room, asking where Bunny was. North guffawed with laughter when Pitch began his shouting for Bunny through the hallways of the Mansion that acted as their Castle.
So! Whaddya think so far? Like it? Yey, nay, meh, get on with it? Let me know lovelies! If I don't get any reviews I'll consider it a bust and yank it. No reviews = not continuing this story...which would make me sad because I spent so long thinking this damn thing up lol.