Chapter 11 Helping the Guardian of Hope
I was walking in a creepy dark forest. The air was chilly and the sky was black, yet I could see my surroundings clearly. The trees had no leaves and looked dead, but why did it feel like they were looking at me? I kept walking and walking, not knowing where to go or how to get out. Hell! I didn’t even know where I am!
I was alone. No wisps. No guardians. No Frost. Even my lantern pole was gone.
Suddenly, I heard something moving really fast from the trees. I turned around, but I only saw nothing but darkness.
“Hello?” I called out, hoping that there was someone here besides me. No reply.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp! Hiiiiiiiiiii! Snort!
Then I heard sounds of hooves galloping in the distance. The whinnying and snorting of an animal that sounded like a horse.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp! Hiiiiiii!
Klopp klopp klopp klopp! Hiiiiiii!
More galloping and whinnying. It sounded like there were more of them.
When I turned around to where the galloping was coming from out of instinct, I felt this weird feeling like something very terrifying was heading towards me. Shivers were going down my spine, my chest was squeezing, and my mind screamed for me to run.
So I ran...
For some reason, I couldn’t fly no matter how hard I tried. I can only run on my feet. I ran and ran, breathing hard from all the energy being spent.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp!
The sound of hooves was getting closer and closer.
I kept running and running. When I turned my head around to see what was chasing me, I saw three dark shadows shaped like horses with bright menacing yellow eyes galloping towards me. Their forms looked ghostly from the streams of darkness that flowed like smoke behind them.
Something told me that they weren’t the sweet ponies that want crunchy apples or a nice grooming. They were the kind that bring fear and darkness.
The horrible fear inside of me kept me running through the trees. I tried to create fire to defend myself, but like how I couldn’t fly, I couldn’t call out my fire. This was really bad.
I began to feel panic rising inside of me. I tried to run as fast as I can, but the black horses kept getting closer and closer.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp! Hiiiiiii! Snort!
Their cries were close behind me. I turned around to see how close they were, but they were so close that they leaped onto me.
“Aaaaaaahhhhhhh!” I screamed as I closed my eyes and raised my arms to protect myself from them.
Then came darkness. Complete darkness.
It was cold and empty. No one and nothing was there. It was so lonely and I was scared.
Suddenly, from within the darkness, I heard a voice. A dark creepy voice.
I jolted from my sleep, gasping for air. My heart was beating hard and I was sweating like crazy. It was like as if I ran a mile around the football field back in high school. It took me a while to finally calm down and for my heart to go back to beating like normal again. I sat up and looked around the unfamiliar room. It took me awhile for me to remember that I was at North’s place.
The flames from the lantern pole that was leaning on the wall next to my bed was glowing softly within the room. It was the only light source I have since I couldn’t just turn the thing off like a lamp.
Frost was sleeping soundly on the other bed in the room. It didn’t seem that Frost heard me, so that was good. I didn’t want to wake him up for just a stupid nightmare anyways. It’s been a long time since the last time I even had one, too.
Unfortunately, I heard a soft babble from the lantern and I knew right away that I woke up a wisp. And when one wisp woke up, so were the others. When I turned to the lantern, I saw several wisps looking at me worriedly from inside. They must’ve sense my distress and woke up. The wisps and I seemed to have that kind of mental connection now.
“It’s alright, guys,” I assured them, trying to act that everything was fine. “It was nothing, so just go back to sleep.”
The wisps stared at me for awhile before they merged with the flames and went to sleep again.
I knew the wisps can still sense my nervousness, but since I told them that I was fine and to go back to sleep, they didn’t pry and did as they were told. They were good kids when it came to listening to me. That’s why I love them so much.
Then it was my turn to go back to sleep as well. I looked at the clock, which was the classic two bells kind, on the small table between the beds and discovered that it was around three in the morning. Only a few more hours before the sun rises. I took one last look at the lantern to make sure the wisps were completely asleep and I tucked myself back under the blanket. I closed my eyes and hoped that I didn’t have another nightmare again tonight.
“Holy pumpkin tarts!” I woke up with a sudden jolt in shock from the ear-splitting ring of the alarm clock going off.
“Wha!?!” I heard Frost cried out in shock and...
It seemed that Frost did a higher jump than I did, because he literally jumped up and hit his head on the ceiling. Ouch...
“YOU OKAY, FROST?!” I shouted through the loud ringing clock while covering my poor damaged ears.
“SHUT THAT THING OFF!” Frost shouted back, covering his own ears.
The wisps also woke up from the ear-splitting racket in surprise and flew out of the lantern, crying out in panic.
I grabbed the alarm clock, but it was so loud and shaking so hard that I was having a hard time finding the off switch. Where was the off switch for this old piece of antique anyways?
“I CAN’T FIND THE ‘OFF’ BUTTON!” I shouted to Frost.
The wisps were going nuts as they were ricochetting all around the room, freaking out from the deafening alarm.
Then Frost grabbed his staff and Zap! He froze the clock and luckily, not my hands too.
“Good thinking!” I complimented with an unnatural loud tone. My ears were still ringing inside my head. “I think my ears went deaf.”
“Same here!” Frost replied with the same loud tone as well, massaging his ears.
The wisps calmed down and were floating in the air, dizzy and confused. It took them awhile to set their minds straight.
“Who set the alarm clock?” I wondered. When I put down the frozen clock back on the table, the wisps gathered around it in curiously. They nervously stare at it as if expecting another explosion of ringings again.
“Not me,” denied Frost. “I’m not a morning person.”
Without warning, someone came bursting through the door and into our room, greeting us in a booming voice.
“Rise and shine boys! You two have good sleep?” It was none other than North, the man of Christmas himself. He was in his red shirt with the sleeves rolled up, black baggy pants, black leather shoes, and this red fabric with variety of designs on it strapped around his waist.
“Morning, North,” Both Frost and I greeted him in an unamused tone. While North looked cheerful and dressed, Frost and I were annoyed from waking up so early in the morning. Not to mention, both of us had very horrible case of bed heads.
“Get dress, you two. Ve have breakfast in hall room,” North announced to us before walking out the door. Suddenly, he came back and appeared on the side of the door frame. He pointed at me and said, “Lantern, your clothes are done, so yetis vill bring them soon.” Then he disappeared and didn’t appear from the door again.
Not long after, North left, the yetis appeared with Lantern’s clothes. I quickly left the room, so that Lantern can change into his clothes. I flew towards the hall room where breakfast would be at. I can already smell something mouth-watering in the air.
When I arrived, the long dinning table in the hall room was full of food like ham, sausages, fried eggs, bread, butter, and bowl of red, green, and yellow apples. Talk about having a complete balance breakfast. They all looked so good.
North was already at the table having his ham and eggs. He was sitting at the end of the table where he had his back towards the fireplace. I sat down at a seat on the right of North and quickly grabbed some sausages onto my plate. I was starving! While I was eating, I also looked around the table to make sure the elves weren’t eating or licking anything.
There were a few elves walking around on the table, so when I spotted one trying to lick the butter stick, I quickly freeze it before it lay its tiny hands on that chunk of butter. I wanted to have an elf-free-clean food, so no elves were going to take a lick out of anything while I’m around. I sure bet Lantern would do the same.
“So, Frost, tell me about Lantern. How did you two meet?” Asked North, curiously.
So I told him how I met him at a park when I was playing with the kids and spotted him in the trees. Then I went through our fight, Abby, and his friend’s guilt problem from Lantern’s death.
Suddenly, North chuckled. “Zat boy almost like you, Frost. He loves pranks, has little sister, and vell... died and reborn.”
“Wait a minute, so none of you guys died before becoming a guardian?” I stared at North, a little surprise from this new information.
“Of course. Ve vere chosen by Manny vhen ve vere still alive. Only you vere chosen after you died,” informed North.
“Wait a minute! So I’m the only guardian that died before the Moon chose me? What about Lantern? He was called by the Moon, too,” I demanded.
“Lantern? Manny called him?” North stared at me confused. “I didn’t know zis!”
“Well, yeah. Lantern didn’t tell you?” I asked, wondering.
“No,” denied North. Then he seemed to be in deep thought. “Zen zis even bigger news.”
“Wait... I’m not following,” I said, confused. I’m not really sure what North was getting at.
“Frost, don’t you understand? Lantern vas chosen by Manny! Zat means zat Manny chose Lantern like he chose you. Manny might be planning somezhing and Lantern is key like you vhen Pitch Black attacked,” explained North. “Lantern might be new Guardian.”
“Lantern? A Guardian? So he’s going to be like us?” I stared at North.
“I don’t know for sure, but maybe,” North replied. “But don’t say anyzhing to him yet since ve not completely sure. Ve don’t vant to give him false hope.”
North was right. We didn’t know if Manny wants him to be a Guardian or what, so it’s best to not say anything.
“Hey guys!” North and I jumped at the sound of someone’s voice. It was Lantern and he just came into the hall room with his wisps. He sat on the opposite side of the table from me, but on the left of North. “So what were you guys talking about? Something about giving someone false hope.”
Shoot! He heard us! I looked at North for help, which he caught it immediately.
“Oh! vell... ve vere talking about... Bunny! Yes! Bunny, he has some teensy veensy problem at Warren right now and I zhought zhat you two can help him out,” North explained.
“What?!” I gasped, dumbfounded. Then I remembered that North was trying to come up with an excuse right now. “Oh right! Yeah...”
“Bunny?” Lantern said with this weird look. “You mean I have to go back to the Warren?! Nu uh! No way! Not going back!” He refused immediately.
I guess he wasn’t going to forget about what happened yesterday that easily.
“Yes, zhat’s vhat I zhought. I vould like to help, but I’m busy. Frost suggested zhat you and him vill help instead, but I knew you vould refused so I said not give false hope for Bunny.”
Both Lantern and I both cried out, dumbfounded. Lantern stared at me with a dirty look like I just slapped him in the face. His glare seemed to want to burn me and I have no doubt that he can do it if he wanted to.
“Well, since Bunny’s vines got burnt yesterday, his egg painting has slowed down, so he got a lot of workload on his hand. So I thought we should help out,” I blurted quickly, scratching my head nervously.
“Vines? What does that have anything to do with egg painting?” He demanded.
“You’ve probably saw the paint spraying flowers and that colorful river, right? The vines are also part of the painting system. They make the swirly designs on the eggs,” I explained. Maybe I should have Bunny show him how the system worked next time.
Lantern looked stunned and stared at me and North. He must’ve realized now that it was kinda his fault that Bunny was having trouble with his job.
“That’s vhy I vanted to help, but I’m very busy,” North made an excuse.
I wondered if North remembered that Christmas was just yesterday.
Lantern seemed to be in deep thought for awhile before he agreed, “Alright. I’ll go and help.”
“Seriously?” I gapped at him, dumfounded, since I didn’t expect him to agree.
“Good!” North said cheerfully.
“But only as long as those egg golems don’t chase me again!” He said with a serious look.
“Their Sentinels,” I corrected him.
Lantern ignored me while staring at North.
“It’s Bunny who orders them, but zhat shouldn’t be problem. I’ll tell Bunny you two are coming, so he can tell zhose eggs zhat he’s expecting you.”
Then North told one of the yetis to send a message to Bunny of our arrival. I never thought I’ll have to help that easter kangaroo again in this weird situation.
“Thanks a lot, North!” I leaned over and whispered to North in an annoyed tone when Lantern wasn’t looking.
“Just zhink it as guardian training for him,” North leaned towards me as well and whispered back.
“What are you guys whispering about?” Lantern asked while giving us a suspicious look.
“Nothing!” We both replied with an innocent grin and quickly went back to shoving breakfast in our mouth.
I can’t believe I actually came back here when I told myself just last night that I’m not going to come back here any time soon. Fate sure loved to mess with me.
So basically, Frost and I were back at the Warren, Bunny’s home. Our job was to help Bunny paint eggs since yesterday, I burned some of his plants that did those jobs. Well, they can’t blame me for freaking out from being chased by those oversized stone eggs. They were terrifying.
Also, when we arrived here after breakfast, two stone egg golems came to meet us, in which I hid behind Frost for protection. I found out that those golems can change their expressions by turning their faces around. For each Sentinels, they would have a happy nice face and a mean intimidating face. So when we came, they used their friendly nice face to greet us. Freaky at first, but also kinda cool.
Then, I heard a sound of quick small pounding as if something really fast was coming towards us from the tunnels. It wasn’t long before Bunny jumped out of one of them on all fours.
“Finally arrived, aye?” Greeted Bunny, standing up on his hind legs. “I got North’s message. ‘Couldn’t believe it when I first found out that Frostbite here was going to help.”
“Yeah, neither did I,” Frost replied back in an annoyed tone.
Huh, wasn’t he the one that suggested this in the first place?
“Now that you two are here, let’s get to work, shall we,” announced Bunny. “You’ve probably know already that the vines won’t be in working order again for awhile.”
“Sorry,” I apologized, feeling guilty.
“Don’t worry, mate. Those vines will regrow themselves in a few weeks,” assured Bunny. “So while they are out of commission for awhile, you two will be painting the eggs instead until then.”
“Wait! Does that mean we have to paint eggs for weeks?” Frost demanded in a panicking tone.
“Of course,” Bunny replied with a sneer.
So Frost glared at Bunny for this.
“So how many eggs do we have to paint?” I asked, hoping to prevent an unnecessary argument between those two.
“A lot,” Bunny replied.
And right after he said that, there was a small rumbling sound. Even the ground was shaking. Then something came flowing out of the tunnels. There were hundreds... No! Thousands of eggs marching into the opening! It’s a whole colony of walking eggs!!!
“We have to paint all that?” I looked at the amount of walking eggs nervously.
“Yep! Now get to work, mates,” ordered Bunny, throwing two paint brushes at us, which we caught them each just in time, though I almost dropped it. We stared at the paintbrush in our hands and at the thousands of eggs. This was going to be a long day.
So for the first two hours, we spent all our time painting eggs. Bunny was also painting them with us to make sure we were doing it right, because an hour ago, Frost and I were having an egg painting race to spice things up a bit. Even though, we had a large quantity of eggs painted, there were no quality. Or to say, the eggs looked horrible.
Then after that, Bunny snapped at us when he found Frost drawing snowflakes and me drawing pumpkins. He scolded us angrily, “Easter isn’t in winter! No snowflakes! You too, Lantern! It’s Easter! NOT Halloween!” So we ended up repainting several eggs.
Geez! So picky.
While I was painting what supposed to be a red rose on a pink egg, I had several small eggs hanging around all over me. I had two hoping on my head, one each standing on my shoulders, and eight on my lap. I think I have a few hiding in my jacket for some reason. Frost also looked similar to me with all those eggs all over him, too. I think one of them was doing a tap dance on his head.
The wisps, on the other hand, didn’t know how to use a paint brush, so they were play tag with the eggs. Wished I was playing with them instead of painting all these eggs.
“Seriously, Bunny, how could you stand painting eggs like this every day for hundreds of years?” I complained loudly.
“Well, mate, Easter isn’t just about painting eggs,” Bunny tried to explain.
“Yeah, I know. It’s about finding them,” I cut in, painting a sad excuse of a bumble bee on an egg. I’m seriously a failure at art.
“No, mate,” Bunny argued in an annoyed tone. “Easter is about hope and new beginnings. Each one of these eggs represent a new life, and each unique designs painted on these eggs represent the different paths in life that one can take. Just like how there are different kinds of people, there’re many kinds of future one can choose. Easter is what gives children hope to a new life and have new encounters. And that, mate, is what Easter is about.”
I thought of what Bunny said and it made me realize how little I understood Easter. All I ever thought about Easter was finding eggs as many as possible. “Wow... I never realize how important Easter can be. I guess I shouldn’t take Easter lightly.”
“Good then. Now stop wasting time and paint those eggs before sun down,” ordered Bunny.
“Aye aye sir,” I said in a pirate tone, playfully. And so I went back to painting the eggs, but a little more serious this time. Just a little.
As I watched those two boys working on their eggs with a concentrated look on their faces, I had to admit that I was pretty proud of them. I didn’t expect for this to go smoothly, but so far, those two were doing alright.
When I got a message from North this morning that Frost and Lantern would be coming to help with painting the eggs, I was pretty surprised. North explained that he wanted Lantern to learn about what a guardian does. I thought at first why did I have to babysit two grown boys and one of them burned some of my plants yesterday.
But it turned out that Lantern wasn’t as impish as I thought. He had potential, so teaching him wasn’t too bad. Frost, on the other hand, can be a pain and make a whole lot of trouble for me, but he’s now a guardian and knew how important Easter was. Though, I can’t have Frost influence Lantern too much. I hate to have two clowns messing with my Easter.
“Hey, Bunny, I was wondering, were you this big from the start? I’ve never seen a bunny your size before,” Lantern asked, looking at me curiously.
I was about to answer him when Frost cut in.
“Oh not always. You should’ve seen him when he lost his powers,” Frost said with an evil grin.
That sneaky little...!
“What happened?” Lantern asked, looking really interested.
“I told you not to ever mention that?” I snapped angrily at Frost.
“Basically, he turned into...,” That frostbite was about to tell Lantern my most humiliating secret, which wasn’t much of a secret anyways, but it’s not something I like to spread.
“Now hold on there! If you two keeping delaying your work, I’m going to make you two work over time!” I quickly yell at them. “Now paint!”
And those two went back to painting while I made sure there were no more interruptions.