Chapter 12 A Guardian Protects the Children
I was running in the dark forest again. The trees loomed over me with their branches stretched out like menacing hands at me. I could hear the sound of hooves and cries of horses following me.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp! Hiiiiiiii!
Their cries were getting closer again. I tried to conjure fire, but nothing ever happened. I tried to fly away, but my body never left the ground. I was alone once again without my friends and my wisps.
Klopp klopp klopp klopp klopp! Snort!
My legs were getting heavier and heavier from all this running. I knew it was pointless to run from these dark beasts, but the fear always drove me to keep moving. Then I heard a cold creepy voice echoing throughout the forest.
Jaaaaaaacccckkkkk... Come to me...
“No!” I yelled. “Leave me alone!”
You can run all you want from me...
Suddenly, two dark black horses with bright yellow eyes came bursting from the trees in my path in front of me. I stopped running and took a few steps backwards away from them, but they slowly walked up towards me.
But you can never escape me...
I turned around and saw more of the dark beasts behind me as well. I couldn’t see any way out. I was surrounded.
You WILL join me...
Then all the dark beasts leaped into the air towards me. I closed my eyes and hoped that I would wake up from this nightmare.
I jolted from my sleep again. My heart was beating fast and my lungs were gasping for air. This was the upteenth time I had this kind of nightmare for the passed few weeks. It was the same dark cold and creepy forest and the same black horses with glowing yellow eyes chasing me. And that voice... that dark cold evil voice that kept calling to me. I knew I heard that voice somewhere before. Somewhere long long ago. Why did it sounded so familiar?
It was because of these nightmares that I wasn’t getting any good night sleep. I didn’t want to tell anyone about this since I hoped that the nightmares would stop on their own, but I was getting more and more tired by the day. Maybe I should tell someone about this soon. I seriously wanted the nightmares to go away and sleep peacefully again.
I was still sleeping in one of North’s guest rooms. Frost was also sleeping on the other bed next to mine. He was still sound asleep like always. So far, Frost hadn’t found out about my nightmares. Maybe I should tell him about it.
Suddenly, I heard a couple of blabber close by. I didn’t need to turn around to know who it was.
“Go to sleep,” I ordered the wisps that woke up in the lantern.
They started to whine worriedly at me, but I didn’t want to deal with this, so I snapped at them out of stress.
“Go back to sleep!” I whispered angrily at them.
Immediately, the whining stopped. That’s when I realized I did something I shouldn’t have done.
“I’m sorry,” I quickly apologized out of guilt now that my anger disappeared. But when i looked at the lantern, I didn’t see the wisps. Even though I didn’t see them, I could feel their sadness from within the flames. I didn’t mean to snap at them like that. I just got angry from the lack of sleep I’ve been having for so many nights. “I’m sorry,” I apologized again, but there was no reply.
So I went back to sleep with guilt still floating in my conscience.
It’s day time and we were at the Warren again. For the passed few weeks, Frost and I have been going to the Warren and painted thousands of eggs everyday. I was sick of seeing eggs after the first week! I seriously wanted to quit this job, but my sense of guilt for causing Bunny’s problem in the first place kept me going.
The few entertainments I had was watching the wisps chase the Sentinels. It was kinda bizarre to see. Frost threw a snowball at Bunny one time and the high speed rabbit chased him around the Warren. I also set Bunny’s tail on fire and I thought it was hilarious, but getting an earful from the giant rabbit was not.
On the last day, I was reaching my limit and was about to blow something up when Bunny announced to us that the vines were back to their working form and fully grown again.
“Since you all helped me out big time, minusing the pranks,” He glared at us at this, but still had this grin and twinkle in his eyes. “I’ll show you how the egg painting works as a treat. Follow me,” told Bunny. Then he hopped into the tunnels of the ruins in a flash.
Ooooooooooooo! The wisps exclaimed in interest and chattered in excitement.
We followed the giant rabbit to where I remembered the tulip-like flowers that sprouted eggs grew. “I remember this place! This was where I saw eggs popping out of the flowers like popcorn. This place almost gave me a heart attack!”
“Pfff!” I could hear Frost holding his laughter. I didn’t see how me getting a heart attack was funny here.
“Now quiet you two. It’s about to start,” Bunny told us.
We waited for a few seconds when suddenly, I heard a popping sound.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
Eggs were popping out of the flowers and running around the field just like how I remembered last time, but this time I was expecting it. No more surprise egg popping from me!
Oooooooooooo! The wisps were awed by this.
“Now follow my lead!” Bunny said before he hopped over the field and through a bunch of large rocks. We followed him like he told us. Even the eggs were following him.
Then Frost told me while we were flying behind the bunny, “This is where it gets awesome!”
Wondering what he meant, we came upon the spraying flower field. This was where I got spray painted by those flowers!
Then I noticed Bunny running through it, but he didn’t get sprayed at all. Frost, the wisps, and I were flying above them, so we didn’t get hit. But the eggs that were following behind him were running and jumping as some of the spray paint hit them. They were all being spray painted with variety of colors.
“So that’s what they were for,” I realized from watching this.
Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi! The wisps laughed excitedly and joined the paint spraying club. Now my wisps were shinning in several different colors like neon lights. Oh god! I hope those colors weren’t permanent. I didn’t like the idea of having rainbow colored wisps flying around town like christmas lights.
Next area was the colorful river where I took a nice dive when I was being chased by the Sentinels. Back then, I was terrified of them, but now, I thought they were pretty cool and chill.
Bunny stopped by the river and let the eggs dive into the pretty and colorful waters. They dived in and floated like a bunch of ping pong balls in a kiddie pool. They floated on the surface so I was able to see the eggs getting more colorful by the water and some of them had their feet kicking in the air before they flowed down the river.
When they got out and onto land on the other side of the river, the eggs were full of many shades of colors.
“Now to the last step, mates,” Bunny announced.
And I bet I knew which part it was. The vines!
The eggs all marched into a forest full of vines and started to walk on the branches without falling off. Wow, these eggs were masters of balancing on vines right when they were born! Once the eggs were walking all over the vines, they would jumped into the spiral parts and slide down with more detailed designs on them! They were beautiful!
“This is so AWESOME!” I cried out in amazement. By this time, my mood lightened up a lot. I was really enjoying this now.
“Glad you like it, mate” grinned Bunny. “Now it’s time to put them all in baskets and store them until Easter.”
So Bunny brought out a lot of easter baskets for the eggs to nest into and store them away in this large den. It took us awhile since the eggs were just cramming themselves in a basket when it was already full. They seemed really eager to get in.
“Here,” I heard Bunny’s voice beside me.
When I turned around, I saw a small pink basket of three pretty easter eggs. I stared at Bunny, confused.
“Heard you have a sister,” said the large bunny. Then I saw him look at Frost for a second before looking at me again. Now I knew who told him. “This is my thanks for helping me.”
“Wow, thanks Bunny,” I thanked him. Abby would be so happy when I get back and give this to her. Looks like Easter will be coming early for my little sis. I can’t wait to see her again, since I haven’t been back at Blacksburg since I’ve been at North’s place for these passed few weeks. It was easier to travel from North’s workshop to the Warren with his portal-making snow globes, so I had no time to go back home. North’s place was almost becoming a second home to me.
“You seem to look a lot better now,” grinned Frost.
“Wait, what do you mean by that?” I asked, confused.
“You looked kinda gloomy and worn out before, so I told Bunny to give you a treat on how egg painting system here worked to cheer you up,” he explained. “It worked didn’t it?”
“You did look kinda dead beat, mate,” said Bunny, crossing his arms and smiling warmly at me.
“Even your wisps were worried as well,” Frost pointed to the wisps.
They nodded that it was true.
“You understood them?” I asked in surprise.
“I don’t need to speak Wispinese to understand what they were thinking,” he replied with a playful grin.
I was really bewildered by their kindness. I didn’t think anybody would notice my moody behavior since I’ve been trying to hide my exhaustion. “Wow... thanks guys. This is just so... amazing. I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t worry. Isn’t this what friends are for?” said Frost with an encouraging grin.
This was probably the first time I felt this happy like this since I became a spirit. It was great to have friends again.
~ Frost’s POV~
Lantern and I were back at North’s workshop and it was the last day we were hanging out before leaving in the evening. I gotta get back to making snow days after all.
“So how did the egg painting go?” Asked North once we returned.
“It was great! Bunny showed me how the egg painting system worked and he even gave me a basket of eggs as a souvenir,” Lantern told him excitedly while showing off his basket.
“Good! Glad you enjoyed yourself,” North smiled cheerfully. “I have little surprise for you and you would definitely like it. Look who’s here for a visit.”
When North took a step to the side, that’s when I noticed a stubby man in gold sandy clothes, waving at Lantern and I with a smile across his face in greeting.
“Sandy!” Lantern cried out, looking really surprise and thrilled at the same time. “I haven’t seen you for such a long time!”
Di di di di di di di di!
The wisps started to chatter and swarm around Sandy excitedly. Sandy just smiled to them and even petted one of them that was close enough to touch.
So far, out of all the senior guardians, Lantern was really close to Sandy. Must be because they met each other first. Lantern looked really happy seeing the little golden man again. That was good since he looked gloomy before.
I wondered why he looked so exhausted? Maybe I’ll ask him later.
“So what’s the occasion?” I asked curiously.
“Oh it’s just visit,” answered North, but then he quickly leaned over and whispered in my ear when Lantern wasn’t looking, “Zhought I should give him lesson on how me and Sandy vork. It’s good help him understand vhat ve do.”
“Oh, got it,” I understood. “What about Tooth?”
“She zhought it vas excellent idea, but too busy right now,” Then North turned to Lantern. “Lantern! Come here boy!”
“Yeah, North?” Lantern came over with Sandy floating behind him.
“You vant tour of me vorkshop?” North asked.
“Seriously!? Yeah!” Lantern agreed enthusiastically. The wisps also cried out and bounced around excitedly.
So North lead us through his workshop. We went to where the Yetis were working on the new toys for next Christmas. The Yetis were building, painting, gluing, and putting together variety of toys on the tables and counters. The elves were also all over the floor and tables, doing what they did best: messing around.
“Zhis is vhere yetis vork. Zhey vork tirelessly everyday, except Sundays. Each yeti vork on one specific toy and make thousands of zhem. Vhile I make models of toys, zhey reproduce zhem,” explained North as we walked through the tables.
Suddenly, I spotted a familiar yeti working on sewing a stuffed lion. “Hey Phil!” I called out. When that yeti turned around, I waved at him. Phil smiled while blabbering something in yeti tongue and waved at me.
“You know that yeti? How can you tell the difference from the others?” Lantern asked in shocked since he’s been here for weeks and still can’t tell the difference between one yeti from another. At least he was able to tell the difference when it came to their fur colors.
“Yeah, we met a lot when I tried to break in here in the old days,” I explained.
“Break in?” Lantern looked at me wide eyes.
“Never got passed the yetis, especially that guy.”
“Why were you trying to break in here?”
“Who doesn’t want to? Especially, a place like this. Before Pitch caused trouble last time, I was never allowed in here since I wasn’t a guardian back then.”
While Lantern and I were having a conversation on my attempts of breaking in, I heard a sound.
The wisps stared at the toys in awe and off they went, zooming all over the place. Even though the wisps were possessing the toys again, chasing elves, and messing around with the yetis, North didn’t seem to notice or he was just plain ignoring the havoc in the room behind us.
Uh oh! There goes half a dozen fighter planes. They were taken over by the wisps.
Lantern didn’t look like he was going to stop them anytime soon since his face was turning pink, his body was shaking, and he was covering his mouth, which I could still see a grin peeking out of the corner. He was definitely holding in his laughter.
I didn’t bother stopping them either, since I was enjoying myself too much from watching the havoc unfold.
Then I noticed Sandy giving us a disapproval look and shook his head.
Hey! It’s not our fault that the wisps wanted to have fun with all these toys!
“And here is me office,” announced North, pushing through a door into another room.
I remembered this room clearly since I came in here before. This was where North tried to help me find my ‘center.’ This place was full of ice models of toys that North came up with and let the yetis reproduce them.
“Whoa,” I heard Lantern exclaimed amazement.
“Zhis is where I vork and come up vith toys for children every Christmas,” North explained.
Lantern looked around in awe. “This is so amazing! But why ice?”
“Because zhere’s only ice up here! You see any trees, Lantern? Can’t use furnitures. Zhat would be very foolish,” North explained.
That made sense. I didn’t see trees for several miles away.
“And Lantern, do you understand vhat I do for children of vorld?” North asked.
“You mean like how Bunny gives hope and Sandy gives dreams? Hmm... since your the Guardian of Wonder, if I remember right, then your job is to give... wonders?” Answered Lantern, but sounding unsure of his answer.
“YES! Vonders! You are smarter zhen Frost. He couldn’t figure out as fast as you did,” North complimented him.
“Hey!” I cried out, angrily. “You gave me a matryoshka doll for me to guess on! I had to waste time opening up several wooden dolls to get to your ‘center’!”
Annoyingly, North just ignored me and continued with his Wonders explanation. “Every children are born with curiosity and vonders. The vonders that see the many possibilities and beauty of zhe vorld!” Then he turned to Sandy and said “Sandy protects children’s dream. Zhe dreams zhat he gives to children helps zhem have wonderful imagination and gives zhem happiness.”
Then I joined in as well. “And my job is to make sure that the kids have fun. As long as they believe in those possibilities and dreams, they won’t have to fear anything. And it also keeps the children’s hopes and beliefs in us alive, so it’s our job as guardians to protect them.”
Lantern stared at me, then at North, and then Sandy. His eyes were wide from amazement. “Wow, so your guys’ job are really tough, but so important. It must be a lot of work to keep the children of the world to keep believing in you guys.”
“It is, but we love our job anyways,” I said.
“What about Tooth? She’s the Guardian of Memories, right? What does that have to do with collecting teeth?” Lantern asked, curiously.
“Every teeth hold memories of childhood of the children, so vhen zhey forget or become sad, she will help zhem remember zhe happy and good times. Her job is to store and protect zhose memories and help children remember vhen it is needed,” explained North.
On the side, Sandy was demonstrating North’s explanation with sand figures of the fairies collecting the teeth and storing them at their palace.
“And zhat my boy is vhy ve are called Guardians. Ve are Guardians of Childhood and it’s our duty to protect zhe children.”
I could tell Lantern was very interested in this guardian business because his eyes were twinkling with excitement like a kid at a fair.
Suddenly, we heard crashes and shatters coming from outside North’s office. All I could think of was “Uh oh... what did those wisps do now?’
“Vhat vas zhat?” Wondered North and was about to walk out the door to check it out.
Lantern quickly blocked the door way in front of North. “Uh hey, North, thanks for the tour, but I need to get back to Blacksburg. Abby is expecting me and I don’t want to be late. So yeah, let me get my wisps and I’ll be off,” he said really quickly and he jetted out the door.
Both North and Sandy looked surprise and confused at Lantern’s behavior. I, for one, knew why.
“Yeah... and I gotta go too since I have a scheduled snow storm somewhere in... Burgess. So see ya guys!” I quickly flew out the door too without letting both the old men say anything.
“Vhat vas zhat all about?”
Phew! I thought I would be in serious trouble when I heard all that racket from outside North’s office. Good thing I was able to prevent North from stepping out of the office to check out what was happening outside, so I was able to round up all the wisps that were causing chaos in the work place. I can’t believe the wisps drove an airship into the dinning hall! They broke several glasses and plates! I had to beg the yetis and elves to help me clean up the mess without letting North find out. Frost also came after me and helped out as well.
I hope North didn’t notice the missing tablewares.
It didn’t take us long to clean with so many hands helping out, so we finished quickly and left North’s place with the use of portal-making-snow globes without a hitch.
Frost went back to his hometown in Burgess to check on things there... and probably make some snow days for kids to skip school again.
I headed for Blacksburg as well. I gripped the easter basket excitedly, wondering what reaction Abby would make when she sees it. Imagining her bright happy face made my chest feel warm.
“There’s my house,” I announced to the wisps, who were flying behind me. I could see my house in the distance and I took a fast dive towards it.
The wisps were giggling excitedly as they dived after me.
Hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi hi!
Then I slowed down to make a landing in the backyard. When I landed on the ground on my feet safely, I looked at the open window of Abby’s room.
“Abby!” I called out loudly. “Abby! I’m back!”
Strangely, there was only silence.
“Huh... Maybe their not home,” I thought, a little disappointed. I really wanted to give Abby her easter basket too. I guess I came here hurriedly for nothing.
Then I heard a sound of an engine roaring at the front of the house. They must be home now. Great timing! I guess it wasn’t a waste of time after all. I flew towards the front yard, hoping to see a small light brown hair girl hopping out of the dark blue mini van. But instead, I saw my mother coming out of the vehicle with tears in her eyes.
Why was she crying?
“Come on, honey. The police will find her,” I heard my dad trying to assure her.
“It’s been days already and she hasn’t been found yet! What if something happened to her!” My mother shouted at him.
What was going on? What were they talking about? Where’s Abby?
“Have hope, sweetheart. She has to be alright. I know it. She disappeared once and we found her, so I believe we’ll find her again,” said my father, hugging my mother assuringly.
“Please be alright, Abby... Please... come home soon...,” my mother cried through her tears, wrapping her arms around my father desperately.
I felt my heart dropped and my body froze in shock. Everything around me became quiet and still as if someone pushed the pause button on a TV. My hand lost its grip and the basket fell onto the ground, causing the eggs to scatter and roll all over the ground. I didn’t bother to pick them up. The only thing that was buzzing in my mind was...
Abby was missing.