Chapter 15 To Believe and Hope
I returned to Pitch’s underground lair, where Pitch was staring at a large hallow globe. There were many tiny lights shining all over the areas on the globe that represented the continents. The areas that should’ve been the ocean was nothing but emptiness. It was like the globe only showed the lands, but not the ocean, so the center was just hollow and empty.
I walked up and stood a good distance away from him. Without having him turning around, he already knew I had returned from my assignment.
“I see you’ve returned,” said Pitch not bothering to turn around and look at me. “You’ve done well on your first mission. I can already feel the fear increasing and my powers rising by the minute,” he stared at his hand and wisp of black sand swirled around in his palm. I can tell from his tone that he was very pleased with this development.
“I did what you told me to do and I didn’t talk to any of the guardians, so can I finally see her?” I demanded.
“Abby? Of course,” answered Pitch with a creepy happy tone. “Since you’ve done such a good job creating fear for me, you definitely deserve a little reward.”
I felt relieved at his answer, but nervous at the same time.
“But tell me... how was it like to meet the guardians again now that you are on the opposite team?” Pitch asked as he turned around to look at me, interest with what I would answer.
I felt a piercing guilt hit my chest when I remembered their expression when they found out that I was the one that caused that large wildfire. It was almost like Pitch deliberately asked this to make me feel bad.
“Were they shocked? Confused? Angry?” Pitch kept asking as he walked up to me and then around me as I stood silently. “After what you’ve done, they probably think that you betrayed them.”
“Shut up...” I whispered under my breath, feeling really annoyed.
“What did you just say?” Pitch demanded with an annoyed glare.
“Nothing,” I lied, trying to keep my tone as normal as possible. Then I felt something grasped my shoulder tightly and I tensed up.
“If your thinking about opposing me, then you better forget about it quick,” Pitch said in a cold hard voice. Then he touched my chin and lifted them up so I was looking at him eye to eye. He stared at me while I glared at him back.
“Don’t touch me!” I brushed his hand off and walked back a few steps to give myself distance from him. I continued to glare at him distrustfully.
For some reason, Pitch snickered as he stared at me amusingly. “Now now my little candle stick. You know what happens to little kids that don’t listen to adults, right?” He said as he walked back up to the globe again. “Naughty kids will get punished.”
I stayed silent, feeling uneasy about what he said. For the pass week, Pitch had been making me train with his horse minions and sometimes, Pitch himself. I learned that the black horses were called Nightmares. They were made of sand that used to belong to Sandy, but was morphed by Pitch to bring nightmares instead of good dreams. The Nightmares weren’t that tough to fight with when they were in small numbers. But once they were more of them, the training got a whole lot more complicated.
Fighting with Pitch was also a pain. The guy was quick, swift and very sneaky. Every time he decided to personally train me, I would end up with my butt kicked and bruises everywhere. Pitch also didn’t like me talking back at him, so after the fifth time of being ‘trained’ by him, I knew he wasn’t joking about the punishment.
“But as promise, I’ll let you have a little quality time with your sister. You have five minutes,” he said.
Then a swarm of black sand gathered in front of me in a large sphere before it formed a large cage with a little girl inside of it.
“Abby!” I called out to her. I quickly got onto my knees in front of the cage, grasping the cold bars.
“Pumpkin!” Abby cried out as she ran towards me, looking a little shaky but happy to see me.
I would’ve given her a huge hug if it wasn’t for the bars that came between us, so all I could do was hold her cold pale cheeks to give her some of my warmth as my way of assuring her.
“It’s alright, Abby. Don’t be scared. Big brother will make sure nothing hurts you,” I tried to assure her.
Then Abby took a good look at me and noticed my tattered clothes and bruises.
“Pumpkin hurt!” Cried Abby, worriedly.
I tried to cover some of my bruises, but I couldn’t cover them completely. “I’m alright, Abby. I just tripped myself, that’s all. They’ll heal,” I lied so she wouldn’t get too worried.
Abby stared with wide eyes in shock. She was probably surprised that a trip can cause so many bruises.
“Where pwetty wights?” She asked, noticing the absence of my wisps. Very good observation for a kid her age.
“They’re having a rest right now. They were having so much fun that they all got exhausted afterwards,” I lied. There was a reason why they weren’t flying round.
So I spent the few minutes I had talking with Abby. I tried to tell her stories to keep her reassured like of how I went to North’s workshop, how the yetis made the toys, how I dropped in Bunny’s place, chased by giant stone eggs, and how the eggs there can walk. I couldn’t help but chuckled at the look on her face. It was almost as if I just gave her a huge present with North and the other guardians inside of it. I smiled in relief when Abby’s mood seemed to have lighten up.
“Pumpkin?” she called.
“Abby wanna go home,” Abby told me with hope in her eyes. It almost broke my heart to see her looking like that.
“I’m sorry, Abby, but we can’t go home yet, so be patient alright,” I had to tell her that even though I didn’t even know when Pitch will let her go. “Once I’m done with some errands, we can all go home, okay? So in the mean time, no matter what happens, don’t be afraid. Be brave and nothing can scare you, alright.”
“Uh huh. Awight...” she agreed. “Then we go home when you done?”
“Yep,” I replied.
“Pwomise?” She asked to make sure.
“Promise,” I assured her.
Then I heard Pitch’s voice from behind me. “Ten seconds left, boy,” he told me from a distance away.
I took a glance behind me and saw that he was still in front of the globe. He was busy observing the tiny lights, probably planning where to strike next. Making sure that Pitch won’t notice, I quickly turned to Abby again. I grabbed her hands, carefully placed something inside, and clasped them together.
“Abby, remember what I told you. Don’t be scared. Be a brave girl. For me, okay?” I told her, in a slight serious tone.
Abby looked at her hands, confused. She must’ve noticed that I had put something in her hands. Even though she was confused, she nodded, “Uh huh.”
“Good girl,” I complimented her.
“Time’s up,” Pitch announced and black sand rose from the ground and engulfed Abby’s cage before disappearing with my sister.
I could feel her hands disappearing from my grasped. When she was gone, I stared at my hands as if I could still feel her tiny warm palms in mine.
“That was a touching little moment,” said Pitch appearing from behind me and squeezing my shoulder as if telling me to stand up, which I did. “But it’s time you get some rest. You have another task tomorrow.”
“Can’t I even get a day off?” I asked in an annoyed tone.
“Oh no,” he said. “We have so much to do, so it’s best to get things done quickly. Now off to your quarters.”
So I did as told and went back to the room that Pitch gave me when I was taken to this place. The room he provided for me was like one of those bedrooms that exist in European castles. Bed with curtains and everything. Even though it was spacey, I prefer the small room that North used to let me sleep in when I was at his place. It felt more like a prison here than a bedroom. This room was dark and cold while North’s was warm and cozy. It’s not like I really had a choice to begin with since this whole place was dark and cold.
“Oh and don’t forget you have more training in the morning,” reminded Pitch.
Oh great. That sounded so exciting. I’ll be adding more bruises to my already injured body.
While I watched the boy walked off to his quarters, I thought proudly to myself, ‘I finally found a promising companion.’ For so long, I’ve been searching for an ally of my own. Jack Frost also had promise, but he was foolish and rejected my offer. I still remember the bitterness of having my hope crushed to pieces... again.
I may be the boogeyman, but that didn’t mean I like being alone in the darkness. I too wanted a companion to rule by my side when I bring fear to the world.
When I found the Fall Spirit, Jack O’Lantern, I felt that his powers were somewhat familiar. The power to control fire and the desire to bring fear. It didn’t take me long for me to realize who he reminded me of. It’s been so long since I thought of him. It’s been so many years since I had a companion with similar interest. A kindred spirit. Then somethings happened and now he’s gone.
When Jack O’Lantern appeared, I saw hope again. Still so young and new to our world. He loved scaring people, but his heart was too soft and weak. He had potential, but he needed the right person to help nurture that side of him. Since he was still young, I decided to make him my apprentice. Once he becomes stronger and understands my ideals, he’ll be the perfect partner that’ll stand beside me as I bring fear and nightmare to this world. Then I’ll have my revenge against those wretched guardians.
But those guardians had to get to him first before I did and tried to make him one of them. I knew I had to work fast when I found out. I didn’t want to lose him like how I lost the others. I even went as far as to kidnap a child. His little sister was a good bait. Now Jack O’Lantern listened to my every word and followed my every demand, but unfortunately, he still believed that he’s friends with those blasted guardians! As long as he still believed that, there’s no doubt he’ll try to go against me one day. To make sure such a thing doesn’t happen, I thought of a plan for precaution, but I needed something to make sure this plan will go smoothly.
I’ll make sure he’ll never oppose me like those others. He’ll be completely mine.
I called upon my Nightmares and they came to me immediately.
“I need you to go retrieve something for me,” I told them.
The Nightmares’ glowing yellow eyes were fixed on me, waiting for my command. I told them what I needed and they quickly disappeared into the shadows.
The guardians and I were all back at North’s place. It seemed to have become our headquarters now. After Lantern’s major wildfire destruction in South Africa, which took us an hour or two to put out all the flames, we came back here to rest up. Especially me, since I was the one that got my butt kicked by Lantern. I swear that Lantern was some how stronger than before.
The next day, we were all gathered at the usual hall room in front of the fireplace to figure out what we should do next.
“If my speculation’s correct, zhen zhere’s chance Pitch is controlling Lantern against his vill,” said North.
“So how is Pitch controlling Lantern anyways? He didn’t look like he was being mind controlled,” wondered Bunny.
“Maybe he’s being threatened,” suggested Tooth. Baby Tooth, who was flying beside her, nodded in agreement.
“With what?” Demanded Bunny.
“Abby...” I realized. “Abby went missing way before Lantern did. Pitch must’ve kidnapped her and is using her to get to Lantern.”
Everyone turned and looked at me in unison.
“You mean his sister?” Bunny asked to make sure.
“Yeah,” I confirmed. “She’s been missing for more than three weeks now and I have no doubt that this was Pitch’s doing.”
Then Sandy made a sand figure of a little girl over his head and he pointed to it with a serious look.
“Sandy’s right. Ve must find Lantern’s sister,” announced North.
“But where do we find her? We don’t even know where she is,” said Tooth.
“Pitch has many hidden entrances to his lair, but we don’t even know where to find any of them, much less know where she is,” stated Bunny.
“What about the globe? Each of the lights belong to a child that believes in us, right? Abby must be a believer as well since she can see me, so can’t we use the globe to find her?” Thought Tooth.
“Wait, the globe can actually do that?” I stared at North. “I didn’t know the globe can actually be use to find people.”
“It’s not zhat easy. If I know Pitch, zhen he vould probably have Abby hidden somewhere underground. Zhe globe might be able to find children, but if zhe child in deep underground, zhen the globe von’t be able to find zhem,” explained North. “Pitch’s lair in underground so me globe von’t vork. Ve must find other way.”
Great! Now how were we supposed to find Abby then? Just imagining Lantern being under Pitch’s mercy was making me feel anxious and impatient. We have to find Abby quick. The faster we find Abby, the sooner Lantern can finally be free from Pitch’s clutches.
Baby Tooth seemed to notice that I was really worried, so she flew to me and placed her hand on my cheek. She chirped as if she was trying to assure me.
“Thanks, Baby Tooth,” I thanked her for her worry for me, but my own feelings won’t die down that easily.
While we were so busy trying to figure out how to find Abby, Sandy caught our attention when he made some kind of sand orb over his head and pointed behind us. He was pointing to the globe.
“Hey, guys! I think Sandy wants to tell us something,” I called to the other guardians.
We all turned towards the globe and noticed that something was happening to it.
The lights at the bottom of North America were flickering.
“It’s Mexico!” Exclaimed Tooth.
“Is it Lantern?” Thought Bunny.
“I don’t know, but ve must go zhere quick to find out,” replied North.
And so we were off to our next destination, Mexico.
The buildings were ablaze and black smoke rose into the sky. The screams of fear and panic could be heard through the roaring flames. People were running all over the streets, either trying to put out the flames or trying to escape the burning buildings.
While most of the people were unable to see them, there were several fire creatures roaming the town, creating fire on anything that can burn. I noticed that only the adults can’t see them, but the children can.
A little girl was staring at a fire jaguar in horror. Her little body was shaking and her eyes were tearing up in fear. She stared in silent and didn’t dare move. The fire jaguar noticed her and stared at her, wondering whether to attack or not.
I specifically made sure to transfer my thoughts to every fire creatures to not harm any of the humans, including the children. Pitch only gave orders to create fear and chaos, not hurt the people, so I wasn’t going against his orders whatsoever.
Once the fire jaguar got my message, it didn’t attack the girl.
Then a woman came running towards the girl, not noticing the flaming jaguar. She scolded the little girl with worry on her face before she carried the little girl in her arms and ran off, away from the burning buildings.
I was watching all this from the roof of a burning two floor house. The heat didn’t bother me at all and the fire can’t harm me either. I’m the spirit of fire after all, so technically, fire can’t harm me.
Then I spotted in another area that several men were trying to put out the flames with a hose and buckets of water. While they were running around finding water, they didn’t noticed the fire bats flying over their heads at all. The fire bats were lighting up tall roofs and trees, spreading fire through the air. There were a couple of kids around there, pointing at the flaming bats in fear, but none of the adults took notice.
There were also a bunch of fire monkeys jumping around the streets and hopping from roofs to roofs, throwing tiles or anything they can get their hands on onto the ground below.
The fire jaguars were dashing through the plazas, streets, and alleys, leaving behind a path of flames and burning stalls and tents in their tracks.
The normal animals like the dogs and cats can see them and sense that these flaming creatures weren’t normal and chose to flee than going up against them.
Watching all this happening before my eyes made my chest ache. I never wanted this. I love pranks and stuff, but this was not what I had in mind. I hated this. I hated this so much, but I can’t stop. Why did I have to be a Fire Spirit? Why fire of all things?! Why couldn’t I have less harmful powers like... Candy? The worst I could do was cause cavities! Wait a minute... Tooth wouldn’t like that at all.
While I was busy lost in thought, I didn’t notice that something was flying towards me from behind.
I heard someone called my name and l turned around out of reflex.
There was a flash of blue light and the fire that was surrounding me before were immediately frozen by ice. Then a familiar figure came floating down and landed on the opposite side of the roof. That staff and white hair... Frost.
I stared at Lantern as I landed on the roof where he stood watching the burning town. The fire spirit seemed to look worse since the last time we encountered each other. His face was turning really pale and he seemed to look even more drained than before. His glow was almost gone and his eyes lost their liveliness and mischievous twinkle. He looked so... dead.
“Lantern, what happened to you?” I asked worriedly.
Lantern stayed silent, just like last time. Was he unable to speak for some reason? Was this because of Pitch?
Then Lantern threw his hand in front of him and a large amount of fire came shooting out of it, heading towards me. I immediately blasted them with my own ice bolts.
Like aways, the collision of the two opposite powers exploded, creating a powerful wind that almost knocked us over again. Good thing Tooth sent Baby Tooth to the Tooth Palace, so she would be safe there. It wasn’t safe putting her on the battlefield again. Though Baby Tooth wasn’t so happy about being left out, it was for her own good.
After the explosion, a mist would spread everywhere, covering our surroundings like a white curtain.
Just what I needed.
While the mist kept Lantern from seeing what was happening around him, there was a sound of something flying in the air. Then...
When the mist started to clear out, I could hear something being hit. The lantern was knocked out of the fire spirit’s hands and fell off the roof. The object that came flying went back in an arc and into someone’s hand.
“Sorry, mate, but we can’t have you making any more fire,” said a large rabbit with an Australian accent. Bunny jumped onto the roof of the building we were standing from another one with his boomerang in his hands.
When the mist cleared up, Lantern found himself cornered by me and Bunny.
“Lantern! We seriously don’t want to fight you, but we can’t have you burn anymore towns,” I told him. We had no choice. If we want to prevent anymore crazy fire, we had to go to the source... and that source was Lantern. Bunny and I volunteered to stop Lantern while North and the others went to fight the fire beasts.
Lantern stared at me and Bunny silently with this pained look in his eyes. He probably didn’t want to fight us either, but he didn’t look like he had a choice. Suddenly, swirls of fire appeared in Lantern’s palms and he threw the fireballs at us.
He can use his powers without his lantern?!
This was unexpected since I can’t use my powers when I don’t have my staff, so I thought he was the same. Time for a change of plans.
Both Bunny and I had to quickly dodge the two fireballs and they came flying at us. I shot an ice bolt at the fire spirit but he just jumped into the air and flew.
He can FLY as well?! Why couldn’t I fly or use my powers when my staff broke? This was unfair!
Bunny threw his boomerangs at him, but Lantern just flew away, dodging the flying wooden weapons. I also flew into the air to chase after him.
He dived down towards the ground where his lantern pole fell. When he spotted the metal lantern, he immediately grabbed and shot back into the air.
He flew through the burning town where the buildings were still roaring with flames. I tried to follow as close behind as possible. Lantern tried shooting more fireballs at me while I tried to dodge them. When I tried to shoot him with my ice bolts, Lantern managed to dodge them and made a sudden turn into a corner. I barely made the turn, so I was still on his tail.
Lantern was darting into every turn and corner, trying to out maneuver me. While I was following him from behind, fire bats would be chasing me and fire monkeys were throwing roof tiles. I sent a strong gust of cold ice wind in every direction to blow away those fire beasts.
While Lantern was distracted from protecting himself from the cold wind, he didn’t notice someone flying towards him.
Tooth came flying out of nowhere and crashed into Lantern. The impact sent them falling down onto the hard pavement down below. Both Lantern and Tooth rolled in different directions and laid on the ground, face down. Tooth was the first to recover. She flapped her wings and hovered into the air while shaking her head to get rid of the dizziness and headache.
Lantern also started to get up onto his feet with the help of his lantern pole to push himself up. He was barely standing when suddenly, a swirl of golden sand flowed around him and formed into a orb-shaped cage. Sandy was hovering right behind him while controlling the sand.
Finally, we caught him.
“Lantern,” I called as I landed on the ground. “Sorry that we had to do this to you, but it was the only way we can ask questions without having you shooting us with your flame throwers.”
“We’re really sorry, Lantern,” apologize Tooth with a guilty look on her face.
“Finally caught the little blow torch,” Bunny said when he finally caught up to us. “Now’s the time to get some questions answered.”
Then North appeared and joined us. All the guardians were now present and gathered around the caged Lantern, who was trying to break himself free with his fire powers but to no avail.
“Lantern,” called North. “Ve know you are in trouble. It is Pitch, is it not?”
Lantern froze and stared at North. His reaction pretty much answered our first question.
“Does Pitch have Abby? Is that why you’re doing all this?” I asked this time.
Lantern didn’t say anything, but I could see it in his eyes that I was right. His eyes were burning with anger and frustration.
“Then do you know what Pitch is planning?” North asked, hoping to find some idea what Pitch was up to. But before we could get our answer, we suddenly heard noises of what sounded like a horse.
We all immediately turned around in the direction of where the noise was coming from. What stood in the shadows not far from us was more than a dozen Nightmares. Their bright yellow eyes stood out from the darkness and their black skeletal bodies slowly walked out from the shadows.
“Nightmares!” Gasped Tooth.
Then the black horses came rushing towards us. We immediately grasped our weapons, ready to attack. North and Tooth charged at the horses with their blades slashing at them. Bunny threw some egg-bombs, blowing up a couple of the Nightmares, and Sandy was whipping his sand whip at them. Even though we got some of them, there were still a few that slipped pass us. That’s when I notice that their target wasn’t us, it was the cage.
“They’re going for Lantern!” I cried out in realization. I tried to stop them by blasting them with ice bolts, but one of the black horses already had its front hooves raised.
Lantern backed himself inside the cage and stared with wide eye in shock as the hooves came crashing onto the cage. The force of the impact broke the cage to pieces. Once the cage was broken, the Nightmares swirled around the fire spirit like a tornado, wrapping him in black sand.
“They’re going to take him away,” yelled Bunny, throwing his boomerang at the Nightmares, but it barely made any damage to the wall of black sand.
Sandy tried to use his whip to grab Lantern, but when the golden whip darted towards the black tornado, a Nightmare appeared and blocked it.
Then the black tornado completely enveloped Lantern inside of it before it dispersed into nothing but sand. Lantern was nowhere to be seen.
Locked up in a large bird cage hanging from the ceiling, Abby was sitting in the center with her body close together. She looked around at her surroundings outside the cage to have an idea of the place. There were some tiny rays of light shinning from the ceiling, barely enough to make out the place. She was locked up in some dark and cold underground ruins and there were more cages hanging around her. The place smelled damp and salty as if she was at the sea. She’s been observing the place like this from the beginning due to her own curious nature. She may not know where the way out of this place may be, but she can see the many pathways and stairs leading in every direction. She can also hear the sound of waters down below. Though she was very high up, she can still see black murky waters flowing down below. With the waters flowing all over the underground city, it looked like the city was being flooded by black water.
Abby was sitting in a close position to keep herself warm and safe. She had her hands clapped together as if holding onto something inside. There were small amount of orange light leaking out from the cracks between her fingers. Her brother gave her something before they were separated and she had been holding it in her hands like that since then. It was really warm inside her palms and it also made her heart feel safe and calm. When she felt that no one was around, she opened her hands and a soft and warm orange glow shined onto her face.
Her eyes reflected the lights, making her eyes shine with awe.