Chapter 28 The Lost Message
Everything around me was dark. No, completely black. It was also silent. So silent to the point where it felt frighteningly wary. It was empty with no end to be seen. I didn’t like it. I hated it. It was so lonely here. I have to find a way out!
So where am I anyways?
I looked around and saw nothing but darkness. The light from my lantern was burning brightly. Yet, for some weird reason, it couldn’t shine through this darkness. The fire from my lantern was the only source of comfort for me right now.
What’s with this place and how the hell did I get here?!
“Hello?” I called into the darkness. “Is anyone there?”
There was no reply. The only thing I could hear was the sound of my stupid echo slowly disappearing into the distance.
I started to walk around, but I didn’t even know where I was going. It’s so dark that I can’t even tell if I’m going straight at all! Where was the god damn light switch!?!
Just when I was about to blast this whole place with some fire power to light things up, I spotted a small speck of light in the distance.
Yes! Finally! There’s something in this god damn nothingness!
I quickly ran towards it, hoping for something that even I’m not sure what I was expecting. A way out? Get some answers to what the hell this place was? Was there someone here besides me? I didn’t know, but at least it gave me hope for something!
After running towards it for a while, the light got bigger and bigger. It was a soft and orangey yellow glow. When I got close enough to see what it was, I discovered that it was a pumpkin. Not just any pumpkin, but a carved pumpkin with a soft glow shining from its eyes and mouth.
It was the typical and plain type of face carved on it. Triangle eyes and two teeth smile. Wax dripped from the small candle sitting inside of the pumpkin’s mouth. Who uses candles nowadays? Electricity was a lot more efficient in my opinion, plus it didn’t smell when it emits light. It was an old pumpkin where its thick orange skin was starting to peel away from excessive heat and age like an orange. Overall, it’s dorky and cliche! Whoever carved that thing must be an idiot to not be able to come up with something more original!
I picked it up out of curiosity. Why the hell was there a random jack o’lantern sitting here? I stared at the glowing face, wondering stupid things in my head. For one, if it started to talk, I can guarantee that I will flung it into the air and hope it gets smashed upon impact on the ground. But it didn’t. It was just a normal jack o’lantern.
Suddenly, I felt another presence nearby, so I looked up out of instinct. Then... Someone was standing before me...
HOLY BLOODY SHIT!!! WHERE THE FUCK DID HE COME FROM!?!
I froze in shock and almost dropped the pumpkin. I thought I was the only person here! Where’d this guy come from? I didn’t hear any footsteps at all!
He was just standing in front of me, about ten feet away. Even though there were lights from my lantern and this stupid jack o’lantern, it was still too dark to see the guy clearly. I can barely make out from the structure of his body that it was a guy and his clothes looked like a soldier uniform. His uniform consisted of a long blue jacket with a yellow button down shirt underneath. There was a white strap coming from the left shoulder, across the chest, and goes underneath the armpit on the right side. Lastly, white tight pants and black leather boots that go up to the knee. It looked like some old soldier uniform from a US history textbook. I tried to make out his face, but it was so dark that I can’t even see it. Hell! If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought that he didn’t have a head! The darkness was just that bad!
Du musst sterben...
“What?” I stared at him, confused. The hell was he talking about? His voice was deep and it echoed in the darkness.
Um seinen Wahnsinn zu stoppen...
“Speak English please. Eengwish!” I told him, annoyed. “I don’t understand a god damn word your saying!”
Aber hab keine Angst...
“Dude! Are you some retard that can’t even notice that I can’t speak your stupid language!?!” I was seriously getting pissed off
“What the...?!” I stared in shock at what I saw and dropped the jack o’lantern in my hand onto the ground. The guy was pointing a gun at me! It looked like a very old type of pistol from some American history museum. Round wooden handle that curved slightly and a round metal pipe where the bullet comes out, which was apparently pointing at me. “Whoa! Why are you pointing that thing at me?!”
Für dich wird er nicht verschwinden...
“Are you seriously going to shoot me! I’m sorry, man! I didn’t know you would get that pissed off with what I said! I take it back! Your language isn’t stupid!!! ” I quickly apologized like crazy, fearing for my life. What the fuck was I thinking for calling out on how the way this guy talked? Especially an armed guy, who I can barely see his face! Did I have a death wish?
Also bitte erfülle meinen einzigen Wunsch...
Holy shit! Holy shit! He was going to kill me! My whole body was shaking and my feet won’t move!
Bewahre ihn vor seiner eigenen Finsterniss....
Cinder was gone and nowhere to be found. He just disappeared in a gulf of fire. What did he mumbled before he disappeared? It didn’t even sound like English. I think I heard ‘Pitchiner.’ Was he going to Pitch? That language sounded familiar. Haven’t heard that language as often since the last century or so when a lot of this country’s people spoke it.
“Pumpkin?” I heard Abby whispered behind me.
Oh right! The kids. I turned around to check on the kids. The older ones were fine and unhurt. Freaked out a bit, but unharmed. Abby, on the other hand, was slightly different. She didn’t look harm physically, but from the look on her face, she was emotionally. Her face looked pale and her eyes shown disbelief. The shock from seeing her beloved brother attack her like that must’ve shocked her hard.
“Abby? Are you alright?” I asked worried. I checked her face again to see if there were any signs of her well being.
She didn’t respond to me. Then a few seconds later, she began to cry.
“Waaaaaahhhhhhhhh!” Her tears ran down her cheeks as she cried out loudly.
I quickly ran to her and wrapped her in my arms. I tried to calm her down and hushed her gently as I patted her back. After awhile, she began to calm down and hiccuped a few times.
“Jack,” Jamie called. I turned to him and saw my staff in his hands. “I think you should go after him.”
I stared at the staff and remembered what I had to do. I was so caught up with what just happened and Abby crying that I forgot. So I took my staff from his hands and got up.
“Take Abby and go home,” I told him and the other kids. If my hunch was right, then he might be going to Pitch and I didn’t want the kids to be in a dangerous situation. Once the kids climbed back onto the unicorn to leave, I flew into the sky in hopes that I can find Pitch or Cinder.
We were right on Pitch’s tail as Sandy and I flew after him. He was riding his Nightmare as it galloped in the sky ahead of us. We weren’t going to let him escape us again. I was still furious with what Pitch did with my Lantern’s teeth and messing with his memories. I really wanted to give Pitch a piece of my mind. Even with all his teeth knocked out of his mouth, I won’t be satisfied. Pitch needs to know that no one messes with her teeth and gets away with it.
Sandy was flying with that sand plane of his, so he was able to catch up to Pitch sooner. He flew the plane passed Pitch, which confused the boogeyman at first, but then Sandy flew into a u-turn towards Pitch again. This stopped Pitch in his tracks by blocking his path from both front and back.
Pitch got the Nightmare to dive down immediately, causing Sandy and I to almost collided into one another. We were lucky to make a turn in the nick of time and dodged each other. Then we dived after him quickly.
“Sandy!” I called. “Try to get rid of his Nightmare! It’ll slow him down!”
Sandy nodded to me that he understood, so he conjured up several ribbon of sand from the plane and sent them flowing towards Pitch like streams.
When some of the sand got close to the Nightmare King, Pitch quickly conjured up a large black scythe and swiped some of the gold streams. Unfortunately for him, even if the stream was cut, the sand streams still continued to follow him. Once one of the sand stream touched the Nightmare, the black beast cried out in shock and its body quickly turned gold.
Pitch cursed under his breath as the Nightmare slowly turned into Sandy’s original dream sand. The black robed man quickly jumped off as the Nightmare was no more and joined the golden flow. He quickly gathered a large amount of black sand below his feet and created his own black platform in the air. He glared daggers at the Guardian of Dreams.
Sandy also morphed his own plane to turn into a gold platform of his own. He stood with his posture ready for battle. Ready to strike with his sand.
I flew towards Sandy and hovered right behind him, gripping my swords tightly.
Both men who had the ability to control sand, one of dream and one of nightmares, stood before each other. They glared at each other silently. It was like watching two cowboys in some Western shooting showdown. Any second and they will strike at each other.
“Feels like deja vu, doesn’t it, little man?” Said Pitch with this sneer on his face.
Of course, Sandy didn’t say anything back.
“Pitch!” I called out loudly and angrily. “Where’s Lantern’s teeth? I know that you still have them! Give them back!”
I know for sure that in order to control Lantern’s memories, the teeth must be intact. If something happens to the teeth, the owner of it will be affected as well. Knowing Pitch, he’ll make sure the teeth were safe.
And with those teeth, we have a chance to bring Lantern back and return his memories to what it was before.
“You seriously think I would give it to you just because you say so?” Laughed Pitch, mockingly. “I finally have Cinder in my hand and you think I want to give him up? I guess you really are a bird brain.”
I cried out angrily and immediately flew towards him in a fleet of emotion. Sandy tried to stop me, but I completely ignored him.
Then Pitch sent a wave of black sand like a tsunami towards us, blocking me. Sandy quickly created three humpback whales from his dream sand in a flash and the giant sea creatures ram through the black wall.
Seeing the opening in the black sand, I quickly flew through it with my arms tucked in to fit through the small hole and zoomed towards Pitch. I raised one of my swords to the side and swung it down at the boogeyman.
Pitch blocked my attack in time with his scythe. He tried to slash at me with it as well, but I dodged it. Every swing that Pitch tried to strike at me were all dodged since when it came to speed, I had the upper hand.
While Pitch got distracted by me, Sandy created some kind of ball made of his dream sand and shot it towards Pitch like a cannon ball.
Of course, Pitch didn’t see it in time until it was already shot into his stomach.
“Oof!” Pitch blew out in shock and pain as the sand ball rammed into his mid section. The force of that impact sent him flying backwards.
Then something flew out of Pitch’s clothes from the impact. It was a cylinder object with flashes of gold and black. I immediately recognized what it was.
It was one of the containers that held the teeth! It must be Lantern’s!
“The teeth!” I cried out upon seeing it. I quickly flew towards the object as it was falling towards the ground below, hoping to grab it in time.
“NO!” Pitch screamed when he spotted me going for the container. He quickly flew down as well, going after the object. “GET AWAY FROM IT! IT’S MINE!”
“It’s not yours, Pitch!” I argued back angrily. “It was never yours in the first place! It belongs to Lantern! As a guardian of memories, it’s my duty to protect it!”
“Then I’ll have to force you to leave!” Growled Pitch. He conjured a mass amount of black sand around him and soon they all formed into spears. A whole lot of spears!
Pitch swung his arm forward like a signal for all the black spears to rain down upon me. They all came down like black rain. A very deadly and sharp rain.
I stared at all those spears in horror. It was like watching hundreds of arrows raining upon me from the sky. I had to quickly dart in every direction to avoid the sharp spears as much as possible. I dodged the best I could, but there were too many of them!
A spear managed to cut my arm when I wasn’t careful enough. I gasped in pain from the cut. The injury wasn’t deep, but a few feathers were sliced off and there small red stains of blood around the wound. While I tried to ignore the pain, I wasn’t able to concentrate on the dodging like before, causing me to get a few more cuts on my waist, leg, and shoulder. But the most important one of all was my wing.
“Agh!” I gasped when I felt my wing getting torn. Suddenly, my flying started to loose control. I can’t fly properly anymore!
Then I felt something warm wrapped around my waist gently, but firmly. I looked down and saw that it was a Sandy’s golden sand that saved me. I looked around and saw the guardian of dream hovering right next to me.
“Thanks Sandy!” I thanked him, but then I realized something. “Lantern’s teeth! Where is it?” I quickly looked down to where I last saw it falling.
“You mean this?” I heard the cold mocking voice nearby. I turned to where it came from and saw Pitch sneering at me with Lantern’s teeth container in his clutches. He held it in the air for us to see it clearly, showing it off.
“No! Get your dirty evil hands off those teeth!” I screamed at him. “Haven’t you done enough damage to it already?!”
“Well, ever heard of finder keepers?” He smirked at me as if he just won a prize.
While I stared at him holding that teeth container in anger and frustration, I suddenly heard a strange sound of something flying through the air. Pitch didn’t seem to hear it for he was still giving Sandy and I that mocking smirk. That’s when I spot something flying in an arc from behind Pitch.
Is that what I think it was?
“Argh!” Pitch clutched his hand in pain when the thing that came flying from behind and hitting the container out of his hand.
The teeth container went flying into the air and was then caught by a furry paw.
It was Bunny!
He was standing on the seat of North’s sleigh, with the jolly man of christmas steering the reindeers.
“Hope ve veren’t late for zhe party?” North smiled at me and Sandy.
“Bunny! North! I’m so glad to see you two!” I called to them, relieved to see them.
For Pitch, he was the opposite. His eyes burned angrily and his teeth bared like a furious beast that wanted nothing more than to rip its enemy to pieces.
“THERE’S NO WAY I’LL LET YOU GUYS GET IN MY WAY! I’LL NEVER LET YOU BEAT ME AGAIN!!!” Pitch shouted furiously as his emotion exploded.
I could feel a strong pressure like something was squeezing my chest and a sense of dread overwhelmed me. It was very unnerving, but I can’t lose my concentration now. The battle wasn’t over just yet.
Then Pitch sent another huge wave of black sand, but this time, those sand turned into thousands of Nightmares. The black beasts ran towards us with their eyes burning with destruction and madness. It was like watching a menacing wave of black demon horses stampeding in our direction, eager to crush us under their powerful hooves.
The guardians and I quickly got into our battle stances and charged towards the oncoming army of the Nightmare King.
I was quickly flying through the skies, searching for any signs of Cinder. I didn’t know where he was now since he used one of his special abilities to teleport himself somewhere. I did hear Pitch’s name in that strange language that he just randomly spouted when he woke up. If Lantern was bilingual, then he never told me about it. But that’s not important right now. I have to find Cinder.
And the only clue was Pitch.
If North and the others came in time, they should be fighting Pitch right now. It’s probably a heated battle, but the number was greater on our side, so we should have a chance. And wherever Pitch was, Cinder will most likely be there. That was what my instincts were telling me.
There was something strange about him. I’m not really sure about it myself, but something was definitely off back there. Sure Cinder was already a nutcase who loved to kick my butt and follow Pitch like a loyal dog, but back there, it felt different. It was like his mind wasn’t there. There weren’t any evil gleam in his eyes or that mocking tone in his voice. I could be wrong, but that’s what I felt. I’ll get my answers once I find him.
But right now, our top priority was to stop Pitch and bring Lantern back to normal.
The sky was still dark as night... or maybe it was already night time. I didn’t have time to check, but the sky was covered by the dark clouds for hours already. At least the wind seemed to have died down a bit. It wasn’t hard to fly around like before.
As I continued to scan the sky for any sign of the fire spirit or Pitch, I heard noises echoing from somewhere. I turned to where the noise was coming from and in the distance, I spotted figures moving about in the sky. I could hear cries of fighting and clanking of metals. Even from this distance, I can see bright gold figures clashing with dark black figures. I didn’t need binoculars to know that those figures were the Guardians and Pitch.
Now that I found them, I quickly sped up towards them.
~The Children’s Side~
The gold unicorn galloped through the dark forest with Abby and the other children on its back. The children were mostly silent during the trip since they couldn’t stop worrying about the guardian of fun.
For Abby, it was different. She has been quiet for awhile now. Unusually quiet...
The other kids noticed this and pondered whether to talk to her or not. If they chose to talk, what were they supposed to say? Sorry your own brother tried to burn you alive?
Claude scratched his head, unsure what to do or say. He looked at Caleb for help, but even his brother shrugged and shook his head. Cupcake looked back at Jamie with a worry look and gestured with her eyes towards Abby like she was trying to tell him to do something. Jamie pointed at himself with a confused look and Cupcake nodded. Jamie looked at Cupcake uncertainly and then looked back at the twins behind him, who also looked at him as if agreeing with Cupcake.
And so the responsibility of cheering up Abby was thrown entirely onto Jamie, who received it unwillingly. Oh the pressure on the poor boy.
Jamie sighed and gave in to his friends’ urging stare. “Uh... Ab...”
“Is he mad at me?” Suddenly, Abby spoke, though almost a whisper, after several minutes of silence and cut off Jamie before he was done calling her name.
“W...wait. What?” Jamie stammered.
“Pumpkin,” she clarified, speaking a little louder. “Is he mad... at me?”
“Why would you think that?” Jamie asked, not sure how to answer her question.
“He wook angwy,” replied Abby. “And scwawry...”
“He wasn’t angry. He was... not himself,” explained Jamie, trying to come up with a way to explain to her that wouldn’t make her worried. He really didn’t want to tell her that her brother was under Pitch’s mind control or that he turned evil and wanted to destroy the guardians.
“Reawy?” Asked Abby, sounding hopeful. “Is he okway? Is he sick? Is thwat why his hwair an’ eye aw bwack?”
Looks like Abby did notice the change of color in her brother’s hair and eyes, but she still recognized her brother nonetheless. Now that she remembered those details, she was starting to believe that the cause of the color change and her brother’s behavior were from an illness.
Jamie was dumbfounded, since it wasn’t actually it, but it was pretty close. Her brother wasn’t actually sick, but the thing that happened to him did change his personality and appearance a bit. Jamie can only wonder if the word ‘ill’ was the right word for this. Besides, what kind of illness can change the color of your hair and eyes like that? Much less, a one-eighty degree turn in the personality department.
“Will Pumpkin get bedder?” Asked Abby, hopefully.
“Of course he will,” Cupcake spoke up this time. “Jack will get your brother back to the normal and back to the good brother you know again,” she said with an encouraging smile.
“Eh? Which Jack?” Abby looked at Cupcake with a confused look.
“Oh right, you’re brother’s name is Jack too,” Jamie remembered.
“First, two Abbies. Now, two Jacks! This is getting really confusing!” Complained Caleb.
“It’s better than having two Caleb,” joked Claude. “That would be a real nightmare!”
“Hey!” Cried the twin brother.
Jamie couldn’t help but feel the heavy atmosphere lighting up now. Even he was grinning a little. When he turned to look at Abby, he also noticed a tiny smile forming on her face. Even her eyes started to look a little lighten up, but there was still the dark and depressing shadow in those gazes as well.
Seeing that, Jamie couldn’t help but want to give her a little ray of hope. “Don’t worry, Abby. Your brother really does love you and will definitely be back to normal in no time,” assured Jamie.
“After Jack Frost whoops his butt first!” Added Caleb.
“Oh shut it, Cal!” Snapped Cupcake.
Abby started to smile more at this and her eyes were starting to twinkle again. Her mood was definitely getting better.
Jamie felt relieved that Abby was looking better. Also, what he said about her brother earlier was also not really a lie, but there was no absolute guarantee. The only clue he had to his claim was that when Cinder was about to strike down at Abby and when Jack came to protect her, there was this one split second that Cinder froze. It was a small second that could’ve gone unnoticed with all that craziness, but he still noticed it anyways. If his hunch was correct, then the good brother inside that fire spirit was still there. He just needed some help to remember who he was before.
While it seemed that Abby was starting to break out from her depression, she still had that small sting inside her heart that still believed that her brother must be mad at her. Or worse, hated her. That was what she was most afraid of. The look in his eyes when he looked at her had no love nor warmth they used to harbor for her.
Did her brother still love her?
Her mind started to wonder about that question. An answer she feared was unfavorable. As her mind wandered in a sea of uncertainty and fear, she heard a voice echoing in her mind.
Abby immediately snapped out of her thoughts.
“Huh? Wha?” Abby looked at the older kids with a questioning look.
“What’s the matter, Abby?” Asked Jamie, noticing Abby’s confused look.
“Someone call me?” Asked Abby, thought that the voice she heard was from one of the older kids.
“I didn’t say anything,” denied Cupcake.
“Nope,” replied Claude.
“Not me,” answered Caleb.
“Wasn’t me either,” Jamie also denied as well.
Abby looked even more confused. She started to wonder if she was just hearing things when the same voice spoke again.
Abby... I’m sorry...
This time, she recognized the voice.
“Pumpkin?!” She called out loudly in shock. She looked around like crazy, trying to find any sign of her brother nearby.
“Abby?” Jamie called, looking confused and worried.
“Pumpkin! Pumpkin!” Abby continued to call out to her brother while looking around hastily in panic.
“Whoa! Abby, calm down!” cried Cupcake, trying to hold onto the little girl so she doesn’t fall off the unicorn.
Abby continued to move around wildly, trying to look for her brother.
“Pumpkin! Whe aw you?” She cried all over the place, loudly.
She can no longer hear her brother anymore, so she struggled even more and made Cupcake slow down the unicorn.
“Stop moving so much!” Yelled Cupcake, getting frustrated.
“Abby! What’s gotten into you?” Demanded Jamie, shocked by Abby sudden craziness.
“Dude! What’s gotten into her?” Demanded Claude, just as shocked as Jamie.
“She’s gone nuts!” Thought Caleb.
When Cupcake finally got the unicorn to stop, Abby just slipped out of Cupcake’s grasp and jumped off the unicorn. Under normal circumstances, a girl her age wouldn’t be able to land on her feet, but miraculously, Abby did. The older kids would’ve been shocked by this, but they were currently too busy being shocked that the little girl was running off into the dark forest in a flash.
“What the heck!?! AGAIN!!!” Whined Claude.
“Does she run off like that ALL the TIME!?!” Complained Caleb, just as frustrated as his brother.
“ABBY!” Jamie yelled in shock. “Cupcake!” He called to the only girl in the group who was controlling the golden unicorn.
“On it!” She replied. “Heeya!”
So they were off seeking the little runaway girl again.
For Abby, she was running towards the direction she felt was right. She didn’t know how or why, but her instincts were leading her there.
It was an instinct called bond. A rare occurrence when two people who share a strong enough bond that would linked them together on a spiritual level. Such occurrence can be found with mothers and their babies. But in this case, it was a bond between brother and sister.
And that bond will soon lead her to what she seek.