Chapter 13- Life or Death
Jack stared out the window of the workshop, lost in thought. Christmas had been two days ago and still there had been no sign of either Pitch or Jaz. No nightmares had attacked or even been sighted. It was peaceful but tension and uncertainty of not knowing when to expect the next attack was growing.
A familiar fluttering sounded close by. At first, Jack assumed it was Tooth but the thought vanished when he saw Baby Tooth fly up in front of his eyes.
“Baby Tooth!” he exclaimed, jumping to his feet. He held her close to his cheek, carefully hugging the newly recovered fairy. She was awake and looking much stronger than the last time Jack had seen her. Although she was still quite weak and suffering from the effects the nightmare had on her.
“Baby Tooth” Tooth’s worried voice came from the next room. “Where are you?” Jack looked to the mini fairy, figuring she probably shouldn’t be out of the infirmary yet. She quickly hid in his jacket when Tooth flew in.
“Have you seen Baby Tooth? She’s supposed to be resting” Tooth sounded like a distressed mother. Jack smiled innocently, shaking his head.
“I’ll help you look for her.” Tooth returned the smile. Not waiting for him, she flew out of the room. Jack looked at his shoulder where Baby Tooth’s head was poking out from his hood.
“You’ve been hanging around me too much,” he joked, commenting on her mischievous behaviour. Baby Tooth perked up, smiling at him. He stood up and took hold of his staff from where it rested against the wall nearby. He held his other hand up towards Baby Tooth, who climbed onto it voluntarily. They walked to the door.
“You really should be getting your rest though.” Baby Tooth pouted but nodded sulkily at his appeal.
Jack soared over to where Tooth was asking Sandy. Sandy was shaking his head as Tooth bombarded him with questions. He rolled his eyes, a dreamsand arrow pointing to Jack as he flew over.
“Found her” He handed her over to Tooth. A look of relief washed over Tooth but it was quickly replaced by exasperation.
“What did you think you doing? Leaving your room like that. Don’t you want to recover?” The young fairy nodded, chirping softly.
“She just wanted to see everyone else. She’s been unconscious for almost a week” Jack pointed out. Tooth glared at him.
“Don’t you defend her. She knows better than this.” She flew off with Baby Tooth.
“No more sneaking out” Tooth’s voice still rung clearly, even once she was gone. Jack and Sandy exchanged an ‘I’m glad I’m not her’ look. Jack chuckled, while Sandy smiled. Bunny appeared from a tunnel close to them. The amount of concern on his face made the two of them nervous.
“We’ve got a problem” he stated darkly, jumping out of his hole.
“Nightmares?” Jack guessed. Bunny shook his head, showing him what he was holding in his paw. It was a black arrow with a burnt tip. It pierced through a piece of parchment. Jack tore off the paper, reading through the message written on it. His eyes widened, his grip on the sides of the note tightening.
‘Sacrifices will be made, one way or another. Come to the graveyard of warmth or rest easy knowing the flame has been forever extinguished.’
“Jaz” Jack whispered. He turned to Bunny. “Where did you find this?”
“It was down in my Warren” he told him. “I brought it straight here after I read it. We have to find North, now!” Sandy took the arrow from Jack. Almost as soon as he touched it, it turned to dreamsand. He formed the image of Pitch’s shadow above his head. The three of them ran to North’s office.
“What is it?” he asked as they entered. Bunny showed him the note. He read it through, taking his time on each word.
“He has her under his control. Why would he want to harm her?” Jack stepped forward.
“What does it matter?” he exclaimed. “Jaz’s life is in danger. We can’t just sit here!” Everyone in the room went silent. His outburst was surprising, especially given who he was defending. A dreamsand dagger shaped above Sandy’s head, piercing downwards as if into a body. An image of Jack’s staff was below it.
“I know she tried to kill me” Jack clarified with the little man. “But that was Pitch’s doing, not hers.” The others didn’t respond, not convinced. Even Bunny was looking doubtful. “The Man in the Moon chose her to be a guardian, remember?” Jack was practically begging for some sort of understanding answer. When the others only casted him sympathetic looks, something inside him broke.
“Fine,” he said, turning away crossly. “If you won’t help, I’ll find her myself.” He ran out of the room, ignoring the calls from the other guardians for him to stop.
Pippa walked through the snowy streets holding her skateboard. All her friends were with her, except Jamie.
“You still haven’t talked to Jamie yet?” Caleb asked. Pippa didn’t respond.
“I thought you told Jack you would” Monty said timidly, tripping up on a word or two. She rolled her eyes.
“It was the middle of the night and I was tired. I would have said anything to get him out of my room.” The twins and Monty exchanged a look.
“Girls are so unpredictable when they get older” Claude muttered to the others, who laughed in response. Pippa spun around, her cheeks flushing red in irritation.
“Oh go jump in the frozen lake!” She dropped her board, skating away from them. Cupcake slapped Claude on the back of his head before running after her. Claude rubbed his head, his brother and Monty shrugging at him. Cupcake soon caught up with her.
“Wow, slow down would you” she said once she reached her. Pippa looked back at her. She sighed, flipping up her skateboard.
“Don’t listen to them, they’re just stupid boys.” Cupcake’s comment made her smile. “What happened with you and Jamie to make you so mad at him anyway?” Pippa stopped walking.
“I just feel as though he spends all his time with Jack now. It’s like whenever we hang out, that’s all he can talk about.” Cupcake was still confused.
“But Jack’s your friend too” she pointed out.
“Yeah but he was Jamie’s friend first. Jamie was Jack’s first believer and will always share a special bond with him.”
Cupcake looked thoughtful. “So what I’m hearing is you’re jealous that Jamie is Jack’s favourite? And that you want to have that same relationship with a guardian.” Pippa was speechless. She hadn’t thought of it like that. She knew that she wanted to have a bond with someone but did it really have to be a guardian? The more she thought about it, the more she realized it was what she desired.
“But how do I get that?” she questioned Cupcake. “All the guardians already have believers and it’s not like a new guardian is chosen often. It could be a hundred years before someone else is picked.” Cupcake started to walk back to the others.
“There’s not much else you can do but wait. Talk to Jack maybe, but not before you speak with Jamie.”
Pippa was left wondering what she meant by that. She supposed she couldn’t hold it against Jamie forever. They were just kids, after all. It was a stupid thing to be fighting over anyway. Not giving it a second thought, she ran to Jamie’s house.
“Jamie!” she called out, knocking on the front door. Sophie opened it.
“Hi Soph, is Jamie here?” Pippa asked her, peering over the top of her into the house. Sophie turned around to face the hallway.
“Jamie!” she shouted loudly. The brown-haired boy ran around the corner. He held a toy robot in one hand and a doll in the other.
“Pippa!” he startled, seeing her. He hid the toys behind his back.
“Uh, what are you doing here?” He looked embarrassed. Pippa guessed that the doll was Sophie’s. Or at least she hoped it was.
“We need to talk” she explained. “Can we go outside?” Jamie nodded, placing the toys down. He walked past his little sister and closed the door.
“I want to apologize for what I said a few days ago” she began once they had their privacy. Jamie tipped his head to the side.
“It wasn’t fair for me to treat you the way I did. I was being jealous.”
“Jealous? Of…Jack?” Jamie asked, not sure if he understood completely what she meant. Pippa nodded.
“You spend most of your time with him these days, I feel like I’m being left out.” She lowered her head. Jamie placed a comforting and reassuring hand on her shoulder.
“You’re my best friend” he said. He decided to leave out the part about her and Jack both being his best friends.
“You should have just told me you were feeling that way. I would have done something about it?” Pippa looked up at him, a small smile gracing her lips.
Jamie grinned. “Yeah! And hey, you know you can always talk to Jack about the whole favourite thing.” Pippa shook her head.
“No, I’m glad you and Jack have such a great relationship. I just wish I had that with someone.”
Jamie seemed to understand now. Pippa held her arms awkwardly.
“Jamie,” she murmured. “Can I ask you something?”
“How did you hear about Jack Frost? I know he made you believe in the Easter Bunny and that’s how you first saw him but how did you know it was him?” Jamie thought about the question intently. He remembered back to when he first heard Jack Frost’s name.
“My mum mentioned him before I went sledding. She said, ‘you don’t want Jack Frost nipping at your nose’. I had never heard her say that before but when I asked her about it, she said it was just an expression.”
“Was Jack there when she said that?” Pippa asked.
Jamie nodded. “He’s the reason the snowball fight started. He wanted to get back at me for asking who Jack Frost was.” It made him chuckle thinking about it. It seemed like such a long time ago that had happened.
Pippa froze. “Let me see if I understand this correctly. Your mum mentioned his name, you asked about it, she said it was an expression and then something extraordinary happened?” She referred to the snowball fight as extraordinary, remembering how Cupcake had turned from the nasty neighbourhood tyrant to the fun-loving girl she now called her friend all because she was hit by a snowball.
Jamie wasn’t exactly sure where she was going with this. Pippa didn’t have time to explain it to him. In a flash, she was gone.
“I’ll tell you later!” she called back to Jamie as she ran to her house.
She slammed the door shut, skidding around the corner and into the living room. She was glad no one was home. She crouched down by her new fireplace. Taking hold of the poker she had been told off for using, she studied it with her eyes. There was nothing odd about it. Her eyes flickered between the metal bar and the cold fireplace. Events from a few nights ago played over in her head.
Her father snatched away the poker. She pouted as he placed it back.
“Don’t play with fire. You don’t want to feel Jaz Flame’s wrath do you?” Her parent mentioning an unknown name to her to warn her of something.
Pippa was confused by what he had said.
“Who?” she questioned. Questioning the name.
Her dad laughed at her curiosity towards his saying.
“It’s just an expression kiddo.” An Expression.
Her father moved to the other side of the room. Pippa noticed the fire burning out at an unusual speed. It started to scare her, watching as the flames suddenly vanished. At first she thought it was something to do with the fireplace itself. She called out to her father but as soon as she did, the fire revived itself, ravaging the wood. The fire shaped from a wild blaze to calming flames. The way it moved was unnatural. Never before had she seen fire react like that. Something extraordinary occurring.
Pippa could hardly breathe. Was it possible? Could Jaz Flame actually exist? And if so, was it her that had made her fireplace behave the way it did? She needed answers and she needed them fast.
“I’m not going to leave her” Jack said to himself, pacing. His eyes glanced over the words in Pitch’s note another time.
“The Graveyard of Warmth” he whispered. He was pretty sure there was only one place that could be. A place of ice and cold, a frozen wasteland: Antarctica.
If Jaz had been taken there, the fire inside of her would already be starting to burn out. Pitch knew as well as any of the guardians if an immortal was wounded bad enough, then the Man in the Moon would have no choice but to take their life. It was a sign of mercy, so that they would not have to suffer any longer. Jaz was the spirit of fire. In a place as cold as Antarctica, she didn’t stand a chance.
Jack had no other choice. If he didn’t go, she would die. There was still a high possibility that her life would be taken from her even if he did go but if there was even the slightest hope of saving her, he would take it.