Chapter 14- Broken and Shattered
Tooth dashed through North’s workshop, searching for Jack. He had to be here. She refused to believe that he had actually gone after Pitch. It was a death wish, for both him and Jaz.
“Jack!” she cried out. Only silence answered her. The others were checking the other areas of the Pole but to no avail.
“Did you find him?” she asked North as she flew over to him.
North shook his head. “He’s gone.” Tooth’s worries increased.
“Where could Pitch have meant by the ‘graveyard of warmth?’”
North looked deep in thought.
“I don’t know.” Bunny and Sandy joined them. “Any luck?” Sandy formed a thumbs down sign in dreamsand.
Bunny sighed. “We’ve looked everywhere, and there’s no sign of him. He must have left the Pole.” Tooth’s feathers ruffled.
“We have to go after him.” A dreamsand question mark appeared above Sandy’s head.
“Sandy’s right” North murmured. “We don’t know where he went.” Tooth looked at them in shock.
“What then? Are we just going to leave him to kill himself?” she asked in utter disbelief.
“We’re going to make a plan” Bunny corrected her. “We can’t look for him because we don’t know where he went. We need to think things through.” North put his hands on his waist.
“Bunny is right. We must form a plan. Is the only way to save Jack.”
“And Jaz” Bunny added.
Tooth remained hesitant, her worries about the two missing spirits crowding her already troubled mind. But she trusted the initiative of her friends enough to keep her thoughts to herself.
Jack landed in Antarctica, his vision becoming slightly blurry from his pallid surroundings. His search for Pitch began. The white land was so vast and empty. He had no idea where Pitch would be or if he was even here yet. He started to realize he may not have thought his plan all the way through. Something caught his eye in the distance. Its black fractured surface made it pretty hard to miss. Using the wind to get to it, he gazed up and gasped. It was the frozen nightmare structure that he and Pitch had created during their fight two years ago. Seeing it again sent a shiver down his spine.
The sight of it made him remember how tempted he had been by Pitch’s offer. He had made him vulnerable and insecure. He tricked Jack into believing the guardians didn’t care about him, just as he had done this time with Jaz. Jack had to find her, to prove to her that Pitch was wrong.
He made his way around the massive ice sculpture. Even now, he struggled to believe he had played a part in creating it.
“Frost?” He might have been expecting his voice but hearing it didn’t make him feel any less tense. He turned to face Pitch, keeping his expression deadpan. Pitch looked surprised to see him.
“Well, I was expecting the rabbit but whatever works” he commented, remaining where he was. Jack held his staff out at him.
“Where’s Jaz?” he demanded in a threatening tone.
Pitch smiled evilly. “Why do you care about her? She’s fire, you’re ice. You were made to be enemies.”
“The only enemy I have is you” Jack spat back.
Pitch eyed the seemingly empty space beside him. With a flick of his hand, black sand that cloaked the being underneath came into sight and rose into the air. Jack hardly recognized what he saw. Jaz rested unconsciously on the ground. Her arms and legs were shackled with nightmare sand, coiling around her waist, chest, neck and mouth. Her eyes were covered by a bandage of darkness. Her attire was looking much more torn up than usual and her jacket was missing the lower half of the fabric. Most of her clothing was soaked in dried blood. Her hair was messier than it normally was, matted with dirt and blood. Jack’s eyes immediately realized her streaks had returned to their original, assuring him it was actually Jaz in front of him, not Pitch’s latest fearling.
Jack was horrified to see her like this but relieved when he saw her chest move as she breathed in shallow breathes. He felt sick knowing Pitch had done this to her. She had somehow managed to break free of the grip his fear had on her mind. This was her punishment.
Pitch twirled his finger, removing the sand from her eyes. As soon as it was gone, she regained consciousness. She thrashed around in her restraints, desperately trying to get free. Her eyes fell upon where Jack was standing a few meters away. Her eyes filled with fear and grief, tears rolling down her filthy cheeks.
“How could you?” Jack choked out. Pitch’s grin grew larger.
“You haven’t seen it all yet.” He pushed her to the ground with his foot, dragging her shirt away from her shoulders. When Jack saw the blood and shadow encrusted words engraved in her shoulders, his mouth dropped open in horror. He couldn’t find the words to describe the sickening sight of Pitch’s name imprinted in her skin.
It was then Jack knew this wasn’t the same Pitch Black that had used nightmares to terrorize the children of the world. This was a monster who tortured anyone who opposed him and left them for dead.
“Let her go!” he yelled at Pitch. He ran at him but skidded to a halt when he tightened his fist. The already tight coils wrapped around Jaz’s throat constricted. The sand across her face muffled her chokes and screams. Pitch played around, removing and replacing the nightmare twine covering her mouth to his liking. Jack was forced to listen to the unbearable sound of her painful cries whenever he removed it.
“You did this to her,” his words pounded at Jack’s mind. “You drove her to this.”
“Stop it!” Jack shouted over the top of her shrieks. Pitch paused what he was doing. In exhaustion, Jaz’s head fell limp onto the ice.
“What do you want?” His pale blue eyes were pinned on Pitch.
“The staff” Came Pitch’s short response. Jack widened his eyes, startled. “Hand it over or watch her die.”
The last time he handed over his staff, Pitch had lied about letting Baby Tooth go. How could he trust him not to do the same with Jaz?
“Time is ticking, Jack” he taunted him. He glanced down at Jaz’s weak frame. “She doesn’t have long left.”
“You’re not going to let her go” Jack fought, knowing exactly what would happen.
“We play by my rules” Pitch growled. “Now choose: the staff or her life?” Jack’s body trembled with uncertainty but he sighed, knowing what he had to do. He flipped his staff, turning away as he handed it over to him. Pitch took it gladly. This situation felt very familiar to Jack.
He waited for Pitch’s response to his decision. He crouched down, stroking the side of Jaz’s face. She started to regain consciousness, flinching when he touched her.
“Funny what a pretty face can do to someone’s judgement” Pitch sneered. He stood back up straight. Jaz’s eyes were open now but barely.
“Why do you even want it?” Jack couldn’t help but question him. He forced himself to ignore the scornful remark his enemy had just made. Pitch took out another object from behind his back.
“I thought it would go nicely with my collection.”
Jack wasn’t sure what it was until he managed to get a closer look at it. It was her dagger. Only it wasn’t; it was pitch black. Jack’s gaze flickered down to Jaz. Her painful expression informed him that she was already aware of her dagger’s fate. She shut her eyes, her chin pressing into her chest.
“Jaz’s dagger” Jack whispered, looking back at Pitch whose eyes were fixed on the shadow blade.
“Powerful little thing,” he commented. He gazed at where Jaz lay. “Shame it only works in her hands.”
Jack went to run forward but snares of the nightmare sand snagged his feet.
“I don’t think so, Jack. You’re not going anywhere.”
They wound up his legs, pinning him to the icy ground beneath. The more he struggled, the tighter they became. He couldn’t move.
Pitch made his way over to Jaz. Releasing one of her hands from its chains, he hauled her body from the ground. He placed the dagger’s handle in her palm. As soon as it touched her, it returned to its original state. More sand forced her hand to close around it. Water flowed freely from her eyes as Pitch held out Jack’s staff. Jack’s heart was pounding loudly in his chest.
Pitch took hold of her arm, throwing it down. Her dagger sliced through his staff with ease. Fire and ice exploded from the staff’s broken edges, sending a gust of both hot and cold wind in all directions. Jack and Jaz cried out in pain.
The familiar agony that he had once experienced shot through Jack’s body. The pain the first time round had been more shock. This time, it was amplified. It was a burning sensation like he had never felt before. It surged through his chest and into the rest of his body.
Jaz felt as though her body was being frozen from the inside out. She was already weak from the cold but the effect produced by the collision of their weapons knocked her out.
The sand around Jack’s ankles vanished. He knew what was coming next but couldn’t stop himself from looking up anyway. The nightmare attack slammed him in the chest, smashing him up against the ice wall. Pitch drove Jaz’s dagger into the ice. The ground split, creating a new crevasse beneath Jack as he fell. His broken staff dropped down along with him. Jaz’s knife was enveloped in darkness again. Her unconscious body fell through the fractured ice, landing limply beside Jack. Taking the dagger, Pitch vanished.
Jack rubbed his head, looking up. Freedom seemed so far away. He couldn’t believe he was trapped in a crevasse in Antarctica, again!
His gaze landed on his broken staff. He crawled over to it, trying to mend it like he had the first time. He shut his eyes and concentrated, pulling back as a fiery energy flowed through him. He dropped the pieces of his staff. The burn that Jaz had healed on his palm was recreated on both his hands. His breathing was heavy. He couldn’t fix it. He was stuck down here. If only Jaz— Jaz! He suddenly realized.
He edged over to where she lay. He nightmare bonds had completely disintegrated. He shook her gently but she didn’t stir. Jack looked around, seeing nothing but ice. He needed to find a way to keep her warm. Her heart rate had slowly right down and she didn’t have long. He found himself eyeing his staff again. If it had made him warm, maybe it would do the same with her. He held it out above her chest, piecing it together. He gritted his teeth as the heat seared through him again. He had to hold on. Jaz’s life depended on it. Sparks flew from the break in the wood, landing on her chest.
Her eyes flashed open and she gasped for breath. She was trembling but she was alive.
Jack couldn’t hold back the smile that formed on his lips when he saw her wake. She struggled to catch her breath.
“You’re going to be fine” he assured her, careful not to touch her body.
“Can you generate enough heat down here?’ Jaz shook her head weakly, her eyes full of sorrow. Jack was worried, until he realized she wasn’t answering his question.
“He was right” she murmured. Jack scarcely heard her.
“Pitch was right,” she clarified, slightly louder. “I’m nothing but destruction.” Jack felt emotion overwhelm him. He had been full of self-doubt when he had been trapped down here the first time. He was lucky; he had had Baby Tooth to reassure him by showing him his memories.
“Wait” he whispered under his breath. He put his hand into the pocket of his jacket, pulling out Jaz’s teeth box. Jaz had curled up, waiting for the Man in the Moon to reclaim her life. Jack moved over to her and held out the box.
Jaz lifted her head weakly, jumping back when she caught sight of them.
“Keep them away from me” she repeated the words she had used with Jack at the Tooth Palace. This time though there was no anger. Just empty fear.
Jack wasn’t about to let her give up on herself.
“Look at them” he encouraged. “You have to see the real reason you’re here.” Jaz opened her mouth to argue, when something clicked in her mind.
“You’ve seen them” she whispered. Her voice was questioning. Jack had to tell her the truth. He nodded.
Jack wandered around the Pole, trying to figure out everything. How could Jaz have done this to them? He couldn’t grasp an explanation. As he saw Tooth fly past, an idea struck him. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a memory box. Jaz had told him to keep it, claiming that he should look at them if he was that curious. He knew she probably didn’t mean it literally but he couldn’t think of any other way to find out why she might have been behind the attack. Knowing her past might be the only way to discover the truth.
He decided to check with Tooth before going ahead with his plan.
“Jaz’s memories” she exclaimed as soon as she saw the box in his hand. Jack held it up to her. “Why do you have them?”
“I want to know if I can see them” he said, brushing off her question. Tooth looked at him questioningly.
Jack looked frustrated. “Tooth, I don’t have time to explain. Please, can you show me her memories?” Tooth took a moment to think about what he was asking. She took her time but eventually nodded.
“Alright, I trust you have a good reason. Place your hand on the box” she instructed him. He did as she said. She placed her hand on the top of it, taking it off as soon as the memory began to unfold. If Jack wanted to see them, he’d have to do it alone.
Jack was left gasping for air after seeing Jaz’s memories. Tooth stayed by his side, making sure he was ok.
“What happened? What did you see?” Jack couldn’t answer her. He was too shaken from what he had seen. The memories, each filled with sadness and anguish, played over in his mind. But there was something else, something he couldn’t quite get his head around. There was a portion of her past full of happiness, fun and light.
Jack looked Jaz in the eye, placing the small memory box in her lap.
“Look at them” he murmured. “Please Jaz.”
Hesitant, Jaz glanced down at them. She swallowed nervously, fearing what she was about to see. She slowly reached her hand out and opened the first of her memories.