Chapter 22- Storm on the Horizon
Their rejoicing was interrupted as lightning flashed outside. Jaz could feel a strange darkness growing in the atmosphere. It was a warning of the danger that was to come. She knew what that meant. Pitch was coming; there was no way to avoid it. She had to prepare Pippa, or risk her getting hurt. Pitch wasn’t just out for the guardians and herself. Actually, as far as he knew, she was dead. But no, Pitch wanted revenge on all those who had defeated him last time. Jaz may not have been there but she knew of the children’s assistance in the previous battle. They were all in danger.
She quickly turned to Pippa. She knelt down, placing her hand on her shoulder.
“Go,” she told her. “Get to a safe place.”
Pippa looked frightened. “What about you?” she asked, worried. Jaz tried to look assuring.
“I’ll be fine. The guardians and I will protect you” she promised. Pippa nodded. She still looked and felt fearful but did her best to be brave.
“I’ll tell the others about you. Our belief will make you strong.” She ran out the door, in search for her friends. Jaz couldn’t dishearten her by telling her the truth. Their belief would only make the guardians strong. She wasn’t a real guardian, and was still relatively weak from everything she’d been through, along with the cold weather affecting her now. It would be a tough battle; one she feared they would not win.
Jaz followed Pippa outside, gazing up at the darkened sky. The street lights were alit, and the roads were empty. The faint sound of bells rung through the night. Jaz’s attention was drawn upwards as North’s sleigh shot through the air. There was no grace in the way it flew. Out of control, it was hurled out of the sky. Jaz winced at the sight of it crashing. She wasted no time, running to her friend’s aid. The reindeer bucked, tearing free from their harnesses. They nipped at each other’s hooves and pelts, aggressive towards each other. A few of them reared up at Jaz, kicking their powerful legs out at her.
“Moi deti!” North’s voice came from behind her. He stumbled over, blocking her from their attack. They snorted, charging off after the other reindeer into the forest. North exhaled deeply. Jaz looked up at him. He looked exhausted, just like the others. He leant on his scimitar, too tired to even hold himself up. Sandy floated out of the sleigh, his head lowered in weariness. Bunny struggled to pull himself up and over the side, having to lean on the railing to support him. Tooth half flew, half fell out after him. Her wings fluttered momentarily but became limp. Jack jumped after her, helping her to her feet. Jaz couldn’t believe how weak they all looked.
Bunny spotted her. “Jaz!” He took a step towards her but his legs gave way and he collapsed to his knees. She hurried over to him, checking he was alright. She glanced up at the others.
“What happened?” Jaz asked distraughtly.
“The lights,” Jack responded, sounding tired. “Pitch’s nightmares were too strong. Too many children have stopped believing.” Jaz understood what he meant. The guardians only needed the belief of one child to exist but now that Pitch was stronger, they needed much more in order to fight him. Jack, being a recent guardian, was least affected seeing as though he didn’t have enough believers to keep him stable to begin with. That didn’t mean his powers weren’t still altered, however.
“Jaz!” Jaz turned her head at the sound of her name, seeing Pippa running over to her. Jamie was behind her. The skidded to a halt when they reached the guardians. She smiled up at her. The others noticed this with great interest.
“She sees you” Jack said in shock. He grinned; thrilled to see she had finally obtained a believer. Jaz quickly glanced up at the guardians, seeing their expressions of utter astonishment. She smiled, looking back down at Pippa. She placed her hand on her shoulder.
“He wants to believe” Pippa said to her, her gaze flickering to Jamie. A warm breeze blew past him, cinders sparkling in front of his eyes. He shook them off his nose, beaming at Jaz as she suddenly became visible to him.
“Wow!” he exclaimed, seeing her for the first time. “You’re real!” He exchanged a glance with Pippa. Jaz turned to the guardians.
“We have to keep those who still believe strong in their faith.” They nodded at her. Jaz faced Sandy.
“Are you strong enough to fight off a few more nightmares?” Sandy looked hesitant but nodded.
Pippa stood by Jaz’s side. “I’ll help” she declared. Jaz was uncertain for a moment but smiled in gratitude. She took hold of her hand. She looked back up, only to find Jack now standing before her, Jamie by his side.
“You’ll need all the help you can get.”
Flying without her dagger was a struggle but Jaz managed. She glided side by side with Jack, each of them holding onto the hands of their believers.
“There” Pippa pointed to a house. “Caleb and Claude’s house!”
“Here” Jaz said, placing a harmless but bright spark into Jamie’s palm. He closed his hand around it.
“Use it to restore the belief” she told him, soaring off. She flew over to the window. She took hold of Pippa’s collar, allowing her to open the window with both hands and fly in.
“Guys!” she called out to the sleeping twins. They startled awake from the nightmares they were having. They looked at Pippa, who was hovering in midair. Their eyes were wide.
“What…how?” they choked out.
“Jaz Flame, long story!” Pippa explained as she flew back over to the window. She gestured with her arm for them to follow. The same breeze that had been exposed to Jamie wafted past them. The boys exchanged an excited glance, gaining sight of her.
“It’s Jaz Flame!” They yelled, throwing off the covers and racing outside.
Jack meanwhile had flown to Monty’s house with Jamie. Snow started to fall within his bedroom, awakening him.
“Hey Monty!” His hand thrashed around, grabbing his glasses off his bedside table. He looked at Jamie and Jack, who were now in his room, in confusion. Jack nudged Jamie. Before Monty had a chance to question them being there, Jamie blew the spark Jaz had given him into his face. Startled by the light of it, he blinked a few times. Jaz’s magic started to take effect. A smile grew across his face.
“What are you waiting for?” Jamie asked. “Come on!”
Dreamsand flowed through Cupcake’s window, fighting off the nightmares controlling her mind. Eventually the nightmare was overrun and returned to its original form. Cupcake smiled in her sleep as her fears eased off. A snowball against her window woke her from her now pleasant dreaming. Both Jamie and Pippa were outside. She recognized Jack holding Jamie but Pippa? She was floating there.
“Get up, we need your help” she called out to her. Cupcake sat up, staring unblinkingly at her hovering friend.
“Open your hand” Jaz instructed Jamie.
“But I already used the spark” he said, confused.
Jaz smiled. “Trust me.” Jamie did as she asked, opening it tentatively. Jaz blew gently on his palm, relighting the spark. The wind carried it through Cupcake’s window, over to where she sat up in her bed. The air lit up in front of her face, allowing her vision of the fire spirit outside.
“Jaz Flame?” she whispered, unsure if she was seeing things correctly. She gasped when she realized it was in fact real.
The guardians, along with the children, stood waiting for Pitch’s appearance. The darkness was already starting to swarm the city.
“Belief alone won’t save you this time!” Pitch’s voice echoed loudly from the shadows. The children stood in a line, the guardians right behind them. Jamie looked over his shoulder at Jack, who stood close to Jaz. Both were looking weak but determined. His gaze moved to Pippa, standing defensively. She was scared, just as the rest of them were. He looked down at her trembling hand. He reached out, taking hold of it. She looked at him in surprise. He nodded at her, positive light being reflected in his eyes.
“We stand together” he murmured to her. She smiled, clutching his hand a bit tighter. Jaz and Jack both noticed this. They looked at each other reassuringly. Their attention turned back to the advancing nightmare wave. Their own hands neared each other’s slowly, grasping hold. A few small sparks were released from their grip, as well as a blast of cold air. Neither pulled back by the sensation.
“Together” the two of them whispered.