Frost and Flame

Chapter 4- Explanations

Jaz’s eyes flickered as she stirred awake. She lifted her arm to reach the back of her head, rubbing it as she sat up.

“Ugh…” she groaned, squinting in apparent pain. “Where am I?” she asked, unaware that she was not alone.

“Ah, good. You’re awake” North exclaimed loudly, startling her. Jaz stared up at him in utter confusion as to where she was. Her eyes moved from person to person, narrowing when they fell upon Jack. Tooth flew up to her in an attempt to distract her from her anger towards the winter spirit.
“How are you feeling?” she asked. Jaz glowered.

“What’s going on?” she demanded, ignoring Tooth. North looked thoughtful, trying to think of the right words to say. Jaz didn’t give him time to think of an answer. Her hand shuffled on the ground, feeling its way into her now empty receptacle. Her rage amplified.

“Where’s my dagger?” she yelled. North, Sandy and Tooth all flinched, not knowing what to tell her. Bunny hopped forward.

He froze it” he explained, angling his head toward Jack.

Jaz’s face paled. “What?” Her voice was less than a whisper. Bunny raised his paws in reassurance.

“Don’t worry. It’s being thawed as we speak.” Jaz staggered to her feet, pacing over to where Jack stood.

“You froze my dagger?” Her voice remained hushed as she questioned him. Jack bit down on his lip. Something within Jaz snapped.

“You froze my dagger!” she screeched. Violent winds blew the windows open, releasing a storm inside the workshop. Her feet started to lift from the ground until she was above all of them. Her arms were outstretched, her hair flailing like wild flames. The red streaks glowed with a strange and luminous light. Her pupils seemed to almost fade into the amber depths of her eyes, creating a glassy, clouded look about them.

North signalled to several yetis nearby, who were shielding their faces from the powerful winds. At once they launched themselves towards her, grabbing hold of her arms and legs, forcing her down.

“Jaz!” North yelled through the chaos. “Enough!” The yetis grip managed to restrain most of her energy, drawing it back into her. Her legs gave way beneath her and if not for the yetis holding her, she would have collapsed. She was breathing heavily.

Though her eyes had returned to normal, her piercing glare was pinned on Jack. North stood in front of her, blocking him from her view.

“That’s enough” he warned her. He leant in closer, his deep voice changing to a soft murmur.

“You’re dagger is being tended to.” Jaz turned her head away. On North’s indication, the yetis let her go. Jaz returned to her feet, keeping her head down.

“I didn’t walk away from it unscathed” Jack said defensively. He held up his palm, showing her the scar left by her blade. Jaz made her way over to him.

“You froze my dagger” she snarled at him.

“You slapped me in the face with a branch” Jack retorted. The tension was growing between them fast.

“You flung me out of a tree!”

“That was an accident!”

“Stop it!” Tooth shouted. The two of them turned to stare at the fairy looking at them both in panic and anguish. “You’re not helping anyone.” Sandy pointed to Bunny, who nodded in agreement. His ears were back.

“Jaz” his voice was clear but firm. “Come with me.” Jaz looked as though she would argue but instead she just sighed and paced after him. Jack watched her leave, cringing.

“Jack” North’s voice seemed to echo Bunny’s. He looked at the white-haired teenager with a concerned look. Jack knew what he was in for and before North could finish his sentence, he resentfully made his way over.

“Jack,” North began, once they had made it to his office in the workshop. “I know you have a rivalry with Jaz but she is guardian now. You must put it behind you.” Jack pouted, leaning on his staff in a sulking manner.

“She’s the one you should be talking to. All I did was brought her here, just as you asked.” North stared at him, his eyebrow raised. They both knew that was not true.

“You are not child, Jack. You share responsibility with her in this fight. Bunny is talking some sense into her right now, as I am doing with you.” Jack looked away, feeling the guilt rise within him.

He knew North was right. He had done as much to Jaz as she had done to him, and not just today. For as long as he had known her, the rivalry had been present. Being opposite elements, they mocked each other constantly and were locked in eternal conflict. One of the only things they shared in common was that as far as the world concerned, they didn’t exist. Difference was now he had believers. He failed to remember that she didn’t. He thought back to how his life changed when he became a guardian. Maybe hers would too.

He figured it would only be fair, seeing as though he had been through what she had—being alone, unseen, not knowing anything of your past or your purpose in this world. Everyone deserved a chance, so why not her too?

“Remember,” North reminded him. “Jaz is not your enemy. Pitch is.”

Jack had to admit, he was right again. Jaz might be his elemental rival but she was neither a foe nor an enemy. Regardless of the things he might have said to her in the past, he didn’t want the world to be rid of her. She did bring some good things with her existence. He’d never let anyone else know that though, especially her.

A thought crossed Jack’s mind. It was a long shot but it might just work. If he could form a truce with her like he had done with Bunny then they may well be able to make this work. It was worth a try, right?

Jack looked at North, and nodded slowly.

“Alright” he agreed. He let his gaze flicker to the door. There would be no point trying to stretch it out. “I’ll try.”

Bunny looked over his shoulder several times as he made his way through the busy workshop, making sure that the young spirit was still behind him. Although she looked undeniably frustrated, she followed him without question. Bunny stopped when he reached one of the fireplaces. He knew that she’d be most comfortable in the heat of her own element. The last thing he wanted was her becoming even more of a handful to deal with. He was aware of what North wanted him to do but convincing her to get along with Frost would be no easy task.

“Warm enough?” he asked her gently. She didn’t respond, or even look at him. Bunny frowned. He hopped closer to her.

“Come on, Jaz. I’m just trying to help.” He gazed down at the empty vessel attached to her belt when her silence continued.

“Your dagger will be fine mate. It just needs a bit of heating up” As he spoke, he took hold of her hand. To his surprise, he didn’t feel a need to pull back. Usually whenever he touched her skin, it was searing hot. However feeling it now, it was only warm, almost pleasant.

“And so do you” he added, letting go off her hand. He led her over to the fire. She engrossed its heat welcomingly. Jaz could feel her body growing strong again.

“Thank you, Bunny” she murmured, still refusing to look at his eyes. Bunny respected her decision.

“You’re welcome Sparky.” Jaz smiled half-heartedly as he used the nickname he had come up with for her years ago, back when they met.

It had been 147 years since Jaz first awoke in the forest and was given her name by the Moon. Since then, she had learnt that no-one anywhere saw her and she figured they probably never would. She had mastered her powers over the wind and had grown strong using her dagger. She had lost track of what day or even year it was but there was one thing she knew. Easter was on the horizon. She of course had heard of the Guardians but other than a few mini fairies and streams of dreamsand at night, she had never seen them. This year was different though.

She was determined to have an encounter with the Easter Bunny. She had heard so much about him and was fascinated. The very idea that she would encounter him sent a shiver of excitement down her spine. But she wasn’t going to stop there. She didn’t just want to see him. She wanted to see his Warren, the place where the Easter was brought to life.

Jaz was well aware that getting to the Warren would be much easier said than done. Or at least it would have been if she had not stolen a snow globe from a yeti the last time she had tried to get into North’s workshop. It wasn’t easy getting her hands on it but she managed and had held onto it just in case she needed to get somewhere fast.

Problem was she had no clue on how to use it. She stared at its round surface, examining it for a button or an on switch. There wasn’t one. Not that she could find.

“I just want to get to the Warren!” she shouted. In frustration, she smashed the globe onto the ground.

She jumped back in shock when a portal opened. She blinked her eyes several times, unable to believe what she had just accomplished. Not wasting another moment, she ran at the portal, landing anything but elegantly on the other side.

Jaz scrambled to her feet, her eyes wide as she gazed up in awe at her surroundings. She slowly walked forward, mesmerized. Gasping in amazement, she ran over to one of the hundreds of flowers and allowed a butterfly to perch on her finger. A smile spread across her face. She caught sight of the multi-coloured river. She crouched at the water’s edge. Unable to restrain herself, she dabbed the water with the very tip of her blade.

“What are you doing here?” a voice made her jump. Startled, she involuntarily shot flames from her brightly coloured dagger. The embers blasted up into the air, exploding midair and sending multi-coloured sparks in all directions. They fell harmlessly to the ground.

Jaz spun around, coming face-to-face with a six-foot tall rabbit. He narrowed his green eyes at her. She swallowed nervously. Her heart was pounding loudly in her chest. This wasn’t how she wanted to encounter the Easter Bunny for the first time. She shut her eyes tightly, preparing herself for some sort of beating from him. To her surprise, and relief, it never came. When she opened her eyes, she saw that he was watching the colourful fire drift down from the sky. A single ember floated in front of his eyes and nose, letting off a tiny explosion. A smile grew across his face.

“It was an accident!” Jaz blurted out suddenly. Bunny turned to look at her, his ears twitching in confusion. He made his way over to her, making her shield her eyes with her forearm.

“You think I’m going to hurt you” Bunny observed her actions. Jaz tentatively lowered her arm to look at him.

“I’m not” he assured her. Jaz stared blankly ahead of her, thinking.

“B-But I set fire to your Warren” she reminded him. Her words were soft, as though she were treading on thin ice as she spoke. “Weeks before Easter.” Bunny chuckled lightly. He gestured to the sky.

“You didn’t cause any harm, and it was an accident I presume?” Jaz nodded vigorously.
Bunny continued, “Besides, the sparks kind of lighten up the atmosphere.” Jaz stared at him awkwardly, unsure of what just happened. She remembered the cinder that landed on his nose.

Could that have affected him? She wondered.

“You never answered my question” Bunny’s voice seized her mind away from her thoughts. “What are you doing here, Jaz?” Jaz opened her mouth to answer, pausing when she realized he said her name.

“Wait, you know my name?” she questioned.

Bunny looked at her as though she were naïve. “Of course I do. Everyone knows you Sparky.” Jaz didn’t know how to react to the information he was telling her or the nickname he had given her.

Bunny didn’t give her time to respond. He walked over to where the snow globe she had used lay on the ground. He picked it up, placing it in her palm.

“I guess I should probably be getting back, huh?” Bunny smiled, giving her a short nod. He took hold of a newly painted egg, giving it to her as well.

“Here, something for you.” He used his paw to close her hand around it. “It’ll give you hope” he whispered to her.

Jaz smiled in appreciation, although she wasn’t entirely sure what he meant by ‘give her hope’. She smashed the globe on the ground, opening up the portal once more. As she turned to leave, Bunny grabbed her attention a final time.

“Come back and visit” he told her. His gaze fell on the portal. “But next time, don’t steal just to get here.”

Over the years, Bunny and Jaz had grown close. Being the first person to have ever seen her, Jaz respected Bunny and trusted him with most things. Bunny had formed a soft spot for the young spirit. There was something about her that allowed him to see situations in a different light. He developed a strange optimism whenever she was around. He would undeniably defend her, as she would with him. The friendship they had bonded was strong.

A thought suddenly struck Bunny. Did Jaz even know why she was here? He couldn’t recall anyone having told her.

“I think it’s time you find out why you were brought here.” He tried to say the words in a way that made him sound as if he had a reason for not telling her earlier. Jaz didn’t seem to buy it.

“Bout time” she mumbled. “I was beginning to think you’d never remember.” Bunny’s head sunk as embarrassment swept over him.

“Yeah, well…” He cleared his throat. “The reason you were brought here is because you were chosen.” Jaz’s eyes filled with bewilderment towards his words.

“Chosen? W-What do you mean chosen?” There was a slight break in her voice. Bunny folded his ears back with a sigh.

“By the Man in the Moon. He chose you to be a guardian.”

Jaz was frozen. Her eyes were wider than Bunny had ever seen them, her mouth left ajar. Not a word was spoken between them. The once soft crackling of the fireplace started to sound like a deep rumble.

The two of them were completely unaware that Jack was now watching them.

Jaz’s head began to move from side to side as she continued to stare blankly ahead of her. The movements grew faster until they became a rapid shaking.

“No” she murmured. “There has to be some mistake. Cupid, or Hallows, even April Fool is a better choice…”

“No mistake” Bunny told her gently. “He chose you.”

Jaz turned on him. “I’m not a guardian!” Her voice was full of desperation. “Why would the Man in the Moon choose me? I’m not like you. I’m…I’m…” She couldn’t finish her sentence. Her hand had made its way down to the empty vessel on her belt. Water pricked the corners of her eyes but she shook them away instantaneously.

“I’m not a guardian” she repeated, looking Bunny in the eye. Her voice was steady but the expression of fear and uncertainty remained on her face. “And I never will be.”

Jack, from where he was watching further away, suddenly felt hesitant. If Jaz chose not to be a guardian, what did that mean for the rest of them? Could she really just say no to Man in Moon’s decision? Should he still talk to her? After all if she wouldn’t listen to Bunny, her friend and ally, what chance did he have of succeeding? One thing was for sure though, North would not be happy to find out he didn’t at least try. With a pang of regret he stepped out of the shadows, only to find that she was gone.

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