Chapter 6- An Enemy Risen
Jack decided to stay with Jaz for a while after they had made their peace. To Jack, it was still hard to believe that the spirit of fire was now on his side.
“What about the tiger?” Jack interrogated.
“His name is Blaze” Jaz corrected him. “What about him?”
“Care to explain?” She rolled her eyes at him but her smile indicated that it was in a playful manner.
“I guess I decided somewhere along the road that 300 years of solitude wasn’t my thing. I soon discovered that my dagger could not only create fire but bring it to life. I made Blaze to be my companion and to aid me in my duties. Now whenever I get lonely, I can call him using this crystal.” She held up her dagger, showing him the deep red gemstone embedded in the metal.
A question stirred in Jack’s mind. “Would he still tear my throat out now that we’ve formed a truce?” Even though he was making a joke, he looked hopeful. Jaz spun her dagger, gripping the handle.
“Let’s find out.”
She stroked the stone, bringing Blaze to life. The tiger rubbed its large head up against Jaz’s side in an affectionate way. Jaz, in return, scratched his cheek with her hand. Jack smiled at the sight of it. Jaz glanced up at him. Blaze twisted his head to see what she was looking at. As soon as he caught sight of Jack, he crouched down and snarled at him. His claws unsheathed. Jack backed away but the tiger leapt at him again. His tail flicked, knocking his staff to the side as it had been done the first time. It looked as though Blaze were attacking him. Jaz ran forward to interfere but stopped when she realized what he was actually doing.
The large feline was covering Jack’s face in licks, drawing his rough tongue over his skin. Jack struggled beneath the cat’s weight, trying to free himself from the wet situation he was in. Jaz couldn’t help but laugh.
“Enough! Get off me!” Jack choked out, trying not to laugh himself.
“At least he likes you now” Jaz sniggered. Jack scowled.
Before Jaz could drag the tiger off his body, Blaze’s ears pricked and he looked up in alarm. A deep growl rose in his throat. Jack didn’t let his chance to get up slip passed. The tiger’s eyes were fixed on an unseen enemy.
“What’s wrong with him?” Jack asked, wiping his face dry. Jaz shook her head.
“I have no idea. I’ve never seen him act like this.” The two of them didn’t have much time to figure it out, before Blaze ran off.
“Blaze!” Jaz yelled after him. They ran after him, following him down to the Globe. When they reached it, Jaz stroked Blaze’s pelt, trying to calm him. It didn’t seem to work. It wasn’t long before the others arrived.
“What’s going on?” Tooth asked.
No one had the chance to respond before the entire workshop started to shake. A torrent of black sand gushed through the windows and walls. It raged by, engulfing anything in its path. Blaze ran forward, regardless of Jaz’s attempt to stop him. He shot straight towards the sand.
His mouth was wide open, with his claws extended as it tried to attack the sand.
“No!” Jaz screamed. Fast as lightning, she grabbed her dagger and touched the stone. The tiger’s body turned to flames and returned to the blade’s surface before the sand reached him.
North swung his swords at the sand, slicing through it. Bunny threw one of his boomerangs but it was swept away within the dark winds. Jack held his staff defensively, doing what he could to stop the sand enclosing in on them further.
Sandy was using his dreamsand whips against the nightmare sand but it seemed to be ineffective.
“Shield your eyes!” Bunny warned, throwing himself in front of Jaz. Tooth, who had been trying to cut through the sand with her wings, flew behind them.
“There’s too much of it” she shouted through the chaos.
Pretty soon, the guardians were all back to back, surrounded by the darkness. An evil laugh echoed through the walls, and the sand vanished.
“Did you really think you had seen the last of me?” the malevolence voice asked. A single fearling rose from the shadows. It charged towards Jack. He ducked but the nightmare jumped over him and ran after Baby Tooth. Its jaws snapped at the small fairy as she desperately tried to escape from its clutches. Tooth watched in horror as she was swallowed by the nightmare, trapped inside the black sand that formed its ribcage.
“Pitch!” she shouted at the top of her lungs. “Let her go right now!” Pitch’s laughter echoed once more.
“Heed this as a warning, guardians” his voice hissed. “You can’t protect them forever.” The nightmare shrieked as it lost its form and became lifeless. Baby Tooth fell. Jack dove forward, catching her limp body. He opened his cupped hands. Tooth flew down to his side immediately. She carefully transferred her from his hands to her.
“Is she alright?” Jack asked quietly. Tooth gently prodded her but she didn’t wake.
“I…I don’t know” Tooth stammered, feeling grief overwhelm her.
“What did he mean by you can’t protect them forever?” Jaz questioned. “Was he talking about the fairies or the children?” North shook his head solemnly. Bunny hopped forward.
“Pitch is out for revenge” he explained to Jaz, “could be either.” Sandy formed the shape of a tooth above his head.
“The Tooth Palace” North spoke up. “We must hurry.”
Bunny knew what that meant. “Oh no mate, not this time. I’ll take my tunnels.” North rolled his eyes at his fear. Bunny tapped his foot twice on the ground, opening a tunnel.
“See you there” he said, jumping down into the hole. The moment he was down, the hole sealed itself over.
North strode past, calling out, “To the sleigh!” Jack came up behind Jaz.
“You’re in for the ride of a life time” he informed. Part of her wondered what he meant by that. It was just a sleigh, right?
Jaz stood, her jaw dropped, in front of the modified sleigh. It wasn’t at all what she had in mind.
“Hurry, everyone in” North instructed, taking his place at the reins. Tooth, still holding the unconscious Baby Tooth, quickly took her seat in the back. Sandy glided up next to her, closely followed by Jack.
“What?” North said, looking at Jaz. “You waiting for invitation? Get it” Jaz shook her head clear, climbing in.
“Is it safe?” she asked Jack.
He laughed. “You ride the wind. You’re not seriously worried about a little sleigh ride are you?” Jaz swallowed. There was no way she’d let him think she was scared.
“I was just wondering why Bunny didn’t want to come” She saved whatever dignity she could with a quick cover up.
“Now he was scared” he enlightened her.
Jaz was knocked back in her seat as the North abruptly cracked the reins and charged off. She gazed up at Sandy, who gave her a reassuring look.
She shut her eyes for most of the ride, not even caring if Jack or the others saw. She heard the familiar sound of a portal and prepared herself for the slight gut-wrenching sensation that followed.
Jaz only opened her eyes once she was certain they had stopped. The first thing she saw was Bunny, gazing down at her with a paw extended. She sighed in relief at his presence. He helped her out of the sleigh.
“First time nerves?” he guessed. Blushing in embarrassment, Jaz nodded sheepishly. The look in his eyes was pure empathy.
Jaz’s eyes followed Tooth as she flew to the top of one of the brightly coloured tooth structures. Thousands of mini fairies were hovering in the air, all huddled together, as if something were wrong.
“Tooth” North called out. “What is it?” Tooth looked very alarmed.
“The nightmares. My fairies know the nightmares are coming.” Sandy exchanged a glance with North.
“What do we do?” Jack voice reflected as much concern as any of the others. An idea started to develop in North’s mind.
“What if we were to move you and your fairies to safer location until we sort out things with Pitch?” Tooth was still unsure.
“But the teeth—”
“We take them too” North suggested.
“Won’t the fairies still be attacked when they’re collecting new teeth though?” Jaz pointed out.
“Easy. We collect teeth, sort out Pitch, return things to normal. Same as before.” The guardians all exchanged a glance. It might just work. By keeping a step ahead of Pitch, they would continue to have the upper hand. But there seemed to still be one problem.
“Where would my fairies stay?” Tooth enquired.
“They can stay at the Pole until this mess is dealt with” North offered.
“How would we get them there?”
Bunny stood up straight. “My tunnels would be the fastest way.” Tooth sighed in agreement.
“Ok…as long as they’re safe.” She gazed down at Baby Tooth, whose breathing was very shallow.
“I don’t want anyone else getting hurt.”
“Alright sheilas” Bunny gathered the tooth fairies. “Time to get you all to a safe place. Take the tooth boxes and let’s go.” The fairies started to collect the memory boxes, lining them up. Jaz made her way over to Tooth, who was watching them all cautiously.
“They’ll be fine” she assured, placing a hand on her shoulder. She was careful not to leave it there too long, in case she accidentally burnt her. Tooth seemed to welcome the warm of her touch however.
“I know” she murmured. “I just don’t want anything to happen to them again.” Jaz listened respectfully as she told her the story of what happened the first time Pitch attacked.
“They were very brave” she commented once Tooth had finished. Tooth gave her a grateful smile. A thought suddenly entered her mind. She remembered how Jack had never known about his memories until it was too late. She wasn’t about to make the same mistake with Jaz.
“Hold on.” Jaz gave her an uncertain glance.
Tooth dashed off, returning a minute or two later with one of the tooth boxes. She handed them to Jaz.
“What’s this?” Tooth closed her hand over it. Jaz studied the box. The picture on the outer edge was of a girl with dark blonde hair and blue eyes.
“I don’t understand” she stated.
“They’re your memories, from when you were young” Tooth told her with a smile. Jaz’s eyes widened suddenly. The hand holding the box started to shake uncontrollably. Tooth stared in bewilderment. Jaz scrambled to her feet, dropping the box. Tooth leant over and picked them back up. She looked back up at Jaz but she had vanished.
Jack ran over to Tooth’s side. “Let me talk to her” he said, taking the box. Tooth remained silent, unable to shake the surprise of her reaction.
Luckily for him, Jack had seen where Jaz had run off to. He followed her, eventually finding her sitting on the edge of the palace.
“Mind explaining what that was all about?” he asked, holding out the box. Jaz gazed up at him, shifting from where she was.
“Keep them away from me” she muttered in a threatening tone. Jack was confused.
“You’re frightened of your own teeth” he said in disbelief, holding back laughing. Jaz looked away, not responding. He glanced down at the box, figuring it out in his head. The smile faded from his face.
“Not the teeth, the memories.” He sat down beside her. “Why are you afraid of your memories? Don’t you want to know about your past life?”
“Of course I do” Jaz replied. Jack shrugged in misunderstanding.
“Then why are you afraid?” The fire spirit blinked slowly, taking a deep breath. Her eyes flickered in the direction of her dagger.
“Because I don’t want to know what I did to deserve becoming this” There it was again, the hatred that Jaz felt towards herself spoken in words. Jack was beginning to understand now.
“You think you’re being punished by the Man in the Moon. You believe that being Jaz Flame is the consequence of something you did in your past life.”
“Why else would I be here? Unseen, alone…” She paused and shuddered. “Dangerous. North is always talking about finding your centre, no? Well mine is destruction.” Jack didn’t know what to say in response. He wanted to tell her that she was wrong and that wasn’t her centre but every time he went to say it aloud, his mind was drawn back to memories of the unintended destruction she’s caused. He knew that even if he did manage to say it, she wouldn’t believe it. Even so, he had to say something.
“Destruction is not all you’re made up of.” Jaz casted him a small glower. Jack winced a second later when he realized what he had actually said. That sounded a lot better in my head he thought.
“What I mean is a large part of becoming a guardian is finding who you are. You’ll see that for yourself soon.” Jaz wasn’t at all convinced. He placed the box on her lap.
“Just look at them.” Jaz threw them back at him with a fair amount of force.
“You look at them then, if you’re that curious!” Jack moved away, giving her some space. He hid the tooth box in the pocket of his jacket, keeping it from sight. It took a few moments but she eventually calmed down.
“Everything will be fine once we start collecting the teeth” he remarked, changing the topic of their conversation.
“What makes you think I’m even going with you guys?” she questioned him. Jack was taken aback. He had thought he and Bunny had talked some sense into her back at the Pole. Obviously her attitudes towards becoming a guardian had once again changed.
“We need your help. The kids need your help”
“Children don’t even see me. No one does, remember? I’m not believed in.” Her retort was hard on both her and Jack.
“Do it for the tooth fairies then.” Surely Jaz wouldn’t allow them to suffer.
“Bunny’s taking them back to the Pole. They don’t need me either.”
“For me then” he pleaded. Jack was running out of ideas. Jaz looked startled by his last request. “And for Bunny” Jack quickly added. “He’s your friend. You wouldn’t let him down, would you?” Jaz stayed quiet but nodded slowly after a moment’s thought.
“Fine, I’ll help.”