Chapter 7- The Race is On
The two spirits rose to their feets, just as North came over.
“What’s the hold up you two? Come, we must go.”
Jaz walked past Jack without a word as she followed North back to the sleigh. Groaning at her reoccurring mood swings, he went after her. The fairies had all disappeared from the premises, along with the teeth.
Jack took his place in the back. Even Bunny climbed in. All of them were looking determined about the job ahead of them. Jack however, looked forward to another competition. He was interested in knowing whether Jaz would loosen up once the chase began. As the guardian of fun, it was his duty to bring joy to all children. Did that include her? He was about to find out.
The sleigh budged a little before swiftly charging off into the air and through a portal. A single nightmare watched it vanished. She snorted in satisfaction. A shadow rose up beside her.
“Everything is going accordingly” Pitch grinned evilly. His plan was falling neatly into place. He was perfectly aware of where the fairies were, what the guardians were doing and the fears of the fire spirit. Pitch played with the black sand that made up the mane of the nightmare.
“Rally the others” he said to it. “Tonight, we have our revenge.”
Jack rode the wind over the houses. His eyes were drawn to where Jaw flew a few metres ahead.
“Moscow, sector five; four premolars, six incisors, one canine” Tooth’s voice said excitedly. Even though she got out into the field more often now, she still demonstrated her enthusiasm. She flew ahead of the others but stopped dead in the air.
“Don’t forget the gifts” she reminded them before flying off at immense speed. Sandy and Jack exchanged a glance; partial concern, partial amusement.
North darted from chimney to chimney, while Sandy calmly entered each target house through the windows.
“Race you” Jack dared.
“You’re on” Bunny smirked, turning his head to look at him.
On all fours, he raced across the rooftops, leaping down through his tunnels. Not giving a second thought, Jack shot after him. He jumped in through an opened window, collecting a tooth and leaving a coin. One down, about three million to go.
He wanted to stay a step ahead of Bunny but to do that he’d have to have a few tricks up his sleeve. Whoever said they had to fight fair?
Jack had just collected another tooth and was about to leave. He knew Bunny was right on his tail. As he headed for the window, an idea formed in his mind. Giving a sly smile, he aimed his staff at the floor, freezing a patch on the ground. He left the house and continued his search. About half a minute later, he heard the sweet sounding result he was waiting for.
“Ah!” Bunny’s painful yell echoed.
Whilst in Asia, Jack smiled in success at the tooth he had just found. His smile faded when he heard the sound of something slicing through the wind. He looked up but was tripped over as something slammed into his ankles. The tooth was knocked from his hand. He shook his head, pulling himself up. Bunny stood on the ground below, holding the tooth that was once his. His hand was raised in the air. A boomerang, the same one that had tripped him, flew right into his grip. Bunny saluted him before dashing off.
Jaz had been looking on meanwhile. Their pranks were rather pathetic in her mind. The wind carried her to the house with a tooth. She walked over to the bed of the sleeping child. Just as she reached for the pillow, Jack’s staff suddenly batted it out of the way. He seized the tooth for himself. Jaz glared at him.
“You’ll have to be quicker than that” he advised her, touching his hand to her shoulder as though in a gesture of pity.
“That was my tooth”
Jack sniggered. “Lighten up, would you? Have some fun for once.”
He hopped onto the windowsill and back outside.
“Fun?” she said to herself, a smile growing. “I’ll show him.”
The group had reached Germany now and were about halfway done. Sandy floated past Jaz, snatching a tooth from her grasp.
“Hey!” she called. Sandy tossed her a quarter, waving farewell to her. Jaz looked at the coin resting in her palm. She couldn’t help but smile at his joke.
She saw Tooth rush by, not slowing down even for a second. She wondered how she could fly that fast without getting tired, although the thoughts didn’t stay in her head for long.
She spotted another tooth. She leapt between the buildings, entering the window. Something unexpectedly snagged her foot while she was midair. She lost control over the wind and crashed onto the floor. Glancing up at her foot, she found it was trapped in a block of ice frozen halfway up the wall. She looked back, partly upside-down. Jack walked by with his staff over his shoulder. He took the tooth that should have been hers. Before leaving, he crouched down by her head. The smile on his face was nothing but mischief.
“Having fun yet? Good luck getting out of that one, Pyro” he said to her with a wink. He left her hanging there, much to her discomfort.
“Get back here!” she shouted at him. It was too late, he was gone. She struggled to break her leg free from the ice but to no avail. She huffed at her failed attempts.
As soon as she was free, Jack became her new target. Noticing him enter a room, a thought came to her. She smiled slyly.
Jack took the canine from under the pillow, replacing it with a coin. He was doing well in the competition between the others. The wind caught him as he dropped out the window. Into the air he soared, his attitude cocky from his latest find. A hot wind suddenly surrounded him. Without warning, Jaz appeared from nowhere, planting a warm kiss on his cheek. Overwhelmed and flustered, his limbs fell limp. Jaz stole the tooth from his hand, smiling cheekily at him.
“Thanks for the tooth, Frostbite!” she called back at him as she flew off. Jack’s mind desperately searched for a clarification of what just happened.
Jaz laughed as she soared freely through the night skies. She couldn’t remember the last time she had had this much fun. She had no real care for the teeth she was gathering but it was a fun objective nonetheless.
Landing, she recognized the area. She was in the town of Burgess. For as long as she could remember, Burgess had always felt like home to her. She had never understood why though. It was cold and snowed frequently. Her fondness would make sense if it was the location she was reborn but it wasn’t.
The night Man in Moon had brought her into the world she had awoken in a burnt forest in Australia. Light poured through the trees, filling a clearing. Her body lay lifeless on the ground. Her skin shone pure white in the moon’s atmosphere. Amber shone as her eyes blinked slowly open. She pulled her head up, flicking her untidy black and red hair from her eyes. Her body lifted from the ground. Landing back on her feet, she examined herself.
Her clothing was strange. She was in a long chestnut coloured dress with a white blouse underneath and her feet were bare. Ash covered everything in the area, including her.
The air around her was hot but to her surprise, it did not make her uncomfortable. The heat made her feel strong and powerful.
Light reflected off something out of the corner of her eye. Stumbling, she made her way over to it. Piercing the base of a tree stump was a silver weapon. Jaz tipped her head to the side. It was a knife of some sort. Tentatively, she gripped it. A red stone formed on the edge of the handle. She tugged it out of the wood, looking at it in finer detail. Still confused, she swung her arm to the side. Fire shot out of the blade.
Jaz screamed and dropped it. She hid behind some of the forest debris. She glanced at her hands, unscathed. She stepped back out into the clearing, picking up the dagger again. She touched the end of the blade, expecting to be cut or burnt. To her surprise, she remained unharmed. Her curiosity grew.
She pointed the knife towards the area she had been hiding from. Concentrating, she shot fire from it again. This time, she tried summoning it back. The wild flames were tamed by her mind, returning to the blade.
Smiling at her newfound power, she was caught off guard when the wind suddenly blew her up into the air. She screamed again, startled. She stretched her arms out as she tried to keep herself balanced. The wind started to feel more in her control and gently lowered her back down to the ground. Her eyes were wide with the shock of what just happened.
Jaz walked through the scorched undergrowth, wondering what had happened to cause such devastation. As she was walking, she made it to the edge of the forest. A dim light in the distance was a sign of civilization. She ran, following the light of it.
When she made it to the town, she was ecstatic to see other people. She thought it a little strange that none of them paid any attention to her but didn’t think too much about it.
A group of them were huddled by a burnt out campfire.
“I can’t get this fire going” she heard one of the settlers say. A smiled graced her lips.
“I can help with that!” she said excitedly, running over. She pointed her dagger at the wood collected, setting it alight. The settlers rejoiced.
“It’s a miracle!” they exclaimed. Jaz was confused.
“N-No” she stammered. “It was me.” She stood opposite one of them, waving her hand in front of their face.
“Hello?” The settler passed right through her. Jaz clutched her stomach, as though in pain. She staggered back in shock, tripping over her own feet. Her dagger collided with the ground, shooting several blazes out from it. They flew through the air and set fire to the one of the houses on the far side of the village. The settlers scream in fear of the sudden inferno. Jaz scrambled to her feet.
“I got it! I got it!” She held the knife out, calling the fire back. It returned but set fire to every other house it passed. She watched in horror as the chaos unfolded around her. This wasn’t what she wanted. She had only been trying to help. Scared, Jaz turned and retreated back into the forest.
A few nights after the disastrous accident she had caused, Jaz returned to the village. Using the strongest vine she could find from the forest, she made a strap to hold her dagger. She made her way into the settlement. Very few people were out that night. She picked up the sound a child crying. Inquisitive, she ran over to one of the houses where the noise was coming from. She peered inside.
There was a group of people standing together by candlelight. All of them were mourning. The boy that Jaz had heard earlier was being held by his parents.
“I just can’t believe it” one of the settlers whispered sadly.
“She was so young” another, an elderly woman, agreed.
“And there was no sign of the body?” a third person asked.
Someone else shook their head. “The fire must have cremated it.” Jaz listened to them, feeling sadness overwhelm her. The knowledge that someone had died as a result of a fire made her feel guilt stricken.
“She’s gone” the boy cried.
Jaz couldn’t take it any longer. Turning, she raced back into the forest. She couldn’t go back after that. A girl had perished due to her element. She felt as though it was her fault, even though she had no memory of anyone dying.
Over 300 years she had changed a lot. Her heart had lost hope. There was no longer any light or joy being reflected in her eyes, only trauma. She had changed her clothes several times over the course of her existence, stealing whatever fitted her. Eventually she found the jacket and pants that she wore today. They had been torn and burnt over the years she had had them but she preferred them that way. She had also stolen a proper belt with a decent holder for her dagger. She had gone from a fun loving free-spirited teenager, to an empty short-tempered girl.
She spent most of her time either in Burgess or Sydney, bringing fire and warmth to those who needed it. She never knew her real purpose and figured she wouldn’t ever find the answers she had been searching so desperately for.
She might have woken in Australia but Burgess remained the place she considered home. It was also the place where she had encountered that intriguing girl, Pippa.
Hastily looking around to make sure none of the others were nearby, she made her way over to the girl’s house. She could spare a minute or two from the competition. She had helped bring the fireplace to life; it was only fitting that she should check how Pippa’s family were enjoying her contribution. She glided across the ice covered ground, her feet barely touching the ground.
When she reached the window, she spotted Pippa straight away. She was curled up beside the fireplace, supposedly asleep. Her father walked in, picked her up and took her out of the room. Leaving her bag of teeth, Jaz floated up to the next level of the house to the window of Pippa’s room. She was unaware that the snow globe she had taken all those years ago had fallen from her possession, landing in the snow beside the teeth.
Pippa’s father pushed the door opened and laid her on the bed. He pulled up her cap, kissing her forehead, before leaving her to sleep.
Jaz watched her for a moment longer, smiling without realizing it. Watching the sleeping child made her feel at peace.
“What are you doing here?” Jaz jumped at the sound Bunny’s voice. She looked up to the roof, seeing him leaning over and staring at her. She flew up to him, landing on the roof of the house. Her eyes darted around, seeing that the others were there too. Jaz’s cheeks tinged red at the realization that she had been caught.
“I was, um…” she couldn’t think of an excuse. There were no teeth around here to collect.
“You were watching children?” North guessed. Jaz bit her lip. Bunny moved to her defence.
“Cut her some slack mate” he said. “She’s still been collecting the teeth.” Tooth looked around, seeing that she wasn’t holding any.
“Where are they?” Jaz looked taken aback by her question. For a moment, she had forgotten where they were. Sandy gave her a concerned look. Then it hit her.
“I left them down there.” She tipped her head in the direction of the front of the house. The group jumped down. Jaz searched for her bag but found none.
“Uh oh” she whispered.
“Well? Where are they?” North asked. Jaz started to get nervous.
“I don’t know. They were here, I swear. I just put them down for a moment.” She continued looking but they were gone. Sandy formed a spherical shape above his head. Jaz raised a questioning eyebrow, gasping in shock when she grasped the knowledge of what he meant. She patted herself down, freaking out when she couldn’t find the snow globe.
“Oh no…No! No! No!” she muttered under her breath. “My snow globe’s gone!” she told the others. North stared at her with prying eyes.
“What snow globe?”
“The one I took from a yeti 153 years ago” she mumbled awkwardly. The disbelief on North’s face made Jaz feel worse. Sandy floated between them, pointing to the horizon. Several nightmares galloped through the air where he had pointed.
“Pitch” Jack whispered.
“What if Pitch has the teeth?” Bunny voiced the question on everyone’s minds. Tooth looked distraught.
“If Pitch has the teeth and a snow globe, then he knows where my fairies are!” She flew up to North’s height.
“We have to get back to the Pole!” she exclaimed. The group wasted no time making it back to the sleigh. They all knew that if it was true and Pitch was behind all this, then the fairies were in grave danger. They had to hurry, for it may have already been too late.