Frost and Flame

Chapter 8- Betrayed?

The sleigh shot through the portal, returning to the Pole. North, tailed closely by the others, threw open the doors, unleashing the chaos that was inside. Nightmares exploded through the workshop, rushing passed the guardians and out to freedom. They were gone before anyone could even draw their weapons.

The place was a wreck. Every toy had been attacked, smashed and destroyed. There was no sign of the yetis or elves. The fairies were all lying limp on the floor. Tooth hurried over, checking them. They were in the same state as Baby Tooth. Water started to fill her eyes. She covered her mouth with her hands to contain her grief.

North was frozen as he looked at his workshop. Christmas was in three nights but there was nothing left. Jack was at Tooth’s side, comforting her. Sandy was doing the same with North. Bunny picked up a toy as he noticed something strange about its broken state.

“North,” he said, gaining the Russian’s attention. “You better have a look at this mate.” North came to his side. Bunny handed him the toy. It hung in pieces. Most of the blue paint had been peeled off. There was not a grain of black sand but what really surprised him was what was on it. Across the metal were scorch marks. North gasped when he saw them, turning to Jaz. Jaz looked confused as to why he and Bunny were staring at her.

“What?” she questioned. Jack picked up another couple of toys, seeing the same results. Everything in the workshop had been streaked with her mark of fire.

“You did this?” North’s voice was shaky but he stepped up to her. The rest of the guardians crowded around her. Jaz’s eyes darted from side to side, trying to avoid their interrogating stares.

“What? No! How could I? I was with you guys the whole time” she said in defence.

“But you weren’t. We had to come find you.” Tooth reminded her. It was true. She had separated herself from the group when she travelled to Burgess.

She looked to Bunny to support her but he had his back to her. He was facing Tooth, checking on the fairies.

“Pitch’s nightmares have done something to them. They won’t wake.” She kept her head down, her wings flat against her back. Sandy formed the sphere above his head again. Jaz knew it was a representation of the snow globe she had stolen. She flinched at his accusation.

“I didn’t plan this” she pleaded, desperation for their belief showing in her voice. North looked away from her, obviously hurting.

“Christmas is lost” he muttered regretfully. His workers were gone, his home destroyed. There was no wonder in his eyes. Not anymore.

Tooth’s eyes didn’t meet hers. Sandy stood there, his head shaking slowly and sadly. Bunny couldn’t bear to look at her. The disgraced look on his face as he turned away spoke for itself. He was ashamed of her.

Jack was the only one whose eyes remained fixed on her. Anger and disgust toward her returned to their blue depths. Jaz turned to run, abandoning them in the remains of Christmas.

Jack let her go. The guardians were his family, and she had deceived them all. The truce that had been made between them had been shattered. North’s words had been erased completely from his mind. He would deal with Pitch later. Right now he had a new enemy, and he would find her again.

Disbelief. Mistrust. Shame. Anger.

Jaz was unable to shake the memory of their faces from her mind.

She landed in a forest on the outskirts of Sydney Australia. It was the same one she had woken in. She needed to be alone, away from them. They didn’t believe her. Rage started to bubble up inside of her. They hadn’t even giving her the chance to explain. They just saw the scorches and accused her.

In anger, Jaz drove her dagger into the nearest tree. The wood began to split as the fire burned the tree from the inside out. Light shone from within the cracks, the branches and leaves at the top of the tree setting fire. The eucalyptus oil from the tree sent flames exploding up into the air. She released her grip on the handle, leaving the blade wedged midway into the blistered bark.

“I see fire has returned to solitary.”

Jaz clenched her teeth at the sound of his voice. She knew straight away who it was, without a doubt. It was a sound she hated; despised with all her heart. She regained hold of her dagger, pulling it out with a strong amount of force. She aimed it at him. Her chest was heaving with anger. Her finger reached for the gemstone to call upon Blaze. The fire that made up his body flowed out, forming his strong figure. The tiger drew his lip back at Pitch, snarling ferociously. His paws were engulfed by flames as he stalked forward. The fire burned its way up his pelt, vanishing beneath his broad shoulder blades. His muscles rippled clearly underneath his coat and shimmered in the moonlight.

Pitch stood his ground. His hands held a scythe made from nightmare sand but merely smirked and it disintegrated in his hands. Jaz didn’t lower her weapon but her uncertainty towards his actions made her feel vulnerable.

“I’m not here to fight you, Jaz” he told her calmly.

“I find that hard to believe” she growled back at him. Pitch grinned, looking at her as though she were a helpless child.

“Why would I fight you? You and I are the same.”

“No” she denied. “We’re nothing alike.” The nightmare king laughed softly.

“Of course we are. Now why don’t you put your little pet back where he belongs.” Pitch’s shadow on the ground moved closer to Blaze. The tiger backed away, closer to Jaz as he swiped at the shadow with his paw. His ears were flat against his head. She placed her hand on his back, stroking him gently to ease him. Small whimpers mixed with his growling.

“Leave him alone!” Jaz barked. Pitch’s menacing laugh blasted their ears, making Blaze cower. Wanting to protect her friend, Jaz withdrew Blaze back into the safety of her dagger. She turned to face Pitch herself but he had disappeared into the darkness.

“You were better off before him…” his voice echoed all around her. Jaz held her hands to her ears, struggling to block out his words. “…before the guardians. You saw for yourself, they never truly believed in you. All you did was help and the moment something went wrong, they turned on you.” Jaz couldn’t take it anymore.

“Stop it!” she screamed, her voice laced with fear. Pitch’s increasing shadows approached her swiftly.

“Did you really think they’d accept you? You’ll never be one of them.”

“You don’t know what I am!” she yelled at him.

“See that’s where you’re wrong. I know everything about you.” She started to feel trapped by the darkness as he circled her.

“Jaz Flame, spirit of fire. Alone and unseen, full of hate and anger. No matter how hard you try to do things right, you always bring destruction.” His words carved deeply into her mind. She tried to shake them off but like a shadow, they trailed her every thought. Every word he spoke was of the truth.

“We’re not the same. You don’t know what it’s like” she muttered angrily.

“Oh really? I don’t know what it’s like to be alone, invisible…dangerous. Knowing that no one will ever appreciate what I am. You think I like being fear?” Pitch stared deeply into her eyes.

“We can’t change who we are, Jaz. No matter how much we may want to. But we don’t have to be alone.” He could sense her mind beginning to be tempted.

“After all” Pitch said, slithering around her body. He placed his hands on her shoulders, parting her hair to reveal her neck. He whispered close to her ear.

“What is destruction, without fear?” As he spoke the word ’fear’, he touched his finger to the back of her neck, his sharp nail piercing the skin. Jaz froze, her limbs stiffening as a violent sensation surged through her neck and into the rest of her body. She opened her mouth to scream but nothing came out. She couldn’t move.

“Don’t fight the fear” Pitch laughed as he watched her transform. Her eyes darkened a few shades, the red streaks in her hair turning bright silver. She voluntarily returned her dagger to its receptacle. A smile grew across her face. Pitch moved back, until he was standing opposite her.

“Feel it, embrace the fear. It is a part of you now” he told her. Jaz nodded, keeping her head lowered in respect toward him.

“Come, little flame. Tonight, we finish the guardians.”

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