It took us at least four hours to get to the Pole; during most of them I struggled to control the wind to follow Toothiana and Sandman. My headache, refusing to be ignored, continued to worsen. My head throbbed and every time I looked down my stomach would perform a series of flips. I managed however, but was greatly thankful when I could finally see the wide open land of the northern artic.
Sandy had continued to glance back at me throughout the trip, taking notice of my discomfort. Thankfully, he did not notify Tooth of it; he only shot me expressions full of concern. I would smile at him weakly as if to say Don't worry, I'm fine, really. I could tell he did not believe me.
By now all of Tooth's mini-fairies had calmed down, no longer attacking my mouth. They ceased their loud squeaking at everything I did, and that helped my headache just a little. A few sat on my shoulders, some resting on my head. I couldn't help but laugh when their wings or feathers tickled at my skin, causing Tooth to look back in surprise only to smile gently and turn back to the skies ahead.
Finally, I could see North's workshop in the distance. I let out a sigh of relief; a break from focusing on controlling my powers sounded nice for a change. Tooth, Sandy, and I picked up speed, and going in to land outside the workshop. The two guardians landed easily and started to walk to the entrance, but soon looked back at me. I smiled nervously, and tried my best to appear alright and make a decent landing. However I miscalculated when to push myself out of the wind's grasp, and wound up landing on my side.
Tooth and Sandy looked at me in concern, sharing a glance. Trying to laugh it off, I quickly sprang up, sending a pulse of dizziness throughout my head. Maintaining my balance barely, I walked up to the two guardians, watching their expressions curiously. Soon however they turned away, Tooth lifting off the ground to knock on the large, formal wooden door. A yeti answers the door, opening it fully and stepping aside to let us in. The two guardians walk in briskly, and I start to follow when the yeti puts his hand out in front of me.
"Hey-" I start but am quickly shushed by Tooth, who looks up at the yeti cheerfully.
"It's alright; he is with us."
The yeti, though now confused, nods and puts his arm aside, allowing me to walk past him. Tooth and Sandy resume walking, and I look back at the creature. He looks at me, almost with a glare and motions towards his eyes, then at me. I smiled, recognizing the yeti.
"See you around, Phil." I smirk, and pick up my pace to keep up with the guardians ahead of me.
I was still amazed at how big this place actually was on the inside. After walking through the halls for what felt like fifteen minutes, we finally reached the Globe Room. The yetis and elves were running around, just like they had been the day before when I was here. However they were much more focused on their work, well the yetis were anyway. The elves continued to mess around, causing trouble for the yetis.
I chuckled, and went to freeze one of the elves to the floor with my staff, only to be stopped by another surge of pain in my head. This time however, the pain continued all throughout my head down my neck and into my arm holding the staff. I stopped, clenching my eyes shut, putting my free hand to my head and cradling my arm, dropping the staff. The mini-fairies flew off of me, squeaking in fright.
Tooth and Sandy looked back at me, hearing the clank of my staff hitting the floor and the loud noises of the fairies. Tooth zoomed over to me, putting her hands on my shoulders.
"Jack? Jack what's wrong?"
I looked up to respond when an unwelcome voice spoke up.
"What's he doin' here?" Bunnymund sneers. North was standing behind the rabbit, preoccupied in his work, apparently not noticing our conversation. Sandy rolled his eyes, and Tooth glares at the Pooka a little. I smiled slightly at their defense of me.
"Pitch approached him; he's hurt."
Bunnymund's expression changed slightly, now curious. He walked up to Tooth and I, gently moving Tooth out of the way and looking me over. He scoffed.
"He looks fine to me, mate."
I glared at him, only making my headache worse.
Tooth pushed herself between us. "Do you not see his head? Tell me that is not bruising." Sandy floated over and pointed at my temples, the dark area pulsing even worse when he got near it. I grimaced, and the oversized bunny looked closer at my head, shrugging.
"How do you know that Pitch really attacked him? For all we know he could be workin' with him!"
Sandy glared at Bunnymund, creating a series of images above his head about how ridiculous the Pooka was being. I smiled slightly, and Bunnymund noticed.
He pushed his hand into my chest, causing me to stumble back. I looked at the Easter Bunny, aggression starting to build up. "Ya think this is funny, mate? Well it's not. This is serious; Pitch is a huge threat to us and the children of the world. If you are tryin' to trick us-"
"Why would I want to work with that creep? What have I to gain? Like you said, it's like I don't exist! I'd rather work with you than with Pitch!" I shouted, only adding to the throbbing in my head.
Bunnymund gets in my face. "Give us one reason to trust ya! I swear, for every mortal you've hurt-"
"Bunny!" Tooth shouts. Everyone looks at her in surprise; I've never heard the humming-bird fairy yell before. And apparently, neither had any of the other guardians. North, after hearing the heated discussion, walked over to join us. He gently pushed Bunnymund back, getting a grunt of disapproval from the oversized bunny. He smiled down at me.
"Ah, Jack Frost. What brings you back to the pole? Have you decided to reconsider our offer?"
I looked up at him before shaking my head slightly. "Uh, Tooth and Sandy wanted me to come; they said that they wanted to keep an eye on me after discovering I was, um, attacked by Pitch."
Concern grew in North's eyes, and he turned to Sandy, who nodded in agreement. North then turned back to me, a serious expression displayed on his face.
"Jack, explain what happened."
So once again I explained my encounter with the nightmare king on the sidewalk, making sure to include every detail I could remember this time. The four guardians listened silently, even Bunnymund kept quiet until I was finished. Once I was, North had a thoughtful look about him.
"So this bruising on your head, it appeared after Pitch shot the arrow at you?"
I nodded, recalling that was how it happened.
"But, the arrow did not actually hit you? It only exploded into nightmare sand?"
I nodded once again, and North looked at me worriedly before turning to Sandy.
"Sandy, is it possible Pitch might have been able to put nightmare sand into Jack?"
What?! How could there be nightmare sand inside me? I get causing the nightmare, but actually inside my head? What use would that be to Pitch How would that even be possible? Multiple questions flew throughout my brain, as panic began to rise in me. I did not like the idea of Pitch having anything inside my head.
Sandy simply shrugged before making images above his head much too fast for me to follow with my splitting migraine. North nodded, turning back to me.
"Jack, can we try something? I want to see if Sandy can find and take out any nightmare sand inside you."
I stepped back from him, a look of fear making it's was on to my face. "I-I'd rather you guys not mess with my brain."
I heard Bunnymund mutter under his breath, "There isn't much there to mess with."
I shot him a glare as North made his way towards me, motioning Bunnymund to do the same. I felt the panic set in and I started to turn to make a run for it when their hands grabbed me by the shoulders, holding me in place. They sat me down in a spare chair that was near us, and held me down while Sandy floated up to my eye level. I could see Tooth watching the scene play out with wide, worried eyes. I looked at her, eyes pleading for her to help even though I knew she couldn't.
Turning my attention back to the floating figure in front of me, Sandy started to create strands of his dreamsand, weaving them into intricate patterns above and around my head. I stopped struggling against Bunnymund and North who then released their grip on me, and watched the patterns curiously. The glow was calming, and a feeling of warmth spread over me. It was surprisingly comforting.
With my attention lost in the swirling patterns directly in front of me, I didn't notice as Sandy moved two strands of the dreamsand to touch the sides of my head directly on the dark spots. Pain wracked my head and soon spread out to my entire body, a burning feeling engulfing my body.
I screamed, and Sandy instantly pulled away, the two guardians behind me jumping back as well. I jumped out of the chair and pointed my head down, holding it in my hands. Even after the dreamsand was no longer in contact with my head, the burning sensation that did not lessen; in fact, it got worse.
"Jack!" I heard Tooth call out, flying over to me. She laid a hand on my shoulder, but I quickly shrugged it off; even her touch caused pain.
I let out a whimper in pain, and staggered away from the others. I quickly located my staff and grabbed it; ignoring the sparks it sent off and took off down the hall recklessly. I could hear the guardians calling out after me, starting to follow me. I pushed myself to pick up speed, twisting and turning down different hallways trying to lose them.
I just wanted to get outside, to feel the cool breeze of the strong wind. That was the only thought going through my mind as I fell to the ground, losing control over what little wind there had been in the halls. My staff fell out of my hands, and I quickly reached for it, using it to get back on my feet.
Hastily I look around, hoping to see that I am near an exit. Surrounding me are a number of large doors, and without thought I frantically push open the door that looks most important. Entering the room, I find that the floor, ceiling, and walls are carved out of ice, and there is a tunnel also made out of ice that fades into darkness. I smile, realizing that this has to be a way out.
Quickly, I stagger down the tunnel, ignoring the pain from my legs and the dark shadows that surround me. I realize too late that the tunnel is sloped, and I find myself sliding down into the darkness, completely uncontrolled as I hit the walls and continue sliding. I hug my staff into me, curling myself into a ball as I lose all sight of the previous room.
The longer I am sliding, the more light begins to fill the tunnel. I soon come to a stop, as the slope of the tunnel has increased upward. I uncurl myself and look around, my eyes starting to grow fuzzy. Leaning on my staff for support, I start making my way out of the tunnel only to stop short as my legs collapse underneath me, staff falling from my hands. The pain ripples throughout my body again, and I pull my legs in close and lower my head into my hands, wishing for it to stop.
That's when I hear the laughter echoing throughout the tunnel.
I look up sharply into the shadows, and there stands the shadow man himself. I look at him in fear, and try and stand up, only to fall back
down again, all of the pain leaving me. A smirk appears on Pitch's face as I discover the sudden numbness of my body. I feel panic rise up again inside of my chest.
"P-Pitch! What a-are you doing here?"
He chuckled before looking at me with a menacing grin. "The better question is, what are you? I thought you were a neutral party, I see you have changed your mind."
I struggled to move any of my limbs, shooting the nightmare king a glare. "I-I haven't agreed to j-join them."
Pitch's smirk turns sour, a frown replacing it as he walked over to me. He looks down at me, as if he were a predator examining his prey. Soon an evil smile crept onto his face, and he took a step back before raising his right arm lazily. I look at him in confusion.
He snaps his fingers, and I feel my body sit upright, starting to push itself off the ground. Fear and terror grip me as I stood in front of the shadow man, unable to control any of my movements.
"H-Hey… what's g-going on-" I feel an invisible force clench my mouth shut, and I look at the Boogeyman in horror.
Pitch laughs and turns around, walking up towards the tunnel exit to the outside. My body, seemingly with a mind of its own, starts to follow him. I will myself to stop, the migraine returning full force. I hear Pitch chuckle.
"It's useless Jack; I have you under my complete control."
I notice a faint glow of yellow bouncing off the icy walls of the tunnel, and quickly discover the glow is not from Pitch's eyes as I had suspected, but from my own.
We quickly reached the outside, and started trudging through the snow. We were a good thirty yards away from the exit when I could hear the voices of the other guardians calling out my name. Amazingly, I was able to spin around and look back at the tunnel entrance. Pain surged through my body as I heard Pitch sigh in frustration. He forced me to turn to face him, and I could tell he was not in the very least pleased with his slip up. But frustration soon turned to serenity as Pitch grinned at me.
"Until next time, Frost."
Before I knew it everything was spinning, and I fell face first into the snow as my vision faded to black, Pitch's laughter echoing in my head.