Rise of Jamie Bennett
By Bronze Wool
It was the middle of the summer holidays and on supposedly the hottest day of the year, a light snow had descended over the town of Burgess. From the shelter of the back porch Mrs Bennett shivered in her jacket as she watched her children, oblivious to the cold, race back and forth in the garden with their friends. Today was also her son’s birthday and they were celebrating with cake, party games and presents. Mrs Bennett loved both her children dearly and even though she couldn’t always afford to give them expensive toys, she beamed at the few occasions when she could. Jamie was delighted by the Rainbow Quest themed party, his favourite cartoon. The banners and plates were covered with the superheroes’ faces and the children took turns playing out the roles of the characters and their adventures, sword fighting with sticks or using snowballs as magic projectiles. Abby, the family dog, decided she wanted to play as well and the children happily used her as whatever mythical animal they needed at the time.
“Snow angel!” her daughter shrieked, as she rolled around the steadily increasing pile of snow.
“Sophie you’re barefoot!” Mrs Bennett exclaimed, running out of the safety of the porch and into the cold, taking off her jack her jacket and wrapping it tightly around her daughter.
“Look, look mommy, snow angel,” said Sophie, pointing at her creation as she was swept into her mother’s arms.
“It’s beautiful sweetie.” Her daughter’s vocabulary was steadily increasing every day to, to the point where she would try to use as many words as possible.
The sun had been completely blocked out by the clouds and a sudden gust of wind took the mother by surprised and she shivered as Sophie reached out for something in front of them that wasn’t there.
“Jamie its getting cold out, come back inside.”
“But mum we’re still playing!” Jamie whined and the rest of the children moaned in union.
“It’s getting dark out and none of you are wearing sweaters,” she argued. “Come on, let’s go put the candles on the cake.”
“Cake! Cake! Cake!” Sophie clapped.
The children were reluctant to go back inside the house, but eventually they yielded and after a few more games and throwing confetti at one another, it was time for the children to go back to their own families.
“Thanks for inviting us Jamie,” said Monty as he reached for his backpack by the front door.
“Thanks for coming guys,” Jamie beamed.
“Are you kidding? It was the best party ever!” said Claude. Only to be pushed aside by his twin.
“Yeah, next time we’ll have a sleep over at our house.” Said Caleb.
“Sure thing,” Jamie nodded as the twins practically shoved Monty out the door.
“You’ll be at the lake tomorrow?” asked Cupcake, her tone easily mistaken as a threat by those who didn’t know her as well as Jamie did.
“First thing tomorrow,” he promised.
Cupcake smiled satisfactory and followed the boys outside. The last to leave was Pippa, her eyes glued to Mrs Bennett who stood at the end of the hallway with Sophie resting on her hip.
“Happy birthday Jamie,” Pippa said, before leaning in and whispering in his ear “Tell us all about it at the lake, ok?”
Jamie closed the front door behind her and helped his mum clean up the remains of his party before getting ready for bed.
“It’s freezing in here,” said Mrs Bennett, throwing a comforter over her son and checking the radiator against the wall. “I’m gonna turn the heating up.”
“I don’t mind mum,"
“Still, I don’t want you freezing in here.” She said, shutting the window. “One more year till the big 1-0, you’re almost a big boy now.”
“Almost,” Jamie smiled as Abby climb on top of his covers with Sophie and to slathered Jamie’s face with affectionate licks. “But not yet.”
“Big girl!” Sophie pointed to herself with pride.
“Oh, no,” said Mrs Bennett, swooping in on her and blowing kissed into her exposed belly “You have to stay my little girl forever.”
“MOMMY!!!” Sophie laughed and Abbey barked excitedly.
Mrs Bennett stopped torturing the little girl and held her upside down so her fringe was no longer covering her left eye.
“Say goodnight Sophie.”
“Night-night!” she waved enthusiastically at her brother.
“Night-night Sophie,” Jamie laughed and Mrs Bennett flipped her daughter right-side up.
“Night Jamie, come on Abby.” She walked towards the door and flicked off the lights. “Try not to grow up too quickly, ok?”
She gently shut the door behind her and the room was plunged into darkness. Jamie lied still in his bed; listening to his mother’s footsteps as she walked into Sophie’s room, put her to bed and eventually walking down the creaking staircase, with Abbey hot on her heels.
“Well, that was a fun birthday,”
Jamie sat up turned around, where Jack Frost was currently perched on his desk.
“I’m sorry you couldn’t join in most of the games, what with mum watching and all,” Jamie apologized, relieved he could finally talk to Jack.
“Don’t be silly,” Jack laugh as he jumped off the desk. “It was a blast! I got to eat birthday cake-which was delicious by the way, hit a piñata and got to play the villain in Rainbow quest. All in all, I’d say it was the best birthday party ever!” Jack suddenly stopped as a thought occurred to him. “Come to think of it, it was the first party I’d ever been invited to.”
“You’ve never been to a birthday party before?”
“Well, I didn’t exactly have any believers until you guys came along, and spirits don’t exactly celebrate birthdays anyway.”
“Wait,” Jamie exclaimed “You’ve never had a birthday own your own?”
“Well I didn’t have any memories back then, so I couldn’t remember my birthday,” Jack shrugged. “I still don’t fully remember everything about the first 17 years of the my life, just the small important ones.”
“Well, what about when the moon revived you?” Jamie asked. “That counts as a birthday, right? Or re-birthday, I guess. What day was it?”
Jack seemed to ponder over it deeply, tapping the crook of his staff against his chin.
“Huh, that’s funny.”
“I don’t remember when I first woke up from the ice.” He laughed.
“How come you don’t remember that?”
“I counted the passing years, but not the individual days. I don’t remember exactly when I first woke up, only that it was winter and on a full moon. I kinda had other things on my mind at the time.”
“Sorry.” Jamie blushed.
“Don’t worry about it,” Jack waved off. “Immortals don’t really celebrate birthdays anyway. Probably don’t want to be reminded themselves they’re old as dirt. Besides, if I had birthday I’d be carrying around 300 years worth of presents with me whether I went. Where would I put it all?”
“True.” Jamie sighed. “I just wish I could give you something.”
“Kiddo, you’ve already given me the one thing I’ve wanted my entire life, what more could I possibly want?”
Jamie felt his cheeks heat up and averted his gaze.
“Now, speaking of presents” Jack grinned, rubbing his hands mischievously. “Since I don’t believe in material possessions; if you could go anywhere and see anything in the world, what would it be?”
“Y-You mean you’re actually gonna take me to see one of the Guardians?”
“Bunny! Hop hop hop!”
Jamie gasped and spun around, spotting Sophie leaning against the now open bedroom door.
“Sorry kiddo, but this is a trip is for the big boys only,” Jack said while ruffling her messy mop of hair.
The small girl pouted and held her hands up, ordering to be picked up. “Wanna come too.”
“You already got to see the Warren Soph’, it’s my turn to go.” Jamie explained.
“Bunny!” she whined.
Jack smiled fondly and scooped the child into his arms. “Tell you what Soph’, next time we’ll go to the Warren to see Bunny, just you and me.”
She stared up at Jack with an intense look before holding up her pinkie finger.
“Promise.” He hooked his larger finger with hers and shook.
Jack grinned and spun the little girl in her arms, a flurry of snowflakes dancing around them. She laughed and flapped her hands like an uncoordinated bird before Jack released her and gust of air kept her afloat for a good few seconds before she landed on Jamie’s bed.
“Now, I have a special mission that only you can do. Are you up for it?” Sophie blinked at the sudden change in tone, but nodded her head enthusiastically anyway. “Good.”
Jack placed her down Jamie’s bed and looked over his shoulder, as if expecting to find someone spying on them, before leaning in close to the two and whispered, “Jamie and I are gonna go on an adventure tonight and I need to you guard the base until we get back.”
“Uh-huh!” She nodded and clapped joyously.
“Good girl.” Jack saluted overdramatically, before turning his attention back to Jamie. “Now, where were we?”
“Are we going to see the Tooth palace or the Workshop, maybe Sandy’s Dreamship?” Jamie asked ecstatically.
“You’re thinking too small, kiddo.” Jack winked, tapping Jamie’s head with the crook so a puff of ice shard rained down on him. “Sure we could do that, or I could show you the fairy court, the underground Gnome city, the four benevolent beasts of China, any of the lake monsters,” Jack practically listed every spirit he had come across in the last 300 years of his afterlife. “If it gets icy, I’ve been there. So places like Egypt and Atlantis are definitely out of the question.”
“Wait!” Jamie jumped on the bed. “You mean Atlantis, The Atlantis? It’s really real?!”
“Of course it is, or at least it was. I’ve never been there myself, you know not with the whole freezing water on contact thing, but Sandy’s mermaid friends live there, and from what North’s told me Ombric is the last Atlantean.”
“Ombric Shalazar, the last great wizard of Atlantis,” Jack began in a deep, low voice, the type of tone one only used when telling stories. “He was also an inventor and North’s mentor, teaching him everything he knew about magic. One day he decided to create a home, a secret place in the forest of Siberia where only children with unlimited imagination could go, a place where you had to think of at least three impossible things a day. The children there learnt how to make time go backwards, talk every insect language in the world and cast magic spells.”
The siblings were engrossed by the tale, devouring every word. Jamie imagined the children living in the treetops, finding ways to make waterfalls fall upwards, building an impossible staircase that reached the clouds and figuring out how to breathe underwater.
“To protect the children, Ombric used his magic to make many powerful barriers, with magical vines that prevented anyone from entering, a great black bear that patrolled the woods and a spirit that could turn you to stone, just by looking at you. All of these things protecting the small village and the children within, the village Santoff Claussen.”
“Santoff Claussen!” Jamie shouted, quickly covering his mouth in case his mum heard him, which Sophie mimicked. Lowering his hands he quietly, but eagerly whispered, “That’s where I wanna go. Where is it?”
Jack grins widened with equal excitement, showing off his dazzling white teeth, only for his smile to fall a moment after.
“The truth is,” Jack scratched his cheek, feeling embarrassed. “I’ve never been there myself and I’m not even sure where it is.” Jamie’s face fell and Jack racked his brain trying to salvage the mood. “But, I do know someone who could tell us how to get there!”
Jamie quickly dressed in his warmest clothes, thickest boots, and woolliest hat and mittens, before turning to Jack who knelt by the open window, where even the mild wind from outside wasn’t cold enough to cool him down. Sophie helped wrap a scarf around his neck, accidently covering most of his mouth, much to her amusement. After he was fully dressed, Jamie tucked Sophie into his bed and gave her his flashlight, which she held like a warrior on guard duty.
“I’ll be back before morning, ok?” he promised before turning towards Jack who was no perched outside the open window. He took Jack’s hand and together they flew high above sleeping town of Burgess and higher still, until they were soaring through the night sky, following the North Star to the highest peak on the planet; North’s workshop.
Jamie thought it was all exhilarating, whenever Jack ordered the wind to bring them down close to the lake or forest and even along the rocky coast at one point, but nothing compared to when they were thousands of feet high in the clouds. Jamie had he never ever experienced anything as incredible as this. High above the clouds, the world was so big, yet so tiny with the flickering lights of cities spanning across the whole of North America and Canada.
The whistling wind made it nearly impossible for the two to talk and the harsh snow meant Jamie had to keep readjusting his scarf around his face to avoid the burn, but even Jamie couldn’t have cared less, not when Jack would suddenly change direction, leading him higher up, only to free fall the next second, the north Wind catching them safely before they could even reach the ground.
The rising sun eventually gave way and all around Jamie could only the frozen icecaps below, spreading out in every direction as mountain glaciers lay ahead of them.
“Do you see it?!” Jack called over the wind, pointing with his staff just in case.
Jamie looked ahead, shielding his eyes from the sunlight refracting off the white snow. He could only see a huge mountain ahead of them and had to squint really hard until he finally saw it. Jack wasn’t leading him towards a mountain; the Workshop was the mountain! Wooden structures protruded from the icy surface and candle light poured out from the glass windows.
“I see it! I see it!” Jamie cried out.
“Good, because we’re going in through the back entrance!” Jamie was suddenly jerked off balance as Jack dived bombed.
“JAAAAAAACK!!!” Jamie cried out as they were about to collide with the base of the mountain, when suddenly Jack arched upwards at the last second and they flew through a wooden tunnel. Jack pulled Jamie closer as the walls closed in around them, and up a head Jamie spotted a solid wooden and metal rimmed door blocked their path.
With a swing of his staff, a huge gust of wind rushed past Jamie’s head. Jack then kicked his foot out and hit the iron lock with enough force to the gate wide open.
“Good morning!” Jack called out as he released Jamie’s hand, sending the poor lad skidding across the huge warehouse and into a pile of various colourful and soft fabrics. “Miss me?”
Instantaneously there was a howl of outcry from various creatures, all speaking in an alien tongue that sounded very familiar to Jamie’s ears. Rolling out from the highly decorated materials, Jamie pulled the scarf off his face and awed at all the various stacks of doll parts, metal ball balling and joints, and stacks of highly varnished wood.
He was suddenly brought back to his guide who was now surrounded by several angry looking Yetis each in various shades of grey and brown, their long moustaches following down to their collarbones. The leader of the group pointed angrily at the damaged door and the heavy snow the sprite had brought in with him.
“Whoops, sorry” Jack swung his staff for a second time and the whirling wind and snow died down, leaving the once empty floor in disarray as the parts now lay scattered across the wood and different materials were now soaked with melting ice. “There all better.”
The yetis didn’t share Jack’s enthusiasm and they swarmed around him, no doubt scolding like parents by the way they were wagging their fingers. Instead of provoking fear, it only caused the mischievous spirit to grin madly.
“I know you guys!” Jamie cried out, instantly recognising a few the Yetis who were represent in the battle against Pitch. All eyes were drawn straight to Jamie, blinking disbelievingly in the most comical manner, their fingers still pointing at Jack.
“Oh where are my manners,” Jack said innocently, pointing at the leader. “Jamie this is Phil, Phil you know Jamie.”
“That was you signiture in my book?” Jamie gasped, instantly remembered the name written down in his book of various monsters.
Phil seemed quite flattered Jamie remembered him, before recomposing himself and shouting furiously at Jack, now louder than ever.
“Hey hey hey!” Jack cried out, hand unconsciously covering his ringing ear. “Point to me where it said in the rule book that I couldn’t bring a friend to the Workshop?”
Phil threw his hands up in the air and gestured to Jamie with every grunt, like it should be clear as day Jack broke the biggest rule of them all.
“North's not gonna mind, besides I think the last light deserves a free pass on this one, don’t you think.” Jack waved off. “Now, are you going to lead us to North is or am I gonna have to open room and mess with every toy until I find him?”
Phil went as rigid as a statue, glaring down at Jack with a livid look before turning to Jamie. With a with a very sincere smile he pointed towards the wooden elevator dominating most of the room and patted the young boy welcomingly on the head, brushing off a stray snowflake.
“Thank you sir,” he smiled back.
Phil then turned back to Jack, pointing at the Frost sprite with two fingers, as if to say “I’m watching you,” before escorting the two up to North’s private office.
The ride was nothing more than breath taking in Jamie’s mind. For every level they climbed, a team of yetis were working on a new project as tiny elves in bell hats tested their new creations. There were levels dedicated to different types of dolls, another for projectile toys, another for vehicle based toys and many just for various stuffed animals.
But what caught Jamie’s attention the most was the giant globe suspended in the centre of the workshop. The higher they climbed the clearer it go, rotating on its own axis the globe flashed with yellow lights. From the position of the globe in comparison to the angle of the sunlight coming in through the glass roof, Burgess was still experiencing night-time and would for a few more hours.
The lift jerked to a sudden stop and Phil opened the gate and led them through a relatively empty level of the workshop with nothing but doors after doors. Phil led them straight to one particular door and didn’t’ hesitate in throwing it wide open. There was a smash and the sound of shattering ice skidding across the floor. Phil recoiled and Jack had to bite his finger to stop himself from laughing. Inside was North, hiding his face between his giant hands and muttering in a language Jamie could only guess as Russian, before turning to face his guests.
“Again and again I say, knock before enter-“ North was cut off in mid-rant by the sight of snow white hair.
“Jack! You’re visiting again so soon!” He exclaimed, pulling the boy into a firm bear hug. “Have you come to see new idea?!”
“A-Actually, just pass-ing thro-ough,” Jack wheezed.
Jamie sneaked behind Phil and peaked into the private workshop, gawking at the interior use of wood and ice. The room itself looked like it had been carved out of the mountain and all around them were half finished inventions; old artefacts and many candles littered across the rafters. The block of ice on the mighty desk must have been North’s latest project, an elaborated ice sculpture of a medieval castle. Out of the corner of his eye, Jamie spotted the shattered remains of a bat wing and lizard head, guessing the item in question had probably a dragon.
With one last squeeze North released Jack, who used his staff to support himself as he gasped for air.
“Of course, of course, now what can I help you with?”
“We were wondering if you knew where Santoff Claussen is!” Jamie exclaimed, taking North by surprise.
“You remember me?” Jamie blushed. Even though they teamed up last Easter, Jamie still had only met the giant of a man once and they didn’t exactly have time to converse.
“Of course I remember!” North punched his chest with pride. “You been on Nice List every year for last nine years. I always remember good children” Jamie glowed with pride. “Come in, come in.”
He led the two into the room and Phil quietly escorted himself out. North retook his seat beside the desk, Jack jumped up onto the rafters and Jamie took a seat on a tall foot stool between the two.
“Cookie?” He offered as two elves, who Jamie couldn’t believe he hadn’t heard earlier given their jiggling heads, held up a plate filled with biscuits. Jamie moved to take one but when he noticed the evidence of tiny teeth marks and a silvery trails which looked suspiciously like saliva, he quickly declined. “Now, what is this about Santoff Claussen?”
“Jack told me you were taught by a powerful wizard who lived in a village where the impossible was possible.”
“I did say that, didn’t I?” He gave Jack a stern yet playful look and the younger Guardian grinned mischievously. “Yes, it is true that Ombric did create Santoff Claussen, and he was my teacher. I learnt everything about magic and inventing from him, both of which I used to create this very workshop.”
“Cool!” said Jamie, on the edge of his seat.
“Da,” North nodded. “And you two wish to see the village for yourselves?”
“You bet!” said Jack as he jumped down from the beam to kneel on the desk. “So where do we find it?”
“I am afraid that Santoff Claussen is no more,” North said, a sad and pained look flashing across his eyes.
“What do you mean no more? What happened to it?”
“It was long before your time Jack,” North sighed heavily and rose from his chair, paced up and down the officer. “You must remember that Pitch had grown in power during the Dark Ages and Ombric too was a Guardian, one of the first actually, along with Katherine and myself.”
Jamie didn’t have time to question who this Katherine person was as North was talking faster now, lost in a memory.
“One of Pitch’s first targets had been the village; for you see the children there had never known bad dreams or ever feared before, and Pitch would not stand for such a thing. He attacked time and time again, but Ombric was very powerful, and no matter how hard he tried, Pitch could never touch the village.”
“What changed?” Jamie asked.
“Times changed and Pitch grew in power, the world was changing and people were scared. We spread ourselves across globe, trying to protect the children, but we miscalculated. Pitch had always intended for Santoff Claussen to be the first to fall and now that we were divided, he struck. The defences could not hold and without any of us there to protect them, the children did not stand a chance.”
Jamie felt his throat tighten and Jack’s knuckled turned blue as he gripped his staff.
“We eventually won though,” North continued. “Pitch was defeated with little casualties, but the loss of the village had been too great a loss for us all, Ombric never fully recovered.”
“Maybe he could have started over?” Jamie offered. “With new children.”
“It is not that simple,” North slumped into his chair and stroked his beard. “As I said the world was changing. Magic was more plentiful back then and now that it is gone, children could no longer perform the impossible. Back then it was unimaginable to think a child could not create wings to fly to the sun and back, talk to owls or bring books to life. No, now there is not much magic left in the world, and not nearly enough to spare.”
Both Jack and Jamie felt qually defected as North. True, this all took place long before Jack’s time and while he had never the chance to feel magic in the air himself, he still felt a burst of hatred for Pitch for taking such an opportunity away from him.
“Jack,” North said, catching the younger one’s attention. “Why are you and Jamie so curious about Santoff Claussen anyway?”
“Well, the truth is today is my birthday and Jack said he would take me wherever I wanted to go and I said Santoff Claussen.”
“Birthday!” North exclaimed. “Today is the anniversary of your birth?”
“Yes, I just turned nine,” he smiled with pride.
“Happy anniversary!” North praised, whisking the boy into his massive arms.
“It’s Happy Birthday.” Jack corrected.
“Of course, of course,” North waved off. “We have celebrated many times at the pole, but never have we had a birthday before.”
“Not even for the yetis?” Jamie asked.
“Yetis do not measure time the same way we do.” North winked. “Now, what does one do on one’s birthday again?”
“You guys really haven’t interacted with the real world in a really long time, how you?” Jack rolled his eyes. “Birthdays North! You know, huge parties with games, music, cake with candles on top and presents.”
“Presents?” North barked with laughter. “You will never be low on presents around here.”
North stroked his beard and murmured something under his breath before his eyes twinkled with a sparkle Jack knew all too well.
“Dingle!” he pointed to a random elf. “We have preparations to be making! Decorations, eggnog and of course the fruitcake!”
“Fruitcake?” Jamie repeated.
“Gather the staff, we are celebrating the day Jamie entered the world!”
“I don’t won’t to be a bother.” He mumbled, but North heard him regardless.
“Nonsense, Yetis love company! Besides, we seem to be overdue for a celebration in honour of the last light who saved us from the Boogeyman.”
“But I didn’t-.” Jamie didn’t have time to object as North slammed the door open and was making orders left, right and centre.
“Looks like you’ve just been made the guest of honour.” Jack teased, nudging the boy’s arm.
“Are you sure this is all ok?”
“Sure it is! Remeber, there’s no such thing as too much fun!” Jack winked and took to the air as Jamie rolled his eyes.
The party was brought to life faster than Jack or Jamie would have anticipated. On the main floor the regular furniture beside the fireplace has been pushed aside for numerous tables covered in red cloth and comfy looking chairs. Banners covered every wall and mobile toys flew overhead, showering them with a mixture of glitter and confetti. Food and drinks were prepared, and music flared from all around. North’s choice of music, in Jack’s personal opinion wasn’t the most appropriate for a nine year olds birthday, but as long as there were no Christmas carols, who was he to complain?
Yeti party games were five times more elaborate than human games and both boys found themselves caught in the rush and excitement, even the elves tried to take part in the madness. North laughed at all the wonder around them and lounged back in his favourite arm chair, contents just watching the two boys play with the toys, a simple pleasure he had not been able to indulge in for many years. A light caught his attention and North smiled up at Manny whose moonbeams washed over the boys, looking down on them like a proud parent.
A tap on the shoulder distracted North from his musing and standing behind him was Phil with one of the elves perched on his shoulder. Nestled between his furry hands was a slim book with a hard cover and leather binding. The yellow pages, while wrinkled in places were still cleanly pressed and the edges inked in delicately strokes of gold. He recognised the signature of this stokes and the book in question.
“Excellent idea!” He exclaimed. “Jamie, come at once!”
The two boys turned their heads in union, interrupted in a rather complex looking game that involved various balls being thrown about and the boys sitting on the shoulders of two yetis who were holding bats.
“What is it?” Jamie asked as he was put down gently, while Jack simply just summersaulted on to his feet.
“I am sorry that you did not achieve what you sort out to do tonight,” said North solemnly. “However, while I cannot grant your wish to visit Santoff Claussen, hopefully you’ll enjoy its stories just as much.”
Phil held the book out to Jamie, who held it tenderly between his fingers. Despite how slim the book was, the cover was heavy under Jamie awed at the beautiful illustrations of a lone oak tree surrounded by a thick and lush forest. Upon closer inspection though, Jamie could make out three silhouettes amongst the leaves and vines, a bear, a beautiful woman and an old man with a staff.
“In here you will find all the stories of Santoff Claussen, its children and their adventures, as well as the documentation of the Guardians before we were Guardians, and Pitch’s eventual defeat.”
“It’s beautiful.” Jamie held the book tight to his chest. “Thank you.”
“It was also written by a very dear friend.” said North as he reached out stroked the spine of the book. “I know she would be honoured that it went to one who enjoys stories just as much as she did.”
“I’ll take real good care of it,” Jamie vowed.
“I know you will.” North clapped Jamie on the back like a father would. “Now there is one more thing you need to know.”
North took the book from Jamie and flipped it over, revealing the underside. While not as magnificent as the front, each corner of the book was decorated with drawings of the sun, planets, moons and various stars and constellations. It was the centre though that caught Jamie’s attention the most. Scrawled across the centre in unrecognisable script of words and images, with no recognisable pattern of any language Jamie knew of. At first glance, it seemed nothing more than pretty scribble, until one noticed that the pattern repeated itself three times.
North pointed towards the alien language and said, “This is first law of magic, created by Ombric himself.”
Jamie squinted at the writing, failing to find any significant to help him decipher the text. The moon’s light crept over him and fell over the surface of the book, and suddenly the text was pure English. Jamie gasped and took a step back, bumping into Jack.
“Did you see that?” he asked.
“See what?” Jack replied.
"The writing!" Jamie turned back to the book where the writing shined clear as day, but Jack continued to look on as if nothing had changed. Jamie turned to North for an explanation and froze by the intense stare he was receiving, a mixture of confusion but also suspicion, he almost missed how North’s blue eyes flickered towards the moon accusingly, before they focused purely on him.
Leaning back in, Jamie stared down at the golden lettering and read it aloud.
“I believe, I believe, I believe.”
The binding open on its own accord and the golden images came to life. The planets began rotating on their own accord around the sun, just as the tiny satellites orbited around the planets. Both North and Jamie stared on in awe, flipping the book open to reveal elegant black ink and illustrations marking every page.
“It’s blank.” Jack frowned, and Jamie and North stared up the him in confusion. the youngest guardian stared back at them accusingly and raised a brow, as if to say what?
Jamie turned his attention back to the book, eyes skimming over the text, which glowed with an intense light whenever his vision focussed on an individual word. The drawings also moved with a mind of their own, crawling over the pages, some even leaking into over pages and even the cover itself.
“You see it?” North breathed.
“Y-yeah!” Jamie laughed.
Jack’s eyes darted between the two, furious that something important was happening and he was the only one not in on the joke.
“Hello!” He interrupted. “Does someone want to tell me what’s going on?”
“I am afraid this is a secret only known to those with imagination,” North laughed.
“I have plenty of imagination!” Jack exclaimed, stamping his foot like a petulant child and accidently freezing several elves to the rug.
Ignoring Jack, North closed the book and the flowing ink settled back into their original places and the writing became unreadable once more.
“I trust you will take great care of it, Jamie.”
The boy nodded and held the book close to his heart, feeling warm admitting from within.
“Excellent!” North clapped his hands and whatever spell the book had cast over the crowd lifted. “Now, It will be sunrise in Burgess soon and Jack must be escorting Jamie home.”
The elves were disappointed that their new friend was leaving so soon and wrapped Jamie’s head in Christmas lights and bells as a parting gift. The yetis in turn either bowed respectively or patted the boy on the shoulder. Finally North bid him farewell with a bear hug and kiss on both cheeks before giving Jack the same treatment, much to the later dismay.
Once again Jack took Jamie by the hand and with one call of the wind they were swept into its hold and flew out the window and into the sky, with the moon looking down on them. Jamie held his middle tightly, where the book was securely hidden so it wouldn’t accidently slipped out of his hands. As they flew further south dark descended on them and even though they were taking the same route back, Jamie couldn’t help but feel that they were moving too quickly, it was getting warmer and in no time he spotted his home up ahead and already they were coming in for a landing. Jack elegantly landed on the windowsill and helped Jamie inside before entering himself.
The sight of his little sister curled up under the covers and drooling on his pillow, with the flash light still on was enough to remind Jamie of his own exhaustion. With just one more hour until sunrise, Jamie didn’t bother getting into pyjamas, slipping shrugging off his coat and gloves before crawling in besides Sophie, book still curled against this chest.
Jack smiled down at the siblings and as quietly as possible, helped take off Jamie’s boots and hat without freezing his toes, and pulled the covers up to his neck. Then, he just sat there, watching Jamie dream even though it was too late for Sandy to bestow a dream onto him. Luckily, Sophie’s dream actually started drifted in small circles around they brunette’s head and they shared the same dream of a boy and girl riding on the back of a great bear. Jack smiled at the sand boy and who took his sister by the hand and they started playing games with the bear.
“Hey kiddo,” he whispered so not to awaken the two. “Promise me you’ll never grow up.”
Jack slid off the bed, climbed out the window and disappeared into the night, unaware that someone had been watching them the entire time. Stepping out from the shadows was a tall figure with a stern face. His eyes lazily tracing the boy’s bedroom, taking in the lack of toys besides a worn stuffed rabbit, clay ninja figurines and various other knickknacks. Clearly, the mother did not earn nearly enough to afford many gifts for her children. This did not bother the figure though, who gazed at the hand drawn posters plastered across the walls and the cardboard castle in the corner of the room. There was plenty of imagination to be had.
Finally turning his gaze to the reason for his summoning, he looked down at the boy with indifference, taking in his exhausted but peaceful expression. He was fairly short for a boy his age.
“Here already I see.”
The eyes snapped towards the open window where a woman now occupied, dressed in a simple skirt, blouse and brown vest. Her pretty face and auburn hair were obscured by an oversized hat and in her hand was a book.
“Mother Goose,” he greeted as the head of a giant Himalayan snow goose peeked down from the roof.
“What have I told you about calling me mother?” she sighed, sliding into the room.
“It is your title and I will address you as such,” he explained.
She crossed the threshold and took the man’s withered hand within her own.
“To the rest of the world I am Mother Goose, but to my father I will always be Katherine.”
Ombric’s eyes softened and he squeezed Katherine’s hand tightly.
“He summoned you here as well, did he?” he asked, not expecting an answer as his beard twirled thoughtfully.
“Yes, only a few hours ago in fact. He made it sound quite urgent.” She turned away from her adoptive father and looked down at the two children in the bed. “That’s him, isn’t it?” she said, silently edging her way around the bed to kneel beside the boy. “The Last light.”
“So I have been told.” He frowned.
“Ah, you’re both here, excellent, excellent.”
Both heads snapped back towards the window where the snow goose honked at the two people who suddenly appeared in the room, surrounded by twinkling moonbeams. The first was a short man in a white suit, with one golden thread of hair on his bald head with a kind smile that only one who has never known fear or nightmares could possess. The second figure was tall and twig-like, dressed in shining armour ad carrying a staff with a moonbeam encased within the Diamond Head.
“Nightlight,” Katherine greeted, crossing the room in a three steps in order to embrace him.
The silent humanoid smiled fondly at the woman and returned the gesture, his star like eyes asking a million questions at once.
“Yes, yes I’m fine,” she waved off. “But what about you? I haven’t heard from you in so long.”
“Ombric,” The man greeted
“Tsar Lunar,” he bowed back. “I take it there is a reason as to why you called us all here tonight.”
“Indeed,” The Man in the Moon said. “A most fascinating event occurred no more than a few hours ago while at the pole.”
“Nicholas?” Katherine, interjected.
“Yes, my dear. It would seem our newest Guardian has taken a liking to this one child.”
The moonbeams whizzed about the room, exploring its contents and eventually being drawn to the dream sand, like moths to a golden flame.
“A very dangerous decision if you ask me.” Ombric dryly remarked.
“Oh, how so?” Tsar asked curiously.
“Do not play games with me Tsar," He frowned. "You know very well the dangers of spirits interacting with children this day and age. As soon as adults spot children talking to those that cannot be seen, they fear an illness of the mind and assume the worst.”
“You believe Frost’s interaction with the boy is causing more harm than good?”
“There is a reason we do not directly interact with children and you know this.”
“True, true,” Tsar smiled. “However, I believe that there may be a rare opportunity presented to us that may not happen again.”
“You mean the boy, the last light?” Katherine eyes darted between the two men. “What does he have to do with this?”
“A very good question,” Said Ombric.
Tsar turned to his personal Guardian and a silent conversation passed between the two, one that even Katherine could not follow, as if Nightlight was purposely preventing her from reading his emotions. They both nodded in agreement and Tsar turned back to the Guardians.
“I am sure you are both aware, last year while I had the both of you sent away on a mission with Nightlight, a most peculiar event took event took place in this very town.”
“Pitch Black, we both know the story,” Ombric interrupted.
“Yes, but what you may not know is that days after the event occurred, no matter what angle I tried to look at it, I could not seem to wrap my around it.” He tapped his chin and mused to himself. “Something else took place that night, something that tipped the tide in the Guardian's favour.”
This grabbed the attention of both father and daughter, who stared at MiM with great interest and uncertainty.
“I have seen first-hand that the child possesses gifts not shared by his peers and only now do I believe these talents played a hand in the defeat of Pitch Black.”
“Are you saying,” Katherine gasped. “That this child is a Guardian?”
MiM smiled at Katherine before turning to the Atlantean.
“Ombric, I wish for you to take the boy under your wing.”
A long silence fell over the room, Tsar smiling pleasantly at Ombric who looked like he had just been slapped in the face, and Katherine’s whose eyes darted back and forth between the two.
“You. Cannot. Be. Serious!” The wizard grit between clenched teeth.
“Actually, I’m quite serious.” He chuckled lightly.
“You cannot ask this of me!” He all but shouted and Nightlight’s eyes snapped towards the children, relieved they did not stir. Ombric must have cast a spell over them beforehand because their shared dream remained undisturbed.
“The boy has an impressive mind Ommbric, full of imagination and drawn to stories of the mystical and forgotten. He even managed an impressive feat by reading the book of Santoff Claussen.”
“You mean the one I crafted all those years ago?” Katherine awed. “He could actually read it?”
From where the siblings slept, the dream had shifted and the bear had been replaced by a spectral woman who happily danced with the boy and girl.
“More than just read it, my dear. It opened for him.”
“Then surely any responsibility over the boy falls within Mother Goose’s care.” Ombric waved off.
“While I do admit my main reasoning for summoning Katherine is due to the similarity between them, I do however believe story telling is not where the boy’s centre lies.”
“You cannot ask this of me,” he hissed.
“I will not put myself through that again!”
The moonbeam in Nightlight’s staff bounced about frantically and the snow goose retreated to the safety of the roof.
“Father,” Katherine soothed. “I know how you feel about this, but maybe this boy is a sign. You cast those speel yourself and still he could open the book.”
“This proves nothing, North’s workshop is filled with magic ad believe. I wouldn’t be surprised if it granted the boy a burst of magic indirectly when he uttered those words.”
Tsar raised an eyebrow at Ombric in the same manner a parent or teacher would to a very stubborn child.
“I’m sure North has also told you in the last confrontation between The Guardians and the Nightmare King, Jamie stepped in front of the Guardians and single handily confronted the Nightmares when they could not.”
“That boy did nothing,” Ombric hissed. “The only reason such a child could defend themselves from someone like the Nightmare King was by the power of another. When the Sandman fell at the hands of the nightmares, he withdrew into the mind of the last child he touched, this boy. It was not by his own hand he withstood the nightmares, but the work of the Sleep Guardian protecting laying dormant within his mind.”
“Be that as it may, it takes a lot of courage to face one’s fears, let along the fears of billions of children singlehandedly.”
“Then the child is either very brave or very foolish.”
Tsar sighed wearily and turned to an oblivious Jamie and his dream which had changed to show a boy and girl flying with a man with a staff and long beard.
“I am not denying the Sandman played an important part in the final battle, but even you must admit it is strange how the guardian of dreams could not regain physical form after Pitch’s corruption, yet despite the overwhelming odds, the moment the boy came into contact with the black sand it turned gold under his touch.”
“What are you implying?” Ombric asked curiously.
“That there was a second factor.”
“He is nothing more than a normal boy.”
“You’ve forgotten your own lessons far too quickly my friend.” MiM scolded. “The children of Santoff Claussen were nothing more than ordinary children themselves. The only difference was that they were free from a world of words such as limitations and boundaries.”
“Times have changed and children's imaginatons have been closed off.” Ombric said solemnly. “Nothing you do now will ever bring back Atlantis or Santoff Claussen.”
“I cannot undo the past my friend,” Tsar sighed, suddenly looking centuries older. “But that does not mean we cannot bring it back. The spirit of those once lost may have lived on in the next generation. Not all children can access magic as they once could, but that does not mean one will not learn how to listen and grasp those threads.”
Ombric turned his back on the three and directed his gaze on the child in question that brought him here. The blanket had been tugged down at some point during the conversation and Ombric spotted a familiar book clasped tightly in the boy’s embraced. He read the Atlantean text effortlessly and as if sensing his stare, the images came to life and spoke to him, describing the beautiful aurora of the boy possessed, how he could see them, hear them.
He exhaled heavily, wondering how it would feel to have a student under his care again, to share his knowledge with an young, inquisitive mind whose imagination was not limited by the rules growing society had forced upon them. A mind that asked important question such as, why does a heavier object have to small at the same speed as a lighter one? Why not let it fall upwards? Why can a larger object not fit inside a smaller one? Why does time have to go either backwards or forwards? Why not diagonally?
He could sense three pairs of eyes were burning into the back of Ombric’s head and Ombric knew he had lost the battle the moment he laid eyes on the child.
“Two conditions,” he said. “Two conditions.”
Tsar’s eyes twinkled mischievously, Katherine smiled widely and Nightlight lifted two feet in the air, he was that excited.
“If the child still believes in the Guardians on his eighteenth birthday, if he still sees them, then I will I become his teacher. And when his training is complete, and the boy fully accepts this responsibility, then, and only then will you make him a guardian. I want your word Tsar, that you will not interfere with his destiny. Bringing a dead teenager back to life is one thing, but I will not a allow you to tear a child from his family, not until he fully understands what it is he will have to give up.”
Ombric nodded satisfactory and stared down at the child one last time before turning to his daughter.
"I leave the rest to you then, Katherine.”
“He’s already in good hands,” she smiled and her father disappeared before her eyes. “Is he truly destined to become a Guardian?”
“Nothing is ever predetermined, Katherine.” Tsar smiled. “You should know that better than anyone.”
“But I still don’t quite understand. Why now, when no other child has ever been able to hear the call of magic since the Dark Ages?”
“There are questions even I do not have answers to,” Tsar explained as he ran a finger along the dreamsand. “Perhaps it is something we are born with or by the influence of those around us. Regardless of how it happened, this one is special in more ways than simply knowing magic.”
“All spirits depend on the belief of children in order to survive; it is the job of the Guardians to keep children believing, but this child, this precious child managed to do something even I had never thought possible.” Katherine seemed caught up in Tsar’s words, completely oblivious that Nightlight had been standing by her side the entire time. “He made a guardian believe in HIM.”
“Is he the one?” She breathed.
“I am not certain of anything as of yet.”
“Then how can you be sure?”
“Because it is what I choose to believe.” He said wisely and with a motion of his hand the moon beams gathered around him. “The village of Santoff Claussen will rise again.”
The Man in the Moon departed and with one last looked between Katherine and Nightlight, the forever youthful young boy, followed.
The first sunray crept through the window and washed over the children, banishing the shadows and slowly evaporating the dream sand. In proper lighting, Katherine could get a proper look at the two and when it finally hit her.
“Now I remember, Jamie Bennett” she giggled. “The boy who always wanted to hear stories about leafmen and the spirits of the forest. I miss those days.”
She smoothed back his hair and made a silent vow to herself that the boy would continue to believe under her guidance.
“Good luck and stay safe, Jamie.” Her eyes drifted towards the infant “And I’ll see you on the first day of play school, Sophie.”
The next day Jamie was awaken by his mother, who threw the covers off her two children and demanding to know how either of them could still be sleeping on a hot day such as this one. Jamie only moaned and curled underneath his pillow, even as Sophie bounced on his mattress. The book lay undisturbed by his side and later that day Jamie eagerly said the magic words that would cause the book to open and shared the tales of children of Santoff Claussen to his sister and friends, already thinking of three impossible things he’d like to do that day.
Well, that took much longer than expected?
Ok, those you you who followed my early post probably already know that I set out to write a whole bunch of oneshots for several fanon Guardian characters...However, the more observant reader will have probably noticed...Jamie was never on the list.
I'm not gonna lie, it just kinda happened. Mainly because I like Jamie and I like the concept of a kid with a flying spirit that can take him anywhere in the world and see anyone in the world. so even though I was already working on another fanfic, I decided to write this one at the last second (explaining why you are reading this on Sunday instead of saturday).
The other reason has to do with the forum page this sotry was based on. A while back I made a comment on "Potential Guardians" showing my discomfort for Jamie being elected as a Guardian since the entire point is that he is a normal boy, and because Guardianship = immortality, which any adult book you have ever read agrees. Is a bad idea.
This lead to a long debate between me and two other people and while I don't think I was in the wrong, I do admit I made a mountain out of a mole hill. There is plenty of well written stories to be had about Jamie as a Guardian and I can see the appeal, even if I don't like the implications. So, you could potential view this 19 page fanfic as just a long apology to those two people and how I took things way overboard then i probably should have.
Anyway, it is now 5am in jolly old England and even though I'm sure my sleep deprived mind butchered the last quarter of this piece, I'm too tired to care about spelling mistakes at the moment.
I may go back to Jamie some day and write a whole bunch on oneshots of him and Jack meeting the other potential Guardians, but not right now.
Next week however, we will begin the official series of fanfics, starting with the Leprechaun!