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 V. LORE GUIDE, site mechanics & rotg/goc summaries
♔ DAEMON
 Posted: Oct 15 2014, 10:27 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


site mechanics
This guide is intended for members and prospective joiners who are not familiar with the canon we're based on: the DreamWorks movie Rise of the Guardians and or William Joyce's Guardians of Childhood book series. Please note that there will be MAJOR SPOILERS for the plot, characters and themes, and that if you would like to discover those for yourself, please don't read the posts after this one! Also, just a reminder, knowledge of book canon is NOT mandatory! These guides are for your own reading interest, they are NOT MANDATORY READS.

This first section will cover the mechanics of magic, belief, how our site premise and concepts operate, and 'how things work' in our version of the universe. This is basically what you need to know. The rest is good if you want as much information as possible and don't mind spoilers.

belief & magicBelief makes things real. It is the most important concept, and is integral to how our site functions. It is closely connected with magic; it fuels and inspires it, quite literally.

If a mortal being does not believe in something, then it simply does not exist for them; they cannot see, hear or touch it. This extends to most magical beings of any sort -- Guardians, Anti-Guardians, any other immortals, and mythical creatures. It also applies to any and all magical locations: at the North Pole they won't be able to see North's city, Mount Olympus is just a mountain and not the home of the Greek gods, and they couldn't even dream of walking into Neverland. And so on.

Note that the mechanics of belief and tangibility do NOT apply to non-sentient beings (e.g. animals), anyone who is sleeping, unconscious, or anyone who is not able to understand sentient concepts -- e.g. a very young child.

The very integrity of these beings and places also relies on belief, especially for the Guardians and Anti-Guardians. The more people who believe in them, the stronger they will become; and conversely, if they lose believers, they weaken. The quality of belief has changed slightly in recent times, in that one doesn't need to specifically belief in an actual Guardian / Anti-Guardian; they simply need to be strongly devoted to the being's Centre/concept. For example: someone who is constantly full of creativity and imagination will fuel the Guardians who are connected in some way to that. And someone who is a constant proponent of abuse, or a sufferer of depression, will fuel related Anti-Guardians. These are just examples; there are an unlimited number of ways that human nature can support these supernatural beings and change the tides of their war.

Most of these magical, powerful beings are from folklore, fairytales, mythology, and stories. Their existence is linked intimately to the fact that humans, at some point in history, have assigned names and personalities to various traits of human nature and planetary nature itself. Deities, spirits, creatures, monsters, legends, moral tales -- these ideas have been ingrained into human nature for aeons. Either they always existed, or they came to life thanks to humanity's tales. Either way, there's been a massive upsurge in their activity recently, as they are now actively recruited by the Man in the Moon and the Boogeyman. Non-believers are even starting to question some of the tumultuous events that are going on; some people are more open to the supernatural than others, and it's only a matter of time before many mortals can't deny that magic is responsible for the unstable state of their world. After all, people have started acquiring or being born with magical powers that are connected to specific concepts.

concepts & centres A 'concept' is any abstract idea that can't be defined physically. It often relates to the unique facets of human nature: sentience and emotion. Think of things like 'love', 'hate', 'sadness', 'wisdom', 'time' -- things that only exist because our minds can comprehend them. We like the majority of magical beings here to be defined by one concept, and for Guardians and Anti-Guardians, they are imperative. When a Guardian or Anti represents a concept, it is called their 'Center'. It is the main quality they personify, and what they protect in children (and humanity at large). Their magic and motives are usually tied strongly to it. Immortals usually have some sort of clear concept as well. Mortals and creatures don't need to, but if they can use magic, it is strongly recommended they have a concept that is linked to it.

locations & travel Many of the fantastical canon and requested locations we have on board may seem impossible to reach. But fear not! As long as you believe, they're accessible. Most powerful immortals have their own methods of travel -- many Guardians/Antis/Immortals can fly, have magical items that can transport them, or are simply capable of teleportation. These beings are so numerous nowadays and so eager to interact with the people of the world, that you could probably find one within earshot to summon.

However, as long as you believe, you can make your way to most of these places quite easily. They're all connected underground by Bunnymund's tunnels, and if you wish hard enough, you might just find yourself a secret tunnel opening -- or just appear in the place itself. But you have to be very sure of where you're going, and there must not be a single doubt in your mind. This does not work for non-magical locations.

the guardian oath For someone to officially become a Guardian, regardless of when or how they were 'chosen', they must take the Guardian Oath. This can only be overseen by a handful of Guardians including the 'Big Four' Guardians: North, Toothiana, Bunnymund or Sandman; in addition, Caerwyn & Ninianne have recently been designated by the Man in the Moon as able to oversee this ceremony. "We will watch over the children of Earth,
Guide them safely from the ways of harm,
Keep happy their hearts, brave their souls, and rosy their cheeks.
We will guard with our lives their hopes and dreams,
For they are all that we have, all that we are,
And all that we will ever be."

(Book version)

timeline

The Golden Age: Pre-10,000 BC
The Fall of the Golden Age, Bunnymund seeking refuge on Earth: ~10,000 BC
Pitch, Nightlight, Sandy, and Mother Nature arrived on Earth, and Tsar Lunar was established on the Moon: ~9,600 BC
Events of the book series: late 1700s - early 1800s
Events of the movie Rise of the Guardians: 2012
Our current plot: 2024

(As time progresses on our site, it is optional to also have your character age; e.g. if you applied with a 20-year-old human, they can stay 20 if you prefer.)

For a compiled timeline of events that have occurred on the site, please see the Site Plot Timeline.

golden age summary Imagine a realm of planetary civilisations and floating kingdoms and fantastical spaceships, presided over by benevolent royal families called Constellations; each empire of worlds and stars served as its own literal constellation, and sometimes these groups of stars had sentience of their own, acting like giant sleeping gods. All of the universe's magnificent technology and impossible happenings were made possible with belief and magic; these ultimate forces could be witnessed in every titanic moon-craft, in the dreams of children, and in the twinkle of a wizard's eye.

However, the framework of even the most beautiful and peaceful galaxies is supported by dark matter; dream pirates, rogues and shadowy forces plagued this beautiful world, seeking to devour all its goodness, and were fended off constantly by the armies and defence forces of the Golden Age, led by the most noble and determined General Pitchiner. Star Captains like Sanderson Mansnoozie piloted shooting stars and granted wishes to the sleeping denizens of the cosmos.

Meanwhile, Nature - ever present, ever indifferent - is and always was at play, and so are her creatures: spirits both light and dark, fantastical creatures that vary from Constellation to Constellation. The most ancient of these were the Pookas, time-travelling creators and custodians of planets (but all became extinct except for Bunnymund). Every other fantastical creature imaginable could be found somewhere and had its role to play. Thus it is now, in the current day and age, except the playground is Earth.

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♔ DAEMON
 Posted: Oct 22 2014, 09:55 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


movie summary: rotg
This story began three hundred years ago, on a lake next to a sleepy village called Burgess. A young boy with hair of snow white and eyes of icy blue broke through the lake's frozen surface one winter's night. He didn't know where he was or how he had gotten there, but the moon had told him one thing -- his name was Jack Frost. Delighted to discover that he held power over the ice and snow, Jack experimented with his newfound abilities before venturing into Burgess, wherein he came to a terrible revelation -- that no one could hear him or see him, because they did not believe in him.

Fast forward three hundred years to the North Pole, where Nicholas St. North could be found busily fiddling with ideas for new toys in his workshop. The man best known as Santa Claus was interrupted from his work by the sudden entrance of a Yeti, one of the many creatures that helped build the toys for every Christmas. North's attention was then brought to a horrifying discovery -- Pitch Black, the Boogeyman and long-time enemy of the Guardians of Childhood, had returned from his state of dormancy to spread fear throughout the world.

North sent out an alert to the other Guardians, who were quick to answer the call. The Tooth Fairy (Tooth), Easter Bunny (Bunnymund), and Sandman (Sandy) arrived at the North Pole and were brought up to speed with the precarious situation the Guardians now found themselves in. As they bickered, they suddenly received contact from the Man in the Moon -- he had chosen a new Guardian to help them defeat Pitch Black. Much to everyone's surprise -- and in Bunny's case, chagrin -- Jack Frost had been selected for induction.

Not much had changed for Jack in the past three hundred years. The Man in the Moon had not spoken to him once since the night he had been drawn out of the lake, and it was something that gave the winter spirit more than a fair deal of frustration. He still remembered nothing about his past, but made the best of it by spreading around his winter magic, both for his own amusement and for the children of the world to enjoy. He traveled back to Burgess, where he instigated a snow fight with a group of kids and led one of them on a wild sleigh ride through the town. It was all great fun, but it ended on a rather unfortunate note when Jamie Bennett, the boy he had guided around town on the sled, had a collision with a runaway sofa and lost one of his baby teeth. The kids decided to pack it in for the day, and Jack was reminded of his painful reality when he tried to get them to play just a little longer -- that he was still invisible to mortal eyes.

While strolling through Burgess that evening, Jack Frost was approached by Bunnymund. The oversized rabbit still held a grudge against Jack for a blizzard the wily spirit had created during the Easter holiday of '68, but his appearance had nothing to do with revenge. Before Jack could even blink, he was ambushed by a pair of Yetis, shoved into a sack, and tossed through a magic portal that led straight to the North Pole. A welcoming North awaited Jack on the other side, along with Tooth, Sandy, and a reluctant Bunnymund. North then announced that Jack had been chosen as the newest Guardian by the Man in the Moon -- and offer that Jack was quick to refuse.

After some bewildered attempts at persuasion and a verbal spat between Bunny and Jack, North took the winter spirit to his workshop for a quick chat. The grizzled Russian man explained that everyone had their own center, and revealed his to be Wonder. Before Jack could begin to contemplate what his was, Bunnymund interrupted and announced that there was trouble at the Tooth Palace. Tooth had already flown back home to investigate, and the rest were quick to follow in North's sleigh.

They arrived to discover hordes of Nightmares -- shadowy, horse-like figures fashioned out of the same sand that Sandy used to procure his dreams -- ransacking the palace. They had abducted all of the mini fairies Tooth used to collect children's teeth, save for one Baby Tooth that Jack managed to rescue, as well as the Tooth Fairy's entire stash of baby teeth. The group reunited with a panicky Tooth, where it was then revealed that Pitch Black was the one behind the attack. One by one, he planned to destroy children's belief in the Guardians in revenge for his own disbelieved-in state -- Tooth was merely the first victim.

After a brief battle, the Boogeyman fled and the Guardians struggled to recuperate. Without her fairies to collect the teeth and without her current stash to help keep children's happiest memories alive, Tooth was already beginning to lose strength -- a tragic consequence of not being believed in as a Guardian. Not willing to give in to Pitch so soon, North declared that they would collect the teeth instead. Jack, having just learned that his lost memories were now in the collection of teeth possessed by Pitch, agreed to help.

Thus, the Guardians set out on their mission to collect teeth from around the world. They worked speedily (and competitively), eventually making their way to Burgess. The group reconvened in the room of a sleeping Jamie Bennett; unfortunately, North was just a little too loud and managed to wake the boy up. Jamie was ecstatic to find all of his favorite childhood figures in his room, of course -- with the exception of Jack Frost, whom he still couldn't see. It was then that Jamie's greyhound, Abby, woke up as well and set her sight on Bunnymund. Chaos erupted inside the room as the Easter Bunny suddenly found himself being chased around by a domesticated dog. Sandman, in his attempts to help, threw his Dreamsand around and sent everyone to sleep with the exception of himself and Jack.

Just then, the pair noticed a Nightmare flicker by Jamie's window. Jack and Sandy hurried to investigate, and quickly wandered straight into a trap. Pitch had learned of the Guardian's attempts to collect the teeth and maintain the children's belief in them, and had come to put a stop to it. A battle erupted and, though the other Guardians eventually awoke from their Sandman-induced slumber, they were still half-asleep and their minds weren't entirely in the fight. Perhaps that was how Pitch was able to isolate Sandy from the others and, with a sand arrow black as obsidian, delivered a fatal blow to the Guardian of Dreams.

With Sandman gone, the tide of the battle had turned. The Guardians were only able to escape because of Jack, who summoned an extraordinary wave of ice that stunned Pitch long enough for the group to flee. North, Bunnymund, Tooth, and Jack mourned the loss of their friend -- however, they could not afford to lose hope just yet. Easter Sunday was almost upon them; if they worked hard, they could use the holiday to bolster the children's belief in the Guardians. They could still win.

Bunnymund transported them to his warren, where they encountered a small hiccup in the form of Jamie's younger sister, Sophie. She had somehow managed to stumble her way into the Warren with one of North's magic snow globes, and Jack used her presence as an opportunity for the Guardians to reconnect with the children they so fiercely protected. Bunnymund was quick to develop an attachment to her, and from then on the group worked tirelessly to prepare Bunny's plethora of eggs for Easter.

Their two-year-old charge grew sleepy from all the activity and excitement, and Jack insisted on being the one on taking her back home. So with Baby Tooth accompanying him, he flew little Sophie back to Burgess and awkwardly deposited her in her room, and was about to return to the Guardians when he heard an oddly familiar voice calling to him from faraway. Unable to resist its lure, he soared over pre-dawn Burgess with a reluctant Baby Tooth following him, being drawn to a secluded spot in the woods where a mouldering bedframe lay over a deep pit in the earth. Jack broke through the bedframe and dropped into the dark tunnel. The passage opened up into a massive, rickety cavern: Pitch's lair.

Moving deeper in, Jack discovered many large lead cages hanging from the ceiling, in which all of Tooth's fairies were imprisoned. Before he could open their doors to let them out, the voice called out to him again, and his attention was drawn to thousands of golden tooth boxes laying in glittering hills. He began to hunt through them desperately, but was distracted by Pitch, who began to manipulate him. Jack attacked instinctively and tried following the Boogeyman, who openly tempted him with his actual tooth box before fading away again, consuming Jack's time and attention and twisting his mind with taunts of his deepest fears. By the time Pitch's work was done, he tossed Jack his teeth and drew him through the darkness into one of Bunnymund's tunnels, where Jack beheld the tragedy of countless shattered Easter eggs -- and he'd left behind Baby Tooth as well.

Easter was an utter failure across the globe; Pitch's Nightmares had attacked while Jack, the best defense against them, had been lured away. Jack caught up with the Guardians in England, where Bunnymund had just experienced the heartbreaking lack of belief first-hand. They confronted him, thinking he'd betrayed them and bartered Baby Tooth for his baby teeth. Never having felt so wretched and deplorable, Jack retreated to Antarctica, where he tried to bring himself to throw the golden toothbox into the icy seas, for it had cost him everything. Before he could, Pitch appeared within earshot, reaffirming what he had told Jack before -- that the Guardians had never really believed in him.

Jack lashed out at him, and the two argued and clashed wildly, now equals in strength and speed. Pitch tried to implore Jack and get him to empathise with the fact he'd also always been alone and never believed in. This gave the winter spirit pause. As the haze of their battling cleared, Pitch indicated that they were kindred spirits and could work very well together -- what went together better than cold and dark? Jack didn't consider this grandiose offer for long before his morals and kind heart prevailed; he didn't want to be feared. In fact, at the moment, he just wanted to be left alone. As he turned to leave, though, Pitch revealed Baby Tooth held tight in his fist, demanding Jack's staff in return for her. Again, Jack didn't hesitate for long before doing the right thing and handing it over. But when he held out his hand for the little fairy, Pitch snidely refused. Baby Tooth stabbed her beak into his hand, prompting him to throw her at a cliff face, and then he suddenly snapped Jack's staff in half, blasting him at the wall as well. Wounded in more ways than one, Jack tumbled into a deep crevasse after Baby Tooth and Pitch tossed down the useless staff pieces after him.

Baby Tooth was fine besides being cold and having her wings crumpled; she crawled into Jack's hoodie pocket and activated his memories, encouraging him to delve into them. And so he did, discovering he had once been a rascally young man with chestnut eyes and hair who'd had family and friends, just like he'd always dreamed. His fate had been decided one crisp day when he and his sister had ventured outside to go skating on the lake outside their house. The ice was too thin, though, and started to crack beneath them. Jack's sister had been scared, but he had gotten her to believe and trust in him by 'having a little fun', and tossed her onto stronger ice, which gave way beneath him. He'd drowned in the lake and been transformed by the Man in the Moon.

Jack returned to reality, shocked and bolstered by this revelation. Accepting that he truly was a Guardian, he repaired his staff and flew off, returning to Pitch's lair so that he could free the tooth fairies. He opened up the cages only to discover that none of them could fly out. Meanwhile, Pitch was at the North Pole, gloating at length to the onlooking yetis and watching all the lights on the Globe of Belief snuff out. Both he and Jack, who was observing on Pitch's model of the globe, watched as one single light remained glowing. Jack knew straightaway it could only be Jamie Bennett, and made a beeline for Burgess.

While his friends had lost their belief and hope in the Easter Bunny, Jamie had insisted he was real. But even the boy had his doubts come night-time, where he forlornly begged the idol of his stuffed rabbit for a sign that the Easter Bunny was real. Jack peered in through the window at this moment and took action, entering the room and frosting over the windows. As Jamie noticed and watched, Jack drew a decorated egg and rabbit in the panes, bringing the rabbit to life and restoring Jamie's belief. As the rabbit finished bounding around the room, it exploded into snowflakes; Jamie was perturbed until a snowflake nipped at his nose, prompting him to make the connection with Jack Frost and earning the ecstatic winter spirit his first ever believer.

The rest of the Guardians arrived in front of the Bennett residence by way of North's sleigh. They were in bad shape: North was now feeble and powerless, Tooth couldn't fly, and Bunny was, to his great chagrin, now a little bunny rabbit. Pitch made his appearance not long after, intending to extinguish the very last light and put an end to the Guardians once and for all. Jack arose to face off against Pitch again, but this time Pitch was stronger than him, knocking him out of the sky and backing him and the rest of his friends into a dark alley corner. Hiding behind Jack, Jamie said he was scared, reminding Jack exactly of how his sister had been scared on the frozen lake. And so Jack finally realised his Centre: he was the Guardian of Fun, and could use this to triumph over fear. The next thing Pitch knew, he'd been hit full in the face with a snowball, and his victims had slipped past him on an ice slide, intending to find themselves a few more children to help: Jamie's friends.

They all came to a stop in the town square, ready for a final showdown, sheer tidal waves of nightmares coming at them from all sides. Pitch mocked them: if they were guarding the children, then who would guard the Guardians? Jamie bravely stepped forward, which encouraged the rest of his friends to step forward as well. As the attack converged on them, spelling their doom, one touch from Jamie's fearlessness turned the nightmares into luminous golden dreams. This immediately returned some strength to the Guardians; Tooth could fly, North regained his sprightliness and strength, and Bunnymund soon returned to his full size. With the assistance of yetis, elves and toys from the North Pole, warrior eggs from the Warren, and of course the children, they were strong enough to fight and start taking down Pitch's numerous nightmares.

Jamie, with Dreamsand flowing over his hands, realised something that had to be done. The Guardians cornered Pitch in an alley, where he took to the shadows and crept up on Jack with his scythe of shadows, bringing it down for the killing blow. It would have met its mark had it not been stopped short by a thin golden whip trapping Pitch's wrist and yanking him towards a source of swirling golden sand and light that was as bright as a sun. From this vortex emerged Sandman, brought back to life by the deepest and most powerful magic of all -- concentrated belief. Sandy made short work of Pitch Black, thrashing him before knocking him sound asleep, and the Guardians clustered around Sandy, overjoyed.

Sandy wasted no time in rising to the air and returning much-missed sweet dreams to the world, further restoring belief in the Guardians. Creatures constructed of Dreamsand roamed freely across the snowy town landscape, and everything devolved into a fun snowball fight. Pitch Black came to, indignant, only for Jamie to run through him, no longer believing in the powers of fear. Realising he had been truly defeated, Pitch scrambled away on foot, making it halfway to the nearest entrance to his lair before being stopped by North and the rest on the frozen lake. Tooth punched out one of his teeth in repayment for what he'd done to her fairies. Some remaining Nightmares approached the edges of the lake, with the Guardians quickly pointing out that their target this time was Pitch. They fell upon him, dragging him back into his shadowy cavern and sealing it up.

Dawn had arrived and the Moon's face smiled down at them. Jack finally took the Guardian Oath, and with that wrapped up, it was time for them to leave. They farewelled the children, Jack sharing a private conversation with Jamie -- reassuring him that the Guardians would always be a part of him, even if they couldn't always be around. With that, North's sleigh took off into the morning sky, and Rise of the Guardians drew to a close with a tribute to William Joyce's departed daughter, Mary Katherine.
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♔ DAEMON
 Posted: Oct 22 2014, 09:57 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


guardians of childhood: book 1
NICHOLAS ST. NORTH AND THE BATTLE OF THE NIGHTMARE KING


The adventures of the books began with the scene of a moonbeam (these are sentient, and patrol the Earth for the Tsar Lunar, the Man in the Moon), which accidentally discovered the form of the Nightmare King/Boogeyman, Pitch Black, deep in a cave. Pitch had been frozen there for over ten thousand years, trapped by a diamond dagger wielded by the spirit of light, Nightlight. Nightlight himself was sucked into the Boogeyman's black heart, but when the moonbeam flitted into the dagger and gave Nightlight strength, he was able to spring free. Unfettered, Pitch was free as well, his intent to turn all the innocent dreams of children into nightmares. That night, when a single moonbeam out of thousands did not return, Tsar Lunar realised what it meant, and felt an ancient dread...

Meanwhile, there thrived a fantastical village called Santoff Claussen in Siberia. It was created by an ancient wizard called Ombric Shalazar, the last survivor of the lost city of Atlantis. It was intended as a perfect place for learning, a safe haven for all of the dreamers and innocent souls in the world, and is guarded from ill-doers by a huge Bear, majestic oaks with roots who stop intruders, and a being he summoned called the Spirit of the Forest. In Santoff Claussen, Ombric teaches all the children the most powerful magic known in the universe: the power of belief, and making anything one thinks of - no matter how impossible or fantastical - come true.

Most nights, the children of Santoff Claussen had a mission to avoid bedtime at all costs, implementing all sorts of different trickery to do so. One particular night, they ventured into the enchanted woods, not knowing that Ombric had heard that there was something strange afoot. They were beset by Fearlings, the shadowy beings that were Pitch's minions, and though they and the plants and creatures of the forest fought hard, it was not enough. They were rescued by the appearance of a glowing, spectral boy with a staff -- Nightlight. Then Ombric and the children's parents came to fetch them, and all the villagers settled down in Big Root, the beautiful gnarled tree at the centre of the village that also doubled as Ombric's home, and he told them the tale of the Golden Age...

There has never been a time as magnificent as the Golden Age. It was lived in outer space. Travel between planets and stars was common, made easy by magical airships that filled the galaxies. Groups of stars and planets called Constellations were ruled by noble families. The greatest of these families, the Lunanoffs, pledged to rid their universe of all evil -- the outlaws, Fearlings, Nightmare Men, Dream Pirates, and other dark beings. They succeeded; at the helm of the Golden Armies was a man called Kozmotis Pitchiner, who worked tirelessly to herd them into the leaden prisons at the edge of the universe. And it was he who, once they were all locked away, volunteered to stand guard at the door.

But this is what led to the Golden Age's downfall, for one day - Kozmotis opened the door, and the dark beings consumed his body and soul, twisting him into a being of pure evil, driven by hunger, vengeance and cruelty. With his shadowy minions at his side, Pitch sailed the heavens, plundering planets, snuffing out stars and leaving nothing in his wake but terror and destruction. Most of all, he wanted to see the downfall of House Lunanoff. And for their baby child, he had the worst fate in store: to turn him into his Prince of Nightmares.

Knowing that Pitch was after them, the Lunanoffs hid in their swift vessel, the Moon Clipper, and hid in Planet Earth's orbit, disguised as a Moon. But Pitch spotted them just in time, and what ensued was the last and greatest battle of the Golden Age. Just as the Moon Clipper and the baby Lunanoff's parents were overwhelmed, the battle abruptly ended in a massive explosion like none had ever seen. And that was the last anyone knew of any of them. All that was left was the pockmarked, cratered, battered craft, orbiting around Earth: by all appearances, a lifeless rock. But the Prince had survived, sequestered deep within the vessel. Served by any surviving Moon Bots, he grew up within the Moon, learning to use all the fantastic technology that was left inside it. With it, he observed the Earthlings fondly and, in time, would send dreams to them, inspiring humanity's civilisation and society to flourish like never before. And he always kept watch... watching for Pitch's inevitable return.

Now that Pitch had finally returned, help was to be gained from a most unlikely source. There was a ruffian named Nicholas St. North, renowned across Russia for his brilliant swordsmanship despite his youth. He'd had no true family, being raised by Cossack ruffians, but he eventually left the Cossack clan to make a name for himself as a bandit. And what a name he made! He and his ragtag band managed to plunder half the continent's wealth, though they always seemed to gamble it away just as quickly as they'd gotten it. That night, the Man in the Moon sent a dream to Nicholas St. North, one which inspired him to immediately take off into the middle of the night on his horse Petrov, leaving his band to bemusedly follow. They rode all night through the densest forests and darkest gorges, their path lit by the Moon and eventually taking them to magically ride across the clouds, all the way to Santoff Claussen.

The village's defenses willingly surrendered as North charged at them. However, he was unprepared for being faced with the Spirit of the Forest, who tempted him with her shimmering radiance and a handful of gold... but he heard the screams of children from within the village, and for the first time in his life, turned away from treasure. However, his party did not -- and as they scrambled for the gold, they were all transformed into stone figures of hideous, hunched elves and trolls. In the village, North came to see the massive black bear, possessed by Pitch, being fought by Big Root itself. The bear snatched Ombric from within the tree and swallowed him whole. What followed was an epic fight between the Cossack and the bear, and at the end, both fell. The weeping children emerged, only to find the looming, magnificent figure of Pitch Black sneering over them. Fortunately for them, the first rays of morning sunlight began to appear, and Pitch could not bear it; he sank into the earth.

Children reunited with parents and began to mourn over the loss of Ombric and their wonderful bear. Fortunately, the oldest of the children, Tall William, remembered Ombric's first lesson: how all magic and spells started with belief, and belief made the impossible possible. Katherine, Ombric's ward, joined in, and so did all the other children. And before they knew it, Ombric was standing before them clear as day, and so was their bear -- except his fur had been turned pure white. In Bear's arms was the young stranger who had saved the day. Over the next few days, North drifted in and out of consciousness, and was tended to by the excited children. His mind was boggled by all the impossible things he had already done and seen, and the possibility that he wasn't as bandit-like as he always thought he had been confused and upset him. But their their kindness soothed his pain, loneliness and uncertainty; most of all, it was Katherine's constant presence, kindness and knowing that he connected with. Without hardly saying anything at all, they became the best of friends.

Before a week was up, North was out of bed and exercising, but he couldn't bear the thought of picking up a sword again. Instead, he found solace in Ombric's massive library, trying to pick up all sorts of different languages, and Ombric entrusted him with reading the books on magic. North grew very enchanted, and he himself quickly began to work on spells, conjuring and alchemy. No longer a thief of treasures, he became a buccaneer of adventure, tales and fun. He inspired the birth of 'machinery', combining mechanical contraptions with magic, and his most ambitious project yet was to create a mechanical man who answered their bidding: a robot djinni. He succeeded in this project; meanwhile, Ombric was researching how to bring together the Five Moon Relics that had fallen to Earth from the Moon Clipper. It was these, united, that would have the power to stop Pitch. Ombric and North started preparing for this journey, and both agreed that it would be too dangerous for Katherine to come with them. After checking their gear one last time, they went to bed before the big day, no-one noticing the spider-form of Pitch which delicately crawled into the robot's ear...

North left for Katherine a compass with a single letter 'N', and an arrow that always pointed towards him. They had departed at dawn, heading southeast towards the Himalayas. Their journey was to be incredibly easy; with a simple command, the djinni transformed into an elaborate flying sleigh. After a boring, inconsequential day, Katherine went to feed Ombric's owls and noticed that his library was in disarray, which was quite unusual. With a magnifying glass, she inspected dents in the pages of one particular book, realising that the fingerprints belonged to the djinni! The book happened to be titled Spells of Enslavement.

At some point, both North and Ombric noticed subtle clues that showed the djinni was possessed by a sentient being. Distracting it and ordering it to land early, both wizards attacked it at once, North with swords and Ombric with spells. But Pitch invoked the Spell of Enslavement, and the two men grew paralysed and shrunk into tiny porcelain dolls, thudding onto the snow. Within the djinni's body now, he was immune to sunlight and moonlight. While his minions had begun to spread fear and unease over the globe, he'd discovered to his displeasure that most parents and their children dismissed him as the 'Boogeyman', nothing more than a bad dream. He realised that in order to have impact, he would have to be believed in.

Ombric's owls, who were always connected to him even across great distance, managed to communicate one important fact to Katherine: danger. So she ordered them to get the village's Great Reindeer, and fetched a coat, dagger, and North's compass. With Nightlight's help, she rode the reindeer on a misty pathway of light all the way to the Himalayas, and Pitch was faced once more with the sharp diamond point of Nightlight's staff. But all they'd intended to do was distract him; in the blink of an eye, Katherine scooped up the dolls of Ombric and North and leapt back onto the magical pathway. Nighlight vanished and Katherine rode off, leaving Pitch infuriated. They hid in a mountainside cave while Pitch's forces clouded the skies, searching for them, so Nightlight darted out so they could follow him -- chase was what he was best at playing! Exhausted, Katherine nodded off to sleep, and she was gifted with a wondrous dream that held visions of a busy, snowy city in which North ruled as a figure of mystery and magic. The dream transferred to North and became a part of him.

Nightlight's diversion did not last forever, and Pitch soon found the cave where she was huddled. Fearlings restrained her and the reindeer, Pitch picked up North... and he threw him to the ground, where he shattered. With amazing strength of will, Katherine broke free from the Fearlings, quickly gathered the pieces, and used the power of belief to try to bring him back. At that moment, the peak of the mountain exploded around them, and the writhing forces of Fearlings were challenged by a new contender: Abominable Snowpeople, accompanied by Nightlight and an army of moonbeams. The next time Pitch looked back, angered more than ever, it was to see North standing there larger than life. North charged Pitch and they began an epic swordfight, taunting each other. Then North relented and challenged Pitch to strike him openly. Pitch took the chance, but when he tried, his blades stopped an inch from North's head. They could not strike him, because he was in the body of the robot djinni, and the robot djinni could not harm them. Beaten for now, he flew off still in the djinni, his Fearlings following suit.

Ombric back in his true form now, explained to them that he had astrally projected himself to the temple of the Lunar Lamas, which had been their true destination all along. The Lamas had rejected his pleas for help until Nightlight had appeared before them, at which point they had hurried into action, calling up the Yetis. After doing this, he had searched the mountaintop until he found his tiny toy body and projected himself back into it, and by the time Pitch was beaten, Ombric was able to unravel the Spell of Enslavement and acquire his proper body once more.

Now that everyone was safe, they were rushed to the Lunar Lamadary for the most important of ceremonies. The Lamadary was at the highest point in the world, and therefore the closest point on Earth to the Moon. The Lamas struck a giant gong, which reverberated beautifully, and turned milkily glassy; through it slowly resolved the kindly face of Tsar Lunar. He spoke to them, thanking them for their bravery and wisdom and asking if they would continue the fight against Pitch. As they agreed, the Grand Lama handed to them a golden, glowing sword, which Ombric handed over to Nicholas St. North. It was one of the Moon Relics, the sword of Tsar Lunar the Twelfth. Afterwards, North and Katherine felt the bliss of victory and basked in some halcyon days, but Pitch had not been defeated.

"A strange and exciting future lay ahead for both of them. The possibilities were endless. Battles would be fought. Wonders revealed. Many journeys. Many lands. Many joys. Many sorrows. But stories all..."
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 Posted: Dec 29 2014, 02:32 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


guardians of childhood: book 2
E. ASTER BUNNYMUND AND THE WARRIOR EGGS AT THE EARTH'S CORE!


As it would happen, this story started with a story. The children of Santoff Claussen had dearly missed their friends, and they received a timely delivery from North and Katherine: boxes of presents, and a magical book through through which Katherine could speak and directly depict her illustrations. She told the tale of their first battle with the Nightmare King, and later that evening, described how she rescued an egg from the Great Snow Goose nests that Pitch destroyed in his escape; and how a gosling soon hatched from the egg, was adopted by Katherine, and named Kailash after the smallest mountain of the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, North was attempting to decipher the mysteries of the Relic blade that had been entrusted to him, and Ombric was using the Lunar Lamas' time-travelling clock to peer into various moments in history. At two points, both involving Pitch, when Ombric thought of meddling and changing history, he was confronted by a most mysterious being - a seven-foot-tall, robed rabbit - who reprimanded him and sent him back to the present. In the second instance, though, Ombric brought back with him a locket in it that had been dropped by Pitch just before he had been consumed by the dark forces of the cosmos. In the locket was a picture of a little girl that must have been Pitch's daughter.

The next thing they all knew, Nightlight had gone missing -- they couldn't even sense him through the connection all Guardians have with each other. The Lamadary Tower they happened to be standing in was also an extremely fast means of transport, and they immediately ordered it to shuttle them back to Santoff Claussen, which was usually Nightlight's last stop every evening. Upon arriving and searching their home, they were horrified to discover that every last living, breathing being in the place had been turned into a china doll; Pitch had furthered his mastery of the enslavement spell. Nightlight, however, was missing, leaving his shattered diamond staff tip all around; so were all the children, Mr. Qwerty the librarian glowworm, and all of the books. The moonbeam that had previously resided in Nightlight's staff told the tale of Pitch's arrival, his evil spellcasting, and his strange demand to take all of Ombric's books. Nightlight had defended the children but was struck with his own spear, and Pitch took the children as ransom and vanished.

With the prowess of the mechanical djinni, Pitch flew over continents and oceans, settling over a volcano in the Andes Mountains that was a shortcut to his new lair thousands of miles below. When they had reached their destination, Pitch tossed his captives out of his lead cloak (Mr. Qwerty hidden under Nightlight's jacket). It was stifling hot and dark, molten lead flowed about, and the air reeked of sulphur. The children huddled protectively against each other and around Nightlight, and Pitch taunted Nightlight, saying he would turn him into his Fearling prince. He reached out to touch the spectral boy... but when he did, there was a scintillating explosion and the Nightmare King screamed in pain as his hand started to turn to human flesh. Covering his wound, he ordered Nightlight to be locked in a cage of solid lead, which slowly started to leach the remaining life from him...

Ombric quickly deduced that Pitch had taken them to the Earth's core, because Pitch had wielded a saber and worn a cloak like no other which sucked away all light -- and the only material that could do this was lead from deep within the Earth which had never seen any kind of light. Ombric had no idea how to get to the planet's core, but North's Relic sword did; he'd just previously unlocked its ability to show a map, one that pointed them towards the next relic. It was pointing towards Easter Island, the home of the Pooka -- the last one in the universe, the last custodian of planets and time. So Ombric stayed behind to attempt to undo the spells petrifying everyone, and Katherine and North climbed back into the Lamadary Tower airship and rocketed over to Easter Island. When they arrived, there seemed to be no other life around. North shouted out as the Easter Island heads turned towards them, asking to see the Pooka. And the Pooka appeared, introducing himself as E. Aster Bunnymund.

The first proper thing he did was offer them some chocolate. Katherine accepted first, and upon declaring it was the best-tasting thing she had ever had, Bunnymund stamped his staff on the ground and opened up a tunnel beneath them, and they (and somehow, their craft) tumbled in. He led them through tunnels and egg-shaped chambers, explaining how he collected all sorts of different eggs, and how the Earth had even originally been egg-shaped until he had fixed it (for its orbit's and survival's sake) and used the extra soil to create Australia and the Himalayas, amongst other features. North grew impatient and began to argue with the rabbit-man, until Bunnymund declared he simply was not interested in helping them.

North stated they could complete this mission themselves, and they wandered on through a few more chambers until they stumbled upon one that showcased hundreds of different types of eggs -- real eggs. One sat on a podium, carved with suns and moons, glowing incredibly with a magnificent quality that matched and magnetically seemed to reach for North's sword. Before he could grab it, though, he was flung away by Bunnymund, who insisted that humanity could no longer be trusted with it -- how he and the Pookas had helped create it, how it held light from the very dawn of the universe. They argued with him again, until they flustered him with all their talk, and he announced he would leave for about an hour -- but he would not take them with him. Fortuitously, seconds after, Kailash - having escaped from where she had been hiding in the Lamadary tower - waddled into the room with a honk. The egg of the Great Snow Goose was the one egg Bunnymund's collection was lacking, so he was beside himself with excitement and wonder, and agreed to take them to the Earth's core.

As Ombric undid all the enslavement spells, heard everyone's recollections and asked every single being if they had seen his library, he came to realise that the books had vanished before Pitch had appeared in the library. And he noticed on the edge of some remnant scraps of paper that there were tiny teeth marks... and deduced that in the few seconds Nightlight had won them with a blinding flash of light, Mr. Qwerty had consumed the entire library and then spun himself in a cocoon. From here, Ombric performed a huge undertaking: with the help of the villagers and animals, he reproduced his entire library from scratch, but with deliberate flaws built in. The whole thing was bogus; not a single spell would work.

The children that had been taken by Pitch spied on him in an adjoining chamber and saw that he was overseeing his legions of Fearlings pouring the molten lead into moulds and making armour and weapons for themselves. Katherine and North travelled with Bunnymund in his egg train, which was a much more luxurious ride than the Lamas' tower-craft. As they alighted and approached the Core, Katherine was unexpectedly surrounded and spirited away by Fearlings, and as North attacked them head-on, was distraught that his sword of light did not slice straight through them, but was metal on metal. And they were armed as well.

But E. Aster Bunnymund was prepared, and did something most unexpected; his army of egg warriors gasped as he ate chocolate, something he had refused himself for aeons. Before everyone's eyes, he grew even larger, morphing into an unimaginable rabbit warrior. Bunnymund uttered his Pookan war cry, and only one living being had heard that sound before: Pitch Black. Knowing he must act quickly, the Nightmare King grabbed Katherine by the scruff of the collar, rushed through the chambers, and mistakenly put her where she was needed most: in the cage with Nightlight.

Bunnymund fought like nothing anyone had ever seen before; he was a dervish, and when he attached his egg Relic to the top of his staff, it poured forth light that not even the lead of the Earth's Core could withstand. As they fought, they were still overwhelmed, and Katherine called out desperately to them, chanting the spell of belief; and as North joined in, so did Bunnymund, and they called out to Ombric for help, unknowingly performing the Pookan mind-meld. Ombric projected his fake library to the Core, and as North and a line of egg warriors approached Pitch in the largest chamber, Pitch was relatively at ease, glad that he had what he had asked for. However, before releasing the children, he tested the books, to ensure that were real. One spell failed, as did another, and his rage exploded.

Fearlings rushed egg warriors, and as Pitch attempted to engulf the children in his robe of darkness once more, North ran up and jumped off a huge stack of books to land in front of him. He cut away the lead cape swiftly, but this left him open. Pitch ran him through with his saber of darkness. It was then that miracles occurred; Nightlight's cage exploded open, blinding the foes with light. North fought bravely, refusing to go down even as his wound weakened him; Ombric joined the fray, fighting like he was younger than ever, and Bunnymund was a wild warrior. Nightlight shot at Pitch, laughing his delighted laugh, and shattered Pitch's blade with his newly-repaired spear.

Before driving it into the Boogeyman's heart, though, he hesitated; in this moment, Katherine held up something for Pitch to see. The locket of his daughter. He became overwhelmed with a flood of emotions that eventually settled on horror; snatching up the locket with his damaged hand, he gave a haunted scream and faded. The Fearling army faded with him. It was over again... for now. Bunnymund fed North magical healing chocolate that made him healthy and hearty once more.

It was Nightlight who had told Mr. Qwerty to eat Ombric's library, and after doing so, he metamorphosed into the most fantastical butterfly the world had ever seen: he was a living book, his wings made of innumerable pages. Back at Santoff Claussen, the children played out the battle, each of them taking on a different role -- even the animals participated, the Bear was Pitch, and some of Bunnymund's warriors played as themselves. Nightlight's Moonbeam friend was back in his staff-tip, which he'd recreated from the tears of the kidnapped children.

"Nightlight had always known that taking the sorrows of those you love makes you stronger in the end ... They had all done what good friends do: They had saved one another. Whatever trials or troubles might come, from now on, their bond would be unbreakable. They were of one mind and heart. And that heart would beat forever. Past time and tide and stories yet told."
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 Posted: Dec 29 2014, 02:32 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


guardians of childhood: book 3
TOOTHIANA AND THE TOOTH FAIRY ARMIES


Many months passed since the battle at the Earth's Core, and the nightmare of Pitch's reign seemed to be over. There was absolutely no sign of him. Bunnymund burrowed a series of tunnels that connected Santoff Claussen to many other outposts across the world. Kailash had nearly grown to full size. Most nights, the children would clamour for Katherine to tell them one of her stories from Mr. Qwerty's pages. And one peaceful day in the village would see North conversing with the Spirit of the Forest and bringing his petrified comrades back to life. Instead of returning to human form, however, they remained hunched and gnomelike and would always serve at North's side as his elves.

One night, Nightlight watched over Katherine as she slept. He noticed a Dream Tear on her cheek; he picked it up, and inside it, he saw Pitch haunting her dreams. The next day, when the Guardians met up in Big Root and asked each other if they'd seen any sign of Pitch... Nightlight lied, for the first time in his life, and said no. He started avoiding Katherine's gaze and company. Soon after was the eight-month anniversary of Pitch's defeat, and to finalise and celebrate it, the whole village was to visit the Lunar Lamadary by way of Bunnymund's tunnels and 'Eggomotive'.

As soon as they arrived at the Lamadary and alighted from the train, Ombric announced to the Lamas that they had come to speak to the Man in the Moon and report historic news. With uncharacteristic haste, they were all rushed to the main courtyard, and the summoning gong was struck. Tsar Lunar's face resolved before them, and Ombric asked him if Pitch had truly been defeated. The kindly Tsar said, in his voice as deep as a heartbeat, that there was not a trace of Pitch, and that the world was on the cusp of a new Golden Age -- one which his Guardians would guide. North surprised everyone by stepping forward with a plan: his dream, passed on from Katherine, of a magical city surrounded by snow. Santoff Claussen was not enough; there needed to be more centres of magic, learning and imagination.

In the aftermath, Katherine was lost in the shuffle, all the hubbub and excitement of the new idea and plans. She noticed Nightlight perching on the Lamadary's highest tower, and decided to sneak up for him; he had been avoiding her for so long, that she couldn't feel anything from him at all. She managed to get very close to him, so close that she perched on the ledge beside him, seeing that he was looking into a tear. But when he abruptly noticed her, she was startled and fell. Nightlight flew after her and caught her just as her chin nicked the ground; the force nonetheless was enough to knock out her last baby tooth. Before she could even say anything, all the Lamas surrounded her, proclaiming it the 'tooth of destiny'. They had never had a baby tooth in the Lamadary, and therefore never been visited by Queen Toothiana, the Tooth Fairy. Everyone was curious to learn more about her, so Mr. Qwerty told them the tale of how she came to be...

Toothiana's father was a man called Haroom who was a slave to an Indian maharaja, and her mother was an immortal winged woman called Rashmi, the leader of a group called the Sisters of Flight who resided in a palatial mountain city called Punjam Hy Loo hidden deep in the jungle and high up in the clouds. The maharaja was a hunter, and he liked to collect the heads of animals; the only one that had eluded him was the flying elephant, which only resided in Punjam Hy Loo. The only way to get to the palace, though, was to fly, so he constructed a craft made of children's baby teeth, which could fly because it carried the power of dreams. So, he and Haroom flew up to the palace, and as he was going to slaughter a flying elephant, the Sisters of Flight appeared. The maharaja turned his arrow on one of the Sisters instead (Rashmi), but Haroom was selfless and intercepted the arrow.

Instead of dying, he was healed by Rashmi. Haroom begged that the Sisters not harm his master, so they didn't, but he was transformed into a monkey and not seen again. After that, Rashmi and Haroom fell in love, and within a year, their baby daughter Toothiana was born. She was born completely mortal and human, and so they wanted to raise her amongst normal society, and settled at a village at the outskirts of the jungle.

When she was twelve, though - when she lost her last baby tooth, Toothiana sprouted wings and grew feathers. Her fellow children were delighted, but the adult villages saw her as a freak, a horror, or a creature to be used, so her parents packed up and fled with her deep into the jungle. Toothiana would stay hidden and only visit her parents at night. They were pursued by the villagers, who hired hunters, including a mysterious cloaked 'man' who was actually the former maharaja, now the Monkey King and cruel and evil once more. Although Haroom could cover their tracks, and Rashmi could enlist animals to help them. Eventually, the pursuers changed tactic and captured Toothiana's parents instead, with the threat that they would be killed by dawn if she did not show herself.

Toothiana attempted to rescue them, but was unable to. In the flurry of the battle, though, they begged her to go and save herself, but not before they gave her a ruby box full of her baby teeth. She fled. She didn't cry, and she hated her wings, and herself, and she was all alone, and only when she held her teeth was she able to recall the happy memories of the past. Eventually, she started collecting the teeth of the children of nearby villages, hoping she could help keep their childhood memories safe. However, she would swap the teeth for gems and jewels, and the parents grew suspicious; with the Mysterious Hunter's help, they set a trap for her and captured her. The hunter and his minions took her up to Punjam Hy Loo in a cage and announced his presence, and when the Sisters of Flight appeared and demanded who he was, he revealed himself and his minions to be monkeys.

He had drawn a bow and arrow and was about to kill her, when she squeezed her tooth box and activated her mini-fairy dissemination for the very first time. Her tiny selves helped overpower the Monkey King, though when she had a chance to kill him once and for all, she let him go, showing him mercy and letting the jungle decide his fate, as had already been done once before. In the aftermath of the battle, Toothiana told the Sisters of Flight what had happened to her parents. Immediately after, they all turned to wooden statues, the last of them telling her that when one of them died, they all did, and that she was now Queen of Punjam Hy Loo and had to tend to the elephant who had the memories of everything, especially the memories held in the magic tooth her parents had given her -- it was the tooth of Tsar Lunar, one of the five Relics!

That night, Katherine made a secret plan with Nightlight. As Katherine slept, Nightlight was to keep watch for Toothiana and take the tooth back from her once she had unlocked Katherine's memories of her parents. As the Tooth Fairy arrived, she noticed Nightlight before he could hide, and he watched as she and her six miniature helpers went to ask. He was about to swoop in to take the tooth when he held back; the Tooth Fairy realised that Katherine had no memories of her parents, and so decided to give them to her. Before she could do so, though, dozens of armed monkeys suddenly swarmed in through the window. Nightlight and Tooth fought hard against the chaotic, screeching swarm, while Katherine desperately scrambled for her dropped tooth. The largest, most humanlike monkey snatched Toothiana's precious ruby box and pouch and tossed it to his minions; recognising him as her old enemy the Monkey King, she pinned him down. All the others fled from the window, stampeding on a road of darkness. They had kidnapped Katherine.

She was bundled in a putrid cloak and tossed between them as they raced across the sky, and they eventually descended through trees and dropped her down into a humid jungle that had overgrown a fallen city. Recognising an old decoration that depicted a flying elephant, she realised she must be in Punjam Hy Loo. Pitch's shadow then fell over her, and he greeted her as his Darkling Daughter. Pitch claimed that the Guardians would soon be done for and that the new Golden Age would be his Age of Nightmares. Katherine tried to compliment him and trick him into revealing his plan, but at the wrong moment, her tooth still clutched tight in her hand glowed extremely bright. A monkey soldier snatched it away and handed it to Pitch, who read all her memories; by the time he was done, the tooth was black and rotted and crumbled into dust. Then he took her compass from North and corrupted its magic so it wouldn't work. He taunted that everyone from her parents to the Guardians had abandoned her, and that her only place was by his side. She grew overwhelmed with despair.

Guardians, yetis and Lamas burst into the bedroom, and North demanded of Toothiana and the Monkey King where Katherine had been taken. Toothiana dangled the ape-man upside down and North held him at sword-point, but Bunnymund decided to take over. He congratulated the creature on being so clever, and gave him a banana-flavoured chocolate. After eating it, the monkey claimed to be too clever to fall for their tricks, then demanded more! They continued to question him, until he eventually revealed what had happened to Katherine: that the Nightmare King would make him human again, build up his army, and make Katherine his. Toothiana furiously confronted him and asked him how the jungle had spared him, and was about to deal a killing blow when North stopped her, in case they needed him for saving their friend. She was going to take off by herself when she was stopped by the fact one of her wings was injured and useless.

Nightlight sensed a presence watching them that he'd encountered before; a powerful woman who would sometimes take shape in clouds, or flurries of leaves or snowflakes. He headed to the Snow Geese nests, where Kailash was with her brethren, and discovered the children of Santoff Claussen preparing to take off to rescue Katherine. He gathered the geese and children and brought them to the Queen, where the geese repaired her wing. They were ready to depart. They all took Bunny's tunnels, except for Nightlight and Queen Toothiana, who flew ahead -- and both sensed that watching presence again, unsure of what interest she had in the battle to come. And for the first time, all of the Guardians - Toothiana included - felt a shared reckoning, that they no longer wanted to simply defeat, imprison or exile Pitch; they wanted him dead.

Toothiana led the way to the clearing where Katherine was being kept. The light of their relics was enough for them to see by in the dark and stormy conditions. The enemy monkey lines parted and let them pass, and once they were in the clearing - where Katherine was bound to a post, Pitch standing beside her - the Boogeyman roared a command and the surrounding primates attacked with primeval fury. The villagers, yetis and elves joined the fight, and yet for every monkey felled, three seemed to take its place. The torrid heat was unbearable, and unpredictable gales of wind turned the tide in either direction. Eventually, it became too much; the Guardians and their allies faltered, but before the monkeys moved in for the kill, Pitch demanded Toothiana bring out the flying elephant, or else he would blacken Katherine's soul forever. Toothiana asked her Sisters for forgiveness and summoned the elephant.

The flying beast exploded from its temple and knocked Pitch away from Katherine. The trap was sprung! Toothiana cut Katherine free, the six mini-fairies sneaked the Tooth Relic away from Pitch, and everyone stopped play-acting, suddenly fighting as feverishly as ever. For only the second time in her life, Toothiana clutched her ruby box to her chest and called on her parents and her memories; hundreds, thousands of tiny fairies flooded from her like waves of light, tearing through the monkey army. Pitch struggled under the weight of the elephant and Nightlight prepared to strike a finishing blow through Pitch's heart. But Katherine saw fear in Pitch's eyes and did something that was not in the plan: she stood in the way. She saw that his entire right arm had turned to human flesh, and his locket had fused with his fingers. She had pity on him, even though he was the worst villain; he had been a hero and father once.

The wind picked up again, so fierce it ripped leaves off branches and bent trunks in half. A tall, cloaked woman descended from the swirling clouds, accompanied by hail and lightning bolts. Her face was long and lovely, older than it had once been depicted in the locket. The cloud mass engulfed Pitch and Katherine, and as quickly as it had appeared.... it vanished. After they'd regained their wits, Ombric identified her as Mother Nature. The only feeling that resonated within them still was the pity Katherine had felt for Pitch. They realised that in wanting to kill him, they had become worse than him; only Katherine had remembered.

"So they stood on the peak of Punjam Hy Loo, weary but alive and certain of one thing: Katherine's strength had been greater than theirs. And they hoped and believed that this strength would keep her safe past the dawn of this new day."
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 Posted: Dec 29 2014, 02:34 AM
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23 • daemon • everything • australia


guardians of childhood: book 4
THE SANDMAN AND THE WAR OF DREAMS


Floating around on our oceans, its location ever-changing, was a little star-shaped island that had once been a shooting star piloted by Sanderson Mansnoozie. For thousands of years, a stout little man had slept at its centre, gaining power over the world of dreams. The Man in the Moon finally needed him; he was awoken with a single message, and then filled in onwhat he had missed while he had been asleep. His mission now was to aid the Guardians, rescue Katherine, and stop Pitch forever.

Katherine was being held in Mother Nature’s domain, where the air was thick with mist and fog, the ground was a fluctuating mix of water and solid earth, and trees of all sizes clustered closely. Unable to break free, she listened in on Mother Nature and Pitch conversing; the woman confronted her father about forgetting her and failing her. As the temperature dropped in accordance with her mood and it started to snow wildly, she promised him only indifference, and that in exchange for this neutrality, that he was forbidden to make Katherine his Darkling Princess. Pitch made his promise… but those were the last words Katherine was to hear for a long time.

The forlorn party of Guardians and their allies made their way back to Santoff Claussen. They discovered that Mr. Qwerty’s pages were blank now that Katherine could not fill them. As soon as they settled in, the Guardians began scouring the library for any information that could help them. In one of Bunnymund’s volumes, Ombric discovered a recorded event, where a meteor or shooting star had crashed in the Pacific Ocean near the end of the Golden Age, and that after that event, Earth’s weather had become dramatically more tempestuous.

Higher up in Big Root, in Katherine’s tree house, the village children were nestled with Kailash and trying to cheer themselves up by reading one of Katherine’s stories out of Mr. Qwerty. But they could only cry, which made Mr. Qwerty cry as well – and as he did so, amongst his tears were shed the letters and words of Katherine’s handwriting. Nightlight arrived and quickly scooped them up so they would not be lost. Before he could think of how to comfort them, he spotted something in the sky: a lustrous, golden, radiant cloud flying towards them.

With its arrival, all the inhabitants of the village felt an otherworldly glow to the air, like gravity was lessening, a soothing sound like sand streaming through hourglasses, and graceful twists of golden sand pushed them into the air and out the window. As they all drifted around the top of Big Root, they could see that just above the children and Kailash floated the Sandman; kneeling below him was Nightlight. They all felt incredibly calm, a sleepy sort of peace, and they were all lulled into a shared, vivid dream. Although the Golden Age was gone, the dream of it lived still, and his telling of it would make that so.

Sanderson Mansnoozie had once been a pilot of the League of Star Captains, a cheerful brotherhood who would guide the rare, precious stars which would not stay still. They would listen to wishes as they passed planets, and if a wish was worthy, were honour-bound to answer it by granting that person a dream. If the dream was powerful enough, its story would inspire them and guide them in their quest to making their wish a reality. As it turns out, the tragedy of Pitch and his lost daughter became the centre of Sanderson’s journey…

Kozmotis Pitchiner – known as Lord Pitch to his sailors and soldiers – was one of the heroes of the cosmos, hunting countless legions of Dream Pirates to preserve the peace of the realm. He fought honourably against them, would take them prisoner instead of killing them, and would treat them well. Their kind had made many failed attempts to assassinate him, but they eventually realised that if they couldn’t destroy him in body, they’d take advantage of his humanity and goodness and destroy him in spirit. So they sought out what mattered most to the man: his family.

Lord and Lady Pitchiner and their wild, joyful six-year-old, Emily Jane, had their palace home on a moon deep in the Constellation Orion. Like her father, Emily Jane loved to sail, and would frequently disobey her mother, taking her little schooner out on secret adventures. One of these happened to save her life. One day, Dream Pirates were reported off the tip of Orion’s sword, and Kozmotis prepared to take off and deal with the threat. Right before he left, his daughter gave him a silver locket with her picture in it. He put it around his neck and said he would be back soon. “Promise?” she said. “On my soul,” he replied.

After bedtime that night, Emily Jane slipped out of her bedroom window and into her schooner docked nearby. She soon joined a school of Star Fish, one of her favourite astral creatures to play with. Dream Pirates who had infiltrated the villa failed to notice her sneaking out, and were so dream-thirsty and crazed that they simply assumed she must be inside. So they smashed their way inside. Awoken, Lady Pitchiner ran into her daughter’s bedroom, thankful for once that her little girl had gone out on her ship. As the pirates broken down the bedroom door, she grabbed up a large doll, holding it close and hoping it would be mistaken for Emily Jane, and as they poured in, she ran straight for the window and crashed through it, falling for more than a mile to her death. From afar, Emily Jane heard the sounds of the destruction, and when she looked back, saw the explosions – and then saw her mother’s figure falling out of her window. She let the Star Fish take her wherever they would go, away from her doomed home and her sorrow.

She eventually found a safe refuge, what was to become her new home. It was the Constellation Typhan, who had once been a powerful ally of the Golden Age but had dimmed into obscurity after the Dream Pirates had blinded him by extinguishing the stars that were his eyes. They did not notice each other until Emily Jane passed by him, crying out in despair for her father, and Typhan spoke to her. She recognised him from her learnings, and told him who she was and what had happened. So he guided her onto one of his moons, where she fell asleep, hopeful her father would find her.

As soon as Lord Pitch heard the news of the attack on his family’s home, he knew he must have been duped, so he flew right back, catching them just as they were escaping. Counting on his compassion, they surrendered instantly. As he questioned them, he was on the brink of madness… and he was tipped over the edge when they told him his wife and child were dead, beheading every single pirate there and then.

Typhan had once been a god of storms, and in time, he taught Emily Jane his magic, anointing her his daughter. She was now a sister of the heavens, and wind, starlight, gravity and all the forces of nature were hers to command. She and her Star Fish didn’t venture far from their refuge; she decided it was better to stay in one place rather than move around, so that she could be found easier. Occasionally the ruins of ships drifted past the Constellation, and she foraged supplies and items from them, clothes and telescopes and books and treasure.

She would constantly scan the skies for her father’s ship, but as the years drifted by, her heart grew hard and bitter. On her sixteenth birthday, she decided he had forgotten her. That same day, a Golden Age ship happened to fly past, but when she realised it was not her father’s, she grew mad with rage, losing all reason and attempting to attack it. Typhan opposed her, and when she did not relent, he disowned her and cast her moon away from him. It flew so fast that it burned hotly and transformed into a shooting star; Emily Jane fled to its core and was encased there, doomed to live within it and never escape until it crashed – if it ever did.

The Star Captains soon became aware of this new star, and Sanderson Mansnoozie decided to pursue it for its speed. It had outrun all the other Star Captains, though they noticed it had an affinity for Star Fish and would sometimes slow down for them. One day, Sanderson was riding near a school of them, feeding them their favourite star spice, until they completely surrounded him. In time the shooting star passed by, and once it was flying abreast with him, he lassoed it. It moved with incredible speed and fury, the toughest star he’d ever brought to heel, but after fourteen days it finally allowed him to steer it. At first it would not trust him, but eventually it did.

Sailing together, they would fight Dream Pirates head-on and Sanderson would answer wishes. For a year they travelled in peace, and then eventually they heard the news that Lord Pitch had successfully imprisoned all the Dream Pirates. Upon hearing this, his shooting star flew into an uncontrollable rage, trying to crash into any heavenly body in its path. As it soared towards a small planet, wishes of terror roses from it, begging the star not to kill them. Sanderson urged it to stop, and so it did, weeping. She finally told him her name and her sorrowful tale.

If a star ever stopped moving, after a short period of time it would be stuck stationary forever. Sanderson knew this would be the safer option, but it wouldn’t be fair on the young woman, so he quickly told her her options. With mere seconds left, she went with the option of flying with Sanderson and perhaps finding her father. They slowly worked their way to the centre of the Golden Age, inquiring about Pitchiner’s whereabouts wherever they could, but getting nothing. In listening to wishes, Emily Jane came to understand what people yearned for.

But there was an unforeseen danger. All the time Emily Jane had been trapped inside her star, she had constantly been dreaming about her father rescuing her. The Dream Pirates in their prison could detect any dream in the universe, and they had heard it. At first they were puzzled, as they thought she was dead and gone, but every night they heard it again and again, realising the truth and hatching a terrible plan. They listened to the dream each night until they had memorised the sound of Emily Jane’s voice. Lord Pitch was their one and only jailer, day in and day out, and one night, they huddled up against the door and whispered to him in her voice, begging him to open the door because she was trapped inside and scared.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he opened the door and sealed his doom. All the pirates and dark beings that had been sealed inside flooded out and surrounded him. At first he fought back, but he quickly gave up, his heart cold and dead and empty. And so they consumed the soul of Kozmotis Pitchiner, possessing him completely and making him their supreme leader. The Second War of Dreams began thus. Pitch’s thirst for dreams was ten times greater than his minions’ had once been, and he was drawn towards Emily Jane’s repetitive, powerful dream like a moth to a light.

Their shooting star was openly attacked by Pitch’s massive, fearful galleon. Emily Jane fought and dodged skilfully, and they shaved so close to the ship that they could see her father standing at the helm. Pitch called to Sanderson, asking why he was taunting him with dreams of his dead daughter. Emily Jane instinctively realised that if he saw her, if they lingered any longer, they would both be destroyed. So they took off, but the pirate galleon was quick as well, harpooning their star with weapons and winching it in. But Emily Jane flew her flaming vessel with such might that it broke free, spinning and spiralling at impossible speeds, heading for a blue-and-green planet – Earth. Barely conscious, Sanderson did what he could to direct it to fall towards oceans, so as not to harm any living child. As they plummeted, he heard one wish clearly above all the others: “I wish you well”. It was the Man in the Moon’s voice, the last voice he heard before hearing it once again in this newer time.

Santoff Claussen’s residents awoke in their beds and sleeping gear feeling well-rested. The Sandman was nowhere to be seen. The dream-story had been fully transcribed in Mr. Qwerty’s pages, and on the last one, Nightlight saw a tiny drawing of Sandman made of dreamsand. He brought the magical grains to his forehead, and they told him many, many things. Most importantly, that Sandman had gone to help Katherine and that none of them should follow. The Guardians were subsequently in a frenzy, trying to deduce what was happening and arguing and generally achieving nothing. For the first time, Nightlight had the wisdom and knowing of an adult; he herded them together and used Sandman’s sand on them, reminding them of the dream Katherine had once imparted to North, of his wondrous city in the snow – and that fulfilling this dream was imperative to destroying Pitch and saving her.

Enthused, they all quickly sprang into action once awakening. Toothiana summoned her flying elephant and Bunnymund summoned his warrior eggs. Ombric commanded the Guardians to bring together their power by connecting their Moon Relics. Bunnymund’s egg staff, Toothiana’s ruby box, North’s crescent sword. It wasn’t enough – they only had three of the five relics – so they implored Nightlight to join his diamond-tipped staff in the mix. Already knowing it wouldn’t work, he added it in anyway, and then he also added in a few of the grains of Sandman’s sand. They were the fourth relic: dreams from the Golden Age. And that moment was when Katherine’s dream for North started to transform from merely a dream to something real. A titanic amount of energy was released, its intent to instantaneously transport many of Santoff Claussen’s resources to the North Pole: the Guardians themselves, trees, books, reindeer, North’s elves, the robot djinni, and even some resources from the Lunar Lamadary like the yetis, the time-travelling clock, and their flying tower. Everything arrived and landed precisely at its final destination as had originally been designed in North’s imagination. Even Big Root had divided itself in two, and the clone grew and spread to form rooms, stairs and furniture. The Yetis, Bear, and djinni put their strength to use in cutting up and moving wood and ice that would make up the rest of the city's architecture. Tooth and her fairies carved ornate windows and doors. And Bunnymund was digging out massive ice blocks and burrowing out tunnels that would connect the city's various buildings with each other and the rest of the world. Ombric and North focused on the Lamadary tower that would form the centrepiece: it would become a beacon to the world that could generate northern lights and other messages across the skies. It would even be able to fly to the Moon itself.

Sanderson had been working extremely hard, scouring all of Earth for some hint of Katherine by listening for her dreams. He had no success, even though the dreams of Guardians were distinct from other beings’, in that they were incredibly vivid and could also be shared with each other. He also knew about the dream North and his friends had received from Katherine, but had not actually felt it; he wondered if and how she could have sent it if he could not even sense her. In fact, he had to ask himself the saddest question of all: was she even alive? Facing this possibility made him weep, his Dreamsand cloud drizzling pure sorrow. But this made Emily Jane Pitchiner appear, claiming she could stand anyone’s tears but his. And she decided to take him to Katherine.

They arrived outside a small cave in northeastern America, which happened to be the exact place Pitch and Nightlight had been imprisoned by each other for millennia. There she left him, telling him to be careful, because her father was savage through and through and beyond saving. He went onwards, taking out a sentry Nightmare Man and using it to cloak himself so that his bright glow wouldn't be seen. This way, he slipped past many other Nightmare Men, leaving just enough Dreamsand to knock them out. Through the tunnel and to the very bottom of the cave, he found its only source of light: Katherine, lying asleep on a black marble slab shaped like a coffin, surrounded by a glow that consisted of many tiny Nightmare Men surrounding her -- she helplessly breathed them in, doomed to endless nightmares. Sandy tried to reach through it but was deflected, his hand blistering.

Nightlight appeared behind him; he had been following the Sandman discreetly. Neither spoke, and Nightlight leapt forward to slash at the base of the black coffin with his diamond staff; it parted like a knife through butter. The moonbeam in the staff-tip flashed in warning and Sandman turned to it, hearing his thoughts. In mere moments he'd drifted off, dreaming the moonbeam's memories -- hearing Nightlight's full story. The moonbeam said that being trapped in the dark cold of Pitch's heart had separated Nightlight's memories from him, and when he'd been awoken, the Moonbeam held onto them and kept them in the diamond to spare him from their sorrows. He had once been fated to cycles of happiness and heartbreak: he was the eternal guard of light, who would watch all night over a royal child, until the child grew up and didn't need him any more, and then when a new child was born he would cherish and care for them again. Every night the Queen and King would kiss their child goodnight -- and the power of this kiss, true love, no matter the type, was the most powerful of all. Nightlight had this power too, but didn't know of it; if ever he was to give a true love's kiss, he would no longer cease to grow up. The only thing he remembered was the powers of Dreamsand, which he himself had used every night to lull the princes and princesses to sleep.

Nightlight blew Dreamsand into the gap he'd cut under the stone, and the stone rose by a foot. Sandman added his own Dreamsand and now there was a cloud beneath the stone. Alarms sounded, Nightmare Men and Fearlings rumbling forth from the rest of the cave, but in an instant the three of them flew up and out of the cave, putting them to sleep as they tried to follow. They could see the northern lights in the evening sky, which would lead them to safety. They were anxious to get her to the North Pole. As they neared it, Sandman looked at his aching fingertips to see that their usually golden sandy texture had been scorched, and the small dark bruises were spreading. When he lifted them to his ear, he heard the screaming of nightmares. He quickly grabbed Nightlight's staff and scraped away the nightmares with the diamond dagger.

That corruption hadn't just touched Sandy. Streaks of black were appearing through the golden dream cloud that was keeping Katherine aloft, and it was darkening quicker than he could generate more sand. He and Nightlight attacked the volatile, squirming blackness with whips of Dreamsand and stabs of diamond staff respectively. The possessed cloud wrapped around the pole pillar, pitching Katherine forward; Sandy and Nightlight tried steadying it but were blasted back. Before their eyes it transformed into hundreds of writhing Nightmare Men, and just when they thought all was lost, the Guardians appeared! Toothiana and her thousands of fairies, North in his sleigh, Ombric astrally projected twenty times, and Bunnymund twirling like a helicopter wielding a dozen swords with a dozen arms. But the moment of triumph vanished quickly: the rock holding Katherine slipped and fell.

Nightlight, being the fastest boy who ever lived, caught up with her, but he was not the strongest, and could not lift the tomb. Tiny bits of the cloud that hadn't yet been corrupted flew into his eyes; they could not make him sleep, but they made him remember. In an instant he remembered everything: the Man in the Moon, the song he sang to him every night, his Dreamsand, the vigil -- and something else! The kiss of good night. He had just enough time to try it, even though he'd never bestowed it before; the nightmare shield could not work against hope and love, and disintegrated. Nightlight's lips touched Katherine's and Pitch's spells were broken. He grabbed her by the hand and flew up with her as the tomb fell to earth, crashing with a mighty impact. Mother Nature appeared to blow away all the Nightmare Men, and the wood beneath the stone began to reform. Nightlight and Katherine gently alighted, completely safe.

Katherine sought out Sanderson Mansnoozie, wanting to speak with him. Well, they didn't speak, but only smiled at one another; they were already comrades from the lands of sleep and dreams. And she knew immediately, from her shared thoughts and feelings with the other Guardians, that he undoubtedly was one of them. So they all spoke the Guardian Oath together with him, and Sandy knew that although he'd travelled every corner of the universe, this was where he belonged now. Then there was Nightlight, who felt different for the first time in his life; he no longer lacked a past, and no longer would endure endless tomorrows; his future was now a tantalising mystery, as it was to all who were growing up. He returned the words of Katherine's stories to her. Change was coming, but he was not alone. For the first time ever, Nightlight slept! Alas, if he hadn't, he would have been on guard, and he would have seen Pitch crawl out from the Nightmare Rock that lay in the middle of the empty city.

"Pitch's plan was almost complete. He'd read all of Katherine's memories when she was under his nightmare spell. It was he who sent the dream of North's city to them. They had built everything as he'd hoped. Unknowingly, the Guardians themselves had smuggled him into the one place he most needed to be. Now he could win this war once and for all..."
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