Once Upon a Nightmare
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It wasn’t that he was lonely. More like….he was bored of desperate humans scrambling into his lair, seeking to avert the Blight. How unfortunate for them. Jack didn’t know which was worse; succumbing to the Blight or succumbing to the cold. He found he really didn’t care, but most of those who were unfortunate enough to cross his path ended up buried in avalanches. At least he had the decency to make it quick, which was more than he could say for some of his fellow…former Seasons. Yet even so, he found he didn’t enjoy their terror so much anymore. He wasn’t amused by their pain, and he wasn’t intrigued by their last moments of life as they tried to escape the wall snow and ice that was rushing towards them. Something about it left a bad taste in his mouth. Was he developing a conscience? That was new. Jack couldn’t recall having anything like that. He wasn’t aware the gods had left room for such a thing in his mind when they’d created him. Yet it lurked, and so as he watched the next batch of weary travelers he merely drummed his fingers against his staff, stirring up a frigid breeze.
For how long he sat in the same spot, he didn’t know. It could have been a few minutes or a few hours, but he saw a few different parties going up the road, so it was more likely the latter. Finally, he couldn’t stand it anymore, and slid down the cliff to the road. Then, for some unearthly reason, he began to walk. Jack rarely walked anywhere. He climbed trees, floated on the wind, and occasionally jumped but walking was for mortals, and Jack was always so dead set on letting everyone know he was not. He liked to stand out in a crowd. He liked being a fae of snow and ice, the bane of the mountain pass. Yet even then, it just got boring after so many years.
So he walked. The only sound was the crunch of the snow under his feet, and since his mind was wandering elsewhere, he did not focus on the breeze, or the chill. For once, the mountain was still, and the earth seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. The farther he walked, the more the place seemed to come alive. Without the constant wind and snow, the wildlife was less afraid to come out of hiding. The birds chirped occasionally. As he continued, he hadn’t realized that he wasn’t following the travelers he’d seen, but in fact going the opposite direction. However, it became evident after a few hours as the snow began to thin, leaving the trees green and upright instead of sagging under the weight of the ever-present snow drifts. As a being affected very little by time, Jack hadn’t realized he’d been walking for most of the day. Some of the snow appeared to be melting, and blades of grass were poking through the slowly thinning trees. He paused, glancing around. It was a beautiful place, but a figure up ahead caught his attention. Narrowing his eyes, he approached both curious and slightly apprehensive. The figure walked strangely…and he had a nagging suspicion he knew what it was.
Being a creature of ice and snow, Jack had not encountered the Blight all that much. It didn’t fare as well in the peaks of the Hyadies where he lived. Perhaps that was why so many people were desperate to get there. The creature before him was humanoid in shape, but it was rotted to the core. Then, the creature turned into three as two others walked out from behind it. The fae raised an eyebrow, and raised his staff. “I wouldn’t try it,” He said. As a response, they broke into a run. They were faster than he anticipated, and he jumped back, whipping his staff around and knocking the first one to the side. He regained his wits as the next two approached, and with a blast of icy air froze them solid. The first attacker was crawling to its feet, but Jack froze it before it could get up. Irritated, he spun his staff around, bringing it high over his head and brought it down with a loud crack. The frozen corpse shattered, and he did the same to the other two, bashing the bits that seemed attached to its head again for good measure. He caught sight of another figure approaching, this one slightly farther away out of the corner of his eye and sighed. “Seriously? You want to be shattered like glass as well?” He growled.
something inside of me has changed
I was so much so younger yesterday
Isis Trinity was no longer alone. She had Tweedle Dum helping her cause. Finding their daughter. It was all she could think about. She separated from the twins to cover more ground quicker. It was only for a few days. Stronger together, weaker apart. Something she never understood before. Devon could not travel as far. The twins stayed at a camp while Isis brought back food, or filled canteens with clean water. They took turns going out into the void, looking for Isadora. Now, it was Isis’ turn.
The foothills of the Hyadies would do, for now. They trailed down the mountain one by one, found camp, and dispersed. Isis could have cried. The Yarrow, decimated. Rotted through the core. When she was in Allutheria, Isis used to rot off parts of the forest. To keep the darkness in the lands at bay. It seeped into her magic, and left her forever tainted. Shadow magic came to those who did not expect its presence. The only other fae that differed was one of ice and snow. And, grumpiness.
Once her home, now vanquished by the Blight. An ugly, gruesome plague. It left nothing in its wake. Dokyrath was no more, either. Xehacora and Caerleon, locked up tight. No one in, or out. Meanwhile, the Blight ravaged everything in sight. Up in the Hyadies, it was nicer. Blight monsters did not climb the peaks to find stragglers. Having Isadora in a cave was less than preferable, but it was better than dying in the forest. Her forest.
Isis ran her hands over dead trees. Frowning. Wildlife, nowhere in her line of sight. Healthy leafy greens, even slimmer to find. With death came rotting corpses of earth. It disgusted her. Isis wished it never came in the first place. She wanted nothing more than her old life back. With an addition of her daughter, because she loved Isadora more than anything.
The shadow fae swallowed hard, taking a drink of water from her canteen. She stopped, the smell of rot in the air triggered her shadow magic. It came out in strong wisps that looked akin to black sheer ribbons around her body. Creating a protective shell as she walked. On occasion Isis heard the chirping of far off birds, but they did not stay long. Who could stay in the Yarrow? Her, by force. She needed to find Isadora. Going out into the big, bad world was the only way to do it. She had to be brave.
Snow sat on the ground near the foothills. The sun in a cloudy sky melting it. It dripped onto Isis’ soft boots as she walked. The smell got stronger until she spotted not one, but three Blighted creatures ahead of her. Isis’ eyes widened and her magic engulfed her. Keeping her in a shadow-like force-field. She hid behind a tree as a figure not far from her destroyed the creatures. She would have helped, but Isis did not know this stranger. At least, that’s what she assumed.
When she walked from behind the trees, his voice caught her attention first. The tiny shadow fae would know Jack’s voice anywhere. She broke free of her magic, making a face at the frozen corpses on the ground. Jack was such a strong fae. One of the Seasons, so he had that advantage. No one could manipulate ice like Jack. Shadow magic could be held by any fae, really. Isis kept it at bay. Her magic left in shadowy wisps as her guard went back down. No more trouble. Jack seemed to take care of it on his own.
She stopped short of him, a corpse or two between them, and let out an airy chuckle. “You’d try to shatter me, Jack Frost?”
Isis had been so angry with him, but it faded over time. Now, she was just glad to see him alive and well.
“You got rid of our friends. Such a shame. They were all dying to meet me.”
As the voice cut the brief silence, Jack froze, stunned for a moment. He had not heard that voice in months, and had almost begun to wonder if she was dead. He’d even gone looking for her, if a bit halfheartedly – he didn’t like venturing out of his realm. The forests were too musty and stale, the desert too dry, and everywhere else was too filled with humans. Still though…after what he’d done to Isis, one of his only friends, he should have tried a little bit harder to find her. For a few moments, he didn’t even look around, he just stood there. She was the last person he’d anticipated seeing here in the mountains, and at long last he turned around to look at her. From his eyes, she didn’t look all that different. The only thing he noticed was the lack of burning anger in her gaze; the last time they’d seen each other she’d left him in a fury. It was the only time he’d ever really felt like he’d done something wrong. Like he deserved her ire. Now however, she seemed happy to see him, and he found that despite the general air of awkwardness, he was happy to see her too. A crooked smile tugged at the corners of his mouth.
“Well even if I did, you aren’t made of glass or ice, are you?” He said mildly. “I’d wager you are made of something far tougher.” She most certainly was. Isis was a survivor. She endured somehow, and for some reason she’d stumbled across him and hadn’t immediately turned around and gone the other way. He probably wouldn’t have found her if she had remained hidden. After all, he hadn’t been seeking her out. He’d given up on that far too quickly. Despite these thoughts, he chuckled at her next quip, and shook his head, giving the staff a twirl before lowering it, relaxing his stance slightly. “Next time I’ll let you say hello first.” He replied.
A brief silence followed this, and Jack took a step closer to his old friend. He was an arrogant, stubborn old fae but every once in a while he found a reason to be less so. Heaving a sigh, he looked down at the snow for a moment, then back up at Isis. “It’s good to see you.” He said softly. “And…I’m sorry, Isis. I’m sorry I didn’t come find you. And I’m sorry for what I did. I know it was a while ago now and that not much of it matters anymore…” He paused. “But I truly am sorry.” As bitter as those words tasted on his tongue, he knew they needed to be said. Sure, he and Isis didn’t really see the value in holding grudges against each other. Anything that could be left unsaid without causing too much issue was best left alone. Yet for once, Jack saw a situation where he’d erred, and now he wanted to fix it. After all…he really didn’t have any other friends, and it was high time he tried to keep the one he had. However, he didn’t want to leave that hanging for too long, so he was quick to change the subject as soon as he could without being rude…well…more rude than usual.
“Where have you been? How have you been faring? I see that the Blight has been spreading…” He gestured to the shattered bodies in the snow. “I never thought they would reach this far, but it seems that they have.” His lack of travel also meant that he knew very little about what was happening in the outside world. Yet the appearance of the Blight in the Hyadies couldn’t mean well for the other lands which could support such a disease more easily than the frigid, icy desert that was the Hyadies. He hoped Isis would be forthcoming with information, because Jack didn’t really want to try and pry information from her. He didn’t want to seem like he was too interested in the outside world…no…that would simply not do.