Deep inside the clock, Ombric was somersaulting through time at a furious pace. The world around him flickered from day to night faster than the blink of an eye. He saw seasons pass in seconds. Centuries flew by as he drifted up and away from the Lamadary.He looked skyward as the sun and stars spiraled past him at rocket speed. Day. Night. Day. Night. Faster than could be said and in reverse. The Moon was there too, and in a flash he saw the explosion of Pitch's galleon and the last great battle of the Golden Age. But it all happened too fast. The relics fell from the Moon too quickly for him to track them.
Ombric wasn't worried. He would slow down his trajectory on the return trip and take note of their whereabouts. And if his plan worked, he wouldn't need to.
He began to drift away from Earth, going deeper and deeper into the vast dazzlements of space. He was traveling so swiftly through time that comets, planets, and galaxies pivoted and sparkled around him like fireworks, but their size was beyond description.
Then Ombric realized that the flashes he was seeing were the deaths of the Golden Age worlds. What he was watching was Pitch's galleon destroying one Constellation after another. Then, as Ombric continued to pinwheel backward through time, the universe around him brightened.
Golden Age ships coursed through the sky around him. This is it! The age he had studied for so long but never dreamed he would see. He could barely take it all in. The cities he saw were colossal, magnificent, more magical than anything he had ever imagined. It broke his heart to think of the vanished wonder and glory of this perfect era, and he became more determined than ever to implement his plan.
He soon found himself at the infamous prison planet, the huge rusted dungeon where the Fearlings had been locked after the Golden Age Armies had captured them. As time slowed down, he stopped his journey just moments before Pitch was overtaken and the Fearlings had escaped. Ombric hid behind a large pillar an arm's length away from Pitch, who was standing in a guard's station in front of the prison's only door.
It was remarkable to see his nemesis as he had been before his change to evil. He looked every inch a great hero. Stalwart. Valiant. Even noble in his Golden Age military uniform. But his determined expression was weary and tinged with sorrow.
From behind the massive door, Ombric could hear a drone of whispers and mutterings from the prisoners. The noise would rise to a crescendo, then sink low, pulsing eerily from within.
What an awful sound, thought Ombric. It's like evil itself. To hear that day after day would drive any man insane. And indeed, the ghostly noise seemed to weigh on Pitch. His face was drawn, his fists clenched in anxiety.
But then he pulled a silver locket from his tunic pocket; the chain hung around his neck. He tapped the clasp and it swung open, revealing a small photograph. Ombric could just make out the face of a little girl. Pitch stared at the image, seeming to take great solace in the picture. His face softened and his sadness eased. Ombric knew that expression. He'd seen it countless times. It was the look of a father gazing at his child. Pitch had a daughter! The wizard could feel Pitch's longing to see his child in person.
The Fearlings sensed his longing too. Their strange mutterings shifted in tone, their pleadings took on the voice of a small girl. "Please, Daddy," they whispered. "Please, please, please open the door."
A momentary spark of hope crossed Pitch's face. His eyes lit up, and then they dimmed as he recognized the sound for what it was: a Fearling trick. He visibly steeled himself against the evil, bracing his shoulders, clenching his jaw, but the Fearlings started to beg again.
"Daddy," they cried. "I'm trapped in here with these shadows, and I'm scared. Please open the door. Help me, Daddy, please."
Pitch looked again at the photograph. The pleading grew more desperate. More hypnotic. Pitch seemed to be slipping into a trance.
Suddenly, his face grew wild with panic. He reached for the door. The locket fell from his neck. Ombric caught it in midair and was about to block Pitch from opening the prison door when the mysterious Pooka reappeared. Ombric found he could neither move nor utter a sound.
The Pooka held up his hand and shook his head. "That's a no-no," he scolded.
The Lamas had told Ombric he could not change events in his journeys through time, he could only observe them. The Pooka, it seemed, was there to stop his trying.
Ombric looked from the Pooka back to Pitch in time to witness agony and shock in the jailer's eyesthe desperation of a loving father trying to save his daughter from the Fearlings. As the door swung open, all that was visible was a roiling mass of dark, serpent-like creatures. Of course Pitch's daughter was not there. Before Pitch could even scream her name, he was surrounded by malevolent shadows. In less than an instant, they poured over, around, into him! It was a horrifying sight. One that Omric would never forget.
Pitch struggled valiantly, but he soon succumbed to the evil flooding him, twisting him into a madman. He swelled to ten times his normal size; his face became monstrous and cruel.
As Ombric stared, transfixed, he felt the familiar touch of the Pooka's egg-tipped staff on his shoulder. He was being sent back to the present again. But as he began to dim and vanish, he saw Pitch throw his head back and roar with the menacing laughter of ten thousand Fearlings.
((This will forever bring me to tears.))
E. Aster Bunnymund and the Battle of the Warrior Eggs by William Joyce
Rise of the Guardians (November 21 2012)
Listening to: Finale by Madeon
Reading: E. Aster Bunnymund
Watching: Dragon Ball GT
Drinking: BOTTLED WATER