It was early in the morning, and the sun had not yet risen into view. The clouds were a rosy peach color, and everyone was still fast asleep. Well, not quite everyone.
“Psssssst. Pitch? C’mon, wake up, wake up!”
Jack Frost Lunanoff was the youngest of five children, merely 5 years of age. He was unusual in appearance; his hair was of the purest shade of white imaginable, and his skin was a ghostly pale. There was a reason for his appearance, too. Jack had been born with the incredible gift of being able to control winter. Ice, snow, frost, and even the wind could be created and controlled at his command.
He was an energetic lad, and loved to play, as many children of his age did. Unlike most children, however, Jack was a prince. He was the youngest in line, having three older brothers and an older sister, but he was a prince all the same.
The brother he was currently trying to wake was Pitch Black Lunanoff, the second oldest in the family. He was 16 years of age, but was extremely close to Jack. Pitch had a striking appearance as well. His hair was jet black, and his skin a pale grey. His looks were also related to a supernatural gift. He could control the shadows, and peoples’ nightmares. He could even give nightmares.
Neither’s abilities caused their relationship to be the least bit stressed. Quite the opposite: Their favorite occupation was playing with their powers together. Every day they would discover a new trick, and found immense joy in showing the other. They were also comrades in crime: They were known throughout the castle for their constant pranks.
“Go back to sleep,” Pitch grumbled. Unlike Jack, he was not at all a morning person. He despised mornings. And the fact that he would often stay up far into the night to observe the stars and take advantage of the darkness for using his powers didn’t help his ability to wake the next morning.
Pitch rolled over in his bed, turning away from Jack while simultaneously dumping him off the bed. Pitch settled down to go back to sleep, but Jack wasn’t going to left him off that easy. He sat on the floor for a moment, pouting and thinking.
An idea came to Jack, and he climbed back up onto Pitch’s bed. “Do you wanna have a snowball fight?” Pitch couldn’t help but smile. He had a soft spot for Jack, and Jack had a soft spot for snowball fights. With a faked sigh, Pitch sat up, causing Jack to- quietly- squeak in success and slide off the bed.
He grabbed Pitch’s hand and dragged the half-asleep prince down several flights of stairs to a large ballroom. Running to the middle of the room, Jack stomped his foot onto the ground. Ice climbed across the ground from where he had stepped to the walls. It swirled in beautiful patterns, decorating everything. Jack then held up his hands. Face scrunched in concentration, Jack formed a glowing blue sphere in his hands. Once satisfied with its size, he moved both hands sharply upward, throwing the sphere up into the air. It exploded, and snow began to fall heavily onto the two princes.
Pitch stared around himself in awe, now fully awake. He had taught Jack how to make an impromptu snow storm, but the ice rink was new.
His thoughts were interrupted when a snowball smacked Pitch in the face. He laughed and ducked into a nearby shadow. Their snowball fights were quite a sight to behold. Jack could control the snow and fly, but Pitch could disappear and reappear anywhere using his shadows.
After nearly an hour of having snowball fights, building snow-people, ice skating, making snow angels, etc., the two had settled on playing one of Jack’s favorite games. He would leap through the air, and Pitch would use his shadows to catch Jack before he could fall.
This time went no differently than normal… until Jack started jumping faster than Pitch could conjure shadows to catch him with. “Slow down!” Pitch yelled. His tone was frustrated, but his face showed his worry. ‘What if I’m not able to catch Jack?’
Jack ignored his brother’s warning. With the next leap he took, Pitch panicked. He sent a burst of shadows Jack’s way… but in the process, he slipped on the ice. His aim was off, and the blast hit Jack in the head.
“Jack!” Pitch’s voice was filled with terror and dread as he ran to his brother, now curled up, unconscious, on the floor. He was old enough to know well how badly his brother could be hurt.
For years, all of the staff of his castle, and even his own siblings, had been wary of his powers. They feared them, and most disliked Pitch for them. He had always ignored them because his father- the just king Manfred Lunar Lunanoff- had always been supportive of him. His mother had always been as well; but alas, his dear mother, to whom he had been very close, had died while giving birth to Jack. But rather than disliking Jack for his mother’s death, he became exceedingly close to the boy. Closer than any of the rest of his family, or the staff. And for years, he hadn’t even thought about the harm some had claimed his powers could do.
But now, it was all he could think of.
Pitch pushed his thoughts and concerns for Jack’s health before all else. He lifted his brother up in his arms and ran through the palace until he found his father. His father was a morning person, like Jack, and was already awake and about.
When Pitch burst into the room his father quickly turned round in surprise. No one ever rushed into his room like that. But seeing his two sons- namely Jack- those surprised thoughts instantly disappeared.
“What happened?” King Lunar asked Pitch, taking Jack from his arms.
“We were playing in the ballroom and- and I accidentally hit him in the head with my powers,” Pitch panted. His crystalline, golden eyes were glassy and brimming with tears that were threatening to spill; his voice edged with terror and concern. “Will he be alright?”
King Lunar lay Jack on his bed and looked him over. He gave a small sigh. A grave sigh. Pitch’s fear grew even greater. “He will be fine. He will simply spend the rest of the day, and possibly into the next, in an undisturbable sleep. Likely having nightmares. Once the nightmares have run their course, I will be able to wake him with little problem.”
“Is there nothing I can do? Can I take them away from him?”
“No, we must simply wait.” Pitch nodded brusquely, and glanced at his brother again, before running to his bedroom. He closed the door and curled up into a ball, his back to the door. He cried into his arms, soaking his black nightclothes with his tears. Shadows engulfed the room in a still, eerie darkness.
Normally, Pitch’s shadows were a strange, beautiful, almost warming substance. They were very different from normal shadows. But now, these shadows were cold, and dangerous. They both looked and felt different, changing due to their master’s emotions. He was afraid. So, so terribly afraid.
He knew that he had hurt his brother. Thousands of thoughts swirled around inside his head. ‘What will everyone say?’ ‘Will Jack be angry with me?’ ‘I should’ve been able to stop that from happening!’ ‘Are my powers evil, like they always said?’
When the rest of his family met for breakfast, they groaned at the absence of their two brothers. Pitch missing wasn’t completely strange, he missed meals often. But when he and Jack both were not there, it usually meant that they were preparing a prank.
Their concern for pranks was soon wiped from their thoughts when they saw their father’s face as he entered.
“Father, what is the matter?” Asked Toothiana. She was the only daughter of the royal family, and the youngest, next to Jack. She was 9 years of age, but wiser than most her age. She, like Jack, could control the wind. However, her control over it was far superior to Jack’s. She had long, waste length hair of a deep, rich brown color. Her eyes were an unnatural, but very beautiful, amethyst. She was rather small in stature, but could talk more than anyone in the entire kingdom. Her nickname was Tooth, both because of her name and because of her strange fascination with teeth, even at her young age.
On her right was the eldest of the Lunanoff children, Sanderson. He was 17 years of age, a mere year older than Pitch, and heir to the throne of Kuu. -The kingdom was named for the moon. The moon was the center of life there, but I shall get to that later.- Sanderson was small, about the size of Tooth. He had a lively, golden complexion, and a mop of sandy-golden colored hair. His eyes were a brownish-gold. His physique was a bit rounded.
Like his siblings, he too had powers. He controlled light and dreams. His specialty was more dreams than light, though he could bend and create it. It took the staff years to become accustomed to him randomly glowing. He had been nicknamed Sandy, mainly because he created his dreams using what he called ‘dreamsand’.
The most important thing one must know about him was that he was mute. He always carried a small book and ink pot with him, and had to write anything he wanted to say.
He and Pitch were complete opposites in nearly every way. Pitch was tall and thin, he was short and rounded. He was light, Pitch was shadows. He was dreams, Pitch was nightmares. He was kind, Pitch was narcissistic. He preferred company, Pitch preferred solitude. Well, both had exceptions to that rule, but still. They did not get along in the slightest. They had always been more like enemies than brothers. Pitch was the one person missing from the list of people that Sandy was unconditionally sweet to.
That being said, next to Pitch, Sandy was the closest to Jack. Because of this, the two had been on civil terms recently.
On Tooth’s left was their other brother. His full name was Aster Bunnymund Lunanoff, but most called him either Aster or Bunny. He was tall and sturdily built, especially for only being 13 years of age. After spending several summers in a distant kingdom undergoing military training -The program was designed to start teaching princes how to fight at a young age, so that it was a part of life for them, and not something new to them when they were older and received more training at the traditional age.- he had picked up a strong accent. He had a fiery temper, and often spoke things he regretted. His hair was an unnatural grayish-blue color, and his eyes strikingly green.
Next to Sandy, Bunny hated Pitch more than just about anyone else. He believed him to be a lying, cheating, despicable person. Unlike the rest of his family, he did not particularly like his youngest brother, Jack, either. The pranks and ‘cute’, ‘childish’ things that he did were very frustrating to Bunny. He could be rather harsh and sharp with Jack. Despite this, Bunny refused to tolerate anyone else, beside himself, being the slightest bit unkind to the boy. He couldn’t stand that Jack and Pitch were so close and spent so much time together.
Bunny didn’t spend much time with Jack himself, even when given opportunity, because of Bunny’s powers. Bunny controlled plants, and adored nature. Unlike Jack, who loved winter, spring was Bunny’s signature season. Warmth and color were up his alley- not snowball fights and iceskating.
“There has been an incident this morning involving Jack and Pitch.” Their father’s announcement drew instant reactions from all three children present. Tooth disliked Pitch like her brothers, and adored Jack. She knit her brow, her face a mix of anger and worry. Sandy and Bunny were simply furious. They didn’t wait for King Lunar to say that Pitch had done something; they just automatically assumed so.
King Lunar’s expression saddened more at his children’s reactions. He knew their dislike for Pitch, and found it disappointing. He loved Pitch as much as all of his children. He could never quite grasp just why Pitch was hated, either. Were his powers really that important to them? He had never- never– done anything more than pull a simple prank. He loved to scare his siblings and the staff, but had never caused a single one of them actual harm. Nor had he ever intended to.
“They were playing as normal, when Pitch inadvertently struck Jack with his powers.” Bunny leaped from his seat in anger, but the king did not give him time to speak before continuing. “Jack will be fine by morning. He is locked in a nightmare right now, and we must let it run its course. He will be good as new when it is over. Because Pitch was not trying to hurt him, he will forget about the events that occur in his nightmare.”
“That sick-” Bunny began, but King Lunar cut him off once more.
“It was not done on purpose.”
“Said who? Pitch?! Why would you trust tha word of that lia’?!” Bunny yelled. He stormed out of the room, quickly followed by his siblings. Tooth and Sandy normally wouldn’t leave without first being excused… but they forgot their manners as they jumped up and followed Bunny.
King Lunar shook his head. Someday. Someday they would understand. He was a wise man, and knew no little amount of magic. But there was nothing that he could do to make his children see reason. He would just have to wait for them to understand on their own.
Locked in his room, Pitch was trying to calm himself down. He had managed to force the shadows back to their correct places, and had cleaned himself up, so that there was no evidence of him ever having cried. He was 16 years of age: He was far too old to cry.
Pitch heard a hard knock on his door. He straightened himself, pulled back his shoulders, and walked to the door. He opened it, looking as princely as one can in their nightclothes, but before he could register who was at the door, he found himself roughly hitting the floor.
His head span from its impact on the floor, but the haze soon faded enough for him to hear yelling and recognize the voice. Aster. Dread filled Pitch from head to toe. Aster. Aster.
“You monster! You bloody monster! He adores you! An’ what do you do? You hurt him! At least maybe now Jackie’ll understand how terrible you are!” A blunt object made impact with Pitch’s ribcage, and he buckled from the pain. A fist slammed into the left side of his jaw, just barely not too hard to cause him to lose consciousness.
Pitch felt a hand lift him from the floor by his neck. Then his back made him aware that he had been thrown into a wall.
He had lost his eyesight upon realizing who had entered his room; he was too disoriented. But when Pitch felt a foot impact his ribs before he had even fallen to the floor after hitting the wall, something inside him snapped.
His vision cleared, and his eyes narrowed at the enraged figure before him. He may only be 13, but Aster was big for his age, and far fiercer and better trained than Pitch. Pitch had never had an interest in warfare.
Eyes locked with his brother, Pitch silently began to give his shadows commands. A thin band of shadows slithered across the floor and wrapped tightly around Aster’s ankle.
Pitch and Aster’s eye contact was broken as Aster looked down in shock. The shadows gave a tug, and sent Aster crashing to the floor on his face. Pitch didn’t notice Tooth or Sandy standing, shocked, in the doorway staring at them. Pitch’s gaze was fixed on Aster as he darkly glared at him. Making a snap decision, Pitch willed the shadowy rope to drag Aster out of the room, before he commanded another clump of shadows to close the door.
The unlocked door was immediately opened, but Pitch created enough shadows over it for the people trying to open it to be unable to overpower them and get in.
He pulled himself up off the floor, trying his hardest to ignore the splitting pain from his likely broken ribs and badly bruising jaw. His back hurt too, just not near as badly.
Pitch’s mind whirled. ‘What have I done?’ Or more importantly, ‘What can I do now?’
Suddenly, something happened that would change the course of Pitch’s life. A new voice suddenly spoke in his mind. ‘Run awayyyy,‘ it hissed. ‘Leave thisss placccce.’ Pitch did not have any idea what this voice was or how it got into his head, but those really weren’t his greatest worries at the present moment.
After a moment’s thought, Pitch did what would really actually change his life. He followed the voice’s advice.
He grabbed several things he thought he could use, and changed his clothing. Then Pitch shadow-traveled out of his bed quarters. But before he left the palace; his home; he stopped by one room. The room where Jack lay.
Pitch walked up to his brother’s bed, lightly kissed the young child’s forehead, whispered to him something the sleeping boy couldn’t hear, and, with one last glance over his shoulder, Pitch left the castle that had housed generations of Lunanoffs. He planned on never returning, though he didn’t know where he would go.
With the disappearance of Pitch began a very troublesome time for this small kingdom. The great Golden Age of prosper and glory that had been in Kuu for so long ended with the whispered words from Prince Pitch to his brother Prince Jack.
“I am so sorry for everything that I will do from today on. But never forget that you, my dear brother, shall always hold in my heart a very special place.”