The air mingled with the warm scent of blood. It was a dark night, and the moon grinned deviously as it watched the boy, knowing what was to come.
Crunch. His boot snapped the scattered twigs. He gasped for an instant, fighting to stay brave. The forest was eery, and he didn’t have much time to spare.
“Kira!” He shouted, tears dripping off his chin. The ominous feeling of death curled around him in a white fog, blocking his path.
“Mylo?” A scared whimper echoed through the trees.
He could hear her running towards him, and then there was silence. Branches cracked as he walked, and he cringed at the sound of each snap. He started heading towards where he had just heard her voice, but then stopped, confused.
“Mylo! Help!” Her voice screeched from behind him.
Mylo flipped around and started to walk in the opposite direction. How had she gotten over there?
“Kira, it’ll be okay,” Mylo shivered, pawing around in the bushes. He squinted his eyes, trying desperately to see where his sister had gone.
A dim light glimmered behind him. He saw it envelop his body, leaving his silhouette to be the only darkness on the bush.
Slowly, he turned around.
Kira smiled at him, holding up the lantern so she could see. “It’s okay now, Mylo.”
Mylo nearly fell into the bushes. Spider webs stuck to his sleeves.
“Where’d you get the lantern?” He stuttered, struggling in the webs. He pulled and tugged, but to no avail. He couldn’t get out.
“That man asked who you were,” she started, hesitant. “And then when I told him, he gave me this lantern and told me to find you.”
Mylo blinked, too surprised to speak. Then, rage filled his chest. He tore himself from the bushes and lunged at his kid sister, grabbing the lantern out of her hand. The glass shattered on the ground and the glowing light zapped out.
“Mylo, wha-” Kira started. Mylo clamped her mouth shut with a palm. His breath was uneasy, his heart banging against his ribs. He heard quiet laughing.
“Smart boy,” a voice cackled around him. It was coming from all directions. Mylo was trapped. He hugged his sister closer for her safety.
The tears had stopped, stuck to his cheeks like face paint. He darted his eyes around everywhere, trying to spot the man.
“You are too frightened, Mylo,” the voice echoed innocently. “Your sister only wanted to find you. I gave her the lantern so she could.”
Mylo knew this man was only after him. But his sister didn’t.
“Poor girl,” the voice mocked. “Killed by an assassin, I bet. But why did you bring her back to life when you could’ve brought back-”
“Shut up!” Mylo screamed, squeezing his sister closer. “You know nothing!”
“Oh, Mylo, but that isn’t true.” A tall figure slithered out of the bushes in front of him. A large white cloak brushed along the ground, shifting twigs and rocks around. The hood concealed most of the man’s face, except for his mouth, which was curled in a deranged grin.
Mylo slid back a few inches, holding his sister even more securely.
“What’s he talking about, Mylo?” Kira’s voice whispered into Mylo’s jacket.
He brushed the scar running all the way around her neck and breathed shakily. “Nothing, Kira. This man is insane.”
The man laughed. “Insane? That isn’t very nice. You should really respect your elders, or, you know, at least be afraid of them.”
“I’m not scared,” Mylo started. “I’m horrified.”
“Good,” the man agreed. “That’s good to know.”
Mylo stared up at the man, noticing the grin on his lips growing even wider. The moon was a spotlight glistening on them.
“Well, you broke a rule, Mylo,” the man moved in closer, pulling out a sword from the sheath on his waist-belt. “You know you’re not supposed to bring back the dead.”
“Go ahead and kill me,” Mylo said in shaky breaths. “But don’t kill her again.” He made sure to plug her ears so she wouldn’t hear.
“Assassins don’t work that way,” the man admired the sparkling blade with the way the moonlight danced off the slants. “We only keep alive what we find valuable.”
Mylo moved to reposition his sister in his arms, but that was the perfect moment for the man to spring. In a fluid motion, he flung a dagger from within his cloak and pinned Mylo’s hand to the ground. The blade cut through most of his wrist, leaving only a bit of skin to slice.
Mylo shrieked in utter horror. His sister tumbled out of his lap, curled into a little ball. She opened her eyes, but when she saw Mylo, she screamed.
The man steadied his sword over her neck and repeated the previous way he had killed her. The abrupt chop, shriek, and crack made the smile disappear on the man’s face.
Her head rolled across the ground, blood splattering everywhere, to Mylo’s feet. Her mouth was left open as if she was still screaming, blood gushing from her eyes, ears, mouth...
Mylo felt the tears coming again. He glared up at the man in utter hatred.
But he was already gone, leaving the dead girl and the boy with the chopped hand alone in the forest, expecting them to die.
Mylo wasn’t about to let that happen.