When Love Turns Macabre

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City of Obsidian

Their teasing and playing and carried them to the heart of Obsidian where the grand fountain stood depicting the creation of life. Mako paused and looked up at it, slipping out of Saphira’s grip and tilting his head at it. A tree that was shaped into a person cut limbs off himself, the leaves becoming the ocean and the wood becoming the three major continents. It wasn’t as intricate as the story required, but it was detailed and refreshing. Mist from the cascading streams of water buffeted Mako’s body. Saphira propped herself on the side of the fountain and looked into it. The bottom of it was covered in coins that glittered in the sunlight.

“Woah, look at all those wishes.” She mewed in awe. Mako turned his gaze to the glittering floor and dug into his pocket. He pulled out two copper coins, handing one to her.

“Here. Want to make a wish?” He asked. She took the copper and kissed his hand in thanks, cupping the copper by her mouth and whispering her heart’s wish. Mako extinguished his eye lights and did the same. He took a breath as he thought of what he wanted, faintly smiling and cupping his hands to whisper.

“I wish for my body back. I want to give Saphira more than some dead monster…” He flipped the copper into the water, a soft bloop sounding as it met the surface. Saphira bounced on her heels and stepped back from the fountain.

“What did you wish for?” She asked.

“Ah, ah, I’m not falling for that. I want mine to come true.” Mako stated, folding his arms. Saphira nudged him and flipped her coin into the fountain. She looked up at the statues standing tall over the trove of wishes and squinted. The faceless tree gripped it’s arm and cast it branches down on the planet. Though expressionless, the knots and grooves in Ilfa’s face twisted in a sense of grim duty.

“I wonder if he hears us.” She muttered.

“If he’s anything like Maut, he has his own things to take care of and no time to hear pleas,” Mako said, shoving his hands into his pockets, “I meant to ask, where are we headed?” Saphira looped her arm in his.

“I’m just letting my feet take me places. I only wanted to show you around my home since you showed me yours. Or, the ruins of yours…” She said, bunching her shoulders around her head. Mako caged his wing around her and shook his head.

“Right. I wish I could remember more about home, but, well…” He muttered. Saphira nodded and held him, looking into the clear water with the glittering bed. Mako let her hang onto his arm and sighed. He pet her hair and studied the key hanging on her neck. It shimmered with a powerful presence. He had never felt a presence like that before. It chilled his bones without the bite of his fatal curse. A chill that he swore permeated the realm between living and dead.

“Wait a minute.”

“What?” Saphira looked up at him, wrapping their fingers together.

“That key. I think I have an idea.” He offered, folding his wings and shrugging. Saphira held the small charm and furrowed her brow.

“Alright, go ahead.” She nodded. Mako stood and summoned his scythe, slicing into the realms and testing the rift. Too far, he closed it and made another attempt. The second rift was too far still. Mako winced, ever rift he opened, Maut was alerted to his whereabouts. He took a breath and tried one last time. No, too far. Every rift cut directly into the underworld. He couldn’t reach the between with the Withdraw. Saphira frowned and shrugged.

“I guess it didn’t work?” She asked. Mako shook his head, no point in explaining the embarrassing thought process to that plan. Saphira turned away and tried to find something else for them to look at. She knew there wasn’t much time for them to explore, but she couldn’t bring herself back to Miano. Mako was fine taking time to solidify their battle plan before returning, but they needed to work on it in order for that to happen.

“What are you looking for?” He asked. Saphira took another sweep over the shops and sights before returning to his inquiry.

“I… just places to explore. I think we could probably see the palace gardens before we leave.” She said, looking back at him. Mako wanted to chastise her for procrastinating, but the thought of a royal garden piqued his interest. He straightened and cracked a small smile. She smirked, that was a moment he needed that poker face.

“That sounds like a great last tour.” He decided. Saphira mentally fist-pumped. She took him through the square. Mako glanced at the statues marking the palace grounds. Mako halted a moment to look at the stone people posed on the perimeter. A human woman and an elven man, both dressed in robes fit for gods and adorned in gold. He walked up to the pedestals and checked for any engravings, curious to the pair’s identities.

“That’s the king and queen.” Saphira piped up behind him.

“They are?” He looked up at the queen, her face was worn and scarred, appearing to be far older than the king. Mako doubled back on his thoughts and rolled his eyes at himself. Elves have much longer life spans, it made sense she showed more age.

“The king, Uhul, always wanted to have a kingdom for mixed species couples. Human/elf pairings aren’t uncommon, but others never had a safe place until he took the throne.” Saphira explained. Mako folded his arms and stepped past Saphira.

“Let’s get to the garden, we’re running out of time.”

Saphira placed a hand on the pedestal before following him, pocketing her hands and meeting him at the topiary arch marking the garden entrance.

“Hello there, you two! Have you been to the gardens before?” A tour guide in light leather armor asked as she approached. Mako instinctively put the mask over his skull and shook his head in silent reply. Saphira pulled his arm close and smiled.

“Nope! First time.” She beamed.

“Perfect! It’s always great to see new lovers here in the garden. Did you know the queen requested the creation of these gardens to celebrate her bond to the dunmer king?” The guide explained, waving a showy hand to the clearing ahead. Saphira looked up at Mako and giggled.

“He’s an elf too.” She mewed. The guide looked up at him and furrowed her brow, smile faltering a bit. His lack of ears made her suspicious, but she pushed it off as the mask hiding them. Mako looked aside, he didn’t like that look. His new form took any claim to his previous life away, he knew that. Saphira meant no harm, obviously, but he wished she hadn’t said anything. The guide shrugged and walked ahead of them, her saber on her hip now apparent. She was kind enough to show them around, but she was still a guard.

“These hedges are cut into the castle crest, a harpy with a snake on its neck. A symbol very dear to our king. It’s said a harpy with such fashion sense is hard to come by.” She laughed and turned her gaze to them. Saphira gave a pity giggle, but Mako stayed stoically silent. She cleared her throat and continued ahead. The hedge was tall and very detailed, the harpy appearing to bear no ill will to onlookers, cradling the snake’s head as if it were her pet. The area itself was mostly bare, a bench or two, but nothing else worth looking at.

“Here we have the sea of hearts! A huge garden filled with nothing but burning, bleeding, and beating heart flowers! All in shades of red, pink, and orange.” The guide clapped her hands together and stepped nimbly around the bending path through the sea. Saphira gasped in awe at all the similar flower types gathered in a garden bigger than any she had seen before. Mako was surprised at the size of the garden and the rippling effect the wind played on all the blooms. He looked down at Saphira and smiled to himself behind the dark mask.

He hoped, one day, he could give her a show of love just as vast.

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