When Love Turns Macabre

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Hedge Maze

Mako sat before a set of hedges with relatives from the king’s family. Tall and beautiful warriors of his same descent in armor from their various time periods several centuries apart from each other. He held his mask in one hand and a stolen flower in the other. He hung his shoulders and wings, bones in the grass as the wind caressed his skull and billowed his cloak. His ribs felt emptier than they were, his soul was bearing the weight of loneliness he wasn’t aware he carried. Living without anyone for so long without any preparation tore him without his knowledge.

“And here we are! The crossroads once again. I hope you enjoyed the tour!” The guide cried cheerfully, leaving Saphira with her moody partner. Mako fixed his mask back onto his skull before the guide faced him, hiding the flower in his sleeve and watching her vanish behind the hedge walls.

“Nice to see you again,” Mako muttered.

“You say that like I’ve been gone for ages.” Saphira laughed softly.

“It felt like ages.” He said, face hidden and voice monotonous. Saphira frowned and put a hand on her hip.

“Uh, do you want to go?” She asked, somewhat miffed. Mako furrowed his brow and looked aside. That came out snarkier than he meant it to. He stood and handed her the purloined blue petunias and put his hand in hers.

“Er… sorry.” He muttered. Saphira looked down at the flower and shook her head.

“Mako, if you want to leave you just have to say so.” Saphira sighed, leading him to the exit. Mako scrunched his shoulders and pocketed his free hand. He was embarrassed to admit his social meter was so small, but he was glad she seemed to understand him. They left the garden behind. The fountain in the grand square trickled peacefully underneath the hum of chatter. Mako trudged through without slowing, Saphira not far behind. She whined, knowing where they were headed and knowing there was nothing more she could do to stall their progress.

“I would prefer we didn’t have to go back, but we need to get to the matter at hand. Aleera, Miano, and your box.” Mako glanced back at her. Saphira nodded and stuck close to him. Their trek out of Obsidian was quiet and tense. Their anxiety keeping them speechless. Mako knew he should’ve urged her to leave the garden sooner, but he couldn’t bring himself to butt in on her fun. He knew it was a rare instance, especially so soon before a big event like their resistance. They left Obsidian and walked through the guarded path. Mako stretched his wings once they hit the forest and took Saphira in his arms, shooting into the air and back to Venban. The wind was loud and raucous. It made it hard to hear much of anything, let alone each other. Even so, Saphira swore she could hear something. She twisted in his arms to find the source, but nothing could be found. Mako halted and flapped in place, looking down at her.

“What are you twisting about for?” He asked.

“I think I hear something?” She said, unsure of herself. Mako looked around curiously, but all he could hear was the wind buffeting them. Suddenly, Saphira gasped and yanked on his cloak.

“Mako, lookout!” She cried, but Mako didn’t react in time. He was bowled out of the air in a flurry of bones, dropping Saphira to the earth below. She screamed for him, flailing pitifully in an attempt to catch herself with no success. Mako tried to rip his attacker off of him, but they clung tightly to his cloak and clawed at him, causing small scratches. He didn’t care about the superficial damage, he needed to get the damn thing off of him.

“Saphira! G-get off!” He growled as he pushed at the thing’s face. He saw its pale ivory arms reach for his wings and clamp down on them. They were restrained from flapping and he fell just as she. He glanced up at Saphira far ahead, letting himself reach her before planting a hefty kick to the creature holding him, dislodging it and shooting out under Saphira.

“Don’t worry, don’t worry, I got you!” He panted, holding out his arms and reaching to catch her. She never hit his arms. All Mako did was blink, and she was gone in a flash of black and gold. He gaped his mouth and searched the sky around him, but she was nowhere around. The ivory creature lunged for him again, it’s shattered horns splintering sunlight into his eyes.

Mako fell.

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