When Love Turns Macabre

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Forest Borders

Mako flexed his clattering wings and folded them into his ribcage. Uncomfortable, but the only way to hide them within his cloak. He scowled at the engraving over his resting place and retreated to the dark woods.

“Out for a stroll?” A voice snickered from the shadows ahead. Mako pushed past them without a response. The ram-headed reaper hauled their scythe over their shoulder and followed him, “Oh, moody now?” She asked, her skull grinning as she prodded him.

“Piss off.” He growled. She dodged a hand thrown at her, wings ruffled and shoulders bouncing with her boisterous laugh. Mako picked his hand back up and replaced it on his wrist, twisting it into place. Her dry laughter erupted from an unknown source.

“You are a riot.” She sniffed, wiping a phantom tear from her eye. Mako heavily scoffed, pushing her away with his scythe. She stepped back from the ethereal weapon while tightening the grip on her own. He kept the scythe between them, using it to keep her distance. She stayed away from the cold metal on the scythe’s blade, though just being close to it made her uncomfortable.

Mako pushed through the dense woods to his cabin at the foot of the mountain. The high morning sun glinted in the windows, reflecting onto Mako’s skull. He lowered his scythe and pushed open the wooden door. The loud creak made him wince, his wings rattling in his chest. Syris looked over his shoulder into his home, hanging onto the doorframe.

“Why do you live out here? It’s so lonely.” She asked, attempting to slip past him into his personal space. He slammed the scythe down in front of her. Her yelp swallowed into a nervous gulp as she backed away from the blade, raising her own against it.

“Go home, Syris.” He growled.

“Come on! Maut would love to see you again, just pay her a visit.” She begged, tossing her arms in a pitiful display of childishness. Mako rubbed his temple, using the door to block the annoyance from entering his sanctuary.

“Go home.” He slammed the door on her. Syris flinched at the loud noise. She bristled and let out a dismissive snort.

“I’ll never know why she even chose you.” She muttered, turning on her heels and launching herself into the air, dissolving from the material plane in a flutter of blackened feathers.

Mako released his thin curtains and rolled his eye lights, retreating deeper into the cabin and dropping into a seat in front of a desk covered in messy papers and books. He shuffled the papers around and sighed, glancing at the door. Sunlight filtered through the window, breaking through the split in the fabric and casting shadows on his splintering wooden floor.

He found his list - the only thing to keep him sane- and raised it up to the light, looking over the unchecked items. The first thing is first, tend the garden. A ghost of a smile grazed his sharpened teeth. He looked around the cabin for his watering pail and took it with him outside, taking another quiet stroll to the river.

The river lazily slipped through the forest clearing, the soft babbling was music to Mako’s ears. He kneeled and dipped the pail in; the water washing through his phalanges. He stared into the clear stream. His shoulders slumped as faint memories stole him from the calm river passing.

A jumbled, cacophonous mess of colors and sounds. Nothing truly stood out from the madness. No faces, names, creatures. Just chaos.

Mako shook his skull and set the full pail beside him, groaning and dragging his wet hand over his face. His phalanges pressed into his temple, eye lights extinguished as he bunched his shoulders and expanded his wings within his chest, groaning quietly at the ache it caused on his bones.

Mako flickered back down to the filled bucket, breathing a false, ghostly sigh and taking it back to his cabin. The sight of his swaying dappled peonies cracked a tilted smile to his malleable skull. He watered them and hummed a nameless tune to himself, swaying on his feet with tension dropping from his shoulders.

A sudden explosion sounded behind him, his wings slamming into his ribs out causing him to buckle and drop the pail in the grass. He held his chest, opening his cloak and releasing his wings from their cage before replacing it carefully over the revealed limbs. Placing his hands on his knees, he rose to his feet and turned to the source, the vast forest surrounding his home. Mako approached the treeline, peering out silently. More explosions sounded further ahead, creatures crying and fleeing from the noise. Mako squinted, burning sour smoke reaching his nasal cavity and making him recoil. He pulled his cloak up to his face and retreated to the safety of his cabin.

“Those guns are disgusting…” Mako sneered in disgust. He took his scythe from his room and left to collect whatever the hunters were after.

His wings crackled with each beat, surveying the forest from above the canopy, following the acrid scent to the northern end. He landed in the trees and held onto the branches, spying the group of hunters far below him. They crept towards the bushes lining their clearing, jamming the rifle barrels into the leaves. Mako dropped into the clearing, flaring sea-green soul streams from his core and hiding in the ephemeral flames from the mortal’s sight.

A hunter flinched and looked over his shoulder, swallowing a lump in his throat. A taller one glanced at him, following his gaze and rolling his eyes.

“Come on, we all got a shot in, it couldn’t have gotten far.” He grumbled, leading the other two away to find their kill.

“Of course, they had to lose the damn thing…” Mako shook his head and dispelled the mirage around his form. Silently, he scanned the woods for the light of the lost soul. Daylight would prove this task more difficult than it need be, the soul lights being drowned out by sunlight. He shoved his hands in his pockets, resting his scythe in the bend of his wings. He had to squint, but he could make out minor prey lights speckling the dirt. Nothing larger than a squirrel.

Mako shrugged and snuffed his Reach. He scratched his jaw and winced slightly as his fingers caught the cracks in his skull and chipped them. He hissed a curse through his teeth.

“I can’t see anything. Whatever it is, isn’t in my jurisdiction.” He sighed, waving a hand and following a beaten path back home. Forest music hesitantly piped up from hiding. Mako perked up at the returning tunes, his march not faltering through the returning freedom from silence.

Mako froze upon returning to the cabin. Scratches etched in the door in shallow frantic strokes. He braced his scythe in front of him and pushed through the cracked door. His furniture was thrown, blood covering the dulled cloth of his chair and streaking the floorboards. The door to the back rooms was shut, handprints pulling the edges and leading into his private quarters. He extended his Reach and tilted his head. The creature’s colors were shredded, speckled in various areas of the back room.

He eased the door open.

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