When Love Turns Macabre

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Nocci

Mako stood tall over Saphira and offered her a hand. She didn’t take it and scrutinized his every detail, cautious and unsure. Nocci was a name far too unfamiliar to her to be believed. She couldn’t believe he was trying to play some kind of dumb joke. She smacked his hand away and glared.

“You’re messing with me.” She accused. Mako bristled and tensed his shoulders. He didn’t keep his anger back often, usually, the source deserved whatever was coming to them, but Mako didn’t wish anything on her. He wasn’t sure why he hesitated.

“I’m not. If you help me, I will help you,” He reiterated, rolling his shoulders and ignoring the spike in his anger, “it surprises me you’ve never heard of it.”

“Who is Nocci then?” Saphira asked. Mako straightened, he couldn’t believe his bones could tense more than they already were. He stepped past her and left the cabin without a word, “hey, I asked you a question!” She followed after him, slow but assured. He brought her down the beaten path in continued silence. Saphira repeated her question a few times before she caught on that it was fruitless. She huffed and added a bit of a stomp to her step. She doesn’t appreciate being ignored, especially on a relatively important question.

Mako led her away from his home, the forest stretching far ahead with no end in sight. The excited chirping of jaybirds fell away into the gentle coos of hidden owls. Stars awakened with soft, gentle twinkling, the moon captured behind the clouds. Saphira looked up to find the sky turning orange and violet, not yet entirely dark. She frowned, gripping her bad arm’s sleeve with a worried look over the danger-filled woods. She whined quietly at the pain.

“Any chance we’ll get to someplace with a doctor?” She muttered, head down. Mako glanced over his shoulder. His embers cast a soft green glow over her. She twisted her brow, casting a glower at Mako with slight annoyance, but that was quickly exchanged with fear when the cold steel of a gun was pressed to her back.

A click broke the hush of spreading foliage. Mako froze, gripping his scythe and raising his gaze to the source of the sound. Saphira turned pale in the honeyed dusk light, matching tones with the cresting moon as the color drained from her face. A rifle pointed at her. Steel glinted and polished wood shined, the gloved hands carrying the weapon disappearing into the dark.

“Look who I found.” The graveled voice behind her muttered. Saphira looked over her shoulder, slowly raising her hands in surrender.

“Uh, help?” She growled at the creature ahead of her. Mako nodded and pushed through the forest, disappearing in the dark. The hunter looked at the empty space and laughed, never lowering the weapon.

“Barely a day in the woods and yer already going crazy. Here, I’ll fix that for ya.” He smirked. Before he could shoot, he was pulled back and thrown aside. The hunter pointed the gun frantically at an unknown attacker, growling at his prey, “what did you do?!” She raised her hands in confusion, eyes following another phantom.

“Don’t look at me, man.” Saphira snickered.

“Alright, what sack of shit is getting in the middle of this?” He called, pulling a dagger from his hip and replacing the gun in its holster, watching the darkness around him.

“What do you want with her?” Mako asked, from somewhere unknown.

“What do you care?” He demanded. Mako pulled his hood over his head and tore the back of the cloak to release his wings. The clattering alerted the hunter. He made a blind lunge towards the cacophony. He cut the knife into Mako’s wings, the blade bouncing off the bones only causing minor scuffs.

“What th-?” Mako interrupted him with a backhand, tossing him back into the dusk-lit glade. He wiped a trickle of saliva from his busted lip, suspiciously glaring at every opening, “Where are you, coward!?”

Saphira backed up and watched the fight. Mako is clear as day in front of this imbecile, why does he keep whiffing? Saphira sighed to herself, staying back. The hunter lashed and thrashed, his dagger clipping Mako rarely and nowhere that left any real damage. The hunter turned his gaze to Saphira, calmly standing at the end of the gale. He bared his teeth and growled, marching towards her.

“You black magic b-!” He gasped for air and clawed at his throat. Mako’s Mirage slowly faded, his skeletal hands around the man’s throat. Saphira stepped up to the two and looked the hunter up and down, planting a punch in his face and breaking his nose. Mako dropped him and made an amused smirk.

“Nice.”

“So, who is this guy?” Saphira huffed, putting her hand in her pocket and wincing at the involuntary movements of her broken one. Mako bent over the writhing form and searched him. He dug through the pockets on each article of clothing and pulled a wallet from him. Within was a folded piece of paper and a few hundred dollars. He tossed the money to Saphira and unfolded the note.

“Some bounty hunter. ’Reward offered for the retrieval of a small package. Keeper of the item can be brought in dead or alive’,” Mako read, tilting his head, “doesn’t say how much the thing is worth, though.”

“They’re trying to steal it. I guess if they came back after me, that means they don’t have it yet…” She trailed off, staring off into the distance. Mako knew that look twisting her face, the look of forgotten faces. He didn’t realize such a short time gone would muddy her memories.

Mako leaned against the tree and cast a sympathetic look her way. Saphira sighed and slumped her shoulders. She raised her hand to drag over her face, but stopped and grunted in sharp pain, forgetting she used it to bash the hunter. Her pain started to drag on her, her whole body about to drop.

“You need to go back,” Mako said.

“No. We haven’t found my thing.” She growled weakly, wrapping her good arm around her torso and groaning. The reaper steadied her by her shoulder. His grip was firm but calm, something protective in the gesture. Saphira shrugged his hand away and rested her weight on the tree behind her.

“I know. I’ll keep looking. You’re going to pass out if you stay here any longer.” Mako frowned. Saphira shoved off herself off the trunk only to fall to the forest floor and pass out. Mako chuckled, “now what did I just say?” He placed a hand on her shoulder and set Mist to hide both of them from mortal sight.

The stars twinkled overhead, the moonlight barely illuminating the woods. Mako searched within comfortable Reach distance of Saphira sleeping in the brush nearby. He had no luck finding any kind of box or package. To be fair, he wasn’t sure exactly what he was looking for. Mako tried to focus on the task, but his mind kept wandering to what he’d done. Fractures were new knowledge, but he knew exactly what happened to creatures who went against the will of death.

Mako winced at the anxious pains growing in his spine and ribs. His wings involuntarily spasmed as daggers pierced his nerves. He returned to Saphira and sat beside her, quietly keeping watch. If it weren’t for their deal, Mako wasn’t sure he would be taking care of her. He didn’t entirely understand his own intentions, but it must have had something to do with her rare spirit.

“Mako!” Something hissed in the shadows. Mako raised his head and looked around, finding a pair of violet lights in the distance.

“Syris?” He whispered, straightening but making no indication Saphira was with him.

“Why aren’t you in your cabin?” She asked, kneeling with him.

“An animal got in and I hadn’t taken care of it yet.” He answered slyly.

“That explains the mess I guess… Mother Maut is really mad at you, but she and Halal refuse to tell me why. All I know is that you need to stay away from us.”

“Then go away.” He growled.

“But Mako-”

“You can tell them I don’t plan on coming back either.”

“Alright, but-”

“And I’m not giving them my scythe.”

“I’m trying to help you. Stop being an asshole and listen to me.” Syris grabbed his shoulders and shook him. Mako began to boil, taking her wrists and shoving her away from him. Syris staggered and balled her cloven fists, her own anger boiling over as well.

“Don’t touch me.” Mako sternly demanded.

“Fine, just-! If you see any undead from now on, even me and especially Halal, run.” She informed, looking around for any listeners. Giving herself a chance to calm down. He couldn’t think of anything he was losing for being banished. Mako squinted, glancing at Saphira and giving a slight nod.

“Alright… I understand.”

“Good. Please take it to heart.” She opened a doorway behind herself and Withdrew just as soon as she appeared. Mako lowered his gaze and sighed, putting his palm to his face. Saphira snored softly beside him. He groaned and arched in heavily stressed quiet fury. Laying his head back on the tree trunk, he turned his gaze to her. The anger in his bones started to die down, the sight of her sweetly sleeping form helping him relax. If not her, he’d search for a separate adorable creature.

Mako folded his hands in his lap, rolling his head against the bark switching between studying the stars and watching her. The night was calm, silent. Crickets chirping in a steady rhythm, the occasional wolf howling to the celestial bodies. He smiled, glad she could sleep so peacefully despite the danger the forest posed from both beasts and the people coming after her for some petty cash.

“I wonder what that package is…”

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