Makana stood in the royal stable where she kept her horse Sarah. Just as her mother and father had been allowed, she was allowed to keep her horse there since she served the king and queen. Makana was getting her horse groomed and ready for the job she had to leave on the following day. She had been on many jobs before but this one would be the hardest of her life. It was to be the first bounty she would track without her parents by her side. They had both died a few months back, her mother of age and her father a few days after in his sleep. Makana had no doubt he only died from lack of will to live once he lost Dawn. Her mother has been his everything aside from her and she was glad they were both in a better place together.
She had so many treasured memories of them and coped well with their loss. They were at peace and her throwing herself into depression would do nothing to return them. She chose to make her mother and father proud by holding her head high and going on with life. Makana of course cried at their loss but tears were long over now. Suddenly she heard someone coming, soon realizing it was her best friend Zikmund “hey” he said and she smiled “hey, whats up?’
His mind looked busy as if he was putting a lot of thought into what he was about to say “This is going to be your first job without Dawn or Saul. Not that you can’t handle this on your own. I’ve seen you in action I know but I wanted to come with you. You’ve been admirably tough but I’m going to worry myself sick about you if you don’t let me come with you on this job. I don’t want you getting sad about the hunts you went on together and make a fatal mistake.” the small dragon that was almost always on his shoulder leapt off and onto hers. It rubbed its small head on her cheek then made a chirping sound. “The company would be nice. You guys are welcome to come with me tomorrow”
“Thank you, I promise to be ready.” She smiled and he pulled her into a hug. Even if she didn’t say it, she was still very sad. He wished he could make things better, but the loss of a parent was hard and he knew that there would be times when she would find herself crying again over their loss.
“Bright and early.” She said, her head resting against his chest.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” He kissed the top of her head and pulled back to smile at her. “Get some rest tonight okay.”
“I will, I’m not some newbie.”
He chuckled. “I know, but you can’t blame me for wanting to take care of you, we’re friends.”
Her smile was wide “right, now go” Makana had suspected for a long time Zikmund had feelings for her. She honestly loved him too but regardless she could never find the right time to talk to him about it. There especially hadn’t been a good time to talk about it after her parents passed. At first she was overwhelmed and as tough as she acted she was still trying to get back to feeling normal. Makana finished grooming her horse then went walked home for the night. After checking her bag one final time she changed into pajamas and slid into bed. Her alarm clock wasn’t a welcome sound but she shut it off and hopped up right away. One of the many things she learned from her parents was never to snooze the alarm and make yourself late. She and her mother had shared a very serious job and laziness just wouldn’t cut it.
Makana ate some scrambled eggs and downed an orangejuice before grabbing her bag and heading out. She smiled when she saw Zikmund and his horse waiting for her in front of the royal stables “right on time” she said as she passed him to saddle up Sarah. When she came out on her horses back he said “I never have and never will make you late” They let their horses walk out and through town before increasing their speed to a trot. The king was still sorting out problems with bandits near the outside of their town and didn’t have time to deal with them.
Once they were safely out of the area Makana said ‘if thieves are still a problem when we get back I’m going to take care of them myself”
“I can help with that too”
She smiled. “That would be great, thank you.”
Zikmund’s heart danced excitedly in his chest and a smile tugged at his lips. He would go to the ends of the world for her, would walk through any hell. He wanted to stay close to her, especially now that her parents were gone. He knew she was strong, that Dawn and Saul had raised her to be tough, but he wanted to watch over her. He would stand at her side no matter what, protect her back for the rest of his life. They rode on until lunch and came to a stop at a river where they let their horses go after grabbing their food. Makana sat down on a boulder and Zikmund sat behind her, his back pressed to hers.
“This is my favorite sandwich.”
“I know, that’s why I had it made.”
“Thank you for thinking of me.”
She almost said she was always thinking of him, but decided against it. Instead she said, “You’re welcome.” and went back to eating.
As they finished Zikmund asked “how far are we headed?”
“he escaped two towns away so this trip wont be too bad as long as he hasn’t obtained a horse. Last time he was seen he was still shackled by the wrists and on foot”
“good” she smiled and let herself lean into him more “In a hurry to get me back?”
“Of course, when i heard you had taken a job already I got extremely worried.”
“The king really needed me”
“there are other bounty hunters”
“he probably knew you’d come too”
“I still want to get you home”
“well lets get going then. The horses have had a small break and didn’t seem very tired when we stopped so we’l go again and only rest if they show signs of needing a break. They leapt off the boulder then mounted their horses for the journey. They let Sarah pick the speed since she was the more dominate horse out of their two and simply guided them along. Zikmund talked to Makana about possible ways they could take care of the bandits for their kingdom when they got back if it ended up being somthing they needed to handle. Makana just listened and nodded her agreement from time to time, glad she had somthing to do rather than think. Zikmund had hit the nail right on the head when he worried about going on a job stirring up too many memories.
Making it too the first town seemed to take no time at all and they rode on through, nodding at the few pedestrians that were out. Most of them were afraid to venture out with a criminal on the loose even though the king had sent someone to reassure them the criminal had gone in the opposite direction. Their horses began to slow when they were an hour out and Makana and Zikmund both stopped to let them rest. They themselves sat down in the grass and drank some water. “So what kind of crimes did our escapee commit?” Zikmund asked.
“Breaking and entering, burglary and assault. The first victims were his ex wife and new husband then after that he chose people that reminded him of her.”
“From what I was told, he was pissed because she left him then remarried. He said he just went to talk to her, they started arguing, her ex husband heard the commotion and interfered then he lost his cool, beat them both and stole a bunch of jewelry.”
“at least he doesn’t sound ridiculously dangerous.”
“yeah, I doubt the king would have asked me if he was much worse. I’m sure there has been plenty of jobs he has waved off on someone else because of my parents loss” he could feel how much that hurt her to say and he reminded her “Like I said at the funeral Makana, you have every right to cry and I’m here to hold you or do whatever you need” Makana wrapped her arms around him “thank you for coming.”
“It’s my job as your best friend to make sure you’re okay. I decided to request coming because I know you and knew even if you thought you would need me you’d try to be tough and wouldn’t ask. Nobody expects you not to struggle Makana”
“I’m not even going to deny that. I wouldn’t have asked”
“so you better keep me in your life always since I can anticipate those needs” Makana laughed “what would life be if I didn’t have you?”
“horrible” he answered with a smile that brought an even bigger laugh out of Makana “You can be too much Zikmund” Solar hopped off Zikmunds shoulder and flew off “where’s he going?”
“Maybe just giving us some space. You know he’s only a whistle away when we want to leave”
Makana rested her head on his shoulder as they waited for the horses to completely regain their stamina. It felt good being with him, he made her feel so loved and protected. Before she knew it she had drifted off in the warmth of the sun and Zikmund moved her so he could wrap his arm around her. He let her stay like that for half an hour then gently shook her awake. “I’m sorry.” She said and yawned.
“Don’t be, I’ll be your pillow any day.” He replied with a warm smile as he helped her to her feet and they both called their horses back. He whistled for Solar who came flying back and dropped down on his shoulder. “Ready?”
“Always.” She replied and and he smiled lovingly at her. She felt her cheeks warm at the look he gave her. His feelings were so obvious, written on his face for her to read like an open book. Just him doing that, gave her the strength to push on.
Solar would normally just ride with Zikmund but he seemed to have endless energy, swooping and flying in circles around them “He is so different this trip. What has him like this?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe he’s trying to entertain you? He gets sad when we see you now because he knows your sad”
“Oh” she held out her arm so he’d land on it and crawl to her soulder “you don’t have to worry about me Solar” He rubbed his face against hers again and chirped like he had done the previous day. “Love you too you beautiful little thing” Solar rode with Makana up until the next town “what do you say we find dinner, get good rest in an Inn then question the bounty hunters who lost their captive?” Zikmund nodded “I’ll follow you anywhere” she smiled and guided Sarah into town to find board for their horses.
As in most places the owners insisted their horses stayed free for keeping everyone safe “thank you”
“No, we thank you brave people” As they turned away Zikmund took her hand in his. Korva was a bustling place and it simply felt good to have her hand. They found her mothers favorite place to eat and went inside “you really want to come here?”
“Of course, our memories will be celebrated. Not feared and avoided. When I have kids one day I’ll bring them here and tell them about their grandparents” Zikmund stroked her hand with his thumb and took a seat with her. When the waitress came she practicly squealed. “Makana! Zikmund! Hey! Where’s Dawn and Saul?” Zikmund went a little pale and Solar seemed annoyed. It was still just as hard to say but Makana forced out “my parents recently died…we’re it now”
“Oh” she seemed upset at herself for asking even though she couldn’t have known “forgive me”
“Theres nothing to forgive. Can we have our usual?”
“Of course sweetheart” Solar walked over to Makana and settled in her lap “It’s okay Solar” she said as she rubbed his back.
“He’s just as much a worry wart as I am.” Zikmund said and Makana gave him a warm smile.
“I’ll be fine guys, really. I have you both here to watch over me and make me smile.”
Zikmund reached across the table and grabbed her hand. “That’s all I ever want Makana, your happiness above all else.”
She just smiled back at him and they talked quietly until their food and drinks came. Solar moved back over to sit on Zikmund’s shoulder and he shared his food with his companion who chirped happily. “I wish mom and dad were here.” Makana said then sighed.
Zikmund took her hand again. “They’re always here Makana, in your heart and in your mind, guiding you, watching over you. No matter what, they’ll always be here. You are part of them, so they live in you.”
She actually felt herself tear up and she took a deep breath to keep them from spilling over. “You have no idea how happy hearing that makes me.”
“I think I do.” He patted her hand. “Alright, eat so we can get some rest.”
She nodded and finished her meal. “I want to buy a few things here before I go to my room. Are you two coming?”
“Of course” Makana walked around and purchased a few things she could only get here then walked to the Inn with Zikmund close behind. He walked her to her room then they exchanged a long, tight hug “I’ll see you bright and early Kana” he said gently. “see you, sweet dreams” Solar chirped once her door was closed and they were walking away “she’ll be okay until morning boy. It may have been a bit much to share a room with her. I’m trying to be respectful of her mourning time.”
Makana opened her bag and pulled her change of clothes out. There was never any telling how long a hunt would be so she was going to take advantage of the Inns shower. She took her time, standing in the water long after she was clean. In fact, the only reason she got out atall was because the water grew cold. She towel dried her hair, brushed it out then relaxed under the covers in her underwear. “I really miss you mom and dad, so much” she whispered to the air as she hugged a pillow.
Zikmund had trouble sleeping as he worried about Makana. Her sadness was his sadness and he wanted very much to go to her and hold her while she slept. Dawn and Saul had been amazing people and their deaths had seemed to come far too soon. He sighed, turning on his side and making Solar chirp. He closed his eyes, willing sleep to come and telling himself that if Makana needed him, she would come to him. The next morning he was woke by tapping on his door and he got up, yawning and stretching as he pulled the door open.
“Good morning Makana.” He said with a sleepy smile. “You’re up earlier than anticipated.”
“I kind of tossed and turned then fell asleep then woke up again.”
“You should have woke me up.”
“I didn’t want to bother you.”
He chuckled as he got into his bag and pulled out some clothes. “I don’t mind being bothered by you.” She blushed, her feet on the floor as he pulled his pants and shirt on then his boots. “You want to grab something to eat real quick or just get going?”
“lets eat so we don’t end up hungry because we can’t find food” When he shut his door she hugged him and his smile grew “always my favorite way to start a day” he said in a happy voice. “zikmund” she started. He waited for her to continue but when she didn’t for some time he said “yeah Makana?” she sighed “last night was just so hard”
“want me to hold you tonight if we’re still traveling?”
“please” he let a hand slide down her hair “all you had to do was ask. You should know that” she smiled into his chest ‘I know more than you think” he chuckled “do you now?” needing the comfort she swiftly took hid face in her hands and gave him a small kiss “yeah, I do” his eyes were wide “Ma..makana?” she kissed him again, not knowing what to say. He kissed her back, slow and smooth until she stopped “I’ve known you love me for awhile…I just…theres never been a good time to talk about this change in our friendship”
“tell me about it..I’m certainly glad one of us stopped with the mild flirting though.”
“It had to be done. I need you now more than ever Zikmund”
“and I’m here, in any way you could need me. I love you with my very soul Makana Coupe” she sighed happily and ran her knuckles down his cheek “lets get going”
“I guess but tonight you are getting drowned in affection. I hope you’ll be ready”
Her sweet smile made his heart dance. “I’m always ready.”
He couldn’t help but kiss her again. He had to force his lips away from hers, knowing if he over indulged, they might never leave. He slid his hand into hers and they left the inn, grabbing their horses then heading for a bakery for a quick breakfast of blueberry muffins. The next place they went was the inn where the guards who had been escorting the prisoner were staying. They got their account of the events of the day the man had escaped, thanked them then headed out to the other side of town.
“I can’t believe the fool ran into the forest with his shackles on.” Zikmund said.
“People who panic never think. He probably thought it would be easier to escape that way.” Makana replied.
“Solar you fly above and tell us if you see anything while we search for signs of him down here.”
With another one of his adorable chirps he soared up into the air. They only had to keep up the search a few more hours when they found him sitting on the ground with his head in his hands. They rode up close and Makana dismounted her horse, causing him to look up. She quickly realized he had been sitting there crying. He sighed and looked away “Cant get these damn things off”
“They are enchanted” he lifted his arms to revel a few injuries “I’ve learned that. Fought some things trying to get free. I’m obviously not going anywhere like this. Just take me in. My life is over anyways”
“Your life isn’t over”
“It’s been over since she left me. I lost my mind the day she took my heart. Now all i have is prison to look forward to and then an empty life once I do get out… you dont know what its like to love someone with all of you then find out you were dispensable to them” Makana almost felt bad for taking him but he had still committed his crimes so it had to be done. Though he was coming willingly Zikmund insisted he ride on his horse to keep him away from Makana.
“It’s pathetic for you to think that the loss of someone justifies you hurting others.” Makana said after a few minutes and the man looked at her with a glare.
“What do you know?” He snapped.
She turned her eyes on him. “My mother and father recently died, they were two of the most important people in my life and I would give anything to have them back, but you don’t see me going out and hurting others because I’m upset they’re gone. You should be ashamed of yourself.” He looked away from her. “Did you drive your wife away?”
“Yes.” He replied under his breath.
“Then you should be happy that she is with someone who can make her happy, rather than angry that she’s not with you anymore because she chose happiness over being miserable.”
“I did love her.”
“You don’t make your loved ones miserable, no matter what you should always strive to make them happy. All you can do now is serve your time and apologize for your pettiness.”
He didn’t answer, just seeming to be determined to wallow in self pity. They took him in without incident and Makana collected her fee for the work. “thank you” the man said and Makana answered ‘you’re welcome, call on us anytime” Outside Makana gave half her pay to Zikmund who knew by now fighting about taking it would do nothing but waste time. “Hey, instead of sleeping outside tonight why don’t we just buy a room again and enjoy town”
“sure, nothing is really rushing us back. Hopefully somebody has gotten a handle on those bandits”
“truly I find it sad the Knights havent gotten to it. They have grown weak and ridiculous without your grandfathers guidance”
“Oh I know, the king needs to find a good head for them again” they discussed people they thought would be good for the job as they walked their horses back to the stable and left them for what remained of the day. Zikmund took her hand as they walked to the Inn and checked in again. They went ahead and took care of that so they wouldn’t have to carry their bags around town. Makana dropped her bag and went to leave the room but Zikmund grabbed her arm and pulled her into him. He held her close as he finally gave her the kiss he had been really wanting to give her. Makana felt light headed by the time he pulled back just enough to speak “I love you, I’ll love you the way you deserve to be loved, the way your father loved your mother. I promise”
A single tear slid down her cheek “Oh Zikmund” He pulled her over to the bed and sat down, placing her on his lap “Let it out Makana. It’s impressive how strong you’ve been but I think you’re long over due for another cry. Cry and let me be here for you”
She squeezed her eyes shut and more tears slipped down her face to fall off her chin. He pulled her head down to rest on her his shoulder and she bawled her eyes out, her fingers gripping tightly to his shirt as her body shook. He stroked her back and brushed kisses onto her forehead. She missed her parents so much, it hurt waking up and not seeing them first thing in the morning. It wasn’t fair they were gone and she wished she could tell them how much she loved them one more time. “I hate this.” She said through her sobs.
“I know baby.”
“I want them back.”
He stroked her hair. “I know.” He raised her head and brushed her tears away. “I’m so sorry my love, so sorry. I love you.”
“I love you too, thank you for being here.”
“I always will be, I promise you. I’m never going to leave you.”
He held her for a little bit longer then said encouragingly “come on, lets go have some fun now. I’m sure theres plenty to enjoy around here”
“Okay” she wiped at her face again then walked out with Zikmund. What remained of their day was filled with happiness and laughter. Making their first day as a couple a much better one than either could have expected since their feelings were finally said out loud while they were on a job. Makana hoped he would become her permanent partner like her father was to her mother but that was a question for another day. Today she would just enjoy the bliss of no responsibilities and a man who was crazy about her.
~ The End