"I want to be alone."
I stood frozen in place; my right hand trembled at my side as I stared at the woman I loved. I glanced over to Kai who looked just as distraught as me. This wasn't supposed to happen. No, this should have never occurred. I needed to try and persuade her.
"Mako—" I began.
"GET OUT!" she screamed.
We both flinched at the unstable power that hit us. I hadn't even realized my own movement— my body listening to her demand before it registered in my mind. The door slammed shut behind me as I realized Kai and I were standing in the hall.
Winterlya came out of the screen room— remorse written all over her face.
"She doesn't mean it. You know that," she reminded.
Kai nodded, glancing down at his feet.
"This...shouldn't have happened. Why didn't we see anything? What could we have done to stop this? We shouldn't have agreed to her helping Leonardo...I..." I trailed off, the same three words lingered in my mind yet again.
I FAILED HER.
"Ryder. Something changed in the stars. This wasn't supposed to happen. The gods are just as shocked as you," Winterlya reminded.
"How the hell would you know?" I snapped, glaring at her.
"Ryder," Kai warned, his tone low.
I let out a frustrated huff, my hand ruffling my messy locks.
Winterlya sighed, her hands crossed as she held her silver wand.
"Vinzent," she summoned power flooding the hall. Her wand shimmered a bright silver glow, morphing into a tall man— Vinzent who we had met recently back in Minato. We both glanced with wide eyes as we gawked.
He gave Winterlya a confused look, his silver glowing eyes looking at Kai before landing on me. "Should we really be telling them this?" he pondered, the question directed to Winterlya while he continued to stare at me.
"They need to know," Winterlya replied.
Vinzent sighed. "Something changed in the last fifteen minutes of that exam. Nightmare, Kurani, Risuki and I have been summoned to figure out how Jeffrey was able to change the future without our acknowledgment."
"You're a Starlight god?" I questioned.
He nodded. "Laviathan. A pleasure to meet you, Ryder Carter and Kai Akiyama, Future Heirs of Minato and Phentailia. I wished we'd been introduced in happier circumstances," he greeted.
Both Kai and I lowered to one knee, bowing our heads.
"My apologies for my rudeness," I offered sincerely.
"It's an honor to be in your presence, God of Lightning," Kai whispered.
"Rise. We can save the formalities for another day. I'm concerned with the Princess’ mental health," Vinzent admitted.
We both rose, exchanging worried glances.
"How bad...is it?" Kai hesitated.
I ignored my hand that continued to tremble.
Vinzent looked at Winterlya who sighed.
"Mako...has dealt with this before," Winterlya revealed.
"What?" we questioned, confused.
"You guys didn't go through her file from the facility?" Vinzent asked.
"We glimpsed through the first parts. It was a large file and we didn't get many opportunities to go through the fourteen cycles’ worth of files," I admitted.
"When she was seventeen, something occurred at the facility. It took her an entire cycle to get over it. During that period...Mako was suicidal. They had to chain her to the bed and if she went elsewhere, she had shackles on her hands that dulled her magic. She'd almost been successful at one point, but it seems the reports disclosed her spirits had taken over for a long period of time before she'd found a new resolve."
I stood there in shock. Why hadn't I known of this? Why didn't she say anything?
Vinzent looked in my direction. "Unless asked, would you bring up anything about Anya?" he questioned.
I frowned, shaking my head in defeat.
He continued. "I suggest once your group deals with your internal disputes, you read the file if you want to know how she's going to overcome this...again," Vinzent concluded.
"Wait if she was suicidal, why haven't we done anything?" I questioned.
"She hadn't shown any signs...but now that you told her what's going on...well, I can't be sure how she's going to react. Karen's watching her through the screen display, but..." Winterlya suddenly stopped, looking exhausted and confused.
"You don't know," I finished.
"Mako...she's strong. She wouldn't give up," I whispered.
"You’re right. But, this isn't a test where she's using her powers or fighting skills, Ryder. Mako is facing the potential reality that she may be stuck like this for the rest of her life. Imagine yourself going through a disease and having conquered it, only to get re-diagnosed with a stronger illness a few cycles later. Would you be happy to go through the struggles and pain you had the first time?" Vinzent challenged.
I gulped. "No," I replied. We all stood there in silence.
"We just have to figure something out and work with the Princess. There has to be something we can—" Kai began, but his eyes grew wide.
'Ka—" I questioned but stopped.
Kai moved so fast the three of us were left stunned for a split second before following him to Makoto's room.
I was prepared to walk in, but froze— Kai's hands held Mako's wrists; what looked like a sharp object was in her hand.
"Princess, stop!" Kai yelled.
"Let go!" Mako yelled back, tears streaming down her face.
"We'll make it right, Princess. Stop," Kai stressed, pulling her wrist in front of her. She tried to fight Kai's hold but was losing the battle, the weapon in her hand fading into nothing.
"You know NOTHING! It won't be right! You don't know how it feels! You're clueless! ALL of you! The gods said I'd be fine! Why am I broken? You promised! You all promised!" she screamed.
"Makoto!" Kai yelled.
She glared at him, biting her lip so hard it began to bleed. I could sense her power build, ready to release, but I saw the hesitation flicker in her now glowing pink eyes.
"I'm broken, Kai...I don't function properly anymore. I'm...I'm...are you going to get rid of me?" she whispered. Kai cursed, pulling her into his arms.
"Listen to me. You aren't broken! You are still our Princess, our Makoto. We'll work on it. I'll go across all the realms if I have to! Please, Mako...don't give up. Please. I need you...we all do." Kai's voice cracked, a tear rolled down his cheek.
Mako began to cry— her sobs echoed across the walls as she wailed and sobbed in defeat.
I took a step back, lifting my hand to wipe the tears that had escaped my eyes. I could hear her hopelessness in each sob. I wanted to hug her, to comfort her, reassure her that everything would be okay as I always did. Yet, here I was, backed into a corner with no clue as to what to do.
My team of knights, my best friends, were falling apart and I didn't know how to fix it— to make it like how it used to be. The woman I loved had been through so much, yet now she wanted to give up.
I flinched at the familiar sound, the voice that always calmed me when I doubted myself. I glanced to my left and saw the same pair of purple eyes I'd looked up to when I needed guidance and support.
"Mom..." I whispered, swallowing the lump in my throat.
I glanced over at the woman next to her. The woman looked similar to Makoto, but older and wiser; the same turquoise eyes I enjoyed peering into every day looked hauntingly back at me with sadness.
I hadn't realized I was moving until I heard my mom call out to me. I ignored her, rushing down the hall to find safe haven.
I wasn't worthy to show my face to the Queen of Heila, Makoto's mother. I'd been entrusted to bring her home safe and sound. Instead, I brought her in the worst possible condition. I'd returned with a group of knights who couldn't commit to their duty because we were all dealing with the reality we'd failed our Princess, again.
I was their leader, yet I'd forgotten the morals I'd learned. I'd vowed to not allow Blair to interfere, yet here we were facing our hardest challenge yet, thanks to him and his servant, Jeffrey.
I opened one of the empty rooms, locking the door behind me before I rushed to the washroom. I knelt in front of the toilet, vomiting whatever I'd eaten from who knows when. My hands trembled as my anxiety rocked my very being.
"Ryder. It's okay, take deep breaths," Stryker consoled, his voice showed just how sad and hurt he was.
I flushed the toilet, stumbling to my feet and going to the sink. I washed my mouth before splashing cold water against my face. I began to take deep breaths, glancing up to see my reflection.
A chaotic mess; starting from my hair that pointed in multiple directions thanks to my on-and-off hand combing, to my purple eyes that were red from the irritation of my tears that continued to fall down my flushed cheeks. My eyes lingered on the small stubble that had already begun to grow on my chin, causing me to chuckle in dismay.
"She hates when I leave it to grow," I whispered.
I closed my eyes, falling to my knees. I let my elbows rest on my knees; my hands pressed against my face.
How did it lead up to this very moment? What could I have done differently?
"Ryder. Everything happens for a reason. Reminisce about the past, realize the challenges you had to face, and answer me this. With everything that occurred...both good and bad, would you change it?" Stryker tested.
I took a moment to process his words, my hand reaching for the silver chain that hid beneath my shirt. I tugged it out, looking at the locket. My thumb landed on the small button on the side— the front swung open to show the picture of the woman I loved, smiling before me.
Her bright blue eyes glittered with delight as her white teeth peeked out from her wide smile. My lips were on her cheek, unaware the picture was being taken.
I glanced to the other side of the locket, a picture of all of us— My mother and father, the King and Queen of Heila, Anya on my right with her hands up laughing, Mako copying the same pose with Nightmare on her head, and my younger self— laughing from all the chaos.
A piece of jewelry I seemed to forget existed, yet had brought me a wave of comfort as I glanced back and forth between the old and recent picture.
I closed my eyes, resting my head against the black cabinet, gripping the locket to my chest while I listened to his words.
Regardless of good or bad, would I change it? Any of it? The hardships, the laughs, the sorrowful events and most importantly, the chance to meet the woman I loved and adored.
This is my story, and how one girl changed my world.