Myth: the Legend of the Black Moon
"An Afternoon In the Garden"

Kanna Aida sighed blissfully as she took the final step into the gardens. A wave of cool air washed over her body. She shivered briefly, smiling.

It was the typical summer day: the sun shone down brightly from its place high in the sky and the air was unbearably hot and dry. There was the occasional breeze, though those were always pitifully weak and unrefreshing. The only relief from the heat came from the eight perfectly conditioned gardens that surrounded the castle.

She wore a white dress made from a light fabric. The sleeves were long enough to brush against her knuckles and the hem of the skirt hung just above her ankles. The low neckline dipped deeply and disappeared into the mini-vest she was wearing. The mini-vest was made from a thick black fabric that was tied in the front with black string. It was tight-fitting around the middle, just enough to push up on her breasts. Its neckline was not nearly as low as the dress', but still allowed for an ample amount of cleavage to be exposed. Her long, straight black hair was tied back with a white lace ribbon.

"I don't see why I have to come here with you," her attendant, Rhain, commented tiredly. "You're allowed to come out here alone now. You don't need me to come along."

She glanced back at him, her clear blue eyes glinting mischievously. She tightened her grip on his wrist slightly, pulling him along with her as they walked. He followed obediently, giving her no struggle aside from the occasional complaint.

Rhain was dressed in a long black jacket and pants that were similar to what a priest would be wearing. The long jacket was well-tailored to fit to his body. The high collar was left open to reveal the velvet choker he was wearing. The choker was adorned with a silver charm shaped as the Goddess' sacred symbol. His black hair fell to the middle of his back. He'd started growing it out years ago, after she commented that she liked it better.

He sighed softly. "Kanna, you don't need to drag me like this."

She glanced back again, this time flashing him that same mischievous smile.

"But," she half-whined, half-sang, "I'd be lonely without you. You have to come!"

"You're sixteen, Kanna," he retorted, sounding a little irritated. He twisted his arm so that he could grasp her wrist and pull her to a stop. "And on top of that, you're a princess. You should act like it."

She bit her lip to hide the pleased smile that was forming on her face. Over the past thirteen years they had been together, he diligently served her. As long as it was within his power, he granted her every wish and obeyed every order no matter how outlandish it would be. He rarely complained, and his expression was always calm and composed. Summarized, he made the extra effort to be "perfect".

There was the rare occasion when one of her requests ruffled his calm appearance. For a brief moment he'd forget his place, and the walls he'd so carefully built would crumble. In those brief moments she got the chance to see the real Rhain. He scolded her more harshly than usual, with that compliant smile wiped clean off his face. He became irritable, and even a little commanding.

It had happened more often when they were children. She'd always loved his defiant personality and honest manner of speaking. He'd been the first to treat her as an equal.

"That's right," she agreed, nodding. "I am a princess. You should act like it."

He sighed softly and released her arm.

"You're a pain in the ass," he told her.

"Yeah, definitely," she agreed, laughing. She couldn't help but feel a little proud to hear it.

"Besides," she continued, spinning around so that she was facing the garden, "isn't it better in here? The power of the Gods is granting us this small paradise. It's here for days like this. We should appreciate it. It'd be rude not to."

"Yeah, yeah," he sighed. He stepped closer to her and patted her head lightly. "You use that excuse all the time."

"Hey!" she huffed, grabbing his hand. "I'm a sixteen year old princess! Just because I'm a little lenient with you doesn't mean you can act so familiar with me!"

He walked in front of her and bowed deeply, the slightest hint of a smirk on his face. "Forgive me for my rudeness, my beautiful and most cherished princess."

She sighed and walked past him without another word. On the outside she showed a little irritation towards his behavior. On the inside she was struggling not to laugh at him.

The eight gardens that surrounded the castle each housed eight individual shrine stones. The shrine stones were sacred objects that contained a small portion of a God's power. Their most common use was to form protective barriers around a particular barrier. The same was true for the castle, which had been protected by that barrier for nearly one thousand years.

It was hard for Kanna to distinguish which garden she was in without stealing a glance at the engraved symbol on the shrine stone. Though each garden was uniquely designed with flowers that were native to the island of their designated deity, the gardens were redesigned four times a year with various breeds and colours of flowers. For those who were more in tune with the Gods, there was an indescribable sensation that danced along their skin during the time spent within the garden.

Her eyes traced over the shrine stone's symbol. This was the God of Water's garden.

"Hey, Rhain, do you know where my garden is?" she asked absently as she walked.

The live wire that lined the stone paths was already overgrowing and spilling out over the polished stepping stones. The flowers that bloomed at the tips of its grassy sprouts were a shade of deep red. A single row of snapdragons bloomed in pastel pinks, blues, and yellows directly behind the live wire. After sunset, when the flowers closed up for the night, the buds would emit a pale white glow. They acted as markers for anyone passing through the gardens at night. They were the only flowers that were planted in all eight of the gardens.

A sea of neatly trimmed green grass spread throughout the rest of the garden. Small trees and shrubs formed the garden's border. She'd heard their names countless times before, but had never liked them enough to remember what they were. One of the garden's newest additions was a small, swirling mass of purple and white alyssum. At their center stood a cluster of red begonias - scarlet non-stop mocca, she recalled being told the species was called. It was the shaped to look like the God of Water's symbol.

In the far east of the garden stood a large fountain. It was made from some kind of metal, and painted black. A pillar rose out of the base to hold up a second platform. Water overflowed from it and cascaded down to the base.

"You like it here, don't you?" Rhain commented, reminding her of his presence.

"Yeah," she replied.

Venturing into the gardens was the extent of Kanna's freedom. The Goddess had been torn from her body and sealed into the gardens in an assassination attempt when she was three years old. Her father, his advisors, and even the castle's priests kept her imprisoned within the castle's walls to protect her. As long as she was still alive, there was still a chance to release the Goddess.

she came to a stop in front of the shrine stone and stared at it. Several rows of the alyssum had been planted around it to form yet another symbol.

"Liam did the gardens this time, didn't he?" she inquired.

"I believe so."

"Why do they keep allowing him to?"

"Probably because he enjoys it," Rhain replied. He came up behind her and gave her another pat on the head. "That's one of the most important aspects of designing the gardens, you know, Kanna. The barrier is strongest when a lot of love goes into the creation of its garden."

She rolled her eyes at him. He was quoting Liam. It was corny, but the old priest was probably right. Every season the gardens were changed, and at those times all of the priests put a great deal of effort into finishing them. They always seemed to be happy and enjoying themselves as they worked. Liam had always said it was because working for the Goddess and protecting her beloved family was the greatest pleasure a priest could ever know.

"Unfortunately love does nothing for taste," she commented sourly.

Rhain tousled her hair. "Let's go. The Goddess' garden is this way."

She smiled brightly. He was being unusually affectionate with her. Whatever his reason happened to be, she wasn't about to question this rare chance.

"Rhain," she whined, pulling out from under his hand. "I'm not a kid anymore!"

He smiled at her as if to ask are you sure about that? She returned it with a pout and a light punch to his gut. Seemingly amused or satisfied with her response, he began laughing. Wisps of hair fell into his face as he shook his head at her.

"Ka-n-na," he called her name, adding in extra syllables. He leaned over, a small smile gracing his face.

She felt her cheeks heat up. Her breath caught in her throat. Every muscle in her body suddenly stiffened; her chest was so tight it nearly hurt. His eyes locked with hers, and she flushed a deeper shade of crimson.

"Yeah?" she stammered. Her chest still felt so tight. It was getting hard to breathe.

A familiar weight pressed down on her head, effectively snapping her out of her daze. His smile turned into a grin as he gently stroked her hair.

"You'll always be my cute princess."

--

A/N: I don't really know how to comment on the story. I needed to get some Rhain/Kanna fluff out of my system, and Syuura was holding a writing contest, so I found it to be the perfect opportunity to do some writing. Though because it was for a contest, I ended up taking too long and had to cut it short(I'd hoped to make it twice as long, but that didn't happen). Please excuse the awkward writing; I'd just been getting back into writing after a year-long break. And... I think that's everything. I hope it was enjoyed.

- Makami