chapter 5

They had won the war. It was Akira's personal victory. Or so everyone thought.

She was truly depressed. Who wouldn't be depressed after what happened to her? Maybe she had jinxed herself, she thought, by thinking about the possibilities.

She was full of guilt. Her love, he had… died. While she was standing there. She believed it was her fault. It had to be. Surely she could have struck down his opponent before he had been stabbed again and again and again in the heart.

She knew what she had to do. She had to be united with him, the one she loved more than anyone else in the world, save perhaps Nikki. Of course, Nikki would rule. She was quite capable. Akira had prepared everything, tied up all loose ends.

The only part left was the goodbyes, the hardest part.

First was family. Nikki met them all over the next few hours, telling them that she loved them and they had each been part of a great family. Parents, a brother and two sisters, a few aunts and uncles, and cousins. They did not know it was a farewell. She gave them all letters with instructions to open them the next day and only the next day.

She found her best friend, Nikki, dejectedly dipping her feet in the water at the pool. "Nikki, I'm really sorry about everything that's going to happen, but it's okay, you know," she whispered after sitting down next to the other girl. She almost cried, but she didn't want tears. She was past them.

"Akira, girl, it's okay, I guess. I suppose I'm okay for now. You know that you will always and forever be in my heart." Nikki looked up. "Never forget that. I could never forget you."

"You will always be in my heart too. How could I ever forget you? This is for you, though,"

There were two pieces of paper. The first was a will. The second was a last letter to Nikki. She was not to open it until tomorrow either. "Oh, how sweet!"

The two girls hugged for almost the last time, both sobbing.

"Nikki, what if something goes wrong?"

"Don't worry, it wont! I won't let it!" Ironically, Nikki was the one comforting Akira.

"I will come back one day."

"I know you will. It's in the prophecy."

"The prophecy?"

"On the knife sheath. One day you will come back and you will become great again. You will have command of your own empire, though it will be a slightly different empire. And there is so much more written."

"Ah, yes. You remember everything you must do after I leave?"

"Yes. Don't worry about a thing. Everything here will be perfectly fine."

"Oh Nikki, you know I love you! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!"

"I love you too! I LOVE YOU TOO!"

They continued crying, still hugging each other. Finally Akira pulled away. She kissed Nikki's cheek and ordered, "Come on. Let's go now. It's almost time."

The two girls, still embracing each other with arms around each other's waists, walked slowly to a secluded natural pool. Everything was there and set: soap, lotion, towels, special white and black clothes, and the several accessories they needed. They both took a bath in the pool and readied themselves. They put on their most magnificent embroidered white shirts with matching black skirts. They had the same sun-moon-star jewelry. They combed each other's hair, Nikki admiring Akira's hair that was almost the color of her blood. They decorated, braiding and twisting, braiding and twisting. They applied small amounts of makeup, only to accent their features. Finally they were ready.

It was time. They made their way to the grove where Akira always met her dog. He was there today. He sat off to the side, and Akira sat down in the middle. Nikki sat down on her other side. Akira looked one last time around her, savoring the last moments of her life. She loved this grove, with the trees growing in a natural circle.

"I love you, life." Akira whispered as she opened the silvery gold metal box she had brought along. Inside lay a knife inside a wonderfully crafted sheath. Akira held the special knife in her hands.

"Until we meet again," she smiled at the dog and at Nikki.

Akira moved the knife to closer to her heart.

It was the knife.

It was the knife that Akira took and plunged into her heart.

And Carrie knew what she had to do.