55 – A Farewell
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It was still night when I came to, likely early morning, but who could tell in the weird world between worlds. The sleeping princess had shifted off my arm in my sleep, and my leg felt decent enough to walk. If I wanted to slip away, the time was now. I quickly wrote a farewell note on a piece of paper and left it folded under a rock. They would find it in the morning. Taking a few steps away, I checked that I had everything on me. My daggers and kimono were all I cared to check.

Some rustling made me jump, and I spun around with my hands, ready to draw my weapons. Orrin stood by the spot and nodded as he read my note.

“I see, I see. Very interesting… I have no idea what this says. You have terrible handwriting, you know,” he said with a smile.

I relaxed my hands and shook my head. My first thought was to retort with something like ‘assassins don’t need to write well,’ but that required admitting I was, at least at one time, an assassin. I settled for the obvious question.

“Weren’t you passed out drunk?”

“I got better!” He held up a bag and smiled. “It’s not much, but I packed some food for you to take. It’s enough for two people to last a day if you’re careful.”

“Considering there is just one of me, that will be fine,” I said as I approached and took the bag. Orrin looked at the sleeping princess. “I’m not taking her.”

“I didn’t say anything!”

“You implied it.”

Orrin chuckled.

“We have had so many come through this world, it can be hard to keep track of everyone, but these sorts of partings never get easier.” He broke from his typical tone to finish off. “It was good to know you, Kiko; truly, everyone will miss having you around.”

I wasn’t sure how to reply. I almost fell over at a serious tone for once. Of course, it had to come right before I left; I would have loved to pester him further about it. Still, I wasn’t sure if Orrin’s words were really that reliable.

“Surely, they won’t….”

“I guess you can just ask them yourself.” He took a deep breath. “Hey, everyone! Kiko’s getting ready to leave!” The moment was gone; the green-clad man was back to normal.

Lerato was the first out the door. He ran up and handed me some additional food.

“It’s not much, but….”

“I already did that!” Orrin interrupted.

“I also threw in a light weight if you ever get the desire to train.”

“Thanks,” I replied. I don’t think I would be using the weight ever. Maybe as a throwing rock, but I couldn’t say to Lerato’s face.

Casey was the next out. She handed me what was clearly a broken spear. The long handle had been snapped, and she wrapped some cloth around it to make a makeshift dagger.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t do much more on shorter notice.”

“No, it's very nice!” I replied. I slid the dagger into my sleeve where it would remain hidden.

Enas strolled out and scratched his bald head. He placed a round object in my hand.

“It is an energy grenade; pull the pin and throw it right away. It will explode.”

“I’ll make sure to put it to good use….” I carefully hid the weapon away. What kind of dangerous thing did he give me? Hopefully, it would not explode before I wanted it to.

The last to come out was Pythagoras, clearly still hurting from his excessive alcohol consumption.

“We’re giving gifts? Why didn’t you– uh, oh! How about I give you some mechematical formulas I’ve been working on?” His long ears drooped when I didn’t reply, but soon his eyes lit up with an idea. He ran back to his cabin and returned with the baseball cap from our supply collecting so long ago.

I put the hat on while doing my best to hide my reluctance to do so.

“Don’t you need this for your ultimate weapon?”

“A genius like me can make an ultimate weapon without a part or two.”

“Thank you all, really,” I said as I looked down. Something must have gotten in my eyes since they felt more watery than usual.

“Oh, what’s going on?” Sakura mumbled as she woke up. How this girl managed to sleep so long through all the commotion was a mystery. She quickly picked up the situation and soon was standing by my side. With a polite bow, she spoke to the others. “Everyone, thank you for coming to my aid back then, but I must return to my world with Kiko.”

The exact opposite of what I wanted to happen was unfolding before my eyes.

“It’s okay to stay behind. Going back will be dangerous,” I replied.

“That is precisely why I must go! Our world is in chaos after all!”

I sighed. I suppose I had a new traveling companion, at least for a little while; maybe I could ditch her after jumping in; I think we would end up in different places if we weren’t touching.

‘The next time you see her, please do try to get along’ ran through my head. Akimitsu’s words from my last memory came in as an unwanted reminder. I would need to ensure I yelled at him the next time our paths crossed.

“Alright! Best of luck!” Orrin chimed in while giving a thumbs up. “We’ll try to visit sometime to see how you are doing!”

I smiled and shook my head.

“I look forward to it,” I spoke perhaps the most honestly to him than I ever had before.

With our final words exchanged, the princess and I headed into the dark but colorful woods. I did my best to rub some tears away without my traveling companion seeing. We arrived at the world-lake in no time; it was almost as if the world was trying to help us leave as soon as possible. I carefully dipped my hand in to double check it was our world. Once I had confirmed it, I turned to Princess Sakura. To my surprise, she had a serious expression on her face.

“Kiko, before we go, I need to ask you something!” she said with as much boldness as she could muster. Clearly, she had been trained, but her personality lessened the intensity I think she was going for.


“Emperor Akimitsu, what happened to him that day?”

I looked away, down at the sparkling blue faux-water. This was the one question I had hoped to avoid. Was there a way out of this? A diversion that could change the subject.

“She stabbed him!” A familiar draconic voice rang out. To my surprise, the princess turned in the same direction to see the voice. Azul was wrapped around a tree branch. He smiled at us with a toothy grin. “Isn’t that right, Kiko?” His words were not scathing, nor were they sinister. He was merely speaking the truth as neutrally as possible. Finding a response was difficult; I wasn’t sure what angle he was taking.

It wasn’t surprising that the dragon had escaped the world. He had mentioned the ability to pass through worlds and, now untethered from me, could likely do it freely. What was unexpected was that he decided to appear to me again so soon. Was he really so oblivious to how I felt?

“What is that?” the princess was more horrified by Azul’s appearance than his words.

“A dragon pest. Pay no mind to him.” I would see how the blue dragon would react first.

“What did he mean?” She had heard his words, after all; that was unfortunate. I stood motionless as I contemplated. I did not know how she would react, but I might as well avoid giving Azul any chance to add anything else.

“I killed Akimitsu,” I answered bluntly. The next thing to do would be to explain that I saw him again, but how to do that was a mystery. Would she believe such a story? Sakura held two hands over a wide open mouth.

“It was an accident, right? Or due to a mistake, like in a story!” She gave me a lot of charity.

“No, with intention. I stabbed him three times then he fell off the cliff by the castle.”

Maybe it was my desire to be rid of the princess, but I didn’t explain further. Perhaps I was using this as an opportunity to part ways. My mouth felt locked like I couldn’t speak any further to add more details. I took a deep breath. There was another possibility as well. Deep down, I wanted her to hate me for what I did, to be so enraged she might bring me to justice for my crime. Akimitsu had been too kind; maybe I just wanted someone to stab me back. It was a chilling thought and one best left to speculation.

“That’s right! She’s a murderer, you know!” Azul added. “But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I can restore him to life if I can be freed!”

I could see his angle. He was trying to get Sakura to be his helper since he had been pulled off me. It was the best plan. Knowing what I did about the whole situation made me a difficult target, and the princess was clearly a sheltered girl. Who better to take advantage of than someone who doesn’t know anything? I needed to say something to stop her… or, on second thought, did I?

To my surprise, Princess Sakura pulled me close to her. I’m unsure of what resolve she steeled, but we quickly fell back into the world lake. Before plunging in, I heard Azul scream a curse, and Sakura replied:

“Then Kiko will need to work hard to redeem herself!”

We hit the faux water before I could answer and vanished into our world.