Letter 6

(Clan Phoenix)


I write this now only moments after it happened.

I was standing in the camp of our army, the heat of the summer still lingering in the night air, when she came to me, her eyes filled with tears. She begged me to speak to her in private. I agreed and we walked alone in the darkness, just outside the light of our camp.

"My brother," she whispered. "I have awakened from a dream. A terrible dream."

I nodded. For nearly two years, I have suffered from nightmares that have gripped my throat with such terror, I cannot put the visions to paper. It is the taint that brings these nightmares to me.

"It was only a dream," I told her, but she shook her head.

"No. It was a vision. I was visited." She shuddered and I held her close. "All of our ancestors stood over me, their eyes and their voices telling me what I knew was true, what I denied for so long."

Then, she looked up at me, her tears beginning once again. "It is not my destiny to walk with the Thunders, Tadaka. It is yours."

I felt my throat dry up and my knees buckle. "But, you -"

"No. My destiny lies out there," she turned and looked south and west. "In the Shadowlands. He is there, waiting for me."

I heard my voice speaking, but I do not remember asking the words. "Who is waiting for you?"

"The oracle," she said. "The lost oracle." Then, she turned to face me, her tears gone and a gentle smile on her lips. "I can feel it already, Tadaka. I can feel the weight of my denial lifting."

My breath grew heavy as I realized what she meant.

"The fear has lifted from my heart. I know now where I must go, what I must do."

She reached up and touched my shrouded face. "And so do you, my brother."

Then, she turned from me and walked toward the darkness. I tried to call out to her, but my voice was frozen. She stopped then and turned, as if she had heard my silent cry. "Do not forget me, Tadaka."

I nodded. "I won't."

She smiled and waved, and I suddenly remembered her as a little girl, waving to me as she left for the school a year before I would. I was so jealous. She was the child with promise, the first-born. I prayed to the Fortunes that I might take her place.

Now, as I watch her walk away into the darkness, I cannot help but wonder if that prayer had been floating around for all those many years, only now reaching the Fortunes' ears.

Goodbye, Kaede.

Your soul is closer to thunder than mine.