Chapter 16: Lies in Manifestations
"One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter." –James Earl Jones
That very evening, I dined at dinner by myself for the first time since…since his first tour. The food before me on the table was delicious, the spicy scent wafting into the air. Somehow I had begun to like their food, even though it was much spicier then my own people's. We ate more seafood, and did not usually indulge into cooking as exotically as they did. Ran must have interfered with the menu tonight, for there were Fire Cakes on the table. She had learned that I enjoyed them from my multiple trips to the kitchens for food. I had realized than Ran was the head of the servants, which was more than usual for someone who had once been a lady's maid. All of the servants here I recognized by sight, but I had not cared to learn all of their names. Ran had told me a little here and there when I had asked.
I picked up one of the Spice Cakes, examining it before I took a bite. I did not even know the name of the person who cooked my food. The spicy flavor burst onto my tongue as I bit into the warm bread. My eyes were averted from the spot across the table that was usually filled. My dinner passed in silence as I had ignored the feelings that were bothered by that silence.
Iwao followed me as always as I went to enter the study as usual later that week, after the midday meal. Ran had helped me as always, but she had other duties to attend to. I had not had any lessons with Satoru yet. Plus, I would not reveal that I was desperate for…company…. I was used to being rather alone, unusual when compared to my life at the village. Yet now, it was worse than before…
He halted by the door, taking his usual position by the door. I paused as I went to pass him. His golden eyes showed no emotion as I looked at him in indecision. "Won't you join me?" I asked politely, gesturing towards the study. I could not stand the silence…the feeling of…
Iwao eyed me as if I had become insane, from what I could tell anyways. He gazed at me with a face that showed no human emotion. "Why would I do that, my lady?" The torch lights in the hall flickered shadows across his face, making him seem like a pale phantom.
"Because I am commanding you to?" I returned in false bravery. I usually did not dare to order him about. Mostly because of the fact he would not follow any orders I would like to have given. Nothing changed on his face, but I might have sworn that a tiniest of glimmers might have shined in his golden eyes momentarily.
"Alright, my lady," He responded stoically, with the usual bow.
I contained a smug grin of victory as I walked into the study, with Iwao following me into the room. I settled into my usual spot at the low table, pausing to look up at Iwao. He stood near the doorway, standing awkwardly in his usual stance. He looked rather like a statue when he stood that way. "Aren't you going to sit?" I asked him sharply. I had always had a temper, but here in my gilded prison, it had bloomed into a fury.
Iwao's face did not shift even for a moment. "No, my lady," He replied indifferently.
"You'd be a lot more comfortable," I added, hoping to tempt him to sit down. For once I was trying to socialize with this infuriating man! He acted as if nothing mattered, as if he were truly emotionless. I had started to have enough of it, especially this last week. He was one of my only companions.
"No, thank you," Iwao claimed aloof.
"Don't you feel anything?" I demanded suddenly, letting my irritation be released. This had slowly been building up over the weeks since his return. Since….since I had started to befriend them….the enemy…
Somehow the line of what they should be…and what…they have come to be to me has started to blur. Where once things were black and white, when I only knew hatred for them, has changed. There were now shades of grey, and in that I was furious at myself and confused. A melded insanity had begun that should not exist, but somehow, just a part of me…
…Part of me was glad of it…
Iwao only looked at me with a gaze disinterest. This enticed me to continue. "Aren't you human?" I beseeched him, almost with a tone of desperation. His indifferent attitude disturbed me, but more because of the question I had asked him. Aren't you human?…They were more than the enemy to me now…
I glanced down to see Iwao's hand twitch, almost as if he had been tempted to curl it into a fist. Our eyes met again, but his kept the stone cold expression he was so expert at maintaining. Unless I could break it. "Aren't you?" I added again.
Iwao did not break away from my challenging gaze. "Of course I am human, my lady," He articulated at last, his voice still reserved. I had not even pricked a needle through his armor. A soft sigh escaped from me. Iwao bowed towards me as he spoke. "I will take my usual place, my lady." Iwao then turned around and walked out the door as I stared at his back. A thought occurred to me from what Akane had told me. The group that took away her son…the Society…was the same group that trained Iwao. They were the ones who had done this to him, and if I ever had a….
I paused in horror at that thought. That would never happen, I swore to myself, but I hated myself for even letting such a thought occur in my mind.
The next day I had my first lesson with Satoru since our encounter in the gardens. We sat in our traditional spots by the low table in the study. The sunlight softly lighted the room, warming my skin as it touched me. Iwao was outside of the room as always. Satoru was reviewing the workings of the Fire Nation's style of government underneath their Fire Lord. Fire Lord Azulon….the son of the man who started the war…Fire Lord Sozin….Father like son, I thought bitterly.
"Currently the only heir to the throne is Crown Prince Iroh," Satoru lectured, "He won't be taking the throne for many years, considering he's only thirteen years old."
"You mean until Azulon kicks the bucket?" I inquired roughly.
Satoru kept down what looked like an amused grin. "Yes," He answered me. "Prince Iroh is said already to be a powerful firebender and quite intelligent."
"So he's already on his way to becoming a murderer," I commented coldly.
Satoru looked at me for a moment in shock. I guess he was not used to anything speaking badly about their royal family, or just speaking the truth. "My lady, you should be careful with your words," He warned me quietly. "Others would not be as accepting as I am." He looked at me gravely. "Your words are safe with me, but you could get into trouble."
"Like I'm not already?" I said tartly. Satoru let out a snort at my statement. He was one of the only people I could speak to openly, and well…one of the only people I did speak to.
"Forgive me, my lady," He said in a partial apology.
"It's alright," I told him seriously. Satoru's grey eyes looked at me intently, almost as if he were hesitating.
"My lady…" He began to say, "I know you hate us, and his lordship…I wanted you to know that if you need any help, just ask it of me."
My eyes widened as I stared at him. What was that supposed to mean? "What do you mean?" I asked him sharply.
Satoru's eyes flickered towards the doorway briefly before returning to my face. He spoke in a low voice. "This is a prison to you. I would help you escape from it…to your people or the Earth Kingdom. Whatever you ask."
My heart began to beat quickly as lightening in a severe storm. A chance to escape….a real chance because this time I had help!…But I had promised him…
Yet…why would Satoru do this for me? He would be ruining his life here. His career for me! Why do such a thing? Was this a cruel joke to twist and torment my mind? Yet, I had come to know him. Satoru is…is a good man. I had come to think of him fondly. Someone I could trust. When had this happened? The color was drained from my face. Satoru looked at me anxiously. I whispered to him. "Why are you saying this?"
A small frown formed between Satoru's eyebrows. "Because…" He began under his breath, "Because I care about you more then I should."
My heart skidded at his words. Immediately I was in shock, for I had not done anything to make him feel that way….how could he feel this way? A twinge of guilt entertained me. Had I done anything to make him feel this way? I knew he was being sincere. I had come to like him…to trust him…but nothing more than that. Before now, before I had started to befriend him, Ran, and Akane…I would have jumped at his chance to escape. I would have only been thinking of myself.
But now…now I was thinking of him. If he helped me, he would lose everything here and I knew that Katsu would not let me go that easily. His words from before rang in my mind tauntingly… "I'm not letting you go. No matter what..." Would I let Satoru ruin his life for me, especially when I did not feel the same? Would I let him do that?
I let out a long sigh of frustration. For a moment, I wished that I had never gotten to know him. At the same moment, I was glad that I had. "Satoru," I murmured. "I…"
My next words did not get to be spoken for Iwao had silently walked into the room. He stood in front of the doorway as I gaped at him. Satoru followed the direction of my eyes. His grey eyes hardened at once when meeting Iwao's own stone cold ones. Fear flooded into me. Had he heard everything? Of course he had…then he would…to Katsu!
"My lady," Iwao greeted me neutrally with a nod. His golden eyes narrowed at Satoru like a predator. "I should kill you where you stand," Katsu said heartlessly.
Satoru sprang up to his feet slowly, as I followed his action. "Go ahead," Satoru challenged him. "At least I'm not the one helping to keep her a prisoner."
Iwao did not even flinch for a moment. "She is already married, peasant," Iwao mocked him cruelly. "You have fallen in love with a woman who is taken."
"It seems we share the same dilemma," Satoru accused him seething. Both of the men stood with tensed figures. I seemed frozen, incapable of intervening, though I longed to. My body was working against me! It was also Satoru's words that made me feel faint. He was joking right? I looked at Iwao for a confirmation. What he said was impossible!
Iwao stared at him icily. "I am incapable of feeling," He stated callously. "You can ask her yourself."
Finally I seemed to have the will to move and speak. I took a step between the two of them, looking at both of them confidently. "Stop!" I ordered them. They both looked at me surprised by my interruption. The two of them had both been only focused on each other. I held up my hands in a sign of intervention.
"My lady," Iwao began to protest in his indifferent tone.
I kept my position. "No…" I said softly. "Iwao…you will not tell this to Katsu." Iwao looked at me with his golden eyes that seemed to have no feeling. "Satoru…I'm going to forget what was said…"
Because I am doing this for your own good. Because…because you are my friend. I wanted to say those words, but held them in.
Satoru gazed at me with a look of hurt, while Iwao seemed to hold his cold indifference. "Iwao," I added with a plea. "Please." I feared he would report it to Katsu anyways…
Iwao looked at me for a long moment. He then bowed, and left the room without another word. I took that action to be a yes. I turned to Satoru who looked at me with a look of hurt and protest. "You love his lordship," He accused me quietly. "That's why…"
I cut him off. "Satoru," I interrupted harshly. "You were right about me. I still hate all of you!" I said those words with the hope of discouragement. Let him hate me instead….
Satoru opened his mouth as if he wanted to speak, but instead he whirled around and left the study. I stood in the room, reeling in shock from what had just happened. Slowly I sank to the floor, my legs feeling weak underneath me. What was the truth and what were lies? Is that why…? The hatred between them…Katsu's reaction to Satoru in the gardens…
…Moon Spirit…Ocean Spirit…
I had stopped praying to them weeks ago, but now I sent them a silent plea for the answers. Answers that I did not truly want to know.