Chapter 4: The Home of Katsu
"Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate." –Albert Schweitzer
I opened my eyes to Katsu's bedroom; it was to the red canopy of the bed above me. A dark color…like blood. Slowly I sat up, scanning the room instantly for any sign of his presence. There was none. A soft sigh of relief came from me, until I finally took notice of my change of clothes. Before I had still been in the clothes that I had worn when captured, which had been worse for the wear. Now I was wearing what seemed to be a long shirt that went down to my feet and long sleeves that went to my wrists. I hissed when I noticed I no longer had my undergarments. Had the monster changed me himself? Had he seen me naked? I shuddered in revulsion. As was to be expected, the dress-shirt was a shade of red, but one light enough it almost looked pink. Ugh.
The cloth was soft I thought after-mindedly, softer than anything back home. That thought was shoved away immediately. My stomach growled as I slid off of the bed and out of the blankets. Someone had put me into the bed, considerate enough to tuck me in. Bile rose up in my throat and I ran to the attached room. There was a basin in front of the mirror that I relieved myself in. An acidic aftertaste stayed in my mouth as I wiped my chin. "Are you ill, my lady?" A voice asked concerned.
I turned around with a shriek, slipping into the only defensive stand I knew. Of course, I had not water to bend. My shoulders slumped as I looked at the woman who stood before me. She was definitely not a threat. No, they are all monsters, I corrected myself. The woman before me was taller than me by a hand or more with a thicker build. Not fat, but not as fragile looking as the woman from home are. Her dark brown hair was pulled back demurely in some sort of half bun on her head. A small red symbol of the Fire Nation decorated it. Dark brown eyes looked at me considerately from a pale, rounder face. She was middle-aged with several lines around her eyes. Her outfit was a dress-robe thing I didn't know the name for in colors of soft red and a pale grey.
"Who are you?" I rushed forcefully.
The woman gave me a tiny smile and…a bow? Was I dead? Drugged? "My name is Ran," She replied politely. "Lord Katsu sent me to help you."
"Lord Katsu?" I repeated mockingly. "Moon spirit…" I groaned under my breath.
"Well, are you ill, my lady?" Ran inquired.
I gaped at her. Why was she calling me that? Didn't she know who I was? Where I am from? "Stop calling me that!" I shrieked. "You're supposed to hate…not treat me like some!...Some sort of…" Ran looked at me in complete shock as I shrieked at her, but held her calm expression.
"Like a noblemen's wife-to-be?" A deep voice stated humored, interrupting my tirade. I hadn't noticed the monster leaning against the doorpost, sneaking in quietly. "You may go Ran," He said with a wave of his hand. "I do apologize for her lack of behavior, but do grab something for her to eat."
"Yes, my lord," Ran said with the bow, a strange gesture compared to the one I was used to do. She put her hand underneath her palm. She glided out politely, leaving me to glare daggers at the imposing monster before me.
Katsu's light eyes watched me as if I was not wishing death on him at all. "You should be more polite to Ran, as she is the only servant who will be caring for you directly," He warned with a touch of…kindness?
My eyes narrowed. "She's one of you," I said with repugnance. "I hate all of you!"
"You use that world a lot," Katsu mused. He moved from his spot as he walked towards me. I stepped sideway away from him, but he walked past me towards the mirror. He looked at the basin and turned back to look at me. I looked away at the strange expression on his face. That could not be… "Are you sick?" He asked me. "What made you do this? Is your stomach bothering you?"
"It was the thought of you undressing me that made me sick!" I yelled hoarsely. My head was starting to pound again. "It was you who changed me, wasn't it? Where are my clothes! I want them!"
"Ah," Katsu answered me with a closed off face. "Those clothes were tossed. They were in horrid shape, as for who changed you that was Ran who did it." He had thrown away the only thing I had left of home?! He closed his eyes for a moment. "I'm so glad to know the thought of me touching you delights you."
I screamed and ran at him, trying to claw out those demon eyes. Katsumerely held my arms above my head, grabbing them with one solid hand. "Stop screaming, Rana!" He commanded seriously for the first time. I halted. That was the first time I had heard…an order in his voice. "You're giving me a splitting headache."
I looked up at his face. "I hope you get one," I said darkly. I had one that caused me to flinch at the pounding at my temples. "Let go of me!" I added, for he still held my arms above me as if I were nothing.
Katsu let go of my arms and I backed away, not turning my back to him even once. I edged towards the doorway that led towards the bedroom. "When Ran gets back, I expect you to eat, clean up, and be properly dressed," Katsu said firmly. "And I expect you to be totally compliant with her."
I let out a snort. "Why would I do what you want?"
Katsu stretched his arms out like a lazy, but dangerous, predator. "Because I will do it her place if you aren't good." That made me nod my head with wrathful eyes. Better her than him at least. Ocean spirit…Moon spirit…why did this happen to me? "That's better," Katsu said with a victorious smile. "Of course, you don't have a complete wardrobe yet. Your clothes are borrowed ones, so try not to tear them up like you did mine. There will be a seamstress coming tomorrow to do your measurements."
I stared at him silently.
"Later today, I will show you around the house, maybe even the gardens," Katsuwent on evenly with an unreadable expression. "You will meet the household later eventually of course, when you can act civil." I gritted my teeth together. I had made a decision in that moment. He wanted me to be obedient. When given the chance, I would run…or…or I don't think I could it. I hadn't been able to do it on that icy field back home. Until that time came, I would not give him the satisfaction of any sort of reaction. Not one word.
"No ranting or raving, Rana?" Katsu went on with a teasing smile. He dared to tease me? What a sick monster! I merely glared at him more, hoping he would die on the spot. "So you're going to ignore me now, huh?" He asked with a shake of his head. "Trust me, it won't last. You have to much fire in you to do that." Fire? Fire?! I fought the impulse to attack him again. Fire…I hated fire…and feared it…
A woman screamed as she ran out of burning tent, only to be burned down by a soldier who laughed as half of her face was burned. Lying in the snow…the stench of burned flesh and hair…a babe wailed from within the tent…a girl hidden in the snow trench nearby…crying for her mother…weak…unable to go into that tent because of the fire…
I pushed the memory away and the tears that threatened to rise. I hadn't seen them before my waking eyes, except for in my dreams. "Another thing, Rana," Katsu went on, "Don't waterbend. I know how tempted you will be, but don't. The consequences would be…you don't want to know." Katsu looked at me with a dangerous face, taunting me to challenge him. I looked away.
Katsu walked passed me and the door that led to freedom shut with an ominous bang.
Ran later returned to find me staring out the glass windows onto a garden, sitting on the bed quietly. "Are you ready to bathe now, my lady?" She inquired. I looked at her and shrugged. She smiled and shut the door behind herself that locked with a click. Ran strode past me into the other room and I was shocked to hear running water. The thought did enter my mind, but his warning had been so…I turned away from those thoughts. Ran came back into the room and knocked on the bedroom door. It was opened by someone on the other side, but I didn't turn back around to look. I could hear her coming back and forth from the other room to the bedroom several times. A peculiar flowery scent entered the bedroom. Not unpleasant, but…different. "My lady, follow me." Rana called from the entrance way into the other room. I got off of the bed and walked past her.
"Could you get your clothes off and into the bath?" She asked, gesturing towards the tub that was now filled with water and had a murkier color to it than usual. She saw the expression on my face. "Only scented perfumes and the like in the water," She said with a chuckle. "Almost like you've never had a bath before."
"I haven't," I said. My eyes opened. Had I really just talked to her? She was being too…friendly…why wasn't she treating me like she should? It put me off balance.
"Really?" She said surprised. "Sweet Agni…well, uh, my lady, if you're curious those pipes there, you see?" I looked at several metal pipes that did come out of the head of the tub. "They bring up naturally heated water from some pools underground. Not a lot of the nobles have this kind of bath, so this is special indeed!"
I nodded. "Do you need my help to undress?" Ran made a movement to come nearer to me.
"No!" I snapped, backing away from her. Her hand fell to her side with a controlled expression.
"Of course, my lady," She said with a cooler tone. Her dark brown eyes were more guarded now. "Do you need my help at all?"
I shook my head.
"That table over against the wall has all of the clothes and such," She continued. "If you need any help I will be in the bedroom and with food waiting for you." She walked out of the room, leaving me to my own devices.
We didn't have baths back at home, but had merely used a bucket with water and rags usually. It was quite a different sensation to be in a tub with hot water that smelled…good. To be in my own element brought a temporary peace for my mind. I would look over the edge to make sure Ran was still in the next room. I managed to take care of myself just fine until I looked down at the peculiar things on the table. The clothes I had put on I hated. Loose pants and a similar dress-shirt to Ran's, with a wide material going over the waist line, and an outer robe. The material was soft, but the colors…a dark red and lighter brown. There was high collar line and the shoulders had a double shoulder spikes. I shivered underneath the soft, silky material. The clothing was so light in weight compared to my own…Ocean spirit, I missed the color blue.
Ran walked into the room and beamed at me. "That fits you splendidly!" She exclaimed. I scowled at her. "I can help you with your hair," She offered. "You'll have to excuse me, my lady, but it isn't proper for you to do your own hair. Do you even know how to use those?" I looked down at the only thing that I knew that resembled a comb. Ran's smile stretched. Before I knew it, I was sitting on a stool with the woman's hand on my hair. "You do have a good length of hair," She complimented me. It was to my waist line, but others at home had had even longer hair. I forced away the thoughts of home…or how Kanna would comb my hair…as Ran did now.
She pulled up half of my hair, leaving the rest down as she put it into a know style similar to her own. I shook my head. "You don't like it?" She asked softly. I turned my head to look into offended brown eyes. "And I expect you to be totally compliant with her." The demon's voice warning whispered in my ear. I shook my head. Ran grinned and went back to her work.
"Do you want any make-up?" She asked a few minutes later. The look on my face was an instant no. That was a rare thing at home and I didn't want to look that way for him. "Jewelry?" I shook my head. "Alright, let me put in a hairpiece." She held up the symbol of their nation…unlike hers it was gold in color on a red band and slightly larger. A two pronged fire symbol….Fire…burning hatred…fear…mom!
I knocked it out of her hand and watched it clank on the ground. Ran looked at me with passive eyes and picked it up. She set it back down on the table. "I'll take that as a no, my lady."
My headache had not ceased much to go away, but I ignored it when I followed her into the bedroom. Much to my stomach's relief, there was a simple meal of bread and fruits waiting for me. "Lord Katsu said have to light meal for you. He informed me anything spicier would upset your stomach." I ignored her as I bit down onto the bread and was surprised to find it did have a slight spicy flavor. I was hungry enough to eat it though.
I missed the idea of regular bread. Prune soup. I closed my eyes and finished eating the bread. "I will take leave of you now, my lady," Ran stated. I opened my eyes to see her by the doorway. I picked up the cup sitting near me and drank down the water. Ran knocked on the doorway and someone on the other side opened it for her.
I was alone. Finally.
There was no way out of this bedroom, except for the windows or the door. The door had to have some sort of guard on the other side I was betting. Who else was opening it? I looked at the windows. It would be a bit of a noise, but I could run fast. The garden outside didn't look too complicated, but there was wall on the other side of it from what I could see. There had to be an exit there eventually. I walked back into the other room and almost slid on the tile in my new shoes. They were way too slippery, but sadly I had nothing else and the new clothes would be a hassle because of the length.
I was going to leave this place.
I picked up the stool from before and carried it back into the bedroom. I held it confidently and prepared to swing it out at the window. The door clicked open behind me and I felt the stool grabbed away from me as I had pulled it back. I turned around as I struggled to hold onto to it, to see the monster holding onto the other end with a very angry face. He held it with one hand and with the other clasped one of my wrists. His grip tightened, forcing me to release my hold painfully. "Let go," He charged at me threateningly. My last hand on the stool let go. Katsu went and knocked on the door. He shoved the stool outside and murmured something to whoever was outside. He shut the door and leaned against as he turned around.
I stood where I had been, breathing heavily as I stared back writhingly. "You don't give up, do you?" Katsu remarked at last. His voice was dark with anger. A tingle of fear coursed through me. What would happen to me if I did push him too far? "Do not try something so stupid again," He intoned with each word. He came to me more quickly than I could get away. His hands gripped my shoulders as I was forced to look up at his face. "Do you understand me, Rana?" I looked away. "Answer me!" He commanded with a loud voice. His grip tightened on my shoulders and I squirmed to get away.
I gave him a sharp nod. Katsu let go of me roughly and walked away several feet. His back was to me as he stared out the window. I imagined stabbing him in the back, until he turned back around to face me. "You do look lovely," He said as if nothing had just happened. "Red is a good color on you."
My face heated up as I felt the hate soar within me. Moon spirit…My color is blue…he can never take that from me…
"I do have a larger household, but not to extreme. Someday soon I hope you will learn to know everyone by name, but until that day…" Katsu began; he paused and looked at me. "I would like to introduce you to the only other companion you will know until that time besides Ran."
He walked past me and knocked on the door. This time someone came into the room and the door was left open as he did so. He was the one who had been watching the door. The man was not dressed in the armor of the Fire Nation, but simple dark clothes that could blend in anywhere. He was shorter than Katsu, almost about the regular size of my people, but with broader shoulders and frame. He reminded me of a stone with the way he walked. This man bulged with muscle that was framed by his clothing. His hair was in a top knot and was ebony with streaks of grey. Golden eyes, the usual shade, looked at me coldly. He was in his later middle-years, but he gave off a deadly impression. Not overwhelming like Katsu did, but more subtle. His face was squarer with heavy lines. A face's whose expression reminded me of heartless stone. "My name is Iwao, my lady," He greeted me formally with their unusual bow. "I am to be your guard."
"Consider it for your own good," Katsu told me with taunting eyes. "He is one of the best of his kind."
"You give me too much credit, my lord," Iwao said as if was too much honor, but his voice and face held no expression. As if he were truly stone.
Iowa turned back to me and bowed again, and then to Katsu. He went back through the door and shut it. "He will be by that door when you are in here," Katsu informed me with a terse look, "And by your side wherever you go, unless I am with you."
I looked away from the monster's gaze. I moved back a step when I heard him approach me, but was to slow to escape his careful touch that caressed my loose hair. I didn't look at his face when his hand gently followed my jaw line. Fear and revulsion whirled in me. "You're shivering," Katsu breathed near my face. His hand fell away from me. "I am sorry about earlier, but you do need obey me."
I looked up at his face that was only hands breaths away from my own. My face was defiant with hating eyes. Katsu didn't look one bit disturbed. "This is better than the prisons, Rana," He claimed. "You should be grateful."