Chapter 8: Unforgivable
"Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you from hope and love?"-Leo Buscaglia
I swiftly walked past Iwao who followed behind me without a word. What had just happened? I shook my head. He had told me to leave. I was going to do just that and happily! This was it, finally! I quickly attempted to form a plan in my head, but most of it was half-planned. I traversed into the inner courtyard with the fountain I had come to like. The sky overhead was blue with a shining sun. I looked back over at Iwao who watched me with a blank gaze. Was I capable of it? I had not done it in so long, but I needed to get rid of him. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.
Then I moved.
A stream of water came out of the fountain in a whip like form and smacked Iwao on the head, knocking him the ground. I stood ready, breathing deeply, in case he stood back up. He did not. I had almost expected him to stop me like he always somehow did. Had I truly caught him off guard? I did not stop to consider it as I fled the scene.
I cautiously approached one of the gates on the wall that would lead me to my freedom. There was only one man guarding the gate. He tilted his head towards me. I recognized the middle-aged man for he was the one who always had the spear at his side. "Please help!" I said frantically, rushing up towards to him.
"What is it, Lady Rana?" He asked hurriedly.
"My guard, Iwao, he just passed out in the inner courtyard!" I rambled with false panic. "He won't wake up!"
"Of course, Lady Rana!" He answered positively. He walked past me briskly.
I almost dropped my jaw. It was that easy? He was really that stupid and trusting of me? I should have done this before! It took me a bit of difficulty to open the large door, but I stepped outside free onto the dirt road for the first time in months.
The country before me was green, rolling hills that started out as a flat, grassy plain. I did not look back once as I started to run.
Only an hour later, I was walking up a grassy hillside with heavy breathes. This heat is impossible! I shrugged off my outer robe, letting it drop into a pool of red on the green grass. I had ditched the road for it would be way too easy to find me there. Yet now I was lost. I stood up on the hillside and looked around to see more hills, but saw a glimmer of the blue ocean to the right of me in the distance. Would it be better to follow the beach line until I encountered a village with boats? What kind of story would I make up?
I pushed away those thoughts until the problem would come. For now, I headed towards the ocean with tired breathing. Living the easy life had made me weak. Eventually my eyes were able to see the entire vast ocean before me and the soft sand of the beach as I strode down the very last hillside. The sand was already in my shoes for the grass had begun to disappear into only small patches here and there. There were pieces of driftwood and small rocks about in the sand. I had been able to hear the soft cries of the ocean from his home, but I had not been able to see it truly since he had brought me here. Even though I was exhausted, I smiled in joy at the view of the ocean. It was just as it had been at….
The water was lighter here; at home it had been so dark usually, like a cloudy night. I did not think or care as I kicked my shoes off and walked into the water to my ankles. The water was soft and comforting around my feet as the waves came in and out. I closed my eyes and breathed deep, taking in the smell of the beloved ocean. I would only get hints of that smell if I walked along the wall that had held me inside there for months.
I opened my eyes at the sound of something large and fast coming towards me. Up on the hillside above the beach were two figures on those strange horned, riding creatures that he had brought me on that first time. I recognized one of them immediately for it was impossible to mistake the outline of him.
I knew his eyes must be burning at me, even from this distance I could feel them. I thought to run, but knew it would be futile. Just as it had been the first time. At the least I could fight, this time not with my words, for was I not surrounded by my own element? The beasts thudded loudly as they came down the hill. Katsu dismounted meters away from me and the other man, a guard from his home, also dismounted. Katsu held up his hand in a gesture to stop towards the guard who remained by the beasts.
Katsu stalked over towards me like a predator. His golden eyes were flinty and his jaw set determined. He approached me cautiously at the same time, keeping a distance between us before he finally spoke. "I told you to not run away," He accused in a low rumble.
"You told me to leave!" I exclaimed back. "I was happy, no, rejoicing to do that!"
"Come here, Rana," Katsu ordered, he extended a hand towards me.
I laughed darkly. I am not trained and I had not practiced for months, but somehow I was able to manage to send a wave of water at him that was larger than any I had made. It knocked me over to the ground and left me sputtering from the salt water that was in my mouth. My clothes were soaked. I looked up to see where Katsu had gone, only to see him standing above me, completely dry.
"Did you really think you could fight me?" He drawled. He shook his head as he grabbed my shoulders and raised me to my feet as if I were a doll.
I glared daggers at him.
Katsu ignored my eyes as he touched a piece of my wet hair, brushing it away from my face. I slapped his hand away, taking a step back. His face had a fleeting look cross it I did not understand, before he closed his face off with a mask of anger he had had before. He reached towards me as I went to run away from his grasp, but his hold was like iron as he scooped me up into his arms and carried me like a child to his mount. I was too tired by this point to even try to fight him and besides, would it not be useless as it had proven to be before?
He settled me in front of him with his arms surrounding me like walls as he held the leather strips that were hooked in some sort of device that controlled the creature from its head. I could only lean against him in exhaustion, hearing his pounding heart from his chest as I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up in the bedroom and changed from the outfit I had been wearing before into the night robe I slept in. It was dusk out with the moon just beginning to come out. Only a half moon, but I could feel the slight tingling go through me as I gazed through the window. Moon Spirit…why do my prayers go unanswered?
The moonlight was beginning to set a silver glow through the windows. Stars were beginning to twinkle in a dark purple sky. I leaned my forehead against the glass, feeling its coldness against my warm forehead with closed eyes.
"Look at the moon, Rana," A warm, masculine voice echoed in my mind fondly. "The Moon Spirit, along with the Ocean Spirit, are the protectors of our people. She shines beautifully tonight." Those blue eyes…the same as my eyes…had looked at me with love…so long ago…
It was for the first time here, when I used a true glass mirror, that I had seen that my eyes were his eyes…
I heard the door open and shut behind me. He was behind me. I did not move or open my eyes, but kept feeling the cool surface of the glass upon my skin. My hair fell around my face like a curtain, even further shielding me for it was completely down. His hand brush my hair and his warm presence was behind me. "You really are beautiful, Rana," He whispered lowly. A shiver went through me and something fluttered in my stomach. It was not exactly fear, but what…?
His hand grasped my shoulder, turning me around. I did not look up at him. A hand touched my chin, forcing me to look up at him. His light golden eyes, so clear, glowed like an animal's in the darkness. I could make out the outline of his face, but nothing more. The same hand brushed my bottom lip, surprisingly gentle. I went to jerk away from him, but his other hand wrapped around my lower back, pulling me closer to him.
I could feel his warm breath on my face. "Let go of me," I demanded quietly.
Katsu chuckled smoothly. "I don't want to," He murmured at me, "And I don't think you want me to either." His hand on my face brushed aside the locks of hair that covered my face.
I opened my mouth to argue, but his lips were suddenly crashing down on mine. He had kissed me that one time before, but it had not been urgent or demanding as it was this time. I could not believe that the first time I was kissed by was one of them. Some things I knew from what Kanna and my mother had told m e, but what was this strange feeling in the pit of my stomach? A warm, floating feeling that…Wait, I was letting him kiss me! I squirmed in his arms, causing him to stop.
"What's wrong?" He asked roughly, his mouth hovered above my lips.
"This," I replied weakly, "Because I hate you."
Katsu lifted his face away from mine and he pushed me onto the bed roughly. I landed on the bed in shock and he was on top of me before I could recover. He did not crush me with his body, but held my arms at my side as I struggled by using his weight. His other hand touched my cheek gently, contrary to his other movements. "It would be this easy," He whispered. "But luckily for you, I am not into forcing a woman." Katsu rolled over beside me and sat at the edge of the bed.
I laid were I was breathing heavily. My body shook.
"You are my wife Rana," He continued. "I have waited for months. It is right for us to do this. Am I that revolting to you? Or is it just your innocence you want to protect?" He stood up from the bed and walked towards the doorway. "Go to bed. When I come back, I won't disturb you." I heard the door open and close as he left.
What had just happened?
My body trembled, but not entirely or only out of fear. Would it be so…? I knew what it was and though I hated it, we were married. He had every right in his own thinking, not that I agreed at all! Yet how else could I escape this? What if…a plan started to form in my mind, just an inkling, which could be the way that could lead to my eventual freedom.
When I woke up the next morning, I could tell that he had been there from the displacement of the blankets. He had left before I had woken and had not disturbed me at all during the night. Ran came to help me in the mornings as she always did with her polite conversation and mine very little in response. When I was ready to leave the bedroom, I heard a knock on the door. Who?...
I opened the door, surprised and with a bit of guilt to see Iwao standing before me. He gave me their unusual bow. "May I enter, Lady Rana?" He inquired in his monotone voice. I looked at his face for any anger, but found none. His golden eyes were cold, as if he had never known what friendship and love were. I had always wondered a little about this man who had guarded me for months. I literally knew nothing about him, but I had not cared before.
I looked away embarrassed for I had knocked him off of his feet the last time I had seen him. "Yes," I responded. He entered the room and I closed the door. When I turned around to face him, he was looking at me critically.
"Yesterday I failed to prevent for your escape," Iwao began unexpectedly, "For my failure Katsu has dismissed any more future usage of my services. I have to come to take my leave of you."
"What?" I responded shocked. "You're…you're leaving?"
I could not believe it. Like it or not, I had grown used to having him by my side all this time. It would be…weird without him around. Who else would be there to stop me every time I tried to escape?
"I…don't know what to say," I replied carefully. I looked at this forbidding man who, in a way, I had come to trust. He would have protected me in any situation, even from some of my more stupid escape plans that could have gotten me hurt. "I'd say sorry, but you know I'm not," I added with a small smile.
Iwao looked away from me, hiding whatever expression may have been on his face. "I know you're not," He affirmed thinly, "And neither am I, Lady Rana. Did you think that I would not expect that or that it would take a little water to knock me out?"
Somehow I was not entirely surprised by this. I had wondered at the time briefly and marveled over the fact that it had seemed so easy to catch him off guard like that. "I did wonder," I mused. "Why did you let me run?"
Iwao looked back at me with a firm face. "Because you don't deserve this," He declared boldly and for the first time with expression in his voice. "I have guarded you for months. You never really give up. I am tired of your constant efforts; let his lordship deal with it if he wants you this badly."
I stared at Iwao, knowing the meaning of his words beyond what was said. He showed himself for the first time, but was still guarded and masked beyond my knowing. I bowed my head and smiled. "I understand," I murmured. "It was time for you to get going anyways."
Iwao nodded. "I was never the type to stay with one charge for too long," He confirmed withdrawn. Iwao had returned back to his normal self. "May Agni guide you, Lady Rana," He said politely with their weird bow.
A tight smile grew on my lips. "I don't follow Agni, but thank you," I replied briskly. "Goodbye, Iwao." He nodded and left without another word, shutting the door behind himself with an ominous creak.
Iwao was gone now. I pondered on what he was planning. Another bodyguard perhaps? Last night the seedling of a plan had been planted in my mind. All of my attempts to escape had failed because the monster had expected them. Yet what if he were to trust me? What if he did not think I would run away?
If I could get him to love me, therefore trusting me, I would have the freedom and opportunity to run. I knew this would take a long time. I would have to be patient and pretend, but it would lead to my freedom. Even though he was one of them, I had learned that though they were the enemy, they were human just as I am. Akane…Iwao…Satoru….Ichirou…Ran…As much as I hate to admit that of course.
I wandered into the inner courtyard, feeling slightly alone without Iwao there to trail me. Before today, I would have tried to run if left alone like this. But I knew that he would come after me like yesterday. If I wanted to be free, I needed to be cleverer and have a plan. It would take time, careful planning, but also opportunity.
The sky above had white clouds floating about listlessly. The sun had already moved past the visible patch of blue sky. I sat down at the stone bench, listening to the flowing water of the fountain. It always helped to soothe me. I closed my eyes...
"Rana, you have to be careful. You can't go around waterbending!" A woman told me sternly. I sat in her lap, looking up at my mother's dark face with the eyes of an eight year old child. "It's not safe." Her light blue eyes, the color of the sky, were filled with shadows and pain. My mother's face was soft. A pretty face in a softer way. Kanna told me I looked like her, except for my eyes.
"Will they take me like they did dad?" I asked fearfully.
"Yes," She replied mournfully. "That is why you must promise not to waterbend."
"But…" I began to protest.
"Just promise me, Rana!" She pleaded with frightened eyes.
"I promise, mom."
I had broken that promise. I would sneak off to practice, but they had found me. If only…if only I had kept my promise! I opened my eyes at the sound...
"Rana," Katsu greeted me in his deep voice. He stood under the eaves across the courtyard, stepping down the steps onto the courtyard. Katsu was dressed in matching black pants and a long-sleeves shirt. He had on an over robe of black, lined with a golden color, on his outer robe. The black color of his outfit made his golden eyes more prominent. This was a new outfit I had not seen before.
My hand went to my chest, feeling the necklace underneath my clothes. I did not know why I wore it when he had had it made for me. Yet it was blue, my color! "You had Iwao leave," I said tersely, "He said goodbye to me."
Katsu halted several feet before me with a look on his face I did not catch, before it turned to a taciturn expression. "It was time for him to go," He replied shortly. Katsu took a step towards me and sat down on the bench next to me. I pushed away the instinct to move away from him. He was so large compared to me, making me feel like a bug he could squash with ease.
There was a silence, but I could not take it anymore! "Aren't you going to try to punish me or something?" I accused him abruptly. I had expected him to be furious, but he was acting as if nothing had happened? The bedroom was back in order now and the window that had been destroyed covered temporarily for now. He had ruined the room after the fight in the study. I knew he had a temper, even if he did keep it in check most of the time.
Katsu looked at me with a grimly, amused expression. "Don't you like it that I am not?" He asked jadedly. Katsu looked at me and snorted. "No, you only expect the worse."
I looked away from him.
"I have a proposal for you, Rana."
"What is it?" I questioned him suspiciously. I looked back at him. His skin was so white, like…
"You must promise me to never try to run away. Ever," Katsu declared boldly with flashing eyes.
"Why would I ever do that?" I taunted harshly. "I'm not that insane yet!" My plan was failing so far, I had to try to be…nice…
"Because," Katsu amended, "I can take you to see your father."