A/N: Hiya everyone :)
Sorry this chapters taken so long, revising for exams feels like my heads about to explode 0_o Thanks for all the reads and reviews and for everyone who is following this story. You support means a lot to me, Thankyou x
Part 7 – Lost in a Daydream
I don't know how long I had been at sea for, the nauseous motion of the rocking of the boat had now become barely noticeable. Minutes felt like hours, hours crept into days and every second of it I sat in my little room and waited. Waited for what...I wasn't quite sure myself, everything seemed fuzzy and merged. I rarely had any visitors apart from a few guards delivering my food and the occasional tea drinking with Iroh which I strangely enjoyed, it was a time in which I could talk and socially interact, what I liked best was when he lets slip what going on up deck. Apparently the Avatar is travelling South so that's where we're heading.
I never go up on deck it is 'forbidden' by Prince Zuko. I am trapped here in this bare room, not aloud out for any reason at all. Food brought to me, nothing exotic just plain rice or flavourless stew, but I'm grateful for it and eat it all. There is no entertainment, but what did I expect? I'm lucky they have aloud me a room although the prince did threaten to put me in with the sailors which I fully expected him to carry out. My average day consists of awakening with the other sailors lying in bed until breakfast is brought, pacing the floor 7 steps forward, 2 steps to the side, 7 steps to the door again. I would then practice my stances and go through some water-bending movements which are again forbidden. Then meditate, maybe pace again and stretch some more until finally tea came, which I scoff with in a minute. Out of all the activities at my disposal my favourite is daydreaming. I dream of anything and everything from eating seal jerky in the teepee at home with Gran-Gran to how many ways I could possibly kill Zuko, that was my favourite past time that made me laugh aloud and kept me semi sane. The best way perhaps was slow and painfully or perhaps throwing him off a very high, steep cliff, I giggled to myself as I contemplated this, his dark, arrogant face screaming as he falls to his blatant, painful death. I laugh aloud despite the fact I know I'm going insane kept in this small, confined room, no windows, nothing to look at, bare metal walls no wonder I am thinking with murderous intent.
So here I am lost in a daydream again, this time thinking of blowing him up, not with explosives or anything, just from the inside making him swell up to an enormous size before letting him go off the ship and let him whiz around the air as he deflates. Once again I cackle to myself letting my laugh reverberate around the room letting it bounce off the walls to come back at me in an endless cycle.
'knock, knock', there was a thud at the door shocking me out of my insanity.
The door was pushed open steadily as if tentative as weather to disturb.
A round, chubby face appeared round the doorway.
"Commander Iroh" I looked up and smiled at the grey haired man as he entered further into the room.
"Have you come for tea?" I asked hopefully.
"not today" he said smiling his beard on his chin was groomed into a point. "Would you like to join me and the crew for dinner tonight?"
I found myself staring at him for a time, that's the last thing I thought he would say.
"I...don't think its aloud" I said defeated as I shuffled my feet on the floor uncomfortably.
"Prince Zuko has retired to his room early tonight" his smile increased "and I think you need to get out of this room".
I grinned at him like two conspirators together, going against the rules. I picked myself up from my position on the floor, my legs aching from lack of exercise as I made my way to the door before he changed his mind.
Walking down unfamiliar stairs and corridors, through a maze of doors and rooms, Iroh came to a halt at a large metal door that was left slightly ajar and paused to listen to the muffled voices inside. Straining to hear myself I found myself leaning in towards the door.
"Who does he think he is?" one of the deep voices growled to the others who murmured in agreement.
"treats us like dogs, feeding us the scraps, acts like we're not important" again the others men roused and thumped the table in agreement with the main sailor.
"Asking you to show some respect?" there was a short pause as if waiting for a response or confirmation, but none came.
"Respect" he continued loudly over the others.
"Maybe he should learn some himself before demanding off others", this again caused some tension but also some murmurs of agreement.
Iroh no longer stood by and listened, he pushed open the metal door wide letting the hinges creak and grind against the other making a sharp squeaking sound that made my teeth grind. From the back Iroh looked the epitome of calm, his shoulders back and relaxed, his feet firmly placed on the floor, his hand loose by his sides not bunched up into a fist.
"I would not talk about Prince Zuko like that he has been through much in his short life" Iroh walked down the metal stair case towards the rough wooden table where the men were assembled in there group, there dirty dishes littered around them with tankards of ale in their hands.
"General Iroh" one of the men stood up and bowed to his commander. "I am sorry we spo..."
With a wave of his large hand Iroh silenced the sailor before his sentence was fully out. The sailors waited with bated breath to here what the general wanted.
Iroh stopped on the platform down a flight of stairs and gestured to me to follow him down. Taking a deep breath and straightening my dress the best I could I followed him round the door and started on the stairs.
"What she doing out?" the big man that was speaking earlier shouted in my direction. "Prince Zuko ordered for her to be kept in her room until she is ready to cooperate"
General Iroh ignored the man and gestured me to come down the steps and join them at the table.
Keeping my head down and avoiding the scrutinising looks from the men I reached the table and sat at the end next to Iroh and found an interesting stain to stare at.
"This is Anya, I invited her to have dinner with us tonight."
The men said nothing and just sipped their ales, Iroh poured himself one and offered to me which I politely declined while he took a long deep sip while two bowls of food where brought to us.
Lifting the first spoonful into my mouth Iroh asked "I'm sure you all know the story of Prince Zuko and the fire lord"
some of the men grunted others nodded shortly
'obviously not a popular subject on this ship', I thought to myself as I spooned some more into my mouth chewing slowly savouring all the goodness.
"I was there throughout, I saw it all" he said in a voice drifted off in to a daydream and that told everyone a great story was about to begin.
It all started 4 years ago with a meeting with all the great commanders and elders. The firelord, Prince Zukos father would be present discussing the next battle plans and procedures. I would be attending as well on my way Prince Zuko then a young headstrong boy of 12, was waiting at the door trying to get in but of course the guards would not let him, he had not been invited. Prince Zuko was outraged, being the prince he was adamant he should attend the meeting and learn the way of the Firelord and the great commanders if he were to take over one day"
Everyone was silent at the table, they knew the story but had never heard this part of it. I listened in quietly munching on a crust of bread and mopping up the juices from the stew that was now gone.
" Zuko sat and listened with interest throughout the whole meeting intil the end. 'We'll put the new division in first let them feel the brunt of the earth benders force' everyone laughed and chuckled humourlessly at the prospect as if the Firelord had made some sort of hilarious joke, but Prince Zuko could not understand the appeal. 'You can't sacrifice a whole division like that! Our soldiers love and defend our nation! How can you betray them?'"
My mouth dropped, that's why he was banished for speaking out to defend the soldiers I could feel my head shaking it's so immoral of the Firelord, he was only speaking up for what is right...What happened, I wondered as Iroh took another long sip of his ale before continuing.
"That outburst of the young Zuko cost him everything. Prince Zuko was right you see? But it was not his place to speak out and there were dire consequences. The elders were so insulted and the Firelord shamed Zuko had to be punished to fit his shame. An Agni Kai was ordered by one of the elders as his punishment. Zuko looked at the frail old man and accepted his challenge but when it came to the Agni Kai Zuko was shocked to find that it was not the frail old man he was to face. Flinging off his cloak Zuko turned round to face his opponent. His father the Firelord stood before him it was his father he had ashamed and insulted it was him he would have to fight."
Iroh paursed for dramatic affect took a sip from his nearly empty tankard and continued with his story.
"Zuko, afraid, got down on his knees and refused to fight his father apologising for what he said and his lack of respect, but Zukos refusing to fight mocked and shamed him more, he saw his son as a coward, 'If you refuse to fight me you show me disrespect and prove to me you are not fit to be the future Firelord. You shall be banished from the Fire nation and its boarders until you can prove yourself and regain your honour.' The next thing I saw was a flash of fire and a piercing scream of pain...I looked away"
Looking up at Iroh I could see the old scars of his pain still plain on his face the agony of witnessing his nephews dishonour must have been hard for him to stand.
The sailors were silent not knowing what to say. None of us had heard that version of the story and were stunned by the injustice of what the Firelord has done to his only son.
"So that's why he's so obsessed," I said aloud breaking the silence of the group making all eyes on me I explained my self, "I mean capturing the Avatar is his only chance of returning things to normal"
"Things will never return to normal," Iroh said grimly to me "But the important thing is...the Avatar gives him hope"
'That's why he hates me so much I gave him that thin sliver of hope and then snatched it away from him' I thought to myself as the awkward silence expanded.
That night I dreamt about Prince Zuko not the one I know but from his Uncles story. A Prince Zuko before he was changed by exile. Someone willing to stand up for what is right and good in the world, someone willing to fight, not the man who is so hell bent on the capture of the worlds only hope and locks me up in a room with no water and oxygen to let me die and then hold me in his godforsaken room. I dreamt that I could find that man again but waking up I found myself laughing at the possibility as I knew it was hopeless. It was funny to think the man I hate and despise and have thought about killing several times over in my bored hours is actually human but I could never feel sorry for him could I? I thought about this for a while before deciding on the definitive answer is No.
It is raining tonight heavily, even thought there are no windows in the room I could feel it in my bones. I long for the fresh air the feel of the breeze on my face winding around my hair. I would give anything to feel the spray of the sea on my skin the pounding of the rain soaking me through. I can hear it calling to me as it sings with the wind and plays its melody as the droplets bounce of the metal decking making a high, sharp sound. I felt my feet move automatically to the door and stop as it was always locked. I whirled around just in time for a clap of thunder. Right then I knew this was not just rain, this was a storm and a big one at that and I was not going down with this ship. Hammering my fists on the hard metal door shouting and screaming for attention of anyone to let me out. I could hear the people on the deck shouting above the noise of the rain I could hear Zuko shouting orders to his men trying to gain order. The boat was rocking with the giant waves throwing me roughly backwards into the side of my sleeping pallet and then again towards the door. This time it was launched open by a bemused guard seeing what the loud thud was. With the help of the ships momentum I was launched forward towards the guard squashing him against the side of the corridor knocking him clean out. Taking my chance I ran as fast as my legs would carry me towards the upper deck ready for anything. Throwing open a door I found the deck. It was chaos the whole deck was flooded from the rain and sea. Giant waves were creeping over the edge of the ship making the surface slippery. Rain plastered my long hair to my face and soaked my dress to my skin. Ordinarily I would have loved it but not now, not like this.
Taking up a wide stance my feet firmly on the floor of the deck I took a deep slow breath, clearing my mind of everything else around me. I felt for the water feeling its movements around me its changing patterns and currents. I felt in control of it as I grabbed it and pushed the surface water away from the men's feet.
"Who let her out?" I heard Zuko shout above the noise as he ran towards me. I felt him grab my wrist as he brought his face close to mine. Looking up at him the rain soaking him watching as the droplets fell down his face and clung to his eyelashes . He seemed conflicted as we stared at each other with the rain falling down on us he just stood there holding my wrist not moving not speaking.
Suddenly there was a crack and a yell of surprise we both looked up to find one of the crew hanging from the lookout post only by one hand slipping on the wet metal handle steadily losing grip.
Zuko looked at me one more time a look of pleading and longing as if we were both equal and for a brief moment I saw that other side to the Prince Zuko. Letting go of my wrist he legged it over to the ladder and started to climb it. I took one last look at my capture and ran to the edge of the ship and clung to the rail looking over the edge into the dark swirling water below. I can swim, I know I'm a good swimmer, but how far a way is the nearest land and would the sea just kill me on the way. All these thoughts had come and gone within less than a minute of reaching the edge. I turned back round and saw that Zuko was nearly there the crew had no idea what I was doing.
Looking past the crew I looked at the ocean and there just in my line of sight I rouge wave looming above the ship approaching quickly it would wipe out everything in it's path. With out thinking I ran to the middle of the ship and found my strongest most powerful stance and took a deep breath in I found the force of the wave immediately and found myself pushing the force back with all my strength using all my mental capacity and all the skill I possessed to push back the oncoming, oppressive force of nature. The wave stopped just before the boat had been destroyed the arch of the wave just above the boat. Holding my breath unable to breath I found that I had finally gained control of the massive wave. Letting my breath slowly out I pushed the wave back and let it sink gently into the ocean were once it had came letting the boat rock as it ebbed into nothingness. Zuko got to the lad just in time to catch him as his grip had finally slipped away now the was dangling down only held on by Zuko's strong grip. Zuko still at the top of the ladder stared open mouthed at the now calm ocean unable to believe what had just happened, what I had done. Swinging the lad down to Lieutenant Jee below him he climbed down, now careful of his footing. Once he was down he came over to me . Unmoving I stood still in the spot where I had saved them all the rain still soaking me. The storm was passing and the sea was becoming calm we where in the eye of the storm.
Zuko stood before me his eyes unwavering as he looked at me. It was different there was no anger, no bitterness in his expression.
"Don't you ever lock me away again" I said with the last of my strength before I fell to my knees. Zuko sank with me drained his head bowed with mine as he nodded to my request. A shadow moved above us a large shadow with 6 legs. We looked up at the shadow to see Appa along with Aang with some type of monkey and two people I would always recognise Sokka and Katara.
"Captain orders" Lieutenant Jee asked behind him.
Zuko stood up still staring intently at the Avatar. He turned to face his crew.
"let them go, we must get the ship to safety."
A/N: Don't forget to review ;)