She remembered that day, herself stumbling into the chamber of that woman. She held her shoes in her hand, careful not to make a sound. The chamber was very quiet, so quiet that it seemed that even if a strand of her hair fell it could be heard. With her movements as swift and quiet as a cat, she snuck into the chamber.
The chamber was filled with the smell of sweetened smoke. Thin films of smoke slowly brushed against her like screens and screens of silk. She took a peek behind her hiding place. There she was, lying on her bed, her delicately painted mouth was blowing white smoke, her hand holding the mouthpiece, which attached to the blue glass water smoke bottle. Her brilliant green eyes seemed to be covered by a film of haze. Her hair, shining in the afternoon sun like gleaming gold cloth was tied up like a golden snake, coiling around her head. Her outer-dress was sliding down her shoulder, revealing her tanned, yet spotless skin. She looked at the direction where the little girl was hiding for a while, then took another breath from the bottle.
"Come out now, little Princess," she said, appearing to be talking to herself. "I won't bite."
Frustrated by being discovered, she walked towards the majestic bed, past piece and piece of silk dangling from the ceiling. "You wish to talk to me?" She said, her perfectly painted mouth thinning into a faint smile.
"Yes Lady Kaori," she said, her head held rather high. "Sure, Your Highness." The little girl smiled at her little triumph.
"You might find this question a bit silly, but I do found it curiously interesting." she said. "But I wonder what it is like to be out of the palace? I heard from the servants that you were not born in court." The brows of the girl frowned, her eyes, also brilliantly green stared at the woman.
The woman paused for a second, her hand seemed to be shaking a little; she bit onto her red lips lightly.
"To be honest, little princess, forgive my language, to be out of the palace is heavenly, I remember when the times when I was young and free. It is better to have freedom and money together. Freedom, little princess, is more valuable than a thousand pieces of gold. If I can choose for myself, I'd rather be a prostitute, than a concubine, than the King's concubine."
Kaori stroke the little girl's cheek with her perfectly manicured finger, her eyes blinked. She looked up and sighed, then her green eyes stared back at the little again, her hand now stroking the girl's blonde hair.
"I like you little princess. I have no children of my own, and you quite resembled my looks. I hoped that you would not end up in such tragic fate I ended up in." She smiled at the little girl again, her other hand slipped under her pillow, and held out a golden necklace. There was a golden fan, with 3 orbs of emerald embedded onto the fan like 3 moons. The little girl held the tiny fan in her palm.
"I heard from the King that he was going to bestow you a giant fan as your weapon for your trainings, I do think that this necklace suits you well." Then she put the necklace round the delicate neck of the girl, her eyes now seemed hazier, as if she was immersed into her memories.
"Now run along," she smiled again, waving. The little girl kissed Kaori on her hand. "Thank you." She then ran out of the chamber. "Be safe," Kaori whispered as she smoked from the mouthpiece again. Puffing out a mouthful of smog, she sighed. "Poor girl."
Two weeks later, the little girl was summoned by her mother to Lady Kaori's chamber. Her governess tugged her into her dress and led her to the chamber. She could hear weeping and cries from a distance. She felt rather unwell, like something bad was going to happen.
"It is the day before the birth of Shukaku, my little lady," she was told by her governess that morning. "You must put on this golden bracelet from your mother, she requested that you must, to protect you from evil spirits," the governess told her. And there she was, pulled to Lady Kaori's chamber, the golden fan necklace dangling in front of her chest, the golden bells on the bracelet ringing crisply.
Although she felt unwell about this sudden summon, she was shocked when she found out the reason. The King had requested to summon the royal family to the Lady's chamber to mourn the loss of his favourite concubine. Lady Kaori was found dead in her bed, draped in her best robes and her most extravagant jewelry. Her face was perfectly painted as if she was going to be wed. She lied on her bed, her painted petal-like lips smiling as if she was the Queen, proud with pride. The room smelt of sweetened smoke and Kaori's perfume. Other concubines wept, mourning the loss of the lady. Despite of their howling cries and saddened faces, the little girl found their looks to resemble the demons in her mother's favourite play.
The Royal Coroner came to her and inserted a needle through her throat; the silver needle was dark as it was withdrawn from the body. "Lady Kaori died from poison." He announced solemnly. "In her palm a letter was found." He handed the letter to the King, who immediately snatched the letter and read.
Please do not be saddened by my sudden leave, for I have found my salvation and freedom. All of my servants knew nothing of my sudden departure, and they need not to be sacrificed to remain as my servants in the afterlife. I beg Your Majesty to spare their lives.
Thank you, my Dear Majesty, for everything and most especially your love and Farewell.
The letter was ended with a kiss on the paper, with a brilliantly red lip mark.
The King stood there, staring at the lifeless body of Kaori. The little girl had not seen her father like that before, the hurt in his eyes seemed as if a piece of his heart was torn away by Kaori. "You servants shall remain in this chamber." He said, with a glint of wilderness in his eyes. "You shall continue to serve Lady Kaori. She shall remain in her chamber...sleeping as she was now." Then he turned to the physician. "I want Lady Kaori to remain the way she was now, or I will have your head." The physician nodded in fear.
The little girl stood next to her mother, tugging onto her robes. The King turned around and stared at the little girl for a second. The girl looked at the ground then took a peek at her father. His eyes were almost teary. He waved his hand, signaling the little girl to go to him. Reluctantly, she left the safety of her mother's robes, and walked towards her father. He bent down and stroked the little girl's plump cheeks with his hand. Then he jerked himself, turning his back on the little girl. "Now go, leave me, all of you." The Governess held the little girl's hand and left the chamber. The little girl turned around to took a final glimpse at Kaori, she saw her father, kneeling next to her bed and buried his head onto her body.
The little girl could not sleep at night; she tossed and turned in the purple linings of her bed. She then hopped off her bed silently, and in darkness, walked aimlessly in the corridors of the Palace. Then she heard noise from her father's chambers. Slowly she crept towards the sound and peeked through the gap on the door.
"I shall not tolerate this… to keep a…a corpse in the Palace! Who knows what might happen to keep a corpse here when your other child is soon to be born into this world? Prayers to the gods be heard! The ghost of Kaori might snatch away your newborn child!" Her mother, the Queen shouted. It appeared to the girl that all of her mother's grace was lost.
"I do not care about what you think! I am the King, and it is my wish that Kaori stays here and no where else!" Her father, with his dark eyes glaring at his Queen, spat out each word hastily.
"If I were you, Karura, I would stop before the next foolish word came out of my lips and cost me my head." Then he turned his back towards his Queen.
The Queen, mouth opened, placed her hand onto her round abdomen. "This is unacceptable, my husband!" Then she bowed at him. "Excuse me, Your Majesty." Then she turned and walked away from the King. The little girl immediately hid herself behind a statue.
The Queen stumbled away, back towards her chamber. The little girl turned to crept away back into her room. At the moment she crawled back into her bed, the door opened, and she overheard the maid speaking to her Governess. "Lady, the Queen is now in labour. It is earlier then the physicians have thought. They say it will be dangerous, we might lose the Queen." The little girl gulped, and kept listening.
"It is best that the Royal children should not hear about this before everything is settled." The Governess answered in a hushed voice, however loud enough for the little girl to hear. "It is said that the Queen's infant is cursed with Shukaku, that is why the King lost his favour in her, and why that the infant must be born today. It is the day of the birth of Shukaku." The woman took a breath.
"Lives shall be claimed as sacrifice where Shukaku's new incarnation would be born." The little girl remained still and closed her eyes tightly. Her governess had told her that most of the times, when you close your eyes and sleep, bad things would be over when you woke up the next morning. She hoped that this time, it was one of those times where things would be fine eventually.
The little girl woke up suddenly. She was not woken by a bad dream, but a loud scream that echoed through the palace. Immediately she hopped off the bed in her white night gown, ran pass her shocked governess and towards her mother's chamber. The door was opened and then she saw her younger brother, the brown-haired little boy also stood outside the chamber. The little girl saw her brother in tears of shock and fear. She offered him her hand; he took it with slight hesitation. Then she led her inside, and there it was, a scene that she would never forget.
Her mother lied on the bed, pale as a sheet of paper. She was gasping for her breath. The linings on the bed were covered with blood. Drops of sweat rolled down the Queen's face. The two young children were ignored, as the physician handed the newborn child to the Queen.
"Another Prince, Your Majesty." The Queen looked at the fragile newborn and smiled.
"My baby," she kissed him on his cheek, and took a look on the infant. There were a few red hairs on top of his head and there was a birthmark, of the character 'love' on his forehead. His eyes were darkened as if dark circles had been drawn around his eyes
"My Queen, you must know, the birthmark of a character, the isnomia before birth, and the day of the prince's arrival... the odds are against us," the soothsayer, an old woman hovered next to Queen Karura, and said.
The Queen dismissed her with a weak wave of her hand. She cradled the tiny infant with her hands. "No matter what happens in the future," she panted as she said. "I will always be there for you, to protect you." She smiled at the infant, and slowly closed her eyes, her arms relaxed and laid on the pillow powerlessly.
At that moment, the King stormed into the chamber, and bent down next to his Queen. The little girl looked at her father's face again. His expression was different than that the little girl saw in Lady Kaori's chamber. Rather than the heartbroken expression of losing his love, he appeared to be rather lost, as if he had lost his friend, something dear to him. At that point, the three year old girl, despite of her young age, realised that despite the love her father had for Lady Kaori, her mother had an irreplaceable position in his heart, in his life. He appeared rather calm, his hand stroking the pale face and the light brown hair of his wife. A drop of tear rolled down his face, as he leaned forward and kissed his wife one final time on her forehead. Then he dismissed the servants and his two children. The wet nurse picked up the young baby from the hands of his mother, and took him to the royal nursery.
Again, the little girl took another glimpse at her father, he was holding the hand of the Queen, and appeared to be talking to her.
Since that day, the little girl's life had changed. She was given lessons to master combat skills with the giant fan given to her from her father during the day, rather than doing her needlework, which she did with her mother. Her father was still stern, however she believed that he was no longer the wise and determined King he once was. Rather, he became suspicious and to a certain extent, influenced by insanity. He was talked into believing that his younger son was the incarnation of the evil monster Shukaku, and had isolated the young boy. The little girl only saw him a few times every year. She had a feeling that the country and her family were falling apart.
"Princess, princess!" The shouting of the servants had waken the princess from her deep thoughts. "The Konoha army is breaching the city gates, you must flee for your life, princess." She stood up and reached for her fan. "No," said her governess, now wobbling with age. "It is too obvious, my lady. You must flee in disguise," she said, and dragged out rags from a box.
"My lady, you must put on the disguise of a refugee and flee. Your brothers had already fled from the palace." She put on the rags quickly, while her governess applied mud on her hair and face. She touched her giant fan for one last time, then took a small leather pouch with her.
"Will you all be safe?" She asked her servants.
"Don't mind us, my lady," the old governess said. "Go now," the old lady said as she knelt onto the ground.
"As your humble servant through your life, I beg you to flee and be safe, Princess Temari."
Temari stared at her governess, and ran out of her chambers.
The Princess of Suna ran for her life. This time, she did not turn back and look. She ran into the desert as the Konoha army entered the city and burned the palace down into ruins. She did not hear the final cries of her loyal servants, as they were interrogated by the Konoha soldiers about her whereabouts and being slashed by swords. All she saw was bodies of Suna soldiers, littering the ground, and the smell of blood, mixed with sand.
This was the Konoha-Suna War, and Suna had lost. Temari thought to herself, as she walked into the desert, her eyes teary and trying to free herself from the chains of her memories , her home, her everything.
To be continued.
This is the first chapter of the new story, hope that you have enjoyed the first chapter! The next will be out soon!