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June 24, 2014
The dining table is at least twenty feet long with loads of chairs lined up on both sides and one on each end, all wooden and a blended green-yellow color. The whole table is covered with a long, white cloth. How did they get a tablecloth that perfectly long? Did they get it custom made just for their table? The table is illuminated with candles on and over it - the candles over being held by a vast chandelier. It's beautiful -- no, it's angelic in just this one part of the home. A sight that I will never be able to unsee nor forget.
Ryoma, still interlocking his arm with mine, guides me to over to the left side of the table to a chair four spaces from the one on the end. He releases our arms, freeing them from their prolonged grip, and pulls out my chair for me. Ryoma was definitely raised right; he is quite the gentleman if I do think so myself. I thank him for the gesture and take my seat, staring at the empty chair on the other side of the table. Soon this entire room will be filled with many, fancy guests, and I won't know a single person. Then again, neither does Wakato, so it's nice to know that he's in the same position right now. Ryoma takes the seat to the right of me and Wakato grabs the chair on my left. Two people on each side of me...a little claustrophobic, but it's nice to have them both by my side.
Walking into the room comes a middle-aged woman in a long, dark green dress that goes all the way down to her feet. Unlike everyone else in the room, the woman has auburn colored hair instead of black and her eyes are more of a golden shade than emerald. She rushes right to her seat on the right side of the table, next to the end chair. What, was she afraid someone was going to claim it before her? No one has shown up for the party yet. Where is everyone? Are we early?
"Kids!" the woman across the table yells, making me jump in my seat. "Get out here, we have guests!"
Ryoma leans his lips to my ear. "I should have mentioned that Mrs. Beifong can get a little upset when things aren't perfect."
A little? This woman's emotions are like a wheel barrel without the wheel; unstable. Just like my mothers emotions. I can almost hear the sound of her voice when she was yelling at me. "I DON'T NEED YOU TO COMFORT ME!" echoes in my head. I sigh and bow my head down with my eyes closed. Don't cry, Naomi. You'll only cause a scene.
My eyes open at the gentle touch of Ryoma's hand on my shoulder. "You alright," he asks. I nod, because if I speak, it will be obvious that I'm lying. I've never been the best a lying, but that's not always so bad. It shows that I am better off being honest. I just want to let the feeling of regret pass.
Two people walk into the room dressed in just plain green. Are these the kids Mrs. Beifong was calling for? Did she pick these outfits out for them? They're terrible! Completely bland sense of style! Does she let her own kids have any fun?
The older one looks about my age, but most likely younger. He takes the seat next to where his overbearing mother will be sitting. Following him is his little sister, who doesn't look a day over age twelve. Instead of talking to any of us, they quietly sit down, fold their hands together, and look down at the table. Yup, Mrs. Beifong raised them to be sitting turtle-ducks.
Hayao and Ishi take their seats on our side; the first and second from the end. Mrs. Beifong takes her place at the first seat on the right side and Mr. Beifong sits at the end.
"I would like to start this off by apologizing for my lack of information," Mr. Beifong begins. "When I invited you all over for the dinner party, I should've mentioned on the invitation that it was a private dinner party. You are the only ones that were invited this time."
The only ones invited? Why would The Beifongs' being the richest people in town host a private party just for us?
"I wanted to have a chance to say how grateful I am that you both survived the break-in, but do it in a personal way by throwing you a get well party."
Hayao and Ishi look at each other in shock. "Wow, well um, thank you for such a kind offering. We really appreciate it," Hayao replies in astonishment.
I don't blame them for being speechless over this news. If a party was thrown just for me and Wakato, I wouldn't know what to say either.
I look over to the other side of the table where the Beifong children are. They continue to have their hands folded on the table and look down as if nobody exists to them. Are they shy? Are they not aloud to speak unless spoken to? I'd try to start a conversation with them, but I don't even know their names. What am I supposed to address them by; quiet ones? I lean my mouth over to Ryoma's ear and whisper why they're being so quiet. He whispers back that the Beifong children have been raised with serious restrictions and if they talk at the table, they will be punished. The only way they can get a word in is if Mrs. Beifong tells them to speak to someone. Why are they not given the freedom to speak when they please? People are not meant to have the rights they deserve be limited. Just looking at them...it shows that the last thing they want to do is obey what their mother wants.
The servants bust open the kitchen door and place almost every traditional Earth Kingdom cuisines that I can think of. Chicken, fish, rice, apples, berries, soup, tofu, pau buns; it's the meal of the century! Then, one of the chefs puts a plate of a whole roasted duck right in front of my face. No. Not this. Not again. Not the roast suck. The worst tasting meal I've ever had next to jook. At this point, I'm not even sure which one I can't stand more. Wakato has no problem taking his dinner knife and slicing himself a piece of the duck. I try to hold back gagging and quickly slice myself off a piece of the chicken. I take a bite. Mmmmmm. The flavor is incredible! The skin has always been my favorite part -- so warm and crunchy.
The room is almost in complete silence. The only sounds that can be heard are people cutting up their food or putting their cup of tea down. It's so calm in here. I feel at peace. I feel like I could open the window and fly away up into the clouds where all is good and not a thing can hurt me. That's a feeling that hasn't overcome me in a long time. Out of nowhere, the silence is broken. Mumbling and rustling can be heard from the kitchen, and it does not sound pleasant. The multiple noises catches the attention of everyone at the table and we all turn our heads to the kitchen door.
"What's going on in there!" Mrs. Beifong yells.
The noises stop. The room falls silent again. After a few seconds we all shrug it off and continue to eat. What were all those noises about? Why did they all stop like that?
The silence is yet again broken by the kitchen door opening violently. Barging in the room comes an abnormally large man with a black cloth tied around his mouth. Wait a second. He's a buff man with his face covered up. Buff. Face covered.
The man starts swinging a katana at us.
HE'S THE GUY WHO ALMOST KILLED HAYAO AND ISHI!
Without hesitation, I slam my right foot on the ground. The earth beneath all of us rumbles, causing the man to lose his balance and fall over. Yes! I've got him down!
"Go upstairs, kids!" Mrs. Beifong yells to her children. The siblings rush from the table and sprint to the stairs, obeying their mothers' command.
We all stand up from our seats abruptly. The Beifongs' take charge and head straight upstairs to where their kids are. I get that they need to be with them to make sure they're safe, but can't they fight this guy off too? Or are they all nonbenders?
Wakato grabs his dinner knife and holds it into his now forming fist. It's not as sharp as his sword or dagger, but it'll have to do for now.
The intruder manages to get himself onto his feet. I feel this sense of fear building up inside me, clogging my throat. Oh, snap out of it! You're an earthbender, start acting like one! Hm, come to think of it, I've never been in a real fight before. When I started my earthbending training with dad, we did practice fights, but I've never been involved in a serious fight. Well, I guess it's time to put my earthbending to the test. The only earth around us is the earth under the house. I'd never forgive myself if I ruined the flooring in the richest home in Gaoling, but it's either live or die at this point.
Ryoma races over to the man before I can do anything else. He stomps his foot on the ground and up comes a huge boulder. He lifts his leg into the air, making the boulder thrust forward and fly towards the intruder. No! He dodged it! How do you dodge a boulder so big? Ugh, what is there to do? I've never been taught to earthbend when I can't actually see the earth. Inhale. Exhale. I close my eyes to focus my mind on nothing except earthbending. I form my hands so they look like sheets of paper and move them one after the other, bending little blocks of earth at the man. No! Stop dodging them! Stop slicing them in half with your katana! I speed up the process of the flying blocks, which begins to exhaust the man as he physically appears to get weaker. I aim one right in his stomach and down to his knees he falls. Yes! Wakato runs up to him with his dinner knife and points it at him. The closer he gets, the more I fear for his life. Please back up a little.
The man gains enough strength to swish his katana at Wakato, knocking the knife right out of his hand. He tries to dodge the intruders next move, but barely makes it, causing a large rip in the middle of his shirt.
"Hey! This costs gold pieces!"
If I had a second to slap myself in the face, I would do it. There is no time to worry about the rips in your clothing when we have a murderer in our presence. For Wakato's safety, I decided to stomp my feet on the ground again, causing a rock to form under his feet and launch him into the air. I run over and manage to catch him, but my arms feel weak and I unintentionally drop him. I become face to face with the intruder. Anger builds up inside of me. My hands turn into fists. My eyebrows narrow downward. My neutral expression turns into a frown.
"Stay away from my brother!" I yell at the man. The anger that has built up inside me begins to release itself as I let myself fall forward and clutch my hands to the ground, making the earth move in a wavy motion from my hands to him. The man takes advantage of this wave and jumps over it, pointing his katana at me.
I see my life flash before my eyes. The first time I earthbended. The day Wakato was born and I finally got my chance to hold him. Meeting all of my friends in a forest to play Pai Sho tournaments. Bidding father a fond farewell when he left for the war. All of those moments have led up to this point and time. For the most part, its been a good sixteen years.
As I open my eyes, accepting my own death, the sight of Ryoma's foot kicking the man in the shoulder appears right before me. "Leave her alone!" He yells in a deep voice. Wow. Ryoma risked his own life for me. He didn't even earthbend. He reacted the way he thought best. The man falls on his side in a way that I find to be comical. Not sure why, he just tumbled down in a humorous way from my perspective at least. I look over to see Ryoma holding his hand out, wanting to help me up. Our hands make contact, and he lifts me from the floor with just his one arm. Not surprising, since there is nothing wimpy about him, but shouldn't he be using this time to fight?
"Are you okay?" He asks with concern shining through his emerald eyes.
"I'm fine, thanks," I reply as I run from his view to the intruder.
Where am I going with this? I'm running to him, and I have no strategy. Winging a fight is not the best way to get the upper hand. Wait! I can do the earth wall! I run towards him faster than ever before, and bend a massive wall in front of him. I bend it over closer to him, pushing it against him with all my might. Come on, Naomi. You can beat him. Without knowing what's happening on the other side of the wall, the intruder manages to escape a little from the wall and kicks it, forming a hole in the middle. Great. Just great. Now what? I take a step back and launch piece by piece of the wall at him. Of course he's able to dodge them. I'm so busy trying to get the wall chunks at him, that I don't realize he's closer than I thought. He lifts his katana in the air, and strikes me right in the forehead.
As a drop of blood rushes down the center of my nose, he takes the handle part of his katana and aims it for my temple.
And all I can do is collapse in defeat.
- Naomi comparing Mrs. Beifong to a wheel barrel is similar to her comparing Wakato to a wheel barrel in
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