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Part One - Joining
June 19, 2015
The same night, March 28, 171 AG
The night after the battle, Iesen was lying awake in her bed.
She couldn't sleep. The feeling of victory was gone, replaced with guilt. She repeated to herself that the lives lost in the battle were lost for the greater good.
No. She was disgusted with herself. She was a murderer. She believed, truly believed, that the revolution was good.
But murders were not the way to accomplish their goals. Her hands were shaking.
She walked out of her room to clear her head and went to the meeting hall. She sat alone at the table. The room was dark and cold. A tear rolled down her cheek. She hadn't cried since she had joined the Equalists. Block your emotions. But she couldn't. A quiet sob escaped her.
"Why tears, Iesen? We have won."
Iesen heard a quiet voice from the door. Amon. Is he wearing that mask at night too? He sat down a few seats away from her.
He just saw you crying.
Her lip shivered a bit, but she quickly bit it and closed her eyes. There was no use pretending she wasn't upset. She would have to swallow her pride for a second.
"I feel like a monster. I killed a man, Amon."
Her voice was quiet.
Amon didn't speak for a while.
"You know those deaths are for the greater good. Benders bring only war. Few deaths were necessary to show that we are serious, and now that we have won, the world will be a peaceful place. We just have to strip the Avatar of her bending, and we will be victorious."
He stopped and looked at Iesen for few seconds.
"Iesen, you are my friend, and I have known you for years, and you are not a monster or a killer. I promise that I will make sure that you never have to kill anyone again."
There was truth in his words.
"I'm sorry that you saw me crying. I-I just try to stay strong all the time, but it ... just felt so horrible, and I didn't cry for years, and it just ... I thought I was doing all of this for my parents. They were killed by rogues from Southern Water Tribe, and I joined the revolution because I hate benders. But now, I'm no better than the people who killed them. I killed someone, and maybe he had a family. What if someone feels what I felt?"
Iesen suddenly realized what she said.
But it felt good. Like she broke all the boundaries. And she felt free. More free than she had felt in years.
"Noatak. My real name is Noatak," Amon said quietly.
Amon closed his eyes.
"I was born in the Northern Water Tribe," he began. "When I was young, a firebender attacked my family and scarred my face. I ran away when I was a bit younger than you are."
He had a strange look in his eyes as he told his story. Like he was telling the truth, but not the complete truth.
"I had a brother, you know." His voice was almost a whisper. "I left him there. He was thirteen. I will never be able to forgive myself for that."
Iesen saw something weird in his eyes behind the mask. A flash of what? Regret? Sadness?
"I'm sorry," Iesen said. That was all she could say.
"Oh, Iesen, we all wear our masks. Some people show their pain, and some hide it and won't let them show in tears and words. People like us hide their pain behind the mask. Sometimes the mask of words and smiles. Sometimes behind the real mask.
Amon touched the white mask on his face.
Slowly, he lifted his hand and removed the mask. He had black hair, just like Iesen, and a horrible scar across his face, showing flesh and a damaged lip that seemed to curve in a weird smirk. But his eyes were different. Cold, icy blue and perfectly clear.
"There. You saw my face. You heard my story."
Amon looked directly in Iesen's black eyes. He looked like he was about to say something else, but instead, he stood up and quietly walked out of the room.
"Good night, Iesen."
Iesen was left alone in silence.
Credits: Some things Amon said are inspired by Dobriša Cesarić's poem Sakriveni bol (Hidden pain).
For the collective works of the author, go here.