Cloudhopper. Nov 30, 2015 7:11:26 GMT -8
Post by Zoō on Nov 30, 2015 7:11:26 GMT -8
It is a slang word - cloudhopper - an insult when used by those not native to the Land of Thunder, yet somehow a term of endearment when used among those who call this rolling continent of misshapen mountains home. I have never understood why. I get the reference, of course. It hints back to earlier days, when shinobi was a word that could be said out loud in public, and the military force of a dead city moved along giant platforms clinging to the esker tor, a promontory ridge-land of unknown peaks. What I do not understand is how the word was changed, how its syntax sits unwavering while its meaning is bullied by context, by where it settles in the mind of the speaker. To some it is a profanity, to others, a call to brotherhood, a symbol of kinship. It is a reminder of connection long lost to the tyranny of the Land of Iron. I ponder the nature of such connection as I wander, through the Flashing Thunder Path, up a mineral hummock aglow in the ugly puissant manifolds of stone.
I take a winding northern path up, alone, past older-men not so consumed in their own travels that they completely ignore a boy my age. I hear the word like a curse, What you doing out here by yourself, cloudhopper? or Yo lil' cloudhopper, you lost? I am dressed casually, mostly in blacks and grays, my nameless katana hidden in the folds of an oversized cloaking, they cannot tell that I am -- shinobi. The other curse, the true forbidden term. It can never be endearing, not here, not now.
"Not lost. Looking for something."
I say in passing, without looking at the two stragglers and their jeering, their casual disrespect, their intruding. Adults annoy me. I can hear them even as the distance between us spreads out and becomes knotted in the cliff stacks hemming this verge; they speak of my attitude, my manner, my youth, like they are diseases only time alive can cure. I place little stock in the virtues of mere survival. I have been surviving for as long as I can remember and it has not calmed me.
Keeping track of the time is difficult. The sun hides behind one mesa jutting or another every few minutes, darkness is a sporadic claw hung over the snow-flecked piles at the whim of random obscuring. I have heard that there are villages and housings nearby, but without a map, I am following only the idiotic prodding of my own conscious. I was not lying, I am looking for something, I just don't know what. When I am forced to be honest with myself, it is the stories that drive me, that girdle in the best efforts of my searching. Stories of the first men and women to use that fragile insensitivity, the name and the slur.
Stories of a village hidden in the Clouds.