"--This city is all I know!" Irui's words leapt from his throat in protest before he could stop them, and he clenched his teeth, grinding them as his outburst brought stares. This feeling inside him, it was yearning to break free, and he turned to look at Mora with a sense of dread; that he'd overstepped, been too eager in his request.
"And learn you shall." Mora's words came like a rush of cool water, soothing and clear. "That is my duty, Irui. To teach. If you have patience, fortitude, and above all else, faith. You will discover secrets about your bloodline that most could only dream of."
Faith. She was right, he had to have faith that all would work out, and that everything would be fine. Before long the two of them had reached the edge of the Mikiri Clan's compound, its sprawling, twisting domain of shops, houses, and offices suddenly met with a dividing wall of carved granite. Over the ledge, the terraces and platforms of the Hidden Cloud's mountain-top village seemed suspended on the morning clouds, and a crisp, icy wind greeted them. Irui closed his eyes, letting the rosey dawn light reach him.
The pair stood side by side, greeting the sun, and silently seemed to realize just how far their conversation had taken them. Irui gently turned his attention to the elder as she spoke, and smiled lightly.
"I will send a representative to speak with you and arrange a private meeting for us at the Church. I think at this stage of our relationship its best that we be discreet. The Mikiri Elders and your parents may not take kindly to me teaching you so we will need to be careful. When we meet again at the Church, I'll go into greater detail about the two levels of our bloodline and how you can master each one."
Wryly, as if to prove the old crone still "had it", she deftly flitted to the wall's precipice with hands clasped behind her. Irui could only look up, and smirk at the feat, and silently nodded in acknowledgement.
Spymaster. I like that title. He thought, watching the woman take flight into the Hidden Cloud, tracking her until her clothes melded with the morning shadows, and Mora Mikiri vanished into the cityscape. He turned on his heel, and began a meandering walk back towards the interior of the compound, his mind awash with a myriad of thoughts.
As she slipped through the whitestoned walls of the compound, his eyes passed over shop and home, bedecked with Mikiri and HIdden Cloud imagery; colorful murals of the mountains, rich fabrics, and textiles. The clan was relatively new, compared to the others of the Hidden Cloud; much of its history was steeped in rumor, and tall-tales, and had yet to find its identity. Unlike the noble House of Storm Release, that predated the village, the Mikiri still dabbled and revised their traditions, trying to find a common theme to unite themselves. It was murky, unclear, and against other customs of the village, it blended all too well.
"Morning, Irui-san!" A woman called out, and he waved back with a smile.
His path took him up and through a winding stair to another street and then slipped down another side alley, choosing to greet the morning light as it crept through the compound, bathing him in warmth. He wanted to walk and think, to be alone with his thoughts.
Secrets of the bloodline, Mora had told him. What secrets could she possibly be referring to, he wondered. He looked at the mark on his left palm. Two diamond markings overlapped one another, with such precise shaping it was impossible to mistake as a birthmark. Some of the Mikiri had it on their right palm, others had none, but the story was always the same: "When your older," children were told.
--That is my duty, Irui. To teach.
Irui rounded the corner, and came to an open terrace. The wind played across the cobblestones as he approached and came to stand at the overlook. His eyes zeroed in on the piercing towers of the distant Cathedral of St. Memori.
Mora was willing to teach, to educate, to share things the others were afraid of-- to share with him the secrets of a bloodline that had been locked away from prying eyes. She would be the one to give him knowledge, strength, and above all: A future. Mora Mikiri, the Outcast would be the one to clear the waters of the Mikiri's secrecy, she would give him purpose, a calling. Here, all he had to do, was simply ask for the key to his cage, to show yearning, desire. Without hesitation, she procured a golden key, and placed it in the lock. Where as others had long since dangled it far away, like a carrot on a string-- And for what? For the "preservation of the clan"? To protect one another, and for the sake of the Hidden Cloud?
Irui's eyes snapped open, the wind whipping about him.
"Thank you, Mora-sama."