Chapter 101: The Cave of Names

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Tradition is the foundation of culture, working alongside assumptions and belief. Some aspects of cultures must be challenged, and to do this, tradition and belief must be challenged. However, the Eight's attempts to undermine all beliefs and traditions, and send cultures spiraling into nihilism must be combated. They may destroy negative aspects of cultures, but they destroy the good aspects, the information-preservers, the law keeping, the traditions that support family and order. 

-The Necromancer's Notes, "Avenues of Destruction: A Dissertation of the Methods of the Eight," Vol. 3, Pg. 332


Seven Years Ago


It had started a few months ago. 

The change was tiny, yet at the same time, had the weight of a mountain. Laidu stopped using a few words. Now, most parents probably wanted their children to stop using certain words, the kind of colorful words that they picked up in the gutters and streets. 

However, most parents didn't want their child to stop using the words "Mom" and "Dad." 

He was going through a phase. It had been six years, come tomorrow, since they found Laidu. About sixteen, by Dai Lan's reckoning, about to be a man. But, like most at this age, he was sour, rebellious, and confused. Dai Lan remembered a similar time in his life, but that period of life seemed... intensified in Laidu. These thoughts accompanied Dai Lan as he marched down the side of the mountain, tent at his side. Laidu carried more supplies, including their ration of food. 

He seemed angry, seemed bitter at something, and that worried Dai Lan. He hadn't gone through that himself, and the levels of anger and resentment in Laidu's eyes he saw made him concerned. That much bitterness was toxic to the soul. 

Hopefully, this would help cleanse him. Or, at the very least, start him on the path to cleansing himself. 

Barren rocks, all life choked by the thin mountain air, gave way to the creeping, persistent advance of vegetation and life. It started with moss, which grew to patches of sparse, wiry grass, and then began to flourish into a forest. 

It was warmer down here, much warmer. Dai Lan itched under his heavy cloak. "It's just a bit farther," he said. 

There was no response. Dai Lan didn't look back; he knew his son was following. He could hear the cracking and snapping of undergrowth as Laidu dutifully followed behind. Even so, his heart wasn't in it. That much, Dai Lan could tell. 

They followed the ridge of the mountain in silence. It disturbed Dai Lan, frightened him. He should have been talking with his son, going back and forth. Instead, his son was quiet as a grave, as silent as a tomb.

Dai Lan hopped down a ledge and turned to his son. "Be careful, the drop is a bit-"

Laidu leaped down the ledge with no difficulty, "-severe," Dai Lan said. Laidu gave him a glare, not particularly hateful, but still cold and contemptuous. It was a look no father should ever get from his son.

They kept walking through the forest, and the path they took brought back memories, from when Dai Lan was sixteen. He remembered that tree, gnarled and twisted, bark bare while surrounded by green foliage. He remembered that pile of boulders, the moss draping off them like curtains. The tree was a little shorter, the moss a little longer, than the hazy world of his memory pieced together.

And then, they were there.

It was the same place, the only part of his memory that wasn't hazy, but sharp and distinct. The clearing was ringed with trees and boulders, and Dai Lan could practically see his tent already set up. 

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