The past is never dead. It's not even past.

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The past is never dead. It's not even past.

PostPosted by Tsuneo » Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:22 am

"Why must we walk this archaic..."

She spat out dust from between her lips, if only to give an excuse to look for the best word.

"...walk."

Journey would've been better, why didn't she say journey? She let herself stew on her failure for a few more footsteps before she realized that it didn't matter. Uncle wasn't going to reply to any of her complaining. Hell, he hadn't replied at all. She tried to remember if the Gou desert walkabout had anything in it about silence. Or anything about being moody and mysterious.

Nothing came to mind.

It was either a few minutes later or a few eternities later, but when Uncle finally did say something she hadn't been paying attention. She had to glance up.

"What?"

He sighed and it sounded like wind and sand whispering against one another.

"I said, do you know where we are?"

A map appeared in her head, along with a handful of rudimentary mathematical equations: distance from the last irrigation station, average walking speed, the light on the horizon.

"Half a day away from the nearest rail station."

Uncle chuffed an approval through his nose. "Indeed. But that's not what we're here to see."

The larger Gou turned, his robes fanning in the desert breeze. She sighed and they continued their slithering ascent up the next dune.

"Whoah."

In the pre-dawn light, it was difficult to make out any detail. But the suppressed section of land, the heavy walls, and the melange of crumbled buildings were a shocking slab of solidity amongst the ever-shifting landscape.

"Is that...is that LEGACY?"

Uncle laughed. "It hasn't been called LEGACY in a long time, girl. It hasn't been called anything in a long time. But you and I are Gou, so when we look at this place you call it by its proper name."

The words slipped from her lips as if a prayer.

"Sunagakure."

They went the slow way down into the old shinobi city. No sand surfing, no tidal waves of earth and wind, no explosive eruptions of chakra and extraordinary displays of well-tempered skill; Uncle had clamped onto her wrist before she finished the first handseal. They were in the shadows of the wall just before sunrise.

"Why?"

The question echoed off the empty walls. Uncle sipped his water.

"Why what?"

She wasn't sure so she didn't reply. Instead they walked.

"The metal structures were LEGACY. Military structures from the early Republic days. Some of them are still used by nomads and lost travelers from time to time."

Uncle spoke as if reciting a poem and made no motion to what he spoke of with either head or hand. He expected, as always, for her to know exactly what he was talking about. Her eyes darted from one end to the other, trying to take it all in .

"The brick buildings are all from before the Decay, during the time of the Builder and the Uniter. The small ones, the round stones, those are from the earliest days. Solid construction of us Gou, who knew the old ways of pressing earth so hard together that neither wind or sand or time could swallow it."

"This is better than looking at pictures." She picked up a stone, examined it. How long had that stone been there? Where had it been before?

"It's a walkabout," Uncle said, as if that itself should explain all. They continued their journey toward the center of the city. He seemed to know many of the buildings, though so many had been reduced to unrecognizable heaps: the Kioku district where the great tattoo queen once lived, the hospital built by the Healer, the greenhouse, the puppet workshop. Uncle would talk about each one as if he could recite the whole history of it, but would stop a few moments in when he saw a new building.

They stopped in the shadow of the old Kazekage offices.

"You talk about this place like its sacred."

"It is. Can't you feel it in the earth? The energy? All of the lives that passed through these streets, all of the jutsu and chakracraft that was performed? This place was the heartbeat of a whole civilization."

When Uncle's chakracraft flared, it shocked her to yelp. A doorway filled with broken stones was suddenly cleared, the interior foyer held up by the reshaped earth.

"Uncle, I..."

"Come."

In the mid-morning sun, ten giants held court.

The stories of the first two were lost to time and poor education, but she knew the third: the Fool who had his country stolen by a pretender. She stared long at his face before turning to see the next.

The Fourth, whose sleepless burden was too heavy to continue.

The Fifth, one who bent the knee to Otogakure.

The Sixth, the Healer.

The Seventh, the Great Gou, the Sentinel of the Sand.

The Eighth, the Builder, the great innovator.

The Ninth, the Uniter, the Peacemaker.

The Tenth, who let the sand of the hourglass run empty.

"Are we related to them?" she asked, staring up at the face of the Eighth. Uncle rumbled.

"Perhaps. It is not important. That sort of thinking died long ago. No use in thinking about if we have the blood of kings or gods running in our veins. Each man and woman is precious, regardless of pedigree."

Her face soured. "Then why are you always talking about how important it is to be Gou? Why did I have to skip vacationing to Lykat Atah with mom and dad? Why am I picking sand out of my nose while my friends are getting tans and boyfriends?"

He sighed and drew his hood back.

"The past is never truly the past, niece of mine. I have learned the stories of these ten, along with their friends and allies, learned them so well that they spring to my tongue at a moment's notice. I do this not to worship them or to honor them, but to learn from them. Learn from their victories, learn from their failures. Learn the consequence and futility of defying the desert. Learn how while the names of Dakara, Hana, and Noriko rise, the names of Gou, Saihoushi, and Hyuuga live on."

A hand fell onto her shoulder. Uncle's big teeth glinted beneath his thick beard.

"You shall know these stories. And your life will be better for it."


---


(Thanks, Kishimoto.)
Tsuneo
Old Man
 
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