Friday, August 20, 2010

The City in the Clouds--Part Two

(continued from part one)

Down below in the Battle Lands, the war intensified.
For all the people of the clans had heard that the City in the Clouds was a place of true freedom and prosperity, where no man lived at the whim of another.

The Bear Clan kept their slaves from escaping by building a stone wall to surround them. They beat the people who rebelled and took their children to raise as loyal Bear warriors.

The Snake Clan did not have the strength to keep their people from escaping, so they crafted rumors to spread among the clan.
They said the City in the Clouds was really a trap for those who were foolish enough to go.
They said no one could survive in the clouds and those who did were really demons.
They said anyone who dared to enter the archway to the city was immediately captured and eaten at their feasts.
And the tribes of the Snake Clan trembled in fear of the City.
But still their people escaped...risking everything for the chance to live free.

The Wolf Clan was enraged. They did not want the City in the Clouds to exist at all.
They remembered well the loss of their best warriors in the battle to win the stairway.
They howled their anger and vowed revenge.
To this end, the Wolf Clan made plans to infiltrate the City in the Clouds and tear it down from within.

They discovered the Eagle Clan allowed refugees into the city merely by making a promise of loyalty.

So, the Wolf Clan decided to send their spies to the archway. They would enter the City in the Clouds by taking the Eagle pledge…but it would be a lie.
For the Wolf Clan would always remain the Wolf Clan, no matter what pledge they spoke aloud.

The years wore on.

The City in the Clouds grew. The refugees became part of the Eagle Clan and helped to build the city bigger and better than before.
But the spies from the Wolf Clan prospered also. And they taught their children and their children’s children that they must never forget they were not really Eagle—they were Wolf, and their duty was always to their Clan.

The day came when a new leader was chosen from among the people. Many came forth to claim the title of leader to the City in the Clouds. Each of them eager to serve as their Eagle Clan ancestors had served.
One man, however, stood taller and prouder than the rest. His voice was like honey, sweet to the ears of the gathering crowds. He made such promises and his eyes glowed with such fierceness, that the people were dazzled.
They cried out for this man to be the next leader.
One voice rose in warning. It was a former leader, who lived his days in less honor than of old. For the people of the City had begun to tire of the Eagle Clan ways and many adopted the new ways of all the other clans.
"We do not know this man," he protested. "From which clan does he descend? All the leaders of the City in the Clouds must be Eagle Clan."
The crowd hushed him. Some told him to mind his own business. Some said it made no difference anymore, for there were so many different clans now. And it was right and good that a leader should be from any clan. After all, were they not all residents of the City?
The former leader again raised his voice in protest. "He has not the wisdom of age."

But the people had grown careless and thought this new man wonderfully well-spoken and able to lead their beautiful city better because of his youth and vibrancy.
The voice of the former leader was drowned out by the eagerness of many.
And the tall young man with the shining eyes became the new leader of the City in the Clouds.
The Wolf Clan secretly rejoiced. For they knew the young man to be a descendent of their clan.
They knew he did not really love the City in the Clouds, and despised the ways of the Eagle Clan.
The new leader stood high above the crowds and declared an end to the evening readings of the Law of Eagles. An uneasy silence spread, for though the people no longer gathered to hear the Law...still, it was tradition, they mumbled.
The leader spoke instead of all the contributions made by the other clans.
Every night, he spoke of the Bear Clan's great strength; the Snake Clan's great wisdom; and the Wolf Clan's noble heritage.
Soon those descendents of the Eagle Clan began to lower their gaze whenever the leader spoke. Soon they stopped coming to the gatherings...and their shame grew. Many moved to the outskirts of the City to escape the glowering looks from other clans at the evening oratory.

At the end of the year, the new leader replaced the guardians of the archway with men specially chosen from the Wolf Clan.
Men from the Bear Clan removed the monument at the bottom of the stairway and required all citizens to submit their ancestry papers if they wanted to leave the City in the Clouds.
The Eagle Clan no longer told their neighbor from which clan they descended.
Fear and suspicion darkened the clouds of the city.

One day the former leader of the city, desired to go down the stairway to pay his respects to the fallen of long ago. The guards refused him.
“Why?” he asked. “I have made this pilgrimage to the bottom of the stairway every year on the eve of the Last Land War. It is my right as a free citizen of the city.”
“The monument is no longer there,” said one of the guards.
“What!?” gasped the former leader.
“It was dismantled at the request of the people,” the guard smirked. “The new leader asked if they really wanted to remember a war in which they oppressed so many in the Battle Lands.”
“But we were not the oppressor!” protested the former leader. “We were the liberators!”
“That is not what the new leader says,” the guard yawned.
“It is written in the archives!” the former leader shouted. “You can look it up!”
“You look it up, old man,” the guard waved the former leader away with a flick of his hand. “No one goes down the stairway anymore, except with approval from the new leader.”
The former leader strode angrily to the city archives. He would bring out the written account of the battle and read it to all the citizens. Then they would demand the new leader put the monument back.
But when he arrived at the library, the entrance was barred.

He could not go in.
“All archives are sealed by order of the new leader,” the librarian said.
“Those archives belong to the people of the city!” the former leader cried. “I demand entrance!”
“The people have asked the new leader to seal the archives,” the librarian said.
“Why?” the former leader felt nothing but dread by now.
“Because they do not want them read aloud anymore,” said the librarian with the confidence of one born to the Snake Clan. “It embarrasses the people of the city. The Eagle Clan was so oppressive.”
The former leader backed away from the building, stunned and confused.
“…but we were the liberators,” he whispered.

( be continued in part three)


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