Each mountain has a lord. This lord could be anything you see living out its simple life. It could be a shy fox, watching and hoping you leave its domain as soon as possible. Perhaps it is a nishikigoi covered in moss, swimming aimlessly in a pond at the basin of an unimpressive waterfall. Maybe even the low-hanging branch of a tree you brush aside to trot farther down a leaf-led path.
But the idea of the latter, that a branch could be something as powerful as an actual mountain lord eludes commoners and seekers alike. Everyone knows the lord of a mountain has to be something that’s alive – a discovery made after a dedicated many turned over and talked to quite the sum of rocks. But even then, an animal is considered much more alive than a plant!
Title and form are intrinsicaly related; they need to match one another. If title does not adequately suit form, a beholder of such will find it easy to ridicule. For instance, if a colossus of a man sporting a giant club and an impresssive musculature goes by the name of Bubbles, well, it would be hard to stifle a laugh, wouldn’t it?
On the other hand, if title outweighs form, then respect is nowhere to be found. I myself have once encountered a mountain lord who had taken on the form of a small white rabbit. When it demanded I flee the weakened mountain it governed, so its forests could heal in peace, I kicked it down a slope and set up camp. Not one of my finest moments, but I was desperate. I was searching for a herb growsome to only that particular mountain.
You see, rumour had it that wettening this maiban herb wettened with vitreous humour and incensing it, creates a smoke that grants its inhaler nightly vision! A goldmine, for sure, or so I thought. I had not thought through effective methods to capture the smoke, and my greedy hands did not make any effort to act with diligence.
So, after a night of squeezing out my own eyes, burning whatever herb I could find, and making fruitless attempts to capture the smoke in jars to which I forgot to bring lids, it was then I realised what I’d wrought. The mountain lord did not lie when it told me the mountain was weakened. The dawn sun showed me through what little eyesight I had created an entirely poisoned forest. The smoke I failed to capture acted as a miasma to the trees and to my eyes. That mountain now stands naked, incapable of life at all. Its lord, the small white rabbit, only cries.
As for me, I spend all my time since in this here inn, sharing words of not-so-much wisdom to travellers such as yourself. Despite my loss of sight, nighttime is unbearably bright for me. What a cruel twist of fate! People around here call me ‘the nightly fool’, a title that certainly fits me. And while I cannot know for certain, I think I may just look the part.