Kuttik was no longer a child but not yet an adult. He was close enough to childhood to miss being able to hear the clouds but not nearly old enough yet to leave his birth platform forever. He would live under his mother’s eye and his father’s protection for a decade more before he moved off to either a bachelor’s nest or another family’s platform. For now, he was exploring.
All the young males did it, poking around to see where the trunks and branches of the world tree could take them.
His home branch layer was well lit by shafts of sunlight falling through breaks in the canopies above and shade-dappled splotches filtered by the leaves, thus the food bearing epiphytes grew well there. It was home to neither the large raptors that hunted the upper canopies nor the arboreal predators of the boles and lower branches. For these reasons this branch layer was where most of his kind lived, on large, branch-borne platforms built and maintained by maternal lines.
Kuttik’s youngest maternal uncle, Hassuk, was fascinated by the lower branches where the sunlight never fell. Hassuk claimed to have been close enough to the ground to see it. Kuttik thought Hassuk’s focus on the branch level below theirs was because that’s where his new friend, Talli, lived...
Kuttik interest was in the branch levels above theirs. The next level up, the uppermost of the three where their kind lived, was much brighter with more direct sunlight and less filtering. Kuttik found that the increased light made him feel active and more energetic, making it easier to bounce from limb to limb, hand over hand along vines and jump almost impossible gaps when he needed to.
And he’d found a way up. He could only use it because he was still small, in another year, two, it wouldn’t bear his weight, but for now... He cautiously stuck his head up through the leaves and was rewarded with the view the clouds had shown him as a child: treetop canopy as far as the eye could see with nothing but blue sky above it. Sunlight reflecting off leaves of the world tree while here and there columns of blue and gold butterflies danced over them in the sun.
“You don’t want to stay there for too long,” the voice of a girl his own age warned from behind him. “Hoku or tormu will catch you if you stick your head up like that.”