Princess Mononoke Fan Fiction ❯ Mind and Spirit ❯ Reflections on a new beginning ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Mind and Spirit
Chapter 1 (Reflections on a new beginning.)
Disclaimer: I don't own Princess Mononoke or the characters, it's just a Fan-fic, read and enjoy.
Authors note:
[[Got to start somewhere, lets get some setup out of the way… :) ]]
The moonlight sparkled enticingly off of the surface of the shallow lake, the pleasant calm of the summer evening being disturbed only by the nearby rustling of undergrowth. Having not yet cleared the surrounding foliage the dark figure could only see the bright points of light flicker occasionally through the thick plant life as it moved. Though it had been here many times before the memory of what it knew to be there was enough to give warmth to its heart.
Emerging from the surrounding forest, the figure, a mounted young warrior, was not disappointed. It was high summer and the cooling effects of the body of water were immediately apparent to him. Fireflies danced around the shoreline rhythmically, and with the stars out in force, a beautiful hue illuminated even this deep part of the forest.
He looked up at the branches high above, and breathed in deeply.
`It had been too long' he thought to himself.
He dismounted slowly, taking care to minimise the disturbance of his beloved animal.
“Everyone has the right to be lazy and comfortable on a night like this” he said to his hoofed friend, patting him on the neck and removing the bridal, it being the only man made item the animal had on. He reached into his pocket, bringing out a small treat he had carried with him.
The mountain Elk nuzzled his masters' neck before taking the treat, an animal of endless energy and affection, his huge horns only hinting at the power he possessed. Stroking the animals' silky red hide, the young man gazed around the small clearing and lake.
“You can relax Yakkuru” he said to the animal “We're not going anywhere until tomorrow, you can go wondering if you like.”
Yakkuru stared at the man for a while, his big brown eyes looking on, thoughtfully. After a short pause the animal moved forward to nuzzle his masters shoulder. The young man laughed.
“Or you can just stay her” he said, smiling. It was rare indeed that the red elk used an opportunity to be away from his master.
The young man moved around the clearing, finding the appropriate spot, he removed the bundle of sticks he had strapped to his back. Leaning down he constructed a small woodpile, using some nearby dried undergrowth. Satisfied with his handiwork he pulled out a flint, only needing to strike it a few times to bring the tinder dry wood to life. Leaning back he observed the flames for a while. Yakkuru, who had been standing nearby observing calmly, moved closer to the fire and lay down in a soft patch of grass. Satisfied with the fires progress the young man reached behind his back to attain a larger log from a small stockpile he had constructed a while ago, placing it on the fire. Satisfied that he could leave it unattended for a while, the young man moved over to the water, kneeling down to look at his reflection.
He looked down into the still water, what he saw was an image he had not been able to observe for a long time… the image of himself. A young man, kind and determined, his strong jaw line and thick brown hair framing a hansom face. The only visible flaw to this honourable persona being a small scar below his left eye, he raised his hand and traced its length with his finger.
`You definitely have a strange taste in woman Ashitaka' he thought to himself, a smile appearing on his face. He reflected back to how he had gotten the scar, and indeed the woman who had given it to him. His smile grew as he thought of her, `the wolf girl' as she had been known, her strength, her ferocity, her… beauty… … his, princess Mononoke. Happily distracted he rolled back from his kneeling position, ending up lying flat on his back, looking up at the multitude of stars high above. With memories of her still fresh in his mind he found himself drifting to times only recently past.
12 months earlier
The reconstruction of Iron town was progressing nicely. With a new emphasis on aesthetics and agriculture, the rebuilt furnace was only half he size of the original. Cleverly designed to have the billow powered by a team of oxen, the new furnace was considerably more efficient then the older one, and the new design also freed the woman to undertake other labours. And these they tackled with the vigour and energy that the women of Iron-town were famous for. Soon Eboshi and her kin were well under way in the transformation of their village, pace and excitement only intensified as their new home began to take shape around them.
Ashitaka, for his part, helped where he could, joining in with the townsfolk during heavy team labour (his still lingering curse providing quite useful strength) and becoming evermore a beloved leading figure amongst the town folk.
Almost overnight he had become an excepted member of the community, his natural leadership abilities establishing him as a queasy lieutenant of Eboshi, though a fiercely argumentative one at that. Eboshi had altered her visions for Iron-town to one more in tune with the surrounding forest, though her determination and drive often resulted in a stubbornness regarding the desires of the forest dwellers. Ashitaka found no help amongst the townsfolk in regards to his desired concessions to the forest spirits, as they themselves only regarded their neighbours with fear and mistrust. This resulted in Ashitaka having many long and arduous discussions with not only Eboshi, but the towns people in general. Always open to discuss his ideas of partnership with the forest spirits, the townspeople ignorance of the matter tested his resolve and his patience. Often he would go to bed drained and somewhat disillusioned, as the new peace was turning out to be a thousand times more complicated then the war ever was.
Some solus was found by Ashitaka in his new town residence, Toki and Koroku's new home had a spare room which was semi detached from the rest of the building, while allowing the couple privacy it did afford Ashitaka with the semblance of a family unit. And often Tokis doting and Koroku's simple fun nature was a welcome relief for the mentally strained prince. There was no doubt however that the prince enjoyed his new life in Iron-town, and indeed the entire mood of the town was up-beat and merry, with laughter often being heard throughout the day.
It was a place, and a people, that Ashitaka had quickly grown to love, and something he would fight for. Mental combat had proved much more difficult then its physical counterpart, and the continued struggle to un-cloud the visions of his new friends required every ounce of his fledgling wisdom and natural leadership. As difficult as it was he was making some progress with the people of Iron town, this could not however be said for the other world he had grown to love, the spirits of the forest, and in particular their princess……San.
It had been a month and a half since the death of the great forest spirit, and though busy with the reconstruction Ashitaka had managed to visit San on four occasions. Usually only spending one night in the forest, this time he was planning a two night stay.
Ashitaka hummed a little tune to himself as he fixed some saddlebags to Yakkuru.
Immerging from the small shed at the side of his house holding an axe, Koroku made his way over to Ashitaka. Noting his friends whistling, he smiled wryly and leaned against a nearby post.
“If only everyone was as happy to see the forest spirits as you, your life would be a whole lot easier” he said casually. “Though admittedly most are not as pretty as Mononoke is” he added with the required innuendo.
Ashitaka, giving his friend a knowing side-glance, finished attaching the saddle and moved over to his friend. Koroku however was lost in his train of thought and simply continued. “But then again most are not quite as scary as she is… even the wolves” he said thoughtfully and honestly, as only he could. Ashitaka laughed at his friends' analysis.
“As usual you're spot on” said Ashitaka.
“Hmm” replied Koroku, as if not noticing. “Oh yes” he said suddenly, presenting the medium axe ”Here you go, its not that new, but I've checked the handle and sharpened the blade” he finished by handing it over.
“It will do nicely” Ashitaka thanked him. He took the axe, admiring it for a second before wrapping up the blade and placing it with the saddlebags.
Koroku moved up to Yakkuru, stroking his neck, The large elk responded by nuzzling the man.
“So much to carry this time Yakkuru” said Koroku, he turned his gaze to Ashitaka. “I hope you don't get too comfortable out there.” he said with a smile.
“My place is near the people of iron-town” Ashitaka said confidently “But I'll admit that the forest comes as a welcome relief at times.” he admitted to his friend.
Though of simple nature Koroku was no fool (at least not all the time) and Toki and he knew the strain that the prejudices of Iron town placed on him.
“I suppose somewhere between the two extremes you can find a lcalm place to exist” noted Koroku lightly, once again attending to Yakkuru. Ashitaka gave the slightly older man a thought-full look, his surrogate family was also well aware of the spirits prejudices. Ashitaka was suddenly very grateful to have a neutral place to return to from the two worlds he inhabited. Though Toki was incredibly loyal to Eboshi her intelligence and independence made her open to new ideas, on the other side Korokus one dimensional view of life was prone to sway, depending on the situation, though his straightforward nature occasionally lead to some remarkable insightful comments. Together they were a comical combination, but one that seemed to work.
“You should bring her to town one day” said Koroku suddenly, moving over and leaning back on the pole.
“I'm not so sure that's a good idea” replied Ashitaka, while fixing his clothes to travel.
“People have got to get over their issues sooner or later” continued Koroku.
Ashitaka finished what he was doing and turned to face his friend.
“And you're not afraid of her any more?” he asked, eyebrow raised.
“If you say she's not dangerous then there's no problem” he replied “Plus, now that I'm all healed up I can look after my family” he said, the pride in his voice evident.
“It's good thing that Ashitaka is such a good judge in character then” said Toki airily, she had appeared behind Koroku holding a small package, just as he had started his sentence, and had moved up next to him. Koroku jumped slightly at his spouses' comments, startled at her appearance, she never let him get away with self-promoting comments and he took on his more usual demure pose.
“But the big goons idea about bringing her here isn't that bad” she added, eyeing her husband off out of the corner of her eye. Koroku, for his part, straightened up a bit, smirking at the complement from his wife.
“People need to get over their fears, and the best way to do that is to confront them.” she said stoically
Placing the package under one arm Toki moved up and adjusted Ashitakas travelling clothes, he new better then to resist.
“Maybe your right” said Ashitaka.
“Of course I am” said Toki determinedly. Her expression softening, she took a step back retrieving the package she presented it to Ashitaka.
“What is this?” he asked.
“Just a little something for you and San” Toki replied, smiling. “Make sure you try and keep it cool until diner.”
“I hope you made some extra for me” said Koroku, leaning over his wife's shoulder.
“Not that you would deserve it, but yes” replied Toki. Koroku smiled broadly.
“Thank you very much. I'm sure she will appreciate it to” said Ashitaka, placing the package carefully away, and mounted Yakkuru.
“Anything to help…” said Toki. Ashitaka started to lead Yakkuru away, turning back shortly to wish his friends well with a wave. Toki waved at him and Koroku suddenly yelled out.
“And don't let her push you around… show her who's boss!”
He then waved with his usual goofy grin, this quickly disappeared however when Toki made a sudden motion towards him, he cringed for a second, and then she simply walked back to the house, Koroku shrugging and followed her. Ashitaka chuckled at this display and headed back on his way, he received numerous well wishes on the way to the gate and called out a goodbye to the guards on the battlement as he started on his trip.
It was still early as Ashitaka left the town and already worker teams where out continuing the construction on the new terraces, he chatted with several of the workers on the way past.
Just before the bend in the path that marked the end of the habited area one last figure came into view, it was Lady Eboshi, mounted on a horse she was looking down the main road back to the empire.
“Good morning Lady Eboshi” Ashitaka greeted. “Have you come to see me off?”
Eboshi turned her head, then used her one remaining arm to turn her horse to face Ashitaka.
“I don't think that is necessary… considering you're only going for two nights” she said evenly, but not unkindly.
“It is only for 3 days?” she added, raising an eyebrow. The townsfolk, and particularly Lady Eboshi were still very mistrustful of princess Mononoke and still assumed she would try her best to steel him away from them.
“You will have to learn to trust the forest dwellers if you want iron town to live peacefully next to them” said Ashitaka, well aware to what she was referring to.
“I have little reason, or indeed need to” said Eboshi, closing up a little.
“Co-operation is not dependence, and can only make both sides stronger” said Ashitaka solemnly, moving up beside her. She turned her horse back around and both riders looked down the long winding path that led to the empire.
“Come Ashitaka, let's not start again. Go enjoy the day… These matters will no doubt be here when you return” Eboshi said suddenly, her smile returning, she moved her horse around again and gave him a curt nod before trotting back towards her people. Ashitaka watched her thoughtfully, though incredibly stubborn, at her heart remained a single desire, the security and happiness of her people, and this was something Ashitaka could work with.
Suddenly alone he felt his thoughts tumble out of his head as his mind returned to the prospect of seeing San again. A smile growing on his face he leant back, taking in a large breath of fresh air, invigorated, he leaned forward on Yakkuru, scratching him behind the ear.
“Come on old friend, the quicker we get there quicker your free of this damn load.” he said encouragingly. Yakkuru responded to his masters mood, and the two made there way off quickly, enjoying the morning summer weather.
Authors note:
[[Quite quick actually, well now you know where everyone stands, lets get on with the development!]]