Princess Mononoke Fan Fiction ❯ Mind and Spirit ❯ Chapter 2 (Delicate matters) ( Chapter 2 )

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

Mind and Spirit
Chapter 2 (Delicate matters)
Disclaimer: I don't own Princess Mononoke or the characters, its just a Fan-fic, read and enjoy.
Authors note:
[[Right, lets sort this relationship stuff out, its complex but fun in its own way, heads up on some deep and meaningful stuff… groovy ;-)]]
Still the flashback…
Moving at a brisk trot while still on the road, Yakkuru was finally able to let loose after Ashitaka indicated to him it was time to turn off. Sliding down the incline Yakkuru picked up speed, bounding effortlessly from bolder to bolder once they had reached the wild but narrow river. Both rider and steed enjoyed the sensation of rushing through dense foliage, as Ashitaka leant low to avoid the branches that flew by. Simply hanging on, Ashitaka allowed his animal free reign as they made their way recklessly down the valley. Coming to the turnoff from the river Ashitaka took a firmer grip of the reigns, indicating for his excited elk to slow down. Coming to a stop next to a small creak that flowed into the river Ashitaka quickly jumped off, patting his friend for a second before going down to the water for a drink, and to splash water over himself. After catching his breath Yakkuru moved down to drink as well. Ashitaka splashed some water over his friend to help him cool down, then he himself stretched a bit. Pausing to enjoy the scenery, Ashitaka finally turned to address is animal.
“You ready to go?” he asked. Yakkuru pawed at the ground eagerly. Ashitaka moved over, patting his friend for a second before again climbing on.
The two headed off at a lazier pace through the forest. It didn't take long for the first little white spirit to appear. “Rattle rattle rattle” went the little creature. Ashitaka bowed his head respectfully.
“And how are you today?” he asked politely. The little creature rattled again, then started to move, leading Ashitaka on. Though he now knew where he was going, Ashitaka was always glad to see the little creatures, it meant that he could relax. Stretching again Ashitaka thought of his coming discussion with San…
Considering the continued difficulty he had with San it was rather surprising that he considered going to be with her a rest from his troubles. Truth be known she was considerably more stubborn then Eboshi on most matters, and even forgoing her strong prejudices, the cultural differences between the two, considering again her upbringing as a wolf spirit, made interaction with her an occasionally volatile and dangerous affair. Though despite all this there was something entirely more rewarding between him and this girl as compared to anyone else. The slightest indication that she was becoming more tolerant of his views, or every time he felt he understood something new about her, invigorated him more then words could describe. And this was quite evidently the case with her as well, for as often as she seemed extremely suspicious and cold towards him there were also times of tenderness and acceptance… and more importantly then anything else an extreme desire to try. For the gap that separated the two youngsters was large but their longing to find acceptance in each other was stronger then any of the occasional disagreements (and many were extreme!) they had. There could only be one explanation for these massive swings in behaviour… quite simply, the two were in love.
Ashitaka sat lazily on Yakkuru, swaying from side to side as they went through the forest, though relaxed he nevertheless picked up on the movement of a large animal through the undergrowth next to the path. Ashitaka looked down in front of him, both Yakkuru and the little spirits seemed to have noticed the noise, but were unconcerned. Ashitaka waited until he judged the sound was close enough, then spoke out.
“Good morning young wolf spirit!” Ashitaka called out, looking in the direction of the noise. “I hope I find you well!”
Ashitaka waited for a response.
He did well not to fall from Yakkuru when it came, not from the direction of the noise but almost behind him, a little way forward and on the other side of the track.
“Morning young human master” came a deep husky voice. After freezing for only a minor second, but long enough for the new speaker to recognise, Ashitaka turned to address the new voice, Yakkuru for his part, had not flinched at all, and simple stopped after the newly appeared giant white wolf had `spoken'. Ashitaka treated the wolf to a generous smile, though without baring his teeth.
“I hope I am not disturbing your morning hunt” he said to the new arrival. In front of Ashitaka the second of Sans brothers appeared form the direction of the original noises, leaping out in one easy pounce to land elegantly in the centre of the path, then sitting down.
“Not at all brother” said the second arrival, the honorary title of brother was now one commonly used between Ashitaka and the wolf spirits. Ashitaka was still viewed with great suspicion by the two wolves, particularly the older of the two, and the new title had been used at the request of San, though Ashitaka was still guarded to use it himself, and addressed the two more respectfully when San was not around.
“In fact it was `you' that we wished to interrupt…” continued the first spirit to appear, the older one. “We would like to have a word with you in private before you reach San”
“Certainly” replied Ashitaka. Though he was not concerned, he nevertheless took on a more concentrated attitude, this was not a communication he wanted to be misinterpreted in any way. Ashitaka got off Yakkuru, and after stroking him a few times moved over to a large stone nearby, he sat tentatively with his legs crossed, to show his two companions he was willing to give them his respectful and full attention. The two waited until he was seated.
“What do you wish to discuss?” Ashitaka said finally.
“San” said the younger wolf “and you” he added, no hostility or bias present in his gruff voice.
Ashitaka smiled, he needn't have asked.
“What are you planning with San, why do you keep coming here” said the older wolf, a little impatiently.
Ashitaka had expected this question earlier to be honest, but the two brothers had obviously tolerated his presents originally. Now however with the passing of more time they had had the opportunity to contemplate the future… and they were starting to wonder, where it would lead them.
“I wish to make a life with her” he said after a slight pause.
“A life, what life could you offer her?” scoffed the older wolf “Is she to live amongst the humans, is she to be your wife?!”
Ashitaka had expected the first part of the response, almost to the letter, the second part however threw him a little, as he had not expected them to know human customs to any great detail.
“I can not lie by saying that I would not desire such actions, but it is clear to me that this will never be.” he said calmly, and with only a hint of sadness.
“We have sensed your intelligence young human” stated the younger wolf calmly. “You must forgive my brothers indignation, this is a sensitive subject for us” he continued.
The older wolf calmed down slightly.
“Your own abilities and soul are not in question” the younger continued “We have experienced this first hand”
“Or we would not have allowed you to keep returning” interrupted the older wolf pointedly.
“However” continued the younger “we are well aware of how much confusion and anguish this new contact is causing to San”
Worry crossed Ashitakas face.
“This is not something she would show to you, or indeed to us” said the older Wolf. “but it runs so deep, that we, as her brothers, can sense it… and in-fact have seen it”
Ashitaka regained his composure a bit, it wasn't shocking that San should be torn through her new contact with him, though hearing it was still difficult. Next to him Yakkuru lifted his head as if noticing something, Ashitaka wasn't paying attention, and also didn't notice the younger wolfs side-glance.
“This is regrettable, but unfortunately unavoidable” said Ashitaka.
“Simply leave, and never return” came the obvious reply.
“That would be a betrayal of my instincts” replied Ashitaka, well aware of his terminology.
“I desire her as a life partner” stated the young man confidently. “But I care for her beyond even that, I state this because I believe that this course of action will be the happiest and most rewarding direction for her. If I thought otherwise… I would leave without hesitation… as difficult as that would be”
Ashitaka looked from one wolf to the other, they were obviously impressed with his resolve.
“She can not live in your world and you can not live in ours, where will you find peace?” asked the older wolf, now more respectfully.
“We shall make a new world” replied Ashitaka. “One where our separate worlds will combine in such a way that we, and others we come in contact with, can exist peacefully.”
“That is a noble thought” stated the older wolf calmly “ but even noble spirits must sometimes live in an ignoble world.”
The young wolf continued “You are still young and full of hope, are you sure your old world will allow the two of you peace?”
“With the help of San… yes” replied Ashitaka
“You expect much from our sister” said the older wolf.
“No more then I expect from myself.”
“She does not see your vision, perhaps she does not want it”
“With your help I believe she could easily see it, and when she does, and understands, I know she will work towards it.”
“You presume much, why should we help, and what makes you so sure she will.”
“Because she will do this, not for herself, but for those she holds dear… It is after all for the benefit of her world.”
“Benefit!” scoffed the older wolf, annoyance returning. “You make it sound as if the forest is in need of help.”
“Worlds that are not isolated must interact. Failure to adapt to the changes of the surrounding worlds will lead to divergence, and ultimately the destruction of one over the other.”
“We are not afraid to die for what we believe in” said the older wolf defiantly.
“Death accomplishes nothing” retorted Ashitaka, it was one of the few times the two wolves had ever heard him raise his voice (though only slightly).
“To fight is always an option… but are you not betraying your guardianship of your world if you let your hate and anger blind you from at least considering an option which will see it safely into the future?”
“What future could the spirits and the forests have in the world of man?” retorted the older wolf.
“If it remains its enemy, then non” said Ashitaka simply. “And this will be to the determent of man as well.”
“We must bring the two together, for the benefit of both” continued Ashitaka.
“What you are proposing will be immensely difficult… for both sides” said the younger wolf.
“Most worth while things in life usually are” said Ashitaka vaguely, his mind still on San.
“We are however at a massive advantage.. your mother, it seems, has given us the way forward” he said, more up-beat.
“In what way?” asked the younger wolf.
“She has given us San” Ashitaka said simply. “Without her I could not be here, nor this chance possible.”
He finished up, looking from one wolf to the other. The older appeared still mildly agitated, though much calmer then before, both wolfs turned to each other, then bowed their heads as if in deep contemplation. Ashitaka watched them for a while then he himself closed his eyes, recounting the conversation just past to satisfy himself that he had not erred. Birds chirped overhead when the older of the wolves spoke again.
“The path you have chosen is long and dangerous” he said evenly “but it has not been chosen without contemplation, and worthy of an attempt. Much can change before the journey ends, and indeed we may still part ways, but for now we will travel with you, and assist where we can.”
“I thank you” said Ashitaka with a smile.
“We will see” said the older wolf, getting up. “We will be back later” he said, louder then was necessary, and with that the two wolves got up and ran off down the path, leaving Ashitaka alone once again. Ashitaka sat for a short while, then got down from his rock, looking around he found Yakkuru a little off the path.
“Yakkuru lets get going” he called to his elk. The elk however looked at him for a second then continued grazing. Ashitaka, a little surprised at the animals lack off attention, looked on.
“Don't you want to go and see San?” he asked his old friend. With that Yakkuru again raised his head and after looking at Ashitaka looked past him for a second, nodding.
Ashitaka turned to find San standing tall, hand leaning on a tree.
“San” breathed the young man. “How long have you been here?”
She had her usual strong expression about her, though her movements were graceful and soft, and so was her voice.
”Since the start” she replied, Ashitaka stayed were he was, looking slightly confused.
“My brothers wished to have a talk with you” she said. “Though I would not allow them to do it alone”
With that she moved from her position, jumping down from the rock onto the small path.
“They agreed that I could observe, but nothing else” she finished up. Ashitaka knew there would be no apology for the deception, it was simply not in her nature.
“Did they find out what they wanted to know?” asked Ashitaka, only the tiniest hint of annoyance present in his voice “And you?” he added.
“Many questions where answered, perhaps more then were necessary” she said in her monotone voice. Ashitaka thought back to the conversation, the comment about Sans emotional turmoil! This revelation had obviously not been discussed beforehand. He thought for a second before continuing.
“I means a lot to me to know how much you care San” Ashitaka said softly. “It would be useless if I were the only-one.”
Sans expressions softened slightly but her eyes remained strong.
“I am not proud of these emotions, you should not have been told” she offered.
“All emotions are a source of strength” Ashitaka said confidently. “You must simply know how to use them, and never ignore them”
As if to prove his point he moved forward, San looked hesitant for a second but soon she found herself in the young mans embrace. He tenderly but firmly held her, and with her mind now striped of thought she found herself returning the embrace, resting her head on his chest, the young couple lost themselves in the moment. It was only the second time they had embraced in such a way, though Ashitaka had spent some considerable time with her, she had remained hesitant and withdrawn. Though he did not mind, being contented with her company alone, the tension had been one of the factors in the strain between them. This was definitely turning out to be a long courtship.
Ashitaka was elated with Sans response to his touch, and in no small measure relieved at the breaking of the strain to further avoiding it. After a while he released his grip slightly and the couple parted just enough to look at each other, their hands still wrapped around one another's hips.
“It is good to see you again San” Ashitaka said finally.
“I am glad you came” she replied.
Ashitaka released his grip on her and lifted his hand to her face, stroking it gently, and treating her to a generous smile, she blushed slightly and returned the smile.
“Are you ready to go on our little journey?” asked Ashitaka.
“I have all that I require” San replied, now that tension between the two was broken, she was able to maintain her relaxed attitude.
“And your brothers?” asked Ashitaka. Every time he had been to see San she had vary rarely been alone, and even then not for very long, privacy was not something that wolfs felt was important.
“They will meet up with us on the way ” San replied. And with that she moved over to Yakkuru who had returned to the path, stroking him a couple of times in greeting. Indicating to the packages on Yakkuru's back San asked.
“So what has Ashitaka got you carrying around?” she asked Yakkuru.
“Only some items for our trip, and a little surprise” replied Ashitaka for Yakkuru quickly, well aware of Sans ability for limited communication with most animals.
“Don't worry I will be walking the rest of the way” he said, patting his friend. He turned to San.
“Shall we be on our way?”
She nodded to him, and together the two headed off, San leading the way.
The two youngsters made their way through the forest, it was turning out to be a beautiful day. Both were contented to let the more serious topics slide, simply talking about what they had been doing in each other's absence. The mood remained light and jovial. At about noon the vegetation began to change and thin out as they made their way ever higher into the mountains. Their destination ended up being a small lake about halfway up, this lake was the major source of water for the river that intern emptied into the larger lake around Iron town. Ashitaka had long wanted to explore the mountains, and San was more then happy to show him one of her family's summer hunting grounds.
The two stopped for lunch just after noon, sitting in a larger clearing next to the river they were treated to a spectacular view, the forests stretching out in all directions, and iron-town, far below, glimmered in the hot afternoon sun.
Ashitaka brought out some flat bread and vegetables, as suspected San had plenty of dried meat on hand. Together they quickly prepared something to eat. Though originally sceptical San had quickly grown to like some human food, and now gladly joined in with whatever Ashitaka had to offer.
Munched away happily, Ashitaka suddenly turned to San.
“San” said Ashitaka after completing his last bite. “I'm glad your brothers and I had that discussion earlier”
San turned her gaze from the scenery to look at him.
“And I'm glad you heard it too” he continued. “It is good that you know how I feel, and what I have planed”
Ashitaka looked back at the scenery.
“But it is all for nothing if I don't know how you feel, or how you see your…” he paused for a second “our future to be.”
He continued to stare out at the glorious day, leaning forward to rest on his knees. Beside him San moved to get up, Ashitaka, not turning to watch her. She looked down at the young man, a small frown crossing her normally neutral, if concentrated, expression. She stood there for a while, coming to some sort of conclusion she moved over behind Ashitaka, who still did not indicate that he was about to move. She sat down immediately behind him, placing her legs on either side. Sliding one arm around his waste and placing her other hand on his shoulder blade she leaned on the arch of his back, placing her head to look over his shoulder. He had not flinched during this, but the slight shudder she felt from him when she leaned onto him, indicated that her actions were not entirely expected, but entirely welcome; she smiled to herself for a second.
“You have awakened many thing within me Ashitaka” she stated quietly into his ear.
“I have never felt such joy… or such sorrow then when I am with you, or when I am thinking of you” she continued, the emotions carrying only slightly in her voice.
“Believe me when I tell you that my sorrow only existed in the future. For I could not see a way in which the joy I fell with you now could exist in such a place.” she continued reassuringly.
Ashitaka resisted the urge to interrupt, so as to in-turn reassure her, as difficult as it was.
“I can not abandon my past” she said softly, and with noticeable strength. “No matter how strong my feelings for you”
Ashitaka both savoured and feared these words, as such verbalisation's of personal feelings were rare indeed from San, and doubly powerful given the current theme.
“You have shown me and my brothers that there is a path… And not only does this path allow for my past to live on, but also gives me a future with you.”
Ashitaka closed his eyes in relief, knowing `the decision' had already been made.
“I… like my brothers, will take this path with you… for as long as I am able” she said, finishing up in a more comforting tone, lowering her other hand so as to hug Ashitaka from behind. Ashitaka simply sat there, lowering one of his hands to gently caress Sans arms, which were still wrapped around him.
“Thank you” he said simply.
San's brothers had rejoined the small party about halfway up the remaining distance to the small lake. The two brothers appeared to be more relaxed, now more then ever… they had always been polite to him, but an underlying scepticism had always been apparent. Ashitaka had obviously passed a test of some kind, and he couldn't help but feel more at ease, accepted in this new atmosphere. The two wolves talked freely around him now, with the younger one rather eager to tell him about some of their recent adventures in more detail. San was also considerably more relaxed, as if a great weight had been lifted from her shoulders. Her face no longer reverted back to a concentrated stare after she smiled, but stayed relaxed… hopeful. She also now initiated a lot of contact with Ashitaka, quite happy to touch him or hold him if the opportunity arose.
He responded in kind, and at one stage simply reached the small distance between them to take her hand. She was a little confused at first, but after explaining that it was his clans (again careful use of terminology) usual sign of affection she simply blushed slightly, and obviously approving, because she couldn't stop smiling for the next few minutes.