|Life Beyond the Shadow
Author: TheFreelancerSeal PM
What happened to the hero who killed the 16 Colossi? What became of the woman he risked it all to save? What kind of life can she live now? Post-gameRated: Fiction T - English - Tragedy - Chapters: 13 - Words: 39,332 - Reviews: 39 - Favs: 25 - Follows: 27 - Updated: 12-07-12 - Published: 02-21-09 - id: 4879658
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Ok, I am really sorry it took me this long to update. I know I said I had an idea of where I wanted to go, and I did, but I ended up losing track of things. I wasn't sure how to make it work, so I sat on it. Plus, I let some of my other works take priority over this. I hadn't forgotten this though, so I decided I would try and really work on it now. And the rest is history.
This chapter sort of builds on the last one. It's basically part of it from Mono's POV. After focusing on Wander for a while, I thought it might be interesting to see how she's dealing with his entry into manhood. I hope once again that it doesn't scare people off. Since we know nothing about her personality, I have to just go by assumption. But anyway, read on, and I hope you enjoy.
Chapter 9: Old and Young
Mono furiously waved her hand to fan herself, even as she sat in the small pool. The sun had burned with a greater fire that spring than any the woman had known previously, and she hoped to find some small respite from it. Her legs and feet were wet and cool as she bathed, but the rest of her uncovered body felt as though it would blister under the heated gaze overhead. She recalled that she had spent many years under the heat and chill as she worked in the land. Though her skin had grown accustomed to it, on days such as this, such familiarity did nothing.
She ceased fanning herself long enough to take a few handfuls of water to wet her skin. She wished that she had found a deeper pool, but she had no desire this day to hunt even for water. With such an eye glaring down upon her, she was willing to take the first offer of relief the land made to her, meager as it was.
Despite the heat, Mono sighed with contentment as she sat alone in the water. She had not known solitude for a number of years, and she missed the quiet companionship of it. Her thoughts could take their rest from constructing traps, killing the daily meals, and the endless toil of her life. She recalled the days when she had even dared to lie beneath a kinder sun with only her long hair to cover herself. Those days truly seemed of a simple sort, despite the worries and cares that had carried over from year to year. Perhaps, she thought it was because Wander had not yet grown.
As she recalled her son, Mono sighed again, though it was hardly the same as before. She was not at all content as she thought back to the man who was still very much a boy.
"What can I teach him?" she asked the still air and the buzzing insects. "I can't tell him the ways of men because I don't even know them. I know how to hunt, only out of the need to live. I know how to farm, but also only out of that same need. What else can I do to help him understand?"
In truth, Mono wished she could find the words to tell him what she thought he should know if only to help the both of them. She had seen when he thought she did not. She saw each deep look he gave her while they worked. She saw the reddened tint in his face on the days when she was close to him, and she saw the curious and often shamed looks in his eyes that often followed. Though it seemed so far away to her now, she could recall similar looks from the youths in her village. Some glances, she remembered, were directed at her, and others to girls she knew, but now could not recall. In the midst of such a fog about her head, she thought back to the words her mother had said as the days of her womanhood approached.
"It is perfectly natural for them to look at you in such a way. Remember, Mono, that you will one day be chosen by one, and you will have your duties to fulfill. You had best learn to accept it, for you have no other calling besides those womanly obligations."
Indeed, she supposed that it was quite natural for her to receive those looks in a place such as this, a land where all manner of civilization held no meaning. Still, such looks frightened her, and she grew even more fearful when she saw those looks from the man she called her own son.
"He doesn't know any better," Mono whispered. Such an understanding brought her a slight comfort, but even so, she wondered what Wander might someday do. She wondered if such natural things would overtake him. Could he fail to think of her as his mother when he could find no other woman to fill the role that she no doubt would have filled had fate seen fit to allow it? It was a thought Mono wished not to entertain, a thought that would frighten any mother. Yet, deep within her belly, it was a thought that in some way stoked some long dead flame.
Wander was not her son, at least not by birth. Though he had failed to conceal those secretive glances, she was not without blame herself. In their daily labors, Mono had noted him. Wander was a strong man, crafted by the land. He could lift stone with ease when she could not. She had even smiled inwardly when he had scaled whatever cliff he could find, though she had chastised him for it. Yes, he was indeed strong, and Mono knew such a man could provide for her, even in such a place as this. The thought of Wander as such a man lit such a fire within her and yet brought a cold, but pleasing, shiver to her skin. Any woman would have found fit to wed him had they lived anywhere else, and they would have thought right to do so. More than this, Wander reminded Mono of the man she had once known and lost.
"Perhaps he is somewhere inside," she said to the still air. "Maybe Wander is locked somewhere inside him." Could the gods truly smile upon her in so wondrous a way? If Wander lived within the man she called by his name, what could keep them from each other? If she but knew for certain, then they could live as surely they would have those many years ago. It was the one memory that had remained with her, even as she lived the life of a savage, as others would have thought. "Maybe there is still hope that we can still have that life together," Mono added, with a voice sounding quite eager.
The thought made her heart leap within her, and again she felt the familiar flame inside her and the stirring shiver running down her back. Her words earlier spoken carried such youthful fervor, and indeed, she felt younger than her years, though she knew not why. Wander would surely emerge from the man who shared more than his name. His face and eyes were the same as the man she had known. Save for the two horns, he was the very image of the man. Why should she not feel some strange hope that it would be so?
Mono quickly splashed water on her face, shaking away the sudden chill she felt shortly after. The drops that clung to her returned to the pond, and with them went the foolish notions. She was surely not in her right mind. Though she had not given birth to him, Wander was all but her son. Her arms had carried him, her voice had soothed him, her breasts had nourished him, and her life was spent as the life of a mother to him. Such thoughts were hardly right to think, and she knew it well. All the years of raising him had worked their way upon her as did the endless labors simply to ensure that she would see another day. Mono knew there was hardly time for such youthful impulse.
Matters such as hunting the game to sustain them and keeping the shrine to shelter them always were at the forefront of her thoughts. Had she lived a different life, it would likely resemble this one in many ways. Even so, Mono wished she could have lived that life, for she might not have aged so quickly.
Mono shifted slightly in order to lie upon her belly. As she did so, she happened to look down, and she saw her face staring back at her through the clear water. She examined her reflection for a moment, ignoring the buzz of the insects nearby. The burning on her shoulders she likewise paid little mind, although she would have welcomed a passing cloud or a cooling wind. As she stared at the visage, she marveled at it. She knew not her age, but she supposed that she was a woman of at least thirty, perhaps more or perhaps less. Yet, she showed no appearance of age.
Her face bore no signs of care or worry. Her hair remained black as it always was. Her darkened eyes kept sharp, and her body retained its strength, both of youth and of her many labors. In appearance, she was very much young, but in her heart, Mono could feel the weariness of age. Her soul seemed as though it had walked for more years than she had lived. She felt no weariness of her many troubles that accompanied her motherhood or even her labors. No, in the place of such normal things, she felt weary with the world.
She tired of having lived so long and appearing so youthful. She tired of the repetition that came year after year. She tired of the senselessness that seemed to befall her; she was alive after death and a mother who was still a maiden. It was fortunate for her, of that she had no doubt, and yet it seemed to frustrate her.
Her hand slid over her chest so that could feel the steady beating beneath her palm. She did nothing else for a time. With each thump of her heart, Mono found herself gently sobbing. What would become of her, she wondered. Would she remain so young even as Wander aged? Would her destiny cause her to live alone in this land? Must she someday bury her own son while she lingered on? As she pondered this, Mono thought such a fate was surely cursed. No destiny could be worse than one such as this.
"I should have stayed dead," said she in between the tears that mingled with her bathwater. "I would rather have died than live entirely alone in this land." She thought back of the days when Wander was still but a baby, and the despair those days had brought her. She had entertained such notions even then. On one dismal winter's day, she recalled how she even thought to take her own life. She had lived for the sake of the child, and she knew she would do so again, even if he was a now a man. Yet, as she thought what life she would lead if she lived beyond him, she wondered if she would end it upon that day.
At length, Mono took a heavy breath, hoping to send such thoughts away from her. It was foolish to think in such a way. Such selfish ideas had no place in her mind, despite how easy they came to her. If the gods saw fit to smile upon her, then maybe such a terrible lot would change. She sat upright and reached behind her to pull her long hair around her. Mono set about wetting what she could of it.
"I wonder if Wander could cut it for me," she uttered in a lighter voice. "If I sharpened a stone, I'm sure he would. It would be far less of a nuisance if it was shorter." She stopped long enough to throw a handful of water across her back before she turned back to her hair.
The sudden shifting of earth and the rustle of grass met her ears just then. Her back stiffened, and her skin tightened at the sound. Her hand released her ebony tresses. They fell to the water, scattering about though Mono paid no need to then. When she had first come to bathe, she was certain she was alone, and now such certainty vanished as a morning fog. She had told Wander to remain at the shrine; he would not disobey her. But if it was not Wander, then who or what could it have been?
Mono's arms quickly sprang up to cover her, as meager a covering as they were. She looked around, except behind her, for she was so lost in thought that she knew not from where the sound had come. Was it to her right or left? She cared not. All she could feel was the frantic beating of her heart and the fearful gasps through her nose. All thoughts of youth and age were lost to her as a worse thought fell upon her as the heat of the sun fell upon her naked shoulders.
"Surely Wander wouldn't do such a thing?" she said. "He wouldn't even think about coming out here." But even as she spoke those words, the frightened woman for a moment considered the terrible possibility that her own son had indeed followed her. If he had, she wondered what he might have seen. The thought make Mono feel ill. Should she rise? Should she stay? Was Wander still somewhere among the grasses? "He couldn't have done this," she added, though she said it only to calm herself.
Taking a quick glance about her, Mono rose from the pool and hurried to where she had laid her skin garment. She quickly dressed, despite the drops of water still clinging to her. As she glanced down at herself, she wished that her legs did not stick out so. She had thought to make her clothing more modest, yet she had not considered this sickening thought. The very idea made Mono quite ill, so much so that her belly drove her to her knees, and she expelled though she had eaten nothing since that morning. Standing to her feet again, she ran towards the shrine.
When she at last returned, she found her son sitting on the floor. Wander had not noticed her, for he continued to stare before him with no expression. From where she stood, however, Mono could see a harsh tint of red in his cheeks. It was a tint far deeper than any burn of the sun. Already, she could feel her heart fall deep into her belly.
"Wander," she said softly. He did not move at first, but when he did, she could see the look of shame in his eyes. All at once, she knew the truth, though she could not bear to accept it. He had indeed followed her. He said not a word to her as she neared him. He seemed to pay her no mind at all, save in sorrowful and even regretful glances. Mono only passed by him as she continued up to the garden. Alone again, she found herself idly kicking the small pebbles about her. When she could no longer abide that, she began striking at larger stones. She cared not for the pain upon her toes, for she was far too angry, far too astonished, and far too humiliated to think of minor hurt. She knew not why she did so. Perhaps an ache in the body might bring a sensation into her deadened thoughts.
"Is this what such a place will do to him?" she asked, looking down at her bruised feet. "Will he become as the animals are; driven by whatever compels them? If he ends up like an animal, what will I become?"
When she laid herself down to sleep that night, she slept as far from her son as she could manager. She instead chose one of her crude spears to lie with her, though she hated the idea of it. Despite the sharp weapon by her side, Mono hardly slept at all. What could she say to Wander? What could she say to herself?
A/N: Let me just say this; I don't have the faintest idea of what goes on in women's heads. Sometimes, I don't even know what goes on inside a man's head, and I'm a guy. But I figure that it's probably a two-way street. Wander feels attracted to Mono just because she's the only woman around, even though he believes that she's his mother. Now, Wander, I figure is pretty trim from having to work so hard to survive just like Mono does. Plus, since he probably looks just like Wander the character, Mono might also think about him in the same way. Plus, when you take two people out of civilization and throw them into the wild, they might start thinking less about society. Of course, I have no idea about that, so I just have to run on assumption.
Hope you liked it and again sorry for the delay. I will say that I don't have any idea of where I'll head with this. Well, I have some idea, but we'll see how it goes.