Summary: This is my first time writing Princess Mononoke, and I had a good time. Think I did a decent job, too. The focus is on San, pre-movie, and written for 52(underscore)flavours at with the theme "five shades of white." No spoilers, hope you enjoy. 845 words.



Five Shades of White

I.
San's first memories, unlike her brothers', were in vivid color. She remembers the way her mother's beige coat shimmered in the sunlight, the creamy hue of her mother's milk, the pearly glow of the butterfly her snowy pup brothers chased towards her.

And she remembers reaching for that fairness, that polish, that beauty, only to stop and see the glaring pink flesh of her naked arms. She remembers the shock following this realization. She remembers thinking, even as a young baby, why am I so hideous?

II.
In the winter of her sixth year of life, a snow storm raged across the forest. From inside their lair she watched the wind chase the snow through the tree branches, entranced by the vacancy of her world.

A week or so later, the blizzard retreated and allowed the wolf family to venture out in the morning for a meal. The earth was still covered in a meter of white snow, and Moro tread through it easily, but her children were less apt to its height. Her sons she told to walk on more shallow places, and turned to take San in her jaws to carry her. But San lashed out with her pale hand, growling, "I can do it myself!"

Moro looked at her reproachfully, but went on.

San had frostbite that winter. But what stung the most was not her affliction: it was the truth of her vulnerability, and the loss of her pride.

III.
With spring came the feverish excitement that transformed the forest into an eruption of commotion. Birds sang to greet the sun, rodents peeked out of their burrows to forage for foods they had so long been denied, and the insects returned to pollinate the newly sprouted flowers.

But with the delights of spring there also came the irritants. Her family combated not only some stubborn rival animals for food, but many ticks and fleas for comfort. San now watched her brothers yip and bite their furs, scratching the insects sucking on them, and laughed. They growled and pounced on her as punishment. She kicked them.

San and her brothers continued wrestling in the valley while Moro watched on, elegant, proud, and as majestic as the forest itself, a spirit of colossal power. For a time, San was temporarily untangled from the boisterous play, and she paused to admire the creature she called Mother. She wished she was truly of that creature, and not in this ugly form—a human, Mother had once told her.

San retreated far away to the shade of an oak tree, carrying her hateful thoughts with her, and unbeknowingly a batch of fleas. She felt their bite on her forearm, and scratched rapidly. What happened in that instance surprised her so much she almost jumped back, thinking some enchantment had occured. When she had scratched her arm, for just a moment, her skin turned a pasty white.

Excited, she scratched in the same spot again. Anything – she would do anything to be like her mother and brothers. But as quickly as the white came it reverted back to her pale rose color. Shame flooded back, and angrily she clawed her arm, harder and harder, until finally her skin gave out, broke, and her fingernails were painted red.

IV.
With age, San began to slowly accept that she was born from humans and had their features and traits. But she never stopped rejecting her humanity, and she never gave up being as wild as she could.

To match her family, she killed snow hares and slavaged their fur to make a coat of her own; she created claws and a wolf face – daggers and spearheads made of obsidian and a feral mask; she sharpened her teeth on wood and blunt rocks; she toughened her feet by walking across fires. To gain her family's ferocity, she chased away all of her human emotions, like greed and supremacy.

Essentially, she beat herself into a beast. She wanted to be ready for the chance to bite into a human and see their ivory bones.

V.
One of the rare aspects of herself that was unlike her wolf family that she cherished was that she could climb the trees. When she needed her space, or just a quiet place to think, she would crawl up to the canopy of the forest to study the silver light of the stars.

It was cold that evening, but clear, and she could see for miles. Sometimes, her eyes would travel in the direction of the town, and she would briefly wonder about how the humans lived. But they never lingered there long, for she would always turn them back to the forest, back to her home.

Elder Brother called up to her a moment later. She let herself drop from the tree and landed on his back, her legs straddling his spine and pale hands twisting into his fur as he sped off towards the village. In her mind's eye, she watched it burn, the fires raging red, identical to the hatred running through her veins.