Beautiful Paradox
Mononoke-hime and related are © copyright Miyazaki, Ghibli, and etc.
Story is © copyright 2006 suzanami. Please do not redistribute without permission.

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Of course she was beautiful. In the same way as a burning house. As lightning. As a sharpened sword.

As a wolf going in for the kill.

Beautiful.

Beautiful and dangerous.

But she was also beautiful in the same way as his mother. As Yakkul grazing. As a gentle stream. As Kaya.

Yes, something in her eyes was like Kaya. Not the pure hatred, not the violent anger, not the raw wildness, but something. Something very true that her eyes betrayed despite her poisonous gaze.

Some unnatural blend of that soft, human beauty amidst the wild and dangerous made her unlike any other creature. She was completely unique. Nature held no other being like her.

His arm stung hotly and he gritted his teeth, fearful of driving away this strange girl and her companions. Gods. She ran with the gods of the forest.

Who was this girl?

He tugged his scarf from his face as the wind picked up, his cape billowing from his shoulders. It made him feel larger, less likely to become the prey of a hungry dog god.

Blue eyes narrowed at him, shooting fiery arrows in his direction. Her bloodstained mouth turned down in an expression of pure disgust, indignation, as if she had been fed rotting meat. He watched as the back of her wrist wiped across her bloodstained lips, smearing away puddles, leaving nothing but a red smear.

Finding his voice, Ashitaka shouted his petition over the rushing river, of his desperate search.

Steely blue eyes continued to hold his gaze and he realized that she was trying to intimidate him, like one would do to a wild animal. His expression did not harden or waver, he merely returned the silent glare.

Good gods of the skies. She was beautiful.

After what felt like a very long time, the girl suddenly turned her back to him as the largest canine began stepping away, blood still staining its chest and leg as it walked. The girl hopped nimbly onto the back of her brother wolf, turning her scowling face to him once more. "Go away." Ashitaka couldn't help but find her voice pleasant to hear, despite the malice laced into it.

The wind became more of a light breeze as he watched the wolves disappear into the thick, green foliage as if they'd never been there. He let out the breath he realized he had been holding; who in the world was that girl with those beasts?

A distinctly frightened cry behind him shook him out of his reverie. The men were awake.

END