A/N: Hello! Here's my shot at a Nausicaa fanfic; hope you like it! I considered writing a Spirited Away fanfic, but since Velf basically rules that fandom, I decided to write one for Nausicaa.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from the movie by Miyazaki. I probably have only about an eighth of his imagination, at best!

Chapter 1: The Festival

There was not a single cloud hanging in the sky, just pure, clear air. The sun had not risen yet, but the sky had begun to change from dark to a chalky blue. Silhouettes of trees gradually appeared, and the Valley began to stir. The inhabitants were rising a bit earlier than normal, and a strange tingling sensation of excitement hovered in the air.

Up in a cozy-looking stone tower, a girl had just finished getting dressed. Walking towards the window, she took a panoramic view of the Valley, and let out a contented sigh. It was going to be a beautiful autumn morning. She daintily slipped into a pair of well-worn boots and turned to leave the room. As she placed her hand on the door knob, something caught her attention – a ball of fur lay curled up on the floor by her feet, soundly asleep. The girl bent down to run her hand along the side of the fuzzy mound; it stirred slightly.

"Teto," she whispered. The creature's ears drooped adorably on both sides of its head as a face and green eyes peered up sleepily at the young woman.

"I know, it's early. You don't have to come with me yet." She cooed.

Lazily the fur ball rose. The girl smiled lovingly as the fox squirrel lethargically climbed up her arm, stopped on her shoulder, hunkered down, and continued to snooze. She walked out the door and descended the stairs.

Outside, the people were up and busily working despite the early hour. Women were returning from luscious green fields carrying baskets bursting with fresh produce. Men helped their wives carry melons, fruits and vegetables of all sorts. All were making their way towards the center of the valley. Other women were hurrying across the fields clutching beautiful bouquets, their daughters skipping joyfully ahead of them. Two women stopped at a large and stately tree, and began to skillfully tie the flower onto the trunk. While they adorned the trees, others decorated doors and windows. Gradually the village began to light up; festive splashes of vivid red and orange appeared everywhere.

The girl, wearing a simple blue V-neck and pants, walked briskly through the village, admiring the activities of the people. Many greeted her with a cheerful "good morning", to which she always replied with an energetic "morning!" and a warm smile. She stopped in adoration of a bright yellow wreath presently being tied to the side of a large stone windmill. The workers, a kindly middle-aged woman and her ecstatic four year old daughter, noticed the girl.

"How does it look, Princess?" they inquired.

"Wonderful. I absolutely love it." The girl in blue enthused. Her effect on the pair was instantaneous; their faces lit up from her praise.

The princess continued her morning stroll, and a gentle breeze played with her distinctive auburn hair. Presently she emerged from the top of a hill and surveyed the sight before her. There, in the center of the Valley, lay a wide grassy courtyard. On regular days it was nothing more than a large flat plain, but today it was the center of commotion. To the far left, villagers deposited their abundance of fruits and vegetables at the door of a large stone building. The clang of pots and pans reverberated from what was apparently a kitchen, while the head chef shouted out orders loud enough to wake the dead.

Seeing the state of hectic in the kitchen, the princess decided to leave them to their business and headed to the right of the courtyard. Eight or nine men were transporting with considerable effort several sturdy wooden planks. One man followed the procession, carrying a ridiculously large hammer, and another guided the group to the exact placement of the posts. Meanwhile, two men hauled out a colossal handwoven tarp. The one overseeing the entire procedure wore a scruffy-looking mess of a beard and an old brown sunhat. The princess mused how the villagers could even hear the man's instructions which were spoken through his overgrown mustache.

"Morning Lord Yupa!" the girl chimed happily. Her voice floated above the low hum of the general commotion, and the bearded man lifted his head.

"Ahh, good morning Nausicaa. Ready for the Autumn Festival?" The man droned in a deep calm voice.

"Yes! The people have worked hard this year; they deserve a break." She declared, before bouncing up a ladder to tie a limp end of the tarp to the top of a post.

Excitement electrified the entire Valley; this was the first Autumn Festival hosted by the Valley of the Wind. Shortly after the incident of the Great Warrior and ohm stampede, Nausicaa had every intention of maintaining good relations with neighbors Tolmekians and Pejites. The Autumn Festival was the result of her ingenuity: a week-long festival, every other year, hosted by a different country each time. Every festival, the people would gather together, bringing in their harvests for a giant celebration to end the farming season. Food and merriment abound, singers and dancers entertain, children play together in their own activities, and all come to enjoy each other's company. If there ever was an excuse for outside travelers to play the role of tourists visiting the area, this Festival was the perfect reason. Wives exchange secret family recipes, explore dishes from fellow countries, and husbands discuss the either politics or the newest form of farming equipment. All would happily meet and greet each other; the Festival would be the peak of hospitability and amicability across nations on the smallest level.

Nausicaa passed by a nice-looking teenage boy about her age; the handsome lad gave a friendly smile and a greeting. The princess cheerfully replied, and continued walking. Suddenly she was reminded of another boy she hadn't seen in a while. Four years, to be exact, since she had last seen Asbel. She would have run into the dark haired, dark eyed boy at the last Autumn Festival over in Tolmekia. However, he had regrettably missed the last celebration on account of some issue regarding the materials for Pejite's outer wall. Both Nausicaa and Asbel had been incredibly busy rebuilding their land. Four years ago the ohm stampede had left Pejite in a spread of rubble, and the Valley of the Wind had also sustained significant damage in its towers, fields, and forests. Over time both kingdoms recovered and were flourishing once more.

This Autumn Festival she hadn't heard any news from him and assumed – no, counted upon his coming. In truth, they had become close friends, understanding each other far better than either were aware of. The two had faced similar hardships, both together and alone within their respective kingdoms. Nausicaa also secretly hoped to see him more frequently than every four years in the future. Her thoughts were drifting into some farfetched possibilities when Nausicaa suddenly realized what she was doing and quickly snapped herself out of her contemplation.

"Stop it!" She mentally scolded herself.

"Just keep him as a friend! Hopefully time hasn't distanced the two of you too much," she thought. As if trying to run away from her thoughts, she picked up speed and sprinted to help fix a windmill.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." Nausicaa mumbled, slipping into a form fitting blue dress. The simple yet elegant article of clothing had a very sleek design, hugging her slim body then casually flowing down to her feet. The dress was quite beautiful and she liked it very much; however the fact that she was wearing an eyecatching dress did not help ease her qualms about a quick welcome address she was to give to open the festival.

"Nervous about the speech?" asked a girl with her in Nausicaa's dressing room, helping her step into the outfit. The girl had dark hair in the form of a spiky pixie hair cut; she had square shoulders and a tall, lean form.

"I know it's just a few lines, but I'm worried anyway."

"Don't be; people will be too excited to listen. Besides, you've done plenty of other things that require at least twice the amount of courage. This shouldn't be hard." Nausicaa smiled. A memory flashed through her mind: she was calmly standing next to a bleeding baby ohm, feet firmly planted directly in the path of an unstoppable raging stampede. If her people weren't scared beyond words for their own lives they probably would have picked her up and sent her straight to a mental institution.

"Thanks, Tersa." She whispered, feeling slightly more confident, though still somewhat unsure.

"Anytime. Now walk out proudly before I transport you to the courtyard by force."

Nausicaa emitted a slight snort. Although her friend had a frightening outer demeanor and often spoke roughly, she had a kind heart deep beneath the layers of prickles and thorns. However, Tersa's words were not all empty threats. Nausicaa decided to take Tersa for her word, and walked toward the door. She inhaled deeply, and in one swift movement turned the door knob and confidently waltzed out to the courtyard.