So this is it, my first story. I finally decided to try writing my own and, well, you can be the judge of how it turns out. It had to be a Princess Mononoke fanfic, it's one of my favourite movies after all. It's so beautifully made and I love all the characters so thought I'd do a kind of continuation from where the movie left off.

Anyway, here is the first chapter for you to delve into and I hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: I don't own Princess Mononoke.

Shadow of a Dream

Chapter 1 - A New Start

A while had passed since the time of those devastating events between the residents of Iron Town and the gods and guardians of the forest. It had climaxed at the death of the great Forest Spirit himself and many were now familiar with the tale. Unsurprisingly everyone in Iron Town now knew the full details of what had happened that day and the news had even spread to other outlying towns and villages.

The news was that many lives had been spared by the actions of two very different individuals. One of these was a stranger from a far off region, who had only recently arrived in the area before the series of events had occurred. His name was Ashitaka. The other was a wild, ferocious girl that the people of Iron Town were already familiar with from previous encounters. They knew her as 'Princess Mononoke'; however she was also commonly referred to as the 'Wolf Girl' due to the fact that she lived with a pair of wolves whom she regarded as brothers. The girl's actual name, although unknown to most, was San.

Both the forest and Iron Town had suffered greatly and indeed both had been left in ruins as the forest spirit had scoured the land in search of his head. However, once San and Ashitaka had returned it to the forest spirit, he had covered the land in new life. Grass and wild-flowers grew graciously over the hills and plains that had lost their wildlife and amongst the vibrant colours of the new landscape grew new trees and bushes in an effort to return the beauty to the area that had lost it all. Although the trees did not grow completely and it would've taken a while for a normal forest to completely recover from this state, this was no normal forest – the forest spirit had seen to that. The trees grew faster and greener than ever and many recognised that this was part of the blessing that the forest spirit had granted to the surrounding land with the last of his dying power.

The townsfolk finally came to see the beauty of the forest and with their leader, Lady Eboshi, they had sought to create a new town, one that was better than the first, one that could live together with the forest yet still function as the strong, economically sound town that it always had been. The problem was: Would the forest ever fully trust them?

The new Iron Town had finally been finished. Those who had worked on the rebuilding where exhausted but satisfied, knowing that they could finally relax as their workload eased slightly. Iron Town was filled with the noisy chatter of jolly men and women, pleased with the work they had done. However, one man stood alone outside the town, he was not as cheerful as those nearby and in fact had left the town that very afternoon to get some peace and quiet. He relished the sound of the waves of water gently splashing around him and the calm and cooling breeze of the wind on his face. The sky was a soothing blue with only the occasional soft, white cloud drifting by. It was a lovely day.

The man had roughly cut dark brown hair and deep blue eyes. Under his left eye was a scar, the result of a dagger wound he had received. He had a well-built torso from all the work he had put into the town and was becoming extremely popular amongst those that lived there. He was in his late teens and for someone so young he had experienced a lot.

The tribe he had belonged to was known as the Emishi tribe and under the regime of the latest Emperor many of them had been wiped out. He didn't inform anyone of his tribe although some may have guessed correctly from his appearance and his use of a red elk called Yakul. He had been forced to leave the Emishi people to go in search of a cure for a fatal curse he had received to his right arm from a boar demon that had attacked their settlement. Even now his right arm was still haunted by the faint markings of where the affliction had spread, although he believed the curse had left him now; it hadn't pained him at all since it had been supposedly lifted, but then again what did he know of ancient demon curses? For now he would just have to assume it had gone for good.

Ashitaka had a trusting and compassionate face with a personality to match. A peaceful character at heart, he hated killing and wars – to him they were a waste of life and should be avoided at all cost. He deeply desired for life to live together side by side without hostilities and he was pleased that this had been achieved in this region, for now at least.

At this moment in time Ashitaka's face displayed a hint of sadness and longing. He had been staring towards the forest for the last five minutes and finally he closed his eyes to take in the relaxing sounds of the things around him. A few more minutes passed before he opened them again, sighing.

"San…" he spoke softly, running his fingers over the scar on his face. "It won't be long now."

At the start of the work on Iron Town Ashitaka had politely volunteered to help with the rebuilding process and due to his popularity in the town he became a sort of 'building coordinator' later into the project. He was able to make decisions on how parts of the town should be built. This gave him the opportunity to change aspects of the town into what he assured the villagers would make the town better than before. While he was confident his ideas would be effective and successful, he secretly thought of San at these times and of what she would prefer. To him if he thought San would prefer something a certain way then it would definitely be an improvement in his eyes.

Unfortunately for Ashitaka, San couldn't see how what he was doing made any difference to her. She loathed the town no matter how much it changed. To her his deeper involvement in the process meant that she would be getting less visits from him and, although she used to hide it, she really enjoyed them.

As promised, Ashitaka had come to visit San several times a week during the beginning phases of construction. San didn't understand why she liked seeing him so much at first until she'd started to recognise and understand the strange feelings she had towards him, although these were human emotions, they had been alien to her at first. She would join Ashitaka in some of her favourite locations in the forest. She especially enjoyed sitting beside the lake where the forest spirit had lost his head, and where her mother Moro had died. Moro was a huge wolf god whose job it had been to protect the forest, but the scale of destruction that the humans had inflicted on it had been too much and she had received a fatal wound from a gunshot by Lady Eboshi and the bullet had slowly killed her – this was part of why San hated that woman so much.

It was because so much had happened here that it meant so much to her and when the two of them sat together they would occasionally talk about whatever was on San's mind at the time. She didn't feel alert and on guard around him. His presence gave her security and more of San's hidden character was able to come out, she acted more like she did with her brothers around Ashitaka. They would discuss the health of the forest and how its wildlife was recovering, they would lie on the soft grass or if it was a particularly warm day they might splash in the water. To Ashitaka's amusement San was often extremely playful when they met, so it was not uncommon for them to have a short play-fight together.

Ashitaka occasionally brought up the topic of Iron Town during a conversation, but San would instantly cut him off. San didn't care what was happening in that terrible place whatsoever. Ashitaka understood where San was coming from, the townsfolk had done too much to the forest and he sensed that he was the only reason San was seemingly getting on with them. Ashitaka was glad she no longer plotted attacks against Eboshi and he was hoping that San would start to forgive some of the people that lived there, maybe not Eboshi, but some. He constantly tried to tell her that they had changed but she would have none of it and eventually Ashitaka would give up and they would return to whatever they had been doing.

San sat outside her den deep in the forest, her two wolf brothers, Namu and Karo relaxing nearby having just eaten their recently caught meal. San was around the same age as Ashitaka; she had short brown hair with a slight green tinge to it and wore a small headband around it. Her eyes were grey and she had three red triangles painted on her face, one below each eye in the shape of a tooth and another on her forehead. She wore a wolf tooth necklace around her neck along with a small glimmering blue dagger that had been given to her by Ashitaka. It was made from a rare material unknown to her, but San cherished it not for that reason. It was something she could keep with her at all times to remind her of Ashitaka.

San had a wild and often violent personality, but she was deeply passionate about the forest. Both of these aspects of San's character were what Ashitaka found so incredible and in fact for him strangely alluring. They'd met up numerous times up until the latest meeting and she had loosened up a lot around him, she didn't question the emotions inside her so much anymore while they were together but now that Ashitaka had been away from her so long they began to resurface. San had been watching her brothers lazing around in the warm sun trying to have a quick nap. She would normally have joined them in other circumstances, but San's mind was preoccupied at the moment, she was deep in thought. She was revisiting the memory of the last meeting she'd had with Ashitaka.

Well that's the first chapter out of the way. Don't know when I'll have the next done, you'll just have to wait and see.

In the mean time though, leave me your comments! I'd be interested to hear what you thought of it.