Characters: Amaterasu, Medicine Seller
Prompt: "brush strokes"
Timeline: postcanon for Okami, precanon for Bakeneko/Mononoke
Notes: Written for mononoke_anime's fic/art-thon. Original thread here.
He woke up right in the Hour of Yumigami, and wandered through the palace gardens until he found the pearl white figure in the center of the Celestial Capital. Without saying a word, he watched her from a close distance. The wolf's back straightened up, the fur backed away. Only in the holiest grounds of the Celestial Plain, the area nurtured by the Konohana tree, the Brush Gods were able to take a humanoid form –when they felt like it. What are their true forms, however? The animals or the gods? Not even he knew, and that fact had always troubled him a bit.
The white-haired lady raised a darkened finger and traced a circle on the horizon. The sky exploded in the colors of dawn for ephemeral seconds while the sun filled the space the lady had surrounded with her brush. He couldn't help but marvel at the simplicity and beauty that was a brand new day. From all things he was going to miss from those lands, it was the smell of ink and dew to start every morning. He doubted it was possible to feel it in the land of mortals.
Amaterasu Omikami turned to him and grinned, crimson marks over her face where the pale locks didn't get across, pointy fangs like the wolf she was when she felt wild enough. He returned her greeting, same fangs showing up, and ran to her side. Together they walked through empty gardens, only the sound of his geta and the ruffle of silk could be heard; her barefoot steps made no noise, but they could sprout a trace of grass and flowers behind. They had no need to be too talkative: he had always felt he could understand her a whole lot without exchanging words. Perhaps she thought the same, or the Celestial Prophet was right and she just didn't like to talk at all.
They sat near a pond, under a willow tree. She kept drawing circles on the trees in order to make them bloom. He thought that might relax her, as flora wasn't in her jurisdiction.
"Only a month left and I'll be gone, Mother…" He mused.
Amaterasu just nodded and returned to a complicated peach tree.
"…I still think you could teach me a couple of those techniques," he tried again. "Power Slash or Mist of Veil could… be useful in my journey."
"Ushiwaka said you would use that blade," she replied with her hoarse yet soft voice, finally breaking her silence.
Of course, he gestured in deadpan. If the good old prophet says you're destined to kill a mole-shaped mononoke with a toy sledgehammer while doing the chicken dance, you can be damn right sure you will. And people on the Plain took always those prophecies perhaps a bit too literally in his opinion.
If they were at it, even Ushiwaka had admitted that the cursed blade of legend wouldn't be enough to keep monsters and hallucinations at bay. He suspected this was the reason he was taught how to draw ofuda and put detecting charms on bells since he was little. The man from the moon had strange ways to help his family out. Then why wouldn't Mother Amaterasu share her abilities as well? Slashing and hacking can't be enough to gather the information needed to unsheathe his darker self, but try telling that to her!
"Won't you give me anything to work with, Mother?" He chuckled, more amused than annoyed. "You don't even ask me to take care of myself."
"There is no point to tell you that," she tilted her head. "You are too much like me so I know you will not take care of yourself."
"…You got that right," he granted. She leaned and rested her head on his shoulder.
"Instead I say: ‘please don't die'. And ‘kick their asses one more time in my behalf'."
After he stopped laughing, she had already fallen asleep. His skin warmed up against the strong breeze around them and the shadow of the willow tree. The sky was already blue, he noticed. And he was certainly going to miss that smell of ink after dawn...