Writing A Farm in the Forest

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
A Farm in the Forest
Last Updated: May 13, 2020


Pelican Town's local carpenter, Robin, received one of her biggest orders yet: clear the land and restore an abandoned house in the forgotten reaches of Cindersap Forest. With the completion of the home came its new owner, a young (and somewhat lost) adult named Jade. A Farm in the Forest tells the story of Jade's adjustment to farm life in Stardew Valley, the people she meets during her stay, and the unspoken secrets of the valley's past.

This fic focuses on character development and interaction between characters, both romantic and platonic. There is also an underlying plot that focuses on the world of Stardew Valley as well as Jade's history. This fic contains fantasy violence, drama, suspense, humor, and very occasional horror moments.


(This fic will update daily on the Stardew Valley Forums instead of all at once to not be so spammy)
Current Chapters: 59 (243,588 words)
Frequent Characters: Female Farmer (Jade), Sebastian, Alex, Sam, Maru, Robin
Supporting Characters: Penny, Abigail, Demetrius, Lewis
Main romantic relationship: Female Farmer/Sebastian
Main platonic relationships: Female Farmer & Alex, Sebastian & Sam, Sebastian & Maru
Other relevant info: Eventual Relationships, Slowburn (takes a while for the romance to kick up), Worldbuilding (works on expanding the in-game world, but also features locations, creatures, and lore not in the game), Strong Language, Minor Violence, Trauma

More info may be added as the fic gets closer to completion


In May 2016, I posted my first fanfic (this one!) to ye olde forums because I loved the game that much and I wanted to get over my fear of sharing my writing. The feedback I got and the community response meant a lot to me, and is one of the bigger reasons I ended up getting to know Stardew Valley's community in the first place. This fanfic was and still is a big learning experience for me; I plan to finish it once and for all by the end of 2020. I hope you join me on the journey!

Some fun facts:
  • There was only one farm type when I first posted this fanfic, so I thought I was being really neat and clever by having the farm up in the Cindersap Forest, rather than the standard farm. Though we can have different farm types now, it's helpful to remember that Jade's farm is located to the left of the in-game farm and to the right of the Secret Woods.
  • My main reason for writing this fanfic is because there weren't any others at the time that explored Sebastian's character in a way that was satisfying to me (tho keep in mind it was 2016 and there weren't a lot of fics around). I wanted to give a lot of focus to his character and his own development, so if you really like Sebastian, this is definitely the fic for you. However, at the end of the day, it's just how I take his character and there are so many ways you can interpret what's in the game! I hope this fic inspires you to write your versions of characters you like too-- I definitely don't give everyone equal attention here and they deserve the love.
  • You can read this fanfic in Archive of our Own if that's more your style (or if you don't want to wait for me to post all the chapters here)!
 
Last edited:

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 1: A Stranger
Monday, Spring 22 Y1
Jade arrives to Pelican Town and finally gets to meet Robin in person.

Mystical creatures of the forest went quiet, for a stranger had moved into their domain. A trail led into the heart of the Secret Woods, revealing an overgrown field and a miraculously still-standing house. The previously rotted, somewhat dilapidated two-story house was transformed into a sturdy, beautiful home over the course of several months. The project, though hidden from most of Pelican Town, was the new pride of the local carpenter, Robin.
As years went on and Pelican Town dwindled in townspeople, the forest expanded and practically devoured the now ancient neighborhoods. Getting to revive such a history-filled building was something that Robin was ecstatic about, though the means to revive it was... strange.

On a dull Summer day, Robin received a certain letter in the mail:


“To the carpenter shop owner,

Hello! I’m a former freelance worker who is looking for a place to settle, and I caught wind of your business.

I stumbled across a website about Pelican Town, and fell in love with one of the houses. I called in-town to buy it myself, but according to the mayor, apparently the home wasn’t in a good condition at all! It had gone through over 30 years of neglect and forest overgrowth! The website is... incredibly outdated.

While I could suck it up and just try to find somewhere else to live, I’m exceedingly stubborn. I went ahead and bought the land. From what the mayor said, you don’t seem to have many customers, either. Not even 40 people in town? Seriously?

Let’s make a deal, then! I need a place to live, and I eventually want to have a farm. Of course, that means farm buildings, which also means that I have the potential to be a long-term customer. I’ve seen pictures of your work, and you have incredible talent. It’d be a real shame to let that go to waste.

I’m willing to pay up to 50,000g for the refurbished house. I’ll even through in utility expenses! I just really want to become part of the community and have land to call my own.

I look forward to hearing back from you, with hopefully positive news!

Thank you so much!

-Your (future) Neighbor”



Enclosed in the envelope was a picture of the house in its glory days, though it looked somewhat old in its own right. A tiny thank you note with contact information was attached to the picture as well. Robin shuffled everything out of the envelope, and realized there was one final gift: a check containing 3,000g was stashed in the very back.

Robin could hardly process her thoughts. Stars twinkled in her eyes at the mere mention of a new wood-involved project... and even more so that it was going to be a huge project! Colossal! She would be working on this for a while, with just her and the chirping of the forest! Bliss! Tons of wood, tons of possibilities, lots of... money! Money! At last, her family would have more to their name!

The eager carpenter took no hesitation to find the house and start working. A trail to the abandoned neighborhood was cleared, dozens of trees were chopped down, and a field was re-imagined and ready to be used as farmland. The house in question was practically rebuilt from the ground up but kept many of the same design choices, such as an extended porch and a balcony on the second floor. Throughout construction, Robin had kept in contact with the new home owner to keep them updated. Near the end of Winter, Robin’s dream project had been completed with utmost success. She almost wanted to live in the house, herself... but the 50,000g reward was too good to reject. After several pictures and a carefully written letter to the customer, the transaction was nearly finished.

In the middle of Spring, Robin received another letter in the mail. The 50,000g check was there with another letter attached:


“Dear Robin,

Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me! The pictures you sent of the house are absolutely amazing. They look even better than the original! You really deserve this 50k and you deserve much more than that, too. Sadly, I’m broke as all hell now. But that’ll just make me have to work harder, huh? It’ll be great!

By the time you read this letter, I’m in the process of moving to Pelican Town. I look forward to meeting you and everyone else!

You’re the best!

- Jade”



Only a day later, a short and red moving truck made it’s way into the outskirts of Pelican Town, down the lonely hills and onto the dirt roads that led deeper into the forest. The road opened up into a vast, grassy field that was fenced off by rows of trees. At the far end of the field was a proudly standing two-story house made out of sturdy and smooth oak wood. There were a few steps leading up to the porch, which then had a rocking chair and a cushioned porch swing. To the side of the house was a large and well-built bin that was for collecting goods for payment, and a petite mailbox stood in front of the home with its address painted on the box itself. The truck puttered along and slowly parked near the entrance to the new house. The engine to the truck shut off, and the driver’s door swung open. Out came an exhausted female figure dwarfed by the vehicle’s size. She let out an audible sigh and shut the door as she stumbled and trudged her way to the back.

The female in question seemed to be in her younger twenties, though she may have seen better days. Her skin was very pale, circles were under her hazel eyes, and her honey brown hair was long, curly, and messy from being pressed against the driver’s seat. Her choice of dress that day was questionable as well: A dirty white top was strewn over her torso and appeared to be far too big for her figure- it was more suited for a man twice her size. Below the shirt, she wore comfortable blue jeans that contoured her legs. Dingy red sneakers adorned her tired feet as she walked, then stopping at the very end of the moving truck. The young woman pushed up the tail gate to reveal organized rows of boxes and used furniture, all in ranging sizes.

“I should have hired some movers...” She sighed again, realizing how many belongings she really had. Everything in the truck was all she had to her name, but it would still take days to move in on her own and finish unpacking. The new townsperson glanced over to her recently acquired property. Birds chirped and chattered from the trees, leaves ruffled from the gentle breeze, and the house had such a homely, welcoming feeling to it. She smiled to herself. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad.

“Hey!!” yelled a faraway voice. “You must be Jade!”

The new townsperson lifted her head and stared towards the source of the voice in horror. “Y-yeah? That’s me!” she yelled back. Jade didn’t even consider the possibility that someone would see her on the day of her move... she was an absolute mess, and wasn’t in the physical or emotional condition to really talk to anyone. Despite the circumstances, the newcomer took a deep breath and stood up straight.

A red-haired woman eagerly ran up to Jade. “It’s Robin, the carpenter!” she beamed happily. Robin was slightly taller compared to Jade and also much brighter in appearance: Her bright red hair, glowing skin, and sparkling green eyes could improve anyone’s mood. Her hair was tied up into a short ponytail while her bangs and extra strands of hair trailed down the sides of her face and neck. Robin was wearing a brown vest with a tan trim, an orange short-sleeved shirt, emerald green pants, and fitting brown boots. Needless to say, she was a very cheerful in demeanor as well as dress.

Jade gasped. “Robin!” she repeated excitedly, the weariness drifting from her expression. They exchanged handshakes in greeting and smiled at each other.

“Welcome to Pelican Town,” Robin began, glancing at the truck and then at the house. “She’s a beauty, isn’t she? One of my best projects yet!”

Jade nodded and chuckled a bit. “Yeah, it’s gorgeous! I haven’t been inside yet, since I just arrived a moment ago. What a massive house!”

Robin crossed her arms proudly and marveled at her wooden creation. “Yup, 4 rooms, 2 baths, open kitchen and living room, and an attic and basement. Are you waiting for the others to arrive?” she curiously asked.

“... Others?” The newcomer blinked in confusion.

Robin nervously laughed. “Oh, I just assumed... it’s such a big house, and you offered so much money! You’re really alone?” The carpenter gestured to all of the boxes in the moving truck. “Wait... were you going to move in all by yourself?”

“Um... Well, yeah?” Jade aired out her shirt a bit, her exhaustion catching up with her again.

“Wow, you’re actually crazy. Look how tired you are, kid! C’mon, I’ll help you.” Before Jade could really give a proper response, Robin had already retrieved a ramp from the truck bed to the ground and climbed inside to get the first few boxes.

“The first thing you need to learn about Stardew Valley, Jade...” Robin grunted as she had lifted two heavy boxes and confidently descended the ramp. “... Is that it’s okay to ask for help! In fact, most of us are bored. Ask us for help all you want. Yoba knows the townspeople put up a lot of quests,” she commented, stomping towards the house. Jade followed and opened the door to let her inside. Robin carefully dropped the boxes and then walked back outside without breaking a sweat.

“Thanks, Robin... You really don’t have to do this though, it’s okay! You’ve done a lot for me already, it’s unfair for me to-”

“Don’t sweat it! Where are you from? The city nearby? Somewhere out of the valley?” Robin had taken another few boxes and began walking back. Jade became riddled with guilt seeing Robin do all the work, so she lifted up a box as well and followed.

“I’m from, uh... the other side of the country, actually,” Jade murmured.

Robin set down the next set of boxes inside, and glared out to Jade. “The other side of the country?” Her eyes widened in shock. “You’re telling me you drove all the way here, and still expected to do everything by yourself?”

“Y... yes?”

Robin could make no other appropriate response but laugh. She walked over to Jade, who had set down the box she carried. “No more of this lonely life,” the carpenter began, clasping a hand on one of Jade’s shoulders, “And the whole town would love to see you. You should go to Lewis when you’re moved in... By the way, how old are you?”

“Uhm... 22?”

Her laugh turned into a cackle. “That figures, haha! What a young and stubborn age. Anyways, that’s perfect. There are so many people around that age, including both my kids!” Robin grinned. “You’ll be fine! And give this huge house more of a use, too. Sounds like you’re here to stay for good,” she nodded confidently and removed her hand from Jade’s shoulder to cross her arms again. “Thanks to my handiwork, the house will stay for good, too. I’m sure you’ll take care of it.”

Jade nodded. “I’ll do my best, Robin. It’ll be nice to have something to call my own... um, since we’ve been exchanging letters for a little while, I just really want you to know how important this whole thing is for me.” The newcomer stood in a rather boxed position, with tensed shoulders and closed legs. She hugged herself across her chest and stared down to the floor, taking quiet and deep breaths. “Really, I can’t thank you enough.”

Robin raised an eyebrow. “Is something wrong, sweetheart?” Her expression twisted into concern upon seeing Jade’s sudden change in demeanor.

“I... I’m fine, sorry,” Jade took a louder deep breath, trying to conceal the tears forming at her eyes. She coughed out somewhat of a laugh. “It’s been a really, really long year.” She wiped her eyes, and then smiled to Robin. “It’s the next chapter of my life now, and you helped with that. I’m going to annoy you with how much I thank you,” she half-heartedly joked.

“Aww, Jade,” Robin fawned over to the young adult with a motherly voice. She gave the newcomer a light hug and gave her a few reassuring pats on the shoulders. “You’re always welcome to come over. And no more of this sappy business! That’s why I have broody children,” she chuckled. Her remark caused Jade to laugh a bit, too. That was improvement enough.

Over the course of the day, Jade and Robin emptied the moving truck and transported everything into the house. With Robin’s strength and enthusiasm, the feat was much easier than Jade expected. After the last box was transported, Robin even offered to return the moving truck. The newcomer accepted the offer, and the two finally parted ways. Jade felt better after the first day of her moving experience, for she made a new and encouraging friend. There would only be more, she thought to herself.

The sereneness of the forest at night brought the mystical creatures to rest. A new person has moved into their domain, but she just wanted a refreshed and quiet life like anyone else in Pelican Town.
 
Last edited:

quirmzi

Farmhand
Reserved Post

you can post below here if you like, but there's not much here yet oops...
Would you believe me if I told you that I've read your fanfic before?
Back in January, I was desperate for Stardew Valley anything, so I turned to Ao3 for help, since I was also only wanted gen or /Sebastian. And then I found you!
11/10, I'm so happy you've decided to finish it!
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Would you believe me if I told you that I've read your fanfic before?
Back in January, I was desperate for Stardew Valley anything, so I turned to Ao3 for help, since I was also only wanted gen or /Sebastian. And then I found you!
11/10, I'm so happy you've decided to finish it!
Aw, that's awesome!! I'm glad you read it and enjoyed it! I hope you like the next stuff to come too :laugh:

i'll probably be posting a little bit every day here since i would be spamming otherwise hehe
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 2: First Day
Tuesday, Spring 23 Y1
After meeting the Mayor, Jade has to meet back up with Robin to get her farming gear.
“Well, if it isn’t the newcomer!”

Mayor Lewis gestured Jade into his makeshift office. They were both at his house, a dining table transformed into a temporary desk with papers and bills strewn about. They sat at opposite ends of the table, and politely smiled to each other.

Lewis was a middle aged fellow, as evident by his balding head and gray mustache. He wore a brown beret to cover his otherwise exposed head and had brown suspenders and pants of the same color. His shirt was obnoxiously green, contrasted even more so by his bright yellow tie. Despite the outfit, Lewis had a very calm and professional vibe about him. Jade felt like she was talking to someone who knew what they were doing.

On this day, Jade looked and dressed much better. Her face appeared brighter, her hair was no longer a mess, and she wore clothes that actually fit her body. A soft green and white ribbon pulled back the left side of her bangs, allowing her to see much better than before. She wore a black choker over a long, emerald pendant. Her shirt was still white, but it was clean and obviously hers; the top contoured her body well and had a feminine cut at the neck. A brown belt fastened her fitting jeans up to her hips, and she wore brown boots that would prove useful on the farm.

“It’s Jade! Nice to meet you, Mr. Lewis,” she grinned.

Lewis smirked. “You don’t need to call me a mister. Lewis is fine, or Mayor, even.”

“Oh, sure. I’ll just call you Mayor,” Jade nodded in thought. “So, Robin requested that I come see you.”

“Yes, it’s really big news to have someone move into such an off-the-radar place like Pelican Town!” Lewis began to shuffle through some documents on the table and began to write something on one of them. “How did you find this place again? Internet?”

Jade sighed as she tried to conjure her thoughts. “Yes, it was a really old website... um, maybe that should be removed now. I’m surprised it’s still up if it’s really that outdated,” she murmured.

“I’m surprised too,” Lewis replied with equal confusion. “I don’t even remember who made that. But, what matters is that you’re here. Robin told me you were planning to create a farm... is that right?”

“Mmhm. I don’t know exactly what I want to do yet... but I think farming is certainly a great start.”

“Wonderful!” Lewis finished writing and stood up from his seat, then walking over to a nearby kitchen drawer. He brought out a tiny bundle of packets with pictures of vegetables on them, then walked over to where Jade was sitting. “I got some parsnip and potato seeds after hearing about your move, to help you get started. Spring is ending soon, so these seeds grow rather quickly. It’ll be a lot of hard work, but it’ll pay off.” He offered the seed packets. “A town event is happening tomorrow, anyway. Maybe you could catch a break,” he explained, offering the packets.

“Oh wow, thank you very much!” Jade bowed her head in respect and humbly took the seed packets. “What is the town event?” she then asked.

Lewis sat back in his seat and continued to fill out paperwork. “The Flower Dance,” he began. “The young single folk come together in formal outfits and perform a dance. It’s been a tradition for ages. I think that would be a good chance for you to put yourself out there and meet everybody. Pierre might sell some special items too, of course.”

“That sounds pretty interesting, though I don’t think I can dance...”

“You don’t have to. Not everyone does, but I make at least ten young men and women do it. Since you just moved here though, we’ll be more lenient with you. If you can’t find someone to dance with, you don’t have to dance.” Lewis smiled and looked to her. She was looking off, but snapped to attention when he had focused his gaze in her direction.

“Now that I think about it, have you brought any tools for your farm?” Lewis asked, lightly tossing his pen back onto the table.

Jade’s eyes suddenly widened in shock. “Oh, no...” she frowned. “I... I didn’t think to bring any.”

Lewis chuckled. “There’s no problem, we thought something like that would happen. Head to Robin’s place, she has extra tools and a backpack to store all that stuff in. And with that, I’ll leave this for you as well.” Lewis took a folded piece of laminated paper and offered it to Jade. She kindly took it and unfolded it, revealing the paper to be a full-fledged map! The buildings and locations were clearly marked, making for very easy navigation.

“Ahh, you are way too kind!” Jade examined the map, searching for the carpenter’s shop. She found it at one of the northernmost points in the mountains, slightly to the east. She found that rather discouraging, since her own home was located in the southwest region of the map. “That’s a lot of walking,” she mumbled to herself.

“You’ll be surprised how time passes in the valley,” Lewis remarked. “And when you get a hang of the place, you’ll know all sorts of shortcuts. Anything else you need?”

Jade shook her head and stood up from her seat. She carefully stored the newly acquired seeds in her pocket and re-folded the map. “I’m good now. I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow at the Flower Dance?”

Lewis nodded. “Yep, and it’s very close to where you live. You can’t miss it.”

“Great! Bye Mayor,” Jade grinned and waved to him as she walked away. She exit Lewis’ abode to then travel to the mountains, where the carpenter shop was located.

---

The walk felt like it took a few hours, but Jade was turned around a few times on the way. At least she was starting to get a ground on where everything was; on the way, she discovered the location of Pierre’s grocery store and the blacksmith’s before finally realizing she was incorrectly reading the map. She found stairs up to the cliffs north of the blacksmith’s, then followed the trail that led into the mountains.

A wooden building very similar to the size of her own house was straight ahead. On Jade’s right was a closed garage, and a small yard with a giant telescope was to her left side. Above the entrance to the building hung a sign with a handsaw pictured on it. This was the carpenter’s shop, for sure. The young farmer sucked in a deep breath and corrected her posture before confidently walking towards the front door.

Her steps slowed down. She heard two unfamiliar voices yelling from within the shop. Would it be okay to enter? Is this just a bad time?

She heard Robin’s voice. It was stern, angry, and frustrated. Shortly after, a nearby door slammed shut.

Jade’s hands trembled. She turned her head back towards the town square, considering coming back later. But it took two hours to get here... She didn’t know what to do, as she stood at the porch for a solid moment.

The front door opened, causing Jade to step back in surprise.

“Oh? Hello, I didn’t see you there.” A tall, dark-skinned man stood before Jade. He had very short brown hair, deep brown eyes, and an exhausted look about him, despite trying to be polite and smile. He wore a blue polo shirt with dark gray pants supported by a dark belt. He looked to be wearing brown hiking boots, probably good for traversing the mountains. In one of his arms was a clipboard with random data scrawled on it. Jade probably couldn’t understand the data if she tried.

The newcomer froze. “I... hello,” she muttered back. “Is... Is this the....”

He seemed to calm down, as his smile seemed more genuine this time. “Yes, this is the carpenter’s shop. My wife has been waiting for you. Jade, is it?”

Jade shyly nodded.

“It’s nice to meet you, Jade. My name is Demetrius. I wish I could talk with you more, but I have to go check on my nearby studies of the local fauna.” He briefly shook her hand, and then stepped away from the house. “Robin is right inside, go on.” Demetrius waved to the young farmer lightly before officially walking off.

“Wha? Did I hear Jade? Come inside, hon!!” She heard Robin yell from in the house, causing her to snap back to attention. The newcomer conjured enough courage to step inside the home. At the entrance was a decent sized room with a large desk at the far end. Robin was perched behind the desk, and eagerly waved over to Jade as she entered. She walked further inside, noticing the chairs and bench at the left side of the room. There were old family photographs and a few small paintings adorning the nearby walls. At the other end was a small hallway that connected to another hallway, as well as an extremely bright room straight ahead. There was an opening in the middle of the hall that had stairs leading downwards to the basement. Jade hardly noticed the stairs at first.

“Welcome, welcome! I’ve been waiting for you- oh, what’s that look on your face?” Robin’s cheerful disposition quickly vanished. They both knew that it was an act at this moment.

Robin sighed. “When’d you come here?”

Jade shuffled her feet. “Some minutes ago.”

“Ugh... I’m really sorry you heard that.” The carpenter ran one of her hands through her hair and sighed again, thinking. “Demetrius and Sebastian aren’t on the best of terms.”

“Sebastian?” Jade asked. The name didn’t sound familiar.

“He’s my son... I had him before I married Demetrius.” Robin planted her face on her desk. “They fight way too much... at least I was here to end it. They’re all driving me crazy,” she grumbled. “Glad Maru wasn’t here for that. She’s our daughter.”

“Ah...” Jade went up to the desk and stood in front of Robin. “Well... I hope I can meet them in good moods.”

Robin laughed and sat up. “Oh, they’re great. I mean it. Maru’s a total sweetheart and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Sebby’s really sweet when he wants to be. He just gets the attitude from me,” she scoffed, but with a smile. “I think you’ll get along with both of them, it’s just that one of them is a little more difficult.”

Jade nodded. “I believe you,” she replied with a shyly but with optimism. Both of them seemed to relax.

“So, tools, right?” Robin turned around and shuffled some unseen objects around.

“Yup,” the young farmer replied. “And a backpack... I... I was less prepared than I realized. Hey, uh... do you have some water, too?”

The carpenter laughed and set a blue backpack on the table. “This has everything you need. Remember that there’s a river close to your house, so that’s how you’ll water your plants. I’ll get you some water for yourself, though. Long trip?” She walked out from behind her desk and head down the hallway, presumably towards the kitchen.

“Yeah...” Jade took the backpack and equipped it, then following Robin. “I got lost a few times on my way here.”

“Aww! Well, you’ll get a hang of everything quickly,” Robin said with a confident nod, stopping in front of their refrigerator. “You’ve only been here a day and a half now. But even so, it’s a super small town. And hey! You could get a stable with a horse from me someday, to make things even easier.”

Jade chuckled. “You’re far too kind, Robin.” She accepted the bottled water that Robin offered and almost desperately drank from it. As she finished drinking, half of the bottle was already gone.

Robin raised an eyebrow. She took another bottle of water out of the fridge and stored it in a side-pocket on Jade’s backpack. “There you go, hon. Keep yourself hydrated!”

“Thanks. I’m at least learning all this stuff early... I thought I had everything figured out, admittedly.” Jade sighed shamefully. “But, thank you for helping me out.”

The carpenter gave her a hearty pat on the back. “No problem at all, Jade! Be sure to come by i-

The basement door opened, causing Robin to halt her speech and stare down the hallway. “Hey!” she abruptly yelled, causing Jade to flinch. “Sebby! Come here!

“What?” yelled back another voice. It was one of the ones Jade heard earlier, alongside Demetrius. A thin young man came walking down the hallway to meet with Robin and Jade. “I was just about to go out,” he mumbled.

“Sebby,” Robin began cheerfully, clasping both hands on the farmer’s shoulders, “this is Jade, the new farmer in town. Jade, this is my son, Sebastian.”

“Hi,” murmured Jade shyly with a faint wave of the hand.

“Hey,” he replied somewhat politely.

Sebastian appeared to be Robin’s opposite. He had straight, raven-black hair that was shoulder-length on one side and ear-length on the other. His eyes had a serious gaze, and his mouth was un-smiling. The young man wore a dark hoodie colored much like his hair. He wore even darker jeans on his legs, and his sneakers were black. The only real likeness to Robin that the young farmer could notice was his greenish eyes, containing a similar brightness to hers.

Robin grinned. “You said you’re going out? Perfect, take Jade home on your way.”

“What?” Sebastian looked at his mother in slight surprise.

“She’s tired from a long day, and you have a motorcycle. You know where she lives, too. Please take her home,” Robin nearly commanded, knowing that Sebastian wouldn’t reject such a request from his mother.

He sighed. “Fine, then.” Sebastian turned away and walked towards the entrance of the house.

“Bye, love you! Go on, Jade. Sebby will take care of you, he seems rough but he knows I’d kick his cute little butt if anything happened to you.”

“M... motorcycle?” Jade sadly murmured, not seeming to hear Robin’s later statements.

“Oh, it’s fine!” Robin gently pushed Jade along. “It’ll be fun!”

The newcomer unintentionally gave Robin sad puppy look, unsure of how to really respond. Robin gave her another confident nod, causing her to quietly obey and go outside. “Bye, good luck with your farm!” Robin beamed.


Sebastian had pulled up the garage door and rolled out his motorcycle. The vehicle appeared to be in fantastic shape, like it was well cared for. Its paint was a shiny yet deep blue. There wasn't a scratch or wear, as if the vehicle was acquired only a day before. Jade walked out shortly after, slowly tensing after seeing the vehicle.

He glanced at her before looking back at his motorcycle, cleaning a bit of dust off of it. “You don’t have to ride if you don’t want to. She's pushy.”

Jade sighed. “It’s okay... I’ve just never ridden a motorcycle before. It’s so... small, and... the roads are... big?” She quickly realized the irony in her statement. Pelican Town was in the middle of nowhere.

“Maybe it is out of town, but no one really drives around here, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Sebastian looked to her calmly. “So, you want to go or not?”

Jade stared at the motorcycle, and then at Sebastian. She slowly nodded. “Y-yeah, let’s go.”

He pushed the kick stand to the vehicle down and went back into the garage, then bringing out a dark blue riding helmet. He closed the shutters of the garage and offered the helmet to her.

“Oh, thanks,” she said as she equipped the headgear. Luckily, it was a perfect fit. Sebastian brought out dark shades from his hoodie’s pocket and put them on before straddling the motorcycle. He turned the engine on, and patiently looked back towards her. Jade took that as a sign to sit behind him and did so, though she felt incredibly awkward. What was she supposed to do?

“You might want to hold on,” he mentioned boredly.

“Wh... where?” she asked, defeated.

"You’ll see, I guess.” He lightly revved the engine, causing her to squeak and tightly hug his torso.

Sebastian couldn’t help but chuckle. “There you go.”

“That was mean!” she huffed. He shrugged, a faint smile perched on his face. He then removed the kickstand and slowly started the drive, mindful of the extra cargo.

The ride was very calm. Jade became lost in admiring the scenery of the valley; mountains transitioned to small wooden buildings, which turned into flat, grassy lands. The fields turn into forests, and they rode down a trail with walls of thriving trees. Jade’s home entered the horizon, and the motorcycle slowed down before stopping near the front porch.

She felt strange when they stopped before her home. The drive was shorter than she wanted it to be, and the breeze was so refreshing. Jade released her hold on Sebastian and hopped off of the vehicle. “Thank you for driving me home,” she kindly muttered. The young farmer took the biker’s helmet off and offered it back to him, which he took quietly.

“It wasn’t so bad, was it?” he asked, still noticing her tensed figure.

She shook her head and smiled. “It was really nice,” she confirmed. The newcomer glanced at her home, then to the rider beside her. “Um... this is a weird question, but...”

“Hm?” Sebastian turned the ignition off and replaced the kickstand. He dismounted as well and stood, digging a pack of cigarettes out of his pockets. After lifting his shades to the top of his head, he took out a cigarette, put the pack back, then shuffled out a lighter and began to smoke.

Jade averted her eyes. “How did you know where I live?” she asked.

Sebastian exhaled a puff of smoke. “I help my mom with her projects sometimes. She worked pretty hard to refurbish this old place,” he replied.

“Oh, I see... Well, thank you for helping. I suppose I should have paid you too,” she smiled.

“Nah, I only help.” He tapped some ash off of his cigarette. “And I have my own job.”

“What do you do?” Jade asked curiously.

“I do freelance work as a programmer,” he answered somewhat dully, expecting a deadpan response from her.

“Oooh!” Jade’s eyes lit up. “That’s really cool. I used to do freelance work, too. I mean... not programming, I suck at anything code. But I used to do art commissions."

Sebastian slightly turned his head towards her, but didn’t respond.

Jade crossed her arms in thought. “But... I’ve moved on from that, I guess. I wasn’t making much money, and I just ran out of ideas. I don’t really like making art anymore.”

“Hm,” was all he said.

“I’m fine, though! I am. I can focus all my energy on this, now... Oh, no. Is the sky getting dark?” Jade looked upwards to see the sky. She sighed in disappointment.

“Yup.” He was almost finished with his cigarette.

“Oh, no! I really need to get these seeds planted! And then that thing is tomorrow, aahh!” She scanned her field, trying to figure out where her plants would go.

“The Flower Dance?” Sebastian’s expression seemed even more soured than usual. “Are you going to that?” he asked.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s a town event! Why, do you not go?” She turned back to him.

Sebastian scoffed. “I have to, but it’s the worst event of the entire year.”

“Oh... really?” Jade drooped in posture. “It’s not fun?”

“Eh... maybe you’ll like it. You seem...” he made an unsure hand gesture. “... Excited?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she grumbled.

Sebastian finished his cigarette before he continued. “Nothing, just that it’s a cheerful event...” He pushed his shades down onto his eyes and remounted his motorcycle. “Well, I’m going now.”

“Oh... Bye, Sebastian. It was nice meeting you,” Jade waved to him as he took off, a slight smile painted on her face. As the rider faded from sight, she sighed and gazed back to the farmland. A bit of leftover smoke made her cough. “Eugh. Okay,” she huffed to herself. The young farmer grabbed a hoe from her backpack and held it like a sword. “Let’s do this,” she grunted.

It was the dead of the night by the time Jade finished tilling the ground and planting seeds. Out of laziness, she watered the seeds with her half-finished bottle of water. For the last few minutes of the night, she stood and admired her little plot of ground. She did this, all by herself! Though... she wouldn’t have been able to farm at all, if it weren’t for the help of the townspeople. “I should get something for Robin,” Jade thought aloud as she admired her mound of dirt. “... Maybe when I get money first,” she sighed. Jade decided to finally leave the plot of dirt, shuffling her way back to her awaiting house.

Boxes were everywhere inside, but she was too tired to worry about unpacking for the time being. Her bed was clear and ready for being rested upon, which is all that really mattered. She barely took her shoes off before collapsing into the bed. No shower, no pajamas. Just sleep.

And she did.

---

Beep! Beep! Beep!

An alarm clock chirped mercilessly to the young farmer. It was set to go off at 6 AM, which would be the time she arises every day from here on out. An unpleasant moan ruptured from Jade’s throat as she half-heartedly threw one of her hands to the alarm clock. She arose from her comfortable bed with circles under her eyes yet again. Not enough sleep.

Shower, dress, breakfast, backpack. This would become routine, but it was a healthy one. She looked outside her window, towards the plot of seeds she planted the previous night. Nothing seemed to be growing yet, but she was confident. There was a whole day ahead, so there was a lot of time to grow.

Jade exit her home and eagerly trot towards the river just off the edge of her property. She filled up her watering can while listening to the eager sounds of the forest. She sighed blissfully. The birds were happy, and so was she. She was away from her old life.

The newcomer stomped back towards her plot of dirt, and began to water. Her gentle, cheerful expression had faded. Jade’s old life. Her shoulders boxed up and her head drooped.

She suddenly snapped back up. “The Flower Dance!” she screamed. It was about to start! Jade hurriedly finished her watering and tossed the can to the porch before running across the field. “I’m going to be late to my first town event!” she shouted to herself in frustration.

In the distance, colorful flags were tied to fence posts. There was a path leading over a cliff. Jade could hear music playing from behind the mountain face. “I suppose that’s my destination.”

Before walking in that direction, Jade took a deep breath and straightened her posture. It will be a good day, she reminded herself.
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 3: Flower Dance
Wednesday, Spring 24 Y1
Haley can't participate in the Flower Dance, so Mayor Lewis asks Jade to take her place.
Spring was ending soon, but the Flower Dance was the embodiment of the entire season. The entire town participated in the event, the older adults getting their fair share of chatter and gossip, while the younger adults grouped up among their own friends and waited for the main part of the event to take place. Some of the townspeople grew quiet and stared over at Jade when she entered the flowery field.

“Welcome one, welcome all!” The salesman from behind the nearby concession stand beamed. “You must be the new farmer, right? I’m Pierre, owner of the local grocery store.” He was a brown haired gentleman with glasses, a brown overshirt, and a blue undershirt. Jade couldn’t see anything else. “I have things for sale only available on this day! Feel free to take a look,” he proudly stated.

“H-hi, and thank you, but sorry... I have no money at the moment,” she murmured. Pierre didn’t seem very surprised, but still allowed her to look at the merchandise. She fumbled with her hands a little. “Um... I'll try to support when I can.” She sighed and continued walking.

Jade couldn’t help but feel... awkward. She felt like everyone was staring at her... not that she could blame them. Her presence was merely a rumor, and the only townspeople to see her, save for Lewis, lived isolated in the mountains.

“Jade! Hey!” Robin waved her over. Jade’s had to smile after hearing that. Robin’s enthusiasm was infectious. She relaxed seeing someone she recognized and walked over. “Jade, I have some friends you should meet!” Robin gestured to two other ladies that stood alongside her. One of them had lovely melon green hair and a blue dress, while the other had strawberry blonde hair tied in a braid, with a purple top and blue jeans. They both politely smiled towards Jade, to which she lightly waved to them in greeting.

“This is Caroline,” she said, gesturing to the green haired lady, “and this is Jodi,” she concluded towards the strawberry haired woman. Both of them seemed young in appearance, but the dress had her convinced they were mothers. “Caroline and Pierre are Abigail’s parents, and Jodi has Sam and Vincent. Have you met any of them yet?” Robin glanced down to the young farmer, who she had clasped around the shoulder with pride.

Jade shook her head. “Sorry... I haven’t,” she replied.

“Ah, even if I did, I wouldn’t have heard of you until today,” Caroline sighed. She gestured to the far end of the flower field, where three young adults stood. The only one that Jade could recognize was Sebastian, who had his back turned towards everyone except the other two figures; a very short purple-haired girl and a spiky blond-haired guy that was taller than him. It seemed like they were conversing. “There’s Abby and her friends,” she continued, “but she never really tells me anything.”

“The tall one is my Sam,” Jodi added.

“And then you know Sebby, of course. Oh, I forgot to ask you. Did the ride go well? He didn’t say anything out of line, did he?” Robin frowned in concern.

Jade chuckled. “The drive was fine, and no, he was nice. Quiet, but that’s okay. I think I talked too much.”

Robin had a proud look on her face. “That’s my young man. He never talks too much in general, though. Don’t worry about that.” She made a flail of her wrist in dismissal. “Why don’t you go talk to them and introduce yourself? You should make some friends your age,” the carpenter grinned.

“Oh, sure. I’ll talk to all of you later. It was great meeting the both of you,” Jade waved to the two before walking towards the aforementioned trio of friends.

Abigail and Sam seemed to notice that the farmer was walking in their direction. Both of their faces lit up in interest, the taller one even ushering a wave to her. Jade slightly waved back, growing eager in introducing herself. Sebastian turned around to see her as well, and lifted his hand in greeting.

Then a hand touched her shoulder.

“I’m glad you’re here at the Flower Dance, farmer Jade,” welcomed Lewis, stopping her in her tracks. For some reason, she didn’t feel it was very welcome. “I’m afraid I have a favor to ask.”

“Oh, no... what is it, Mayor?” Jade turned to him in worry.

“Well, turns out we’re one lady short.”

“... What?” Jade blinked.

“It’s such a shame, too. Haley is always so excited for the Flower Dance, she practices thoroughly beforehand and was the one to pick out everyone’s dresses and suits. She came down with the flu this morning though, and she’s not fit to dance.” Lewis sighed.

“That sounds terrible... I hope she feels better,” Jade murmured sadly.

“Doctor Harvey checked up on her, and she should heal up fine with plenty of rest. But for now, I hope it’s not too much to ask if you’d take her place for the dance this year. You look to be her dress size, anyway.” Lewis quickly examined her and placed a finger to his chin in thought. Jade took a step back and hugged herself.

“Um... well, I suppose I can’t say no,” she mumbled. “What do I have to do?”

“Just do a dance, it’s really simple and the music has a specific beat to it, you’ll be fine. And you’ll have a dance partner who will lead you.”

“Who is my dance partner?” Jade asked, suddenly terrified of the reality.

“Well...” Lewis sighed as he tried to think. “Haley tends to dance with Alex every year. Maybe you should ask him.” He gestured to the far northern end of the field. There was a bored, tan fellow with short brown hair. He wore a green football jacket and appeared to be fairly built compared to the other guys around. Jade gulped, a lump forming in her throat. She began to shiver, thinking back to her younger life. Alex didn’t activate pleasant high school memories.

The farmer took a deep breath. “Sure.” She wasn’t going to try to judge him prematurely.

Lewis seemed happy that Jade complied. “Great. The changing stations are right over there when it’s time to get ready, just take Haley’s labeled dress.” With that, Lewis took his business elsewhere, but gave Jade a reassuring nod.

The young farmer’s shoulders drooped as she glared down into the grass for a moment. She just accepted a role in the Flower Dance, without having a proper dance in her entire life. This was going to be a disaster.

Feeling discouraged, Jade decided not to approach the trio of friends completely. She passed by with a saddened expression as she made her way to Alex. At first, he didn’t even notice she was there.

“Um... h... hey,” murmured Jade shyly in a pitiful attempt of giving his attention. Being side by side, she realized how tall he actually was.

“Huh?” Alex snapped out of his train of thought to glance at the young farmer. “Oh, who’re you?” he asked.

“H-hi, I’m Jade, the new farmer that moved in.... I’m... apparently taking Haley’s place today? S-so, I’m... supposed to ask you to... dance with me,” she stuttered in nervousness.

Alex huffed. “Dammit, so Haley can’t come after all,” he mumbled to himself. He stood up straight and towered above Jade almost menacingly. With a smug grin, he stretched his arms and made a satisfied sigh. “Look, I know I’m great looking and all, but I’m not going to dance with some chick I don’t kno-”

His macho manner quickly diminished once he caught sight of his grandparents at the the other end of the field. The grandmother was staring at him condescendingly and shaking her head, while the grandfather rolled his eyes and fiddled with his wheelchair.

“Ugh. Look, farm girl. I don’t think either of us want this. Or at least, I don’t.”

“We don’t,” Jade coughed under her breath.

“But, I gotta take you, farm girl. It’s just the right thing to do. Lucky for you, I’m the best dancer out of all these bozos. They don’t take it seriously enough!”

The newcomer stared at him with curiosity. “So, you enjoy the Flower Dance?” she asked.

“Hell yeah I do. Well, with Haley, anyway.” He huffed, averting his gaze. “But you’ll do I guess. You’re like... semi-hot. Not too bad.” His eyes glanced back to her to internally confirm his statements.

“Excuse me?” Jade glared at him, but she wasn’t entirely sure if she heard him right.

Alex nearly laughed. “I’ll just lead the dance. It’s easy. It’s time to dress, so we should all go do that.” He stomped off towards the dressing stations, Jade half-heartedly following behind.

All of the bachelors and bachelorettes dressed for their roles in the Flower Dance; the men in sky blue suits and fancy black shoes, and the ladies in soft lilac-colored dresses and white pumps. Jade was to be in the third of the five women, so she would wear a special flower crown to commemorate the dance. She hasn’t worn something so feminine in a while, so the thought of several strangers seeing her like this made her nerves shake.

“Hey,” a calm female voice called out to the young farmer. She walked over in the same kind of dress, though it was more fit for her curvaceous figure. She had light brown skin and short, raspberry colored hair. She pushed her red glasses up on her nose and smiled in an intelligent manner. “I can tell you’re pretty nervous, but don’t worry. I’ll be right beside you, so you have me for support.”

“Oh... th-thanks,” Jade muttered.

“I’m Maru,” she happily responded. “You’ve met the rest of my family.”

“Oh! Yes, I recognize your name. I’m glad I could meet you, Maru.” Jade eased up considerably and took slower breaths.

Maru nodded, and softly took Jade’s arm to guide her outside of the dressing rooms. “You look so cute, you know. You’ll be fine out there,” she grinned.

“Aw, thanks,” Jade grew a bit flustered. “You look really nice too,” she commented.

Maru chuckled. “Thanks. A lot of us are worried about you, you know... Not many people are fond of Alex.” she sighed. “But... he’s not all too bad. At least when you get past that really.. jock-y exterior,” she gestured with a shrug. “If you ever feel uncomfortable, though, I’m here. You do have friends here,” the young lady smiled.

“Robin has some insanely nice genes,” murmured Jade jokingly.

Maru laughed, able to hear her. “That’s anyone in this valley. Most of us are pretty nice... barring a couple, like my half-brother.” Before Jade could properly respond, she just shook her head. “Dance is about to start. Best of luck. You’ll do great, though.” Maru kindly pat Jade on the back before moving to her position with her dance partner. Jade glanced at the dance partner; he was probably taller than even Alex, but he seemed to be very gentle in demeanor... in fact, he was probably more nervous than Jade was. He had brown hair with a single curl, a groomed mustache, and beads of sweat forming at his forehead. Poor guy.

Alex took his position in front of Jade. “Ready, farm girl? I’m going to blow your mind with this dance,” he beamed.

“Why do you have to say it like that?” Jade tried her best to not scowl in response. She sighed. “Just tell me what to do, p-please.”

“No problem! You’ll do perfect. I’m the best, you keep forgetting that.” He winked. Sam laughed nearby, overhearing the boasting. “Hey, stop laughing, Gohan!”

Everyone went quiet as the music for the Flower Dance began. The eight surrounding bachelors and bachelorettes began to dance in synchronization, while Alex and Jade walked up to each other to become the center of the show. He took her by the hands and carefully began to guide her around in the dance, whispering instructions that others could not hear, so she would be able to dance correctly.

Her negative feelings towards the matter seemed to vanish. The music was beautiful, and the dancing was... fun. Even with Alex, who was certainly not on her good side in the beginning. Alex seemed to lose that “jock-y exterior”, as Maru described it. He became as absorbed in the dance as Jade was... and he was right. He did dance very well.

Jade had gazed into Alex’s eyes near the ending of their dance. He was rather handsome... And the way Alex looked back at her, he must’ve thought she was beautiful, too.

“Not bad, farm girl,” he muttered to her. She flushed, not knowing what she was feeling at that moment.

“You’re not bad, yourself,” she murmured in return. They both had some form of a smirk while looking to each other.

In the final part of the dance, all the men had to have their hands at the waists of the ladies, while they had their arms near the men’s neck and shoulders. Jade flushed at the final portion of the ceremony... this dance was a little too intimate for her, she thought.

“Hm, nah. I take it back. You’re pretty hot,” Alex muttered reassuringly. Jade’s eyes widened and her face didn’t feel as warm as it did before. She heard him that time.

His hands slipped below her waist.

The Flower Dance concluded in a rather abrupt manner. Alex was suddenly on the ground, groaning and clutching the right side of his face. Jade stood over him, face completely red and eyes blurry with tears and engulfed in rage. Her left hand was balled up into a fist, knuckles red and throbbing from the impact.

All of the inhabitants gasped, and weren’t even sure what happened. Jade wasn’t sure what happened, either. Was it an accident? Did... did she consider that? A few of the townspeople had pulled Jade away from Alex, while others crowded the downed bachelor to make sure he was okay. Jade suddenly felt very overcome with guilt, but she couldn’t take back what she had done.

She roughly broke from the townspeople and started to run back to her home, barely able to see the colorful flags adorned on the wooden fences.

---

Jade locked herself in her house for the rest of the day. Not here for more than two days, and she was already messing everything up. Punched someone who was just dancing with her. Why did she get so angry? She didn’t even remember anymore.

Occasionally, someone would knock on the door and ask for her. She didn’t answer. No one should see her at this state. Eventually, the knocking stopped, and she was by herself for the rest of the evening. The young farmer took the time to remove her shoes and dress, and to actually get into clothes that suited her. It was getting late... a long shower and pajamas seemed to be ideal for the time.

Jade had tucked herself into bed early that night, but couldn’t find any power within herself to sleep. She sighed as she tossed and turned in her bed sheets. Not only did she feel guilty and exhausted, but she was irritated... irritated at everything. Nothing went right today.

Tnk!

Something hit one of Jade’s front windows. She lifted her head, but thought it was just the wind.

Tnk! Tonk!

A pebble tapped against her window, and then a slightly bigger rock. Someone was throwing stuff at her window! She hurriedly stood up and walked over to the window.

“Psssst!”

She was almost ashamed at how quickly she discovered who the mysterious person was. Right under the window, was the very obvious spiky hair belonging to none other than Sam. He didn't properly conceal himself, most likely unaware of how big his hair was.

“Psst!” Sam lifted his head again, and then briefly screamed in surprise when he realized she was at the window.

“Sam, I told you we’re not doing that,” nagged Sebastian from a distance. He was here too? Jade sighed, and opened her window.

“What do you guys want?” she asked with a raspy, tired voice.

“And girl!” Abigail poked up her head beside Sam. “We wanted to see you,” she said.

“Yeah,” Sam loudly whispered, despite being very close to Jade. “Come outside for a sec,” he finished.

Jade closed her window, but wanted to humor them. She walked outside to see Sebastian standing on the porch, while Sam and Abigail were squatting by the closest window. They were all dressed in their regular clothes. Officially no more Flower Dance, thought Jade begrudgingly.

Sebastian sighed. “They never listen to me,” he grumbled as he glared at the grinning duo. They both stood up and joined the other two on the porch.

“What are you three doing out here this late?” Jade asked. “It’s like eleven at night... Look, I’m sorry... I’d love to meet both of you, but...”

“No, it’s okay,” Abigail began. “We actually wanted to thank you.”

“Thank me?” Jade was genuinely confused.

“Do you realize how awesome you were today?” Abigail began, in shock. “You kicked Alex’s ass!”

“You pack a good punch,” Sam nodded proudly.

“... We’ve all kinda wanted to punch Alex in the face before. But you were the only one to actually do it.” Sebastian crossed his arms, a smirk on his face.

Jade wanted to accept the praise, but she shook her head. “No... it was wrong. I think I jumped to conclusions. He was an ass, sure, but... I shouldn’t have punched him,” she frowned, then sighed. “His hands slipped below my waist, and I reacted pretty badly. I should go talk to him.”

“I dunno, I think I probably would have punched him,” Abigail thought out loud. “You shouldn’t let anyone touch you like that, that’s good.”

Jade’s shoulders hunched and she stared to the wooden surface of the front porch. She lightly shuffled her feet. “It was probably a mistake,” she muttered in disappointment. “I just ruined my chance at gaining respect in the town...”

“Eh, people will forget about it,” Sam mentioned. “I once put a nasty fish in the Luau potluck, and everyone was pretty pissed with me.” His face brightened. “But, after all the community service hours, no one even brings it up anymore except when I screw up again!”

"Which is often," Sebastian added.

“Community service hours?” Jade looked extremely discouraged. “I can barely start a farm.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes towards Sam, but gazed calmly to Jade. “He is right that people will forget about it. It’s not like that kind of situation hasn’t happened with any of us.”

Sam sighed wistfully. “We’ve definitely gone through some stuff.”

Abigail nodded thoughtfully. “We’re honestly the worst,” she grinned.

“All of you seem like the bad kids of town,” Jade deadpanned in response. Sam and Abigail chuckled and shrugged to each other in admission. Sebastian didn't respond and scowled at the two, not wanting to be included.

“They’re just idiots,” Sebastian corrected. Sam leaned an elbow on Sebastian’s head, obnoxiously proving his incredible height in comparison to his raven-haired counterpart.

“Don’t listen to Seb, he’s just short and angsty,” Sam laughed. He could practically feel Sebastian sizzle under him, as he roughly shoved him away with a red, angry face. Sam chuckled and eagerly stood in front of Jade, alongside Abigail and Sebastian.

Jade seemed to exhausted to be entertained, though their banter had her ease up. “I really appreciate it. All of you seem very sweet, but I’m just... tired and kinda wanna stay in bed forever after today,” she murmured.

The three were quiet, and took the time to usher a response. They all seemed concerned.

“You’re fine,” Abigail eventually spoke up. “Just know you’re cool with us. We were actually going to the saloon Friday evening and were wondering if you’d like to come.”

“Oh?” Jade looked to them with more attention.

“Yeah,” Sam continued, “there’s a nice little arcade section and a pool table. You can play with us, and we'll order some pizza or something,” he said, grinning.

Jade wiped her eyes and yawned. “You know what...” she sleepily smiled. “That actually sounds really nice. I would love to join.”

“Yay!” Both Sam and Abigail beamed at the same time. They hugged Jade in unison, causing her to giggle. She was actually grinning when they let go of her. She even glanced to Sebastian, who had a faint smile on his face.

“Okay, be there Friday at 6! Don’t be late!” Abigail stepped backwards off of the porch, pointing menacingly to the young farmer. Sam excitedly followed and pumped his fists while chanting for saloon night pizza. Jade and Sebastian watched them leave the farmland.

“I’ll be leaving with them, but I wanted to say...” Sebastian sighed. “Alex kept muttering how it was his fault, too. The guy’s rude, but...” He scratched his head. “Well, you’ll see.”

“What do you mean?” Jade frowned.

He was quiet for a moment. “He's just had... rumors, about family.” Sebastian hesitated, not really sure how else to word himself.

“Oh.” The young farmer thought for a while.

“It’s not your fault. I think you’ll be fine if both of you make up to each other.”

“Yeah.” The newcomer sighed and thread her fingers through her messy hair. “All of this is too complicated...”

“Yep." He started to walk off, giving her a small wave. “See you later.”

“Goodnight, Sebastian.” The young farmer returned his wave. She stood and watched the three officially fade into the night, until she grew too tired to stand.

Another day ended, and fittingly so. Despite all the nightmares that happened that day, Jade was still able to sleep like a log.
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 4: Saloon
Friday, Spring 26 Y1
Alex and Jade get to talk about what happened before she leaves for the Saloon.
Beep! Beep! Beep!

Time for sleep has concluded, and another day has begun. Jade begrudgingly turned off her faithful yet annoying alarm clock and sat up. She felt a little better today, but her conscience was still throbbing with guilt. Why did she have to remind herself of the incident already?

Shower, dress, breakfast, backpack. Jade was slowly growing accustomed to the morning rhythm. In her bathroom, she examined herself in the mirror perched above her sink. In appearance, she looked great; but her expression was full of grumpiness. The young farmer lightly slapped her own face, completely without harm but as a gesture to say she needed to get her act together. She sighed, nodded to herself, then decided it was time to go tend to her crops. Right as she was going to leave her house, there was a knock at the door.

“Coming,” she shouted politely as she approached the door. Upon opening it, her expression morphed into shock and sadness.

Alex was there, normal as ever, except for the glorious shiner on his right eye. Despite the injury, he was softly smiling to the young farmer. In his hands, he held a wrapped plate of fresh cookies. “Uh, hey,” he began with hesitation. “Sorry, you probably don’t wanna really see me and all-

“No, I do,” Jade told him sternly. “I want to say I’m sorry.”

Alex blinked in surprise. “No, I’m sorry,” he rebutted. “It was an accident, but I should have watched where my hands were. I’m just stupid, for a moment I was thinking of Haley, and I’m closer to her, so it just-” he stopped himself, embarrassed. “Sorry, that’s all. It was rude of me. For all that mess.”

Jade sighed. “I forgive you, Alex. Thank you for coming up to me. But... I really am sorry, too.” She frowned as she stared at his bruise. “I shouldn’t have punched you. It was too harsh of me, and I reacted too quickly. If there’s anything I can do to make up for it, please let me know.”

Alex shrugged and thought for a moment. “You can uh, take these cookies. That’s a start.” He offered the plate, which she accepted happily. “My granny made ‘em. They’re the best tasting cookies in the whole town. I would even dare say the whole valley,” he confidently stated. “It’d hurt our feelings if you didn’t try them.”

Jade’s smile grew. “Aw, I’d love to. Thank you very much, Alex. Please pass it on to your grandma, too.”

“Will do,” Alex nodded. He stood there awkwardly for a moment, and then just sighed. “Hey, I just wanted to say. The Flower Dance is something more serious for me, so it was weird dancing with someone I barely knew. But... even with all that stuff, I had fun. And you were good with dancing!”

The young farmer chuckled. “I’m good at following directions,” she corrected. “But yeah. I had fun, too. It was nice... I’ve never really danced like that before.” She flushed, her memory flashing back to the slowest part of the Flower Dance.

“Whaaat? That’s lame, farm girl.” He playfully nudged her arm. “Well, it happens every year, so you’ll get more chances. And who knows. Maybe you’ll find your real dance partner.”

“Aw, that would be great.” She sighed again, but this time with more relief. “Thanks for being so cool about this. I really do feel horrible for punching you in the face.”

“Well, you shouldn’t feel horrible with a swing like that. You should start boxing!” Alex suddenly gasped. “I should put boxing into my work out schedule! That’d be such a great exercise!”

Jade laughed. “We can spar and not feel bad about punching each other?” she offered.

Alex chuckled, too. “Aw, nah. No offense at all, because you’re really freaking tough. But I don’t want to hit girls, especially not pretty ones.”

“I was joking, anyway. But thank you for saying I’m pretty,” the young farmer smiled.

He nodded. “And don’t worry about the bruise. I’m a quick healer! Healthiest bod in the valley,” he grunted as he flexed. Jade chuckled again. He had a certain dumb charm about him, and he was exaggerating himself, but it was sweet.

“Yeah, I’m sure you are. Bye now, Alex. I’ll enjoy the cookies.”

“You better!” Alex hopped off of the porch and began his trek back to town.


The talk with Alex was a huge weight off of Jade’s chest. Even if other townspeople judged her for her actions, the person she had a quarrel with had no problem with her anymore. She was able to water her little plot of dirt, which now had eagerly sprouting plants. The weather was getting warmer as Summer was nearing, but she was confident that the crops could be harvested in time. Not to mention, she had been invited to hang out with Abigail, Sam, and Sebastian for the night. The tables were finally turning in her favor, and she was growing excited.

Jade decided that it was finally time to unpack all of her belongings. No more shuffling out clothes from a hastily packed suitcase, or grabbing a can of food from her leftover groceries. She lived here then, and planned to stay.

The majority of the day was spent unpacking, moving, and organizing. Her master bedroom finally looked livable enough, and her living room was starting to come together. Her room had the giant bed, and then a dresser, vanity, hanging shelves, and a large horizontal bookshelf full of comics and assorted books. Luckily for her as well that Robin included a walk-in closet and a master bathroom to accompany the bedroom. In the living room, she hooked up a small television, a three-seat couch straight across from it and a love seat to the side. A coffee table set between the television and the couch. “I’m finally becoming an adult,” Jade excitedly muttered to herself, gazing at her room design. She pushed up another bookshelf beside the television, then setting a few boxes containing DVDs and assorted books that weren’t included with the ones in her room. The young farmer grew enthusiastic as her home slowly began feeling like hers.

The last bit of organization she wanted to attempt that day was to get all of her kitchen appliances in order; pots and pans were put up, food was stored in the cabinets and fridge, and utensils could finally have their own drawer to rest in. With all of her accomplishments, she awarded herself with a few cookies made from Alex’s grandmother. They were extremely delicious and made with such care. Jade’s mental list of gifting the townsfolk increased in length, since there were so many nice gestures from them. When she was done with most of the essential unpacking, the sky began to redden. The day was ending.

The young farmer took the arrival of evening as a sign to leave for the saloon. She... didn’t even realize there was a saloon, not before Abigail had brought it up. Equipped with her backpack and some water this time, Jade took no hesitation in bringing out her map.

Stardrop Saloon. That’s what it was called. Jade sighed in relief. At least it was open late, if she got lost. She began her trip towards the saloon, but then her heart sank. Hopefully her new acquaintances wouldn’t leave if she was too late... The suggestion caused her to quicken her pace.


Luckily, the saloon wasn’t in such a location that was too confusing. In fact, the building was located right around the town square. Jade took a mental note of its location and did her signature deep breath before walking inside.

The saloon was filled with warmth, from the deep brown wooden walls and floors, to the pleasant music chiming away from the jukebox in the corner. Tables were spread out to Jade’s left and right, while the bar itself was straight ahead. A friendly, mustached figure cleaned a beer mug as he stood in front of the bar’s register. Behind him was a lady with sapphire blue hair and a red apron. The bartender noticed the newcomer and gave her a reassuring smirk. She waved to them and walked further inside, looking for the arcade part of the saloon.

There were other unfamiliar faces, barely recognizable from the previous town festival. A red-haired girl was sipping wine in the back, and a middle-aged blonde woman was chugging her beer. Neither of them seemed very interested in talking. She walked to her right, away from the women, and saw two gruff looking men talking to each other. One of them was scrawny and old, but had a wise and generous feel about him. He wore a beret and messy clothes... she could smell the ocean from him. The other one was a larger, stout man, with thick clothes and an overall depressing outlook. He didn’t seem like he was in the mood to talk, either. Jade continued walking, stumbling into the arcade.

Just as the trio had explained it, there was a large pool table in the center of the room. Sam had his back to Jade, carefully aiming his next shot against his match with Sebastian. Sebastian stood at the other end of the pool table, with such an air of confidence that Jade hadn’t noticed before. He stood proudly, and with such a smug smile as his friend desperately tried to conquer the next move. Some feet away from the pool table were two bulky arcade machines. One of them didn’t seem to be working, but the other one was on... Journey of the Prairie King. Sounded interesting.

At the end of the wall stood various couches, chairs, and side tables. Abigail was boredly reclining in one of the couches, watching the other two play their game. Something seemed to weigh on the young adult’s mind, but she was quiet. Upon seeing Jade, her eyes brightened and she smiled wide. “Jade!” she called happily. “You made it!”

The boys heard Abigail’s exclamation and focused their attention to the farmer. Sam took no hesitation to drop the cue stick he was holding; the game had frustrated him to no end, anyway. “Hey, Jade!” He added to the enthusiasm. “Now that you’re here, we can have some pizza. Totally gonna do that now.” He took every opportunity to walk away from the damned pool table, causing Sebastian to chuckle.

“That means I win!” Sebastian called to Sam.

“Have your petty win!” scoffed Sam from the other side of the saloon.

Jade laughed a bit. “I take it he’s not a pro,” she mentioned.

“Far from it,” Sebastian confirmed with a smirk. “He’s trying, though.”

Abigail jumped up from her seat and ran over to the newcomer. “Hey, so how are you feeling?” she asked curiously, though she sounded excited as well.

Jade appreciated her concern. “I’m fine,” she replied calmly, “and I made up with Alex, so we’re fine now. I feel better.”

“Oh, that’s good,” Abigail smiled in response. “It would suck to make enemies that early in living here, y’know.”

“Yeah,” laughed Jade, mostly relieved. “Last year was really weird and my time here has been exciting to say the least. But... I’ll be settling soon, I imagine. I want to surround myself with cats or something. It’s a big house.”

“A cat lady!” Abigail giggled. “There’s no perfect role. I wish I could have cats, but...” her speech lowered to a grumble. “My dad’s allergic to pretty much everything, it’s annoying.” Her eyes narrowed. “Including everything I like.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” the farmer murmured. “Some parents can be pretty overbearing.”

“Ugh, isn’t that right,” Abigail huffed. “Anyways, how has the farming life been so far? Have you started?”

Jade picked up the cue stick that Sam dropped and examined it. Sebastian was zoning out, but paid attention when she seemed somewhat interested in playing. “Did you see that tiny plot of dirt outside of my house?” she asked with a snort. “That’s all my blood, sweat and tears!”

Sebastian silently reset the pool table, then gestured to Jade to make the first move. She leaned down and took careful aim at the cue ball. Abigail watched the two of them, though didn’t seem to be following the game itself. “That’s pretty neat,” Abigail hummed.

“What about you guys? What do you do?” Jade asked.

“Oh, I don’t have a job,” Abigail sighed. “I’m living the college life, or at least, I am online.”

Sam walked back in with a pizza platter, and set it down at a nearby table. “I work part-time at Joja Mart,” he replied, overhearing the conversation. “Which is to say, Abby’s dad isn’t fond of me.”

“Hey, you have to do what you have to in order to get by. I’ve survived off of less money before,” Jade assured them. Sebastian took his turn in the game while Abigail joined Sam with the pizza.

The young farmer chuckled a bit as she aimed for her next shot. “I’m surprised there’s even a Joja Mart here... well, maybe not too surprised. They were around every corner, where I used to live.”

Abigail grumbled with a mouth full of pizza. “Don’t get me started about that whole deal. You don’t hear the end of it from my dad,” she muffled. “I get it, since they’re competitors and stuff. But it’s nonstop. I’m tired of it.”

Jade shrugged. “At least it’s just one? But yeah, I can definitely understand the frustration on your part.” She took her turn this time, though she felt rusty. She unfortunately forgot many of the strategies of the game.

“Yo, can you two stop playing? So help me, I’ll eat both your rations,” interrupted Sam from the side. “Jade, take it from me. You don’t want to get caught in this pool business with Seb. He is an evil sorcerer.”

The young farmer laughed. “I’m hungry anyway,” she said, placing the pool cue back onto the table.

“You’re just tired of losing,” Sebastian commented towards Sam. Both of them joined the other two, who were already dining on their meals. The majority of the night was enjoyable. They all ate pizza, chatted leisurely, and of course, bombarded Jade with questions. The young farmer was happy to tell them how she discovered the valley and bought the land, as well as her ventures with moving and finally making her space livable. Even though she didn’t know too much about the three, she felt at peace with them. She could open up easier to them, as opposed to other acquaintances of the town. Or... friends? Jade wasn’t sure when it was really acceptable to consider them friends. But, she liked them.

After eating, Abigail took to the working arcade machine, and Sebastian and Jade returned to their game of pool. Though Jade played far better than Sam did, Sebastian still prevailed as the better pool player. “Told you,” nodded Sam sadly as Jade reeled from the loss. “Don’t even try to get competitive,” he pouted.

Jade’s grumpy expression transitioned into a cheerful one. She laughed as she stared at the pool table. “It was still fun! I haven’t played pool in forever,” she grinned. “How are you so good, Sebastian?”

“Secrets,” he replied with a smile.

“Dammit, I’ll get it out of you someday,” the farmer jokingly threatened.

“You were good, though. Want to try again?” Sebastian narrowed his eyes, his smile having more mischievousness than before.

“Don’t, it’s a trap!” Sam lightly shook Jade by the shoulders. Jade laughed and playfully shoved Sam away.

“Just one more game. I’ll avenge you and then myself, Sam.” Jade confidently nodded to the blond, who only shook his head in disappointment.

“One game is all it takes,” he stated woefully. “Here lies Jade, death by pool.”

She chuckled. “Don’t worry about it, Sam! I am a good player. The evil sorcerer said so himself.”

One game turned into three games, and Jade won absolutely none of them. She was caught in the same rut as Sam, with such a destroyed honor. And yet, they were both determined. Jade needed to wipe that dumb smirk off of the raven-haired man’s face.

One more game.

Sebastian laughed even harder at the frustrated noises Jade made after losing the last game.

“Damn your evil powers!” screamed Jade, slamming the cue stick back onto the table. Sebastian was in his own fit of chuckles, trying to cease his laughter by covering his mouth.

“Sam. We have to team up.”

“How?” he asked. “He... he’s too powerful.”

“We must figure a way! We can’t let him go this far!” Jade scrunched up her fist in determination. “We need a pool training montage or something.”

Sam laughed. “Yeah, let’s see how that goes.”

Sebastian rolled his eyes, but he had a large smile on his face. “Hey, this was fun, but it’s time for me to go now. Night.”

“Night!” both of them beamed back to Sebastian. He waved and walked out of the saloon.

“Man... it’s that late already?” Jade pouted. “I guess I should go too.” She had turned to the arcade machine where Abigail was previously, but she was no longer there. “Oh... Abigail left already?” Jade felt a bit guilty for not noticing.

“Oh, yeah. She doesn’t really hang out with us the whole time,” Sam mentioned with a shrug. “I never really got why. If she felt left out, she could just say so.”

“Maybe she’s shy. I can understand that. But... you’ve all been friends for a while, yeah?” Jade tilted her head in wonder.

Sam lifted his own head to try to accurately recall. “Well, Seb and I have been friends forever. Abigail hasn’t been around us as much, but I mean, we’ve known her for a while. She just kinda roams and does her own thing sometimes. Everyone in town has known each other for a while, now that I think about it...” The blond itched the side of his face. “But... Still.”

“Well, four is better than three. Feel free to invite me anytime,” Jade smiled.

“Pfft, you’re always welcome. I’m actually impressed. Both Abby and Seb take a while to warm up to people, but they both really like you. And then I do too, of course,” he replied.

They smiled at each other. Jade gave him a friendly pat on the chest. “Well, I really like all of you, too. I’m glad you decided to cheer me on for punching an innocent guy in the face.” The sentiment made Sam chuckle, though he seemed embarrassed as well. It didn’t sound all that great when she put it that way. “Haha, I’m just throwing you off. I mean it, though. Glad you approached me last night.”

“No problem!” Sam nodded as if nothing had happened.

Like water off a duck’s back, huh. Jade liked Sam’s attitude. She wanted to speak more, but then she noticed a clock hanging on the wall of the saloon. It was a little past 9 PM. “Oh wow, it’s even later than I thought,” Jade huffed. “I should go for real now.”

“Man, same here. Have a good night!” Sam returned the pat to Jade’s head and waved as he walked off. The young farmer followed behind at a distance, breaking in path once she had left the town square.


Walking back home was different when it was dark, but at least Jade didn’t get lost on her way. Despite the earlier troubles she had traversing the town, the layout of Pelican Town was relatively simple and tiny compared to other towns and cities.

Jade felt satisfied as she finally made it back home. The full moon was shining clearly overhead, bats screeched in the distance, and leaves gently rustled in the night breeze. The young farmer sucked in a deep breath through her nose, and sighed out of her mouth. The end of the day... finally.

She stepped onto her front porch, but then halted. She heard something behind her. Jade slowly turned her head.

On her work and effort as a farmer, something green, glowing, and squishy had rolled onto one of Jade’s precious crops. It didn't seem much bigger than the plant it had rolled onto, but it was still something Jade has never seen before.

“Hey! HEY!” Jade rushed up to the translucent, snotty creature. It heard her and opened its tiny green eyes. An antennae with a little sphere rose up from its top, and it made a squishing sound in retaliation. The creature was, quite literally, a living slime ball.

The young farmer ruthlessly kicked it off her crops. Taking it as a challenge, the slime jumped and charged towards her, latching onto one of her knees. At first, she didn’t feel anything, but then she felt an intense burning... Acid! It felt like acid! She yelled in pain and slung the creature off of her leg. Luckily, Jade had her tools with her. She desperately grabbed whichever tool she could feel for first, and brought it out. Pickaxe.

“Back off!” shouted Jade angrily, striking at the creature as if it were made of stone. The end of the pickaxe pierced through the entire creature; she could see the tool in its body. It squeaked in pain and broke free from the pickaxe, but it wasn't finished. It lunged at her again, to which she was able to dodge. Jade whapped the slime once more, smacking it into a nearby tree. The creature had exploded into several bits of goo on impact, and then ceased all movement.

“Little bastard,” Jade hissed, then examined her leg. It didn’t hurt very much anymore, but there was a hole on her knee, and a light red mark where it was exposed. “Gah...” she cursed under her breath, then hurrying over to her plant. It was a little slimy, but other than that, it was okay. The young farmer brushed the excess slime and glanced back over to the tree. The glops of goo were still there, but maybe it wouldn’t come back.

Now the sleep was really deserved. She was finally able to walk inside and slam the door shut. She took a quick shower from the day’s misfortunes, then collapsed into bed at once. That was enough nature for the time being.
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 5: Exchanges
Saturday, Spring 27 Y1
Abigail hooks Jade up with some sweet new gear and Robin gets Jade to run an errand.
“You’ve never seen a slime before?” Abigail smirked, entertained by the fact.

Jade and Abigail caught each other in town the day after their meeting in the saloon. The young farmer recalled seeing some leeks and wild horseradishes that could be foraged for selling and brought a basket with her, while Abigail was going to explore the mines that resided within the mountaintop. Since they were going the same way, they decided to travel together.

“That’s what those little bastards are called? How original,” Jade growled, subconsciously rubbing her knee where the slime attacked. “It stung me and tore a hole through my favorite pair of jeans, dammit.” She was sad to be wearing a different pair of jeans, though she was the only one who could tell the difference.

Abigail chuckled. “Which are you more upset about?”

“My skin heals, but my jeans are ripped forever,” Jade pouted.

“Unless you sew it back together, you dummy.”

“I’m a farmer, not a miracle worker,” she whined.

The young adventurer’s chuckle burst into a laugh. “Get someone to fix it, then! You know Haley’s sister?”

“I barely even know Haley, except for her dress size. The sister is completely off my radar.”

“Oh, uh. She’s the woman that helps Gus.”

“.... Gus?” Jade hung her head. Remembering names were difficult for her.

Abigail raised an eyebrow. “Gus is the bartender,” she explained, “and Emily is the blue-haired lady at the bar. She’s Haley’s older sister. Anyways, she sews stuff, maybe you could ask her.”

“There aren’t even 40 people in this town and there’s already too many people,” Jade grumbled. Abigail couldn’t help but laugh.

“You sound like such a recluse,” she teased.

“Remembering people’s names is a hard task!” Jade shouted in retaliation. “I would forget all of your names if it weren’t for the incredibly fashionable hair most of you have.” Abigail could have responded, but nothing she’d say could really prove Jade wrong. She gave an approving nod, instead.

“Speaking of fashion, I like your outfit today,” Jade mentioned. Abigail was wearing a mint bow on the side of her head, a black choker, a blue sleeveless coat, a gray v-neck, and dark jeans and shoes.

“Aww, what about my awesome outfit is really fashionable?” the adventurer gasped in a joking manner.

“It’s fashionable because it’s awesome,” Jade politely repeated, then hummed as he looked ahead of them. “You said you’re going to the mines, right?”

“Yup. Gonna search for some gems, and defeat a slime or two on the way.”

“Oooh, tough. Maybe I should start doing that... I still can’t believe a slime was around my house and nearly absorbed one of my parsnips.” Jade crossed her arms grumpily. She probably wasn’t going to stop talking about it for a while.

Abigail shrugged. “Well, you said you’re in a really old neighborhood, right? Slimes probably moved in around there. Honestly, I’d love to explore the ruins near your place. Don’t be surprised if you hear me shuffle around later.”

“You’re only allowed to if you drag me along,” Jade replied with a nod, “because I really need to explore, too.”

“Haha! It’s a deal,” Abigail beamed. “Oh, speaking of... do you even have a sword?” The two stopped in their paths. The sky was clear, save for a few stray clouds. A serene lake quietly babbled to one side, while a cliff face protruded from their other side. A small dirt road curved in the distance, a huge cave opening on one end and a lonely cabin on the other side of the lake.

Jade shook her head. “No... I used my pickaxe to defeat the slime last night.”

“You need a sword!” shouted Abigail. She seemed not only surprised, but worried. “If huge families of slimes live around you, you’re screwed!”

“Okay, okay! Where can I get a sword, then?” Jade began to sweat out of stress.

Abigail calmed down, and then looked around to make sure no one was nearby. “Okay, I can hook you up. Follow me to the mines,” she began, walking again and ushering Jade to come along.

“Um... is acquiring a sword like drug dealing?” Jade asked. She meant it as a joke, but she was half convinced that it wasn’t.

“It might as well be!” Abigail stressed. “I’m not going to tell you how many times my sword has been confiscated. It’s too much.” They quickly traversed into the mines, which was very dim and damp as most caves were. The rocky walls were a dingy gray, but there were lanterns dispersed about that shed some very gentle light. An old, rickety elevator stood at the far end of the cave. Old, shoddy minecarts adorned some abandoned railways. They looked like they haven’t been used in decades.

“Because my dad hates all joy in the world, I have two swords in case one gets taken. But since we’re friends, I’ll give you my backup sword.” Abigail walked over to a loose formation of rocks, and she moved some of them aside. She brought out a very simple western broadsword, but it still seemed to be cared for and could definitely deal with pesky slimes. “Here it is.”

“Oh, wow...” Jade gasped, covering her mouth with her free hand. “Are you sure I can have it?”

“You need it, dummy!” Abigail practically shoved the sword into Jade’s hands, causing her to drop the basket. The young farmer held the sword awkwardly before adjusting her hands.

“I’ve never fought with swords before,” Jade muttered shyly.

“Here, I’ll tell you how to fight slimes. Use that sharp end, slice them like you would a loaf of bread. Repeatedly. And much harder. There, dead slime. Happy ending.” The adventurer crossed her arms.

Jade laughed. “Well, now that you say it like that.... thanks!” She stashed the sword safely to the side of her backpack so that she could easily retrieve it, then picked her basket back up. “This will help a lot! Maybe I should put fences up at my place, too... That could minimize the terrorizing,” the young farmer stated, thinking out loud.

“You’ll figure it out, Jadey. Well, I’m gonna go... explore... the mines, I guess.” Abigail looked to the elevator of the mines worriedly, though Jade didn’t really seem to notice.

“Have fun and get lots of awesome gems!” Jade waved. “Time for me to go forage. It’s about time I start shipping stuff.”

“You got this,” Abigail grinned to her comically and waved back. Jade noticed a bit of fakeness from the smile, but decided to not comment. Instead, she left with hopes that Abigail was doing alright.


The young farmer took this fantastic opportunity to truly explore the mountains and learn the area. She was eager to see that the wild horseradishes and leeks were still popping out of the ground, and happily collected them. Her collecting was going well, and it got even better when she noticed that nearby bushes even had berries!

“Aw, heck yes!” Jade rushed up to a cluster of bushes behind the carpenter shop. The berries were pink and plush... she hoped they weren’t poisonous. “Huh... can I eat these?” The young farmer picked up bunches of the berries off of their stems, and happily stashed them in her basket alongside the other goods.

She suddenly halted when she heard some nearby rustling. Jade turned her head towards the sound, terrified of another creature... Luckily, just another townsperson... Actually, she’s never seen him before.

There was a man who had walked out of the bushes. The first thing Jade noticed was his lack of shoes, and then his furry tan clothes, and lastly, his incredibly messy gray hair and long beard. The man noticed her as well, but he actually seemed more scared of her than she was of him.

“U-um.... H... hello, I don’t think I’ve seen you before?” Jade shivered, not knowing how to respond. “S-sorry... am I... trespassing?”

His expression morphed into surprise. Why did she seem so nervous? “... I don’t think I’ve seen you, either,” he gently spoke. He glanced at her basket, seeming almost displeased.

“Oh, um... I-I’m the new farmer... My name’s Jade. It’s nice to meet you.” She swiftly bowed to him.

He stood up a little straighter. “I am Linus,” he replied. “... I’m sorry to say, but you are trespassing.” He gestured nearby over to a small yellow tent. Jade couldn’t believe she didn’t notice that before.

“Oh! I’m really sorry!” She felt like a wreck. The last thing Jade wanted was to get into trouble with more townspeople. She noticed he stared to her basket, and took out a bunch of the berries she saw. “U-um... Would you like these as an apology? Though... I can’t say if they’re poisonous, maybe not...”

“Those are salmonberries,” Linus informed her. He didn’t really seem afraid anymore, though he didn’t trust her, either. “They’re not poisonous... quite nutritious, actually.”

“Oh, good! So... you can have these, if you want.” She stretched out her arm while holding the clump of berries. He actually smiled and humbly accepted them.

“Thank you,” he muttered.

“Y-yeah! Sorry for crossing without your permission, um... b-bye now, Linus.” She bowed again and quickly ran off, careful to keep her basket balanced. Linus watched her leave, glanced at the salmonberries gifted to him, and quietly walked back to his tent with a calm smile.


Jade!

The young farmer knew that voice. “Robin!” she beamed, turning to the source of the voice and enthusiastically. Jade was stopped at the bottom of the trail leading up further into the mountains. The carpenter’s shop was right beside her, and Robin was standing in its doorway, waving back.

“C’mere, kid!” Robin shouted to her. Jade complied and ran over to her.

“Hey! How are you doing, Robin?” she kindly asked as she approached.

“Oh, I’m doing just fine, hon. How are you? I haven’t seen you since that mess at the festival the other day. I was worried sick, you know.” Robin huffed, crossing her arms and giving a grumpy, motherly look to Jade.

She sadly smiled. “I was at the saloon with Sebastian and the others yesterday, and told them about making up with Alex and everything. He didn’t tell you?”

Robin gasped. “No, he didn’t! Ugh. That boy, I swear.” Despite the grumpy tone, she grinned back to Jade. The carpenter felt relieved to know Jade was able to hang out with others. “So, you’re making friends? You’re doing well?”

“Yeah,” Jade replied shyly. She averted her eyes, but she seemed happy. “I’m still adjusting to the town, but everyone’s been extremely nice. Sebastian kicked my ass in pool like five times.”

Robin laughed. “Oh what, you can’t win against him? Then I’m afraid I have some bad news if you play with me,” she winked.

“Somehow, I fail to be surprised,” Jade chuckled in response. “You seem to have a real competitive spirit.”

“Don’t even mention that to Demetrius, he will go on a huge spiel about it... Oh! I got lost in my thoughts. There was actually a reason I called you over.” She grinned.

“I’ll do anything for the builder of my lovely house,” Jade elegantly mentioned. “What can I do?”

“I love your spunk, kid. I wanted to ask if you could go run an errand for me. Do you know where Marnie’s ranch is? I would go myself, but I have some furniture orders to finish before the end of the day.”

“Uh... Can’t say I have,” Jade admitted, all confidence sapped from her voice.

Robin responded with a motherly sigh, though her expression was still cheerful enough. “I’m sure you’ve seen it. You know how you walk to town? Her ranch is on the way.”

“Wait.” Jade mildly interrupted to pull out her map, then searched for the location. “... Oh, that’s the ranch? I know where it is!” she beamed proudly, as if she didn’t need the map to help her. Jade casually folded and stored the map back in its appropriate place on her backpack.

Robin chuckled. “Great. Marnie ordered some more wood to fix her fences, and I was wondering if you could go take it to her. She already paid, so don’t worry about that.” Robin pointed out to a short but sturdy wheelbarrow loaded with a significant stack of wood. It seemed... heavy. Jade seemed unsure, but Robin snorted in response. “Don’t worry, it’s not as heavy as it seems. And you’ll be going downhill a lot, anyway.”

“Hmmmmm... I dunno...” Jade innocently looked away.

“Aww, please?” Robin clapped her hands together and stared to Jade with dilated pupils.

“How about we make this favor into an exchange?” Jade’s eyes met back with Robin’s, sparkling with a mischievousness that the carpenter was all too familiar with.

“Oh, boy. What do you want?” Robin smirked.

“My farm got attacked by a slime last night, and I think I need some wooden fences around my area.”

Robin went from curious to enlightened. Her eyes glittered with excitement. “Wait, this is an exchange? Sounds like you’re giving me an early birthday gift!” She cackled.

“Well, what do you say, then?” Jade smiled.

“I say absolutely yes. You don’t even have to pay, since you’ve been so sweet. And I admire a person with passion.” Robin nodded and examined her. “We need more people like you in town.”

“Wait, you say I’m sweet even after the whole thing at the festival?” Jade looked shocked.

“Jade, I will tell you a secret.” The red-haired woman sighed proudly. “I love scraps of all kinds. Be it extra wood, leftover food, or straight up punching someone.”

The young farmer laughed. “You’re terrible!”

Robin laughed too. “I’m just kidding, but really... if anyone has a huge problem with you because of a misunderstanding, they’ll have to go through me, first. You’re a good kid.”

Jade hung her head, but sported a shy smile on her face. “Aww...”

“Hey, I mean it too.” Robin pat the young farmer’s head. “You know how boring this town was before we got a new farmer? I think you’re the life this area needs, not only economically but for the townspeople... And maybe you’ll make my son go outside more, knowing you’re friends with him.”

“I wouldn't say friends... Oh, why not make him work on the fence with you?” Jade joked.

“That’s a great idea! I will make him take a day off. Do you want to see Sebby more? I could have him visit you,” Robin excitedly mentioned, nodding with confidence.

Jade's face blanked, then she shyly laughed. “I was just joking, I didn’t actually mean it... Are you forcing your son on me?”

Robin placed her hands on her hips, but didn’t answer the question. “Don’t toy with my fragile heart like this, Jade. Fence or no fence?”

“I would really like a fence,” she muttered.

“Then leave it to me!” Robin grinned. “But first, the favor.”

Jade looked back over to the wagon. “Oh, yeah. Of course! I’ll go do that now.” The farmer stepped over to the wheelbarrow and grabbed its extended handle. “Anything else you want me to do?” she asked.

“Nothing for now, but if I think of anything, I’ll let you know. You’re a lifesaver, hon!” Robin happily waved her off. Jade smiled and left, pulling a wheelbarrow with one of her hands while carrying her full basket with the other hand.

---

Jade passed more unfamiliar faces on her way to Marnie’s ranch. Her skin shivered and her arms shook, terrified of what they thought of her, and what they were thinking while passing by... The young farmer inhaled deeply and straightened her posture, attempting her very best to walk with utmost pride. It shouldn’t matter what they think. Just a misunderstanding, like what Robin said. She had people like Robin by her side, to begin with. She would be fine.

Fortunately, Jade found the ranch without any sort of trouble. She lightly knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She opened the door to see no one behind the counter. Huh. The young farmer left the wheelbarrow full of lumber near the doorway before walking inside. “Um... hello?” she murmured weakly.

She stood at the front counter; it took up about half of the area, making the room feel much smaller than it actually was. The walls appeared old, but homely. Jade noticed two hallways, one going to a kitchen, while the other went to a living room. She saw one door left ajar, with...

Was that a girl? Jade squinted in an attempt to see better. A young, tan little girl stood at the slightly opened door. She had very dark, fluffy hair, large eyes, and an adorable purple dress. Her hand clutched to the doorway tightly as she stared at Jade in an almost alien-like way.

“... Hello there,” waved Jade.

“Aunt Marnie is busy, she said.” The girl’s voice was somewhat monotone, and very serious. Jade was worried that she was scaring her.

“Oh, where is she?” Jade asked.

“She brought her friend... I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“Oh, I see... Um... Well, my name is Jade, and I’m the new farmer here. It’s nice to meet you,” she smiled. “I brought some lumber for Marnie... can you tell her that it’s waiting for her?”

The girl was quiet.

“... Um... What’s your name?” Jade awkwardly asked.

The girl took a step back into her room, and then slammed the door shut.

“That went well,” Jade remarked with sarcasm. She sighed. “Well, the wood’s there,” she confirmed to no one as she walked back outside.

---

The bright blue sky had transitioned into warm purples and reds as the daylight faded. Jade sighed as she stared overhead on her trail back home. Lewis was right about how the time passed in the valley. She felt like she had so much to do in the day, but there was never enough time to do everything. The young farmer arrived back to her land and sighed in relief. All the carrying really tuckered her out.

She walked up to her plot of crops first to see how they were doing, and to make sure they weren’t eaten in her absence. Oh, good; they were fine... in fact, her parsnips actually looked ripe! “No way!” Jade exclaimed in excitement, quickly kneeling down to examine even further.

One by one, she plucked her group of parsnips. They were all perfect, even the one that had slime on it previous. What a successful first harvest! Jade stashed them alongside the foraged goods of her basket. Only the potatoes were left... hopefully they would grow before the very end of the season.

Mew!

Jade stopped paying attention to her harvest for a brief moment. She tensed from the squeaky call. Another slime?

No, it couldn’t be. Out from the forest trot a creature she could only faintly see in the dark. Jade gasped. “A kitten!”

The young cat was a tiny and thin ball of shadowy fluff. He didn’t have a collar, and he seemed to be limping on one leg... the poor thing couldn’t have been more than a teenager. The farmer sucked in another exasperated breath and rushed over to the tiny creature, though was careful to not startle him. “Hey, little guy,” she murmured with a high-pitched voice. “Where did you come from?”

The cat had stopped when Jade started walking, but then she kneeled down and stretched out her hand. The feline inched forward and sniffed Jade’s hand curiously before rubbing his head into her palm.

“Aw,” she giggled. “I’m glad you like me.” The farmer’s eyes narrowed when she had noticed a slight burn on the cat’s leg. It must have been a slime, considering how similar the singe looked to the one on her knee. “Oh, no... this place really is infested, isn’t it?”

Jade sighed and gently pet the cat. “You know what, I might have some bandages.” She picked it up. Though he squeaked in protest, she took the feline inside and did what she could do to tend to the wound. Afterwards, she set the fluffy black cat back on her front porch, fresh with light medicine and a loose bandage applied to his leg. As a reward, she tossed a couple slices of sandwich meat to him. “In case you’re hungry,” Jade gestured.

The farmer walked back out to her basket, then storing it into a new and well-built bin beside her house for collecting. Robin really did think of everything when building Jade’s house, which she found very convenient. If she stored the goods right, there would be money in her mailbox the next day. Jade subconsciously stared over to the mailbox not a few feet away from the storage bin... she hadn't checked it at all since moving there. Her shoulders tensed... She didn't want to get mail, just in case.

Surveying the area one last time, Jade walked back to her house. The cat was still there and feasting on the slices of meat tossed his way. Jade chuckled, giving the cat one final pet before going inside.
 

Ellajoy

Sodbuster
Chapter 5: Exchanges
Saturday, Spring 27 Y1
Abigail hooks Jade up with some sweet new gear and Robin gets Jade to run an errand.
“You’ve never seen a slime before?” Abigail smirked, entertained by the fact.

Jade and Abigail caught each other in town the day after their meeting in the saloon. The young farmer recalled seeing some leeks and wild horseradishes that could be foraged for selling and brought a basket with her, while Abigail was going to explore the mines that resided within the mountaintop. Since they were going the same way, they decided to travel together.

“That’s what those little bastards are called? How original,” Jade growled, subconsciously rubbing her knee where the slime attacked. “It stung me and tore a hole through my favorite pair of jeans, dammit.” She was sad to be wearing a different pair of jeans, though she was the only one who could tell the difference.

Abigail chuckled. “Which are you more upset about?”

“My skin heals, but my jeans are ripped forever,” Jade pouted.

“Unless you sew it back together, you dummy.”

“I’m a farmer, not a miracle worker,” she whined.

The young adventurer’s chuckle burst into a laugh. “Get someone to fix it, then! You know Haley’s sister?”

“I barely even know Haley, except for her dress size. The sister is completely off my radar.”

“Oh, uh. She’s the woman that helps Gus.”

“.... Gus?” Jade hung her head. Remembering names were difficult for her.

Abigail raised an eyebrow. “Gus is the bartender,” she explained, “and Emily is the blue-haired lady at the bar. She’s Haley’s older sister. Anyways, she sews stuff, maybe you could ask her.”

“There aren’t even 40 people in this town and there’s already too many people,” Jade grumbled. Abigail couldn’t help but laugh.

“You sound like such a recluse,” she teased.

“Remembering people’s names is a hard task!” Jade shouted in retaliation. “I would forget all of your names if it weren’t for the incredibly fashionable hair most of you have.” Abigail could have responded, but nothing she’d say could really prove Jade wrong. She gave an approving nod, instead.

“Speaking of fashion, I like your outfit today,” Jade mentioned. Abigail was wearing a mint bow on the side of her head, a black choker, a blue sleeveless coat, a gray v-neck, and dark jeans and shoes.

“Aww, what about my awesome outfit is really fashionable?” the adventurer gasped in a joking manner.

“It’s fashionable because it’s awesome,” Jade politely repeated, then hummed as he looked ahead of them. “You said you’re going to the mines, right?”

“Yup. Gonna search for some gems, and defeat a slime or two on the way.”

“Oooh, tough. Maybe I should start doing that... I still can’t believe a slime was around my house and nearly absorbed one of my parsnips.” Jade crossed her arms grumpily. She probably wasn’t going to stop talking about it for a while.

Abigail shrugged. “Well, you said you’re in a really old neighborhood, right? Slimes probably moved in around there. Honestly, I’d love to explore the ruins near your place. Don’t be surprised if you hear me shuffle around later.”

“You’re only allowed to if you drag me along,” Jade replied with a nod, “because I really need to explore, too.”

“Haha! It’s a deal,” Abigail beamed. “Oh, speaking of... do you even have a sword?” The two stopped in their paths. The sky was clear, save for a few stray clouds. A serene lake quietly babbled to one side, while a cliff face protruded from their other side. A small dirt road curved in the distance, a huge cave opening on one end and a lonely cabin on the other side of the lake.

Jade shook her head. “No... I used my pickaxe to defeat the slime last night.”

“You need a sword!” shouted Abigail. She seemed not only surprised, but worried. “If huge families of slimes live around you, you’re screwed!”

“Okay, okay! Where can I get a sword, then?” Jade began to sweat out of stress.

Abigail calmed down, and then looked around to make sure no one was nearby. “Okay, I can hook you up. Follow me to the mines,” she began, walking again and ushering Jade to come along.

“Um... is acquiring a sword like drug dealing?” Jade asked. She meant it as a joke, but she was half convinced that it wasn’t.

“It might as well be!” Abigail stressed. “I’m not going to tell you how many times my sword has been confiscated. It’s too much.” They quickly traversed into the mines, which was very dim and damp as most caves were. The rocky walls were a dingy gray, but there were lanterns dispersed about that shed some very gentle light. An old, rickety elevator stood at the far end of the cave. Old, shoddy minecarts adorned some abandoned railways. They looked like they haven’t been used in decades.

“Because my dad hates all joy in the world, I have two swords in case one gets taken. But since we’re friends, I’ll give you my backup sword.” Abigail walked over to a loose formation of rocks, and she moved some of them aside. She brought out a very simple western broadsword, but it still seemed to be cared for and could definitely deal with pesky slimes. “Here it is.”

“Oh, wow...” Jade gasped, covering her mouth with her free hand. “Are you sure I can have it?”

“You need it, dummy!” Abigail practically shoved the sword into Jade’s hands, causing her to drop the basket. The young farmer held the sword awkwardly before adjusting her hands.

“I’ve never fought with swords before,” Jade muttered shyly.

“Here, I’ll tell you how to fight slimes. Use that sharp end, slice them like you would a loaf of bread. Repeatedly. And much harder. There, dead slime. Happy ending.” The adventurer crossed her arms.

Jade laughed. “Well, now that you say it like that.... thanks!” She stashed the sword safely to the side of her backpack so that she could easily retrieve it, then picked her basket back up. “This will help a lot! Maybe I should put fences up at my place, too... That could minimize the terrorizing,” the young farmer stated, thinking out loud.

“You’ll figure it out, Jadey. Well, I’m gonna go... explore... the mines, I guess.” Abigail looked to the elevator of the mines worriedly, though Jade didn’t really seem to notice.

“Have fun and get lots of awesome gems!” Jade waved. “Time for me to go forage. It’s about time I start shipping stuff.”

“You got this,” Abigail grinned to her comically and waved back. Jade noticed a bit of fakeness from the smile, but decided to not comment. Instead, she left with hopes that Abigail was doing alright.


The young farmer took this fantastic opportunity to truly explore the mountains and learn the area. She was eager to see that the wild horseradishes and leeks were still popping out of the ground, and happily collected them. Her collecting was going well, and it got even better when she noticed that nearby bushes even had berries!

“Aw, heck yes!” Jade rushed up to a cluster of bushes behind the carpenter shop. The berries were pink and plush... she hoped they weren’t poisonous. “Huh... can I eat these?” The young farmer picked up bunches of the berries off of their stems, and happily stashed them in her basket alongside the other goods.

She suddenly halted when she heard some nearby rustling. Jade turned her head towards the sound, terrified of another creature... Luckily, just another townsperson... Actually, she’s never seen him before.

There was a man who had walked out of the bushes. The first thing Jade noticed was his lack of shoes, and then his furry tan clothes, and lastly, his incredibly messy gray hair and long beard. The man noticed her as well, but he actually seemed more scared of her than she was of him.

“U-um.... H... hello, I don’t think I’ve seen you before?” Jade shivered, not knowing how to respond. “S-sorry... am I... trespassing?”

His expression morphed into surprise. Why did she seem so nervous? “... I don’t think I’ve seen you, either,” he gently spoke. He glanced at her basket, seeming almost displeased.

“Oh, um... I-I’m the new farmer... My name’s Jade. It’s nice to meet you.” She swiftly bowed to him.

He stood up a little straighter. “I am Linus,” he replied. “... I’m sorry to say, but you are trespassing.” He gestured nearby over to a small yellow tent. Jade couldn’t believe she didn’t notice that before.

“Oh! I’m really sorry!” She felt like a wreck. The last thing Jade wanted was to get into trouble with more townspeople. She noticed he stared to her basket, and took out a bunch of the berries she saw. “U-um... Would you like these as an apology? Though... I can’t say if they’re poisonous, maybe not...”

“Those are salmonberries,” Linus informed her. He didn’t really seem afraid anymore, though he didn’t trust her, either. “They’re not poisonous... quite nutritious, actually.”

“Oh, good! So... you can have these, if you want.” She stretched out her arm while holding the clump of berries. He actually smiled and humbly accepted them.

“Thank you,” he muttered.

“Y-yeah! Sorry for crossing without your permission, um... b-bye now, Linus.” She bowed again and quickly ran off, careful to keep her basket balanced. Linus watched her leave, glanced at the salmonberries gifted to him, and quietly walked back to his tent with a calm smile.


Jade!

The young farmer knew that voice. “Robin!” she beamed, turning to the source of the voice and enthusiastically. Jade was stopped at the bottom of the trail leading up further into the mountains. The carpenter’s shop was right beside her, and Robin was standing in its doorway, waving back.

“C’mere, kid!” Robin shouted to her. Jade complied and ran over to her.

“Hey! How are you doing, Robin?” she kindly asked as she approached.

“Oh, I’m doing just fine, hon. How are you? I haven’t seen you since that mess at the festival the other day. I was worried sick, you know.” Robin huffed, crossing her arms and giving a grumpy, motherly look to Jade.

She sadly smiled. “I was at the saloon with Sebastian and the others yesterday, and told them about making up with Alex and everything. He didn’t tell you?”

Robin gasped. “No, he didn’t! Ugh. That boy, I swear.” Despite the grumpy tone, she grinned back to Jade. The carpenter felt relieved to know Jade was able to hang out with others. “So, you’re making friends? You’re doing well?”

“Yeah,” Jade replied shyly. She averted her eyes, but she seemed happy. “I’m still adjusting to the town, but everyone’s been extremely nice. Sebastian kicked my ass in pool like five times.”

Robin laughed. “Oh what, you can’t win against him? Then I’m afraid I have some bad news if you play with me,” she winked.

“Somehow, I fail to be surprised,” Jade chuckled in response. “You seem to have a real competitive spirit.”

“Don’t even mention that to Demetrius, he will go on a huge spiel about it... Oh! I got lost in my thoughts. There was actually a reason I called you over.” She grinned.

“I’ll do anything for the builder of my lovely house,” Jade elegantly mentioned. “What can I do?”

“I love your spunk, kid. I wanted to ask if you could go run an errand for me. Do you know where Marnie’s ranch is? I would go myself, but I have some furniture orders to finish before the end of the day.”

“Uh... Can’t say I have,” Jade admitted, all confidence sapped from her voice.

Robin responded with a motherly sigh, though her expression was still cheerful enough. “I’m sure you’ve seen it. You know how you walk to town? Her ranch is on the way.”

“Wait.” Jade mildly interrupted to pull out her map, then searched for the location. “... Oh, that’s the ranch? I know where it is!” she beamed proudly, as if she didn’t need the map to help her. Jade casually folded and stored the map back in its appropriate place on her backpack.

Robin chuckled. “Great. Marnie ordered some more wood to fix her fences, and I was wondering if you could go take it to her. She already paid, so don’t worry about that.” Robin pointed out to a short but sturdy wheelbarrow loaded with a significant stack of wood. It seemed... heavy. Jade seemed unsure, but Robin snorted in response. “Don’t worry, it’s not as heavy as it seems. And you’ll be going downhill a lot, anyway.”

“Hmmmmm... I dunno...” Jade innocently looked away.

“Aww, please?” Robin clapped her hands together and stared to Jade with dilated pupils.

“How about we make this favor into an exchange?” Jade’s eyes met back with Robin’s, sparkling with a mischievousness that the carpenter was all too familiar with.

“Oh, boy. What do you want?” Robin smirked.

“My farm got attacked by a slime last night, and I think I need some wooden fences around my area.”

Robin went from curious to enlightened. Her eyes glittered with excitement. “Wait, this is an exchange? Sounds like you’re giving me an early birthday gift!” She cackled.

“Well, what do you say, then?” Jade smiled.

“I say absolutely yes. You don’t even have to pay, since you’ve been so sweet. And I admire a person with passion.” Robin nodded and examined her. “We need more people like you in town.”

“Wait, you say I’m sweet even after the whole thing at the festival?” Jade looked shocked.

“Jade, I will tell you a secret.” The red-haired woman sighed proudly. “I love scraps of all kinds. Be it extra wood, leftover food, or straight up punching someone.”

The young farmer laughed. “You’re terrible!”

Robin laughed too. “I’m just kidding, but really... if anyone has a huge problem with you because of a misunderstanding, they’ll have to go through me, first. You’re a good kid.”

Jade hung her head, but sported a shy smile on her face. “Aww...”

“Hey, I mean it too.” Robin pat the young farmer’s head. “You know how boring this town was before we got a new farmer? I think you’re the life this area needs, not only economically but for the townspeople... And maybe you’ll make my son go outside more, knowing you’re friends with him.”

“I wouldn't say friends... Oh, why not make him work on the fence with you?” Jade joked.

“That’s a great idea! I will make him take a day off. Do you want to see Sebby more? I could have him visit you,” Robin excitedly mentioned, nodding with confidence.

Jade's face blanked, then she shyly laughed. “I was just joking, I didn’t actually mean it... Are you forcing your son on me?”

Robin placed her hands on her hips, but didn’t answer the question. “Don’t toy with my fragile heart like this, Jade. Fence or no fence?”

“I would really like a fence,” she muttered.

“Then leave it to me!” Robin grinned. “But first, the favor.”

Jade looked back over to the wagon. “Oh, yeah. Of course! I’ll go do that now.” The farmer stepped over to the wheelbarrow and grabbed its extended handle. “Anything else you want me to do?” she asked.

“Nothing for now, but if I think of anything, I’ll let you know. You’re a lifesaver, hon!” Robin happily waved her off. Jade smiled and left, pulling a wheelbarrow with one of her hands while carrying her full basket with the other hand.

---

Jade passed more unfamiliar faces on her way to Marnie’s ranch. Her skin shivered and her arms shook, terrified of what they thought of her, and what they were thinking while passing by... The young farmer inhaled deeply and straightened her posture, attempting her very best to walk with utmost pride. It shouldn’t matter what they think. Just a misunderstanding, like what Robin said. She had people like Robin by her side, to begin with. She would be fine.

Fortunately, Jade found the ranch without any sort of trouble. She lightly knocked on the door, but there was no answer. She opened the door to see no one behind the counter. Huh. The young farmer left the wheelbarrow full of lumber near the doorway before walking inside. “Um... hello?” she murmured weakly.

She stood at the front counter; it took up about half of the area, making the room feel much smaller than it actually was. The walls appeared old, but homely. Jade noticed two hallways, one going to a kitchen, while the other went to a living room. She saw one door left ajar, with...

Was that a girl? Jade squinted in an attempt to see better. A young, tan little girl stood at the slightly opened door. She had very dark, fluffy hair, large eyes, and an adorable purple dress. Her hand clutched to the doorway tightly as she stared at Jade in an almost alien-like way.

“... Hello there,” waved Jade.

“Aunt Marnie is busy, she said.” The girl’s voice was somewhat monotone, and very serious. Jade was worried that she was scaring her.

“Oh, where is she?” Jade asked.

“She brought her friend... I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.”

“Oh, I see... Um... Well, my name is Jade, and I’m the new farmer here. It’s nice to meet you,” she smiled. “I brought some lumber for Marnie... can you tell her that it’s waiting for her?”

The girl was quiet.

“... Um... What’s your name?” Jade awkwardly asked.

The girl took a step back into her room, and then slammed the door shut.

“That went well,” Jade remarked with sarcasm. She sighed. “Well, the wood’s there,” she confirmed to no one as she walked back outside.

---

The bright blue sky had transitioned into warm purples and reds as the daylight faded. Jade sighed as she stared overhead on her trail back home. Lewis was right about how the time passed in the valley. She felt like she had so much to do in the day, but there was never enough time to do everything. The young farmer arrived back to her land and sighed in relief. All the carrying really tuckered her out.

She walked up to her plot of crops first to see how they were doing, and to make sure they weren’t eaten in her absence. Oh, good; they were fine... in fact, her parsnips actually looked ripe! “No way!” Jade exclaimed in excitement, quickly kneeling down to examine even further.

One by one, she plucked her group of parsnips. They were all perfect, even the one that had slime on it previous. What a successful first harvest! Jade stashed them alongside the foraged goods of her basket. Only the potatoes were left... hopefully they would grow before the very end of the season.

Mew!

Jade stopped paying attention to her harvest for a brief moment. She tensed from the squeaky call. Another slime?

No, it couldn’t be. Out from the forest trot a creature she could only faintly see in the dark. Jade gasped. “A kitten!”

The young cat was a tiny and thin ball of shadowy fluff. He didn’t have a collar, and he seemed to be limping on one leg... the poor thing couldn’t have been more than a teenager. The farmer sucked in another exasperated breath and rushed over to the tiny creature, though was careful to not startle him. “Hey, little guy,” she murmured with a high-pitched voice. “Where did you come from?”

The cat had stopped when Jade started walking, but then she kneeled down and stretched out her hand. The feline inched forward and sniffed Jade’s hand curiously before rubbing his head into her palm.

“Aw,” she giggled. “I’m glad you like me.” The farmer’s eyes narrowed when she had noticed a slight burn on the cat’s leg. It must have been a slime, considering how similar the singe looked to the one on her knee. “Oh, no... this place really is infested, isn’t it?”

Jade sighed and gently pet the cat. “You know what, I might have some bandages.” She picked it up. Though he squeaked in protest, she took the feline inside and did what she could do to tend to the wound. Afterwards, she set the fluffy black cat back on her front porch, fresh with light medicine and a loose bandage applied to his leg. As a reward, she tossed a couple slices of sandwich meat to him. “In case you’re hungry,” Jade gestured.

The farmer walked back out to her basket, then storing it into a new and well-built bin beside her house for collecting. Robin really did think of everything when building Jade’s house, which she found very convenient. If she stored the goods right, there would be money in her mailbox the next day. Jade subconsciously stared over to the mailbox not a few feet away from the storage bin... she hadn't checked it at all since moving there. Her shoulders tensed... She didn't want to get mail, just in case.

Surveying the area one last time, Jade walked back to her house. The cat was still there and feasting on the slices of meat tossed his way. Jade chuckled, giving the cat one final pet before going inside.
You should have her on the game suggones broads
 

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 6: Playdate
Sunday, Spring 28 Y1
Robin goats Sebastian into spending the day with Jade in an attempt to get him out of the house.

Jade earned a nice little collection of money for her crops and foraging the previous day, but she found that she spent most of it... on pet supplies. The fluffy black feline was still on her porch the next morning, claiming the cushioned swing as his own. The bandage was groomed off of his leg already, but the wound appeared to be in much better shape. Jade decided that their meeting was fate, and she immediately claimed him as her new pet and friend. After retrieving her new money, she took off towards Pierre’s for cat food, bowls, and what she could only describe as “the most precious red collar in existence!” The cat’s name would be Onyx, a play on his charcoal fur color... but his name should have been Prince, because that was how his new owner would treat him.

Today, Jade wanted to spend the day by herself. Her potatoes had grown large enough for her to uproot and then ship, though she kept a couple for some home-made meals. She finally finished unpacking everything and decorated the house to her taste: paintings she made on the walls, bookshelves full of apocalypse novels and comics of varying genres, proud plushie collection, the works. After surveying her house, she laughed; her home showed her age, or at least her favorite memories. “This looks more like a college dorm than anything,” she snorted to herself. The room design wasn’t bad though, and she was excited to eventually bring people over. Well, if she could work up the courage, that is.

The young farmer transformed the smallest room on the second floor into her own gaming cave as well; it was complete with a desktop computer, a small television, retro consoles, colorful posters, and the ever-so popular beanbag chairs. While the room wasn’t that large, it was still open enough to have comfortable space between the television, game systems, and the chairs. One side of the room had two large windows with a view of the farmland, and the corner of the opposite wall was perfect for the computer and desk that accompanied it.

Jade only needed one more box to unpack to be officially moved in... the box was very small, but heavy. Jade sat in the middle of her gaming room, staring down to the very last package before her. Without much thought, she opened it and began rummaging inside. It was a collection of wires, an extra power strip, a few controllers designed for her computer, and...

A phone. Jade forgot she had a phone, or rather, she wanted to forget. It was an ancient flip phone that wasn’t larger than the farmer’s palm. Its case was dented, the screen was cracked, and one of the buttons on the keypad was missing. She picked up the phone and examined it, though she shivered. The battery was ripped out of the back, as it should have been. Her hands began to sweat. No. She chucked the phone into the nearest trash can. She didn’t have to worry, she knew she wouldn’t. Jade stored the extra wires and objects for wherever they needed to go, then tossed the very last empty box into the attic.

The rest of the day was Jade’s now. Now that her home was complete and there was no farming she could do for the day, winding down was something she felt she needed. Her muscles were sore, it was getting hot outside, and she didn’t feel like showing her face more than once in town for the day. Jade walked back to her newly finished gaming cave and scanned the room. She hadn’t played any video games in what felt like ages... maybe she would finally get the chance.

Bam! Bam! “Hellooo!”

Robin? What was she doing here? Jade peered out from one of the nearest windows in the room, then opened it to get a better look. “Good afternoon, Robin!” she shouted cheerfully. “What are you doing here? I was gonna be a hermit today.”

“What do you mean ‘what are you doing here’? I’m makin’ you that fence!” Robin crossed her arms and tapped her foot.

Oh yeah! Jade already forgot about their favor exchanges. “Hold on!” She shut the window, traveled downstairs, and then opened the front door. Robin stood there and grinned in greeting. The farmer noticed an old truck filled with lumber near the entrance to the field... Oh, no. Sebastian was there, leaning on the side of the truck and smoking a cigarette.

“You brought Sebastian? I was joking about yesterday!” gasped Jade.

“He’s my helper today,” Robin chuckled, then flailed her wrist of dismissal. “It’s fine, it’s fine. Business is slow for him, and I need to get him out before he holds himself up in his room all summer.”

The farmer huffed. “As long as he doesn’t blame this on me, I’ll be fine. What are your plans?”

Robin examined the perimeter of the farm. “Well, I’ll just cover the whole area, and make sure the fences are nice and low so the slimes can’t squeeze under them. You don’t have to worry about any other curious predators, either. Sound good?”

“It sounds perfect.” Jade smiled. “Do you want me to help?”

The carpenter shook her head. “No, hon. Have your day off! Sebby helps carry the wood, but really he doesn’t even do the main job. The fun part goes to me,” she grinned, then looked to Sebastian. Her eager look shifted into irritation. “Ugh. I hate it when that boy smokes. Sebby!” Robin yelled.

“What?” Sebastian shouted from the distance, finishing his cigarette.

Get over here!

The raven-haired man sighed and flicked the bud of his cigarette away before walking over. As he approached the porch, Jade noticed how tired he looked... there were circles under his eyes and he was hunched. He even rubbed his eyes as he stepped forward... he must have not slept very well.

“Sebby, you didn’t even say hi! And now you smell,” the carpenter grumbled.

Sebastian ignored the latter half of Robin’s comment. “Hey,” he said to Jade.

The farmer calmly smiled. “Hi, Sebastian. Helping your mom today, huh?” She spoke in a soft voice.

“She hardly gave me a choice,” he replied. Robin playfully shoved him, which made him smirk a little. “What? You begged me to come with you today.”

“I do not beg!” Robin replied with a huff.

“Yes you do,” Sebastian quickly replied.

"Yep, gonna have to agree with him," Jade added. They looked at each other with smirks; Jade snorted in response.

“Wha- Jade, not you, too!” Robin clapped both of her hands on the sides of her face.

“Robin, you begged me to run the errand for you yesterday.” The farmer giggled.

“You wouldn’t stop knocking on my door until I said yes,” Sebastian yawned.

“Those hardly count,” the carpenter scoffed. “Well, I’m starting my project now. Both of you run along.” She shooed them off with her hands, then walked herself off the porch towards her truck.

“Wait, why did you make me come?” The amusement vanished from the son’s face. He narrowed his eyes towards his mother, who was still walking away in a nonchalant manner.

“You helped me load the truck!” she shouted back, not even looking in their direction anymore.

“I didn’t have to be here for that!” he yelled in return, one of his eyebrows twitching.

Robin hummed and approached the door of her truck. “Ohhh well!” she concluded, then opened the door and climbed inside. She started the vehicle and slowly drove it over to the edge of the farmland to begin work.

Sebastian sighed with irritation, then glanced at Jade. He suddenly looked away, embarrassed. “... Sorry,” he muttered.

The farmer laughed. “No, I didn’t take it that way, don’t worry. If I don’t have to go somewhere, I normally don’t.”

He seemed to relax. “Yeah.”

Jade smiled. “Well, are you planning to head out? You can stay if you want. I finished unpacking everything, and to celebrate I was going to chill and play some games.”

Sebastian’s eyes slightly widened from the mention of games. “Games?” he asked, though not looking at her. It seemed as if he tried to stay calm.

“Mmhm. I can’t afford anything new and fancy, but I take great care of my retro consoles!” The farmer gave herself a proud nod. “I grew up on video games, really.”

“... What kind of games do you play?” he asked, allowing himself to look at her this time. He seemed to wake up from the mention.

Jade giggled. “All kinds! I don’t really have a favorite...” She crossed her arms and stared upwards as she tried to think. “I get into different moods. For a long time, I liked platformers and adventure games... I’ve been itching for an RPG lately, though.”

Sebastian had fully turned to her, eyes fully focused on her. “Yeah?” He took a step back and rubbed one of his arms when he realized he was acting too interested. “Uh... what about a genre?” he asked.

“Horror!” Jade beamed. “But I like all kinds of games, like I said... And I don’t have many horror games to begin with,” her cheerful tone lowered into a disappointed mumble.

“Have you played Void of Space?” he asked again. “Sci-fi horror... and it does have some RPG elements,” the young adult murmured.

“That’s what I was thinking of playing!” The farmer grinned. “That’s one of my favorite games, actually.”

Sebastian could no longer conceal his excitement. He made a large, genuine smile. “Mine too,” he replied. “But Solarion Chronicles is more up my alley.”

“I’ve always wanted to play that game, but I’ve never really tried tabletops before... And I never had enough people to play it with,” Jade sighed, but with a smile. Her eyes diverted to see Robin; she was setting up the fence posts, but was also staring over at them.

“Well, Sam and I- ...” Sebastian noticed Jade’s staring and turned to see as well. The son’s face drooped, mouth formed into a scowl. Robin quickly turned her head back and continued to work as if nothing happened. “Mother...” he growled, tensing his shoulders.

Jade chuckled. “Want to come inside? We could play some games if you want,” she suggested.

“Do you mind?” Sebastian asked almost shyly. His attention quickly went back to Jade.

“I wouldn’t have offered if I did! Come on, let’s get out of Robin’s sight anyway. She’s very...” Jade made a hand gesture, unsure how to properly explain.

“I know,” he breathed tiredly. The farmer opened her front door and walked in, Sebastian following behind. “She did this when I first met Sam, too...” He sighed. “If it’s any consolation, it means she really likes you.”

“Aw, it means a lot. Robin’s a sweet lady.” Jade closed the front door, so Robin could no longer see or try to read their mouths. The carpenter wasn’t all too pleased to be unable to eavesdrop on them, but she returned to work with higher spirits.


Jade was both excited and terrified to have someone over at her house. She was done unpacking everything, but never thought that she would have a guest over so soon. Her nerves seemed to calm down when she noticed Sebastian’s interest; he nodded to her collections of books and movies, and his face brightened to see the stacks of video games upstairs. “You have consoles with the cartridges? I didn’t think you’d have that kind of retro... these look brand new!” He eagerly dropped to his knees to better examine the game collection in its cabinet, Jade kneeling beside him.

“Yeah! My dad was a big collector. He kept these in the attic for ages before he finally caved and let me have them. They all still work, too. Check this out,” Jade began, taking out a clear cased cartridge from the shelf. It was bright red and in perfect condition, the art on the front containing the title ‘MOONBOUND’. “This was my dad’s favorite out of his whole collection. He had me promise to never sell it... As if I would.”

Sebastian gasped and stared in shock. “Holy... is that an original copy?!” Jade handed it to him to let him examine, which he did with eagerness. “And the red edition?! There are only thirty of these known to exist! How the hell did your dad get a hold of this??”

Jade laughed. “Random garage sale,” she told him. Sebastian scoffed and carefully handed the game back to her.

“Figures.” Sebastian watched her put the game back on the shelf, and then he continued to scan the game titles. “I’d kill for his luck."

Together, they reminisced about their favorite childhood games as they attempted to pick out a favorite game to play. With all the choices they had though, it was difficult. Being unable to play a game due to too many choices is a first-world problem that Sebastian experienced often. Though, whenever he bought something and the family knew, it meant another snide remark from Demetrius, which meant another argument and another evening full of uncomfortable silence within the carpenter shop. Sebastian scowled as he thought of the potential trouble with his step-father, but looked to Jade confusedly when she had nudged his elbow. “Hm?”

“Void of Space has co-op you know,” the farmer suggested while holding up a case with the same title. “How about it?”

“Oh. Sure,” he replied without much thought. Jade happily complied and put the game in its appropriate console. She tossed one of the game controllers to him before plopping in a nearby beanbag chair. The farmer playfully pat the other beanbag chair for him to sit, which he calmly did. At first, Sebastian felt awkward to be in a house that wasn’t his or Sam’s, but he grew increasingly comfortable as they played the game. He forgot to even consider their level of friendship when Jade began to point out easter eggs within the gameplay, and he began to spout his own bits of knowledge as well.

One interesting thing that Jade learned about Sebastian was that, when she could get him to talk about something he was interested in, he could go on about it for a while. They ended up gaming for hours and talking as they did so. Discussions of the game they were playing turned into discussions of other games, which then morphed into proposals about fan theories. Sebastian was well-versed in everything involving his favorite titles, be it video game, book, or movie... Jade found it a very charming habit of his. However, when he noticed he was talking more than Jade , he would suddenly go quiet and stop himself. Whenever they were waiting for their game to load, he would withdraw from their current conversation and shyly text on his phone.

“Why do you do that?” Jade curiously asked him as he put his phone away. The game finished loading and they continued to play.

“Why do I do what?” Sebastian asked in return.

“You get all excited, and then you just stop talking and apologize. You shouldn’t be sorry, you know. I haven’t been able to discuss games like this in ages!” Her eyes sparkled with such fascination.

Sebastian was genuinely surprised to hear that. He glanced to Jade, but brought his attention quickly back to the game. Her stare was... intimidating for him. “I was talking too much. You weren’t really... saying anything, after a certain point. Sorry.” He scratched his neck and tried his best to watch the game.

“You did it again!” Jade chuckled. “I was quiet because I was listening, and I’ve never heard you talk so much before. People are so busy all the time, so... I like having a long talk with somebody, even if it’s just video game theories.”

The raven-haired man lifted an eyebrow. “Really?” he asked. “Hearing a theory about Dreadlord Oxodius of all things?”

The farmer giggled and nodded. “Yeah, that was really cool! I never heard a good explanation about him.”

Sebastian didn’t really know how to respond. His face intensified in color, and he seemed somewhat flustered. “Oh... I didn’t really expect you to be that interested.”

“Why not?” Jade tilted her head and looked to him, no longer paying attention to their game.

“... Because no one is,” he murmured.

Jade paused the game and turned to her side in the chair, so she could face Sebastian better. “Well, I think you have a lot of really interesting things to say. You’re really smart, Sebastian!”

He huffed and stared to the wall straight across from him. “You say that, but then you’ll hear about my ‘prodigy’ of a half-sister,” he grumbled.

“Honestly, I don’t really care what she’s up to if she’s not talking about stuff like this,” Jade responded with a shrug. “And I don’t think you’re any less intelligent.”

Sebastian didn’t reply, but he had obviously heard what she said. He shifted in his seat and looked away from her, face slowly heating up. His attention caught onto her computer and desk at the far end of the room. “You have a computer?” he inquired.

Jade brought her gaze to her computer as well. “Yup, mostly for games and stuff.”

“You don’t have internet connection yet,” he muttered.

The farmer blinked and looked back to him. “I don’t. How do you know that?”

“I’m the one that sets it up for people in town. Do you want to have connection? It’s not expensive.” Sebastian finally looked at her. He seemed calm again, but Jade’s expression twisted into worry.

“Um... Internet? Connection?” She hesitated.

“... You can just say no,” he mumbled.

“N-no! I mean yes! I...” Jade sighed. “I would really love to have internet, but... I wasn’t really... planning on having a connection this time around. I’m...” She hung her head, trying to figure out how to word herself. “You’re pretty savvy with this stuff, right? Since you’re a programmer, you understand computers and internet and stuff?”

“Uh... It varies, but I’d like to think so.” Sebastian didn’t seem to follow what she was saying, or why she was acting strange.

Jade glanced both left and right before nervously staring at him. “It’s not possible for people to track computers or anything, right?”

Sebastian lifted an eyebrow. “That’s pretty specific,” he pointed out.

Jade’s eyes widened in realization. “Ugh. That is super shady sounding, I’m sorry,” she laughed nervously. “I just have a bad history with being, um, on the grid, I guess... So I thought I’d avoid it altogether here.”

“How so?” he asked.

Jade sighed, then scanned around the room before dropping her sight to the floor. “Keep a secret?” she asked him.

Sebastian shrugged. “Sure.”

“Back where I used to live, I had a...” Jade struggled to speak. “A... stalker.” It didn’t sound as ridiculous as she thought it would at first. Sebastian watched her, but didn’t express anything other than the fact that he was listening. The farmer calmed down, took a deep breath, and then continued: “Knew where I was at every moment and would stalk me online, too... I used to have a phone, but even if I changed the number, eventually they would be on the other end. It’s made me pretty... paranoid, admittedly.” She laced her fingers together and twiddled her thumbs, staring at her feet. “I mean, that’s not why I moved here or anything. Nothing like that. But... well, it did get pretty bad. I can’t lie. Sorry.”

Sebastian sighed as he pondered about his response. “I don’t think you need to worry.” He stood up from his chair and walked over to the computer to better examine it. “As long as you don’t use any old usernames or anything you’ve had, you’ll be fine. As far as tracking you, I don’t think it’s something so simple... Especially since you live so far away, now.” He turned to Jade, hands in his pockets. “So you want internet, then?”

The farmer’s eyes brightened. “Would you do that? It’d be fine?” She stood up from her chair and hugged her chest as she stared at him.

The raven-haired man nodded. “I’d have to go back home and get the set up, so it’d be tomorrow, but.. Yeah.”

Jade grinned and eagerly went up to him with open arms. “Thank you!” she exclaimed, wrapping her arms around him in an embrace. The intention was friendly, but Sebastian instantly tensed and froze. His arms were up in the air, and he couldn’t move. The last person that Jade was this close to was Alex... the height difference was incredible, with Alex dwarfing Jade in height. In contrast, Sebastian only seemed to be a few inches taller than her. They were nearly face-to-face with each other, but that only made the situation even worse for Sebastian. She quickly realized what she had done and released her hold, taking a step back. He stared into the distance with shock, as if he were a deer caught in the headlights... whoops. Jade’s face flushed with both worry and embarrassment. “O-oh, sorry! I, um. You don’t like people... getting close. That was my mistake.”

Sebastian didn’t reply, making her feel even worse. He put his arms down as she let go, at least. And he was breathing, or at least, she thought he was... hopefully?

BAM! BAM!

Both Jade and Sebastian flinched from the sudden noise. There was the creak of the front door. “You here, hon?” called Robin.

“O-oh! Um! Yeah! I’m... here! C-coming!” Jade glanced to the room’s door, then back at Sebastian, who rubbed his ears from the noise. “H-hey, I really am sorry. Uh. I mean, I know it’s just a hug, but... Sorry.” She buried her face in her hands as she quickly walked away, completely flustered and ruined. It was better to get out of there and give Sebastian some space.

Robin waved to Jade as she almost tripped down the stairs before hastily catching herself. “Whoa, what’s gotten into you, clumsy?” She chuckled a bit at her own tease and crossed her arms. “You doing okay?”

“I’m fine!” Jade yelled. Though it was an interesting strategy, yelling louder did not necessarily increase the truth in what she was exclaiming. Robin saw right through the lie and noticed the nervous sweat and rosy cheeks on Jade’s face. The farmer knew that Robin didn’t believe her. Jade would make all these efforts to be friendly, but every action ends up backfiring in some way. Punching a large guy’s face, hugging a reclusive guy’s torso. Both painful and incredibly awkward for at least one of the people involved, if not both. Jade’s simple impulses led her down a path of carelessness; complete destruction, in her eyes.

Robin couldn’t help but find Jade’s expression of horror entertaining, but also worrying. “What’s up with you? You look like you’ve seen the end of the world,” she inquired in an attempt to be sensitive.

“I might as well have,” Jade whispered in woe. Sebastian walked downstairs, hands back in his pockets and hair flopped over his face. Robin just had to glance at him to put the entire situation together. Now she was really entertained.

“I’m surprised you’re still here, Sebby,” the carpenter grinned. “I was just about to let Jade here know that I finished half the fences. The other half will be completed tomorrow!” Robin gave a friendly pat to Jade’s shoulder as Sebastian stopped to be with them. He didn’t look as frozen as he did before, but Jade noticed that he refused to look her in the eye.

“You got that much done that fast?” Jade asked, trying her very best to focus on Robin.

The carpenter nodded. “Yep, work day’s over.” That’s when Jade noticed that it was dark outside. She peered behind Robin to look through the opened door; the sun slowly vanished behind faraway trees. Time passed that quickly?

“Wow,” Jade murmured. She had nothing else to say.

“So what have you two been up to?” Robin asked with cheer in her voice. Both Jade and Sebastian glared at her. She was too nosy for her own good.

“Video games,” Sebastian quickly stated.

Robin grinned. “Games, huh? So what did you do?”

“Nothing. I'll get the truck running,” Sebastian mumbled to his mother.

Robin laughed and ruffled both of their heads. "No, don't worry about it! I'll do it," she beamed before walking out.

They were alone again, but it was Sebastian’s choice this time. Jade still felt incredibly guilty about invading his space, but at least he was more relaxed. He saw how nervous she was, and sighed. “... It’s really not that big of a deal,” he muttered, fixing his hair.

Oh, thank heavens. Jade made an incredible sigh of relief. “I’m glad, I was just so worried because of how you responded and all.”

He decided to ignore that, but looked away from her again. “Thanks for letting me stay.”

“Thanks for coming, I had a lot of fun.” Jade smiled. She felt much better since Sebastian was talking to her.

“Me too...” He smirked. “Why do you do that?”

“What? Why do I do what?” Jade stared at him, confused.

“You freak out about everything. You shouldn’t freak out, you know,” Sebastian mocked, a mischievous grin forming on his face.

“Well-” Jade suddenly stopped herself, realizing he was copying her earlier dialogue. She laughed and then began to shove him to the front door. “Get out of my house before I give you a shiner.”

Sebastian was able to laugh too. He started walking without her aid, then giving her a wave. “Bye,” he said.

The farmer’s smile widened as he left. She was completely relaxed then. “Have a good night!” Jade waved back to him with utmost enthusiasm. Robin started her truck and drove slightly over to Sebastian so that he could climb in without needing to walk further. Together, they left the premises of the farm. Jade walked onto the porch to watch them leave, another sigh of relief escaping her throat. Her new fluffy companion meowed in greeting and rubbed Jade’s leg with his tail before trotting inside. Jade was quiet as the farm revealed its nighttime sounds and scents.

Jade didn’t really have the day to herself after all, but it was a good day regardless.
 
Last edited:

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
Chapter 7: Beginning of Summer
Monday, Summer 1 Y1
Jade meets some townspeople and grows worried about her presence in town.

The first day of Summer was here and everyone could feel it. The trees of the forest seemed to glow in the beaming sunlight, as the clouds were scarce. Birds chattered about, forest rodents scampered to and fro, and mosquitoes buzzed about to all of the townspeople’s dismay. The heat was becoming unbearable even though the season had only just started. This summer would feel longer than most summers, that was certain.

As promised, Robin returned to complete the fencing on Jade’s farm. Sebastian was there too, but he actually had a job to do this time. Jade trusted him to set up the network connection in the house while Robin hammered away on the fence construction. The start of the new season meant new seeds in stock from Pierre’s, so Jade’s day would also be busy. Luckily, the pay from her last potato harvest granted her enough to invest in more crops. More profit was on the horizon!

Jade had eaten all the cookies from Alex’s grandmother by then, so she cleaned the plate and decided to return it when she took her trip in town. Looking at her map, she was able to locate Alex’s house and went there on her way up towards the grocery shop. The home was a decent sized compared to other houses in the neighborhood, but was still humble in appearance. The wood of the home was painted blue, but years of wear and tear have caused the paint to chip off. A wood carving of an owl was mounted above the attic’s window and surveyed the horizon. Near the sidewalk to the town square was the home’s mailbox, ‘MULLNER’ painted on its side. In front of the house was a closed wooden fence with a doghouse inside; a messy sign with ‘DOG’ painted in red letters was on the front. A flowing river pierced through the midst of the neighborhood, a trailer separating the home from the river itself... though the yard was messy and full of litter. The farmer approached the house’s front door and knocked on it while examining the area.

A tiny old lady opened the door, calmly smiling to Jade. “Hello there, dear,” she started with a gentle and cheerful expression. She was very short, had gray hair tied up in a bun, and a red button shawl over her blue dress.

“H-hello,” Jade began nervously. The old lady seemed nice, yes, but... “Um, I’m Jade.... f-from the new farm? I, uh...”

“Jade,” repeated the old woman, smacking her lips in thought. “Mmm... Oh, you are the girl from the Flower Dance,” she wheezed in laughter.

“Y-yeah!! I’m... I’m really sorry for that incident, still! I think about it pretty much every day...” Jade sighed.

The old lady chuckled again. “Alex is a strong young man, and we all forgive you. You seem like a sweet girl, from what he has told us... I’m Evelyn, but please call me Granny.”

“It’s wonderful to finally meet you, Granny!” Jade gave Evelyn a welcoming hug. “I-I can’t stay for long, because I need to get back to my farm, but I just wanted to thank you for the cookies. They were absolutely delicious. Here’s... here’s your plate.” Jade offered the plate back. “I’ll give back eventually, I-I just really need to get my farm started first... do you like fresh produce?”

“Oh, thank you very much.” Evelyn kindly accepted the plate and warmly gazed to the farmer. “You liking my baking is enough, dear. They’re my special cookies. Don’t you worry about us.”

Jade smiled, but this woman was just too sweet... she couldn’t help but still feel guilt in the back of her heart. “Thank you anyway, Granny... how is Alex doing? Has his eye healed up?”

A door opened from the far end of the house. “Who ya talking to, Gran?” asked Alex from a distance. Jade was able to see him as he walked up to the doorway to join them. Though she was concerned about his eye, she couldn’t really pay attention to it. Jade was distracted by his shirtlessness, made only worse by the sweat that adorned his body due to a workout session. The farmer tensed and sharply stared to Evelyn to avoid examining any further. Alex grinned upon seeing Jade and sent a friendly wave. “It’s the farm girl! How’re you doing, Jade?”

“I-I’m fine! H-hey!” she yelled. “H-h-how’s your eye? Good?” She forced herself to stare at his face, but was able to calm down once she did. His eye seemed to have healed up very well; it was still somewhat puffy, but not really noticeable for the most part.

“Yeah, it’s pretty much healed up. Fast healer, like I told you!” Alex grunted as he flexed his arms, causing Jade to instantly drop her sight back to Evelyn. Her hands were shaking and she began to sweat, herself.

“Th-that’s good... U-um, I must go now. Farm... stuff.”

Evelyn frowned when she noticed the young lady shiver before her. “Aw, please take care of yourself, okay, dear? If you’re shivering in this weather, you might be getting a cold. George’s health tends to change around this time, as well.”

“I-I’m fine... t-tell George I said hi as well?” Jade gestured to Evelyn. She chuckled and nodded.

“Seeya, farm girl.” Alex grinned to her. Jade swiftly left the premises and head straight for Pierre’s store. He laughed as she left, then stepping back to let Evelyn walk back inside.

“What a nice girl,” Evelyn sighed happily as she shuffled back inside. Alex closed the door for her. “It’s hard for me to believe she has such a fire about her.”

“Yeah,” the young athlete replied, helping his grandmother get to wherever she wished to go. “Jade’s pretty weird from what I’ve seen,” Alex stated with a laugh.


Jade had been to Pierre’s shop once before to buy pet supplies and she had met the owner at the Flower Dance, but she had a strange feeling whenever she entered the shop. Pierre was more than eager to welcome her inside and to browse his selection of items, but she felt like he was glaring her down whenever she wasn’t looking. He verbally welcomed her, but... she didn’t feel very welcome.

Abigail emerged from a door near the back of the shop, gave a friendly greeting to Jade, then walked out without giving her father any attention. Jade then walked up to Pierre and paid him for the seeds. There was a kind and professional look on his face, but she heard him mumble something under his breath as she was leaving. She wasn't sure what she heard, but she tried to not wonder about it too much. Instead, Jade quietly exit the shop with a backpack full of seed packets.

The farmer began her walk through the town square. She was growing accustomed to her backpack’s weight with all the tools, but her head still drooped and she stared at the ground as she walked. Jade sighed to herself, watching the trail of the sidewalk to take the correct path home. She would always have to pass two houses on this street in order to get home, but she wasn’t sure who they belonged to.

“Hey!”

Jade lifted her head, assuming the call was to her. Straight ahead from the sidewalk stood Sam, a frail red-head lady, a young boy, and the young girl she saw only a few days ago. They were standing right beside another blue house, just before the entrance to Cindersap Forest. Sam was looking directly at Jade and waved her over. “C’mere!”

Jade quickened her pace to join them. “Good morning, Sam,” she greeted back with a tired smile. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing great! Have you met my good friend Penny?” Sam gestured to the young lady beside him... the farmer found herself fairly short, but Penny seemed to be much shorter in comparison. Her red hair was curled up the sides and back of her neck, and her emerald green eyes nervously averted away from Jade’s direction. She wore a yellow blouse, an airy brown skirt, and pink tennis shoes with white socks. “Penny, this is the new farmer in town, she’s great!”

“U-um... H... Hello,” Penny nervously bowed her head to Jade. She was just as nervous if not even more nervous than the farmer before her. For some reason, Jade was able to react in a calmer manner.

“Hi,” Jade replied with a smile. “It’s very nice to meet you.”

The little boy hopped up in front of Sam and Penny. “Introduce me, introduce me!” He had strawberry blond hair that was short and spiky similar to his own brother’s, just without the hair gel. He wore a red shirt with thin yellow stripes, blue swimming shorts, and sandals that would be easy to take off once going to the beach. He had such an eager look on his face, too.

“Oh.” Sam laughed. “This is my little brother, Vincent. Penny teaches him and Jas all year, but they get a break in the summertime. We’re going to the beach to just relax and have some fun!”

Jade smiled and pat Vincent on the head. “Hi, Vincent!” She was much better with children than she was with adults.

“Hello, miss!” Vincent grinned to her. Jade stood up fully to look around, since she swore she saw the other girl there.

“Aw, come on out, Jas.” Sam gently pushed her out from behind his leg. Jas, that was her name. She stared coldly in such a way that Jade wasn’t sure if she was scared or simply apathetic. “Jas, this is my friend, Jade. She’s very nice, I promise!”

Jas didn’t respond, and merely stared to Jade before shrinking back behind Sam’s leg. Sam laughed and scratched his head. “Sorry, she’s not very good with new people. She’ll warm up to you, though.”

The farmer smiled worriedly. “Yeah, I’ve met her before...” She glanced to the girl. “I didn’t know your name is Jas, though... that’s a very pretty name! It’s nice to meet you again.”

Jas shuffled all the way behind Sam and inched her way to stand behind both him and Penny. Jade saw a little hand raise up to hold Penny’s hand, which she accepted with a tender smile. Penny was calmer then as well and was able to look Jade in the eye. “I-it’s nothing personal... the kids are very excited to go to the beach, though.”

“Yeah!” Sam beamed.

“... All three of the kids,” Penny muttered.

Sam laughed and gently nudged Penny. “Well, we should be heading off now. I’d invite you, but you look pretty busy... oh, wait. Jade?”

“Hm?” Jade looked up at him curiously.

“Tried messaging Seb today, but no luck. Have you seen him today?”

Jade chuckled. “Oh, he’s at my house. He’s giving me internet connection. Do you want me to tell him anything? I’m going home right now.”

“Aw, what? He goes to your house already?” Sam grumbled something unintelligible, but he had a grin on his face when he looked back to Jade. “It’s nothing important, except now I’m upset no one invited me!”

The farmer appeared to be amused. “You can come over and hang out if you want, but I’ll be tired. I kinda doubt Sebastian is staying as long as he did yesterday-

“He was at your house YESTERDAY?” Sam looked as if he was the victim of a love affair. Jade couldn’t help but laugh at the pure shock on his face. Penny giggled as well, and the two ladies looked at each other with smiles on their faces. Sam had brought out his phone and began to peck away on the device’s flat screen. “I have like eighty questions for that fu-” He cleared his throat, remembering he was around children. “For that buttface.” The children went ‘ooh’, enraptured by the blond’s sudden name-calling.

Jade cackled. “He wasn’t there by choice, if that’s what you’re wondering. Robin dragged him to my house when she was working on my fence.”

“Oh, that makes sense. Robin does stuff like that.” Sam huffed after he finished texting on his phone, putting it back in his pocket. “He’s still a buttface.”

“That he is,” Jade laughed back a response. “Well, don’t you have a beach to be traveling to?”

“Ah! Yes!” Sam eagerly looked to Penny and then to each of the kids. “We’ll be going now. Feel free to join us sometime!” He waved and began to walk off towards the faraway bridge on the southern region of town. Vincent eagerly began running after and eventually outpaced his older brother, while Penny and Jas walked behind, still holding hands.

“Bye, everyone. I hope to talk to all of you again!” Jade grinned as she waved back, then continued her travel back home. The walk back was fairly uneventful, but Jade’s mind was plagued with thoughts of how exhausted she would be after planting all of her new seeds. Despite making the choice to be a farmer, Jade knew she wasn’t very athletic and never bothered to exercise... her legs definitely knew the fact. Her body has been aching ever since day one, and she was more than ready to get used to all the walking and farming.

When Jade returned to her farmland, Robin was setting up a gate near the river to allow easy access. The fencing was nearly complete; the only area not yet fenced was the front end of the farm. Robin sure did work quickly when she was inspired enough. Jade waved to the carpenter as she made her way to her front porch. She took no hesitation to set down her backpack and collapse onto the porch stairs to take a breather.

Jade sighed as she stared out to her farm. It was so empty... how would she fill it up? Rows upon rows of crops? Any farm buildings? The farmer dug out all of the seed packets from her backpack and examined them. Blueberries, melons, tomatoes, and corn. Pierre had told her while she was shopping that the only ones she would have to buy more seeds for were the melons, but she wanted to grow them anyway for the sake of diversity. She supposed the future of her farm depended on what she was capable of doing herself. The farmer took a deep breath and straightened her back when she stood up. Time to work.

Organization was a useful aspect to abide by when it came to farming. Jade tilled four separate and square plots of land for each type of seed she would plant. The tilling and planting didn’t take as long as she thought it would, but she only had a handful of seeds for each of the packets. She figured she would get more later, when she could successfully harvest. After planting the seeds, she ran off to the river with her watering can and returned to hydrate all of the dormant plants. Jade gazed at her four different mounds of dirt and nodded to herself afterwards, impressed by her own handiwork. Soon enough, there would be stalks and bushes that she would be able to harvest from periodically. And the cooking possibilities... Jade grinned, imagining the uses out of her crops.

“You might want a scarecrow,” piped up Robin as she walked over. She looked as tired as Jade did, but very satisfied with her project.

“A scarecrow?” Jade looked to Robin after tossing her empty watering can aside. She suddenly heard the cawing of feathered beasts up in nearby trees. Okay, maybe it was a good idea.

“Yup. I’m taking a little break now so I’m not completely done, but I know I’ll have some extra wood. Why not make a scarecrow with that? You could get some fibers from grasses to complete the look.” Robin unscrewed the cap off her water canister and took a swig.

“Aw, thank you... The wood will be really helpful. I’ll make good use of my scythe with those weeds, too!” Jade proudly crossed her arms, slowly feeling like an actual farmer. Robin chuckled, adoring her enthusiasm. She pat Jade on the back and finished up her water.

“That’s great, hon!” the carpenter replied with equal enthusiasm.

“Yeah! Oh, um... you’ve been working so hard. I’m surprised you were able to get all this fencing done so fast... do you think you’ll finish today?” Jade asked, eyeballing Robin’s water canister. She was getting a little parched, herself.

Robin nodded. “A few more hours and I’ll be outta your hair with this project.”

“... I honestly can’t believe you’re doing this for free,” Jade sighed. “Are you sure you don’t want me to pay you for this? The errand wasn’t that big of a deal.”

“Jade, hon.” Robin laughed and placed a hand on the young farmer’s shoulder. “You need to learn to accept kindness when it comes your way. I wanted to do this. Stop worrying, alright?”

The farmer wanted to accept the critique, but sighed. She couldn’t bring herself to. “I get what you’re saying, but... I don’t want to be, like, a freeloader or anything. I thought the exchange would be equal, but I forgot how big my farm is.”

“Freeloader? You aren’t a freeloader in any sense. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help, especially when you’re just starting out like this.” The carpenter frowned in worry. “Are the other townspeople saying anything to you?”

Jade shook her head. “No, not anything I didn’t expect, really. I guess I’m just not used to everyone being so nice... Well, most people.”

Robin glared. “Who’s starting stuff with you?”

“No one! I promise.”

“You seem bothered, though.” The carpenter crossed her arms and continued to stare to Jade. She began to crumble under the motherly glares.

“Well... People are still talking about me, I guess. I didn't feel very welcome in the shop."

“I don't think it's specifically you. Pierre's a little obsessed with sales,” grumbled Robin.

“Oh, I see.” Jade blinked, sweating with nervousness. “Do you... get along with him?"

Robin’s expression lightened, and then she chuckled. “Sometimes, but I much prefer Caroline. I’m sure he has some great qualities, but... Yeah, not surprised. I can’t even tell you the stuff I hear from Caroline sometimes.” She rolled her eyes as she thought. Jade thought she looked like Sebastian for a moment. “Oh, yeah. Anyways, don’t worry, hon. Most of the townspeople are great! Since the town is so small, it’s just easy to flock to drama. Even I get like that, sometimes. But, I don’t think any less of you.”

The farmer smiled and nodded, accepting her explanation. “I’ll keep that in mind, Robin. Thank you.”

“Aw, it’s no problem. I’m gonna get back to work now, okay? Holler if you need anything.” Robin walked back to continue her work, leaving Jade to her own devices.

The sun was high in the sky, so there was a lot of the day left to go... but Jade wasn’t exactly sure what she could do to fill the rest of her time. The farmer picked up the tools she finished using and walked them back over to her backpack for storage. She left everything on the porch and walked inside to get some water and food for herself, a reward for a job well done. Jade decided to cook what store-brand food she had left, which consisted of pretty much a pot of spaghetti.

Around the time she finished cooking was when Sebastian walked downstairs; he had completed his own job without much hassle. The farmer brought freshly cooked food to both him and Robin, and they were able to enjoy a nice lunch together. After lunch, Sebastian bid both of the ladies farewell and left the farm, while Robin took the rest of her time to complete the fence. The carpenter finished her job with much higher spirits due to the lunch and left some extra wood as a parting gift. Jade was contemplating on building a scarecrow then, but she had just planted the seeds... it wasn’t as if crows would steal the seeds right from the ground... hopefully.

Jade walked the perimeter of her fence to gauge just how much space she actually had for the farm, and to see what trails lie ahead in the forest surrounding her home. Birds chattered and flew around as usual, an occasional squirrel zoomed up into a tree, and a wild rabbit escaped into the bushes. Onyx sat by a specific fence post and rubbed his face onto it, marking his own territory already. When she walked up to the particular fence post, she noticed tiny claw marks along the wood. “Seriously, Onyx?” Oh well.

She had nearly completed her search around the area when she heard a squishing sound... Oh, no. It was all too familiar, and it was right outside the fence!

“A slime!” Jade shouted, running over to the source of the sound. To the west of the farm was the thickest part of the woods, and right on the other side of the fence rolled up a green slime. This one didn’t have an antennae like the last one did, but it was still bright green, and disturbingly adorable. “Little prick!” hissed Jade when she saw it. The slime hopped over and attacked the fence, but couldn’t seem to budge it or make any sort of impact at all. “Ha ha!”

The slime seemed to glare at her. A disturbed feeling washed over Jade because she wasn’t sure how exactly intelligent they were... but because they were small glops of goo, she didn’t really have high expectations. Even so, the slime creeped her out. It looked really... angry.

“Leave if you know what’s good for you!” Jade shouted. She didn’t really want to fight the creature, considering what happened to her last pair of pants, or Onyx’s leg. Small and adorable they were, but their acidic properties were nothing to joke about.

The slime didn’t seem to listen, and continued to attack the fence to no avail. Jade heard more squishing sounds from far away... There was another slime that rolled out from the bushes. And another, coming from behind a tree. Soon, a family of six slimes gathered, some with antennae, some without. “What the... where did all of you come from?” All of them piled up to the fence and began attacking it. The farmer could only guess that they disliked the barrier between the two sides of the forest. Jade quickly picked up her cat nearby and ran back to the house; she took Onyx inside, and grabbed her sword from her backpack. She was equipped to fight this time, and would protect her farm at all costs.

The farmer charged back towards the fence, staring down at the now angry group of slimes. She took one swipe of her sword, completely destroying one slime while making the others jump back from the blade... it was difficult to swing properly from the other side, especially with how close they were to the fence.

The slimes got riled up, though. They charged into the fence even more, and they squeaked with aggression. One of the fence posts actually began to lean from the constant force... No! These things weren’t in the mood to give up, but neither was Jade. Knowing they would not stop attacking the fence, Jade hopped over it and ran some yards into the forest to distract them. “Hey!” She yelled, waving her sword. It worked; they brought their attention off the fence and bounced their way to her. Jade began to step backwards, trying her very best to not be surrounded and to see what she was against. Five slimes. That wasn’t so bad.

Two of the slimes leaped up into the air, aiming straight for Jade’s face. She quickly backed away and shut her eyes as she swung her sword like a baseball bat. Luckily for her, she sliced both of the slimes directly through their centers, causing the both of them to explode into excess bits of green goo. Some of the excess splashed onto Jade’s face, which she hurriedly shook off and opened her eyes again... maybe it wasn’t a good idea to blindly strike her enemies. Three left.

Jade continued to back away as the last three slimes hopped and rolled towards her. The further away from the farm, the better. The third slime lunged towards Jade, trying to go for her leg, but she was able to block the attack and swing her sword at the gelatinous creature. Like the other two slimes, the third one met its fate and collapsed into inanimate glops of green. Jade smirked to herself... she was getting a hang of this.

That is, she was until she noticed more slimes cropping up in her surroundings. A stray slime attacked her from behind, latching onto her right arm. Her arm began to burn from the impact, causing her to scream and punch the slime off of her. She turned back around to make quick work of the slime that attacked her, but noticed even more were coming her way. Where were they all coming from, and were they really targeting her because of a random fence? Jade wasn’t sure she wanted to know the answer. All she knew was that the forest was completely infested with these creatures... Three slimes became six, which became twelve, and more. They were everywhere. The farm was safe, at least. Onyx was safe, the crops were safe. However, Jade... Jade had no choice but to run before she got overwhelmed.

And so she did.
Jade escaped deeper into the forest.
 
Last edited:

Magically Clueless

Administrator
Staff member
okay so a reason i haven't updated chapters here is because i was behind on some spring cleaning for my writing. doing that now and should hopefully have some more chapters up soon! Reminder to you lovely people though, you can always read this on ArchiveofOurOwn in the first post if you don't want to wait
 
Top