Thursday, Spring 4 Y2 For the next few days, it was quiet. Maru was still busy researching the scrolls, but Jade needed to put her attention to her farm work. With all the stress from the monsters, she felt she could watch over her animals more...at least, most of them. Butterscotch’s babies were growing fast! Their personalities started showing, as did their hyperactivity. When Jade entered the barn, she was practically overrun by them, and they nibbled all the feed they could find only to poop it out in minutes. Jade contacted Marnie on the 4th of Spring, and Marnie happily bought off all but two rabbits. Now Jade had five rabbits, two chickens, and a decent amount of dough. After Marnie left, Sebastian ventured to the barn to see who was still around. Even though he didn’t interact with the animals too much, he felt a significant bond. They were born on his birthday, after all. “Seb, I think you’ll like these two. They’re little gremlins, is what they are,” mumbled Jade as she sat in the hay, letting the five rabbits play and hop around her. She looked exhausted, but that was her condition for the past week. Sebastian twitched out a smile. “Is it a good idea to be sitting down in here like that?” “Please, I’m a farmer, these clothes are getting dirty either way. Plus, it’s way easier getting their wool like this.” “I’ll stay standing,” Sebastian chuckled. “They’re very cute. Butterscotch and Bullet are good parents.” Jade nodded in agreement. “They are! Maybe it’s time to name them...” “They both seem pretty destructive. Can one of them be Dreadlord?” She laughed. “No! Well... maybe! I... I like it. Would the other one be Xarth?” Sebastian shrugged. “I would be proud to have that name as a rabbit.” “Think about being the dad of those rabbits!” Jade said with wobbling laughter. “We’ll conclude this later. I’m thinking of getting more chickens t-” she paused. “What is it?” Sebastian asked. “I can’t believe it slipped my mind... I need to go to the Community Center,” she sighed. “Krobus gave me an item to show them.” She stood up and dusted her backside. “Are you staying home? Can you watch them and let them eat outside?” He frowned a little. “Are you sure you should be going out? You seem tired from all the watering... at least eat before you leave. Or have some coffee.” “I’m not a coffee person,” she answered with a yawn. “I’ll eat if it makes you feel better. I’m just not used to having a huge field. Marnie paid me nicely for the babies, so there’s that at least.” “Alright,” Sebastian said. He was quiet for a moment, then slowly breathed out through his nose. “I’ll watch the animals from the porch.” Jade pet the rabbits and opened the gate for them to scamper outside with glee. The chickens casually wandered out after them with Jade and Sebastian following last. She shut the barn door and graced her hand on Sebastian’s shoulder. They exchanged subtle smiles, one tired and the other worried, then Jade went back to the house. After a short break at home, she walked towards the Community Center, armed with nothing but her light red jacket full of goodies. The day welcomed her with photogenic clouds and singing birds, but she felt too tired to appreciate it. Her muscles felt achy, her eyes were burning, and her lack of sleep was catching up to her. The winter cold had vanished and she still needed to adjust to the rising temperature, especially after a whole season of no crops. The ground may have flourished with returning plant life, but the colder season kept her much cozier in bed. She might have been the only one to feel this way too, since the townspeople were excited and thriving in the new season. Jade waved to those she passed by, but for the time being, their enthusiasm perplexed her. Maybe she got too many seeds after all, and she didn’t want to force Sebastian to help her water the crops. Maybe it was stress. Before she knew it, she was back at the Community Center. She entered the main hall and called out a ‘hello’ to the gentle forest beings. She pulled out the same black egg with red spots from her jacket’s pocket and displayed it in her palm. “I think I’ve solved another task... here is proof. This is from Krobus... he told me about the history, and the curse that’s on me. Will this be enough?” One after another, colorful Junimos appeared from their leafy hut, through the walls’ cracks, and up the overgrown floorboards. They bounced and hopped over to Jade as one of them examined the egg. Instead of taking it, however, the tiny creatures looked at her. All of them went silent. She started to sweat. “I... do you want me to explain more?” The entire group bounced and squeaked in unison. Jade took it as a yes. She ventured to the arts and crafts room in the building and sat in a chair, placing the egg on the table. She retold the story of everything she knew, especially since the Junimos deserved to know. They all listened attentively, then bounced and squeaked when she finished her story. Afterwards, they took her egg and placed a note in her hand. Dumbfounded, she read it: We are the Junimos. Thank you for your story. We can get rid of the curse. But we can’t do it right now. Show us a gift of the stars and we will help. Please take this. Jade put the note down, then noticed a tiny gift box back on the desk. Smiling, she opened it. Inside was the same egg, just nestled in a bed of dried grass. At first, Jade didn’t know what to think... then she giggled. “The presentation is cute at least,” she mused. “Well... that’s another task, isn’t it? Unite with the stars... or something... So, if I complete that task, then I’ll be done with this curse?” Jade stood from her seat and surveyed the area. She was speaking aloud, but there weren’t any Junimos in earshot. She wouldn’t have understood their squeaks anyway. Jade walked back into the main hallway and saw a fourth star on the mantle, then snooped around to see what room had been fixed. There was an uncharacteristically bright doorway beside a dilapidated bulletin board. Curious, Jade entered. The room was fixed with a large desk in the center of the room, clean wallpaper all around the perimeter, and a larger than life safe in the top right corner. Jade didn’t see much of a use for her to be in here, but she was excited to get another room of the center restored. Other villagers might find it of use if they knew the building was being fixed. She bid farewell to the Junimos and then walked back into town. The rest of the day was ahead of her, but she didn’t know what to fill the time with... she had extra money, and Sebastian helped pay for the seeds... maybe she’d give that back to him, or buy a gift in return. Jade passed through the town square and took the street towards Cindersap. Well, she couldn’t think of anything specific for Sebastian, so she can give the money. If he refuses, they can just put it towards savings... Her train of thought vanished when she heard excited chatter from Sam’s house. Jade lifted her head and pointed her sight towards the door. Just like that, Sam exit the home. “Oh! Papa J, hey!” he beamed. He waved excitedly and gestured her to walk over, which she did. “Good afternoon, Sam, what’s all the commotion?” Jade asked, smiling. “Oh, you didn’t hear?” Sam laughed, though unsurprised. “My actual papa is back! He was in the force for a while... why don’t you go meet him? Today’s his birthday, too.” Jade blinked. “Birthday? I don’t have a gift for him...” “Oh please, that’s fine. You don’t even know him.” Sam slapped her back to usher her into the house. “Hey, dad! I want you to meet Jade!” Jade felt embarrassed, but cooperated. She glanced in the house: Jodi was in the kitchen, Vincent was playing with toys and bouncing around with a party hat, and a man stood in the middle of the living room, checking his watch. Jade lifted her view to the towering middle-aged man, burly, blond buzz-cut and a scowl to fit. She could definitely see where Sam got his looks from, but they gave off entirely different vibes. The man’s scowl unfurled into a look of wonder as he saw Jade. “Is this the new villager you told me about? Can’t say I’ve seen you around before,” he mused. His voice was deep but gentle. Jade immediately dropped her sight, unsure how to continue. “I, I’m Jade... n-nice to meet you, sir,” she muttered. Sam laughed. “Yeah! She’s the new farmer, and a good friend of mine! And an even better friend of Sebastian’s,” he teased. “H-happy birthday, sir,” Jade told him, voice shaky. Kent’s face softened. “Heh, thanks. You can call me Kent. You’re a little tense, huh?” “I’m nervous meeting people,” she quickly admitted, then forced her eyes back up towards him. “B-but, it’s nice, hearing about you, uh, Kent.” “Ain’t nothing to be tense about. Got that enough across the lines. This place needed a farmer, so glad to have you here.” Kent crossed his arms, shoulders low and gaze unmoving. “How long you been in town?” Jade tried to lower her guard, instead sticking her hands in her pockets. “I moved here late last Spring. I’m approaching my first year on the farm,” she answered. “I’m loving it.” “Good to know,” Kent said with a nod. “Well, I know Sam dragged you in here. You can leave if you want.” “Yeah. I have some more work to be doing, b-but uh, welcome back,” stammered Jade. She gave a wave, shot a helpless look at Sam, then exit the house. Sam curiously watched out the window as she went back towards the forest. --- Jade slammed her body against her bed and lay there, face down. She heard some steps approach to her side, but instead of looking up, she just groaned. Sebastian glanced at her, then boredly looked down his phone. “Jade, Sam just told me you met Kent and acted like, and I quote, ‘a zombie that just learned how to speak’. Everything alright?” he asked, tucking his phone back in his pocket. “Was I that bad?” she whined, then rolled to her side. She looked at her beloved boyfriend. “Oh, I doubt it. You’re just nervous meeting new people. But... ever since we got those crops, you’ve been exhausted. Maybe we should do something about it.” “Like what?” Jade rolled back on her stomach. Sebastian nudged her back onto her side. “Well, why exactly are you feeling tired?” She sighed. “I have to check every plant, water them all with my small watering can, run all the way to a water source, run back, water some more, probably cry a little, water the plants with my tears-” “It’s clear we got too many plants. How about getting a better watering can? Or some sprinklers, or something.” Jade flopped onto her back, eyes wide. “... I’ve kept those tools your mom gave me for so long. They’re... old, admittedly. Maybe I could get new ones.” “I know Mom’s talked about Clint upgrading tools. Maybe you can do that? I know Mom has some blueprints too, maybe I can find something useful.” He shrugged. “That would help... but... I don’t want to move,” Jade whined again. She grabbed her head with her hands and sighed. “I think the stress of past events is finally getting to me. I’m glad Maru is helping us out, and nothing’s on me right now, but...” She dragged her hands down her face. “I chose the worst job. How can I water all these crops, tend to all these animals, all while keeping ravenous monsters at bay? Is that something that farmers here normally deal with? Is that why I’m the only one here?” Sebastian sighed and sat beside her. He was quiet for a moment, peering away and biting his lip as he thought. “Hey.” He returned his gaze placed his hand on her shoulder. “Let’s just... think of one thing at a time. Alright?” “You know that farm up north? I wonder why he left? Your mom mentioned him once.” Jade folded her arms behind her head and looked back at Sebastian. “I mean... is there a reason this town isn’t doing so great? Are we just interrupting an ongoing war with nature?” He watched her and noticed the worry on her visage. He shook his head. “The guy who owned the farm up north was an old man. He passed with old age.” With a huff, he crossed his arms too. “And the same will happen with you.” Jade was quiet. “I hope so,” she muttered. “But... you’re right. About thinking of one thing at a time. “I’m always right.” She smiled. “Don’t push it, nerd.” Sebastian unfurled his arms and playfully nudged her. “Too late. So, what’s your first move?” he asked. “I guess going to get my tools upgraded... when does Clint’s close?” “Umm... around 4PM, probably?” Jade quickly sat up, then scrambled for her phone. “It’s... it’s 3PM.” She sighed. “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Sebastian narrowed his eyes. “No, let’s go now. I’ll drive you.” “Ugh, fine,” she grumbled. “I know you’re tired, but you’ll be even more tired tomorrow. Let’s go.” Sebastian stood from the bed and left the bedroom. Jade listened for a few minutes as she slowly built up her motivation. She soon followed suit by worming herself off of the mattress. “I hate that you have a good point!” she yelled from the top of the staircase. --- Sebastian slammed his body against his bed and lay there, face down. He heard yelling from downstairs. “Sebastian! We drove all that way for nothing, you gotta help me!” Jade called from the front door. After no response, she stomped her way up to the bedroom. “Hey!” she yelled, poking his side. He groaned. “At least he gave us a blueprint to work with.” “Not good enough! If I need copper, iron, whatever bars to upgrade my tools, we have to do it. I know I have a lot of copper and a little bit of iron, maybe that’ll be enough. Anyways, help me build a furnace! We have the materials!” Sebastian sat up without much effort, but still grumbled to himself. “It was my fault, I thought you just had to pay the guy.” “No, you gave me a second wind. If we get a furnace built, at least we don’t have to worry about it anymore. There’s still light outside and the sun’s not setting for a few hours. Here, I’ll even pay you, I got money from selling the buns,” Jade said, digging into her jeans pocket. He shook his head and placed his hand against her pocket. “You dummy, I don’t want your money. Fine, I’ll help you. Let’s figure out a place to put it.” Jade eagerly hugged him. “Thank you. Let’s get this over with,” she beamed. Their house didn’t have a basement, and putting heated metal like a furnace on a wooden floor didn’t inspire them, so they settled for outside. Behind the house, the roof stretched over to provide ample shade. Jade cleared the area of grass and lay down a stone path to place the furnace on. Surprisingly, the furnace didn’t take that long to make, but... it was much smaller than they anticipated. The whole thing was as wide as the average person, went to chest-height, and the opening was the size of a basketball. The furnace could probably only handle a few chunks of ore at a time, but since Clint asked for bars, maybe that was a good thing. After their first furnace, Sebastian was done for the night. Jade told him goodnight; he wanted her to join him, though she continued working instead. He honored her wishes and went back inside to finish up his own jobs. Since she learned how to make a furnace slowly but surely, she felt more confident tackling the next ones on her own. In the dead of the night, she had built three furnaces, all relatively sturdy. She had picked up enough coal from her previous trips to load them and toss in some copper ore for good measure. The ore melted quickly and formed into desirable bars, which Jade carefully took out to allow cooling. She loaded the next ones in, and did this over and over, until she had several copper bars to her name. Jade checked her phone: 1AM. “Yoba,” she grunted. After starting the furnaces, she went over to her barn and check up on the animals. Butterscotch and Bullet were sleeping beside one another, while Plague and the two younger rabbits nestled under them both. The five looked like a giant ball of fur together, which made Jade laugh a little. She went to the chickens; Mayo pressed herself against the far right wall as she slept, while Gloria shifted in her own nest to get comfortable. Jade brought out the gift box that stayed in her jacket pocket and took the egg from it. “Well... Krobus said I could hatch this,” she murmured to herself. Robin installed an incubator while building the barn, so she hoped it would work. Carefully, Jade placed the egg in the incubator. She allowed her mind to wander as she stared at the hot box. She couldn’t help but think of what the chick would look like. Would it be black and red too? Jade yawned. It seemed like something Sebastian would like. Another yawn. “I should... go to bed,” she mumbled, and then shuffled her way out of the barn. After closing and locking the gates, she went back to the house. A blast of cool air hit her as she walked through the doorway. The kitchen was clean and empty, and the living room was dark. A blue glowing light came from the computer room upstairs. The stairs themselves... they were way too high, for her level of energy. She stretched her arms, then wiped her eyes. Jade merely glanced at the couch. Sleepy. She collided into the cushions and immediately passed out. I'll start including the dates in my fic, and I'll update the old chapters EVENTUALLY. But hey! Writing again! No promises when the next chapter's coming out but it's reaching good progress. To get this chapter out, I reread my entire fanfic. If there's anything incorrect/out of place in the context of my fic, PLEASE let me know. I've been getting massive deja vu in some areas even though I don't think I wrote about them. If you point out something I've already written about, I'll fix it. Hopefully it's good though! This is more of a chapter to get her caught up on the game mechanics again. For a while we were in the curse stuff, but more game-y stuff is coming up. That being said, we're still going to move forward. I look forward to the next chapters, and thank you very much for reading and sticking by my side even with slow updates! Next chapter, I'll link my own analysis/reflection of my fanfic. I don't have the last 2 parts out yet but if y'all want to know what I think about the progression of events, it might be interesting for you.