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.“Great, my daughter is friends with the angry farm chick.” She was pretty sure she heard him, but decided to not bring it to attention. 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 seperate 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. When I was leaving the shop, Pierre said- “Say nothing more. Pierre’s a dick,” grumbled Robin. “I’ve gone through far more than he has and yet I can still manage a shop and spend some time with my damn family, unlike him.” “Whoa.” Jade blinked, sweating with nervousness. “Did I strike a nerve?” Robin’s expression lightened, and then she chuckled. “Yeah, sorry. I’m just not surprised he’s the one to start anything. 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. CLIFFHANGERS HUEHEUUHEUEUHEUEHU I... actually don't have much to say about this chapter. It was pretty fun to write, had a little bit of everything, and introduced some favorites. I'm sure a few of you will be happy about Penny's little introduction and also Robin calling Pierre a dick. Bwahaha! (no offense to any Pierre lovers, that is just Robin's opinion in the context of my story xD) This chapter is the reason I completely flipped out at finding out Evelyn and George have last names. I'd love to learn other peoples' last names at some point... I'm probably not going to make them up for myself, because I am honestly kinda bad with that stuff. With characters and development in general, I've come up with some good ideas. Character flaws are yum yum, and I'm eager to dig into them. By now, you guys might have a good grasp on Jade as a character. She's honestly full of contradictions, but I mostly think it's because she is really nervous with meeting new people. I hope you guys like her, though.