Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon.
"We're not joking Carl," Ellen laughed cheerfully as she leaned against the beige-colored counter. Her warm chocolate eyes sparkled playfully as a bit of pink touched upon Carl's cheeks. Despite that, Carl still appeared unconvinced (modest as always). As if to prove her point, Ellen happily scooped another piece of the chestnut cake into her mouth.
Slightly dazzled, Carl turned to the brown haired girl's companion. The young rancher leaned almost sleepily against the counter, her usually neat clothes covered with mud, reflecting the time spent on the wet fields earlier during the day. However, the wearer didn't seem at all concerned about the condition of her clothes as she sat on the stool with a thoughtful expression on her face.
"Jill, what do you think?" he asked Ellen's companion."You worry too much Carl," the rancher answered nonchalantly, already finished her cake. The brown haired female stared thoughtfully down at her clean plate, considering whether it would be a good idea or not to buy another slice. If she bought another piece, she wouldn't be able to afford the calf that she wanted to buy.
"I mean, it's nothing close to the cakes you bake, Ellen," Carl added bashfully."Of course it isn't," Ellen replied with a giggle as she swept back a lock of brown hair that had fallen over her eyes. "Every cake is different. That's what makes it special."
The café owner positively beamed.
"Hey Carl, could I get another piece?" Jill interrupted, deciding that she'd buy the calf some other time.
The blonde haired man hesitated, his brown eyes glancing towards Ellen. Noticing Jill's puzzled stare, Carl blushed, seeming to realize that he was the owner of the café and was responsible for his customer's happiness.
"I'll be right back with your cake," he cried hurriedly, before rushing to the kitchen.
Jill looked slightly puzzled at Carl's reaction.
"Did I interrupt something?" Jill asked her friend.
Ellen giggled, "You're always so clueless when it comes to stuff like this, but I guess that what's makes you so cute."
"Of course," Jill replied wryly.
"And the fact that you're so blunt," Ellen continued. She took another bite of the chestnut cake, looking thoughtful as she gazed at the rancher. "And easily annoyed."
Jill raised an eyebrow. "I'm not…"
The rest of the rancher's sentence died in her lips as she saw the end of a pointed hat disappears behind the counter. Jill pushed her chair back, balancing herself on the back legs of the chair as tried to gaze at whatever had disappeared behind the counter.
"Jill? What is it?"
The rancher turned back to Ellen, unconsciously twirling a strand of hair around a finger. Seeing Ellen's worried stare, Jill shrugged her shoulders and decided to leave the matter. It was probably nothing.
The brown haired rancher gazed thoughtfully at the darkening sky thoughtfully as she crossed Sunset Bridge. Cold and refreshing, the night air tickled her senses. It was always particularly refreshing after a rainstorm. The sound of the river rushing beneath seemed more vigorous as well. Jill stretched her arms, letting the cool air seep into her. It had been a long day.
Stifling a yawn, Jill wondered what she would do tomorrow. She hadn't visited the Sunny Lake for a while. Maybe she would find some time after going to the café with Ellen tomorrow.
"Hey, have you been fishing lately?" a voice called.
The brown haired rancher pushed her thoughts aside. Blinking, Jill saw no one on the path in front of her. Turning to peek behind her shoulders, the rancher only saw light seeping out of the café window. Jill shrugged. It was probably her imagination… again. Jill frowned as the word 'again' flashed repeatedly in her mind. She sure was imagining a lot of things lately wasn't she?
Leaning over the railing of the bridge, Jill gazed down to find a familiar fisherman grinning happily at her.
"Hey Ray," Jill called, giving the fisherman a small wave.
The fisherman waved back, his other hand keeping a relaxed grip on his fishing rod. Beside him was a bucket full of gleaming fish –prizes of a hard day's work.
"D-do you want to come fishing with me sometime?" Ray asked, a bit of pink tinting his cheeks. "It's been a while since we've gone fishing together."
Jill raised an eyebrow, recalling that they had gone fishing a few days ago and mentioned that to Ray herself. Ray could sure be forgetful sometimes.
"Ah… w-well," Ray stuttered as his entire face flushed tomato red. "I thought it would be nice to go fishing again s-sometime."
Jill tilted her head to one side. Fishing with a friend sounded interesting; she was planning to visit Sunny Lake tomorrow anyway.
Tilting her head to the side, Jill noted that Ray appeared to be smiling more than usual. Despite what Ellen said about her being clueless, Jill thought that she was good at understanding people. Ray didn't have many friends because he wondered from region to region in search of fishing spots, never stopping in a village long enough to get to know others. That is, until he came to Flower Bud Village. However, staying at a village brought new difficulties for Ray as well. Not used to being around people, Ray was having a hard time interacting with the overly friendly people in this village. She could tell he was adjusting now, despite still being shy around some of the females in the village.
"Why not," Jill decided, absently twirling a pigtail around a finger. "How about we meet at Sunny Lake after lunch tomorrow?"
"You're sure acting strange today Ray. Is something bothering you?"
Jill didn't hear Ray's reply though -- her thoughts and eyes were glued to a bush behind the brown haired man. The young woman furrowed her brow as she recognized the familiar pointed hat from before disappear behind the bush.
"Ray, did you see something pass by just a moment ago?"
The brown haired man shook his head in surprise. "Why?"
Straightening herself, Jill pushed herself away from the railing.
"Ah… never mind. I'll see you tomorrow then."
"Good afternoon Jill," Ann greeted. The redhead stuck her head up from underneath the contraption she was working on as the rancher entered the shop, traces of oil smeared across her cheek. In one grimy hand was a screwdriver, while the other held onto the counter ledge.
Jill returned the greeting to her neighbor as the door swung shop behind her. The familiar musty scent of the Junk Shop momentarily overwhelmed the rancher's senses. Despite the stuffiness, the Junk Shop always had a warm feeling about it. Perhaps it was Michael's warm smiles or Ann's excited chatter. Playing with a lock of hair again, Jill returned the smiles.
"So, are you interested in buying anything today?" Michael asked, wiping his grimy hands on a towel. He smiled warmly as he walked out from behind the counter.
"I'm just visiting," Jill replied, as she took a look around the shop. "It's not like I could afford any of these yet --not after I bought that giant butter machine a few weeks ago anyway."
"Aw, don't worry! I'll give you a jumbo sized discount," Ann cried cheerfully, her ponytail bouncing as she jumped up excitedly from behind the counter. Hearing a light cough from the direction of her father, Ann blushed. "I mean, with permission from my dad… of course."
Jill shook her head, waving Ann's offer aside. She was touched, though she was sure Ann would offer anyone who walked inside the Junk Shop a discount if she could.
" I don't think I could afford anything even with a jumbo-sized discount. Maybe I'll take up that offer some other time," she said dryly.
"I'm sure you can afford something," Ann exclaimed as she peered around the Junk Shop. "Oh, how about that picture book?"
"I think I could live without one."
"It's so pretty though," Ann insisted, her lips trembling.
Jill was about to reply with something sarcastic when she noticed that something seemed off about Ann. Taking another look around the shop, Jill realized that a person was missing.
"Where's Louis?" Jill asked suddenly.
"He's… he's in bed," Ann said slowly.
Jill looked up quizzically.
"We were experimenting with something and it exploded," Ann continued, tears forming in her bright green eyes. "It was my fault. I should have been more careful. I didn't know that someone would get hurt…"
"It's okay Ann," Michael said. "Accidents happen. Louis isn't hurt badly, and doesn't blame you for anything. Everything is fine."
Now that they mentioned it, Jill did remember the doctor sprinting across her front yard, and heading towards the Junk Shop this morning. However, she shrugged it off as nothing, thinking that he was late for an appointment or something. After knowing Alex for a while, seeing him rushing across town wasn't anything out of ordinary; in fact, she sees him doing that quite often –especially since he lived beside her and had to pass (more often than not sprinting) by her front yard to reach the rest of town.
"I don't think Louis blames you for anything Ann," she added. "He's not that type of person. He knew there were dangers in working with machines. I'm sure he has had plenty of accidents before."
That appeared to cheer Ann up a little.
"You really think so?"
Before she knew it, the redhead had grabbed a hold of her hand and was dragging her up the stairs of the Junk Shop to visit Louis, screwdriver still in her hand. Jill smiled softly, glad that Ann was back to her cheery self. What she didn't like though, was the fact that Ann was practically pulling her up the staircase. Last time she checked, she was quite sure that she could walk on her own.
"Ann, I'm not sure what you think, but I've been able to walk since I was two," Jill began. She was interrupted as a figure appeared at the top of the stairs.
This time, as the Harvest Spirite –yes, she had figured out that it was a Harvest Spirite that had been scuttling around town lately— scampered down the stairs, it didn't bother to be subtle. She was slightly relieved when she saw him, the notion that she had gone mad instantly disappearing from her mind. Shifting aside as he passed her, Jill wondered who he was. She was sure she hadn't seen this Spirite before. Frowning slightly, Jill decided that she might visit the Harvest Goddess Spring after.
"What's wrong with our fisherman?" Jill asked aloud as she joined Ray by Duck Bridge. She lazily stretched her arms, trying to get rid of the kinks in her muscles after pulling out turnips for the better half of the day. Her eyes wondered briefly to the colorfully painted sky as the fiery sun slowly sank beneath the hills. Hearing a sigh from Ray, her large innocent orbs wondered back to her friend.
He had been so cheerful a few days ago when they had visited Sunny Lake together. Seeing him leaning against the bridge gloomily without his fishing rod was an unexpected sight.
The brown haired man sighed again and laid his chin on the railing. Frustration seemed to roll of Ray in waves as he spoke. "The fisherman hasn't caught any fish for the past few days."
"Oh…" Jill paused as she tugged on a lock of dark brown hair. Her large baby blue eyes fluttered over Ray's dejected form, reflecting concern for her friend. "Perhaps you need a break? Everyone does once in a while, after all fishing all the time could get tiring."
Ray shook his head as he straightened up. "You misunderstand my meaning. It isn't me unable to catch a fish that's the problem; it's the fact that there aren't any fish in the rivers!"
Jill blinked, thinking that she had heard Ray wrong. The rancher furrowed her eyebrows, as she gazed quizzically at Ray.
"Um, Ray, there are plenty of fish here."
"I know that, I'm a fisherman Jill," the man replied, in a slightly irritated tone.
Ray's reply raised even further questions. Firstly, Jill had never heard him use that tone on her… ever. Secondly, Ray just admitted that there was plenty of fish in Flower Bud Village while a couple of seconds ago, he was complaining about there not being any fish. "Right… so, what's the problem?"
"There aren't any fish!"
Jill twitched, slightly annoyed. "You just told me there were plenty of fish."
Ray buried his head in his hands for a couple of seconds before raising his tired eyes to meet Jill's baby blue orbs. Jill's large orbs held his own stormy-gray eyes. Ray didn't know if it was the beautiful color, or the childish innocence that was reflected in Jill's eyes but whenever he would gaze into her eyes, she would inadvertently soothe the fisherman.
Ray sighed, "Let me rephrase this: There used to be plenty of fish in Flower Bud Village."
"And there still is," Jill replied, waving her gloved hand towards the luminous river underneath their feet.
"No, I've been fishing for the past few days, and there aren't any fish."
Jill rolled her eyes. This was getting ridiculous. Fish don't suddenly disappear and she said that herself to Ray.
"I know that," he said, raking his fingers through his hair. Jill could tell that he resisted the urge to add in 'I am a fisherman' line again. "Trust me on this Jill. There aren't any fish."
Jill nodded, though still highly doubtful of what Ray had told her. The rancher made a mental note to go fishing herself when she got the chance. There was just no logical way a river full of fish would suddenly by robbed of its treasures. "Give it a few days. I'm sure they'll start coming back.
Ray nodded, and forced a small smile on his face. The brown-haired man rubbed his stormy-gray eyes tiredly while leaning against the bridge and stretching.
"I'm sorry. There just hasn't been much for me to do these past few days. All I've been doing is going to Moonlight Café and drinking."
Jill decided not to comment on Ray's last statement.
"It's not just that," Ray finally said as he gazed dismally at the river. "Joe recently went to the sanitarium with food poisoning. It seems like the entire village is having a rough time."
"With Katie's cooking, Joe getting food poisoning was inevitable," Jill stated, without meaning and ill intentions towards Katie. Seriously, the entire village had been expecting a food poisoning case ever since Katie almost set the café on fire.
"No, I'm serious Jill. It seems that everyone in the village has been having bad luck," Ray argued, his gray eyes serious. If it had been anybody but Jill, they would have believed him just from looking at the expression in his eyes. "I can sense things like this. It's only because of this sixth sense that I've been able to dodge typhoons and survive storms in the ocean that appear out of thin air.
"I don't believe in bad luck," was Jill's reply.
The days that followed Ray's warnings were packed with turmoil and confusion. Accidents followed one after another, as if they were pieces of toppling domino blocks. It seemed that no matter what anyone did, the pieces continued to fall in the path that was already laid out. In one night, the usually attentive owners of the Blue Sky Farm had ended up with an entire barn full of sick animals. Not long after, Tim was reported missing –only to be found lost in the mines after hours of searching. To top things off, the storage crates in the Spring Farm were broken into, resulting in a heavy loss of crops. To make up for losses in produce, Jill had tilled more land on her small farm while putting extra effort into tending her livestock. However, to her dismay, no matter how hard she worked, the rancher found that she didn't have enough stamina or time to take care of all her animals and the crops she had planted. As a result, Jill grudgingly cut back on her time with friends, while refraining from mumbling curses at no one in particular.
Jill slumped tiredly against a Mora Tree, dropping her bronze watering can onto the ground. The can toppled over, water spattering onto the ground, but Jill took no notice. She seriously needed to upgrade her watering can. She had managed perfectly well with the current can before she had planted all these extra crops and never needed to have it upgraded. Now however, it seemed like she would have to spend the extra gold for a silver watering can.
"This is great," Jill mumbled sarcastically as she leaned against the tree. Her baby blue eyes swept over her field, noting that she still need to water a quarter of her crops. Biting back a groan, Jill tilted her head back, gazing dismally up at the darkening sky. The tiny stars winked cheerily at her, as if mocking her misfortune. Jill briefly reflected on Ray's words. Bad luck? She hadn't believed in such a thing before, and even after this week, she still found it hard to think that bad luck had caused all the misfortunes that had fallen upon this village. Yet…
Jill shook her head, pushing the thought aside. Presently, she had more pressing matters to deal with. Her eyes wondered to her crops again. She hadn't had time to water them all yesterday, and if she neglected them again, she was sure they would die. Sighing, Jill picked herself up, while clumsily grabbing her fallen watering can.
The small rancher stumbled as she pushed herself away from the Mora tree. The watering can weighed heavily in her right hand while Jill held on to the rough railing of the fence with her left hand. Dizziness slowly took over the farmer and before she knew it, Jill had collapsed onto the ground.
Author's Note: I am hoping to improve my writing skills and it would be a great help if you guys gave me feedback on this story. Thank you!