Chapter 1: Matt

"Hey, Matt!" Pausing in my work, I turned to my uncle Hank. "I need you to head into Mineral Town and buy some more fodder for the livestock."

"What? I was just there less than a month ago! How are we out of fodder already?" I pushed the hair out of my eyes angrily and sighed. "What's going on here? The weather's all out of whack, perfectly good fodder is turning mealy, and the lake is drying up!" Things are getting a lot worse too, and unless you're blind, I know you've noticed."

Hank laughed nervously. "You know, you're beginning to sound like Terry. You know, all paranoid and suspicious." He sighed, weariness etched into his face. "It's simply a bad spell. Everything will be okay in a few months."

I glared at him. "Optimist. Anyway, I'll go. When should I leave?" I asked, stretching out the kinks in my back.

"As soon as you can. The only fodder we have left is very poor quality and it might be safer to just throw it out. Go shower and change into something clean. And make sure you don't look like a hoodlum. I don't need Phil thinking we're having troubles. You can take the horse with you if you promise to be careful."

"Uncle Hank, I'm insulted. I'm always careful, especially with the animals." He rolled his eyes. "Well, after that one little incident..." I chuckled. "That was great fun. I mean, I be very, VERY careful this time. Swear it!"

"Thanks Matt. You really are a big help. Who'd of thought any child of my sister could have a helpful bone in their body? Well, not me. Maybe it's a good thing your here. You could probably help fix us out of this slump." He looked out the window. "I'd better get back to the shop. Hurry, okay? I need that fodder by sundown." I nodded as he turned and left. Once he was out of sight I sighed. I hated going into Mineral Town. Ever since Jack, their new farmer, came into town, they'd been prospering like crazy. I guess I was a little jealous.

I kneeled down again and finsished mucking the stall. After that gruesome chore was down, I headed inside the shop. Waving to Hank, I made my way upstairs into my room. Ellen thought it be great fun to redecorate my room for my birthday last year, so she went and ordered fancy pine furniture from Woody, the town carpenter. That must have sent us back quite a bit, so whenever I walk into my room I get hit with a huge wave of guilt. Pulling open a dresser drawer I grabbed my clothes and headed to the shower.

After a rather long shower to get rid of the grime mucking out the stalls results in, I headed back downstairs. The big clock above the store's door said it was fifteen til three, which kind of meant I should have alreadly left. I couldn't see Hank at the desk so I figured he had a customer and was dealing with them so I headed out to the pasture.

Standing next to the trough was the Blue Sky Ranch's racing horse, Chisoku. His name meant speed in Japanese and the name suited him beautifully. Pure black with gray stockings, he was a magestic sight on the racing track. I clucked my tongue and he trotted over to me. Rubbing his ears, I led him over to the gate and pushed it open. Climbing onto his back, we headed towards the forest entrance.

Since it was mid-July the weather became increasingly humid as we got deeper into the forest. The sound of Chisuko's hooves pounding on the stone path echoed in the empty woods along with the songbirds singing high up in the trees. It was beautiful and peaceful and so I began to relax.

After we'd been walking for a half-hour or so Chisuko began to pull off of the trail and refused to go any farther. As I tried to steer him back onto the stone he reared back. As I yelled he whinnied and shook his head. Sliding off the horse onto the ground I yelped, grabbing hold of his mane. "Chisuko, what's the matter? Calm down boy before I fall off!" Hanging on tightly, I tried soothing him. I managed to calm him, though he was still breathing heavy, he allowed me to tie his reins to a tree. "It's okay, boy. I'll find what's spooking you and I'll get rid of it. I promise."

Rolling his eyes into the back of his head, he neighed. I sighed and headed through the underbrush of the forest. A squirrel jumped out of the bushes and leapt to safety on top of an oak tree as I looked for something that could've startled Chisuko like that. The ground let up dust clouds as I walked deeper into the trees. Shouting, I ran towards the trees. Lying there was a girl and she looked unconscious.

I ran up to her and kneeled down beside her. Her breathing was shallow and she was pale, even in the mid-day light. Reaching down, I lifted her head and placed it in my lap. "Hello? Can you hear me? Are you okay?" Her eyelids fluttered and I began to panic. "Come on, wake up!" Looking around, I noticed a patch of wildflowers where her head had been. "Um... alright then." I pulled one and waved it in front of her face. Her eyelids fluttered again and she sighed. Letting out a breath I didn't realize I had been holding, I laughed. She opened her eyes and I found myself staring into the brightest green eyes I've ever seen in my life. "Hey, are you feeling better? You had me worried for a while there!" I said, relief coating my words.

She sat up quickly and moaned. Grabbing her head with both hands, she cried out, "Where am I? Who are you? What's going on? My head hurts so bad..." Swaying a bit, she fell back into my lap.

"You're in the forest between Mineral Town and Flower Bud Village. My name is Matthew Daniels. I found you lying here unconscious. Are you okay? What's wrong with your head?" She shook her head, her long blonde hair flying.

"I... I don't know..." She shuddered. "I... what's wrong with me?"

I said soothingly, "Probably nothing. You're just kind of confused right now. What's your name?"

She froze. "My name..." Her body wracked with silent sobs. "Oh my god! My name!" She buried her face in my chest. "I don't remember my own name!"

Blushing furiously, I stuttered out something unintelligible. She lifted her head and I could see tears streaked down her face. "Calm down. Maybe you just bumped your head on something. Can you tell me anything about yourself? How'd you get here? In the forest? Just... think calm, okay?"

She nodded. "I... was sent here. I was being punished..." Her gaze turned dreamy as she stared off into the forest. "They were angry. They took something... something important..." Her eyes dimmed as she began to black out. She fell back into my arms and I sighed. This was not how I wanted to spend my day.

Rising, I lifted her up, amazed at how light she was. I turned towards Mineral Town and started walking.