Blanket disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I do not claim any rights to Harvest Moon Animal Parade or any characters associated with the game. No money was made from this fan fiction.
Author note: My thanks to Andi for taking the time to beta. I appreciate your help. These are the characters off the Harvest Moon game Animal Parade. Story will contain some game story spoilers. 2-6-14: Doing some editing of the chapters, a few chapters might have some more major editing, but overall no change in the storyline.
Slightly gagging from the powdery substance that had just exploded out of his so called gift, Wizard blinked and surveying the damage to his home.
The entire first floor was covered in sparkling, pink powder. About half the stairs had a fine sheen of glitter over them and below the blue border his walls now matched the hair color of that quarrelsome girl from the tailor shop. If that wasn't bad enough, the whole placed reeked from the combination of Fugue Mushrooms and swamp water.
"I liked her better when she was as a frog."
Pushing away from his desk, he tossed the gift box in the trash. Why was he always so gullible? He should know better than to trust her. If Master was still around he'd smack him over the head for falling for this. No . . . first, Master would laugh at him.
Witch had really out done herself this time. At least half a dozen Fugues would have been needed for this amount of dust. Why she would waste that number of rare mushrooms for such a childish prank he couldn't imagine?
Those mushrooms were terribly difficult to find. He could recall a time when he had searched for years before locating one. Either she really was out to get him or for some reason she had enough to spare. Whatever the reason, he didn't need his crystal ball to know his future looked bleak.
Slowly and methodically he attempted to get some of the pink off himself at the wash pitcher.
What to do? He could use magic to clean the place, then clean himself and his clothes the old fashion way. Of course, there was always cleaning everything by hand. Or he could do it all with magic, but that would leave him weakened for awhile.
Frowning, he shook his head. With Witch on the warpath, leaving himself weak wasn't an option. And really, just how long would it take to scrub the pink from between the rocks on his stairway by hand? So choice one it was.
Gather what he needed Wizard peek out, making sure he was alone. Setting his bathing supplies to the side he set about working his spell. The soft blue light that accompanied his magic faded and he felt his feet touch the ground.
Opening his eyes he sighed in relief, silently thanking the Goddess and King that his home was no longer pink. Picking up his things, he started down the stairs to his cave.
He didn't need a hammer like normal humans to get through the cave. Even when one of the other well meaning residents had put up the gate and locked it he'd still been able to get in. He could easily manipulate the rocks and stairwells with little to no draw on his magic; it was the same as Witch being able to sprout trees and rocks in the forest around her swamp.
At least at this time of the evening he wasn't going to run into anyone inside Watery Cave.
Once at the hot spring he stripped down and tackled his clothes first, summoning a few large stones to hang his now clean clothes on, Wizard made another smaller stone near the spring so he had a place to sit while he bathed.
Dumping an entire bucket of water over his head he sighed in annoyance when he realized he'd have to undo his braid and wash his hair, probably repeatedly. Tilting his head over, Wizard worked on undoing his braid. There was no way he was going to tolerate having pink, glittery hair.
Perhaps he should retaliate against her. He was really considering it, seeing he was lathering his hair for the third time.
Maybe he could find one of those mushrooms and use the blue part instead. He'd wait till winter though. Just the thought of making Witch bathe in the swamp in the middle of winter made him smile. Seriously though, who knew how long it would take to find even one Fugue Mushroom and he hated the idea of wasting it on something so stupid.
Then again he could always try to figure out a way to turn her back into a frog. Not forever; it would be just for a while. Maybe a hundred years would teach her a lesson? Because that short time she'd been one did nothing to help her personality.
The sound of footsteps startled him from his thoughts.
"Why do we have to be here so late? I'm tired Hikari."
"Finn . . . I told you. I've been so busy that I haven't had time to do any mining. I really need to upgrade a couple of my tools. Plus, Gill was telling me about the mining contest during the New Year's festival. I really want to find something good to enter."
"Why are you worrying about the New Year's Festival? It's only summer time, Hikari. Do we really need to do this now? Besides, it's creepy being in here this late."
"What's the difference? It's a mine. It's the same inside the cave no matter what time it is outside."
He recognized the voice, it was the new resident; the young woman that got the ingredients so he could change Witch back. Surely, she'd just keep going. She wouldn't come over to the hot spring, would she? Looking down at his bubbly state of undress he really hoped she'd just keep going. He didn't think soap bubbles counted as proper attire when greeting females. Maybe he should move into the hot spring? But would that alert her to his presence?
"Thought you were mining? Where are you going now?"
Laughter echoed around the chamber. "You don't expect me to bypass the hot spring do you?"
Or maybe he'd been cursed as well as turned pink.
Sighing, he let his chin bounce against his chest. It was only a second before he heard her startled gasp.
"This is where I bathe." He explained glancing back at her. He pressed his lips together to keep from snorting at the sight of both her and her sprite friend shading their eyes.
Putting his wash rag down and rinsing one last time, he quickly moved into the hot spring. "I'm in the spring now."
Hikari chuckled nervously. "Sorry about this. I didn't think I'd met anyone this late at night." She explained rubbing the back of her head.
"I thought the same as well."
Clearing her throat she asked. "So, do you always bathe at this time and at this hot spring?"
"No . . . and yes." Slowly he turned away from her. Why she was still here? Any of the other residents would have screamed and then ran away, or at least apologized then left him in peace.
"No you don't always bathe at this time and yes you bathe at this spring?"
"I see." She replied, a muscle twitching by her eye told him she was annoyed about something. "So, what brings you down here tonight? Just bath night or?"
"Witch sent me a present."
Hikari smiled and answered. "Oh that was nice of her."
"It exploded sparkling, pink powder all over me and my home."
Gasping she covered her mouth. "Oh my goodness, are you alright?"
"I am uninjured and I don't believe I'm pink anymore."
Walking closer to the spring, Hikari sat on the stone Wizard had been on when she found him. "Nope, you seem to be pink free." She replied. "Do you have any idea why Witch would do that?"
What was wrong with her? Was now really the best time for this conversation? Mole didn't even bother him when he was bathing. She certainly didn't seem upset by the fact he was naked. She would leave if he answered her questions wouldn't she? That's normally how his interactions with the other villagers went, he answered their questions, and then they left him in peace.
"She hates me."
Huffing, Hikari folded her arms over her chest. "She did say that, didn't she?"
"I just wish I knew why she would waste those rare mushrooms for something like this."
Blinking Hikari cocked her head to the side. "Rare mushrooms?"
"The Fugue Mushroom; they grow inside the forest surrounding Witch's swamp. They sparkle, are blue with pink spots, and are very hard to find. Why she'd waste them for something like this is a mystery."
The rancher looked away, a small blush across her cheeks. Why was she was blushing now? Sitting beside him while he soaked in the hot spring didn't make her blush but, talking about mushrooms did? How strange. Slowly she rummaged through her rucksack and pulled one of the mushrooms out. "Is this it?"
Slack jawed, Wizard reached out and took the offered mushroom. "How did you get this?"
Still red, Hikari chuckled again, rubbing the back of her head to hide her embarrassment. "Well. . . you see, I find them all the time. I've been going into the forest to gather lumber and building stone." Gesturing with her hands she explained. "I really need to fix up my house, you see."
Nodding to show he understood, Wizard remained silent, still holding the Fugue.
"Anyway, I find these all the time and since I'm in the forest anyway, I've been stopping by Witch's home every day. You see, I've been giving these mushrooms to her, as a thank you for giving me the green bell."
He almost dropped the mushroom in the spring. "Every. . . day?" Well that explained things. No wonder Witch felt she could spare them for something like a prank. She could!
"So these mushrooms are really rare you say?"
Handing the mushroom back, Wizard nodded. "I spent years one time hunting for just one."
Sitting the Fugue Mushroom on the ground beside her, Hikari bit her lip. "Let me make sure I understand what you said. Witch used the mushrooms I gave her to play a trick on you?"
Knowing the truth of how his present was made left Wizard with very little interest in continuing their visit. Watching the Harvest Goddess's sprite nosing through his clean clothes and things, Wizard felt he'd had enough for one day. "Finn." The little sprite jumped and fluttered away from his things before looking at him, his face was once again red. "Bring my towel to me . . . please."
Towel now in hand Wizard turned back to the young woman who had kept him company during his bath, she was still watching him. "Are you going to watch me dry and dress too?"
"Oh, I'm sorry." She quickly stood and turned away, but didn't leave.
Sighing, Wizard existed the spring and dried. He noticed Finn sneaking glances at him. Placing his towel over his wet clothes he turned, giving Finn an eye full. He smirked when the little sprite hid behind his female friend.
Wizard wasn't angry at being ogled. Finn was very young so it was understandable that he wouldn't mind his manners when it came to his interest in another magical being. Usually magical beings were few and far between, the land of Castanet was the exception, and magic always attracted magic.
Now dressed, he gathered his things and moved around Hikari, heading towards the stairwell that led up. The young woman and Finn trailed after him all the way back to his home. At the door he stopped and turned to face them. "Yes?"
"You never answered me."
Clutching his wet things closer to him, Wizard nodded. "It would appear so . . . goodnight." Turning away, he had just put his hand on his doorknob when Hikari spoke again.
"At least let me help you clean up!"
Glancing back at her, Wizard shook his head. "I used magic to clean my home . . . goodnight." Before she could stop him again he was in his house and the door was shut.
Once he had his wet things hung to dry and all his bathing items back in order, Wizard finally felt like he could unwind. He'd felt strange ever since encountering Hikari and Finn.
There wasn't enough time to do any star research. Approaching his crystal ball, he peered in. Maybe he would be able to get some warning if Witch had any other pranks she was working on.
Like so many times since Hikari came to their sleepy little town, her soul and heart overpowered the other human residents of the town in his gazing ball. She was like a streaking comet or a bright super nova in a universe of smaller less bright stars compared to others.
He watched a replay of him walking into his home and leaving the young woman and her sprite friend standing outside. The two spoke for only a moment before they moved off, this time towards town instead of his cave. His front door stayed pictured within his crystal ball even after she was gone and he wondered why until she returned and placed the Fugue Mushroom she had showed him in front of his door.
The ball went dark. Questioningly, he tilted his head to the side, his hands still hovering over the ball. He wasn't sure he believed what he'd seen, but his ball was never wrong. Walking to the door he cracked it just enough to peek outside. There innocently sitting by his door was the mushroom. Bringing it in, Wizard sat it on his desk and shook his head at it.
It was too late to contemplate such things, tomorrow was another day after all.