Author's Note: Don't look at me like that. I know I said I wouldn't be starting anything new for a while, but I am totally and completely innocent on this one because Jean Cooper was the one who started it. (Yes, Jean, I am blaming you for all this.) That being said, be sure to read her story, entitled The Ancient and the Damned as well because I can assure you won't be disappointed when you do. ;)

Once again, there will be foreign languages used, most notably Italian with a smattering of Spanish and French as well, but nothing which relates directly to the plot will be hidden in these moments of dialogue. However, if you are still curious as to what a certain phrase means, feel free to ask me in your review, and I will do my best to translate.

Disclaimer: I have no ownership of Harvest Moon or its characters.

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Phase One

Il Bel Viso

--

Gray

"Non è la più bella Luna avete mai visto?"

"Kai, why the hell are you speaking in Spanish?"

He sighed and shook his head as he stood at the window, but when he turned on his heel to face me, he was grinning.

"No, that would be, 'Usted es tal simplón,'" he corrected me. I glared up at him from my bunk across the room, but even though I had a feeling he was trying to pull one over me, I had no way to prove him wrong. "I was just admiring the moon is all," he assured me. "You really should come and see her for yourself."

"Like I'd give a shit about something like that," I muttered, pulling my hat over my eyes. I was tired, dammit, and the last thing I wanted to see was the damn moon of all things. "It's not like it's going anywhere..."

I heard him sigh again, this time in defeat, but he stayed quiet. Out of curiosity, being as he was never one to shut his trap for very long, I tilted back the brim of my hat and cracked one eye open. He looked the same as always, wearing the very same leather jacket and faded purple bandanna he had on when he first came to the village, but he wasn't his usual obnoxious self. He was just gazing out the window, lost in his own thoughts, and for some reason, that just left me even more irritated.

"But the moon is always changing, Gray," he reminded me. "She has a different face for every night... and so she is forever beautiful." I only rolled my eyes before trying to go back to sleep. "She really does have a woman's charm, don't you think?"

"It's a big ass rock, Kai," I grumbled. "And even if it looks different, it's still up there, and it's still the same big ass rock. So just shut the hell up and go to sleep."

"La nuit est jeune encore, mon ami, et nous aussi."

"You know I don't have a damn clue what you're saying, right?" I didn't know what was wrong with him, but I'd had just about enough of all this poetic bull shit of his. Just because he had a lot of time for that kind of thing working in that shack of his every day, that didn't mean I had the same kind of luxury, and I'd be damned if he was going to keep me up all night trying to be a French Shakespeare.

When I went to tell him as much, though, he was gone, but while I thought it was strange that I didn't hear him leave, I figured it was just as well. If he was going out for the night, that meant I would finally get some damn shut eye, and that was just what I was after. Let him have his moon...

I was going to stare at the back of my eyelids.

--

Kai

I stretched, my muscles straining pleasantly while I did so, but it was only after my back popped comfortably back into place that I let my shoulders relax. It really was a lovely night... or at least I thought so. And yet there I was all alone.

Of course, it didn't really matter to me any, but looking up to the second floor of the place I called home during my stay in the small village, I felt somewhat guilty to know that Gray was still trapped inside. After all, here it was one of the most beautiful evenings in Mineral Town, and he was missing out, same as always.

Day after day, he worked at the forge with nothing to show for it, and every afternoon, he would hide himself in the library only to come back to the inn to sulk. I always had to wonder how he could think there was so little to life, but I already knew there was no point in asking him directly.

Not when he had such a short fuse and all.

While lost in my thoughts, I made my way through the streets of town, humming a nameless tune and wearing a lazy smile. It felt good to be in the moonlight... even if she wasn't yet at her full splendor, and I could all but hear her laughter in my mind. It was a cheerful sound... one that I was all too familiar with by this time, but I was soon distracted by another of a more earthly nature. One that brought a smile to my face.

"Così noi riunirà nuovamente, piccoli..."

--

Mary

My fingers glided through my dark hair, loosening the braid that had held it back throughout the day, as I stood at my window overlooking the town. I had tried many times to capture the moment when the gas lamps were lit, their amber glow misting over each and every street corner, but as of yet, the description necessary remained elusive at best. This night had been no different, of course, but the scene was not as perfect as it could have been.

The moon was far too bright... and thus flattened the atmospheric shadows that I had grown to cherish and longed to place into words.

I sighed then, scolding myself for being so dramatic over such a simple thing... especially when I had no real control over it. After all, I could no more change the moon or its phases any more than I could move a mountain.

Having had that thought, I quickly jotted it down in my notebook that rested on my nightstand. I did so out of habit, but as always, I still smiled to see the phrase laid out in ink. I had had twelve such moments of inspiration that day which was certainly something to celebrate after the writer's block I had suffered from over the past week or so.

Now I could only hope I would be so fortunate when the next day came.

Though I knew there would be nothing more to gain from it, I returned to the window once more with the mindset to close the curtains, but to my surprise, I found two eyes gazing into my own. At least they seemed to be.

"Is that a wild dog?" I asked aloud, readjusting my glasses just to be sure. If it was, I had never seen one quite like it before. Unlike the mangey beasts that roamed the village freely after dusk, this one had a sleek and glossy coat which was of a rare marbled variety of both black and an almost russet color.

Whatever it was, though, it held my gaze with its wide and golden eyes, and the spell was only broken when two small pups came bounding out from the thick shrubbery behind the winery. They nipped playfully at its legs, but instead of bearing its fangs at them, it began to join in their game by knocking them off their feet and nuzzling their bared bellies much to their apparent delight.

I continued to watch them for a time, but they did not linger for much longer as out of the darkness there came a mournful howl from the not too distant hills. The first stood then, its ears perked to receive the call, and soon it herded the two young pups off towards the southern part of town. However, before running off into the night, it cast one last glance in my direction, and had I not known better than to believe such a thing...

I may have fancied the idea that it had smiled at me.

--

Claire

I wiped the last of the dirt off my hands and onto my jeans just as I rightened myself and sighed. It may have taken me all day to finish repairing the fence posts that lined the pasture, but I could finally feel at ease about leaving my livestock out to graze at night again. Rick would scold me for the next morning, of course, what with the wild dogs and other animals that lived in the woods just outside my property, but I just couldn't bring myself to lock my own animals in the barn on such a humid summer's evening.

Besides, I had yet to see a wild dog myself, and although I would have liked to think my own little mutt was the one to thank for that, I was starting to wonder if they weren't just another local rumor. It wouldn't have surprised me... if only because I knew just how easily such gossip could be blown out of proportion.

Take my friendship with Rick for instance.

Lately, he and I couldn't so much as wave at one another without one of the women in the square making a fuss about it. I had tried my best to ignore them as he had, but more often than not, they would get the better of me which always seemed to cause even more misunderstandings. One of which being that I was jealous of Karen... and that was just about as far from the truth as one could get.

Turning back to have one last look at my farm, I just had to smile, though. After all, it had been the first project I had ever had to put so much work into, but even after going through so much trouble to revive the old place, I had to admit all those long hours of cutting wood, breaking rocks, and pulling weeds had finally come through.

However, as I continued to admire my newly sown fields, I thought I heard a sudden noise. It was unlike anything I had ever heard before, a haunting wail that rose up from the dark trees just across the small brook that flowed at the very edge of the property, and I could feel my heart start to pound as it came closer. My eyes were wide as my hand reached for the door, but when the cry came again, I froze right where I stood.

My mouth ran dry when I heard another howl coming from town, and having realized just how close it was to my own home, I began to shake. I hated to admit it, but I had always been something of a coward. It wasn't so much that I was afraid of the dark, thunder, lightening, or even spiders... It was just that sad and lonesome sound which sent shivers down my spine.

One which could only mean danger was about to come.