Disclaimer: I don't own Harvest Moon. If I did, would make a few adjustments.

Chapter 1: A witch

I had gotten lucky. I had visited Lanna's house this morning in hopes of some fishing tips and found a pleasant surprise. "This was in the mouth of a fish I caught yesterday, Mark," she told me, holding out the stone. It was shaped in the exact form of a sun, it was red, and it was warm. I was identical to the others I had collected. I had seen many of these stones, and yet every time I saw a new one I was stunned for a few moments by its beauty. "Thanks, Lanna," I had, all thoughts of fishing tips leaving my mind. I took the stone from her and put it in my rucksack. I broke out into a wide smile. "What is it?" she asked curiously.

She didn't look at me; instead she examined her fishing pole collection. "I just realized - I have twelve sunstones," I said. "Oh?" She sounded politely interested, but it was obvious her mind was elsewhere. "Which island are you raising next?" "The Mystic Islands," I said. "There are two?" "Yeah." "Cool." Lanna smiled at me. "If you see Denny on your way to Meadow Island, would you please ask him to come here? I need him to look at one of my fishing poles."

She frowned at them behind the glass case. I agreed and left her glamorous house. I didn't see Denny hanging out on the beach, so I assumed he was either in his home or at Chen's Shop. Either way, I wasn't going to bother looking for him. I was too eager. I passed Sabrina on the way to Vendure Island; she was walking down the road, staring at the ocean. "Morning," I said politely.

She smiled at me and replied, "Good morning, Mark. Lovely day, isn't it?" she asked. I nodded and told her where I was going. "That'll be nice – a new place to go to. I'm not allowed on Volcano Island, you know." She sounded sad. "Why not?" I asked, genuinely curious. She sighed.

"My father thinks it's too dangerous for me," she explained.

"But he's down there all the time – so is your cousin and that Lily girl." She sighed again.

"Yes, well, father is very strict with his rules."

I wished Sabrina would do what she wanted for once, and not allow Regis to hold her back, but I knew she was too shy. I nodded and excused myself, pitying her the whole walk. Maybe she would meet a nice guy that lets her do what she likes. When I reached Meadow Island, Will was there, the blonde rich prince, Sabrina's cousin and Regis's father. He flirted with every girl of the island, and called them all 'maidens'

. I didn't know him well enough to like or dislike him, but he was odd, to say the least. "Hello, Mark," he said cheerfully to me, "Isn't it wonderfully pretty outside today? Nature astounds me." He also had a different way of speaking, but I couldn't really explain it. "Yes, yes," I said.

I didn't mean to be rude, but I was eager and he was distracting me. He noticed me glancing sideways at the white shrine, which was beautiful and sacred to this Island. Lily had wanted to use it when she first arrived, but I had told her about how special it was to all of the Islanders, and she had agreed to leave it alone reluctantly. She spent a lot of time on Volcano Island, though, claiming there was whole masses of treasures there.

"Raising another island, my friend?" Will asked me. I snapped back to reality. "Oh, well, yeah," I said. Will smiled and gestured to the shrine. "Well, don't let me stop you." I hurried up to it, and almost instantly a Harvest Sprite appeared. I had forgotten his name. "Hi, Mark!" he said enthusiastically, "What would you like to do today?" "Raise an island," I answered. I pulled the rucksack off my shoulders and pulled out the twelve sunstones.

I gave them to him, and the Harvest Sprites' eyes lit up. "Which one?" he asked, eagerly gathering up the stones. "The Mystic Islands," I replied promptly.

I had no idea what would be on it, but the name was mysterious enough to let curiosity overpower practicality – I had thought it would be more sensible to raise Mushroom Island first, but oh well. "I'll use the stone's power now," The Harvest Sprite told me. I wasn't allowed to watch what he did them, not that it mattered.

He hurried behind the shrine and I waited for several minutes. All at once, the ground started shaking violently under my feet, and I looked back to see Will wildly trying to keep his balance. I was doing the same. The shaking continued for longer than it had last time.

I dropped to my knees so I wouldn't be flailing constantly, and Will had done the same. If I squinted, I could see two mighty figures emerging from the sea like monsters. They shot up into the sky, and then, with one last strong shake, the ground was still under my feet, and it was safe to stand. I got to my feet, and stumbled over to where Will was to help him up.

"Thank you," he said. I nodded and didn't stick around. I hurried back over to the boat person, whose name I had also forgotten. "Want to head over to the new island, Mark?" he asked. I nodded, and he helped me climb aboard.

The ride took longer than it should have, but finally we pulled up alongside the dock, and I jumped off. The two islands were connected by a long, slanting bridge. I went right first and found myself on a small island, and the small, faded sign read, the Harvest Goddess is said to reside here.

Behind the sign was beautiful green grass swaying around a small pond. Around the pond, there were also blueberries and flowers. I picked up them all and was about to look at the other island before I glanced back at the pond dubiously. I had heard stories about someone called the Harvest Goddess; she resided in water, and her home was said to be a small pond. If one made an offering to her, she would appear.

I sighed and pulled one, pretty flower up from the ground. I tossed it in the center of the pond and waited for several minutes. Just as I was about to roll my eyes and leave, the water began to sway unnaturally.

Before my eyes, a sort of green mist was forming above where the offering had been thrown, and out of the mist appeared a beautiful woman. She smiled at me as the mist around her disappeared. "Hello, Mark," she said in a pleasant voice.

My mouth fell open, and my hand rose without my permission to point at her. "You're the – you're the . . ." "Harvest Goddess!" She finished, laughing. Her laugh reminded me of wind chimes. "Thank you for the offering – I love flowers." She held the flower in her hands, looking down at it lovingly. And then she looked at me again, her lovely eyes almost glowing. "I've been watching you, Mark, and I must say I am largely impressed with your progress. You're doing so well," she praised me. I looked away uncomfortably. "Um, thank you," I muttered. She laughed again, and the flower disappeared from her hands. "I must go now," she said, "But come back soon!" I nodded and stepped back.

She looked in the direction of the other island, sighed, and muttered something unintelligible. "What?" I asked. She shook her head. "Oh, nothing – I just have a feeling a certain acquaintance of mine will be moving here as well. It seems she's always around," the Harvest Goddess mused. "Who is she?" I wanted to know. The pretty woman scowled, an unnatural-looking emotion for her. "You'll meet her soon enough, but I warn you, it's best you stay away from her. She is . . . the complete opposite of me."

With that, she began to disappear, a sad-looking expression in her eyes. I wanted to tell her to wait, but something told me she would not, and I would come back soon anyway. I walked over to the other small island and read the sign. An island fit for a witch, it read. I snorted. A witch? Witches aren't real. But then again, I hadn't thought the Harvest Goddess was real. If this sign was true, then certainly this was the Witch the Harvest Goddess had been talking about.

The complete opposite of her.

Life and death.

Light and darkness.

Good and evil.

I shook my head and returned to the boat. I still had things to do; my chickens needed to be put back in their home, and it was getting dark. I banished today's encounter from my mind and headed back to my farm.

The next day was Monday. It was raining, as Taro had predicted, so the crops didn't have to be watered, nor did the animals have to be put out. I had been thinking about heading to Volcano Island to do some mining the next day it rained, as I had more energy without having worked so hard in the morning. But I didn't want to go there; I wanted to go back to Mystic Islands. It wasn't likely anything new had happened since I left, but . . . I stopped at Taro's house before I went to the boat.

"My trick knee is telling me it'll be sunny tomorrow," he said to me. Natalie and Elliot were lugging crates around. "Hey, Mark," both of them said. I nodded to both of them. I didn't care so much for Elliot – his lack of self-esteem bothered me. He should be able to stand up for himself. Natalie bullied him often, and the results showed. His attitude reminded me of how Sabrina acted around Regis, and I shuddered

. Natalie, though, I admired for her strength. Not physically, of course. She never let people walk over her, like her brother did. "Where are you off to today, dear?" Felicia asked sweetly. "Over to Mystic Islands," I answered, "I gathered enough stones to raise them yesterday." She sighed. "Yes, we could tell by the earthquake, dear." I smiled apologetically.

"I'm sorry. Well, goodbye now." Natalie and Elliot half-waved at me as I left. Natalie muttered something under her breathe about going over to Pierre's house later. I shuddered. The food-obsessed chef reminded me of a child. I passed his house on the way to the boat, and rolled my eyes at the fork and the knife hung above his door. In the distance, by the beach, I could see the island's animal dealer, Vaughn, I think his name is, talking to the girl who has an interest in farming herself, Chelsea. I thought this was odd; the only people I've ever seen him talk to are Mirabelle, Julia, and occasionally Denny.

There's a first time for everything, though. "Where to today, Mark?" the boat driver asked pleasantly.

I felt a little guilty for forgetting his name, but I had known him for a while, and it would be awkward to ask him now. "Mystic Islands," I said simply. He looked thoughtful for a second. "I heard they're going to build a church there. But yesterday I saw something strange." "What was it?" I asked curiously. The driver looked even more thoughtful, and when he spoke again, his voice was distant. "A house . . ." "Already? Impossible," I scoffed, "There couldn't have been a house built overnight; and even if there was, Gannon would have had to do it, and I haven't paid him to build anything." The driver shrugged.

"You're right. It must have been my imagination. Climb aboard, then, we're off." The driver's words nagged at me the whole ride there, but I didn't think about them. When we reached the dock, though, I saw through the few bushes on the ground, that the driver had spoken the truth.

A pink house now stood there, a few feet from the sign I had read yesterday. Oddly, two long, brown stumps stood on either sides of the door, the ends of both coiled into hands, each holding a lantern. I stepped off the boat and approached the house warily. Curiously enough, the house itself was a spectacle. Aside from the odd stump things, there were long purple lines drawn on the door, and purple dust floated everywhere as if there had been some sort of explosion.

I stared dumbly at it for a few minutes before I could gather my courage and knock on the door. It was silent for several long moments, but the door finally opened, and behind it stood a very short little girl in the strangest clothes I had ever seen.

Dressed in some kind of black cape, with shiny dark eyes and white-blonde hair, the girl was pretty enough, but she scowled at me in annoyance. "What are you doing here?" she snapped, "I was about to defeat the old bag! And then I could go back to my homeland, across the ocean." I gaped at her for a few seconds. "I err, uh . . ." I said stupidly.

From behind the girl, I heard a light, appealing laugh. "The day you beat me in magic, Witchkin, is the day I am on my deathbed," said a voice from behind the girl. Witchkin scowled again, this time at whoever was behind her. "I'll beat you one of these days, old lady," she snarled.

She glanced back at me and then muttered to the woman behind her. "There's a human here." I blinked. I heard footsteps approaching the door, and the woman who had spoken pushed Witchkin out of the way. The woman who stood before me now was very beautiful, like the Harvest Goddess had been, but in an entirely different way. She also wore the black cape, but hers was not as long, and it was held together by an icon strongly resembling a skull.

Beneath that, though, she wore a pretty purple dress that matched her boots. Her long white-blonde hair matched the girl's, and her eyes were also very dark, reminding me of a shade of red. It was unpleasant to stare at them for too long. She smirked at me. "Why, hello there," she said, "I am the Witch Princess, and this is my brat of a niece." Witchkin glared and stomped far back into the house. "I'm Mark," finally managed, "I'm the one who raised this island."

Witch Princess smiled at me. "Aw, then you raised my lovely new home. Thank you. But . . ." she looked suddenly angry, glaring past my shoulder, to the other island. "It seems as though the Harvest Goddess is my neighbor once again." She groaned. "I can't get rid of her, no matter where I move." I realized that I had been right before. This was who the Harvest Goddess had been talking about, the one she had warned me about.

I looked at the sign nervously, and then looked back at the mysterious woman. "Yes, I met her yesterday," I muttered, taking a small step backward. Witch Princess scowled. "Friends of the Harvest Goddess are no friends of mine, Mark."

I was quick to think of a reply. "Oh, we're not really friends; she's just someone I happened to run into while I was exploring this island." I stared at her curiously. "You weren't here yesterday." Her face suddenly turned into an expression of ancient grief. "Yes, well, I used to live here, ages ago, but before long it sank into the sea. I had to leave, obviously, but when I heard it was back, of course I immediately returned."

I stared at her again, this time in wonder. "So…" I wasn't sure how to phrase my next question. She waited. I heard a shuffling behind her; it sounded like glass clinking together. Witch Princess frowned and whirled around. "Witchkin! Don't touch my potions without my permission!" I peered around Witch Princess's shoulder and saw her niece standing in front of a very tall bookshelf, covering half of the back wall. It towered high above both woman, and there was a ladder leaning against the eastern wall. On the shelves where large glass bottles, each containing odd-looking liquids, some of them sparking and sizzling, others doing nothing at all.

"I was just looking!" Witchkin explained, placing the bottle of popping blue liquid back on the shelf. She came back to the door and pushed her way past me. "I'm off to collect new magic," she announced, "to beat you with." Witch Princess smirked. "Don't bring back any frogs. I'm sick of the green slimy things." Witchkin stopped in her tracks and whirled around to face her Aunt, her expression more angry than simply irritated.

"And I'm tired of those sickly-looking bears!" Witch Princess raised one of her hands, and I saw with alarm that the ends of her fingers sparked with red light. "Off with you now, before I turn you into a fly. We'll see how much you love frogs then!" Witchkin hurried away, obviously taking her Aunt seriously.

The rain had stopped, so the frogs weren't around anyway. The light on Witch Princess's fingers vanished and she smiled at me. "Come in, come in, and listen to what I tell you." I was hesitant about doing as she said, but I was afraid of the consequences if I refused. I came in, and sat down on a chair next to a square table in the center of the room. The tablecloth matched the strange design on the door, made to look like some kind of explosion.

Witch Princess made some kind of motion with her hands, and the door closed without her actually touching it. I shivered. Inside the house, I had a better view of exactly what was in here. Scattered everywhere on the floors were stuffed bears and frogs.

In the left corner, there was a grand green canopy bed, presumably where Witchkin slept. In the opposite corner, next to the majority of the bears, was another huge canopy bed, but this one was pink and grander. I looked at the bookshelves with all the potions, and saw that the other half of the wall had many shelves too, only these were stuffed with thick books. I squinted to get a look at the titles, but I was too far away; the house was quite big. I looked at Witch Princess, who was studying me with an amused expression in her eyes.

"So are you really a . . . a witch?" I finally asked. Witch Princess laughed loudly and sat down, levitating in the air. "What do you think?" I swallowed hard. "I think you are, and so is your niece." She nodded and grimaced. "Yes, she very well is. I didn't want her to come live with me here, but she insisted. She still thinks she can outwit me with magic, the little twerp. She's far less experienced than I am."

"How much experience," I wondered out loud, "do you have?" She fell back on her feet and wondered over to her huge bookshelves, her eyes scanning the titles of books. "A very long time," she said cryptically. There was an awkward silence, and I tried to think of a way to fill it. "I would have raised this island sooner," I told her as she pulled a very thick book from the shelf and flipped through it, "But there was a horrible storm last week, and I was missing one sunstone."

She smiled again, but she didn't take her eyes off the book. "The typhoon last week? Yes, I believe I caused that. It was soon boring in my previous location." My eyes widened. "You did that? You ruined my apple tree," I snapped. I had worked hard planting and watering it last spring, only to have its roots ripped violently from the ground by storm as if it was nothing more than a flower. She glanced up at me, and I fell silent.

"Did I? I apologize. But believe me, when you're as bored as I was, and as powerful, you get creative with ways to amuse yourself." Her eyes sparkled with some remembered memory. Half of me wanted to leave; this was just plain creepy. But the other half was curious about her. The curious half won. "That's alright," I sighed, "I can plant another one next year."

"A year passes by very quickly," she said, "Faster than I can blink." "Maybe to you. But to me, it seems like a long time," I informed her.

She closed the book and held it to her chest, covering the icon of a skull. "Yes, I guess it does. Anyway," she said, changing the subject, "If you ever find anything I can use in my potions, please bring it to me." "Like…?" I asked. She shrugged. "Lots of things. Fish bones. Toadstools. Things like that." "Aren't toadstools poisonous mushrooms?" I asked. "

Yes!" she cried happily, "And they are the most powerful in my spells. If you're ever not busy, come by and you can be my guinea pig." I shuddered. She noticed. "Not that you'd ever be hurt. I only hurt people who aren't my friends." She smiled. "

Would you care to be friends, Mark?" "Yes," I said too quickly. Witch Princess laughed, but there was sadness in her eyes. "I won't hurt you, Mark. But please, if you come across the Harvest Goddess" – she wrinkled her nose and almost spit the title – "tell her to stay away from me." I nodded.

"Alright, Witch Princess." She nodded and walked over to a very large black pot set over some kind of pit. I hadn't noticed it before. Or had it simply appeared when I wasn't looking? She opened the book again and sat down on empty air. "Now, if you don't mind, I am very busy. I'd like to have tested this potion before Witchkin gets back. I have the most delightfully evil prank to play on her." I could tell she wanted me to leave. "You won't hurt her, will you?" I asked as I stood up

. The sadness was back in her eyes, and I wondered why. "No," she said softly, "It's just a joke. I won't hurt her. She's my niece." She scowled as if this was an awful fact. I smiled slightly before I bid her goodbye, not even glancing back at the explosive door on my way to the boat.

A/N: I think Witch Princess is one of the most interesting HM characters. I wanted to write a fic about her and Mark.