Akari woke from a deep sleep suddenly. By now, seasons of waking up at six in the morning had made a permanent impression on her body's internal clock. She wondered vaguely as she slipped out of bed if she would even be capable of sleeping in if she so desired. She dressed herself quickly, a simple shirt and skirt combination with soft boots. Forgoing the opportunity to look in the mirror, she instead proceeded straight to chores. A fresh crop of Buckwheat had only recently sprouted from the cold winter ground, requiring her attention. Beyond that, there were also animals to feed. She sighed, stretching her shoulder blades to crack her back. A soft meow interrupted her as she reached for the doorknob. She glanced behind her to see Kitka, a small black kitten that she had come across earlier that year and taken in. She gave Kitka's back a scratch before heading toward the door again.
It was a cloudy day. Snow crunched under her boots as she made her way toward the vegetable patch. She admitted that work had been very difficult at first, but she had become used to the strain. At this point, she could get her chores done in less than an hour, partially thanks to the old blacksmith for upgrading her watering can. When she was satisfied that each plant was taken care of, she made a beeline toward the coop, where a solitary chicken and duck eagerly awaited her. They pecked at her feet when she entered the coop, honking and clucking incessantly. Dancing around the two of them, Akari emptied a feedbag for them, stopping only to collect the eggs, and hastened her way out. She moved instead to the barn, where a cow, sheep, and horse all awaited her. Rather than frisking her as the poultry had done, they simply stayed in their respective stalls, making soft noises of longing as she approached the food bin. After they had all been fed, brushed, pet, and the cow milked, Akari wandered to the edge of her property, where a small natural hot spring could be found. Sighing with relief, she folded her clothes neatly and lowered herself into the water.
What do I need to do next? She pondered, closing her eyes. The yellow bell had only recently been chimed, that left three still neglected. She remembered her shock at finding a pink frog in the middle of Fugue Forest where she had expected to find a witch. That, she thought silently, was problematic in itself. Finn had mentioned some kind of wizard living in Harmonica Town, but she had never heard of any. Maybe the mayor would know who Finn was talking about. She collected her clothing and headed back to the house. Now that she was clean, she bustled through her kitchen, preparing a snack for herself. As she was beginning to chop up a head of lettuce, a soft rap came from the other side of the door.
"Akari!" called a familiar female voice. Akari smiled softly, opening the door to revel a young woman with a long blonde ponytail. Compared to most of the other citizens of Harmonica Town, her style of dress was downright gaudy. A strapless bra was half-heartedly concealed beneath long sleeved cowgirl shirt that was itself only half there. A slim belly led to a fringed skirt that covered even less, long legs finally ending in vintage cowboy boots.
"Hello Kathy." Akari said, nodding her head slightly in greeting. "What brings you here?"
"What else?" said Kathy, a slight frown tugging at her lips, "Man trouble."
"Ah." Akari sighed, "Well, come in." Kathy shuffled past her, taking her usual place at Akari's table. Absentmindedly, she began petting Kitka.
"Well, it all started when Owen beat me in a horse race-a first, I may add." She began, rolling her eyes. "The thing is, I never would have imagined that he could actually beat me, so we made a little bet."
"Don't tell me." Akari said, looking at Kathy dryly.
"It was just a kiss! Anyway, I leaned in to do it, and he ran away! Then he teased me about actually going through with it. What nerve." Kathy ranted, shaking her head as angry red patched appeared on her cheeks. Kitka meowed in protest of being ignored.
"Well yeah, but you probably shouldn't have bet him over a horse race…" Akari said, smirking.
"Oh spare me." Kathy waved her hand dismissively. "Anyway, how have you been? I've seen you paling around with Candace a lot lately."
"Oh? Yeah, I suppose. She's difficult to talk to sometimes, but she's a nice girl. I dunno."
"Is she really going to pursue Julius?" Kathy asked, raising her eyebrows. "Maybe it's just me, but doesn't he seem… a little… I don't know…"
"Flamboyant?" Akari suggested, also raising her eyebrows.
"Yeah. So it's not just me then?"
"Nah. I'll admit that I was pretty skeptical, but what the heck, they seem happy enough."
"And what about YOU?" Kathy asked, her eyes narrowing. She leaned in slightly, a serious expression on her face.
"Oh, I don't know." Akari felt a slight blush creep up her face. "Everyone here seems so well matched already, you know? I'm just kind of the odd duck."
"What do you mean?" Kathy asked.
"Oh please! There's Candace and Julius, Renee and Toby, Phoebe and Calvin… You and Owen."
"There's nothing between us!" Kathy insisted. When Akari only continued to smirk, she changed tactics. "So you're just going to wait around for some new guy to move here?" she asked, rather accusingly.
"I don't know." Akari said wearily. She couldn't even really think about that until the Harvest Goddess was revived anyway, "Oh, Kathy, do you happen to know if there's a Wizard that lives in Harmonica Town?"
"Not that I know of," Kathy laughed, "All we have here is some weird fortune teller. He lives in that place above the clinic."
"I see." Akari said, looking at her feet. Maybe that was who Finn mentioned, although it certainly seemed that Finn was exaggerating his power. In any case, Akari decided to give him a visit later that day.