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Outside The White Mansion

Chapter Text

Winter has ended, the snow has melted in the cemented pavements of the town, lakes have returned from the freezing ice, the flowers start blooming in different hues, and the leaves of some trees that shed during autumn begin to sprout again. People changed their clothes into something light and colorful, they have stopped using the fireplaces in their homes, and began drinking something cold again. Spring has finally arrived.

Catherine, a sheltered youth under a wealthy family, has been glancing through her window to look at the cherry trees if they have began blooming ever since the start of springtime. She also waited for days for the flowers to color up the garden with their array of hues. She hardly goes outside her mansion aside from the weekend strolls in the town with her parents and a couple of servants, but she still recognizes the outdoors through her garden. Her garden is filled with plants. These plants show different colors as seasons pass. Green leaves, pink, yellow, purple, and pastel blossoms during spring, the leaves turn to rich green and more vibrant flowers like eye-catching reds and oranges bloom during summer, and the leaves dry out and turn into red, brown, and orange during fall. She imagines that outside the white mansion and the town, there are plenty of plants, colorful flowers, and fresh air. Yet, she still keeps the stories her parents, especially her father, told her ever since she was young. Outdoors is a dangerous place for her, and she must be extra cautious to her surroundings whenever she will leave the mansion.

Catherine sometimes fantasize about going to lush green fields, or vivid flower fields, or forest rich with trees. She knows that there is a valley that is near to her town, which she believed to show spectacular sights in nature. However, this valley is stuck to eternal winter and everybody moved out because of the condition, as her father told her ever since she was young. Her father was one of the first people that inhabited this valley, according to his story, as she believed. She was intrigued about this lost valley, and wondered what the valley was like before it was blanketed in snow. The thought of a vast, yet abandoned valley with land so white in snow may not be the most appealing outdoor landscape Catherine wanted to go to, but maybe eventually she will go there with some people to explore the mysteries that lie ahead. She was thinking, if this nearby valley stuck in eternal winter was abandoned for many years, is it devoid of all living creatures? How about plants, do sturdy trees like pine and cedar still grow sturdy despite the snow?

The lady loves trees and plants, as evident as she keeps on visiting her garden and asking her dearest father about them. She doesn't want to let a lot of people know about her passion for sturdy trees and greenery. She kept this interest to herself, as it is not very ladylike for a refined dame like her. Only her father knew about this. To her, springtime is a very wonderful time for her because many plants begin to grow again, and the green leaves and grass when spring arrives calms her down and soothes her eyesight.

On the tenth day of spring, she began hearing rumors which she heard from her servants, being passed by some people in the town.

"Can't you believe it? There's a brave, brave man that began residing in the valley!" Said one of Catherine's servants.
"Huh?!? What valley? You mean... THAT valley?" Said the other.
"What do you mean THAT valley? Well... that valley the rumors were referring to is that valley near to our town, which is said to be cursed to experience winter for eternity!"
"Really?!? What brave soul that person has for living there! Experiencing eternal winter could lead to hypothermia! Living in that valley alone and experiencing nothing but seeing snow and feeling the cold is very scary to me."
"I agree with you."
"Can you two stop your chit-chat and clean the bathrooms?" A bossy servant interrupted the conversation of the two servants.
"Y-Yes Ma'am..." Said both gossiping servants.

Catherine eavesdropped the rumors of her servants. She thought, "Who in the right mind goes to an abandoned valley of endless winter and live in there?" She wanted to know if this is true. Her parents are not at home and it looks like she has to be assisted by one of her servants to prove to herself the rumor being passed around her town.

"Excuse me, are you not doing anything right now?" She asked to a servant resting to her garden.
Her servant was startled.
"Wha-WHA-?!? L-Lady Catherine! I am so sorry for slacking off! I promise not to--" The servant said, quick to her words and trembling, only to be cut short by her master.
"I think you're shirking work. But that's okay, for now. You see, I want you to accompany me around the town. You're not really doing anything, aren't you? Go with me," Catherine commanded.
"Yes, Lady Catherine," The servant complied.
Catherine handed the servant a large, frilly white parasol.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go! Guide me to the restaurant. It will be our first destination," Catherine said.

Catherine and her servant stepped out of the iron gates of the white mansion to go to the town. Catherine's servant is trying to catch up with the uppity lady's fast pacing to shade her from the sun with a parasol. When their paces met, Catherine turned to her servant and asked, "Have you been hearing any rumors? Specifically about some madman that decided to live in the valley nearby, which is stuck in winter."
"Hm? Yes, I think I have heard of it. A few days ago, I was doing errands, buying floor polish in a shop. Then a couple of madams have been talking about what you were saying. I think I saw the owner of the restaurant talking about it too. We should ask her," the servant replied.
"Good. We're going to the restaurant first, you know?" Catherine said.

At 10:20, Catherine and her servant arrived at the restaurant. The aroma of freshly-baked bread with butter is on the four corners of the small establishment. A redhead lady wearing a white shirt and apron, yellow skirt and beret, cheerfully greeted the two with a wide grin on her face.
"Good Morning! Welcome to Hanna's Eatery!"
"Excuse me, but have you heard about the recent rumors about a madman... I mean, a person living in the valley nearby?" Asked Catherine.
"Right... Yes, I did! Actually, mom and I have went to the valley already! We saw it in our two eyes, the only house in the valley is occupied by a dashing young man! He claims to be a farmer and he said that he will reshape the valley and restore the seasons of the valley so people will come again!"
"That's ridiculous! My father owns that land. He should've asked for permission to my father if he wanted to live there! And claiming the seasons back? Who do he think he is? A hero?"
The redhead shrugged. "Well, that's what he said, and before mom and I came there that's what the rumors said! Ask Old Man Sam!"
"Old Man Sam? Well it's a bit insulting when you call someone an old man..." Catherine shook her head.
"You know him right? He's the traveling merchant! Always on the job, leaving his little child and wife at home, just to get some money for his wife's medicine?" The cheery girl said, a little bit smugly.
"Of course I know him! But calling him Old Man Sam? Tsk, tsk! That seemed rude of you!"
"Awww, come on! Lighten up a bit, princess! Old Man Sam even calls himself 'Old Man Sam' or 'Uncle Sam'!"
"Uh... Lady Catherine, looks like your conversation is losing the main topic," Catherine's servant interrupted.
Catherine sighed. "I know," She replied. "I think I got carried away for a bit."

"Ah, so what are you lovely ladies talking about? Heheh, Emily, dear, what brings our Lady Catherine here?" Said a deep, husky, yet matronly voice that tried to join the conversation. The voice belonged to a huge woman whose hair has the same shade of red of the cheerful girl. The woman wears a white bandana on her head, a charming collared yellow shirt, a burgundy skirt wrapped by a white apron, and olive slippers worn with black socks.
"Mom!" Exclaimed Emily, the cheerful girl in white and yellow.
"Catherine came here because she wanted to know about the rumors! You know... The rumors about a man living in the valley, trying to bring the seasons back to the place by farming and stuff? That's all true!"
"Well, yeah. That's all true. The two of us went to the valley to prove it. The first one to do so was Old Man Sam, wanderin' around, visited the valley again, then he saw a man living there. Sam sold him seeds in hopes of something to grow in the valley. To the man that began living to the valley after a long time, there's still hope that life is still possible in the valley," The matron, who happens to be Emily's mother, tried to explain to Catherine about the rumors.
"Oh yeah, Catherine," Emily said. "Mom and I, we don't go to that valley often. It's too cold. Besides, we still have work here in the restaurant!"
"I see, I see," Catherine nodded. "I have to go now, I still have a lot of things to do."
"Bye bye!" Emily waved with a smile.
"If you want, you can ask Sam about the guy residing in the valley! He knows more than what we know!" Emily's mother said before saying farewell to the lady.

Catherine and her servant left the restaurant. The restaurant just opened and there weren't any customers Catherine can ask. Emily and her mother mentioned Sam, so she will go to the traveling merchant's house. Catherine commanded her servant to knock on the door of Sam's house. The servant knocked three times. After a few seconds, the door was opened by a little girl whose hair is tied in twin buns.
Catherine's servant bowed. "Good morning to you, little one," she said to the child. "Lady Catherine wants to see your father."
"Sorry," The little girl said. "Papa isn't here. He is out."
"Good morning to you," Catherine greeted. "Excuse me, but do you know where your father went?" She asked.
"Papa went to the valley," The little girl, who is Sam's daughter, said. "Mama and I were worried for him because the valley is all snowy and dangerous."
"I understand what you feel," Catherine sympathized.
"Papa said he looks forward selling his stuff to a regular customer in the valley!"
"So the rumors of a person living in the valley were true?"
"Yep! Papa said the boy living in the valley is a hard worker! He is very friendly too! He tells some stories to my papa before he goes to work!"
"Does your father pass this man's stories to you?"
"Yep! Before I sleep, papa tells me stories. Papa told me that the man that is living in the snowy valley was saved by a voice during a snowstorm!"
Catherine was a little bit surprised from what she heard from Sam's daughter. She nodded and keeps on listening to what the little girl says.
"The man climbed up to a mountain and suddenly a snowstorm had struck. He rushed and found the valley, then he heard a voice, and decided to settle down in a house and found some farming tools. He met a yellow Harvest Sprite that taught him how to shape the farm. Since then, the man became a farmer to the valley with the help of his Harvest Sprite friends! But papa doesn't believe in these Harvest Sprites. He is just telling what the man said to him. The man is trying to fix the valley!"
"Well that's ridiculous! Fixing the valley is an impossible task when done alone! If he believes in the Harvest Goddess, he would ask for her help, but that's not enough! There should be more people that will help him achieve his goal of fixing the valley, even returning the valley to it's four-season state!"
"Why don't you go there yourself and help him?"
"I... I can't for now! I will wait and see if there are enough people that are helping him and he is slowly achieving that goal!" Catherine added, "And for his information, the land he's farming and the house he's resting on belongs to my father. I will call him out."
Catherine bowed. "Thank you very much for sharing some information with me," then she and her servant bid farewell to the child.

"Let's return to the mansion, lunch is likely prepared," Catherine said to her servant.
"Yes, Lady Catherine, let us return to the mansion," her servant replied.
Catherine and her servant walked their way back to the mansion. Catherine's servant is trying to follow the lady in blue's fast pacing to cover her to the sunlight with the frilly white parasol she's holding. Walking in fast steps, Catherine is thinking about the truth that there is finally a person living in the lost valley where winter is eternal, and this person is the hope of bringing back the valley to its former glory. After the snow-white winter, there will be cherry trees with pink bloom during Spring, a rich green Summer, and Autumn with red, orange, and brown leaves. Not only that the valley will be once colorful again when the seasons are restored, but there will also be a variety of crops and flowers awaiting for the valley as this man is said to be a farmer as well. Catherine is secretly looking forward to the beauty of nature being brought back to the valley.

Chapter Text

Time flows fast, as Summer will approach after a week. The temperature is slowly dropping as rainfalls become more frequent. The last week of Spring is here.

Catherine is still intrigued about the valley and the man residing from there, but she haven't stepped on the place yet. She was having second thoughts whether she will go to the valley or not, because it might be a dangerous road up there and her parents are not around so she can't ask for their permission to go check the valley for herself. Most of the time, she takes a look at her window, lifting the curtains and observing how time flies inside her house while waiting for her parents to come back. She looked at the window and saw that it was very cloudy, close to downpour in a few hours. Looks like she won't go outside to be sure, so she won't be asking her fellow townsfolk if there is an update with the condition of the valley.

Catherine went downstairs to the living room. She found a servant peacefully sweeping the floor and approached her.
"When will my father go back here? I miss him already and I wanted to tell him something," Catherine sadly asked to a servant.
The servant was surprised at Catherine's presence because the twin-tailed, platinum blonde popped out all of a sudden and approach her, a busybody.
"Didn't he said he will be back at the 28th?" The servant said. "That's what he told us. Your father knows how to keep his promises, so we're sure he will be back at 28th."
"What day is it?" Catherine asked, this time with a little bit of frustration as she crossed her arms.
"It's... Wait," The servant paused for a while and checked the calendar at a black stone end table. "It's... Spring 27. Just let this day pass, Lady Catherine, and you will meet with your father again."
The servant looked left and right, thinking about resuming her work, but she added something before she forgets what she's about to say.
"By the way, what is that something you wanted to tell to your father?" The servant asked, curiously.
"None of your business!" Catherine raised her tone. This lady is known to have a short temper and keeps her thoughts to herself and her parents.

Catherine walked away and went upstairs, while her servant resumed her work. She stormed off to her room and laid down to her bed. She thought about the rumors she heard during the first weeks of Spring, and how it is true. She's annoyed about those rumors, she's annoyed about how a person just shamelessly settled down in a valley nobody even wanted to step foot on, she's annoyed that people actually sympathized and help that fool, and she's annoyed that these thoughts are clouding her mind. She closed her eyes because she thought that she just needed a good rest to clear her head before her father returns to the mansion.

When Catherine closed her eyes while laying down on her canopy bed at the center of her dimly-lit room, she ended up feeling too comfortable enough to fall into deep sleep. She had a dream. She was walking in a snowy field full of pansies and the sky was in hazy orange. There were yellow butterflies flying around. Something feels so off to her with the scenery she's in. She walked and saw a mountain with a waterfall when she turned right.
"Is this... Is this supposed to be the valley?" Catherine said, feeling lost and confused.
She tried going near to the mountain. She saw a land modified to look like steps to climb upwards. She stepped on the soil that is a little bit of a higher level to the land she's standing in, but unfortunately for her, the soil flattened and she fell. The feeling of falling down to her was like getting both of her feet dragged in. She felt heavier. The land was sucking her in.
"What?!? This is not a quicksand, isn't it? Help! Somebody help me! I'm being dragged down!" She cried for help. But nobody was there.
Catherine tried fighting the force and pull herself up, only to realize that everything was just a dream as she lifted herself up the bed.
Instead of feeling better with her rest, she got more frustrated because of her nightmare. She parted the curtains on her window to see if another day has passed. Instead, it was only dusk and not a new day. Catherine was upset and closed her curtains. She went downstairs and patiently waited for her supper.

Catherine is taking her supper all alone. She doesn't want to eat with her servants because doing so is like sinking her level to her lowly servants. She doesn't want to think about how lonely is it like eating all alone in a large dining table with plenty of seats. She eats alone and quietly, as much as she hated every feeling of it.
She noticed two of her servants passed by and looked at her. After they looked, they whispered to each other, covering their mouths with their hands.
Catherine wondered what her servants were talking about, maybe they think of how pathetic she is eating alone all the time without her parents. Before she even yelled at her servants, those two walked away and resumed their duties. Catherine lost her appetite but resumed eating, but this time she took eating much slower with a few sips of water in between.

After a few hours, Catherine went upstairs to go to bed early. She can't wait for her father to come back home so she's trying to end her day earlier. As she was trying to fall asleep, she can't. Maybe it is out of excitement, or out of fear of dreaming the same nightmare again, or maybe she rested enough earlier. She imagined the pure indigo skies in an evening like this, and afterwards, the skies will be black as the void. Then she heard drops of rain falling from the mansion's rooftop. It rained and the sound was light and calming, yet Catherine can't fall asleep yet. The longer Catherine looks up to her canopy bed idly, the more irritated she got. When she cannot take her irritability anymore, she got up of her bed and went downstairs.

"Can you make me some chamomile tea?" Catherine asked a favor to one of her servants.
"Yes, Lady Catherine. Cannot fall asleep?" Said her servant.
Catherine did not respond. The lady was gazing on the opposite direction of her servant. The servant did not moved yet, and Catherine noticed.
The stern lady said, "Yes, yes. I cannot sleep. I don't know exactly why. Now make me some tea."
The servant bowed down and complied. The servant first boiled water in a kettle and waited for fifteen minutes. As the servant was waiting, she reached for the tin of chamomile tea in a white shelf in the kitchen. She checked on Lady Catherine if she was still downstairs waiting for her tea, and yes, the lady was there sitting impatiently on a sofa in the living room, observing the potted plant of Bluemist flowers. The servant rushed in once the kettle made a whistling sound.
She prepared a teapot, and put two teaspoons of the chamomile tea leaves from the tin she brought down from the shelf. Then she poured the boiling water from the kettle to the teapot. The glass teapot started to spread a color of bright brown, and the servant waited for three minutes for the tea to be ready to serve. After the tea became ready, the servant poured tea to a white ceramic teacup. Then, she placed the teacup and the teapot to a tray and off she goes to the waiting lady.

"Here is your tea, Lady Catherine. I am very sorry if it took so long. I had to boil water for the tea," said the servant, serving the chamomile tea the lady requested and apologized.
"Thank you very much," Catherine thanked the servant for doing her request.
Catherine took a sip from her chamomile tea. She hit a nerve because the tea was too hot. Trying not to lose her cool, she put the tea down and impatiently waited for it too cool down.
"Would you like some biscuits to go with your tea?" Asked her servant.
"No," Catherine said quickly, then closed her mouth and curled her tongue for it to cool down after getting hurt from the heat of the freshly-boiled tea she drank.
After around thirty minutes of drinking tea, Catherine went back to her bedroom and tried sleeping. This time, she succeeded into falling asleep.

The twenty-eighth day of Spring has arrived. The clouds still blanket the sky and blocking the sunlight, and it is finally getting much warmer. People began wearing less layers and started wearing shorter sleeves or lighter clothes for their skin to breathe in the upcoming heat. Children are getting excited to go outside once again to soak up to the sunlight, eat something cold, and catch some insects.

Catherine's father finally returned to their residence. He arrived early at six in the morning. Catherine was already awake by 5:30, eagerly waiting for her father.
One of Catherine's servants knocked at the door of her bedroom, and said, "Lady Catherine, your father has finally arrived."
Catherine got up of her bed and started fixing her hair. She has to look at her best to show to her father that she was not neglected by her servants and she did not neglected herself. Then she went downstairs and saw her father with a number of servants. She curtsied in front of her father and greeted him.
"Welcome back, father. Good morning."
"Good morning, Catherine! How is the mansion? Taken good care of?" Asked her father.
"Yes, father. In fact, the blossoms of the cherry trees in the garden during early Spring was exquisite! I also assured my servants to do their very best to clean the house, and they did well. Not bad, I must say!"
"That's good! Now let's eat breakfast together."
Catherine nodded. This is the very first time for this year for her and her father to eat meals together. If only her mother was present, it will be a heartfelt mealtime for her.

Catherine and her father were eating breakfast together. The servants served breakfast tea for Catherine and coffee with a drizzle of milk and caramel syrup for Catherine's father. The meal served were French toast with syrup, sunny side-up eggs, and honey-glazed bacon.
"Father, I have something important to tell you," Catherine said to her father.
Her father took a small sip of his coffee before he responded. "What is it?" He responded.
"Well, if our servants haven't told you, there were rumors going around this town. Some fool... I mean, person, began living in the valley we owned."
"Is that so? Is there any proof that those rumors were real?"
"I think yes, father. I've talked to few townsfolk here and they said that there was indeed a man living in the valley. They said he was a farmer and he is trying to 'fix' the lost place."
"Sounds like a huge task to do..."
"Aren't you annoyed at this, father?!? That man took step in OUR property without asking for our permission! For what? Doing the impossible, restoring the seasons of the valley back?!? He's crazy! His plan is crazy! We should sue him!"
"Calm down, my child... I want you to investigate the valley yourself."
Catherine put down her cutlery and there was a disappointed look in her face, with a little bit of an annoyance as well.
"Fine, father. But please don't go crying on me when I got into harm!"
"You will be safe. I will task some of our servants to guide you on your way to the valley. I will be helping you make plans on your way."
"Okay father. When I see that man living to the valley, I'm sure I will make him pay!"

After Catherine and her father finished eating their breakfast, Catherine's father asked his only child to go with him to the living room. He approached one servant and asked him to do a favor.
"Please help me find my amber-colored suitcase. I will also go look it out, but it would be more productive if the two of us find it."
The servant bowed to obey his master's orders. Catherine's father stood to the sofa and told his child to wait. Catherine obediently waited for his father and the servant to find the things that should be found, but she crossed her arms and crossed one leg while waiting, giving a little air of impatience.

Thirty-five minutes passed and the two men went back to the living room. Catherine's father sat to a solo sofa, while their servant handed him an amber-colored suitcase.
"This suitcase has some good things for you when you go on your way to the snowy valley," the father said. He opened the suitcase with care.
He took a camping lamp rested on a soft green towel and showed it to his daughter.
"This is a lamp used for camping. In my youthful days, I wandered to the valley when it was still lush and green and full of life. I brought this lamp with me when I went camping. The light that emits from this lamp is quite strong and I haven't really used it that much, so maybe the light is still strong. We just have to charge it."
Catherine's father placed the lamp to the table.
"I will be asking one of our servants to charge this good lamp after we talk," he said.
Then, the middle-aged man picked a box of matches and said, "If the light of the camping lamp runs out, use matchsticks to light up a candle." He showed two long and thick white candles to Catherine. "You know how to light a candle using a matchstick, right? To start a fire using a matchstick, you have to strike the match to this very corner of the box," he said as he laid down the candles to the suitcase, and pointed to the coarse, red edge of the matchbox. "You have to strike the match swiftly for it to light up!"
Catherine nodded and nodded. "Yes father, I know. You have been telling me all about lighting a candle when I was a child. I remember it so."
"Good! Now here's a long coat for you to stay warm in the harsh and endless winter of the valley," the father said, showing a large black coat that was very long and stuffed with thick wool on the inside. "Well... this is my coat and it might be very big on you, but it will surely keep you warm!" He laughed.

"Lady Catherine! There's a new rumor going on!" Shouted a servant. "Come on," she told the other servant. "Tell her about the rumors!"
"Oh, y-yes!" Exclaimed the other servant. "According to Mrs. Iris and Mrs. Hanna, the man residing in the valley, he... he... He said he restored Spring in the valley!"
"That's ridiculous," Catherine frowned.
"Now the man told Miss April that he's going to restore Summer to the valley by retrieving the so-called 'Summer Crystal'!"
Catherine's father looked at his doubtful child.
"So, are you ready to venture off to the valley and see it yourself?"
Catherine swallowed a little bit of her pride and finally agreed to her father.
"Yes. I will go to the valley starting this Summer, father."

Chapter Text

Summer has arrived after a lengthy Spring. The last weeks of Spring had grey and cloudy skies, drizzles, rainfalls, and even thunderstorms on the last days. Now, the sun is shining, quite harshly, encouraging the plants to unleash their vibrant colors. Cicadas began crying while relaxing on trees. Children's school days were finally out, and now these youths are excited to catch some bugs and other fun activities in store for them.


The start of Summer was also the start of new journeys. For example, the daughter of the landlord of the lost, snowy valley is going to venture off to her white mansion to the abandoned place her father used to own. Her name is Catherine. She is going to set foot on the valley in search of the man, a farmer, who aims to restore the valley back to its former glory. Catherine asked and asked for guidance to her father and asked him a favor to pray for the Goddess to guide her on her way to valley safe and sound. Her father, kind but aware of his authority, gave his daughter a huge map that will help her find the way to the valley. He also gave her a suitcase with things used for camping in case she has to rest on her journey. But he assured to his daughter that she's going to the valley for only three hours and she will be able to go home on the same day.

 

On the first day of Summer, Catherine bids farewell to her father to finally go to the valley to see everything to herself. She was going to leave early, before the sun even rises.
"Father, I must go now," Catherine said and bowed to her father.
"Please take good care of yourself. And please tell me what's going on in the valley. It's been a long time since people lived there. I want you to know as much as you could in the current state of the valley," Catherine's father said.
"Yes, father."
Catherine's father brought in two servants.
"My child, these two will aid you on your way," he said to his daughter, showing her the two willing servants.
Catherine nodded to her father. The two servants walked towards Catherine and faced the father. They bowed down. Catherine also bowed down.
"Father, please pray for my guidance. I will go now," Catherine then exchanged goodbyes to her father. Her father smiled and waved to his daughter.


After a long and exhausting road that took around three hours, Catherine finally reached the valley. She and her servants had to hike mountains to reach their destination. Catherine's two servants were very exhausted and said that they can't go any further, so they will just wait for the lady to go down again. It was only a few steps up left anyway, so Catherine agreed that her servants should just wait for her while they rest up.


Catherine saw the entrance of the valley. The ground was snow white. There was only one house. She assumed that this is the place where the man lives. But, she saw a shadow with a rounded body walking near the house. The person walking was Old Man Sam, or Uncle Sam, as called by his peers.


"Pardon me, Mr. Sam, is it?" Catherine tried talking to Sam.
"Yeah? What izzit?" Sam replied.
"I've been hearing a lot of rumors lately. People said that there's a man beginning to live in this valley. This valley? This valley belongs to me and my family!"
"Yeah, yeah."
"Your daughter also said that you have been telling her stories about the man living here."
"Yeah. And? What's da matter?"
Catherine pointed to the house. "Is this where the man lives?" She asked.
"Yeah. Go come knockin' on his house, lassie. Sure he'll be openin' da door for ya," Sam affirmed.


Catherine knocked to the door of the only house in the valley. The door opened.
She saw the man that was talked about in the rumors. He was only an inch taller than Catherine, the spikes on his hair made him a little taller. He looks rather homely, like a country bumpkin with the typical farmer attire. His farmer attire consisted of denim overalls, blue and white gingham shirt, red kerchief wrapped on his neck, and brown shoes. He looked like he only woke up out of his own bed.


"Hello visitor! What brings you--" The man said before he was interrupted.
"Pardon! Did you asked for my consent before engaging a conversation with me?" Catherine interrupted, oh so rudely.
"I've heard that someone is living in this place. It must be you. Did you know, my father was one of the first people living in here? He owns this land. You did not asked for his permission to live in here. Why did you decided to live here shamelessly, for FREE?" the annoyed woman continued, all seething.
"Well... It's a very long story. But I'm actually glad I'm living here now!" The man cheerfully said, all smiling, seen to be very insulting in Catherine's eyes.
"I don't care how long your story is. Anyway, I will be granting you your residence in this valley. HOWEVER, I will appraise this place if it is taken care of. Understood?" Catherine was slightly annoyed, but she tried to make a deal with the man.
"Deal! By the way, it's nice to meet you! I haven't introduced myself... My name's Pete! And you are..?"
"Hmph! Pete... very fitting for a peasant like you! The name's Catherine. Remember that because I will be checking this place every now and then! Bye!"


Before Catherine left the valley, she curiously sneaked past the fences straight ahead after Pete's house. That was where the entire valley laid. The place looked like a site that was under construction, an unfinished, messy place. There are trees scattered from afar, across the river. There was a land formed into a staircase on the very east. There are a couple of crops planted on slightly elevated lands. She can identify the strawberry crops being planted on the west. A barn was seen at the east side.


"Oh, hey Miss Catherine!" Said a voice. Catherine was surprised. The lady in blue gasped then turned around. The voice was none other than Pete.
"Pete! Tsk tsk! You shouldn't be loudly greeting people from their backs! Don't you have proper breeding? Tsk!" Catherine said angrily.
"Sorry!" Pete apologized. "I'm off to do my farm work now!"
"Fine! I won't bother you. I'm going to leave this messy place. Please make this place well taken care of, you will never know when I'll be back to appraise this place," Catherine said to the farmer.
Catherine went down to exit the valley and saw her waiting servants. The three went home.


Catherine and her servants went back to the white mansion at evening. Catherine saw her father waiting for her in the entrance of the mansion.
"Catherine, my child, welcome back. How did it went?" Catherine's father welcomed his child, followed by a question.
"Horrible," Catherine grumbled.
"Do you want to rest for a while? You and our servants here look so weary. You should rest now, but first eat supper with me."
"Yes father. I will tell you about what happened to the valley tomorrow."
Then the four entered the mansion. Catherine and her father ate supper and rested for the remaining hours of the day.

 


 

 

A new day has passed. The sun was shining, the blue birds sang as they rest to the branches of the trees joining the cries of the cicadas to form a harmonious song.

 

Catherine and her father are resting in the garden, with their servants serving them red iced tea to beat the summertime heat. Catherine had traveled through the valley with the help of her servants, and succeeded at seeing the condition of that place that was once lost. She protested to the man living in the valley that he must give up on getting the impossible goal of his to restore the valley to its natural state by bringing back the lost three seasons. She told the man to go back to his hometown if he can't pay for his house. But she forgave him because she was hopeful. She thought that she was so foolish for being too kind to the man. It was like showing weakness for the poor. She let the man live in the valley, and the man was so thankful to her for giving him a chance, with his face lightened due to gratitude.


"Did you get the name of the man living in the valley?" Asked Catherine's father.
"Yes, father. But I don't address him by his name in our conversations because I don't find his name very worthy."
"If he did achieved his goal of bringing back the seasons of the valley and beautifying the place, maybe his name will become worthy."
"I don't think so. I'm just giving the man a chance because it will be hilarious if he failed!"
"My daughter, don't be like that. I want to know the name of this man."
Catherine grunted a little. "Father, his name is Pete."
"Pete, huh..."
"Pathetic name, isn't it? Pathetic name for a pathetic individual."
"Have you been friends with Pete?"
"No, and I absolutely have no plans doing so. I don't trust that man. And as my first impressions of him go, I don't want to make friends with him."
"Why don't you give him a chance? Pete, he seems to be a nice man and very compassionate."
"I gave him a chance, father. I gave him the chance to live in our valley for FREE. I think that's enough."
"Why don't you give him a housewarming gift? He will appreciate it greatly. And it will show that our family is good and hospitable."
"Housewarming gift?"
"I'll leave it up to you."
Catherine's father then tapped the shoulders of his daughter and smiled. Then he finished his drink.
"You go decide what gift you'll give to Mr. Pete. I have to talk to some of our servants for a while. Think about the gift, okay?" He said to his daughter before standing and leaving the garden.
"Gift. Housewarming... gift," Catherine murmured as she stirs her iced tea with a bendy white straw. "I think he would like something practical. Something he can use in the farm."
Catherine thought of something to give to Pete for a long while, but came up with nothing. She did not even asked for her father and her servants for any advice.
"He doesn't deserve any gift from me yet!" She thought to herself. Then she ran to her father.


Catherine found her father in the fountain of their mansion, admiring the beauty of the fountain's flow and how the water glistens to the reflection of the sunlight.
"Father, I know what to give to that man," Catherine said confidently to her father.
"What is it? Did you found anything?" her father asked.
"I may not give him material things, but I will share my wisdom to him."
"Do you think he will appreciate it? What wisdom would you like to share to Mr. Pete?"
"Father, I remember you telling me about the proper care for trees. I will share some advice to that man about the proper spacing and trimming of trees! I saw the valley, father. It looked unkempt. Some proper spacing of trees is what that valley needed to make that place pleasant to walk at!"
"That's a good idea. You should tell him that, he will appreciate it."
"I hope that his low-class, tiny brain do so!"
"Don't be like that to Mr. Pete..."
Catherine's father laughed. His daughter, thinking of her brilliant idea, also laughed with him.


Catherine wanted to go back to the valley again. She can't wait to share her advice to Pete. In fact, she's looking forward to go back and inspect the valley herself. It felt like adventure to her.

Chapter Text

It was Summer in Catherine's town, which was called Hillsville. Children's school days are out and they spend their times doing different activities. The restaurant's menu featured cold desserts and drinks to cool people down to the summer heat. The flowers are still blooming, much more vibrant than ever.


However, the valley nearby, was only Summer by name. The valley was stuck to winter. A hopeful restored Spring with the help of some people and new friends that visited the valley, the Harvest Sprites, and the Harvest Goddess. This hopeful young man will bring back Summer and Fall too, with the power of friendship and a green thumb.


When Catherine arrived to the valley her family owned, as she claimed, she knew to herself that she will always come back there to judge the place. She wanted to see the progress made by the individual that lived there. She wanted for that person to mark her words, that she will allow him to live to the valley as much as he likes if and only if he will take good care of the place. There was a bit of optimism in the girl thinking that the place will be beautiful again, but she's quite a contrarian and hated to have her high self-image be brought down, so there's still thoughts in her mind that the valley was a hopeless case and the man, named Pete, was just making a fool out of himself.

On a clear day, Catherine went to the valley again. She guarded herself from the summer sun with a frilly white parasol as she took a stroll. She saw some pansies blooming at the entrance of the farmland this time, and there were a pair of mother and daughter adoring these flowers. The mother and her daughter look so much alike, as both have blonde hair and closed eyes. Catherine remembered the time she and her mother spend time at their garden.


"Mmm-hmm! These flowers are well taken care of! My dear April, Pete really knows how to plant flowers with love and care, hm?" Said the mother to her daughter.
"Y-yes, mother! Um... P-Pete is such a n-n-nice man... Hi-His niceness is sh-shown even in p-plants!" the daughter, named April, expressed her admiration to Pete while stuttering.
The mother turned right and saw Catherine observing them from afar.
"Oh my, Lady Catherine is here! Let us go meet her," said the mother.
The two women approached Catherine.


"Lady Catherine, it is very unexpected to see you here!" said April's mother.
"L-Lady C-C-Catherine! Um... N-nice day we're having!" April said to Catherine, feeling intimidated to the lady.
"It would be nice out here if it isn't stuck into winter!" Catherine said.
"Mrs. Iris, Miss April, how long has it been since Pete been tending the crops?" Asked Catherine.
"We... We don't really know. I am very, very sorry," Iris apologized.
"Hmm, But Pete has been buying our flower seeds, taking good care of the plants, and sell these beautiful flowers once he harvests them! He's been a good help to us, bringing fresh flowers for our bouquets even at this harsh climate!" Iris continued, appreciating Pete. "You should ask my daughter here, he's been helping her out a lot, mmm hmm!."
April's been very quiet, a bit intimidated by Catherine's presence too. Iris then tried to end her silence by talking to her.
"April, dear, isn't Pete helping you with your bouquets?" Iris told her daughter.
"Um... Y-Yes mother," April replied.
"That's enough. I should go now," Catherine said and left. She returned back to the mansion to rest.

 


 

After a few days, Catherine decided that today will be the day that she will bestow her wisdom to Pete. She got up early to head to the valley by 6 in the morning.


Catherine knocked to the door of Pete's house and quickly walked in.
"Pete, I have appraised this valley and here are my thoughts," Catherine said to Pete, who was still half-asleep for being tired with shaping up the valley the day before.
"The trees! The trees are scattered everywhere! Have you been considered fixing that mess?" Catherine yelled to keep Pete awake.
"Yeah, yeah... What about the trees?" Pete inattentively asked.
"I told you what's about the trees, you're not listening!"
"I'm listening. You're not being clear."
"The trees in this valley is a huge mess! The area around the Moon Valley looks like an abandoned forest!"
"I haven't really been going to Moon Valley that much, but yeah, it does bother me that it looks like a bushy, bushy forest."
"Trees need proper spacing!" Catherine lectured. "There must be a proper distance when it comes to growing trees. Otherwise trees won't grow well!"
"Tell me about it," Pete said with confidence.
"Think of a grid. Trees may take 1 by 1 space, but it actually needs 9 by 9 space to grow! The measurements of each space, take it like the inches of the soil you use to make a single step in your land staircases."
"Wow, you sure know about the staircases I made out of soil!"
"Of course you imbecile! I've been visiting this valley for days to appraise it!"

Before Catherine left Pete's house, Pete asked her one more question.
"Whoa, whoa, wait. Miss Catherine, I do have a problem," Pete said, keeping Catherine from leaving.
"Tsk. What is it?" Catherine responded with slight annoyance.
"I told you about the problem about the trees around Moon Valley. The problem is, my poor old axe can't cut most of the trees there!" Pete said.
"Go figure it out yourself! It's not my problem anymore!" Catherine said angrily at the farmer and left.

Catherine decided not to go home yet. She wanted to go to the Moon Valley, despite the route there annoys her to no end. She crossed the farmland to the area where Moon Valley is located by walking on a bridge made of land. The land bridge was quite swampy and it made squishing noises that made Catherine uncomfortable while crossing it. After crossing, she had to endure the trees scattered and only luck will lead her to Moon Valley as these trees block the view. Luckily, she got to the Moon Valley.

Catherine took a deep breath of fresh air in the open space of Moon Valley. The place was very cool and well-shaded enough to spend her afternoon there. A dark-skinned man with curly silver hair wearing an eccentric lab costume was circling around the place. He noticed Catherine and grinned, then made a silly hand wave.


"Hello! I am Doc! A genius extraordinaire!" The man, named Doc, introduced himself.
"Hello," Catherine greeted without a smile on her face.
"Pardon me, but you seem like the man who knows about tools," Catherine said to Doc.
"I know stuff about tools, but I know better about spankin'-new inventions!" Doc bragged.
"Listen. Can you upgrade an axe? Can you turn a rusty old axe into an axe that can cut hard wood?" Catherine asked.
"Hmmm... Hmmm! I can do that! Hand me the axe," Doc said with full confidence.
"I don't have the axe. But you should upgrade Pete's axe. Do you know Pete?"
"Of course! Of course I know Pete! He's my loyal subject-- er, buddy of mine! I will do anything for Pete!"
"Now go out there and upgrade his axe!"
"If he has the right materials, I will do so! Alas, I will storm off to go to Pete! Bye!" Doc left. After Catherine regained her energy, she also left the Moon Valley to return to her home.


Catherine returned to her mansion all stressed out. She groaned on her way to the sofa of the living room and her servants tried to pay attention to her.
"Lady Catherine, your father will be leaving this Saturday," said one servant.
"I'm so stressed out with what happened in the valley earlier, and this is the news I get?" Catherine replied.
"S-Sorry Lady Catherine," the servant bowed and apologized.

Catherine went upstairs to check on her father. She knocked on her father's bedroom and her father opened the door for her.
"Father, I heard that you will be leaving," Catherine said to her father.
"Yes, I will leave this Saturday," Catherine's fathered confirmed his upcoming departure.
"Don't worry about it! I will be back again next year. Your mother will return this Winter," the father tried to cheer up his daughter.
"Also, please keep on checking the valley for me," he continued.
"Yes father," Catherine agreed to keep going to the valley as her father told her to do.

 



A week has passed. Catherine's father left for business. Catherine kept on surveying the valley. There was little progress, as Pete focused on tending crops rather than clearing paths. She encountered familiar faces wandering the valley, namely Hanna and her daughter Emily, and April and her mother Iris. Even if Catherine hated the path through the Moon Valley, she still pursued going there whenever she likes because the clear space and cool air in the place puts her in peace. Pete kept on greeting her when they cross paths, and Catherine chastised him for shirking his work. The farmer was just being a gentleman, greeting the people on his way as a sign of respect. Catherine does not understand that.

One day, Catherine went to the waterfall where it was said the Harvest Goddess dwells. It was a starry evening. Catherine tried to have a peaceful moment watching the stars and rest on the place where grass and flowers were present. Silence ended quickly when two puffs of smoke appeared like magic. Catherine was shocked at the spectacle and tried to distance herself while watching what will happen next. A witch and a wizard showed up. The witch looked agitated, stomping her feet and punching the air as if she was trying to take offense to the wizard.


"You blockhead! You're trying to upstage me again, aren't you? Why are you trying to impress yourself to that man?!?" The witch shouted to the wizard.
"I'm not trying to impress to anyone," the wizard explained calmly. "We all should be helping one another to achieve the greater goal. That is, to restore the normal flow of the seasons in this place."

The witch turned left and right, trying not to pay attention to what the wizard was saying. She saw Catherine crouching at the northern part of the spring.


"Well, look at that! Someone's been eavesdropping us!" The witch said.
"It is better that we should mind our own business and let her do hers," The wizard said.
"Hey! Young miss! Come on here!" The witch shouted at Catherine, trying to grab her attention.
Catherine went towards the magicians, with a little bit of fear in her heart.
"What is it that you want?" Catherine asked.
"Oh, just a little favor," The witch responded. "By the way, we should totally be buddies and introduce ourselves! My name is Tabitha! The World's Number One Witch!" she introduced herself to Catherine as she extended her hand to ask for a handshake.
"Catherine. My name's Catherine," Catherine said to the seemingly friendly witch named Tabitha, as she hesitated to shake the witch's hand.
"Good! Catherine! You and I... we're friends now! Now where was I...?" Tabitha cheerfully said as she pondered afterwards.
"Tabitha... Don't--" The wizard tried warning the witch, but interrupted by the witch shutting him down by placing her index finger in his hand.
While Tabitha was thinking, Catherine ran away from the two.
"While you were pondering, looks like your friend ran away," The wizard pointed out.
"What?!?" Tabitha exclaimed, as she turned around Catherine was gone. "Grrrr! Catherine ran away from me and it's your fault! You win this time Gareth! I'll turn that girl into a frog when she runs away from me again!"

 



Catherine returned to the valley on a Monday afternoon. She was walking around the place right outside Moon Valley. Pete had a shiny new axe to try out. He tried to cut the trees around Moon Valley as Catherine complained at how badly distributed the trees were at that part. Pete chopped a tree with one swing. He didn't knew that Catherine was just under that tree. When he saw the girl about to get smashed by the falling tree, he shouted.
"TIMBER!!!" Pete tried warning Catherine about the falling tree.
Catherine looked around to see a falling tree but she panicked and ran. She tripped because of a bumpy soil being in a higher level than the soil she was walking on. Catherine was ticked off. Pete rushed in to help the lady get up, but she refused to take his hand. She dusted off her knees and her dress and looked at the farmer angrily.

"Tsk tsk! You should watch out! There are people walking around the valley, and you should wait before chopping some wood!" Catherine lectured Pete.
"Well, I yelled 'TIMBER!', you should be the one to watch out where you're going!" Pete tried to reason.
"You... You fool!" Catherine was really pissed off that her vocabulary started to get limited. Then, she noticed Pete's new, upgraded axe.
"Your... Your axe is upgraded. But it looks dangerous! Who upgraded this for you? Did you paid them for free?" Catherine said to Pete, noticing his new axe.
"Yeah, it's upgraded! It's soooo heavy. But it can cut up trees with one strong swing!" Pete said cheerfully, showing off his dangerous axe. "My good pal Doc upgraded my ol' rusty axe for me. I offered him some silver and 1000G."
"You could harm anyone with that axe, don't use it again!" Catherine said, gritting her teeth by just looking at the sharp, jagged edges of the axe.
"The only things it will harm are the pesky trees! I'm clearing them, not only because you told me to, but the trees are a huge distraction on my way to Moon Valley!" Pete said with confidence.
"I bet you won't even have the idea to clear this place if I didn't told you my concerns."
"Not really!"

Pete said farewell to Catherine as he chopped more trees. Suddenly, his axe broke after chopping too much trees.
"Ah, fiddlesticks!" Pete groaned and whimpered. "Looks like I will go to the blacksmiths to fix my axe!"

Chapter Text

The vibrant Summer cools down as the colors of the leaves started to change. Leaves are starting to change their hue, turning yellowish from green. The flowers don’t bloom as lively as the previous seasons that passed. Fall is about to begin, and eventually leaves will turn crisp and browning, or even turn into striking hues of crimson and orange.

Pete finally reawakened the Summer season by acquiring the Summer Crystal. He was very happy to bring back Spring and Summer with the help of his friends. With the power of friendship and hard work, anything will be possible to him. He was all set into restoring Fall. The Harvest Goddess told him about The King of The Underworld, who was the one that put a curse on the valley. He should make a deal, or even befriend, The King of The Underworld to bring back Fall and finally restore the flow of seasons in the valley. But first, he must dig to the very depths of the valley to reach his destination. He got a hammer with the help of the family of blacksmiths and it was quite a task for him to get the tool that will help him smash rocks that block the entrance to The Underworld.

It was a long, tiresome task for Pete to dig all the way to The Underworld. It took him a week straight to create a path to the depths of the valley. He made a layout of the rocky part of the valley and made a swirling staircase down to the gates of The Underworld. Knowing that he will be busy, he stopped his usual routine. He stopped farming, he sold his animals knowing that he can’t take care of them anymore, and he stopped socializing with the people that frequent to the valley. He dug and dug, very deep to reach the place he should go to. His attempts almost ended in vain as The King of The Underworld denied his pleas to help him bring back Fall in the valley. But Pete was very persistent. He believed that there was still a way to get the Fall Crystal. The yellow Harvest Sprite Rowan showed up to him and told him that they know a good friend that was good friends with the king, and showed the hopeful farmer the orange Harvest Sprite named Flint, one of the Harvest Sprites that mingle with nature in the valley. With the help of Flint, they tried to make the unwilling king to think twice.

The King of The Underworld agreed to Pete to get the Fall Crystal from him, only if he brought him the elusive Blessed Fruit. The Blessed Fruit is something mythical, almost impossible to find and only told in folklore. Pete, being a determined fool he was, signed a deal to bring The King of The Underworld his Blessed Fruit. He was very confident that he will get the fruit with hard work and the power of friendship. Pete went to the spring at the peak of the valley to talk to The Harvest Goddess, if she knew what a Blessed Fruit was and how to get it. Fortunately for Pete, The Harvest Goddess said that getting the Blessed Fruit was possible, but it will take him time.

To get the Blessed Fruit, first the Blessed Seeds must be planted. Pete broke the ice again to the people visiting the valley by talking to them if they own some Blessed Seeds, or if they know people who own one. Pete is quite a clever man, he thought of the people with a background with plants first: April, Iris, and Catherine. So he wanted to talk to them first.

 


 

 

It was a sunny Monday. Pete got up at 9 in the morning after a weary day discussing with The King of The Underworld and The Harvest Goddess, from the very depths to the valley up to the highest peak. He remembered that he stopped doing farm work because he got too occupied with digging his way down to The Underworld. He went outside and saw his friend Sam, who always went there up early to sell his goods to his regular. Pete approached Sam.

“Good morning, Sam!” Pete greeted Sam a good morning with a huge smile on his face.

“Mornin’. Whaddaya up ta now? Youse stop farmin’ an’ all...,” Sam said to the farmer.

“Do you know where I can get some Blessed Seeds?”

“Blessed Seeds? What’s that? I dunno ‘bout that, sorry pal.”

Pete pondered. Then he asked the merchant another thing.

“That’s too bad, but do you know someone who has those seeds? I really need them.”

“Hm. Youse gotta ask Iris and her daughta. Blessed Seeds, sounds like some poetic stuff right there.”

“I see. Thank you, Sam!”

Pete then said farewell to Sam after saying thanks for conversing with him. He went to the valley and saw how much progress the valley undergone to when he looked left and right. He stretched his arms, still feeling a bit tired, and walked around to see if some people are already up visiting the valley. He saw Iris and April walking when it was already afternoon.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Iris and April!” Pete greeted the two women.

“Mmm hmm! Nice day we’re having today, hm, Pete?” Iris nodded and asked Pete about his opinion on that day’s weather.

“Truly a nice weather we’re having. The sun is shining, while it’s still… uh, very snowy here in the valley. By the way, do you know anything about Blessed Seeds?”

“B-Blessed S-Seeds… What is th-that?” April asked.

Iris shook her head and frowned. “Oh my, I don’t know what a Blessed Seed is,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” Pete bowed and apologized. “Thank you for your time though, see you!” He said.

Pete tried going around the valley. He went nearby the Moon Valley, where trees were finally cleared. He saw Catherine walking. Catherine saw Pete, but she walked away quickly, not wanting to talk to the man. Pete sighed and decided to go mining for a while to pass some time. He remembered Gilbert, the bard that shares a lot of wisdom, being present at The Harvest Goddess Spring at that day during night, so he decided to go there to meet him. Pete believed that Gilbert might share some wisdom about Blessed Seeds.

Pete stayed up late. He was tired from all the mining. He had lots of ore in his bag, which were quite heavy to carry. Despite all that, he still went to The Harvest Goddess Spring just to meet up with Gilbert. Gilbert did have some Blessed Seeds in his pocket. The blonde bard said that those seeds were very dear to him, and only an equally rare item will be near enough to be exchanged to him. He requested a Flower of Grace to Pete, and the farmer agreed to get it for him. Luckily, Pete found the Flower of Grace quickly after a few days, and handed this elusive flower to Gilbert. Gilbert gave Pete his Blessed Seeds and told the man that he should give great care to it, and he has been travelling far and wide to find a place to plant those seeds. The Blessed Seeds will grow into a beautiful tree that will bear the Blessed Fruit, the fruit that The King of The Underworld was looking for.

After hearing trees, Pete remembered Catherine as she knew a lot about trees. On a Friday, Pete went to the Moon Valley, where Catherine can be seen finding her inner peace in that place. He saw Catherine and approached her.

“Good afternoon, Catherine! Look what I got!” Pete greeted Catherine and showed her the Blessed Seeds he got from Gilbert.

“Oh, it’s you. You and your pathetic smile again,” Catherine frowned, and then she saw the Blessed Seeds Pete was holding. “Are those… Blessed Seeds?!? Where did you get them?”

“It’s a long story. It’s a really long story why I got them and why I’m trying to approach you because of these seeds.”

“I don’t care about you and your long story! What you got right there are the Blessed Seeds! I thought they were just made up! That’s so fantastic!” Catherine said with so much awe.

Before Pete says anything, Catherine interrupted him with much gushing.

“I think YOU are asking ME how to grow these Blessed Seeds! That’s why you’re here to talk to me, right? Otherwise, I will be telling you to stay away from me because you’ll be annoying me!”

“Well… yeah, I’m trying to ask you how to grow these seeds since you know a lot about trees!”

“Okay! I don’t really know much about the Blessed Seeds, but my father told me a bedtime rhyme about them when I was little.”

“Carry on!”

Pete was very willing to listen with all smiles in his face. Catherine was slightly annoyed at this, but she cleared her throat to recite the rhyme her dear father told her when she was young.

“Sleeping seeds awaken when upon them Tears of Happiness are shaken… Then grow tall when bathed a century of the warm sun’s glow… And the Blessed Fruit, like little suns, will grow…”

Catherine then remembered her father’s sunny smile whenever he told his child this bedtime story. She can’t help but to replicate her father’s smile while telling the rhyme. Smiling, she told Pete that the rhyme she said was a bedtime story her father tells her when she can’t fall asleep. Pete can’t help but to say “Awww” to express sympathy to her. Catherine suddenly realized what she has done and tried to quickly brush off Pete’s increasing sympathy to her and blushed a bit, but Pete did not noticed as he left the valley after listening to Catherine.

Pete went out of the Moon Valley and walked his way to his house, pondering about Catherine’s rhyme. It seemed like a great help, but he wanted to take time for the day to decipher her code.

“Tears of Happiness… Sunlight that lasts for centuries…. Aha! Tears of joy for Tears of Happiness! For the sunlight, I think I will need some powers that can increase this valley’s sunlight by tenfold so it will be as powerful as a sunlight that lasted for a century!” Pete thought on his way back home.

 


 

 

On a Monday, Pete went back to The Harvest Goddess Spring to ask The Harvest Goddess if she can lend him a power of the sunlight. The goddess laughed and thought that the farmer was just trying to cheer her up, but in the end of their conversation she apologized that she can’t bestow her powers upon him and told him that he should rely on the marvels of technology with his request.

Wednesday arrived. The adventurous little girl named Sally was searching far and wide around the valley and went to Pete. The girl told Pete that her golden pendant was missing, which was an important thing to her as a picture of her missing mother was there inside. Pete promised Sally that he will find her pendant, but he still has something to do first. When The Harvest Goddess told Pete that he should consider a technological approach to acquire a century-old sunlight, the farmer thought about discussing matters with Doc. Doc proposed a device to Pete, which was called the “Insta-Sun”, a device that will possess a strong sunlight, which will be comparable to sunlight that lasted for hundreds of years. Pete agreed, and he had the right materials in his bag, so the two proceeded to make Insta-Sun a reality.

The next day, Pete remembered his first thoughts when a lot of people began visiting the valley. He recalled having a thought that Sally and Naomi looked alike, and speculated that Naomi might be Sally’s missing mother. Pete returned to the Moon Valley just to meet with Naomi. As his guesses were correct, Naomi could be Sally’s missing mother and she has Sally’s pendant. Naomi wanted to be quiet after realizing her daughter could be around this valley, so Pete left her immediately as she requested.

Time flows fast, as Fall was about to end. The last week of Fall arrived. On a Thursday, Pete was still thinking on how to cheer up Naomi and bring the woman and her child together again. Just in time, he tried talking to April, who was very close to her mother.

“Good morning April! I have something to ask you,” Pete told the timid blonde.

“W-What is it?” April asked.

“So, Naomi must be Sally’s mother. She found out that her daughter is somewhere around here because she found her daughter’s pendant, which has her picture in it. Now she’s all sad and I don’t really know how to cheer her up. I was thinking of giving her the flowers I have in store in my vase, and maybe you can make it into a bouquet since you’re quite talented on making those. What do you think?”

“I… I think th-that’s a good idea! I-I can m-make you a Re-Reunion B-Bouquet. Th-That will m-make Naomi happy! P-Please hand me over your f-flowers…”

Pete went to his home and picked three roses from his vase. Each rose has a different color. Red, pink, and blue. He rushed back to April and handed her these roses.

“Okay..! I-I will make a b-bouquet out of this!” April said with determination.

With April’s crafty hands, she made a very simple, yet beautiful bouquet.

“H-Here is the b-bouquet, th-this will be appropriate for the r-reunion between N-Naomi and her d-daughter…,” April said as she handed the bouquet to Pete.

“Thank you very much April! I knew I can count on you!” Pete thanked April with a genuine smile on his face. He tapped April’s shoulder and smiled at her, then rushed off to the Moon Valley to meet Naomi again.

Pete and Naomi met at the rocky valley, and Pete handed the colorful bouquet to Naomi. Naomi started to open up about her situation regarding her missing daughter, and she told Pete that she wanted to see her daughter. Pete agreed, but he’s not sure if Sally is outside his house during that day and time. Naomi and Pete went to the latter’s house to look for Sally, but the little girl is not there. Pete suggested that Sally might be wandering around the valley, so they tried searching far and wide to the place, but the girl is not seen. The only place they haven’t checked is The Harvest Goddess Spring, so they went there.

The two saw Sally looking down. Naomi saw Sally and asked if she’s the one who owns the golden pendant the woman was holding. Sally said yes, and there was a heartfelt reunion between the two. Naomi was Sally’s mother, and Sally was Naomi’s daughter. There were tears of joy being shed that provided the Tears of Happiness for Pete to water the Blessed Seeds.

 


 

 

The next day, Pete went to The Harvest Goddess and told her that he finally got the sunlight and the Tears of Happiness that will make the Blessed Seeds grow. The Harvest Goddess was very happy, and then she summoned Rowan to help Pete pick a spot to plant the Blessed Seeds.

Rowan and Pete both decided that they should plant the Blessed Seeds on the land beside his house. All of the Harvest Sprites arrived to help Pete plant the seeds. He sprinkled the Tears of Happiness and exposed the seeds to a strong sunlight by the use of Insta-Sun. The Harvest Sprites were dancing. Then the Blessed Seeds grew into a Blessed Tree! This Blessed Tree will bear the Blessed Fruit that The King of The Underworld requested. There was no fruit in the tree yet, so Pete waited and slept on his house after a hard day’s work.

All of a sudden, Pete heard a strong thunder and wind blowing viciously. He woke up because of the sudden storm. The Harvest Sprites appeared to him and told him that there’s a strong storm in the valley, which was very unusual. The sprites believed that The King of The Underworld must be sabotaging their quest for the Blessed Fruit. Pete was slightly agitated at how his efforts and his friends’ efforts were being belittled at, so he went outside to investigate the valley and confront the king.

Catherine ran towards Pete with a parasol in her hand. She was extremely worried about Pete after she experienced the storm at Hillsville.

“I-I’m not concerned about you and your well-being! B-But… maybe, I do since you’re the one taking care of this place and all… Are you alright?” Catherine said to Pete.

“I’m not really sure about how I feel, but this storm is quite something! I think we should go investigate what’s going on in this valley!” Pete said out loud, as the loud thunder and downpour make even the most normal tone muted due to their noise.

Catherine nodded in agreement and ran to the valley to investigate by herself. Pete fainted and started to hear a voice.

The voice told Pete that his efforts were greatly appreciated. The valley, that was once lost and nobody came through, is now a beautiful place for anyone trying to seek refuge and find their inner peace. The voice pleaded for The King of The Underworld to protect the valley.

Pete was transported to The Underworld with the king telling him what happened to the valley before he lived there. The valley was a beautiful place that was bountiful and many people lived there. But the people and animals living in the valley grew selfish and ungrateful, causing harm to the land. The King of The Underworld was very disappointed by the actions of the inhabitants of the valley back then, so he hid himself from The Underworld, and the other deities’ powers were weakened, causing the perpetual winter of the valley. The King of The Underworld can’t believe that Pete actually grew a Blessed Tree to get the Blessed Fruit. The king was happy towards Pete, and wanted the determined farmer to keep on protecting and beautifying the valley, and alongside Pete he will also protect the valley again. The King of The Underworld held the Blessed Fruit and turned it into a Fall Crystal. He told Pete to keep on appreciating the beauty nature gives on him.

The Harvest Goddess received the Fall Crystal from Pete. With her powers and all the seasonal crystals together, she finally restored the seasons back to normal.

 


 

“Pete! Pete! Wake up!” A familiar voice shouted, as Pete was being shaken.

“Huh-? Oh… Catherine?” Pete woke up.

“Hmph! You… You got me all worried! How dare you?  Anyway, the storm was gone!”

“Oh? That’s a surprise…”

“And now you’re all soaked up because of the storm! Have you been taking care of yourself?”

Pete then remembered about his visions and told them to Catherine.

“So… So you were saying the seasons are finally back to normal? Good! I-I mean, that’s impressive. Now I can bring my mother and father here and see all your efforts. I wonder what they’ll think of you,” Catherine was impressed at Pete.

Pete gave Catherine a thumbs up and a smile without saying a word. Catherine, trying to pick up Pete’s cues, also gave him a thumbs up and a smile on her face.

Winter arrived like a sudden fresh drop of snow. Catherine and Pete may not experience the full bloom of Spring in the valley, but Pete has plans on his sleeve to make the valley beautiful by springtime. Catherine was glad that the seasons of the valley went back to normal, and she can't wait to tell her parents about it.

Chapter Text

The lost valley near Hillsville has its seasons back again. When the next year comes, the valley will finally experience the long lost Spring, Summer, and Fall after the Winter that lasted for so many years. The four seasons returned back to normal. It’s all thanks to a simple, yet ambitious man named Pete. With his determination and encouragement for the people to get involved into helping him do the impossible, he finally brought the valley back to normal and at the same time beautified the place with hard work.

The first bloom of Spring has not arrived yet. It was still Winter. The white snow was still present at the valley. But after this, the regular flow of seasons will be back. The snowfall was also present at Hillsville, with cold, white snow blanketing the pavements and covered the leaves of the trees that possesses leaves that can withstand the cold seasons of Fall and Winter. It was very cold, and people started to wear layers and layers of thick clothing to keep them warm. The fireplaces were put into use again as people throw logs and light them up with fire to warm themselves and their own places. People were also consuming hot foods like noodles and warm drinks like hot cocoa. Some children felt lonely when Winter arrives due to lack of light and warmth, but some were very excited as they can play with the snow and make snowmen and snow angels.

Catherine’s mother returned during the second week of the Winter. She was happy to see her daughter again and resume her job inside the mansion, knitting some clothes appropriate for the season. Catherine helps her mother and even asks her new friend Pete to bring her some wool for her mother to use, aside from the gifts found in the valley that she wants to give her hardworking servants.

“So, Catherine… You’ve said you were going to the valley, yes?” Catherine’s mother talked to her daughter.

“Yes, mother. The place was stuck to Winter and people moved out there. But now, the seasons were brought back and people began to visit the place again. It’s a beautiful place again,” Catherine obediently replied to her mother.

“Is that so? I was wondering if you have made any new friends.”

“I hate to admit it, but I guess I DID made a new friend.”

“That’s nice to hear that you finally made friends! Ever since you’re young, you prefer to be inside this house. Now that your father told you to go to the valley, you’ve finally made a good friend!”

Catherine did a fake laugh. She can’t lie to her mother so she spilled whatever she experienced in the valley, and how she made a new friend in Pete.

“Is your new friend a boy or a girl?” Catherine’s mother asked while knitting a sweater.

“Pete’s his name. He’s a boy, mother,” Catherine answered.

“That’s nice. That’s nice that you have a male friend. I never had male friends.”

“I’m not really sure if that man is what I can consider a friend.”

“But you’ve been acquaintances, so the two of you are friends.”

“Well, he does consider me as his friend. I’ve been visiting the valley often and he keeps on greeting me whenever he sees me. It’s very annoying! But it can’t be helped that I always help him out. He’s quite a fool! Mother, you will be stressed out when you meet that man. But even if he’s foolish and quite annoying, I can see it in him that he has a pure heart.”

The mother just giggled at her daughter venting out. Then, the mother said, “What makes you say that he has a pure heart?”

Catherine blushed and got a bit nervous. “W-Well, mother, you see… I saw the determination in his eyes whenever he talked about bringing back the seasons to the valley and taking good care of nature. His face brightens whenever he talks about the things that make him enthusiastic! I still don’t trust him, but he won the hearts of everyone that visited and lived in the valley. Almost everyone here in this town that visited the valley and talked to him likes him. I really don’t.”

Catherine’s mother just laughed at her daughter. She thought that Catherine was being immature and proud of herself as always. She thought that being an only daughter, Catherine thinks too highly of herself that she doesn’t accept that she can be good friends with strangers that have a different background and way of living than her. She doesn’t want to lecture her daughter Catherine, so she only laughed at everything her daughter said. And then she continued to knit.

While Catherine didn’t understood her mother laughing at what she said because she knew that she was completely serious and she’s completely honest to everything she says, Catherine’s mother asked something to her daughter, believing that it could boost her daughter’s mood.

“Catherine, why don’t we give your little friend something to keep him warm during this season?” Catherine’s mother asked.

“Mother, I’m not sure if he’s going to like it. He’s a nice man, but he’s been talking to me negatively these days,” Catherine said.

“In what ways did he talked to you negatively?”

“He’s questioning my authority. He’s trying to sink my level to his! He’s talking to me like he doesn’t know that MY family owns the valley he’s living in!”

“Maybe you’re being rude to him, that’s why he’s being rude to you in return.”

Catherine kept quiet for a while, and thought of something to reply. “I’m not being rude! I am being perfectly reasonable.”

“You sound pretty rude right now, young miss,” Catherine’s mother said sternly.

Catherine’s mother tried to change the mood of the scene again and asked, “What do you think? Will a hat or a sweater do?”

“A sweater will do,” Catherine replied.

 


 

 

A new day arrived. It was a clear winter day in the valley, still cold as ever but the sky was beautifully blue and there were only trails of Cirrus clouds that were moving as the wind blew. Pete woke up early at 6 in the morning after hearing the loud clucking of his chickens. He did a little exercise of stretching and jogging around his house, and then a puff of a sparkly smoke appeared in front of him. It was the yellow Harvest Sprite Rowan. They told Pete that there will be a Starry Night Festival in the upcoming week and he should ask a girl out to spend the evening full of stars with him.

After taking care of the livestock and harvesting his strawberries, Pete went to Sam.

“Good afternoon, Sam!” Pete cheerfully greeted the travelling merchant.

“Good day, Pete. Nice day we’re havin’ huh? I heard dat Starry Night Festival is just ‘round da corner.”

“How did you know? My friend Rowan told me that there’s an event called like that, I don’t know about it besides that it’s like a romantic date night with the girl of your choice.”

“It’s about picking da girl youse like and taking her to a sweet, sweet place where youse can watch da stars an’ stuff. I know ‘bout dat ‘cause we also celebrate it on Hillsville.”

“I see… It’s the first time I’ve heard about it. And I want to celebrate it!”

“So, got da girl youse like? Youse shudda ask her out!”

“I will! I will ask Emily out!”

“Ah, Emily, da daughta of da owners of da restaurant! You’ve got an eye, my boy. Da two of you are a good match!”

“Thank you, Sam! I wonder if she’ll be here...”

Then Pete saw Emily and her mother Hanna sitting nearby the Blessed Tree. Sam nudged and encouraged him.

“Whaddaya waitin’ for? Go get da girl!” Sam said happily to Pete.

Pete walked towards the two ladies.

“Good afternoon Mrs. Hanna and Emily!” Pete greeted. “Mrs. Hanna, would you like to buy my strawberries? They’re freshly-picked today!”

Emily waved with a smile on her face. “Good afternoon, Pete!”

“Good afternoon, Pete! I sure would like to buy your strawberries. They look great and fresh! Just the perfect strawberries for a Stocking Festival Cake!” Hanna said, praising Pete’s harvested strawberries and buying them afterwards.

“So, it’s almost Starry Night Festival. Got any girl date?” Hanna asked Pete.

“Actually, there’s something I really want to say,” Pete said.

Pete faced Emily and told the two women, “I would like to take Emily on a date this Starry Night Festival!”

Hanna had a hearty laugh. She feels so proud of her daughter finally having a guy ask her out for such a romantic festival. She smiled at Emily and raised her eyebrows, like silently telling her daughter to accept Pete’s offer.

Emily had a smug smile on her face and snickered. Then she said, “Are you just asking me out because you have no date?”

“No! No! Not really! I really like you, you see… I’ve been paying close attention to your requests and I fulfill them all the time. You’re the best girl I’ve ever seen! Please go out with me!” Pete said, trying not to sound very desperate.

“I say yes! I’m accepting your invitation!” Emily nodded in agreement. “See you on the 25th, right in front of your house!”

“Hahahaha! That’s my girl!” Hanna said proudly to her daughter. “You should dress yourself nicely dear, you finally have a date!”

“Mooooom!” Emily whined to her mother for being embarrassing.

The next day, Pete went to Moon Valley after mining. He saw Catherine shouting at Doc, as the girl runs away from the scientist.

“Get away from me you creep!” Catherine yelled.

“What-? I just wanted you to try my latest invention! You seem like the person who will like it!” Doc said.

Catherine saw Pete walking by and hid behind his back.

“Miss Catherine, what are you and Doc doing here? I know both of you hang out in this place, but do you have a fight?” Pete asked Catherine.

“No! I want you to keep than weird old man away from me. He’s going to mess up my hair! Look at that device… It looks like a reject from a parlor!” Catherine said to Pete.

“Hello Doc! Good afternoon!” Pete greeted Doc. “May I ask, what is that thing you’re holding? It’s making our lady here freak out.”

Doc showed Pete and Catherine his newest invention with pride and joy. It looks like a helmet with a wire connecting to a lever switch.

“Aha! This! This is my invention! The Insta-Curl Helmet Device! It will make your hair curly in a snap! I thought Lady Catherine would like it so I showed it to her,” Doc explained.

“I think that would only give a person an afro,” Pete said.

“Setting the levers will determine how curly you want your hair to become! At the very bottom, soft curls! At the very top, afro, just like what you said!” Doc explained further.

Pete turned to Catherine.

“Miss Catherine, Doc here would be so honored if you will be the first one to try his invention out!” Pete said to Catherine in a peppy tone.

“No!” Catherine declined. Then she shoved a yellow, wooly knitted sweater on Pete’s face. “You’re JUST the right person to talk to! I wanted to give you THIS!”

Catherine stormed off the Moon Valley. Pete held the sweater and unfolded it. The sweater was too large for him, but it was thick and very soft. He saw a tag on the side.

“Please go out with me this Starry Night Festival,” Pete read.

“Well if it isn’t a nice pick-up!” Doc said to Pete, going near him. Pete laughed.

“Hahaha! Unfortunately, I already have a date!” Pete said to Doc.

“Awkward!” Doc said and laughed with Pete.

Then there was a moment of silence between the two friends.

“So… Do you want to try my latest invention or not?” Doc asked to Pete.

Chapter Text

Winter has come, as it indicates the end of the year.  This season has plenty of festivals in store, which could bring in friends, lovers, and families closer to each other. Winter also sets the turning of the New Year.

It is the middle of the Winter, the Starry Night Festival coming in closer. People began inviting their loved ones to celebrate with them under the cold, starry winter sky. People do stargazing, or have a feast, or anything they want to do according to their festive mood.

Pete harvested broccolis, strawberries, and white berries in the valley he took residence in. He was planning to make a stir-fried broccoli topped with melted cheese and a berry dessert for the upcoming Starry Night Festival date with his crush Emily. He wanted to impress Emily with his cooking skills, even if Emily herself is completely capable of cooking. He stored his fresh harvests in his refrigerator along with some eggs, milk, butter, and cheese that he will use to cook his dishes.

During sundown, Pete went to hike to the Harvest Goddess Spring to relax after a whole day of harvesting his crops and taking care of his livestock. He saw Catherine looking around the place. Their eyes met and Pete greeted the girl.

“Good afternoon, Miss Catherine! Such a nice winter we’re having!” Pete greeted with the usual smile to his face.

“Hmph. Pete. You and your foolish smile again… Have you gotten that knitted sweater the other day?” Catherine said.

“That’s the large sweater you threw in my face, right?”

“Yes.”

“Was that your father’s sweater? I think you’re holding it tightly because you miss him so much!”

“What?!? No! I do miss my father, but that sweater was my mother’s present to YOU! She wanted ME to give it to YOU because you’re helping out with OUR valley!”

“I see. Tell your mom thank you!”

After a couple more bantering from Pete to Catherine, a puff of smoke appeared. The World’s Number One Witch, Tabitha, made a flashy appearance to the two.

“Pete!” Tabitha said loudly and cheerfully. “I was looking for you!”

Catherine, knowing her previous encounter with the witch, glared at her with so much distrust on her face. She took a grip of Pete’s arm tightly, giving a signal that they should go before the witch causes trouble. Pete shook his arm off to let go of himself to Catherine’s grip.

“Hello, Tabitha! How’s The World’s Number One Witch doing?” Pete greeted Tabitha with an equally cheerful expression like the witch’s.

“Oh, you know… Fine as usual!” Tabitha replied.

Tabitha then showed a shady-looking bottle with red liquid in it.

“No. Pete. We should go now. This girl will—“ Catherine whispered to Pete before she was interrupted.

“I’m good friends with Tabitha! I must entertain her, otherwise she’ll curse me!” Pete whispered back.

“What?!? You’re friends with that witch? Tsk, tsk! I should’ve expected better from you. You don’t pick your fr—“ Catherine whispered again before Pete made her mouth shut to listen to Tabitha.

“This potion will give you a stamina boost!” Tabitha said to Pete, while showing off her bottle happily. “I made a new recipe for a potion out of scratch! This time, my potion will work! I’m sure!”

“Are you sure this won’t turn me into a frog?” Pete asked.

“No, no! You’ve been fulfilling my requests often, and I don’t really have a request for you right now so I don’t have the intention of turning you into a frog this time! Drink, drink!” Tabitha said, while gently shaking the bottle before handing it out to Pete.

“Pete, no! You’ve been tricked by this witch before! Don’t drink that!” Catherine yelled.

“But didn’t she said that she will make it up to me ‘next time’? I’m going to give her a chance!” Pete said to Catherine.

“You’re going to black out again! Nobody will save you this time when you faint!” Catherine lectured Pete.

“I’m going to save him! If you don’t want to save him, I will carry him back to his house!” Tabitha said, boasting her strength to the two by flexing her arm muscle.

Catherine glared at Tabitha. Tabitha looked at her smugly and said, “Oh? You’re going to act all softy again, my dear girl! Are you gonna panic again when Pete faints?”

“Enough! It’s my decision! I will drink this potion for Tabitha!” Pete yelled.

Pete drank the potion straight from the bottle. He felt awakened after drinking the potion. He felt like a rush of energy was flowing to his veins.

“This… This tastes like strawberries! …With a little kick of spice to it! Wow, I feel so wide awake! Wow!” Pete was really amazed at the potion.

Catherine looked at Pete with a lot of worry on her face. She was frowning. Pete was so pumped up and he began to bounce up and down on his knees.

“Thanks a ton, Tabitha! This potion really works! I feel so, so—“ Pete thanked Tabitha for her potion. However, Pete felt a snap on his brain and fainted.

Catherine’s fears happened right in front of her eyes again. She can’t help but to yell at Tabitha.

“What have you done again! You’re so troublesome! Now we have to carry him back to his home again!” Catherine yelled to the sorry witch.

“That’s just a side effect! He’s going to be fine!” Tabitha assured the worrisome lady.

Catherine began lifting Pete with all her strength and placed him on her back. Pete was light and skinny, yet she was having a hard time carrying him because of her petite stature and her body not being trained enough to lift heavy objects.

Tabitha lent a hand on Catherine. “I’ll help you carry him,” the witch said.

Catherine and Tabitha went to Pete’s home with all their best efforts to carry him. They made him rest to his bed. Catherine was very exhausted and decided to sit on the wooden chair in his house.

“I have a potion that could resurrect him,” Tabitha said to Catherine.

“Don’t even try it yourself. It’s going to end up horribly,” Catherine replied.

Tabitha picked up a vial with green fluid in it. She took an opportunity when Catherine wasn’t looking. She placed a drop of the green fluid from the vial on Pete’s forehead. After a few minutes, the fluid glowed to white. Catherine was blabbering about something about being worried for Pete, but Tabitha wasn’t listening to her. Tabitha then went face to face with Catherine. The witch just smiled and nodded, and the platinum blonde was wondering what the mischievous witch did.

“Were… Were you listening to me this whole time?” Catherine asked to Tabitha.

“Yeah, lots of interesting stuff you’re talking about. You sure have a soft spot for Petey Boy,” Tabitha lied with a playful smirk on her face.

Catherine bought Tabitha’s lies and she was shocked that the witch “listened” to her.

“Don’t tell anyone about everything I’ve said, even to Pete!” Catherine warned the witch.

“Oh, I’ll tell everyone,” Tabitha said to pull some nerve on Catherine. Then she walked away to check on Pete.

There was a cold air of silence that lasted for an hour. Pete woke up with Tabitha resting on his side. He got up, making the witch go awake too.

“Wha… What happened?” Pete asked.

Catherine was surprised and run immediately towards Pete.

“Don’t be so reckless again! I want you to stop accepting any items from anyone anymore! Especially to this witch! It will only harm you!” Catherine furiously said.

“Oh, you accepted to ingest my stamina potion. It worked a bit, but you fainted. Looks like I will redo my formula again!” Tabitha said to Pete.

Tabitha winked and bragged, “I’ve put a potion to bring you back to your senses, though. It worked! You can totally thank me!”

“You’ve put a potion to Pete again?!? What is wrong with you?!?” Catherine raised her voice to the witch.

“Come on now, we all wanted him to live! I thought of the easiest way possible!” Tabitha explained to the seething lady in blue. Then she smiled at the lady, trying to lift her mood. “Shouldn’t you be thanking me because I have saved your prince?”

“You sound so condescending right now!” Catherine yelled.

“Come on, Pete is feeling a lot better now! You’re doing great, aren’t you?” Tabitha said and shifted her attention to Pete.

“My head feels so heavy. I want to be better on Starry Night Festival!” Pete complained.

“Just take enough rest for now. I’m so sorry for the trouble! You’re not going to take any of my potions this time since you’ll be busy this Starry Night Festival,” Tabitha apologized to Pete.

“Yes, you should be sorry to him! Don’t make him drink any of your shady liquids ever again,” Catherine nagged to Tabitha.

“Maybe next time!” Tabitha shrugged.

“Next time? There will be no next time! How many times have you brought Pete into danger? Don’t ever come near him ever again!” Catherine said, and then she talked to Pete. “Pete, you shouldn’t do that again! Don’t bring yourself into trouble, people are actually worried about you!”

“Worried about me? Please don’t kid yourself,” Pete said smugly. “You shouldn’t be taking all the trouble to help me out, Tabitha will be responsible for her mistakes!”

“What?!? Well if you don’t need me, fine! I’m out of here you dull-witted oaf!” Catherine exclaimed, and slammed the door to leave.

“I don’t really need her anyway. She’s bringing me to a bad mood,” Pete said to Tabitha. “Sure, her family owns the valley and all, but her family stopped caring about this place. She shouldn’t be standing on a high horse when her coward family abandoned this place. I built this place again.”

Tabitha didn’t understood Pete completely, but she tried to sympathize to him and tapped his shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it! I can help you out in no time as long as you’re trying to help me! I think that girl really has a soft spot for you, since you’re so helpful and pretty charming,” Tabitha said in hopes of elevating Pete’s mood.

Before Tabitha left, she cheerfully said to Pete, “Rest up, you’ll need it for the grand Starry Night Festival! I’m pretty sure you have a date. Who can’t resist your charms?” Then she walked to the door and waved goodbye.

“Yeah, I have a date. See you!” Pete said back, and waved to Tabitha. Pete slept throughout the night.

Tabitha snapped and disappeared through a puff of smoke. She teleported herself back to the Harvest Goddess Spring. She saw the wizard Gareth searching for some sample wild flowers that grow in the winter.

“Hey, blockhead,” Tabitha said to the busy wizard. “Did you know? There’s three days left for Starry Night Festival!”

Gareth ignored Tabitha. Annoyed with his indifference, Tabitha pulled her wand and struck a lightning to one of the flowers Gareth was observing.

“What’s your problem?” Gareth asked. “I don’t pay much attention on these events humans partake to. Therefore, I don’t care about them.”

“There’s a problem between Pete and a girl. We should compete to get them in good terms! Winner will be declared the best magician the whole world ever has!” Tabitha declared a competition between Gareth and her.

“…I am not interested,” Gareth flatly said to the boastful witch and observed a couple more flowers again.

“Are you serious? This could be our magical night! We will finally see who’s the better magician!”

“We don’t have to compete. I believe we have different sets of spells and mastery in magic. It’s like comparing apples to oranges. Both are similar in classification, but contain entirely different attributes. Therefore, not exactly equal.”

“Are you seriously implying that you’re better than me?”

“That’s a fact.”

Tabitha threw a fit, stomping to the ground again.  “Eat dirt! I’ll have you know, I’ve resurrected an unconscious man with a use of my potions! You can’t beat that!”

“That’s good that you’ve made someone awake,” Gareth deadpanned.

“You haven’t seen the last of me! I will tell you my marvels every time I will see you! I will rub my accomplishments into your face until you get annoyed with it!” Tabitha said. “Smell you later, dork!” Then she poofed out. Gareth just sighed and resumed to his task.


 

It was finally the Starry Night Festival. People were preparing for their meetings with their loved ones. Everybody was busy preparing making delicious food and deciding what to wear on this special day. People spend this day with their families or have a date with their sweethearts. They are celebrating under the cold winter sky full of stars.

Catherine was frustrated at how Pete and Tabitha acted the other day. She hated the fact that she’s not in control of everything and she will never predict the responses of her peers. She doesn’t like to be brought down. Especially when people like Pete talk to her casually. She’s not used to it. She never got any words from Pete about going to the Starry Night Festival with her, and she’s expecting some apology from him for everything he did to her. She was alone in her room, covered her head with a pillow as she laid on her bed. She wanted to clear her head for a while, to clear her head of thoughts as clear as the sky later on that night.

Later on that night, Catherine and her mother had a meal.

“Do you have any plans for this wonderful night?” Catherine’s mother asked.

“No, mother,” Catherine replied.

“Why not? Even your friend in the valley, what’s his name again, didn’t invited you?”

“No!”

“You seem upset, darling. Please don’t raise your tone like that.”

“S-Sorry, mother.”

“Do you have any problems? It looks like you have a lot in your mind. You’re eating slower than usual. You’ve kept your head down these days. Did somebody hurt you?”

“No. Why would I get hurt? I’m not a sensitive person, mother. Besides, I don’t get into fights because I am a very diplomatic person,” Catherine denied.

“If you don’t have someone to spend the Starry Night Festival with you, stay here with us. After all, we’re your family.”

“Yes mother. It’s better looking at the stars in our garden than anywhere else.”

Then the mother and her daughter kept quiet as they continued eating. When evening arrived, Catherine and her mother went to the garden along with their servants. Catherine’s mother and a couple of servants assembled a telescope so everybody in the mansion can see the shining stars closer.

“Catherine, will you be coming to the valley again even if it makes you so upset?” Catherine’s mother asked out of nowhere.

“I think I will rest here for a while. The seasons were finally brought back to the valley and Pete doesn’t need me anymore. Maybe I will go there every season to observe the progress and report it to my father,” Catherine said.

“It’s much better to rest here for a while. The garden is the best place to ease yourself. That’s what I think. Whenever I feel down I go here in the garden. This place… it feels so solemn, isn’t it?” Catherine’s mother said, and smiled to her only daughter.

The servants prepared lavender tea and placed it on the table. One servant poured the fragrant tea from two cups and gave it to their masters. Then, Catherine, her mother, and her servants all quietly watched the starry night sky in the middle of the cold winter. Catherine peeked on the telescope and saw the stars that twinkle like crystals in the dark blue sky. They forgot all their worries and had a happy moment as one family.

Outside the white mansion lies a valley now full of life and the four seasons passing normally. There are places filled with the beauty and mysteries of nature. There will be different kinds of people that are agreeable and disagreeable.

The outside is a much more colorful place than what Catherine has imagined. Catherine was a sheltered young lady under a rich family, so she thought that she knew everything well. But there were things that she still don’t know, and realized that not everyone will bow down to her or acknowledge her high profile background. She was still happy to experience her adventures in the valley, and she was glad that she did a little favor to Pete to bring back her family’s valley to its normal state. She finally accepted that not everyone will like her, and she moved on with her life.