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  1. Second thread, first can be found here
  6. [Experienced Farmhand] You found your hands moving on their own, she was alluring…Beautiful, this was kind of a dream come true in a way. The moved to her hips, almost making contact with her skin before…
  8. “N—No!” You protested, moving your hands and pushing her away at the shoulder. “You don't just get to come up here for fun time after you broke into my house! Twice!”
  10. You sat up straight and metaphorically put your foot down.
  12. “But I worked all night…” She pouted.
  14. “That was also a punishment!” You told her. “You should be glad I didn't call the police!”
  16. Cassie looked at you and then looked away with crossed arms. “Fine…Party pooper.”
  18. That was…Surprisingly easy.
  20. “What, really?” You asked.
  22. “Well its no fun if you're not into it.” She huffed. “I still have some self-control left. Else I would have just woken everyone up, tied you down while you were sleeping, and had a go at you.”
  24. A little too honest…
  26. Cassie smiled and honest smile and put her finger on your lip.
  28. “I'll get you someday.” She promised. “But its no fun if I just get what I want willy nilly.”
  30. She got out from under the blanket and hopped out of the bed, looking back to you once more before leaving the room.
  32. “I'll take everyone back home.” She told you. “No more breaking in, I promise.”
  34. Cassie closed the door behind her as she left, you heard some muffled talking downstairs a little while later, followed by a series of drudging feet below. Quietly, you looked out the window and watched as Cassie nudged her friend sleeping in the dirt with her foot, and somehow got the mouse to get up. After gathering everyone, they finally packed into the van parked in your driveway, and made off.
  36. You watched them leave down the road…
  38. [Experienced Farmhand] And then fell back on your bed, covering your face, and exhaling loudly into your hands. Your heart was still pounding in your chest and you couldn't get the blush out of your cheeks. That was…Intense.
  40. But it went better than expected. Rory and Leonard both said its not as bad as some people make it out to be… You gave yourself some time to calm down, letting the weariness return to you before going back to sleep.
  42. -
  44. The rest of the day and night were a blur. You remember getting up to use the bathroom, and later still to get something to eat and drink, but for the most part it was like the rest of the day didn't happen. You slept quietly through the night, without a disturbance.
  46. -Final Day of the Full Moon-
  48. You woke up later than usual, taking your time with breakfast, shower, and the rest of the self care. You felt like you should check on your crops, from here they looked suspiciously larger than they should. But something was keeping you from doing so…A niggling feeling in the back of your neck, a hunch of sorts.
  50. Was something out there?
  52. Maybe it was just a wild animal, a coyote prowling around sniffing for something to chew on. Or maybe it was something else…Or maybe it was nothing…
  54. It was your call, however, only you could decide what to do next.
  56. You're not going out there, you're not stupid. Well. Not that stupid. You've had enough “press button that shocks you” moments to know what was going to happen if you went outside… Even if it was a coyote, there could be a pack of them and they could be really hungry. You're just hoping that they don't decide to dig up your crops and eat them.
  58. Instead, you hunkered down, held your position and kept an eye out on the fields around you.
  60. Every so often, you switched positions, looking through a window in a different direction. The window in your living room was large enough that you could be seen quite visibly if you stood there for too long, but you already knew whatever was out there already knew you were here… The truck was outside, and there was no traces of you leaving today, something, you believed, a monster could easily track.
  62. The uneasiness began to sweep over you, a lump formed in your throat, and you felt the perspiration on your neck. This entire time living here, even with the break ins and the stories, you didn't feel scared. But now you did…
  64. Then! You saw it! Very briefly on the left side behind the south wall of the farmhand house, something moved, a brush or a tail or something, it was brown, sleek, and flowing. It actually looked familiar… You held your ground, you knew it was still a full moon tonight, so even if it was someone you knew, it probably wasn't safe to approach…
  66. You held your breath, looking through the living room window, enduring the wait that felt like forever. After what felt like hours, you saw it again, stepping out from behind the building. Your brow farrowed, a familiar woman walked out into plain sight.
  68. “Rory…?” You whispered to yourself.
  70. Her movement was rigid, not as free flowing and casual as it usually was. She stood there, staring straight ahead  towards the west before suddenly turning her head towards you. You almost jumped from your position as she did so.
  72. Rory was staring at you through the living room window. She turned her body towards you a moment later, she stood still for awhile longer before suddenly advancing on the house. You wondered if she was okay, but you figured it had something to do with the last day soon after.
  74. It was actually flattering, in a way, coming out all this way just for…
  76. Something wasn't right, you didn't realize at first, but Rory's car wasn't here, could she have walked all the way out here by herself? Why would she have done that? You looked back at her, she was almost at the house now, you only now noticed what she was wearing. A black top with spaghetti straps around the shoulder that cut off just below the breasts. She was also wearing a pair of white short shorts that hugged the skin of her thighs.
  78. Rory stopped almost at your house, her eyes never broke off from you. She stared at you with a blank expression, unmoving. You didn't move, or say anything for that matter, simply looked back at her. She tilted her head to the side after a few seconds, like she was pondering something.
  80. A moment later, she raised her hand and began to wave at you. But even that was strange. It was so flat and unlike her, like someone who was just mimicking waving after seeing someone else do it rather than actually waving. It was almost like flail rather than a wave. Rory stopped after five seconds, and then began to walk towards your porch.
  82. Something was very, very wrong. A sense of dread came over you, and a chill ran down your spine. Every part of your brain was screaming at you to barricade the door. It was so…Unnatural, so strange. You didn't know Rory all that well, but you at least knew her. She was peppy, and energetic. Here she was moving so strangely sterile.
  84. You reached the front door as she began to move up the stairs of your porch, and before you could move the dresser back into place, something came over you. A smell, an alluring, sweet smell. Like strawberries and lavender. The smell was warm and inviting, and you almost lost yourself to it. Your body became weak and relaxed, your heart warmed and tingled, you almost felt, strangely happy.
  86. [Experienced Farmhand] Even so, you powered through it and pushed the dresser in front of the door. You exhaled sharply and stepped away, stumbling back to the living room window.
  88. You could see the front of the house from where you were standing. Rory stood at the door and then went for the door nob. She turned the nob and stopped at the lock, tilting her head again, she tried to force the door but stopped a moment later.
  90. Her arm dropped to her side and she turned her head to the living room window, looking at you again. She turned to her right and walked towards the window. You made sure she never left your sight, taking a few steps back to keep your distance from her.
  92. Rory was staring at you unblinking. She leaned forward and pressed her forehead against the window. She didn't try to break the window or somehow force her way in, instead just stood there…Staring.
  94. Rory then put her palm against the window longingly, though her expression didn't change.
  96. It was then you realized something… You knew things were already, very, very, wrong, but her hand is what tipped you off from fright to horror. Rory's hands were something you couldn't forget. The large claws and the brown fur. But also, you remember when she helped you up, the pads on the inside of her hands were soft and warm, you almost didn't want to let go of her hand they were so soft…
  98. Those pads weren't there.
  100. The shape of the hand was right, like an elongated claw, but the palm was wrong, like someone took a human hand and stretched it. That mistake, that incorrect wrongness tipped you into an avalanche of realizations, a masquerade pulled away from your eyes.
  102. The hands themselves weren't covered in fur, just the light-chocolate skin. Her legs and stomach lacked that muscle definition Rory had earned through hard work and dedication. Her hair was the right length but cut straight rather than the curls you were accustomed to, and her eyes… You hated yourself for not noticing it at first, too confused, too worried to notice before.
  104. Rory's eyes were a deep blue, like the ocean in way.
  106. This woman's eyes were a ruby red.
  108. You stepped back again and fell over, tripping over the edge of your living room table and almost hitting your head on the arm rest of your couch. Your throat was dry now, and your hair stood on ends. Every instinct was telling you to run. She was so strange, so unnatural. But the aroma of strawberry and lavender was keeping you there.
  110. The woman took her hand off the window and stood up straight. She didn't break eye contact as she turned her body to her right and continued her advance. You heard her step off the side of your porch, she was now somewhere at the eastern part of your house.
  112. You gulped and gasped for air, standing up and cautiously advancing to the center of your living room. You didn't hear anything, no sounds of forced entry. It was quiet, not even the sound of birds outside…
  114. Stop. Calm down. Think.
  116. Fortify, gotta get this place safe and secure, you don't think help was coming, it would be easier if you protected yourself. You don't have any weapons, and you're not entirely sure if you can wrestle that thing… She looks weaker than you, but looks can be deceiving.
  118. The back door was still barricaded, and you quickly ran into the basement and made sure there was no way in through there.
  120. The windows were still shut, and you didn't see the intruder outside, you gave it one more look over before running back upstairs and locking the basement door. The smell was still wafting over you, but the intruder hasn't revealed herself again. With all entries sealed, you moved up the stairs, at least form here you could see her coming. Or at least you thought.
  122. Bang
  124. What was that?
  126. Bang, bang bang.
  128. It was coming from above you… You listened closer, your eyes widening when you realized those were foot steps coming from your roof. She was on the roof, and she wanted to get in. The windows were the only way left to do so, you had to hurry.
  130. Luckily, the windows were newer, replacements for what you figured were old, nearly broken ones. These ones had newer, sturdier locks, hopefully strong enough to keep whatever that thing was out. You ran to your bedroom first, the window was already closed, but it wasn't locked, so you quickly flicked it closed and then ran to the guest room and did the same.
  132. Finally, the study, you ran for the door and open it, but suddenly a noise caught your attention. A loud bang from behind you on the roof, you turned back to see if she somehow got into the house…No. With a sigh of relief, you turned back to the study–
  134. There she was, pushing her way through the open window. Your eyes locked and she slowed to a freeze, staring back at you with those blood red eyes. Your heart skipped several beats and you had to remind yourself to breath, but when you did so, your nostrils were assaulted by that strawberry and lavender smell again. This time it was stronger, almost sickly in stench.
  136. The impostor looked at you and pushed her other foot through the window, now standing straight in your study. She remained still for three seconds before advancing towards you. Her movements seemed to change when your eyes were on her, there was no way she could get from where she was on the roof to the study so fast. But when you kept your eyes on her, she moved at a more manageable pace. But this close to you, her pace quickened, and she was now in a fast walk, reaching out to you with open arms, like she was about to embrace you.
  138. You managed to overcome the intoxicating aroma and instead retreat back before she could reach you. You slammed the door shut and held it closed with both your hands. You looked and saw the door knob turn and felt a force on the door. It almost caught you off guard, but you managed to hold it closed.
  140. The force stopped and the room went silent.
  142. Then suddenly, a knock, a gentle, slow knock on the door.
  144. Knock… Knock… Knock…
  146. “Hey…” You heard on the other side of the door. “Can you let me out…? I have something for you.”
  148. She spoke in Rory's voice, but even that felt bastardized and different, like an impersonation.
  150. “Come on– Its me– I want to show you– something.”
  152. “Whats your name?” You asked through the door.
  154. Silence.
  156. “I said, whats your name!?”
  158. Nothing… Then suddenly, a gentle knock again.
  160. [Experienced Farmhand] You looked to your left and saw the dresser with one of Grandpa's old lamps on the top. You kept the door closed with your right leg and shoulder and reached for it with your left. Using the strength in your arm, you pulled it closer to you and then braced it against the door by turning it on its side. If she did open the door, the dresser would just hit the wall and keep the door closed.
  162. She knocked on the door again, but you ignored it and ran back down the stairs. Your throat was clogged by something, and you were forced to snort it up and spit it out, leaving a sweet taste in your mouth. You looked at it on your sleeve…It was a dark pink, you first thought it was blood, but it had the same smell that woman was giving off.
  164. >>400402
  166. >>400405
  168. You wanted to call for help, the cops came to mind, but for some reason you put in the one of the only other numbers you knew, maybe it was out of panic, you weren't sure.
  170. “Hello?” A female voice on the line asked.
  172. “R-Rory, hey-hey its me.” You said in a rush.
  174. “Oh, hey!” She greeted. “I…I wanted to talk to you anyway, about the other da-”
  176. “Y-yeah, hey look.” You leaned against the side table the phone was on. “I went to the library and read about this whole full moon thing. Look, I'm sorry if I stepped out of line or—or– or gave the wrong impression. I didn't know what was going on is all.”
  178. “H-hey, is something wrong?”
  180. “Theres…”You took a deep breath before spitting up more of the pink goo again. “There's something in my house. I don't know. It looks like you, or looked like you, or kind of not really, I-I-I don't know. It looked like you from a distance, but when it got close I noticed things… Its like… Following me and–”
  182. “Hold on. Looked like me?” She seemed less bashful and wound up now, speaking in a more serious tone. “Is she talking?”
  184. “Y-yeah, it it kind of sounded like you but not really a–”
  186. “What do you smell right now!?” She asked.
  188. “I don't know…Strawberry and Lavender?” You took another deep breath.
  190. “…Look, stay away from her, whatever you do!” Rory explained. “I'm calling the Ernie for help, I'll get there as soon as I can, don't let it catch you! Not on a full moon cycle!”
  192. “W—wait, Ernie? Who's Ernie!? Whats going on! What about the police?”
  194. “Police won't be able to do anything!” Rory explained. “I'll talk to you as soon as I can! Just stay away from her! Run and  leave the house if you have to!”
  196. She hung up, you nodded to nobody and did the same. You turned around and prepared to–
  198. There she was, at the end of the stares, staring at you with that blank expression. She was standing between you and the exit now. The coughed, the stench was overwhelming now and you almost lost your footing.
  200. Your eyes darted from her, to the door, to even the living room window. Your breath was becoming raspy, the warmth in your heart was overflowing now… And she was just looking at you now, that blank stare slowing turning into a smile of sorts…
  202. Running out of options…
  204. You tried to breath as little as possible, keeping that stench out of your lungs. The warmth in your chest was welcoming, and you began to feel your legs tremble underneath you.
  206. “Look.” You managed to cough. “I know you're not Rory… What you're doing is wrong, I don't know if its that full moon shit, or if you're just like this. But you can't do this…”
  208. The impostor looked at you with a tilted head again, her ruby eyes narrowed and her smile widened. It wasn't a malicious smile, but rather a sweet one, like you just told her something she finds endearing. The impostor locked her hands behind her back and began to advance on you, slower than before, one foot after another.
  210. In a last ditch effort, you grabbed the phone from the table and threw it at her, but it didn't even seem to phase her as she moved her head to the side, the phone crashing into the arm rail of the stairs and landing on the last stair.
  212. She was covering your exit to the kitchen or the front door, so arming yourself, at the moment, wasn't and option. Still she advanced. You had only one option, and you didn't like it. You could hurt yourself and bleed out, or worse. Still, you gulped down and muttered…
  214. “Sorry Grandpa.” You said, as you charged for the front living room window.
  216. You charged to the window, but suddenly you felt the strength in your legs give out. With a yelp of surprise, you fell to the floor, doing your best to protect your head and face on the way down. You gasped for air, which might had been a big mistake. Trying to stand, you could still move your legs, but they refused to carry your weight, and with no other option, you crawled to the living room window and leaned against the wall under it.
  218. The impostor watched as you crashed and waited for you to sit up straight, afterwards she turned her body towards you and approached you again. You tried not to breath in that aroma, but it was getting harder between the bouts of effort and the panic you had found yourself in.
  220. She approached, and suddenly her skin began to flake away like ash, revealing a second layer of skin underneath. Her face changed shape, and the ears on her head moved to her forehead and thinned out into pale skinned horns. The dog like tail behind her also changed into a flicking,  goats tail, and her hands mutated completely into human hands.
  222. Her eyes also changed in their sockets, turning from human like eyes to that more like a goats, but they remained a ruby red. Her body changed completely, even her hair turned into a snow white and grew out to her back. Her eyes sent a shiver down your spine and another pound in your heart. She put her finger against her lower lip and smiled again. You were terrified now, feeling like she was going to kill you. But that terror was quickly overwhelmed by that inviting warmth in your chest.
  224. She was inhuman, with those eyes, but her features were still gentle, and beautiful in her own way. Her stomach was flat and her breasts noticeable under her thin tank top.
  226. Finally, she lowered herself on all fours and crawled towards you. You wanted to fight and flee, but your body no longer allowed it. Each breath and gasp for air filled your body more with that sweetness. She crawled towards and placed her hands gently on your shoulders, straddling your lap. Her arms then moved around your neck as she positioned herself to sit down on top of you, wrapping her legs around your waist and pulling you into an embrace.
  228. “Caught you…~” She whispered sweetly.
  230. Before you could try to reason with her again, the intruder closed her eyes and pressed her lips against yours. Your eyes widened, her grip around you tightening until her body was fully pressed against yours. She moaned into your mouth, holding the kiss for close to fifteen seconds before finally releasing. You leaned your head back and gasped for air, unsure if that drool running down your chin was yours or hers.
  232. She pressed her forehead against yours and began to grind against you. Tried as you might to resist, your felt your pants tighten against her warmth. The intruder then released her embrace and took your left hand by the wrist, raising it and pressing it against her breast.
  234. Your mind was telling you this was wrong, so very wrong. But your body, and your heart, said otherwise. You didn't have it in you to fight anymore… Just let it happen, fall in love and be hers forever…
  236. She leaned in for a kiss again, her lips touching your neck and cheek before making their way to your lips again. She stood up slightly and began to undo your pants…
  238. The house came to life with a violent crash! The furniture in front of the front door flew back and crashed against the stairs as the front door was forced open. The intruder pulled herself away from you, her tail standing on end as she turned to the noise. In one motion, she leaped back with inhuman speed, landing on all fours before twisting around the corner and rushing up the stairs.
  240. A man marched into the house, carrying a weapon in both hands, you couldn't tell by your blurred vision, but you believed it was some kind of shotgun. He was wearing a full face gask mask as well as a vest covered in pouches and tools.
  242. “In here somewhere…” He grumbled to himself as he loaded a shell into his weapon.
  244. He turned his head and looked into the kitchen, then into the living room, turning his body to get a full view. He spotted you right away and stepped inside further into the living room.
  246. “Don't worry, buddy.” The man said. “I'm not going to make a mess of your home… Hey, I found him!”
  248. Three more people entered your house, you noticed two of them as Rory and Marybelle, but the third, taller woman was a stranger to you.
  250. “H-hey, are you okay!?” Rory asked, dropping to your side.
  252. “Ernie, I think she got 'em!” The tall woman stated, standing beside you.
  254. “Yeah, she did.” He confirmed. “If we took a few minutes longer we'd show up to an empty house.”
  256. Your eyelids began to feel heavy, for the first time in awhile your nostrils breathed in clean air.
  258. “Going to clean house, just in case.” The man stated. “Watch him, will ya?”
  260. “Hey, hey, hold on, alright?” You heard Marybelle speak. “Just gonna be a 'lil while longer, okay?”
  262. “Okay…” You said as you drifted off to sleep.
  264. You snapped awake sometime later, you weren't sure how long you were out. With a loud gasp you sat up from your position. You found yourself on the couch, alone at least for a moment.
  266. “You up?” A man asked.
  268. He noticed right away that it was the man who came in with a gas mask, now his face revealed and his mask in hand. He was a man around your age, he had a tired look on his face, a large nose, short brown hair, and a frown you thought was permanent.
  270. “Y-yeah…” You confirmed, sitting straight on the couch.
  272. “Good.” He sat down beside you and sighed.
  274. With a sigh of effort, he reached for a bucket that was sitting on the living room table. “Hold this.”
  276. “Okay…?” You complied.
  278. The man you realized was Ernie then reached into one of his pouches and drew what looked like a branch. He lit the tip with a lighter and then waved it to put it out before putting it in your face.
  280. “Smell this.” He ordered.
  282. “Okay but what are you—HRNGGGHHH”
  284. You began to vomit uncontrollably, pouring out a waterfall of a thick pink sludge from your mouth. It lasted for a few agonizing seconds before you could finally spit out the last bit from your saliva.
  286. “What…What the fuck was that!?” You asked with a cough.
  288. “That shit you were smellin?” He asked. “That's what it turns into.”
  290. “What is it!?”
  292. “Don't really have a scientific name for it. I just call it ooze.” He said, poking the sludge with a pen he had in his pouch. “Its kind of like a control substance, I guess? Or maybe more along the lines of a aphrodisiac. Makes the hard for a victim to run away if they breath in too much. Getting into the house is like throwing a gas bomb into a room without windows.”
  294. “What was that thing?” You asked, holding your head in your hands.
  296. “Skinwalker.” He stated bluntly. “Or fleshgaits, or whatever you want to call them. Back in the day, people used to think they…I don't know, eat people. I guess.”
  298. “You're not very knowledgeable on this.” You admitted.
  300. “Hey man, I just deal with them.” He said, putting his things away.
  302. “What was it going to do to me?” You asked.
  304. “She.” He corrected. “Was going to whisk you away to her nest to be her husband. Not a lot of people like that, so the towns hire people like me to handle it.”
  306. “You've dealt with this before?”
  308. “I think its the same one. They're a bitch to catch.” Ernie explained. “For all I know she's someone in one of the towns. She can cover up that aroma with perfume pretty well, for all we know she could be anyone.”
  310. “Why?” You asked, finally sitting up straight. “Why is she like that?”
  312. “No idea. Maybe species culture, maybe its instinct, its quiet when there isn't a full moon, however.”
  314. Ernie stood up and drew his phone from a pouch, he looked a the screen and then tapped something in before putting it back in his pocket.
  316. “That was the missus, she wants to know when I'm getting home…”
  318. “Because of the–”
  320. “Because of the full moon.” He cut you off. “I put some white ash around your house. That should keep her away for tonight. But I'm warning you…”
  322. Ernie's expression suddenly turned serious, like an omen. “You're marked now. So watch your back.”
  324. You gulped and nodded.
  326. “Good.” He stretched. “May want to get a friend to stay here tonight, or something. I don't know, I'm not your dad.”
  328. He gave you one last wave before exiting through the front door. You sat in silence for a moment when the door suddenly opened again, you jumped in shock, but sighed in relief when you saw Rory and Marybelle…And one other.
  330. “Good.” Rory sighed with relief. “You're okay.”
  332. “Yeah…” You nodded. “But who…”
  334. “Well, thats rude of me.” The third woman spoke up with a laugh.
  336. She was tall, much taller than Rory and Marybelle, even you. She was wearing a red flannel shirt as well as a pair of denim jeans held up by a belt with a large, cowhorned engraved belt buckle as well as cattle boots. A top her head was a straw ranchers hat, but there were holes cut in for two large horns sticking out of both sides of her head. Her eyes were a bright green and her face was covered in freckles, and her hair, long and ginger, was held together at the bottom by a black ribbon.
  338. She was also visibly muscular, muscular enough to put you to shame. And you did your best not to look at her rather impressive bust.
  340. She approached you and offered you a hand. “I'm Annabelle. The other of the two “Belle” Sisters.”
  342. “Nice to meet you.” You took her hand, taken off guard by her grip.
  344. “Well. I'd like to have met on better circumstances. You've already met my sister.” Annabelle spoke in a lower voice than her sister, though it still had that feminine twang to it. “But all things considered. We should get going before the sun goes down and we start getting bad ideas.”
  346. Marybelle smiled and waved while Anabelle tipped her hat. “Take care, alright?”
  348. Rory stood waved as they left. She stood in the living room for a bit, looking outside before turning back to you. She was rubbing her arm and avoiding eye contact.
  350. “Hey, I know that…I know that its full moon tonight still. But are you okay being out here alone?”
  352. “Yeah…” you sighed. “Yeah, it might be a good idea if you stayed here.”
  354. “Okay…Okay!” Rory suddenly came to life. “You can count on me! I'll be the best guard dog you've ever had…I just…Do I sleep here or?”
  356. “No, I uh.” You wiped your hand down your face, still a bit exhausted from the events that transpired. “I have a guest room, I just need to get new sheets for the bed.”
  358. “Oh, well.” She clapped her paws together. “Lets do that!”
  360. “Also, also.” You raised a hand and leaned forward, gagging on some of that sludge that may still be in your throat. “I need your advice.”
  362. “Whats up?” Rory asked, sitting down on the couch.
  364. “Monster, uh, keeping showing up at my house and breaking in.” You explained. “I have these mouse girls coming, they've broken in twice now.”
  366. “Mice girls?” Rory asked, her ears suddenly standing on end. “They're the ones doing all that!?”
  368. “Y-yeah, but don't get mad. They already promised me they wouldn't do it again.”
  370. “I don't think it works like that–”
  372. “Either way.” You rubbed the back of your head. “How do I…Stop that from happening?”
  374. Rory leaned to the side with a furrowed smile. “You're going to ask a monster on a full moon what to do about monsters on a full moon?”
  376. [Experience Farmhand] “Uh…W-well…” You choked.
  378. Rory laughed and leaned back in the seat. She thought about it, one of her ears bending.
  380. “Hmmm… Well… I don't really know. If they like you enough, they'll show up one way or another. Some people bunker down really hard with security systems and the likes. Others just kind of stay inside and wait it out.”
  382. “I see…” You crossed your arms and leaned back.
  384. “Well, most people don't have to deal with skinwalkers either.” She added.
  386. The two of you sat in silence for a bit before Rory clapped again.
  388. “We should get that bed ready!” she said. “No use just sitting around!”
  390. “Uh…alright.” You agreed.
  392. Rory tried to keep busy, making the bed and cleaning what was sticking out in the guest room. After that, she began to dust, and then after that she dusted the whole house. Once that was done, Rory said she was going out on “patrol” and then started to sprint laps around the property. You watched her circle for about four times before you decided to get your own work done.
  394. [Experienced Farmhand] The crops looked ready, which itself was still baffling to you. Still, you decided to wait on pulling them out for now…
  396. You putzed around the property for the rest of the day while Rory just kept herself busy. She even began to move the haybills you stacked, and then restacked them where you had them before. By the time night came along she was good and tired.
  398. You wanted to maybe watch some movies to pass some more time, but the sun was going down, and you felt like that was a bad idea. Every part of your body also ached, and you couldn't wait to go to bed.
  400. “I think I'm going to turn in early…” You said. “Sorry if this is awkward for you.”
  402. “Oh. No, I understand.” Rory acknowledged. “Are you feeling okay?”
  404. “Yeah, I'm just exhausted.” You assured her. “Make yourself comfortable. I'll see you tomorrow…”
  406. “Good night.” She smiled and waved, watching you leave.”
  408. Rory sat on the couch for a few more seconds, tapping her hands against her lap and looking around before getting up. “Guess I'll…Turn it as well.”
  410. You had trouble falling asleep at first, obviously, the events that happened today in broad daylight kind of gave you a fear of the dark as well. You tossed and turned, and every now and then looked around your room and out the window, hoping not to see a figure prowling around. You thought you saw someone at first, but it turns out it was just one of the trees on the outskirts of the property.
  412. You sighed and curled up, protection would be nice, maybe its time to pick up a gun or something, you doubt that Grandpa didn't have one, though you hoped you wouldn't have to use it. But as you thought about it, you heard a noise that made you sit up in your bed.
  414. You stood frozen for a moment, staring into the moon illuminated darkness of your room. The noise was distant, but you knew it was in the house. With a shiver down your spine, you found the courage in you to investigate, only this time with your fists at ten and two, ready for a fight. You didn't smell that…Smell, but you were still worried.
  416. “What now…?” You asked yourself, opening the door into the hallway. It was dark,  and you had to go down said dark hallway to get to the light switch.
  418. You did so, slowly, each step as painful as the last. You felt like something was going to grab you, or push you over, or make off with you like a bird carrying prey. But as you advanced, the sound grew louder. It sounded like…A woman.
  420. You forgot about the lights, and instead followed the sound, moving past the stairs and towards the other side of the house. You managed to pin point the sound, muffled and coming from the guest bed room. It sounded like moaning…
  422. [Experienced Farmhand] You went for the door know, maybe Rory needed help—
  424. But suddenly stopped yourself. Your better judgment coming in to stop you last second. Something told you barging in there would be embarrassing for the both of you…
  426. But…
  428. You thought about it.
  430. You thought to maybe go back to bed and hopefully nothing bad would happen to you tonight, but your curiosity caught the better of you. You reached for the door knob and slowly turned the handle, trying to make as little noise as possible.
  432. She was making so much noise in her room, you didn't know if she heard you, or even care. Slightly, you opened the door ajar, and peaked inside. The moon light made everything clear…
  434. Rory was lying in bed, face down with her backside in the air. She had both her hands between her legs and was rubbing furiously. She almost shouted before biting down on her blanket. You immediately closed the door, though stopped yourself from slamming it closed. You felt the head return to your face…And in other areas.
  436. Probably better to leave her to it… You tip toed back to your room…You tucked yourself back in, and even though you've never felt this bashful in your life, you found a way to go to bed.
  438. You woke up early like you always did, but you haven't felt this refreshed in a long time. You stretched and headed downstairs, getting yourself some breakfast from the kitchen. You heard a yawn coming from upstairs as you did so, and Rory drudged down as well, rubbing her eyes and mumbling to herself.
  440. “Did I wake you?” You asked, trying to ignore what you saw last night.
  442. “No…” She shook her head, still rubbing her left eye. “I wanted to get up this early anyway…Full moon's over.”
  444. You knew that, but still you felt a slight of relief when she said so. Rory yawned again and stretched.
  446. “Missed a few days of training.” She explained. “Need to get back on it.”
  448. “For that competition, right?” You were proud of yourself for remembering.
  450. “Uh huh.” Rory nodded. “Going to take first place this year, I can feel it in my bones!”
  452. You offered Rory breakfast and she happily accepted. After some small talk and food, Rory stated that it was time for her to get back. You thanked her again and the two of you parted ways, watching her car leave and head back to town.
  454. You looked over the crops on your way back to the house, these were clearly ready to be picked. In fact, they looked better than any crop you've ever harvested. It was time to get some work done… But even if you picked them, you'd still need to find a buyer. It was time to get established properly.
  456. You had some things to do today, may as well figure things out now.
  458. First things first, harvest your crops, but you didn't have to do it alone. You almost felt like you were abusing the free labor, then you decided that you weren't and just called them up anyway. Cassie grumbled on the phone, but she told you she would be there in a few minutes.
  460. And as she said, there she was with the rest of her friends. Two of them even showed up in denim overalls with a hat and gloves, kind of respectable in its own way.
  462. “So, we're pulling the veggies out?” Cassie asked, putting on her own pair of gloves.
  464. “Yeah, the strawberries need to be picked and I need help pulling the potatoes out of the ground.”
  466. “Well, may as well get to it.” Cassie stretched.
  468. Work began rather swimmingly, boxes were gathered and laid out to store the crops. You taught three of them how to pick strawberries without ripping the stem while Cassie and two others helped you dig up potatoes.
  470. [Experienced Farmhand] You didn't make a big deal out of it around the others, but there were…Way too many potatoes down here for what you actually planted. You began to dig them out, but as you did so, you felt a flash of…Something, and suddenly lost your footing, falling into the dirt.
  472. One of Cassie's friends, the one with the amber hair and pony-tail yelped in surprise and came over to you to see what had happened.
  474. “Are you okay!?” She asked, crouching over to look at you.
  476. “Y-yeah.” You said, shaking your hair. “Don't know what that was about.
  478. You noticed your arm was cut slightly, not deep, but just enough to draw blood. The girl blinked and reached into her overall pocket, drawing a tissue and wiping the blood away before reaching into her pocket again and drawing a band-aid. You sat there, staring, as she peeled the band-aid and applied it to the cut.
  480. “There we go!” She said with a smile. “All better.”
  482. She went back to work a second later, leaving you in the dirt. You shook your head and stood back up, brushing yourself off and stretching. What was that about? Why did you just lose your footing? You put it to the back of your mind and got back to work.
  484. It didn't take long for you all to gather your harvest, though you produced much more than you expected. Box after box was filled with potatoes and you had enough strawberries to feed a small hamlet. You sat down and crossed your arms, looking it all over. There was a pretty penny in here, that was for sure.
  486. “So, whats the plan now?” Cassie asked.
  488. For the farmers market, you would probably have to register a booth with whatever town was hosting it. You could also go to the Antler or to any other store that sells produce and strike a deal. You also remembered that Leonard mentioned your Grandpa setting up a deal with some organization in “The city”.
  490. But it was up to you.
  492. You picked up a strawberry from the box and handed it to the nearest mouse to you.
  494. “Here, everyone try one.” You handed each mouse a strawberry.
  496. Cassie was the first to eat it, and everyone followed soon after. They chewed for a second before their faces melted with joy, each giving some sort of response of bliss.
  498. “Itsh amashing” Cassie commented.
  500. You looked the strawberry over and threw one in your mouth. It was…Pretty good. You mean, it was pretty great for a strawberry, but it wasn't anything mind blowing.
  502. You stood up, while they were enjoying their apparently god-like strawberry, you decided that, maybe, by now, it was time to learn all of their names.
  504. “You know.” You got their attention. “I really only know Cassie. What is the rest of your names.”
  506. “Wouldn't you like to kno-” The haughty short-haired mouse was suddenly cut off.
  508. “I'm Maggie!” The pig-tailed mouse introduced herself.
  510. “Kendra…” The short haired mouse pouted.
  512. “Emily.” The pony-tailed mouse introduced herself with a wave.
  514. “Poppy!” The mouse with the fluffy blonde hair introduced next.
  516. And finally. “Daisy.” From the side-swept mouse with the purple hair.
  518. “Well then.” You nodded. “Good to meet you all, I guess.”
  520. You didn't have long on some of the produce after picking, so you grabbed what you wanted to sell right off the bat and had the mice help you put the rest in storage. With that done, all of you parted way and you went back to work. You noticed Emily and Poppy tried to nab a few more strawberries when they thought you weren't looking, but it was just one more each, so you weren't really worrying about it.
  522. The drive into town had you thinking. Were they just trying to make you feel good about your harvest? The mice were acting pretty ecstatic about your strawberries… Maybe Herbert knows more. You decided before anything else, you would pay him a visit.
  524. Driving up to his house, you took one of each of your harvest and knocked on his door.
  526. “Hey, its me!” You called out. “Don't point a damn gun at me this time!”
  528. The door opened and there stood the crazy old coot with a magnifying glass strapped on a head band and a ripped up lab coat over his usual clothing.
  530. “Whad'ya want?” He asked, lifting the magnifying glass from his left eye.
  532. “I got a harvest done.” You said. “I think there must be something going on with the produce as well. My helpers were pretty crazy about them.”
  534. “Really?” He took the potato from your hand and stared at it. “Really, really really really…?”
  536. A second later he snatched the strawberry from you as well. “This'll help some'thin fierce! I'll get back to you when I can!”
  538. He closed the door before you could say anything, you could hear him giggling from behind the door before you shook your head and made your way back to the truck.
  540. But as you approached the truck, you noticed someone walking slowly past. A woman, about up to your chin in height. She silver hair at the length of her neck as well as a pair of circular glasses in front of her eyes. She was wearing a scarf and a light-blue turtle neck sweater that fit her form perfectly. As well a grey pair of pants and a band around her right wrist.
  542. She was holding on to a map in big, fluffy, black furred bear like claws. The similar coloured ears on her head twitched every so often, and each step was taken carefully on fuzzy, bear-like feet that clicked as they touched the pavement.
  544. She looked confused, and distressed, moaning softly to herself as she scratched her head. She turned the map over, pushed her glasses on her face, shook her head, and then turned it over again.
  546. Guess she was lost…Maybe you should help her?
  548. You approached her.
  550. [Experienced Farmhand] CAREFULLY! You're very big and strong looking, you didn't want to frighten her.
  552. “Excuse me?” You asked.
  554. The woman jumped a bit and looked up at her map, holding it close to herself. She blinked twice before laughing nervously and bowing slightly.
  556. “S-sorry!” She apologized.
  558. “Oh- no, no. I shouldn't have sneaked up on you like that!” You said, even though you did your best not to sneak up on her. “Are…Are you lost?”
  560. The woman blinked again and then looked at her map. “…Lost.” She repeated before laughing and nodding.
  562. She approached you and stood at your side, showing you the map and pointing to where she thought she had to go.
  564. “Need go, Mah'ssa” She pointed.
  566. Mah'ssa? Did she mean…
  568. “Do you mean Martha's?” You asked.
  570. “Ohhh, yes yes, Mah…Tha.”
  572. For some reason it didn't hit you before. She's a foreigner, and straight off the plane, at that. The woman stood straight and pointed at her self.
  574. “Mah-tha is, uhm. Mama's Sista?”
  576. “Your aunt?”
  578. “Yes! Yes yes!” She laughed, clapping her paws together with a click. “Auntie! Stay and work there for while!”
  580. You remembered driving past Martha's almost every time you've come to Everton, she was way off course if she was outside Herbert's, almost out of town.
  582. “I can take you there if you want.”
  584. She looked genuinely surprised at your generosity, she bowed her head and thanked you, following you along like you were gonna walk.
  586. “Actually, my truck is right here.” You told her.
  588. That sounded creepy.
  590. “Oh! Okay!” She said.
  592. Oh, good. That was close.
  594. You opened the passenger door for her, she almost slipped getting in to the truck, so you helped her by letting her push her palm against your hand to hoist herself in. You go into the driver's seat a minute later and began your trip into town.
  596. “So, where are you from?” You asked.
  598. “Where, from?” She asked.
  600. “You know like…uhh… Come from?” You tried again.
  602. “Oh!” She laughed. “I from Tang.”
  604. “Tang, huh? That's a long way's away.” You joked.
  606. The girl giggled, thought about what she wanted to say for a second, and then said “Right across pond!” as a joke.
  608. You gave her a laugh, though you didn't really find it that funny. The ride was only a few minutes before you reached Martha's.
  610. “There you go, Miss.” You announced, pulling over. “Just as promised.”
  612. “S-Sankyuu” She bowed her head again.
  614. The girl went for the passenger handle before stopping herself. She turned back to you.
  616. “Name?” She asked.
  618. “My name?” You asked in return before giving it to her.
  620. “Nice to meet you!” She said with a bow of her head before pointing at herself. “Daiyu Fan…Er, Fan Daiyu!”
  622. “Nice to meet you, Fan.” You said with a smile.
  624. Fan smiled back, reached into her bag and drew a pen and notepad. She scribbled a number on the paper before ripping it and handing it to you.
  626. “Come visit, okay?” She said before kissing you on the cheek. “Bye bye!”
  628. You rubbed your cheek and waved as she left. You put the truck into drive and shook your head. What a good day's it been.
  630. You finally reached the Antler, parking where you usually park and heading inside. There was a teenager manning the customer service, so you approached.
  632. “Hey, is the owner in?” You asked.
  634. “Owner barely comes in.” The boy said, closing his book. “You'll have to talk to his daughter.”
  636. “Well, look who it is.” A new voice added.
  638. You turned around to meet Ako's older sister standing behind you. She put down the crates she was carrying and wiped her hands on her apron.
  640. “What can I help you with?” She asked with a sweet smile.
  642. “I got some produce to sell.” You came out with it. “You guys looking for fresh fruit and vegetables?”
  644. “We're always looking for local produce.” She stated. “What do you have to sell?”
  646. You had her follow you to the truck, showing her the boxes of potatoes and strawberries you had with you.
  648. “Pulled these out today.” You stated. “Doesn't get any fresher than that.”
  650. “Hm…” She reached into the box and picked up a strawberry between two of her fingers.
  652. Looking it over, she put it in her mouth and chewed. Suddenly, you saw almost the same reaction that the mice had. Her ears drooped and her tail began to wag and swish, she closed her eyes and cupped her cheek as she chewed.
  654. “Oh my god…” she whispered. “They're incredible…”
  656. “I'd offer you a potato.” You joked. “But I don't know if you want to eat a raw spud.”
  658. After finishing her strawberry, she climbed on your back tire and looked into your truck. She stepped back down and took a deep breath, trying to regain her composure.
  660. “I'll give you 3500g for the lot.”
  662. [Experienced Farmhand] “Make it 4000g.”
  664. “Done.” She shook your hand, not even trying to haggle.
  666. You drove to the back and helped her bring all the boxes inside. After a few minutes, Ako came from the front of the store. She tried to say something but her sister plucked a strawberry into her mouth. She had the exact same reaction her sister did, almost melting on the spot.
  668. “Where'd…You get these?” Ako asked.
  670. “Our farmer friend over here.”
  672. “Oh my god…” She sighed. “We bought them, right?”
  674. “Of course!”
  676. “Well, make a contract with him!” Ako ordered.
  678. “Wait, not yet!” Ako's sister narrowed her eyes on you, the slits of her pupils narrowing. “Not…Yet.”
  680. You looked around the warehouse, trying to avoid eye contact. “Uhhh…”
  682. “Bring your next shipment next time you harvest.” She says. We'll talk more business then.”
  684. “Alright then…”
  686. You nodded at the sisters and left them to their new goods.
  688. After the groceries you had to buy over the last few days and the seeds you bought, you're up to 4400g all together, quite the profit. You felt good, real good, almost too good… But you still had things to do…
  690. It was time to head south, now that you thought about it, you've only been to Warrington once, and it was to visit that “Froghole” store. The community hall wasn't hard to find, and after signing some forms with an elderly lady and paying the 150g entry fee.
  692. The truck was empty now, and you had three days before the farmers market opened. It was a little past noon, now.
  694. You currently have 4400g saved.
  696. When looking back at it, you don't think you ever thanked the two rancher sisters properly for helping you yesterday. You decided that it was a good place to stop for the day, it was on the way home anyway.
  698. You drove into Annabelle Ranch and parked where you did when you first arrived in town. Again, you saw Marybelle sitting on the porch and waving to you with a smile. She stood up and shouted something, and a second later, the much taller Annabelle stepped out of the house, drying her hands in a cloth.
  700. “Well, look who's out and about!” Annabelle greeted you. “Thought you'd be out'a commission with the way we left'ya back at the farm.”
  702. “No, I think I'll be alright.” You assured.
  704. “Well shoot, aint that good to hear?” She laughed and patted you on the shoulder with enough force to almost force you off your feet.
  706. “Sis, maybe take it easy?” Marybelle insisted.
  708. “Shoot, sorry. Got a little carried away.” Anabelle took you by the shoulders and straightened you up.
  710. “I just wanted to thank you for coming to help me yesterday.” You told them.
  712. “No problem. Got the call from Ernie to come help.” Marybelle explained.
  714. “Didn't like the idea of one of those changers being so close to the farm anyway.” Annabelle added.
  716. “So then!” Annabelle put an arm around you. “Can we interest ya in some livestock? A chicken er two? Maybe a cow? I'll give you a neighbors discount…”
  718. “Anna…” Marybelle scolded her taller sister. “Maybe give him a bit to settle in first?”
  720. [Experienced Farmhand] “I…I still need to get everything I need for livestock.” You gulped, trying to ignore her breast pressed against the side of your head.
  722. “Well. I hope you come to us fer all your needs.” Annabelle said, letting go of you a second later. “Always good to sell locally.”
  724. “Oh man.” You rubbed your arm. “I should have brought you guys some strawberries. I didn't even think about that after selling a truck load to the Antler.”
  726. “You have your first harvest?” Marybelle asked. “Already?”
  728. “I thought it wouldn't be much, but it all grew like crazy.” You explained.  “Everyone who's tried them seems to love them.”
  730. “Well, maybe we'll stop by sometime and get ourselves a few!” Annabelle laughed.
  732. The three of you talked for a time, sharing farmer and ranching tips and the like.
  734. [Experienced Farmhand]They were both surprised at the amount of knowledge you had on animal husbandry and cattle rustling, expecting you to be just a soil tiller.
  736. “Though.” Annabelle stated. “Shouldn't be surprised, considerin' how built you are.”
  738. Her compliment caught you off guard, but you managed to thank her either way. You lost track of time, and before long, it was time to head off. You said your goodbyes and headed back home, the two sisters watching you leave with a wave.
  740. You noticed Annabelle said something short to Marybelle before the shorter sister jabbed Annabelle in the side with her elbow. You played it off as some banter before driving up the road back home.
  742. The night was as casual as it could be, finishing some yard work before heading inside. You had some plans tomorrow to pick up some more seeds and expand the garden a bit. But for now, it was time to settle in. You watched another movie, an old action movie from when you were a kid, and quickly realized that you were running out of entertainment. But it was another thing to handle tomorrow, for now, it was late, and time for bed.
  744. Getting to bed…Took some effort. You found yourself looking out the window a few times, hoping not to see anything in the shadows. You didn't, but somehow that made it even worse. But after awhile, you just fell asleep on your own, drifting away with the blanket over your head…
  746. Your eyes opened with a blink, you found yourself naked in your room. The room was colorless and you could hear nothing, but you could feel. Your were hard, and thrusting into somebody. Her legs were wrapped around your waist, and you felt something furry wrapped around your leg.  The last thing you remembered was lying in bed before sleep claimed you, but now you were having sex with somebody.
  748. You looked at the person lying in your bed, and to your surprise, it was Ako's sister, you never did get her name. She was looking back at you, her mouth open with what you presumed was moaning, and her lustful eyes were staring back at you. Her back was arched, and she was holding on to the back of your bed, her breasts heaving in the air with every thrust.
  750. Your hands were grasping firmly against her hips, her soft skin pleasant to the touch. You leaned in and her grip around your waist got tighter, her hands releasing the frame of your bed and wrapping under your arms, one paw on your back and the other on the back of your head. You couldn't hear her, but you felt her hot breath against your ear. And her breasts against your naked chest. Your thrusts became faster and wilder, the tension building in your loins.
  752. You suddenly sat up in bed with a yelp of surprise, perspiration gathered on your neck and back. You sighed and wiped your face. It was all a dream? But what kind of dream was that. You sat still and then narrowed your eyes, feeling something odd and wet in your sheets. You quickly lifted your blanket and realized… Oh jeez.
  754. You've never had that happen before. At least you didn't wet the bed…
  756. You groaned and wiped your face with your hands, only noticing the knock at your door a second later. Deciding to deal with it later, you cleaned yourself up first and headed down stairs. Who could it be this early?
  758. “Hello?” You asked, opening the door.
  760. You had to look down to see Emily standing at the front door, she was wringing her pony tail in her hands and avoiding eye contact. She seemed both stressed and embarassed.
  762. “Hey…” She said.
  764. “…Hi?” You greeted her.
  766. You looked behind her and noticed the moped in your driveway.
  768. “Do you think I could hang out with you today?” She asked.
  770. “Hang out with me?” You repeated her words.
  772. “Yeah like. I can help with farm work or help you with errands?”
  774. You gave it some thought.
  776. “Sure, come on in.” You welcomed her. “I could use the company today.”
  778. Emily looked happy, but also relieved, she accepted your invitation and stepped inside. The two of you sat down at the dinner table, and you offered her a bowl of cereal, which she accepted. You tried to make small talk but, well, you didn't really know much about one another. She's been to your house a few times now, but you never really bothered to talk to any of them directly. In fact, the idea that she personally came to your farm alone was actually confusing.
  780. “So…” Emily spoke up. “What are you doing today?”
  782. “Gonna buy a gun.” You stated bluntly. “Want to come?”
  784. Emily blinked and looked around before turning back to you. “Yes I do.”
  787. You didn't know where to buy a gun, exactly. Fortunately, Emily did. She lead you to Everton, a few blocks away from the Antler. “Ron's Hunting and Fishing supplies” It was called, you parked the truck and went inside, Emily following right behind you. You weren't greeted at the door, and were given some time to look around before the shop keep came out from the back.
  789. “OOo, get that one!” Emily said, pointing at a large pistol on the wall.
  791. You looked at the tag. Nighthawk, 10,000g. Seems a bit…Pricey.
  793. “Maybe next time.” You joked.
  795. “Fine, party pooper.”
  797. The clerk came out a minute later. “Sorry about that.” He said, wiping his hands and returning to the counter.
  799. “What can I get ya?” He asked.
  801. “I need a gun.” You told him.
  803. “Got a license?”
  805. [Experienced Farmhand]”Yeah, right here.” You drew the card from your wallet and handed it to him.
  807. The clerk looked it over and handed it back. “Everything checks out, what ya need?”
  809. “Home defense.” You explained.
  811. “Oh? What ya plannin on shootin?”
  813. “Skinwalker.” You stated bluntly.
  815. The clerk blinked at you, and then reached under his counter. A second later, he drew a long barrel shot gun and placed it on the table.
  817. “This thing has low spread and can fire silver rounds.”
  819. “Silver, is that something I need?”
  821. “Did you talk to Ernie?” The clerk asked.
  823. “I'm starting to think I should.”
  825. “Silver rounds can be expensive.” The clerk explained. “It may just be enough to hit her with a buckshot to get her to back off. At least for a bit.”
  827. “And silver will?”
  829. “Means she stays away longer.” The Clerk goes on. “Talk to Ernie about it next time you can. Killing a Skinwalker is still technically murder. Not like you can, at least not from what I've heard.”
  831. You looked the weapon over. Guess it was the best you were going to get, at least out here. His words haunted you in a way, you didn't really want to kill the girl in the first place, you're not really a murderer, but how do you defend yourself against something that apparently can't be killed? Maybe Ernie can help you more, you should look him up sometime.
  833. You paid 1100g, thanked the Clerk, and went on your way. The shotgun should be delivered to you in the next few days.
  835. Your next stop was to pick up some more seeds, buying another batch of strawberries to plant, putting you back another 750g. In the end, you had 2550g, a marginal improvement to what you started with when you first got out here. With everything done, you decided to head home.
  837. On the way home, you decided to talk…
  839. “So.” You said. “Is something wrong?”
  841. Emily looked away from the passenger window and to you.
  843. “Who? With me?” She asked. “No! Not at all! Not in the slightest! I just…Wanted to help out as all. As payback for the break ins and all.”
  845. “You were already doing that with the others.” You informed her.
  847. Emily paused. “I…Didn't think it was enough…”
  849. “Well. Okay.” You didn't believe her.
  851. You began working as soon as you got home, putting your things away and grabbing your tools. It was time to make the field larger and plant more seeds. Emily tried to help when she could, but stopped more than once to watch you practically destroy the task in front of you, while she struggled with just the one spot she was working on.
  853. Emily let her tools fall to the side, she rubbed her arm and looked away, seemingly ashamed. She looked at you, and then turned to your home, her ear twitching for a moment.
  855. “Hey, can I use your washroom?”
  857. “Huh? Oh, go for it.” You told her.
  859. Emily grinned and skipped towards the house. You continued to work for some time, readying the patches before planting the seeds. You made sure the strawberry plants from before were properly watered and readied. You didn't even notice that Emily was gone for some time.
  861. Once you did notice, you were suddenly suspicious. As you approached the house, a few ideas popped through your head. She was rummaging through your things, or even worse, eating the strawberries you were going to sell at the farmer's market! Worried, you rushed for the front door and…!
  863. You looked around in surprise, it was so…Clean. Sparkling almost, the floors were swept and scrubbed down, same with the walls and stairs. The living room was spotless, as well as the kitchen. Your nose was suddenly filled with a warm and inviting aroma of baked goods, and your ears heard the melody of a woman humming.
  865. Emily was in the kitchen, oven mitts on and an apron you didn't think you owned, she pulled a tray of baked goods from the oven. She turned to you at the door and jumped in surprise.
  867. “Sorry.” She said. “I wasn't much of a help outside, so I thought I'd help you out in here.”
  869. You didn't know how to feel about her using your supplies to bake, but suddenly forgot about it when you smelled them again.
  871. “Are those cookies?” You asked.
  873. “Yup, there my specialty!” She boasted, taking a mitt off and picking a cookie from the sheet with a spatula. She handed it to you. “Careful, its fresh out of the oven.”
  875. You took it, tossed it from hand to hand for a moment, and then took a bite. You almost became puddy right then and there, an expression on your face not too dissimilar to the one you've been seeing from the monsters that ate your strawberries. It was almost like the cookies ma made back at home.
  877. “Its incredible.” You found yourself saying almost involuntarily.
  879. “Really!?” Emily seemed happy at your reaction. “I'm glad you like it!”
  881. You finished the rest of the cookie, ready to snack on more, but the phone rang. You looked at the tray of cookies, leaving them behind for a more urgent matter.
  883. “Hello?” You said when you put the phone to your ear.
  885. “Hey. It's Cassie.” The person on the otherside said.
  887. “Oh. Hi. Whats up?” You asked.
  889. “Weird question but…Have you seen Emily recently? You know my friend with the Pony-Tail?”
  891. Your eyebrow furrowed and you looked over into the kitchen. Emily was working on some other baked good now, you didn't know if she could hear you or not.
  893. “I know her. Why, whats wrong?” You asked.
  895. “Her mom called me. Emily hasn't been in class all day today.”
  897. Class?
  899. “Wait, class?” You asked. “How old is she?”
  901. “What? She's 19.” Cassie said.
  903. “And she should be in school?”
  905. “College in Warrington. Her mom and dad are both professors there.” Cassie explained.
  907. You leaned back, looking into the kitchen, Emily apparently hasn't heard anything you've been saying and continued to happily work. What was going on?
  909. You gave your answer some thought…
  911. “Yeah, Emily's here with me.” You said on the phone.
  913. As you said that, Emily's ear flicked, she didn't take her eyes away from the dough she was kneading, but she did freeze in place, holding the rolling pin over the dough she was flattening.
  915. “With you?” Cassie asked.
  917. “Yeah, she's in the kitchen right now.” You explained.
  919. Cassie was quiet for a bit.
  921. “Is she okay?” She asked.
  923. “She seems fine.” You said.
  925. “Could you, maybe, I don't know…” Cassie sighed. “Could you talk to her about it? She probably won't be honest with any of us.”
  927. “Yeah, I was going to.” You told her.
  929. “Well…” Cassie went quiet again. “Alright then. I'll talk to you when I talk to you.”
  931. “Have a good one.” You said, hanging up a second after she did.
  933. You turned to your left and headed back into the kitchen. Emily was still standing in front of the kitchen counter, rolling pin in hand. She didn't say a word, or even look away from the dough, she was avoiding eye contact, and you didn't want to force it, lest you make her cry or make the situation worse.
  935. “So…” You put your hands in your pocket. “Can you tell me what this is all about?”
  937. “Maybe…” she whispered.
  939. “Hey-hey.” You put your hand on her shoulder. “I'm not giving you shit here, I'd just like to know what's going on.”
  941. She remained silent.
  943. “I mean, you showed up here of all places. I kind of got dragged into this.”
  945. Emily stood still for a moment longer before starting her work again, rolling out more baked goods and forming them to bake.
  947. “My parents are a lot smarter than I am.” She began. “They met in university and kind of hit it off from there. They both went into teaching soon after. And expected big things from me.”
  949. Her tail flicked slightly as she placed the baking paper on the sheet and placing the dough evenly apart.
  951. “Since day one I was put in advanced classes, and I did pretty good. Grade after grade I had to one-up myself and do better than last time. I always felt like I disappointed my parents if I didn't do better. I was always being put into some sort of program or activity. If it wasn't Piano, it was math club, if it wasn't math club it was some kind of chemistry organization in the city.”
  953. You sat down as she spoke, crossing your arms and hearing her side of the story. Emily put the sheet into the oven and then sat down across from you, cupping her hands together and looking at the ground.
  955. “When I got to school it was all “We expect big things from you.” “We cant wait to see your accomplishments.” Always more more more…” Emily continued to stare at the ground.
  957. She sighed heavily and wiped something from her eye.
  959. “I just don't want to anymore.” She admitted. “Its…Its too much, its not the life for me. Its just a constant spiral of tests, exams, study halls, it doesn't end…”
  961. “So.” You spoke up. “What do you want to do?”
  963. “Well.” Emily looked around and presented your own kitchen to you. “This. I want to bake, I'm good at baking, I like baking.”
  965. “You just want to bake?”
  967. “Yeah, I always dreamed about owning my own bakery. I would usually make stuff when my parents weren't home. It was something I could do and feel accomplished doing.” Emily slumped back in her chair, a morose look in her eyes. “Nobody ever tasted my baking and told me I needed to do better… I always felt like I needed to improve because I wanted to improve…”
  969. You took a deep breath and looked away with a shrug. You didn't know what to do, what could you even do? It wasn't your place to decide, you couldn't just go to her parents and tell them to back off, it wasn't your place.
  971. Emily is an adult, but that doesn't mean much when you're still being treated like a child.
  973. To put it bluntly, this is some heavy shit. You could probably help out in some way… But you had to think on it.
  975. You sat with your head down, your face concealed under your cap. Finally, you uncrossed your arms and stood up straight.
  977. “Have you talked to your parents about this?” You asked.
  979. “I've tried but…” She sighed. “I've never found the time.”
  981. “You mean you didn't find the courage?”
  983. Emily didn't say anything, her grip on her apron tightened after you said that, apparently you hit a little close to home with that one.
  985. “I don't know if I can say “I understand how you feel.” And have it mean anything.” You told her.  “But running away from your problems isn't going to solve them. I know how rough it can be with parents. Shit, I was still living with mine until I came out here. But if you don't put your foot down and do what you want to do, your just going to be miserable for it.”
  987. “I just don't know what to do.” She was on the verge of tears now.
  989. “I'll tell you what you can do.” You got her attention again. “I have a table at the farmer's market in a few days. Bake some stuff up, food you think is the best you can bake, and sell it at my table, get a word out there. If you think you really like it, and that's what you truly want, maybe you can take a business course or something at college and start your own bakery?”
  991. “You really think I can do that?” Emily asked.
  993. “Sure, and even if it's hard, I'm sure your friends will help you out. They seem to care about you a lot.”
  995. Emily looked away again, she smiled shyly and stood up. “I think I'll do that.”
  997. She stopped herself, however, turning to the kitchen and then back to you.
  999. “Can I finish here at least?”
  1001. Some time past, you went back to working outside while Emily finished her work in the kitchen. She packed her baked goods in containers once they cooled down and placed them in her bag. With everything cleaned up and put back where it should be, Emily headed for her moped.
  1003. She stopped on her way out and looked at you, you stood up and wiped the dirt from your hands.
  1005. “T-thank you again!” Emily said with a courteous little bow, she left so fast that you could only send her off with a wave.
  1007. You watched her leave and then returned to your work, planting the seeds in the ground and watering everything, as you were finishing, you heard a voice coming from… Overhead?
  1009. “Look out below!” the voice called out.
  1011. You looked up and spotted a woman flying through the air. She came from the east before circling south and finally landing up your driveway going north. She had to hop three or four times before coming to a complete stop. A short, slender woman in a white button shirt shirt and tan shorts, she was wearing a newsboy cap atop her short brown hair. She landed on bird-like feet with three toes each with a long claw at the end of each. With a little hop, she dusted herself off with her almond feathered wing and stood to attention to you with a salute.
  1013. “Delivery-lady Lynn, reportin' for duty, sir!”
  1015. “Uh…Hi Lynn.” You greeted her.
  1017. “I'm here to deliver the order you made at Ron's hunting and fishing supplies.” She explained, noting the package strapped to her back.
  1019. “Really? That was faster than I expected.”
  1021. “Yessir, slow day! Got everything done at once, they did!” Lynn explained as she handed you a paperboard and pen she had in her sling bag. “Sign here, please!”
  1023. You signed the papers and Lynn handed you a long box before saluting you again.
  1025. “Enjoy your package, sir! Please don't accidentally shoot me on my way out!”
  1027. With another wave, Lynn began to sprint down your road before flapping her wings and taking air, she flew off into the distance heading back east.
  1029. “Nice girl.” You commented, shrugging and taking the box inside.
  1031. You placed the box down in the living room, you already knew what was inside, but you wanted to make sure everything was in order before you sat down for the day. As you entered the kitchen, you were greeted by an inviting smell. You noticed the plate of cookies left on the kitchen table right away, with a little “Thank you” note folded beside the plate.
  1033. You smiled and took the plate. Might get some milk and watch a movie tonight…
  1036. The next morning, one day before the farmer's market. You slept rather soundly that night, and didn't have another, lets call it an accident. You spent the time needed to water your crops and then you waited.
  1038. And waited…
  1040. Staring at the road for a long while, waiting for someone to show up. But nobody did, which disappointed you in a way. No interesting event to keep you busy today, it seems, guess you have to make your own.
  1042. What are you going to do today?
  1044. May as well take your own tool of home defense for a spin. You open the package and retrieved the shotgun as well as the single box of shells that came along with it. With the two in hand, you went outside to set everything up.
  1046. You set them up on the fence post, a water bottle, empty can, a plastic cup with a rock in it. Taking a distance, you load a few shells into the shotgun and pump one into the chamber.
  1048. [Experienced Farmhand] You manage to hit two in a row and miss the plastic cup, though you hit it on the second try. You don't shoot much, but you still got a decent aim about you. But you only had so much ammo on you, at least for now, you may as well hold on to it.
  1050. You gave it some thought, and remembered that Ernie barged into your house with a gas mask on. It didn't look like a regular respirator, you doubt you can buy one at the hardware store. You'll need to get his number, you can probably get it from Rory-
  1052. Hey, you haven't hung out with Rory in the past couple of days. You should go visit…But it would be rude if you just showed up again, you may as well give her a call.
  1054. “Hello?” She picked up the phone on the third ring.
  1056. “Hey, Rory?” You asked.
  1058. “Oh hey, whats up?”
  1060. “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today?” You suggested. “I got the first harvest and was thinking I could bring you some strawberries?”
  1062. “Oh. Sure but I was going to- Wait!” She stopped herself. “Do you have swim trunks!?”
  1064. “Uh…” You thought about it.
  1066. [Experienced Farmhand] You remembered you packed the trunks you took with you when you and your friends went swimming in the watering hole back home.
  1068. “Yeah, I do.” You confirmed.
  1070. “You wanna go swimming with me? We can make a day out of it.”
  1072. Swimming, huh? You thought about it.
  1074. May as well take your own tool of home defense for a spin. You open the package and retrieved the shotgun as well as the single box of shells that came along with it. With the two in hand, you went outside to set everything up.
  1076. You set them up on the fence post, a water bottle, empty can, a plastic cup with a rock in it. Taking a distance, you load a few shells into the shotgun and pump one into the chamber.
  1078. [Experienced Farmhand] You manage to hit two in a row and miss the plastic cup, though you hit it on the second try. You don't shoot much, but you still got a decent aim about you. But you only had so much ammo on you, at least for now, you may as well hold on to it.
  1080. You gave it some thought, and remembered that Ernie barged into your house with a gas mask on. It didn't look like a regular respirator, you doubt you can buy one at the hardware store. You'll need to get his number, you can probably get it from Rory-
  1082. Hey, you haven't hung out with Rory in the past couple of days. You should go visit…But it would be rude if you just showed up again, you may as well give her a call.
  1084. “Hello?” She picked up the phone on the third ring.
  1086. “Hey, Rory?” You asked.
  1088. “Oh hey, whats up?”
  1090. “Hey, I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today?” You suggested. “I got the first harvest and was thinking I could bring you some strawberries?”
  1092. “Oh. Sure but I was going to- Wait!” She stopped herself. “Do you have swim trunks!?”
  1094. “Uh…” You thought about it.
  1096. [Experienced Farmhand] You remembered you packed the trunks you took with you when you and your friends went swimming in the watering hole back home.
  1098. “Yeah, I do.” You confirmed.
  1100. “You wanna go swimming with me? We can make a day out of it.”
  1102. Swimming, huh? You thought about it.
  1105. “Swimming sounds fun, sure.” You agreed.
  1107. “Cool! How long do you think you'll take?”
  1109. “I can be there in about thirty or so.”
  1111. “Okay, I'll wait until then, see you in a bit!”
  1113. You said your goodbyes and hung up the phone. You stood there, hand still on your phone for a few seconds.
  1115. [Experienced Farmhand] You're going to the beach with a girl! This is exciting!
  1117. You practically run upstairs and grab rummage through your closet, almost worried that you didn't pack it until you finally found it at the bottom of your drawer. You paused, threw off your pants, and then put them on.
  1119. They still fit…Actually better then you remember. Did you lose weight? Doesn't matter. Calm down, take a deep breath, you've hung out with Rory before, you've seen her in her exercise gear as well, this isn't any different.
  1121. She's just never been so…Wet around you before.
  1123. You throw a towel and the trunks into a bag and hurry down the stairs, and then stop, you almost forgot the strawberries. You had to think about how many you should bring her, monsters seem to like them a lot. In the end, you filled a plastic container to the brim and brought that with you.
  1125. Calm down, another deep breath, its exciting, but you've seen girls in swim suits before… But you did wonder what kind of swim suit she would wear. You had some ideas in your head, and all of them made you bashful.
  1127. You did finally manage to calm down on your way to her house. You parked out front and approached her front door, knocking once before it swung open.
  1129. “Hey!” she greeted you with a big grin.
  1131. “Hi!” You greeted back.
  1133. Rory was wearing a sports jacket that stretched down to her thighs, showing only her bare legs and feet.
  1135. “I uh, brought you some of these.” you said, giving her the container of strawberries.
  1137. “Oh wow! Did you grow these?” She asked.
  1139. “Yeah, I thought you would like some.”
  1141. “Lets take them with us to the beach, we can snack on them after we swim.”
  1143. “Sounds good.”
  1145. Rory looked you up and then and gave you a smug glance.
  1147. “You gonna swim in that?” She asked, wiggling a pointing finger. “You know you're probably gonna sink?”
  1149. You looked down at yourself, still wearing your shirt and overalls.
  1151. “Come on, you can change in my bathroom.”
  1153. You thanked her awkwardly and let her lead you to her bathroom. There you changed into your trunks and placed your overalls into the bag you brought for the trunks and towel, it made you feel like a kid going to the pool. You kept your shirt on, at least until you get to the beach.
  1155. Rory led you through the back door and towards the beach, which wasn't far at all from her place.
  1157. “I like it out here.” She said. “It's like having your own personal beach. Everyone else always just goes out from the town, so you rarely see anyone out here.”
  1159. “Do you swim often?” You asked.
  1161. “Oh yeah, mostly for exercise, but sometimes just for fun.” She explained. “Its kind of dangerous, though. Without anyone around.”
  1163. She wiggled her fingers menacingly. “You could get swept away and nobody would knoooow~.”
  1165. “Well, I'll be sure to save you if that happens.” You joked.
  1167. “Oh, my hero!”
  1169. It was a little cloudy, but the sun had more than enough room to flaunt it's stuff. The sand was warm under your bare feet. Rory stretched her body as well as her toes, letting the claws dig into the sand.
  1171. “Ready?” She asked.
  1173. Rory spread out a sheet she had under her arm and put the container of strawberries on top. She then unzipped her jacket and peeled it from her shoulders. You tried not too look too anticipated as she revealed her bathing suit. A one-piece, black swimsuit with a blue outline. Two straps crossing into an X hugged the skin on her back, and there were no legs to speak of, revealing her legs from the outer thigh downwards.
  1175. It hugged her body, outlining the abs on her stomach and shaping her breasts beautifully. You did your best to peel your eyes away before she caught you staring. Rory stretched again, pulling her arm over her head and spreading her fuzzy fingers.
  1177. “Today is going to be so much fun!” She said, turning to you with her hands on her hips now. “What're you waiting for?”
  1179. “…Huh?” You pointed at yourself. “Me?”
  1181. “Yeah, come on, take your shirt off.” She said. “Come on, don't be a stick in the mud! I'm not gonna make fun, I swear!”
  1183. You stared for a moment, and then shook yourself out of it. “Right, completely forgot.”
  1185. With that, you grabbed the back of your collar and pulled your shirt off, balling it up and throwing it on the sheet.
  1187. [Experienced Farmhand] Rory was staring at you when you turned back to her. Her cheeks turned a peachy color and she placed three fingers against her mouth. A second later, she looked at you in the eyes and looked away.
  1189. “L-Lets not waste anymore time, okay!?” She commanded, stomping off to the water.
  1191. You joined and stood at the shore, the tide gently soaking the sand near your feet. You tried to prod the water with your toe, but felt Rory's paws against your back, pushing you forward.
  1193. “Come on, be a big boy!” She laughed, forcing you forward.
  1195. The water was cold against your feet, and then your knees, waist, and finally your stomach.
  1197. “Holy shit!” You found yourself cursing, not expecting the sudden chill.
  1199. “Cold, huh?” Rory asked, hopping through the water.
  1201. “Kind off…” You shivered.
  1203. “You'll get use to it.” She assured.
  1205. Rory lowered herself until the water touched her neck and began to swim backwards.
  1207. “You know, most of my species can only doggy paddle.” She said as she went into a gentle breast stroke. “But I got plenty of practice!”
  1209. “Was…Was that a joke?” You asked.
  1211. “What do you mean by that?” She eyed you. “Oh…Doggy. You're funny.”
  1213. “You said it, not me.”
  1215. Rory suddenly swam back to you and wrapped her arms around your stomach, pulling you into the water. You yelped before being submerged, pulling yourself up a moment later. Rory laughed again, but was quickly shut up as you put your hand on her back and pushed her under water.
  1217. Rory popped out a second later with a loud “Pwuah!” stepping up and rubbing the water from her eyes. She began to shake her head, spraying water from her hair.
  1219. “Tough guy, huh?” She asked.
  1221. Before you could answer, she splashed you with water, you took the brunt of it and then splashed her back, causing her to repel to defend herself. You pressed the advantage and chased after wards, splashing her with water as she laughed and tried to get away. She sometimes splashed back, but for the most part tried to defend herself.
  1223. Finally, as the distance was closed, Rory suddenly turned around and leaped at you, tackling you into the water. You choked in surprise as you were submerged, her arms locked around you as you swam back to the surface for air.
  1225. “Gotcha!” She laughed, still holding on to you.
  1227. The two of you shared the laugh until you realized how close you were, and what parts of her body was pressing against your chest… Rory suddenly stood up and hopped on the surface underneath the water a little bit away.
  1229. “Heh…Got a little carried away.” She said, twirling her hair around her finger.
  1231. You shrugged it off as best you could, even though it was rather…Nice. The two of you swam around and played and sometimes just talked for some time, but soon all that exercise made a familiar rumble form in your stomach.
  1233. “Getting hungry?” Rory asked.
  1235. “Yeah, a bit.” You said. Guess her hearing was a bit better than yours.
  1237. “Yeah, same.” She told you. “Come on! Lets go try those strawberries you brought!”
  1239. Rory led the way back out of the water, her suit now drenched. Your eyes peeled down for a bit, noticing her suit was now hike a bit up her bottom, but she put it back in place a second later with her finger. Was nice, though.
  1241. The two of you sat down on the sheet, and Rory dried her hair before wrapping herself in her towel. She reached for the container and opened it, smelling the strawberries inside.
  1243. “Ooh, smells good.” She said, offering you one.
  1245. “No, you first, I got plenty at home.”
  1247. Rory nodded and took one between her claws, she bit it off at the stem and began to chew. And, just like everyone else, her face melted into pure bliss.
  1249. “Oh wow…” She said, swallowing her strawberry and taking another one.
  1251. “Yeah, everyone seems to like them.” You said, taking one for yourself.
  1253. “I wasn't expecting this today…” She said, moving on to her third.
  1255. You put yours into your mouth, and chewed.
  1257. “Yeah,to me it just tastes like a strawberry.” You said.
  1259. “Mhm…” Rory said, now on her fifth.
  1261. “I don't know, I brought some to Herbert, I think there's something weird going on about this.”
  1263. “Mhmmm…”
  1265. “I mean, maybe its just me? I've only shared these with monsters I know, maybe if I give one to Ernie or Leonard they'd have the same reaction you guys do.”
  1267. “Mmmhmmm…”
  1269. “I don't know, what do you think?” You asked.
  1271. “What do I think…?” Rory asked.
  1273. “Yeah.”
  1275. “I think I found a new game we can play…”
  1277. You furrowed your brow and looked at her. Rory was glaring at you like a predator honing in on it's prey. She unwrapped herself from her towel and began to approach you on all fours, her tail wagging excitedly behind her.
  1279. “Uh…” You reeled back.
  1281. But before you could get your footing on the sheet, Rory pounced and pinned you to the sheet by your shoulders. She mounted you and looked down on you with hungry eyes, panting loudly with a breath so hot you could feel it on your face from down there. You felt her tail wagging frantically behind her, your eyes darting left and right before looking back at her.
  1283. Rory lowered herself, her panting turning into a toothy grin.
  1285. “You wanna have some fun, don't you?” She whispered into your ear before gently nibbling on the lobe.
  1287. You almost let out an audible squeak before stopping yourself.
  1289. “You don't have to be afraid of getting caught, nobody ever comes down here.” She told you. “Or maybe, the chance of getting caught is kind of exciting, isn't it?”
  1291. This was…Much worse than when she was in heat. You gulped the sudden lump in your throat. Then, you felt your heart almost rip from your chest as her right paw moved from your shoulder, down your chest, and almost town your trunks…
  1293. You weighed your options…
  1295. You wanted to, god you wanted to, your heart, brain, and crotch were all in agreement with this. But there was something in the back of your mind, something telling you that something was off. It was the strawberries, obviously, but did she know this would happen? You had a feeling shit did, but still, you wanted to be sure.
  1297. You managed to catch Rory's hand by the wrist before she got too…Deep. She yelped in surprise as you pulled her away, putting your other hand on the wrist holding you down and pushing them both away from you.
  1299. “Playing hard to get, huh?” She asked with a grin, her tail never stopped wagging. “I like that~.”
  1301. Rory began to push back against your resistance, straddling you properly and pressing her legs against your sides.
  1303. [Experienced Farmhand] You pushed back, holding your breath and resisting against her weight. Rory began to fidget and struggle, her arms shaking as she was forced back. She yelped in surprise again as you manage to sit up, forcing your left hand away and wrapping your left arm around her flat…Tone, stomach.
  1305. You lifted her up on your shoulder, and with the restraint of an absolute god, you managed to run back to the water with Rory flailing on your shoulder. You went shallow enough for the water to be at your stomach again before throwing Rory into the water with a thunderous, world ending splash.
  1307. Almost a minute past, and you started to think throwing her into the water was a bad idea. Suddenly, Rory came back up to the surface with another loud “Pwuah!” gasping for air and shaking the water from her hair. She wiped the water from her eyes and blinked a few times, looking around before noticing you in the water.
  1309. “When did we get back in the water?” She asked. “What happened?”
  1311. “Do…Do you not remember?” You asked, regaining your breath.”
  1313. “I- I don't think so.” She admitted. “I was eating those really yummy strawberries and then, suddenly, I was under water.”
  1315. You stood up straight after she told you that, you looked back at the beach and then to her.
  1317. “How many did you eat?” You asked.
  1319. “I don't know, like, twenty? Or so?” She said. “I was just kind of popping them in one after the other.”
  1321. “Maybe we should call it for now on swimming.” You suggested.
  1323. “Probably a good idea…” Rory agreed.
  1325. She went to stand up from the water, but squeaked and squatted back down under the current. You noticed that she put both her hands between her legs and clenched them together with her thighs.
  1327. “I'll…I'll be there in a second.” She said, with blushed cheeks. “You go on without me…”
  1329. Rory joined you a minute later, wiping the water from her face. You had packed up the sheet and moved to the bench overlooking the beach from her house. You had dried off and put your shirt back on, handing Rory her towel as she approached.
  1331. “It was pretty fun, today.” She said.
  1333. “Yeah.” You didn't know if you wanted to tell her what happened or not, at least not yet.
  1335. It went quiet for a bit, you tried to break the awkward silence.
  1337. “So, what do you do for a living?”
  1339. “Who, me?” Rory asked.
  1341. She seemed embarrassed, looking away and scratching her cheek with her claw.
  1343. “Actually, my parents kind of…Take care of everything.” It was hard for her to admit. “They run a pretty big mining business. They never really wanted me to struggle too much.”
  1345. She laughed nervously. “I'm kind of a spoiled brat, I guess.”
  1347. “I wouldn't say so.” You told her. “You seem pretty into what you do.”
  1349. “Yeah, I got pretty big into sports, always loved the challenge that came with it. Mom and Dad always wanted to put me in a big mansion with butlers. If it were up to them I wouldn't have moved out at all. But I wanted to take care of myself, learn to cook for myself, do all that stuff by myself.”
  1351. “You're gonna have to cook for me one day.” You joked.
  1353. Rory laughed. “Yeah, I'd like that.”
  1355. “So, this whole swimming thing. This was for practice as well, right?”
  1357. “Yup, I only have until the last week of summer to be the best I can be!” Rory said. “This time I'm going to take first place for sure!”
  1359. “Oh? How many races have you been in?” You asked.
  1361. “Well…” She clicked her claws together innocently. “Ten.”
  1363. “Ten?”
  1365. “Never took first place, even when I was a kid.” She admitted, much to her embarrassment. “Always went to Kelly Orstan.”
  1367. “Kelly Orstan?” You asked.
  1369. “A Wererabbit from the city.” Rory explained. “She's not one of those big, hoppy white furred ones. She's fast, and runs like a mean one.”
  1371. “A rival, huh?” You said. “Kind of exciting.”
  1373. “I'm not much of a rival.” She laughed, but quickly became determined. “But this year I'll get her for sure!”
  1375. “I'll cheer you on.” You tell her. “I'm sure this time, you'll kick her ass.”
  1377. Rory looked at you, she gave you a warm smile. “Thanks, I really appreciate it…”
  1379. The two of you spent some time together for awhile longer before it was time to go home.
  1381. You got dressed in the bathroom and said your goodbyes, but Rory stopped you before you got into your truck.
  1383. “Hey, um…” She seemed hesitant. “Are you going to the summer festival?”
  1385. “Summer festival?”
  1387. “Yeah, its held in Everton every year. It'll be next week just outside of town. We should go!”
  1389. Rory suddenly stopped herself. “Well, I'll see you there anyways, so whatever.”
  1391. She laughed, said goodbye and skipped back to her house. The sun was going down now, a twilight covering the land. It was time to go home. When you finally got home, you sat in the truck for awhile, before finally biting down on your fist and muttering “Oh my god…” to yourself under your breath.
  1393. That was too much…
  1396. The next day game, the day of the farmer's market.
  1398. You managed to bring everything up from storage, nothing seemed to be rotten, it all still seemed rather fresh. You looked at the potatoes and strawberries you had grown…
  1400. Is it such a good idea to sell these? On one hand, you saw what the berries did to Rory yesterday, but on the other…You can't just throw away profit.
  1402. Maybe some kind of warning label? Humans seem fine if they eat them…Seem. You don't feel any different.
  1404. You're also sharing your table with Emily, hopefully, if she shows up… You sit down for a moment and ponder.
  1406. ***** I would suggest, at the very least, wait until mid-fall/start of winter before going full romance. Either for the sake of Harvest Moon progression or just to get to know everyone better/ meet new people and monsters.
  1408.  Or go apeshit, whatever, I'm just the writer. ****
  1409. You put a lot of money into these crops, and you had more on the way, you can't just pull them out. Besides, the chances that the entire plot of land doesn't have the same effect, if it is the land, is almost zero to none.
  1411. You thought about it some more. Did Grandpa do this? Could he have? You would think someone would mention it in the past, its not like he wasn't well known or anything…
  1413. The best option would be to take them with you, and see what you can do, maybe that frog girl from Warrington will be able to help you. You still had some time, but not much, you'd have to hurry.
  1415. You drove straight to the Froghole, parking up front as a familiar lady went to the front door. You caught her as she was putting her keys in, she turned to you as you approached.
  1417. “Well, someone's in a hurry.” She said.
  1419. “I think I might need your help.” You told her.
  1421. “That's weird.” She said bluntly.
  1423. “Okay so.” You sighed. “I got my harvest in, and I shared some of the strawberries I grew with some other monsters, and they all reacted, strangely to it.”
  1425. “How strangely?” She asked.
  1427. “Like it's the best thing they've ever eaten weird.” You stopped yourself for a second before deciding to continue. “Like, someone tried to have sex with me yesterday good.”
  1429. “That's pretty good.” She commented. “Can I see them?”
  1431. You led her to the back of your truck and pulled one of the crates from the back. She picked a strawberry out, examined it, and then dropped it in her mouth.
  1433. With a sudden jolt, the frog girl shivered like someone poured ice cold water down her spine, shaking her head and placing her hands on her cheeks.
  1435. “Holy shit!” She said, swallowing the strawberry.
  1437. “Right? It doesn't do anything for me.” You explained. “It just tastes like a normal strawberry.”
  1439. “Hm…” The frog girl suddenly grabbed a handful and popped it in her mouth before you could stop her.
  1441. She looked you straight in the eye as she chewed, swallowing a few moments later and standing still, looking off into space.
  1443. “Oh wow, I definitely feel that.” She admitted. “Yeah, no wonder your friend tried to hop you.”
  1445. “You're taking it rather well.” You said.
  1447. “It's not my first rodeo with this sort of thing.”
  1449. “Do you have any idea what it is?”
  1451. “Couldn't tell ya. I sell a few aphrodisiacs, but nothing like this before. It feels like my heart is going to stop beating if you and I don't… Ya know.”
  1453. “Oh…” You looked around nervously. “Its not illegal to sell these, is it?”
  1455. “Probably not.” She said. “I mean, its not illegal when I do it, and if there's a license for it, then I've never heard of it.”
  1457. She stretched. “Just give people a fair warning before they buy them. Its not like a liquor store gets in trouble for selling liquor. Everything in moderation.”
  1459. “Well…Alright.”
  1461. “Are we done?” She asked.
  1463. “Yeah, I think so.”
  1465. “Good.” She shot you some finger guns. “I gotta go tend to my lady bits.”
  1467. “Oh, okay, have fun.” You said, waving as she went into the Froghole, locking the door behind her.
  1469. You knew your Grandpa well, probably better than anyone. You don't think he would do something like…That to his own land. There must be something else involved, a third party perhaps? But why? You remembered Leonard said something about Grandpa having a deal with some kind of racing circuit in the city. Could be a lead…
  1471. You made it to the farmer's market just in time before it opened. From the front, the lady pointed you in the direction of your table, near the corner on the eastern wall, not at the end, but close. You noticed Emily at the table right away, she was wearing an apron and looking at the table in front of her while brushing her ponytail in her hands.
  1473. “Looks like you made it.” You said with a smile.
  1475. Emily jumped in surprise, and then sighed when she noticed it was you. “Y-yeah…”
  1477. “So… How'd it go with the folks?” You asked.
  1479. “They…Didn't take it well.” She explained. “W-well not at first!”
  1481. “Oh? What happened?”
  1483. “At first they didn't want to hear it.” She explained. “So. I made a presentation.”
  1485. “You made a presentation as to why you should be a baker instead of…Whatever?”
  1487. “Yeah!”
  1489. “And it worked?”
  1491. “Yeah!”
  1493. “You sure you want to be a baker and not a public speaker?”
  1495. “I'm sure! I'm feeling really good about this now!” She exclaimed. “Nervous! But good!”
  1497. Emily took a deep breath. “Now that you're here, I can put my stuff on the table, right?”
  1499. “Yeah, I don't know why you didn't before.”
  1501. “The lady up front wouldn't let me.” She said, noticing that said lady was giving her a stink eye.
  1503. “No, go for it.”
  1505. “Oh, before I start.” Said Emily with a point of her finger. “Do you think I could borrow some of your strawberries? I promise I'll pay you back.”
  1507. You knew your Grandpa well, probably better than anyone. You don't think he would do something like…That to his own land. There must be something else involved, a third party perhaps? But why? You remembered Leonard said something about Grandpa having a deal with some kind of racing circuit in the city. Could be a lead…
  1509. You made it to the farmer's market just in time before it opened. From the front, the lady pointed you in the direction of your table, near the corner on the eastern wall, not at the end, but close. You noticed Emily at the table right away, she was wearing an apron and looking at the table in front of her while brushing her ponytail in her hands.
  1511. “Looks like you made it.” You said with a smile.
  1513. Emily jumped in surprise, and then sighed when she noticed it was you. “Y-yeah…”
  1515. “So… How'd it go with the folks?” You asked.
  1517. “They…Didn't take it well.” She explained. “W-well not at first!”
  1519. “Oh? What happened?”
  1521. “At first they didn't want to hear it.” She explained. “So. I made a presentation.”
  1523. “You made a presentation as to why you should be a baker instead of…Whatever?”
  1525. “Yeah!”
  1527. “And it worked?”
  1529. “Yeah!”
  1531. “You sure you want to be a baker and not a public speaker?”
  1533. “I'm sure! I'm feeling really good about this now!” She exclaimed. “Nervous! But good!”
  1535. Emily took a deep breath. “Now that you're here, I can put my stuff on the table, right?”
  1537. “Yeah, I don't know why you didn't before.”
  1539. “The lady up front wouldn't let me.” She said, noticing that said lady was giving her a stink eye.
  1541. “No, go for it.”
  1543. “Oh, before I start.” Said Emily with a point of her finger. “Do you think I could borrow some of your strawberries? I promise I'll pay you back.”
  1545. An hour later, the market opened. It was slow at first, but soon people started to show up, at first just bored house wives, but soon it filled up with people from all over the countryside. The market was filled with storefronts from humans and monsters alike. A group of girls you assumed were some kind of bee monsters wore white T-shirts and paraded their honey to the passerbys. A very sleep woman with horns and fluffy wool around her sweater was selling things such as mittens, sweaters, and pajamas. And a duo of two men were selling a brand of Jerky they apparently made themselves.
  1547. You had a distinct advantage, even in the back corner. And that was five attractive girls advertising your table. It started with one guy checking out Emily's pastries, he had a sample and quickly bought a pack of muffins soon after. Emily said something to him and pointed him to you,  and soon he came and bought himself a pack of strawberries as well.
  1549. Soon, your table became the talk of the market, much to the ire of the rather pouty bee girls standing across from you with their arms crossed. It was down to a science, someone would buy Emily's pastries, she would point them to you, and then they would come over and buy one of your produce. You were so busy, you didn't even notice your guest of honor examining your products.
  1551. The woman took a strawberry in her fingers and examined it, her eyes were pitch black with red pupils. She had wings on her back but they were folded and out of the way and she wore a dark blue business suit with the top two buttons open, high heels and gray pants. Her hair was long and black, and two onyx horns with red tips protruded above her long, pointed ears.
  1553. Behind her stood another woman, slightly taller than her. She was wearing an identical business suit, though her wings were more bird like, with brown and white tipped feathers. Her hands were like an Eagle's talons, though she didn't wear heels and instead stood on what appeared to be lions paws. Her hair was shorter, though she constantly removed the bangs from her eyes, with her colors in reverse of her wings, with dark white hair and brown streaks. She stood behind the horned woman, holding a tablet in her other talon.
  1555. “Very exciting.” The horned woman commented. “I haven't seen anything produced from Michael's farm in a very long time…”
  1557. She looked down at you and smiled sweetly. “You don't mind, do you?”
  1559. “I…uh…No. G-go ahead.” The words escaped your mouth without your permission.
  1561. The woman smiled and ate the strawberry. Her eyes flickered for a moment before she finished chewing and swallowed.
  1563. “Oh my~” She placed a hand on her cheek softly. “Now that's new.”
  1565. You sat in your chair, eyes only darting away from hers for a moment before looking back. The woman demanded your attention, and from how you felt, not just from presence alone.
  1567. “These are rather tasty.” She continued.
  1569. Suddenly, she laughed and offered you a hand. “Where are my manners? I am Yuri Natashya: Mayor of  Everton.”
  1571. You nodded and stood up, taking her hand and shaking it while introducing yourself.
  1573. “This fine young lady behind me is Tabitha Langs, my assistant.” She said, standing aside for the winged woman. She smiled for a moment and nodded as as hello.
  1575. “Nice to…Meet you.” You said.
  1577. “It's always nice to see some new blood in the area. Even if you aren't from Everton.” She continued. “But your, I presume, grandfather was very popular among all three towns. Its good to see his farm not going to waste.”
  1579. You wanted to ask questions, she seemed like a knowledgeable woman…But the words escaped you.
  1581. “Tabitha, could you please collect two packages of strawberries from the young man? … And perhaps a bag of potatoes as well, we could have something delicious made with those too. Oh, and maybe some muffins from the talented young lady over there.” She pointed to Emily, who squeaked in surprise and looked away.
  1583. “Of course, Ms. Natashya.” Tabitha nodded and did as she was ordered.
  1585. You bagged her order and took the money.
  1587. “And a little extra for you as well.” she said with a warm smile. “I hope to see you more in the future! Come along now, Tabitha.”
  1589. “Of course, Ms. Natashya.”
  1591. The silence of the crowed ended as the two left, and suddenly a chorus of whispers began to erupt. You had to sit down and regain your composure. It felt like you were standing in front of the entire world for a moment there.
  1593. But as you sat down, and the crowed began to spread out, you noticed a smell…A familiar smell, like perfume. You stood up and looked around, trying to get a better view, but the crowed was too packed and moving along.
  1595. You did feel like you felt a familiar pair of ruby eyes staring at you after the ordeal…But you couldn't tell from where, and that sent a chill down your spine…
  1597. You managed to sell out at the end of the day, as did Emily.  All together you made 2900g, putting you up to 5450g, you had to be careful not to let all that money go to your head, the most you ever had on you personally before you moved out here was around 1500g, since most of the profit went to the farm and your parents.
  1599. Emily also walked away with a clean 2500g profit, something the other girls were celebrating and congratulating her for. She wanted to share her earnings with the others, but they refused, even though Maggie almost took the plunge. Though, Emily gave you the money for the strawberries she loaned from you, putting you up to 5600g.
  1601. “If your folks can't see you're cut out for this now, then I dunno what will convince them!” Cassie told her before hugging her friend.
  1603. “Y-yeah…' Emily looked down with flushed cheeks.
  1605. With the market closed, you began to pack up with the help of the others. With everything in the back of the truck, and profits in your pocket, you began to say your goodbyes and thank the others for the help today.
  1607. “You should start paying us soon.” Cassie joked, prodding your chest with her finger. “Or maybe let us crash at your place more often.”
  1609. “Crash at my place?” You repeated.
  1611. “Don't worry about it.” She said, punching your shoulder gently. “We'll talk some other time. Have fun with your money, Successful Farmer Man.”
  1613. The rest said their goodbyes as well, but as they were leaving, Emily stopped. She took a deep breath, turned back to you, and charged. She wrapped her arms around your stomach and hugged you tightly.
  1615. “Thank you…” She sniffled.
  1617. [Experienced Farmhand] You froze for a second, and then put your hand on the top of her head, patting her hair softly.
  1619. She stepped away and smiled before running to catch up with her friends.
  1621. You watched them leave, and with a deep breath and a smile, packed up and headed home…
  1624. The next day. You got up early again and did your routine, watering your plants and making sure everything was in order.
  1626. With the sun still rising over the horizon, you sat down on your porch, and planned the day.
  1628. “Trees.” you said to yourself. “I should plant some trees.”
  1630. You prepared everything before getting into your truck and heading to Everton. There were a few people in Ched's today, but for the most part it wasn't busy.  You waited your turn in line and then came to the counter. The guy in front was a young blond man with short hair and a blue checkered shirt underneath his apron. His nametag said “Donny” and he had a small birth mark on his cheek.
  1632. “Welcome back.” He said.
  1634. You stopped and looked at him for a second, suddenly embarrassed that you didn't remember him.
  1636. “I'm usually working in the aisles.” He said, pointed behind you. “Don't worry about it. Now what can I do for you?”
  1638. “Looking for trees to plant.” You explained. “Apples, lemons, oranges, things like that.”
  1640. Donny shook his head. “Can't help you with that, friend.”
  1642. “Really?” You asked in return.
  1644. “Don't sell trees, not even acorns. Nobody buys them, at least from us.” He said with a shrug and a wave of his hand.
  1646. “Well, where would I go, then?” You asked.
  1648. “There's a place in the city, but I'd consider it a day trip.” Donny explained, writing an address down on a piece of paper and handing it to you.
  1650. You took the piece of paper, sighed and said your goodbyes.
  1652. You went back to your truck, then noticed something familiar at the corner of your eye. You turned your head and saw a tail wagging out of the shrubbery. You approached and heard a familiar voice complaining about her luck again.
  1654. Looking around, you saw what looked like a game cartridge lying on the ground. You picked it up, these were a lot smaller than you remembered…
  1656. “You lose things pretty easy…” You stated.
  1658. “Nyah!” Ako stood up in shock and then turned around.
  1660. The slits of her eyes widened when she saw the tiny cartridge in between your fingers. “Y-yeah… I guess so.” She said with a nervous laugh.
  1662. You dropped the cartridge in her palm, she gripped it in her paw and thanked you meekly.
  1664. “What are you always doing out here anyway?” You asked.
  1666. “W-well…” Ako fidgeted. “I like to hang out out here…”
  1668. “Out here? Like at the end of the road?”
  1670. “No!… A little further in…”
  1672. “Oh, you go into the woods?” You asked.
  1674. “Yes…” She nodded.
  1676. Ako stood in silence for awhile, her tail wagged gently behind her and her ear twitched, she looked back and then to you again.
  1678. “Do you want to see?” She asked.
  1680. You took a look around, furrowing your brow. You had to say, your curiosity was peaked, but what if it was a trap? You remembered that smell and that feeling you had yesterday at the market, but at the same time…You were just being paranoid, if she had something to do with it then why didn't she try and reel you in when you first met?
  1682. “Sure?” You said, accepting her invite.
  1684. Ako looked around, narrowing her eyes at any would-be stalker. When, obviously, there were none, she beckoned you along with her paw and went into the woods. You had to step over some shrubbery and push through the bushes, but it didn't seem to bother the short cat girl all too much. Eventually, you reached a clearing and she beckoned you along with a “come on!”, going deeper into the tree line.
  1686. You spotted it behind the foliage of the trees before you reached it, what looked like a red roof jutting from the tree tops. The amazement overtook you when you finally reached it, a tree house built around a tall oak tree. But it wasn't just a kid's tree house, or something you saw in a cartoon, this could have been its own house.
  1688. Like a cabin built into the tree, with a wooden door, windows, chimney, and even a porch.
  1690. “How…How has nobody found this?” You asked.
  1692. “I'm not sure anyone ever comes out here.” Ako said. “At least, I've never seen anyone.”
  1694. “How many rooms is this?”
  1696. “Just one.”
  1698. You were more confused than amazed now. “How did you even build this?”
  1700. “It took two years or so.” Ako explained. “I had to slow down in the winters, so that probably made it take longer.”
  1702. “By yourself?” You asked.
  1704. Ako nodded.
  1706. “How did…”
  1708. Ako looked away, then back to you. “Internet.”
  1710. “Bullshit.” You countered.
  1712. “S-seriously!” She stomped her foot.
  1714. “How did you even get all the supplies out here without being noticed?” You asked.
  1716. “Carefully…” She pouted, kicking the same foot she just stomped.
  1718. You narrowed your eyes, but you don't get how else she could have done this. Maybe through help? Or maybe she inherited this house somehow? Or maybe she's just telling the truth and being honest, monsters have been surprising you a lot in these past few weeks.
  1720. “Come on, I'll show you around!” Ako chimed.
  1722. With one leap, she was halfway out the tree, digging her claws into the side before hopping again and reaching the door that she slid open. She looked down at you,  said “Oh, right.” And hopped inside. A moment later, a rope ladder dropped to the ground.
  1724. You were adamant at first, testing its resistance on the third to the bottom, but when it felt like the ladder could hold your weight, you climbed up.
  1726. The tree house was more impressive on the inside, it was warm, but not uncomfortable for the weather, shade from the leaves outside filled the room, dancing gently across the wooden ground. There wasn't any kind of extravagant furniture, you doubted she would be able to lift something like a couch up here, though it all seemed sturdy enough.
  1728. There was other things, however, like a few pillows and a futon, a wooden chest in the right-hand corner of the room flanked by four or five soft-mesh crates of various colors. The mesh boxes were filled with plastic cases that you mistaked for movies at first, stepping over the box and looking in you realized that it was a mix of movies, music, and video games, completely disorganized and just placed in the boxes.
  1730. “The chest has more.” Ako spoke up. “And some consoles… As well as my Discman and portable movie player.”
  1732. “Discman?” You asked. “What year is it?”
  1734. “I like my physical media.” She huffed. “…And its not like you're one to talk, farm boy…”
  1736. “Was that sass?” You asked. “I thought all you can do is stutter.”
  1738. “I'm really shy, okay!?” She protested, her tail and ears standing on end.
  1740. Ako paused, and then stood up straight before clearing her throat. She stretched and sat down on a beanbag chair she had near the chest.
  1742. “So you just hang out here?” You asked.
  1744. “Basically.” She sighed, rubbing her eyes. “I'm always such a neat freak at home, everyone's so anal if things aren't just perfect. I come out here and just…Relax.”
  1746. “You built a premium tree house just to relax?” You couldn't help but laugh.
  1748. “It was hard.” She sighed.
  1750. “I bet, how did you even get all the supplies up here?”
  1752. “Levers and pulleys, mostly.” She explained further.
  1754. You looked around some more, then sat down on the floor. Ako looked at at you, and then a second later got up and pulled her futon over.
  1756. “You can sit on this.” She said. “As long as you're here.”
  1758. You did just that and sat down, Ako took another deep breath and rummaged through the chest. A moment later, she handed you a pink colored hand held video game console.
  1760. “Here.” She said. “Don't want you to get bored.”
  1762. [Experienced Farmhand] “I…don't really play all that many video games.” You explained.
  1764. “Really? Not even a little?”
  1766. “I had one when I was a kid.” You explained. “But it kind of escaped me over time.”
  1768. “Well, that's okay.” Ako smiled, handing it to you. “Its a coop game, we can play together.”
  1770. It took you a moment to find the power button, but once you got your hands on it, it wasn't too similar to the dusty old console controller you had back at home. Back in the day, they had portable games as well, but they were basic, lacked color, and had basic sound. This thing may as well be a home console on its own.
  1772. “You play these a lot?” You asked.
  1774. “When I'm out here.” Ako explained. “At home, I usually play on my computer.”
  1776. She seemed a lot more laid back now, less stressed and jumpy. Ako sunk into her bean bag chair and told you how to set everything up to play with her. You decided to stick around and play for a bit, playing some video games with Ako.  The strangeness of it all faded away the more you stuck around, focusing more on this video game she handed you.
  1778. After an hour and a half of leaning over to ask her how to do something and beating a few levels, you felt like it was time to leave.
  1780. “I think I should get going.” You said with a sigh, standing up. “Still got some things to do.”
  1782. “Alright then.” Ako nodded. “I'll stay here for awhile. Maybe take a nap.”
  1784. As you were lowering the ladder, Ako stopped you.
  1786. “Hey…It was kind of cool to hang out with someone else out here.”
  1788. “Hey, no problem.” You said with a wave of your hand.
  1790. You dropped the ladder, but then stopped yourself.
  1792. “Hey, do you notice anything strange out here?” You asked.
  1794. “Aside from the usual forest sounds?” Ako asked in return.
  1796. She pondered, putting a claw against her chin.
  1798. “Now that you mention it. Sometimes I smell something fruity. And I don't think there are any trees like that out here.”
  1800. “Fruity?” You ask.
  1802. “At least I think its fruity. Kind of like Strawberries or lavender? Or both?”
  1804. You only looked back at her. “Nothing else? Nothing tried to get into the tree house?”
  1806. “Not that I know of.” Ako said. “You're starting to scare me. Its not like I have the guts to stay out here when the sun goes down.”
  1808. “Its… Its nothing.” You thought it was best to leave it at that for now. “I'll see you around.”
  1810. You said goodbye and climbed down the ladder. You reached the bottom…And took a deep breath.
  1812. The air smelled fine…Just fine… But you still felt uneasy. You looked up and saw Ako pull the ladder back into the house. She smiled and waved before going back in, sliding the door closed behind her.
  1814. When you got home sometime later, you thought it would be prudent to call Rory up. She picked up and you asked her what you needed to ask, about how to contact Ernie and all. She gave you his work number, but before you two could say goodbye…
  1816. “Hey, you're going to the summer festival, right?” Rory asked.
  1818. “The one you mentioned before?” You asked in return. “I mean…Probably? Hadn't given it much thought.”
  1820. “Cool!…Cool. Would be awesome to see you there!”
  1822. After some more small talk, Rory said she had to go back to her work out, and the two of you said goodbye. You hung up, then picked up the phone and finally called Ernie. After four rings, someone picked up. There was a loud, sharp inhale on the other side.
  1824. “Hello?” A man's voice asked.
  1826. “Hey uh, Ernie?”
  1828. “Yeah?”
  1830. You told him who you were.
  1832. “Oh, the Farm boy. Whats up?” He asked.
  1834. “I get it that you're the resident expert on skinwalkers?” You asked.
  1836. “Wouldn't say expert.” Ernie stated. “They don't show up often, its hard to get experience in that field.”
  1838. “I could…Still use some help.” You said.
  1840. Ernie paused for a moment, you heard him inhale again. “Yeah alright, I'll be there in thirty.”
  1842. Before you could say anything, he hung up. You hung up your phone and sat on the couch, tapping your hands against your lap. And just like he said, thirty minutes later, he arrived. He came in a large, white van, with no signs or advertisements on the side, it was actually rather creepy…
  1844. You met him at his van, not knowing if you should shake his hand or not, but mentally sighed with relief when he offered his.
  1846. “Alright. Whats the problem? She show up again?” He asked.
  1848. “No.” You shook your head. “Just…You know, don't feel safe.”
  1850. “Okay, good.” He said. “Would be weird if she showed up again so soon.”
  1852. Ernie looked around the property, hands in his pockets. “You have any kind of self defense?”
  1854. “A shotgun.” You explained. “Got it a few days ago.”
  1856. “Good choice, but good luck hitting her with it. Even if you did, I doubt it would keep her down for long.”
  1858. “Isn't there some kind of ammo I can use?” You asked. “Like a silver bullet…Or Silver shell or something.”
  1860. “Not really.” He explains. “I don't even bother to shoot to kill.”
  1862. “So why even carry a gun?” You asked.
  1864. “Knock down, mostly.” He explained. “Also these.”
  1866. Ernie reached into his pocket and drew shell with a dark-gray color.”
  1868. “Whats that?” You asked.
  1870. “Ghost pepper.” He stated bluntly. “Its not the hottest, but Caravan Town Reapers are expensive.”
  1872. “You filled a shell with…Peppers?”
  1874. “Pepper seeds, bits of the pepper itself, pepper juices. Everything over 500,000 on the chart is good to go, anything lower is the equivalent of spraying a cat with a water bottle.”
  1876. “What does this do exactly?”
  1878. “Immobilizes a skinwalker. Long enough to get them to a proper specialist or relocate them.” Ernie explained. “They don't operate like monsters or humans and they're basically batshit by any humble standards. But they're still monsters, and still protected by the law.”
  1880. You didn't even think about it. Not like you could have to begin with.
  1882. “Should have told you from the start. But with the full moon and all.” Ernie explained, drawing a cigarette from his breast pocket and putting it in his mouth. He lit it and took a long drag.
  1884. “How did you even get into this?” You asked.
  1886. “Ernie took another drag and blew it out the side of his mouth. He stepped closer to you and spread the lids of his right eye with his finger and thumb, letting you get a good look. You didn't notice before, but there was a glint of rose-pink in his pupil.
  1888. “I was whisked away for over four months a few years ago back in my home town. They wrote me off because you usually can't find someone that got whisked, but Herbert could. That's why I moved out here, I wanted to learn more and defend myself…And I guess others.”
  1890. “Wait. Herbert? You asked. “Like the crazy old guy in Everton?”
  1892. “Yeah, that's him.” Ernie nodded. “Don't worry, he was always like that, it was probably worse when he was younger. His big obsession was hunting skinwalkers back in the day, and I guess he sees the world differently than everyone else, probably gave him some sort of leg up. Took me over a year of therapy in a institution before I stopped scratching at the walls trying to get back to her.”
  1894. “Where…Where is she now?” You asked.
  1896. “No idea. Guess she moved on, or gave up, I don't know, they think fucky.” Ernie sighed. “Can't really say I miss her. I'm a married man now, that apparently helps.”
  1898. “Getting married helps?”
  1900. “Fuckin' helps too, to an extent.” Ernie went on. “Especially with the poison. But since you're walking straight and all…I guess you're alright.”
  1902. Ernie dropped the butt and stepped on it, grinding it into the dirt before beckoning you along. You followed him back to the van and Ernie went to the side, jumped inside, and came out a moment later with some kind of helmet.
  1904. “Here.” He threw it to you.
  1906. The helmet was heavy, and had some kind of respirator attached to the front. The respirator was attached to a pair of goggles that seemed to seal to the helmet itself.
  1908. “Its a ballistic gas mask from the old Zhartzev empire.” Ernie said. “The mask itself doesn't help, but you can pack the respirator with sage, which helps with the aroma, keeps the goop out of your guts.”
  1910. “You're just giving this to me?” You asked.
  1912. “I have about two hundred of them.” He said. “Real easy to get as of late.”
  1914. Ernie reached into his pocket and drew his phone, he looked at it, tapped something in, and then put it back in his pocket.
  1916. “The Missus expects me for dinner.” Ernie said.
  1918. “Anything else I should know before you go?” You asked.
  1920. “Yeah, uh…” Earnie rubbed the back of his head and looked around, he wiggled his finger and poked in a few direction.
  1922. “Totems don't always work, but sometimes they help. I think its how they're set up or maybe who makes them, we've never gotten a clarity on that. Have people over more often, throw parties, be more social… You could always get married and be done with it. If all else fails, load up on pepper shells and hope for the best.”
  1924. “Be more social?”
  1926. “Yeah, they don't usually attack when you're in large groups.”
  1928. With that, Ernie returned to his van, he looked out the driver window and gave you a wave.
  1930. “Take care now.” He said as he began to drive off.
  1932. You waved as he left, turning back to return home. Totems? There must be some local custom involving them… As you returned to your house, halfway there you heard someone call out.
  1934. “Look out below!” A woman's voice yelled from above.
  1936. You looked up and saw the delivery harpy from before, making a circle before lining up with your walkway and descending. She came down talons first, but caught her talon on a rock and lost her balance. She yelped in shock as she toppled forward, struggling to regain her balance.
  1938. [Experienced Farmhand] She almost fell, but you moved quickly and caught her in your right arm by the stomach before that happened. She exhaled in surprise, but still managed to regain her balance with your help.
  1940. “Wow…” She said, dusting herself off with her wings. “You're pretty strong.”
  1942. She eyed you up and down and gained a sultry smile. “I wonder what other parts of you are strong.”
  1944. “I…Uh.” You tensed as she advanced, looking up at you as your chest almost touched. “Did you…Have something for me?”
  1946. “Right. Right!” She peeped up.
  1948. The harpy rummaged through her bag and handed you a letter. “That's all then, see ya!”
  1950. She turned around to leave, but stopped and looked back at you one more time, eyeing you up and down before finally dashing forward and taking off.
  1952. You sighed and tried to calm the pounding in your chest, looking at the letter and opening it. It was from your mother.
  1954. She asked you how you were, told you your father was doing fine, but missed you. The farm is doing well and the farm hands are getting a hang of all the work you used to do. Your mother goes on to talk about how she was worried with you moving to a monster-populated area, but came to peace with it when she spoke to a few people from that region. She goes on to hope that you'll write back soon, or call…
  1956. You smile and put the letter in your pocket, and with that, you went inside…
  1958. Morning, it was cloudy and the rain had already came through. It was supposed to rain again, and for longer, most of the work was already done today.
  1960. You sit inside with a cup of coffee and look out, planning the day.
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