Ok, I've got a garden planted, so I guess I should go see Shara.
The town has a lively air, now that it's started to wake up properly...
When I get to the place with the three shops where Shara lives (A road sign marks it as "Flower Way,") I see a girl standing there, just sort of milling about, without any real sense of urgency or destination. If it was possible for her to be asleep standing up, just basking there with the morning sun shining through her long silver hair... That's what I think she'd be doing. As it stands, she's...Probably awake, right?
"Um..." I don't want to disturb her, she looks so peaceful, but... She lifts her head and glances, yawning all the while, my way.
Her eyes flick open and glances up and down at me.
"Your name is Ramza, right?"
"That's...right." I say, still hesitating over having just sort of given myself a name. "Um, how did you know that?"
"(Does it really matter?) ...Shara said something about that, when she walked by. New guy, name of Ramza, he'll be working on the... You get it, right? (I don't have to explain it all, do I?)"
She sighs, like it's a lot of bother.
"Um, well, she told you right. I'll be working the farm here while I get my bearings."
She nods sympathetically.
I think she's trying to share sorrows, but... I don't mind working on the farm.
Then a though sneaks across her features and she sighs.
"Well, it's a general store, um... What sort of things do you sell there?"
"Seeds. Cooking ingredients. Crops. Things like that..."
I can't help but chuckle a little. I mean, it's not like I could avoid a shop like that as a farmer, right?
"Well, uh... I think you sell a lot of things that I'm going to need."
She only sighs and shakes her head weakly.
"(I guess I can't stop you.)"
She falls silent and I worry I've offended her by, um, patronizing her. Her store, I mean, not her as a person.
"Well, uh, I'll see you around. People to see, things to do, all that..."
She shrugs as if it makes little difference, and having excused myself, I head to Shara's.
I step into the shop, and it's definitely where I woke up. ...Did I just crawl in here to sleep or something, under the cover of dawn? I should apologize, as soon as I work out what for.
The shop smells of all the fresh flowers they have cut and growing about the store. Come to that, the whole town seems covered in flowers, so they have some demand.
That was just a reflex, because she sees me and walks over.
"Well, you asked, right?" I'm still looking around -- there's a really wide variety, and some of them must take a lot of care to manage.
"Hee hee. Thank you! We sell flower seeds and some magic seeds too!"
But before she can finish her explanation...
A figure darts down the staircase, and leaps on me,
and just decides to start attacking me!
I thought the monsters here were mostly peaceful!
That's a little girl.
The man behind the other counter, who to be honest I hadn't noticed before, calls out.
Shara grabs the girl -- Monica -- and holds her back.
Um....Dragging you away, it looks like.
Monica's still thrashing about, bloodlust gleaming in her eyes. You sure she doesn't need to go back to the forest of beginnings, too?
Eventually, yowling like a cat, Monica is pulled up the stairs. After a few minutes, Shara returns.
"Who was that atavistic war-child in a ribbon?" I am still watching the stairs.
"That's my sister... She doesn't like strangers."
"Boy, I'll say."
That's... putting it mildly.
Shara shrugs with an embarrassed smile.
"This is one of the magic seeds I was talking about."
She takes a large, striped seed out of her bag. I'm not even sure you can plant it in a single section of soil -- that's the sort of size I mean.
"They're really amazing. Just throw the see on the ground, and it grows in an instant."
"Really?!" That's incredible! If all seeds were like that, farming would be easy! Oh, but I guess crops wouldn't cost anything more than seeds, and the real farmers would be the people who could produce the seeds...
Oh, but at least everyone would get fresh fruit and vegetables all the time that way!
But back to reality.... Or what I'm guessing is reality, anyway.
"It'll grow into a magical plant that will follow you like a pet and help you out. Different magic seeds will help you out in different ways. The more powerful you are, the more powerful the magic seeds will become."
This elicits a glowing smile.
"Tee-hee. ♪ Do you really think so? I'll give you this, then."
This... Shara's being so generous.
"Are you sure?!"
I'm really touched... By this sort of kindness for a total stranger! I...I want to be that sort of generous person in my new life here!
"There are lots of other kinds of magic seeds out there. Be sure to come back here and buy a bunch!"
"Anyway, did I tell you about the bulletin board yet?"
"What bulletin board?"
"It's in front of this building. Follow me."
I'm not sure I need directing to just outside the house, but...
Follow her I do.
"What's it used for?"
"Bulletins, of course! Well, actually... When people need help with something, they'll post a request on the board. You can take the request and help that person out...But only once per day."
That sounds kind of silly, doesn't it? Well, who am I to question village custom?
"Become good friends with people, and you'll get more requests from them. You'll see all sorts of requests."
"The board's updated every day, so check it often for new requests...And that's all you need to know! There's a sign for more information if you want it, though."
"I actually have a request for you already, Ramza. You should try accepting it now for practice."
But... But I was just talking to her.
"...It's not very comfy to sleep with your head against the bulletin board like that...Just so you know. (Believe me, I've tried."
Karina, who's been watching this, calls out.
I straighten up.
I guess I'll accept it anyway.
I catch her on the way back into the flower shop. Monica's there, too. I'm watching my fingers and toes. And limbs.
"Well, since this is your first request, let's start with something easy. Why don't you go around to everyone's house and introduce yourself?"
That's all? Well, at least it's something I was going to do anyway.
"That's right. You're new in town, so you should get to know your neighbors."
She claps her hands together when an idea occurs to her. "Oh, and don't forget to see Daria. She lives in the house over by Privera Forest."
I should head by there, too, then.
"Once you've talked to everyone, come back and talk to me again."
But before I go out, I probably should try actually talking to Monica again. I'm sure as long as I don't startle her...
"I'm Ramza." There, see? A perfectly civil introduction. I was nervous for nothing.
I offer her a hand to shake.
"Don't come near me! I'll bite you!"
All my hopes are short-lived.
"You're a weirdo stranger!"
This doesn't seem to be going well.
"I told you not to come near me!"
Those teeth are sharp!
"And you'd better stay away from my sister! I can bit lots harder than that!"
I'm not running away scared, I am making a tactical retreat.
I mean, I have lots of people to meet, right? People who won't bite.
Of course, the first person I ran into was... Kind of... strange.
Really?! Well, that's wonderful news! Call off the search!
...I'm not sure what sort of last name "Newcomer" is, but I'll take it!
"Uh, listen, then, this might sound a little strange, but... I can't remember a thing... Have we met somewhere before?"
And then, without missing a beat...
"I'm Sherman. What's your name?"
I think I'm losing my grip on the situation, but he just beams away.
"Oh, Ramza. Well, starting today, we aren't acquaintences."
I'm not exactly sure what he's even trying to say there.
"No, nevermind... Listen, could you tell me where I'm from?" Or what I'm doing here, or anything?
"I'm happy To dissapoint you, but I know all about that, so I can't tell you a thing."
I have no idea what's going on, and I think I just need to stop trying.
I think I need to go rest my head. Or at least get out of the sun.
So I head into the next shop, my head feeling like a beaten puppy.
The shop's an astounding array of weaponry and armor -- it almost feels less like it's on display, and more like they simply ran out of places to put everything.
"Wow! There's so many weapons!"
Oh, I thought I might find Gaius here, since I'm guessing this is the blacksmith's... But I didn't know Raven worked here.
"Were all of these weapons made here in the store?"
She delivers it in a flat voice.
Who knows how long it must have taken to make all of these -- no, more than all of these. The shop sells weapons, so there are weapons made here that are even somewhere else.
I smile and hope that, one of these times, it'll put her at ease.
"Do you make them too?"
She just pauses and stares at me for a while, her only response a little gasp, like she's taken aback.
Is... Is she not used to people smiling at her? Am I just creepy-looking? Do I have a creepy smile?
I stand there, waiting, hoping I don't have a creepy smile. Maybe I shouldn't smile until I get a good look at myself.
She doesn't move, only watching me -- the only movement her alarmingly cold and bright blue eyes. Like something at the very bottom of a glacier, hidden away in a deep crevice, looking back at me.
And at last, she finds something to say.
"This is a weapon shop, not a place for idle chat.
If you're not going to buy something, then leave."
...Ok. Yeah. I shouldn't have -- there's work to be done.
A ringing echoes out over the shop's floor, hammer on metal, clattering through the uneasy silence.
Gaius calls out, to no one in particular.
There's a sound of cheerful whistling as he sets down...Whatever that was...
And emerges to the other side. He stops when he notices me.
"Hey, is there anything you want to buy?"
I was just about to leave, is what I'm about to say -- I don't want to bother him while he's working, after all -- but he shrugs before I can say anything.
"Doesn't matter to me, really."
"Please take your time, and make yourself at home!"
"What? But..." Raven was just...
I turn to look at her, wondering again if I'd done something to bother her particularly, since it's not like this is a store-wide policy or anything...
"Oh, it's nothing..."
Anyway, if Raven doesn't want to talk to me, that's alright. But I wouldn't mind another word with Gaius -- I don't think I thanked him well, earlier.
"What was your name again?"
"It's Ramza." At the moment.
"I just make the weapons, though, and leave it to Raven to help sell them."
I shift around and laugh uneasily on the whole topic of Raven.
....But then, he doesn't seem to actually notice.
"Well, just give me a shout if you ever need a weapon!"
"Will do... Oh, by the way, the sword you gave me is very nice, thank you."
He nods appreciatively.
"I just make weapons because I like to. I don't have any great ambitions of becoming a master smithy or anything like that... Still, it's nice to hear my work appreciated. I'll keep it in mind you like that balance, though."
I could just leave now, and not worry about it... But if I did something wrong to Raven, I really do want to understand it.
So I approach her behind the counter.
...I can't think of anything to say!
"...What do you want?"
"Well, Raven... Um, your name's Raven, right?"
She tilts her head, bird-like.
Right, it's not like we haven't been introduced a few times now.
"Well, umm... Uh..."
Wait. She was there for that.
"Oh...That's right. of course you do."
She looks away, hiding her face... But her eyes are still on me.
And she mutters something I don't hear clearly.
"...Nevermind. I'll see you later, alright, Raven?"
After another pause, almost imperceptibly, she nods.
Well, at least that went better. Now, let's see... There's a couple of paths I could take from here, but let's head south, through the center of town, first.
Wow! It's a beach!
Well, it's the beach of a lake. But it's still some nice sand and some beautiful blue water.
And a house, presumably with people inside!
Walking in, I'm immediately struck by two things: the scent of fish, and a charged emotional atmosphere.
A sporty-looking girl with hair the color of the ocean, her skin a little red from the sun, says, with tears on her face.
I've walked in on something... Kind of personal, haven't I?
What a heartfelt moment!
The two are standing in the center of the shop/house, the world almost constricted down to the two of them.
"I am devastated beyond words, brother!"
proclaims the girl, a sob shaking her voice. "But it is time for me to make my own way! I must leave..."
Oh, how sad, a brother and sister parting like this... Her destiny pulls her away from her family...
"To go fishing!"
...Wait. It's...clear that this is some sort of fish and fishing supply store. So...couldn't she fish here?
"Oh, my dear brother..."
She sobs openly.
And then it all defuses, as she opens one eye and notices I've been standing here.
"Oh, hey! It's a customer!"
She says, in a suddenly clear and un-teary voice.
They both turn to look at me, the brother bursting into a bright smile.
"What? Oh, y-yes?"
A resort? What exactly is this place?
What? Now everyone's all smiles! What was with the tears and the sappy melodrama?
"That's right! It's like taking a trip to an exotic tropical island!"
says the brother -- Carlos, I'd assume, since it's Carlos's Resort -- proudly.
"Ha ha ha, You flatter me as always, Carmen!"
He stops laughing and adds, to me,
"The cost is a bit high, but you can fish all day! If you're good at fishing, it's a great deal!"
Carlos laughs to punctuate his sales pitch.
I'm not sure I can afford any cost, high or otherwise...
I wonder if I'm any good at fishing, though.
This place is...kind of strange.
"So stop on by! Either me or my sister will be behind that counter there! Feel free to ask us anything!"
"Yeah! Stop by anytime! We'll be here waiting!"
I guess I should introduce myself, though. They seem like nice people, even if they're a little nutty.
"Do you like fishing?"
Asks the sister, when I try to think of a way to open a conversation.
"Uh..." I think about it for a while, but I can't remember ever fishing. Maybe I did, and enjoyed it? Maybe never?
"I guess I like it..." Innocent until proven guilty, fishing!
"Really?! That's great! I just can't get enough, myself... The dance of the lure, the feel of the rod in my hands..."
Overcome with feeling -- about fishing -- a tear springs to her eye. And then she opens them very wide, the gleam of passion coursing through them. "And the moment the fish peaks its head out of the water!"
I'm a little taken aback, but... When you put it like that, fishing sounds like it really might be fun.
Then she smiles, and adds,
"Oh, sorry! I tend to get carried away when it comes to fishing!"
"You must like it a lot."
She thrusts out a hand, and I shake it.
"I'm Carmen. Who're you?"
"I'm Ramza." Innocent until proven guilty.
"Ramza? Nice to meet you! You can usually find me by the lake! Come by and see me any time!"
Alright! That was a nice introduction.
I turn to her Carlos, too. Introduction-by-proxy probably wouldn't be enough for Shara...I'm not sure it'd be enough for me.
"Ramza." If I say it enough, maybe I'll feel certain with it.
"Ramza, eh? I'm Carlos! I run this resort with my sister!"
"Just the two of you?"
"Just the two of us, a brother-and-sister team-up!"
"That's pretty neat!"
I wonder if I have siblings...
"I think we're gonna get along great!"
"You think so...?"
"I know so, bro'! By the way, be nice to my sister! I'm sure you'll get along, too."
Then he pauses, leans forward, and his face becomes very serious.
"But no funny business, though! You got it?!"
Then, he just leans back and is all smiles again.
"Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting to know you, bro'!"
Anyway, that went well! If there's no one else on the beach, I'll go look at the east end of town now.
I wonder what sort of store this is... The East End doesn't have as many buildings as Flower Way: just a giant house and a little shop.
Entering the shop, there's a sharp and sudden smell of dried herbs, and... Something bitter and a dangerous smelling, like something toxic.
A girl in a two-pointed hat is brewing something -- the source of the smell -- in the back. As she turns, sees me, and dashes towards the front...
Her expression is beatific. I can't remember seeing a person so happy. Oh, standard exceptions apply, I guess.
She leans forward, speaking in a clear and eager voice, her eyes the color of a thistle darting up and down across me.
"So what hurts? Your head? Your chest?"
A fiendish gleam lights her eyes. "Someplace you can't tell me?"
Oh, uh, is this...some sort of clinic? It just caught me off --
...Get that away from me.
"No, I'm not sick..."
I lie, but... I think that's some sort of blowgun! Made out of a trumpet! Made out of lots of trumpets, maybe even! Indescribable!
"Don't be nervous! It only hurts for a second! Although, sometimes the pain can linger for a bit..."
I back away slowly.
I'll take the brain damage, I think.
I can talk and move around and operate farm tools, that's undamaged enough, right?
She creeps towards me like a predator preparing to pounce.
The old woman approaches us, stopping Marian in her tracks.
"I'm sorry... She never listens to me..."
"I hardly think you can call a treatment just as likely to fail as it is to work a "cure"... And anyway, he says he's not sick."
She turns to look at me. "Really?"
She wasn't listening at all.
"Honestly, Marian... You silly witch, trying to play doctor..."
Ok, I might have been a head-trauma patient, who abandoned that right to avoid being a 'needles in my everything' trauma patient, but...
Even I think that was the wrong thing to say.
"It's not silly, Grandma! You're just old fashioned!"
Marian glares at her grandmother, digging her heels in to prepare for what I suspect might be an old battle. "There are some things that magic can't heal. Us witches need to adapt to the times, too."
"First you need to learn how to properly administer care to a patient! Then you can talk about what kind of medicine to use!"
...That's not what she was saying at all.
"Ah! I know!"
She looks back at me with a gleam in her eye.
THAT'S NOT WHAT SHE WAS SAYING AT ALL!
But I don't want to make her upset... How do I get out of this?
"Great! So if you get sick or poisoned, come see me! We sell medicine and stuff here! Grandma works on the weekends, though, so be sure to come during the week!"
"Like I said, let me get back to you on that..." And mainly visit on weekends.
"Fantastic! I'll be waiting!"
I laugh a little, under my breath.
"She's not listening at all.."
She realizes only now that she's never seen me before.
"Oh, my name's Ramza. It's nice to meet..."
"Oh, that's right! Ramza! A doctor never forgets a previous patient's name! Yes, of course! How are you, Ramza!"
Oh, she...didn't realize that at all.
"Um, I don't think we've really 'met' before..."
"Of course we have! You're Ramza! Boy, you sure are forgetful!"
Wait, does she... No, I'm not going down that road again. Check for over-ruling strangeness first, have hope second.
"Jeesh...I can't seem to get through to her..."
"I'm Marian! I'm an apprentice doctor and witch! Stop by anytime if you get sick! Be absolutely sure you will!"
Not this again...
"Rembember: Anytime! Anywhere! For whatever reason! ...Except weekends."
"I-I'll remember that..."
And now her grandmother, whose name I didn't hear during the conversation... But she sure saved my skin back there.
"Yes, that's right."
"My name's Marjorie. People used to call me a witch, but now I'm just an old woman..."
Aw, that's a sad way to look at yourself...
"My name's Ramza. It's nice to meet you."
"Um, thank you..."
"I'm also a doctor, but I've been leaving most of that to Marian these days...Would you rather be treated by me, or by Marian?"
She smiles like that's an old joke of hers, but... I'm not sure what answer she's expecting. Does she expect I'll go for the girl my own age to treat me? Or for the not-scary doctor?
"Normally, I would expect you would want to be treated by a cute girl like Marian, but that girl can be hazardous to your health..."
"...Huh?" Admitting that about your own granddaughter....Gutsy.
"Anyway, it's nice to meet you. I'll try to reign her in, so you can visit the clinic safely anytime."
"Nice to meet you too."
I think I'll clear out of here before Marian forgets what "I'll think about it" means.
Well, let's see who lives in this big, imposing house.
Oh. Sherman lives here, it seems.
A woman in an...eccentric outfit has a plate of food that he's devouring limitlessly, despite his protests.
he says a third time. He doesn't have to eat what he doesn't like, does he? Or is this more mindgames?
He plows through the first serving in his hands, and beams.
Says the woman, whose clothes are accented by stuffed animals -- I thought they might be real at first, but I think that monkey could act as a shield in a tough fix...
She reaches into a shopping bag...
And hands the contents over to him.
"The 3-star chef's cooking is very terrible, I must say!"
He digs into it. I think I'm getting an idea about how this guy talks...
But it makes no sense at all.
"Yuck!! Yuck!!! "
He cries out again.
He's certainly enthusiastic in action, if not in words...
says the woman. "I'll have to thank Blaise."
Then she sighs and shakes her head,
"But you really do eat too much, Father. Don't you think so?"
He pauses. He thinks. He crosses his arms and rubs his not-really-a-chin-at-all.
Sherman lifts his eyes and contemplates the ceiling, and engages himself in a serene meditation. His eyes lit up with understanding and epiphany.
At last, he announces his answer.
The woman just laughs and shakes her head.
"Okay, just a moment."
My eyes flit to some motion on the upper level.
...What a beautiful girl -- the sort of girl you picture in this type of classy environment. Poised on the top of the stairs, her long dress and long hair fluttering in the faint breeze from an open window, her lavender eyes looking down tenderly at the family scene (I guess) below... It's like something from a storybook.
And then she speaks.
And plunges my soul into confusion...It's not even noon.
They turn and look at her, and Sherman beams away.
"Indeed! Bad morning, my ugly Sofia!"
"Are you going out this fine day?"
Sofia answers. "I'm going out today. I'm in a good mood."
"Indeed! Just don't go to dangerous place. Don't be careful!"
She says, with a cheery smile.
I think I understand why no one was really worried about my amnesia. I mean... Abnormal thinking seems to be the norm here.
"Well, I'm off!"
She passes them on the stairs. The woman with the stuffed animals -- her sister, I guess -- sighs.
"Always speaking in opposites...Why do they have to go out of their way to make things so difficult?"
I might just be eavesdropping, but I'm wondering the same thing!
Since Sofia passed me on the way out, there's only her sister to meet here. That's good -- I don't think I could withstand more chaos.
"Hi, umm...I don't think we've met." That's not a good opening, Ramza. You don't think you've met anyone.
"And who might you be?"
"I'm Ramza. I just moved into that big tree in town."
Rumors sure travel fast here...
"That must have been a harrowing expereince! I hope you get better soon..."
Her expression gets so sympathetic and sad, though...That I can't help but feel guilty. I don't want people looking so sad over me.
"Oh, it's okay." I'm not sure that's true, but... I'm really fine, even if I don't have my memories. "I'm doing much better now!"
"That's good to hear... Anyway, I'm Evelyn."
She relaxes, and adds, "Have you met my family? I think I should warn you... They speak in opposites. They're weird like that."
"I met your dad earlier. I'm kind of glad to hear you explain it -- I couldn't follow that conversation at all." I rub my arm -- honestly, I'm a little impressed. I didn't know you could be more confused than waking up with no memories, but he managed to make it happen. "That seems... pointless. And difficult on a lot of levels."
"But they're also incredibly kind and generous. Please try to look past their eccentricities!"
Well, I think it'd be kind of rude not to, right?
"I will. Thanks for the explanation."
"And who knows? Maybe you'll become such good friends that they'll talk bad about you behind your back!"
"That...seems like a counterintuitive goal!"
Well, I'll do my best to be bad-mouthed!
...Goodmouthed? It'd be bad, so that’d be good.
But being good is bad.
But being bad is good…. Bad, good, good, baaaad?
AHHH! I CAN’T FOLLOW IT AFTER ALL!
The next road through town takes me to a beautiful square...
Where Sofia's taking in the flower blossoms, lacy parasol in hand.
"I don't believe we've met."
"Uh, what? I've never seen you in my life." Probably. Oh, wait, no. This is their opposite-speak, right? So we've definitely not met, right?
"What's your name?"
"Oh, I'm Ramza. I just moved into the big tree. It's nice to meet you."
"Your face utterly repulses me."
Uh, is that opposite? I mean, sometimes, back there, they said stuff that was normal... So she might be saying she likes my face... But what if she isn't?
I haven't seen my face; what if it really is awful? Or what if it got torn up by whatever made me lose my memory, or --
"You are most welcome. You may call me Sofia."
...Oh. I guess it was a compliment, right? There's no way to unwelcome someone...Right?
"You've got a weird way of complimenting people," I admit with an exhausted sigh.
But she seems sympathetic -- or, at least, doesn't think I'm being mean, which is a relief.
"Indeed. Now, I'm simply FAR too busy for any visitors!"
She smiles at me brightly, as if trying to make sure I get her point.
"So, be sure to stop by my place anytime!"
I don't get it.
"Uh, didn't you just say you'd be too busy?" Or was that the opposite-speak bit, and the 'stop by' was?
...It's going to take me a while to get a handle on this.
"That's correct. I won't be waiting for you."
"Um... Okay..." I'll see her, I think. If she minds, she can just throw me out. That seems to be the best way to handle the people here…
And there’s still more to meet…