Claire was planting trees near the dig site. Apple, Peach, Orange, Banana and Grape trees. She knew Carter would raid the trees once they bared fruit. He was not particularly fond of Flora's cooking.
Well at least he'll be fed and the fruits won't go to waste...the farmer thought as a small smile played on her lips.
After the last tree was planted she went into the mine, hoping to dig up something pretty for Kate's birthday that was coming up.
'....really? Is that true? Nine of them, you say?' Flora asked wide-eyed as she stared into Carter's eyes.
'Yes. And if you get all nine, you get a wish. That's how the legend goes.'
This bit of overheard conversation was enough to set Claire's imagination on fire. Curiosity aroused she crept closer to Carter and Flora.
'...umm...excuse me...I didn't mean to eavesdrop...but what is that about a wish?' she asked feeling Flora's disapproving glare on her.
'It's the legend of the Nine Wonderfuls. It is said that nine coloured gems hides in these mines and if one manages to gather all nine colours the Harvest Goddess will grant you one wish. The legend of the Nine Wonderfuls is as old as the town itself.' Carter replied matter-of-factly.
'Wow...what would you wish for?' Claire asked the couple.
Flora sniffed and muttered something about people kicking up too much dust before resuming her digging.
'I'd wish I knew how to make Flora happy...' Carter whispered. 'She's never truly happy...I just want to see her smile. And I know those gems must exist...will you help to find them for me?'
'Sure.' Claire replied simply. At least she'd have something to occupy herself with. 'I'll come back tomorrow with lots of supplies and start searching.'
Carter smiled gratefully, filling Claire with a sense of purpose and a taste for adventure. Now she wondered how deep into the mines she would dare to go? Her pulse raced at the thought.
That night she stuffed her backpack with Turbojolt- and Bodigizer XL's. Checking her hammer and hoe she saw that they were still in good shape, and stuffed them into the backpack as well. Tomorrow she'd rise early and ride to the mines.
Lying on her bed and staring at the ceiling, Claire's mind filled with fantasies about what might lurk in the deepest levels of the mines.
The next morning Claire sprang out of bed full of energy, feeling alive and filled with a sense of adventure that she thought was long since forgotten.
Quickly she showered and dressed in a black and red outfit, grabbing a few buttered buns on the way out. The buns she ate whilst riding towards the mines.
She arrived early enough to avoid Flora's death-glare. Carter was still basking in the sun beside their tent. Claire faced the four tunnels of the mines. She never properly explored any of them. Deciding that the best way to go to work was by exploring each tunnel until she reached the bottom, and then move on to the next tunnel.
'Far left it will be today.' Claire announced dramatically and entered the said tunnel.
By 11h00 AM Claire was exiting the same tunnel, panting and disappointed that it did not go deeper than 10 levels below ground.
No adventure or any Wonderfuls down that tunnel. Just one psychotic chick that attacked her.
Resting on the ground level, she saw Carter and Flora discussing something in a distant corner of the mine entrance. Flora looked unsatisfied as usual.
Claire exhaled slowly, pawing through her bag for some Turbojolt and Bodigizer.
'You are going to faint if you rely on that stuff alone.'
Claire spun to her right and saw a brown-haired, blue-eyed man talking to her.
'I'll be fine,' she said as she swallowed the sweetened potions.
'The name's Gray.'
'You come here often?' Gray asked at which Claire bit back a smile.
'I live here, silly.' the girl replied and lifted her backpack, but to her dismay it slipped out her grasp, crashing loudly to the ground and kicking up a cloud of dust.
Quickly she bent to gather her pack, but Gray already lifted it for her. Flushing with embarrassment she mumbled gratitude.
'...maybe I'm more tired than I realized...' she grumbled, swaying slightly from side to side. The potions were rapidly wearing off, leaving her at the point of fainting.
'Let me take you home, you're not going to make it.' Gray offered.
'I'll be okay...my horse is near...' Claire replied stubbornly, giving a few steps towards the mine entrance.
'Then I'll help you to your horse.' Gray said firmly and escorted the young farmer outside, carrying the heavy backpack for her.
'This thing weighs a ton...what do you have in here?' Gray asked once they were outside.
'Some ores...silver, gold...and a blue one...mystrile, I think. You can have them if you want.' Claire said, and cut off his reply with a sharp whistle that made Gray's ears ring.
'Warn me the next time you do that...' he grumbled.
'Sorry...was calling my horse. Here, you can have these.' she said and handed him a separate bag full of ores.
Gray's eyes filled with gratitude, but she could not see it for the bill of his cap hid his face from view. 'Thanks...'
'Awww...it's nothing...anyway, was nice meeting you Gray.'
As Claire rode back home, Gray remained by the entrance of the mine, watching her shrinking form. 'Who is she?' he wondered aloud.
'She's the wealthiest person in town. Has a private island, a cottage of gold lumber. Farm buildings of gold lumber too. They say she paid Gotz to provide the material. She has everything anyone of us could dream of...and she's single...you may know her as our Golden Girl.' Carter informed Gray matter-of-factly.
Gray's jaw dropped. THAT was Forget-Me-Not's Golden Girl? She was nothing at all like the rumours he heard of her.
'Well, she's out of my league. I'm just a blacksmith's apprentice.' Gray said as he opened the bag Claire handed him. His jaw dropped again when he saw the contents. Three silver, six gold and ten mystrile ores. That was enough ore to keep the blacksmith running for a week! And she just gave him that...without even batting an eye.
'Strange girl.' Gray mumbled in surprise.
And that's the end of ch3.
You know the drill! Read, Rate, Review....Please