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Turnabout Farm

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When the bus runs over a pothole, Phoenix wakes up from his nap. He keeps his eyes closed as he straightens his head and sits up right. Once his neck isn’t twisted like a pretzel, he blinks his eyes open. The first thing he spots is a road sign saying, Stardew Valley 0.5 mi. It seems like he’s slept through most of trip, which is probably for the best. There’s only so much of lush green mountains he can take.

“Afternoon, Sleeping Beauty,” Trucy says without looking up from her cards.

“Hey…” his voice is a bit raspy, so he clears his throat before continuing, “sweetie. Have you been awake the whole time?”

“Nah,” she keeps focus on her cards, “I woke up a few minutes ago.”

Phoenix makes an agreement sound and turns to look out the window. He can see his reflection in the bus’ window. He’s still wearing his grey hoodie, a white T-shirt, and his locket. His face is pretty unshaven. He hasn’t seen the point in shaving since he’s been out of work for the last few months. Now he’s kind of curious what he looks like with an actual beard.

He puts his hands in his pockets and shifts around to go back to sleep. But his plan is interrupted when he feels paper in his pockets. Deciding to take out the piece of paper that changed his, and his daughter’s, life, he reads the letter for the thousandth time:

Dear Phoenix,

If you’re reading this, you must be dire need of a change.

The same thing happened to me, long ago. I’d lost sight of what mattered most in life… real connections with other people and nature. So I dropped everything and moved to the place I truly belong.

I’ve enclosed the deed to that place… my pride and joy: Wright Farm. It’s located in Stardew Valley, on the southern coast. It’s the perfect place to start your new life.

This was my most precious gift of all, and now it’s yours. I know you’ll honor the family name, my boy.

Good luck.

Love, Grandpa

P.S: If the Fey family is still there, say hello to them for me, will you?

It’s a bit late for him to have second thoughts, but doubt stays in his mind. He looks back at the light of his life.

“You ready, kiddo?” he says. She’s still doing something with her cards. No doubt a new trick. How she can practice slight of hand in a squished bus seat, he’ll never know, but Trucy would be the one to do it.

“Yup! It’ll be cool to live in a small town,” Trucy brightly says.

He’s glad for her cheerfulness, but all Trucy has known is the city.

“I hope you’re still saying that a few weeks from now,” he says.

“Don’t you know that I'm a cockroach.”

“Cockroach? I thought you were a magical girl, sweetie.”

She put her cards away in her pocket, “I am. I’m a magical cockroach girl! I’m magical and totally adaptable. So don’t worry about me, Daddy.”

“If you say so,” Phoenix takes off her hat and ruffles her hair. Her cheerfulness, even if it’s a front for her worries, is nice to hear and gives him confidence in his decision.

It's part of her charm.

“Daddy!”

He laughs as the bus pulls to a stop in front of a small empty field with a lonely bus stop sign.

“We’re here!” Trucy cheers and hurriedly gets her stuff off the shelf above their heads.

Phoenix, at a slower pace, follows her off the bus. Once he steps down, he sees Trucy frozen in front of a lady with a sharp look in her eyes. Her gaze land on him, but she doesn’t say anything.

“Er… Hello. I’m Phoenix Wright. This is my daughter Trucy. We’re new to town.”

“Yes, I’m well aware,” the lady finally says. “I’m Lana Skye, I run the local ranch. So it’s appears that we’ll be business partners soon. The Chief, Mayor Fey, sent me here to bring you to your farm. As the Chief is busy putting on the finishing touches on your house.”

“Ah… Thank you… Miss Skye.”

“It’s no bother,” she says with a frown.

If it’s no bother, then why does it look like you would rather be anywhere else.

“Miss Skye!” Trucy, now apparently done being scared of Miss Skye, says, “You work with animals? What kind?”

“I’ll tell you on the way to your farm.”

As Miss Skye leads them, she talks about the sheep, cows, rabbits, chickens, and even ducks on she and her sister raise.

“When did you start raising animals?” Trucy asks as she skips next to Miss Skye. Phoenix hangs back as he’s carrying all of their luggage.

“Maybe 20 years ago? My sister and I have been here so long that I’ve lost track.”

“What’s it like working with animals?” Trucy asks.

Uh oh… she better not be getting the idea about magic tricks with animals. Rabbits are okay, but I’ll put my foot down on cows.

“It’s certainly a different challenge from working with people. But our animals are all well behaved. They aren’t a lot of trouble.”

“Do you like it here?” Trucy asks again.

“Yes. I would say I do.”

“What are the people here like?”

Without missing a beat, she says, “Eccentric.”

“Really?” Trucy’s little skip turns into a big hop.

“Yes. It certainly makes a small town more interesting.”

“See, Daddy?”

“Hmm?” he stopped paying attention to their conversation as his arms got more and more tired from carrying everything. Trucy’s magic equipment is heavier than it appears.

“If there are interesting people here, then there’s no way I’ll miss the city,” Trucy declares.

“I hope so, sweetie.”

From the corner of his eyes, Phoenix could see Miss Skype looking at them with a small smile. But when he turned to face her, the smile was gone.

“We’re here,” Miss Skye gestures outward.

Here isn’t much in Phoenix’s mind. Here is a large overgrown field with a small wooden house at the top. Here is where the ground looks fertile. Here trees, weeds, stones, and small logs litter the whole place.

His grandfather must’ve been the last person to live here.

Guess I know what I’m doing for the next few days.

“Is something the matter, Mister Wright?” Miss Skye turns to him.

Her face is completely blank and he gives her a "can you not see what the issue is" look.

Understanding the disbelief on his face, she replies, “Sure it’s a bit overgrown, but the soil underneath is still good. I’m sure you’ll have the area cleared in no time.”

After speaking, Miss Skye continues to walk to the front of the house. Trucy gladly follows. Phoenix gets over the daunting work that is his life now and walks to the others.

“And here is your new home,” Miss Skye says.

At a closer look, Phoenix sees that the house is pretty run down. There’s a pretty big hole at the end of the porch, small dents on the front wall, and holes throughout the walls.

What have you gotten me into, Gramps?

As he’s looking for more issues with the house, a woman wearing a black overalls, a dark grey shirt, and yellow scarf comes out of the house’s front door.

“Ah,” the yellow scarf woman speaks up, “you must be the new farmer!” She then walks down the steps, which creaks, to stand in front of him and Trucy. “Welcome! I’m Mia Fey, the mayor of Pelican Town.”

“Hi!” Trucy hops in place, “I’m Trucy Wright, and this my Daddy, Phoenix. It’s great to be here.”

“What she said,” Phoenix lamely says.

“It’s great to meet you two. I hope your move here wasn’t too rough.”

“Ah, well, we were asleep for most of it,” Phoenix says.

“Heh, probably for the best. Anyway, everyone has been asking about you. It’s not every day that someone moves in. So you’re quite a big deal right now.”

“So we’ll get to meet everyone?” Trucy eagerly asks.

“Hopefully,” a sly look overcomes Mayor Fey’s face. “How about I challenge you two to meet everyone in town? I'll give a big reward for completing it.”

“Challenge accepted!” Trucy says as she excitedly jumps. She sticks out a hand towards the mayor, who happily takes it.

“I hope to hear a positive report back.”

Miss Skye speaks up, “The Wrights must be tired, we should probably leave them soon, Chief."

Mayor Fey nods, “You’re right. You two got a lot of work ahead of you, so we’ll let you rest for the night. I hope you soon get a chance to meet everyone and explore the town a bit.”

Phoenix gives a small head bow, “Thank you so much for everything.”

“It’s no big deal. Again, we’re just happy to have a new person join us in our small town,” Mayor Fey waves as she and Miss Skye turn to walk away.

He and Trucy wave in return, but Mayor Fey stops in front of a medium size box that Phoenix somehow missed on the way in.

“I almost forgot, if you want to sell anything, just place things in this box. I’ll come by at night to collect it.”

“Really? Just like that?” Phoenix couldn’t believe the mayor would do that for him.

“Of course! Just part of my mayoral duties. But the stores around here will also gladly buy things from you too.”

“Good to know,” Phoenix says.

“If you have any questions about farming or the town, Lana and I will gladly help you. Good luck!” Mayor Fey says as she and Miss Skye turn to leave once again.

The Wrights continue to wave at the women’s back until they’re gone from view.

Phoenix speaks before Trucy can drag him off to an adventure, “Let’s put our stuff away and see how bad the damage is.”

“Oh, come on, Daddy,” Trucy pouts, “it’s not that bad. It’s… rustic!”

“Crusty, is more like it.”

“Rude! My great-grandfather left me this farm, and I’ll restore it to its glory days.”

“I believe his will left the farm in my name.”

“Yeah, well, we both know that I’m the one with a mind for business, so the farm is mine.”

“Do you pay the bills, sweetie?”

“No. But do you?”

“Touché. Very well, Master Farmer Trucy,” Phoenix reaches into one of the bags and pulls out a rusty metal key, “will you do the honors of opening the front door.”

“Of course, my apprentice,” Trucy takes the key and strides up to the door.

Like the showman she is, Trucy pushes the door with a flair. The open door reveals single room with a television, a fireplace, a table with two chairs, and two beds. Only one chair and one bed looks new, the rest looks pretty old. Someone probably bought the extra furniture when the mayor realized that two people would be moving onto the farm.

“Well, I guess it could be worst,” Phoenix says as they step into their new home.

“That’s the spirit!” Trucy says as she runs to jump onto the older bed, which she now has claimed as hers.

“You sure you want that one?”

“Yeah, it has character!”

“If you say so,” Phoenix says as he starts bringing everything into the house.

He brings in three small bags before Trucy helps him bring in her magic equipment. They really don’t have much: just clothes, a few mementos, and Trucy magic equipment.

It doesn’t take long for them to settle in, but they were exhausted once they finished. Luckily they had some food with them, so they didn’t need to leave the one-room-house for dinner.

After they warmed up their leftover pizza in the fireplace, they watch TV for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Phoenix and Trucy manage to get through the first two days without any complaints. Sure life is slower here, but both of them can breathe for the first time in years.

He spends the first two days on the farm; trying to clear up the mess, even just a little bit. The mayor is kind enough to send them parsnip seeds to start their farm. Which is a blessing because Phoenix spent nearly all their money moving to the farm.

Trucy, meanwhile, is already coming home with stories about the people she's met.

There’s Pearly (the Chief’s — what everyone calls Mayor Fey — shy cousin and Trucy’s potential best friend), Bonny and Betty (twin magicians a bit older than her), Juniper (a budding flower arranger living in the forest), Athena (a loud student studying psychology), Eve and Espella (a newly wed couple who Trucy thinks are “couple goals” — whatever that means), and Rafya (a playful girl with an odd clash in her vocabulary and behavior).

And things are looking up for Phoenix on the third day — his daughter doesn't hate him for uprooting her life and he is away from his — formerly, but still terrible — Joja Corporation overlords. 

On that morning, Trucy takes care of the crops for the day and kicks him off the farm.

“Get out there!” she says.

So he wanders about town; he's only really explored to the beach and forest. Of course, nothing is open at 6:30 in the morning.

He's walking along the river in town when he sees it. The cold clean walls, uninviting neon letters, and awful cultish slogan.

Life is better with Joja. Join us. Thrive.

Here he is, naively thinking that Joja wouldn’t be able to reach their corporate hands on a town like this. 

For a moment he gets stuck in his own head. Along with flashes of faceless bosses, he sees scornful eyes: full of contempt for what he represents. And amidst those eyes are a pair gleeful blue eyes with a touch a cruelty.

Knowing he needs to get out of this negative spiral, he just turns around and walks away.

He spends the rest of the day chopping down trees in the forest. And when he pictures a long haired blond man as some of the trees, he swings harder than necessary.

Turns out chopping trees is a great way to let out frustration.

 

The next day, he wakes up determined to not let Joja interfere with his new life and to make one of his own. But he still stays away from town.

In theory, wandering in the forest seems like a way to spend the day. Maybe do some fishing in the lake and river and forage on the way home.

A quiet and peaceful day.

That's all ruined by a discovery of a house (?) in the far end of the forest. In a little nook is a purple tower with a roof that looks like a witch’s hat. It’s a little like his shack: it all looks pretty run down.

Not expecting anyone to be in the house, but wanting to explore such an odd building, Phoenix opens the door.

The first thing he sees is a pentagram (?) with a circle of red candles. Creeped out by that, his eyes turn towards a bubbling cauldron with green smoke (?) spilling over the sides. The next thing he sees is a figure behind the smoke.

“Ah!” he shrieks.

“I am Maya Fey…” a female voice echoes in the room. “Seeker of arcane truths. Master of the seven elements. Keeper of… ah, I forget, but you get the point, right?” the woman stops talking and comes out from behind the smoke. She looks pretty young, maybe a few years younger than himself, and is wearing some odd purple robes.

“Er… Greetings? I’m Phoenix Wright. Seeker of… good crops? Keeper of a rundown farm…?” Maya giggles as he goes on, so he stops.

“Nice to meetcha!” Every supernatural pretense is gone from her voice and expression. She almost looks like a normal townsperson.

"Um... Same, er..." Phoenix looks around the place again, other than the cauldron and possible pentagram, the room just looks like an ordinary place. "Interesting place you've got."

"Really? Thanks! It's hard to find a nice balance of normal," she makes air quote gestures at the word normal, "and actual fun stuff."

"What's this stuff for?"

Maya's face lights up and she claps her hands together, "I'm so glad you asked! These are the things I need to do magic."

I'm sorry, what?

"Magic?"

“Yup! I’m a witch?”

“Huh?”

“I’m a witch! I’ve got all kinds of magic up my sleeves,” she rolls up said sleeves. “I can make magical furniture and buildings for you. I can even change your appearance!”

That seems like an odd mix. Why not just focus on magical items?

Before he could say anything, she says, “Oh! I can also transport myself to wherever! Watch!”

She raises an arm and spins around. He barely blinks before Maya glows, shrinks, and disappears completely.

Huh! Where did she go? Guess that proves she’s a witch…

Aaand… The novelty has worn off… This place is starting to get creepy… I think that jar has eyes and it's watching me... Please, Maya, come back soon!

As if she heard his plead, the front door swings open, “I’m back!”

He spins around, “Where did you go?”

“Oh, just checking up on my friends in the community center. But it’s not nice to leave guests alone in your own house, so I came back.”

Nice to know that you would’ve left me behind if it wasn’t for hospitality rules…

“So magic exists…” he mumbles more to himself, but she hears anyway.

“Yup! And this area is pretty full of magic.”

Trucy is going to have a blast once she realizes, if she hasn’t already… Looks like this town was a good idea after all. Screw Joja.

“Are more witches in town?”

“Yup!” She raises her fingers to start counting, “There’s me, my cousins Pearly and Iris, and Sis. So four!”

Why does the name Pearly sound familiar…? Note to self: ask Trucy later.

“So... what do you do as a witch?”

“Eh… nothing really… Something about keeping the supernatural in balance, but I haven’t really done anything about that yet… I’m the Master of my Clan, but nothing happens here, so it’s a really empty title…”

“Aw… that's sucks… I hope things get interesting soon.”

Maya grins and claps her hands together again, “Thanks! I have no doubt that they will now that you’re here.”

“Huh? What does that mean?”

“I can read your presence. It’s in a bad place right now, but I know you’ll be bring change to the town soon enough!”

The fact that she knows he’s in bad place truly puts him on edge for the first time since entering.  She must sense his mood changing because she changes the subject, “So as your first town-wide change, I expect my requests on the board to not go unnoticed anymore!”

“You mean that bulletin board in front of Gumshoe’s?”

“Yup! For years people refuse to do anything about my requests. But now you’re here and you can bring me things from town!”

Somehow I think I just got made into a gofer without any magic…

“I’ll do what I can…” Phoenix weakly says.

“Awesome! I’m glad you came in. It’s nice to finally meet people!”

Something about those words seems off, but the bright smile on Maya’s face makes the thought die. Instead, he just moves on and ask more about her magic and life. She’s very generous in showing him her abilities.

While parts of him can’t wait to tell Trucy about witches being in town, he’s genuinely happy that he met a potential friend. Even if she seems a bit eager to try some of her potions on him.

She can say she studied everything she needs to know to make a potion, but if it’s radioactively glowing, Phoenix will firmly say no.

Chapter Text

The day the parsnips are ready to harvest, Trucy, indeed, proves herself to be the one with the Wright mind for business. After selling the parsnips, she calculates what to crops to buy for the most profits. With the new money, they buy more parsnips seeds with some green bean, cauliflower, and potato seeds.

Although, that evening she's weirdly insisted on keeping at least one of everything they sell. Trucy is not usually one to hoard. But their storage chest — which Phoenix proudly made himself — isn’t any fuller, so Phoenix isn’t too sure of where everything is going.

But he forgets his daughter's new hoarding habits the next day. For Trucy drags him up the mines in the mountain; an area that neither has explored.

It's a long trek up, but Phoenix finds some leeks to get their energy back from the morning farming. Trucy complains that living off the earth doesn't literally mean literally eating everything raw thing they find, but she eats the leeks anyway.

When they enter the mines, they find that they weren’t the only ones curious about the mines.

“Oh, hey there!” a bright young woman — wearing a pink shirt, grey pants, and navy cape — says. “I was just checking out the old mine shaft.”

“Oh, hi. I guess we were doing the same,” Phoenix says.

“Really? I was thinking about going down there myself, but it’s been abandon for years now, so ores aren’t the only things down there anymore, if you know what I mean…” the woman’s voice becomes progressively slower and her expression flattens as she speaks.

“What else is down there?” Trucy hops as she speaks.

Her smile comes back as she cheerfully says, “No idea!”

“Wha?” Phoenix feels his face fall and his body becomes hunched.

“Well, no one’s been there in years, so how should I know, right?” the woman says. She turns to pull something out of her cape, “Here! If you’re going to explore the mines, you’ll need these!”

Somehow, she pulls out two rusty bronze swords from her cape.

“Whoa!” Trucy looks taken aback, which Phoenix isn’t used to seeing on her. Then her face becomes more serious, “Are a magician too?”

“Who me?” the woman grins while speaking, “I’m not, but…” she pulls out a small badge of a three legged crow. “Even in the darkest forest, when no other bird dares to go out, one alone soars to find the world’s greatest treasures! And that’s me! The Great Adventurer, Yatagarasu!” She ends her speech with a fist in the air.

Does everyone have an introduction speech?

“’The Great Adventurer?’ What’s that?” Phoenix tilts his head.

“The Great Adventurer is the head of the Adventure’s Guild here in Stardew Valley.”

“Oh! That sounds so cool!” Trucy gives the Yatagarasu a bright smile. “Can I join?”

“Trucy?!” He doesn’t mind Trucy making friend with everyone, but perhaps being friends with an odd young woman like the Yatagarasu isn’t the... safest choice.

“Come on, Daddy! Don’t you want to be a great adventurer like the Yatagarasu?”

“No thanks, kiddo. I’m find just being Great Farmer.”

“Aw… phewy,” Trucy looks put out. But quickly bounces back to talk to the Yatagarasu, “So how does one join the Adventure’s Guild?”

“Oh, so you brave souls wish to join?” the Yatagarasu dramatically says. She tilts her head back a bit while mischievously smiling.

“Yeah!” Trucy cheers.

“‘Souls?'” Phoenix interjects, “I’m not a part of this!”

“Very well!” the Yatagarasu talks over him. “All you must do is slay 10 slimes.”

Phoenix has been lost for awhile, but now he officially has no idea what this woman is on about, “Slimes?”

The Yatagarasu flippantly waves her hand at him, “A small little monster of jelly. Kinda pathetic, really.”

“Monster!?” father and daughter say with different levels of excitement.

“It’s no big deal,” she tilts her head back and rubs her nose. “Most of the ones you encounter around here are pretty weak.”

“There are monsters in this town?” once again father and daughter speak in unison with varying levels of excitement.

“Not in town, but in the forest. That is,” her voice gets low, “if you know where to look.”

“Cool!” Trucy says as Phoenix groans.

First Maya and now this girl… Is there really this much magic in the world or is it just this town…?

“Well then, I’ll leave the mines to you two!” the Yatagarasu says as she walks pass them to the exit.

“Thank you, Miss Yatagarasu!” Trucy calls after her.

“Call me Kay!” the Yatagarasu, or Kay, says before disappearing from view.

Once they are left in the — slightly creepy — mines by themselves, Trucy turns to him.

“Come on, Daddy! Let’s start our initiation to the Adventurer Guild!”

“Wait, you really want to see what’s down there?”

“Don’t you?”

“…Only to make sure that you’ll be safe.”

“Don’t worry, Daddy! I’ll protect you!” his daughter declares before climbing down the old ladder.

Shouldn’t the roles be reversed? Oh well, better go after before she gets in too much trouble.

He gives the sword a few practice swings while he walks to ladder. It's light enough that he can swing it pretty hard, but he unfortunately doesn’t know what else to do with a sword.

I hope Kay was right about the monsters being weak.

When he gets to the first level of the mines, he finds Trucy hitting a bunch of rocks with her sword. Without a word, he pulls out the pickaxe from his backpack and gives it to her. With a grin, she goes to town on the rocks. Meanwhile, Phoenix collects all the ores, stones, and a surprise geode that she’s finds in his bag. 

Once she’s cleared every rock on this level (due to her need to get every piece of stone), they climb down the ladder that one of the destroyed rock revealed.

The next level is pretty much like the first.

“Here!” Trucy hands him the pickaxe. “You should build up some of those weak-Daddy-muscles.”

“Hmph! I’m perfectly strong already. Anymore and I’ll destroy the pickaxe with one swing.”

Trucy rolls her eyes at him, “Whatever you say, Daddy. If you’re so strong,” Trucy’s impish look appears, “then crack open that big rock!”

In the corner of one of the crannies is a huge rock about ten times the size of the rocks Trucy broke.

“You’re on, kiddo,” he strides up to the big rock and swings the pickaxe down.

When the rock doesn’t break on the first swing, he can hear Trucy giggling behind him. He swings again. And again. And again. On his fifth swing, the boulder breaks and they have 10 pieces of stone.

“Wow! All that from just one rock!” Trucy cheers and adds the resources to her own backpack.

“Ha…" he says with labour breathing,  "See what I mean!”

Trucy rolls her eyes again at his antics, “Yes, yes, you’re the strongest Daddy that ever lived.”

To show how wrong his daughter is, he goes up to a regular size rock and takes a swing at it.

But, instead of breaking into stone, legs pop out from the bottom! The rock crawls (!) back before coming at him.

“Ah!” He scrabbles backwards, which cause him to trip over his own feet.

“I’ll save you, Daddy!” Trucy pulls out her own sword and takes a swing at the rock with legs. She runs circles around the moving rock while swinging her sword. She quickly realizes that when the rock hides its leg, it’s impossible to hurt the thing.

But that doesn’t stop Trucy. She’s able to kill the thing with a few more hits. They aren’t expecting it dropping anything, so the crab is a shock.

“Wow! I’ve been looking for one of these!” Trucy cheers as the picks up the crab.

“You have?” Phoenix says after recovering from the trauma of seeing a rock come to life.

Trucy's happiness falls from her face, “Er… well… that is…”

Seeing her this hesitant is a sure sign that she’s hiding something…

She’s usually better at hiding stuff… Unfortunately… Does that mean she actually wants to tell me what’s up?

“You know you can tell me anything, sweetie,” he says.

“I know…” her face is serious before it turns determined. “Before I tell, do you believe in magic?”

The question itself doesn’t catch Phoenix off guard, she’s asked him this question a lot since he adopted her, but the timing is odd.

“Of course, you, the local witch, and this town have proved that anything is possible.”

Her face brightens hearing that. “You met one of the witches?!”

“Huh, oh yeah, I did,” he completely forgot to tell Trucy about Maya. The excitement of their first harvest distracted him. “She lives in a tower in the corner of the forest. Name’s Maya and she said something about being the head of a clan.”

Trucy gasp with her hands covering her mouth, “I can’t believe you met Mystic Maya and didn’t tell me!”

“‘Mystic Maya?’”

“She’s Pearly’s cousin!”

Hearing the name from Trucy’s mouth, finally reminds him of why the name sounded familiar, “Oh, that’s right, she’s helping you learn some new tricks, right?”

“Yup!” Trucy finally moves to put the crab away.

Packing away the crab reminds Phoenix of why the conversation started, “So why did you want that crab?”

“I’ll tell you later.”

“Huh? What about now?” he tilts his head.

“Well,” Trucy looks at something behind him, “now it looks like a slime that Kay was talking is coming at us.”

“Wha?” he turns around. “Ah!” he shouts and pulls out his sword. He continues to scream as he swings his sword and pushes the blob back into a corner. And like the crawling rock, it drops something after he kills it. This time it’s a clear blob.

“Hmm…” Trucy says as she picks up the thing.

Should she really be picking up everything she sees?

Yet he doesn’t move to stop her.

“So this is what slime is!” she cheers as she examines the blob.

“Slime drops slime?” he asks while raising an eyebrow.

“I guess that makes sense. Where else would you find slime?”

“On a slime farm?” he says. And when he sees sparkles in Trucy’s eyes, he’s quick to add, “We are not raising slimes!”

Instead of being despondent, she grins, “I’m sure I can convince you otherwise.”

Knowing her, we just might have a slime farm by the end of the season… Is that even a thing? Probably...

“Let’s get off this floor,” he says as he destroy rocks to find the ladder.

The duo make it down to two more level. And on both levels, they encounter more monsters. The dirt patches, which Phoenix uses the hoe to till the dirt for clay, have some kind of mole thing that pop out from the dirt. It hits Phoenix a few times while he runs around the patch of dirt. Trucy is the hero once again and kills the monster. This monster-type drops geodes and cherry bombs, which Trucy then uses to blow up clusters of rocks.

There are more slimes and rock-crabby things too. The slimes start dropping sap as well as slime. Thinking the sap will be a good source of energy, Phoenix eats some. But the moment he does, he feels his energy get lower, “Urk! Maybe that wasn’t the best idea…”

Trucy shakes her head with a smile, “What would you do without me?”  She hands him a leftover leek that she refused to eat earlier.

Slightly renewed, Phoenix finds the ladder to the fifth level. The layout is pretty similar to the other levels, but there is an elevator near the ladder.

“Hey! I bet this goes back up to the top floor,” Trucy says as she examines it.

“It’s probably a short cut to this floor,” Phoenix guesses.

“Cool! So we don’t need to fight our way down to this floor again.”

“Good. I don’t think I could take fighting all those monsters again.”

“Oh c’mon Daddy. You were kind of cool fighting those slimes,” she says. As he proudly grins, she continues, “That is, when you weren’t also screaming.”

“Those slimes are vicious! Did you not see those red eyes on that one?” Phoenix planned on retorting more, but a loud buzz interrupts him, “Hmm... Do you hear that, sweetie?”

“Huh?” Trucy looks around for the source of noise. “Now that you mention it…”

They look around, but Phoenix sees it first. It’s a big flying worm that’s coming right at them! And it looks mad!

“Time to go , sweetie!” he says as he pulls Trucy into the elevator to Trucy’s indignant protest.

Once they’re in the elevator, Phoenix frantically pushes the 0 button. Repeatedly.

“Whew… that was a close one,” he sighs as they climb out the elevator.

Trucy, meanwhile, is pouting, “C’mon, Daddy! We could’ve totally taken that thing!”

“Did you even see that thing? It was flying directly to us!”

“But still!”

“We can come back another time and defeat it.”

“Fine,” she crosses her arms and pouts, but drops the subject. She doesn’t stay annoyed for too long because she spots a pile of rocks that’s blocks another pathway. “What do you think is behind that?”

“Probably more secrets? This place has a lot.”

“Let’s open it up!” she says as she readies the pickaxe for a big swing. The pickaxe makes contact, but all it does is shake Trucy. “Wha?”

“Huh… it seems our pickaxe isn’t strong enough.”

“Hmm…” Trucy puts the pickaxe away and stares at the obstruction. “I know!” she exclaims while pulling out their last cherry bomb. She plants it right in front of the rock-wall, “Bombs away!”

“Trucy!” Phoenix yells as he pulls her away and the bomb blows up.

Despite his caution, the bomb works and the pathway is now clear. Trucy, eager to check out more of the mines, runs down it. Phoenix scrambles to catch up.

The pathway is pretty short and at the end of it there is a figure standing in a corner just staring at them. The figure is very short, Trucy appears taller than... them, and wears a red jacket that looks pretty new, but their golden hood hides their face. Around the figure is a small chest (much nicer than theirs), a table, and some boxes.

“Hello!” Trucy greets the figure.

They are now looking at them and Phoenix can now see beady golden eyes, “Oiaanomi o man lomi!” the figure says. 

“Huh?” Trucy tilts her head.

“Nomi u, nomi u!” the figure speaks again.

“What’s he saying, Daddy?”

“I don’t know… I don’t even think it’s human."

“Anoe ani nul!”

“Um… Maybe we should come back another day… Maybe it’ll make sense then…” Phoenix gently pulls her back.

“Yeah…” Trucy agrees and looks at her watch. “It’s almost 10:20! We need to get going!”

“Huh? Why?”

“I want to show why I needed the crab!”

“Ah… okay, let’s go,” he says as they walk out of the east section the mines.

Let's never go back there... Or in the mines, in general...

Trucy pulls him all the way back into town and stop in front of the ruin community center.

“What are we doing here?” Phoenix asks.

It’s a ruined building with vines growing around the whole place, the clock above the door is broken at 12:25, and there’s faint paint that looks like it spells out Pelican Town. When he ran into the Chief yesterday, she did say the community center was basically abandoned. But this falls closer to haunted than abandoned on a scale of 'places horror film protagonists go to die.'

“You’ll see! Just keep an open mind. Now, it’s time to meet the Juminos!”

He's looks away from the building and back at his daughter, “The what-ios?”

“Forest spirits that live in the community center. They’re really nice. And cute!” Trucy explains as they walk into the ruined building.

“Okay…” Phoenix has walked passed the building once or twice while foraging, but never bothered going inside.

Once inside, Trucy makes a bee line for the decaying fish tank. She pulls out the crab and places it on a golden scroll with writing that Phoenix can’t understand. The scroll shines, and when the glow dies down, the crab is gone!

“Whoa! Where did it go?”

“I donated it to the Juminos.”

“What? Why?”

“The Juminios will restore this place if we give them the offerings that’s listed on these scrolls.”

“'We?'”

“Yeah, you’re going to help me, right?” she says with a pleading look. "They just want to make this a happy place."

“Uh… sure… if I can see one of these Juminos first.”

“Okay!” Trucy cheers. “Follow me! I have the last item of a bundle, so we’ll be able to see one tonight!”

She leads him down to the right side of the building and into a small wreck of a room.

In the center of the room is another golden scroll. Trucy walks up to it, makes sure that he’s watching, and places the last leek on it.

Like before, the leek disappears, but this time there’s more. Two small bundles takes it place. Trucy picks one of them up to open, but Phoenix is distracted by a small purple-blue cubeish creature.

The thing, he guesses it’s a Jumino, takes the other bundle from the scroll and carries out of the room. Phoenix follows it out into the main room with the fish tank. He watches as the Jumino throws the bundle into the fireplace. Then the Jumino comes back and bounces in front of him as if waiting for something.

“I don’t have anything to give you,” he says.

“Oh, don’t worry, Daddy,” Trucy says as she approaches him. “After you finish a bundle, they like to follow you around the center.”

“…Right…”

She ignores his deadpan look and continues happily talking, “So what do you think?”

“It’s certainly not the strangest thing around here,” he looks at the little bouncing Jumino once more before speaking, “And you’re right, they are pretty cute.”

“Yay! I’m so glad you’ll be helping!”

Before he could reply, he lets out a mighty yawn. Glancing down at his watch, he sees that it’s nearly midnight. “Hey, sweetie, we should be heading home.”

“Wow, you’re right! Let’s run!”

And again, Phoenix finds himself being dragged across town to their farm. He and Trucy dump all the raw materials into the chest and everything else in the box to sell. Ever piece of gold counts.

They go to bed and Phoenix wonders what his life has become with witches, monsters, and spirits.

Well, I’ve certainly escaped my monotone life from before… And I think I like it…

Chapter Text

"I can't believe I didn't see that you're one with forest when we met!" Maya practically yells as she prepares something in her cauldron.

Eariler this morning Trucy demanded he introduce her to Mystic Maya. Phoenix didn’t see any reason to deny her, so he agreed pretty quickly.

But, now, he's slightly regretting it.

As soon as introductions are over, Trucy tells Maya about their trip to the community center, which sends Maya into this fury.

"Er... What does that mean?" Phoenix steps back to watch. The bubbling green liquid doesn't look safe to stand near. Or look at.

"It means you can communicate with the Juminos," Maya throws what looks like a mushroom into the concoction. "For some reason they won't talk to us, but they will talk to someone with the one with forest,” she picks up a jar of red liquid, looks at it, shrugs, and dumps it in.

"Okay..." Phoenix says. He looks over to his daughter for help, but she's off near the bookshelf with Pearl, who he finally met.

"So that was a dwarf in the cave?!" Phoenix overhears Trucy.

”Suuaa is really nice and if you're friends, they will open up their shop for you!" Pearl bring her hands together as she smiles.

She really is related to Maya...

"Too bad I can't understand what they say..." Trucy says as she helps Pearl look for some book.

"I know we have a Dwarvish Translation Guide book... Or at least I thought we did... Maybe we lost it…?” Pearl becomes more and more despondent as she combs through the bookshelf.

Maya, who has been cutting up some grub (?) on the desk next to him, speaks up, "Well, then we can just get Nick to help us find it! It'll be our first request."

Oh yeah... I'm the gofer...

"...I'll do my best..." he says.

“Thank you so much, Mister Nick!” Pearl bows her head a bit with a smile.

“Heh… it’s no big deal…” he weakly smiles back.

“Isn’t it awesome that he came, Pearly? Now all of our lost things will be returned!” Maya happily says as she dumps whatever new thing she was cutting up into the cauldron.

Do you lose a lot stuff easily, Master Witch?

Finally seizing a chance to address what’s happening, he asks Maya, “So what exactly are you making?”

“Another batch of the essences of the forest.”

“Didn’t you already say that I was one with the forest? Why would I need to drink the essences?”

“Silly! You may be one with the forest, but that only means you have the potential to understand its spirits,” Maya stirs the liquid(?). “You need the essences if you’re going to help the Juminos,” done with the process, she scoops a ladle full of the green stuff and presents it to him. “Go on! Take a drink!”

He looks at her excited face, turns to his daughter and Pearl, who both share an expecting expression. He sighs at his inevitable fate.

Well… I’ve certainly digested worst…

He feels fine for a few seconds after gulping the slushy green liquid, but then it happens.

He feels like hurling and his vision goes green. And not just seeing things in a green tint, but green fills his vision. Soon, he’s seeing falling leaves and floating trees. He also hears some weird, trippy music instead of a bubbling cauldron and the girls’ chatter. 

Then, his vision goes black.

 

When he wakes up, he’s still inside the tower. He’s looking up at the ceiling with the girls are looking down at him in concern.

“You okay, Daddy?” Trucy asks him as she touches his forehead.

“Umm… I think…”

“Yay! Now that you’re awake, Mister Nick, you have the power of forest magic!” Pearls cheers.

“Okay…” he says as he sits up.

“You know that means? Now you can read the scrolls!” Trucy hands him some golden scrolls that match the ones in the community center. And she’s right. He can read them now and it’s basically a checklist.

“Um… aren’t these yours?” he asks and tries to hands them back.

She pushes them to him, “Nope! There were three copies, one for me, one for you, and one to stay in the center.”

“The Juminos are pretty smart,” Maya adds. “They must’ve known that you both would work on the center.”

Maya moves back near the cauldron to do... Something. Maybe cleaning?

“Ack! Mystic Maya!” Pearl, facing the clock, suddenly shouts, “It’s time for us to meet Mister Samurai!”

Wait, there’s a Samurai in town too?

“That’s right, you better not keep Simon waiting,” Maya says.

“Of course, Mystic Maya!” Pearl says. “We’ll be leaving first!” She takes Trucy’s hand and the two rush out the door.

Still dazed, it takes Phoenix a second to realize what just happened.

“You doing alright?” Maya asks with a frown as she helps him stand up.

“Huh? Yeah… Just feeling sleepy for some reason…”

“Drinking a potion for the first time will do that ya!” Maya says with an unabashed grin.

“I think I’ll take it easy for the rest of the day…”

“Aww… Does that mean you won’t be going to Sis’ party tonight?”

“‘Sis’?”

"Oh! yeah, the mayor is my sister!”

Huh? Fey… of course they must be related… How many Feys are in this town?

“Does that mean Chief is a witch too?”

“Ah… yes? And no?” Maya’s eyes drop to the sides and she looks to the floor.

Feeling like a jerk for ruining her positive mood, he says, “So… a party?”

“It’s Sis’ birthday!” her smile is back in full force. “Iris, Pearly, and Lana are throwing a surprise party.” She holds a hand to her cheek and tilts her head, “But I don’t think it’s much of a surprise anymore. Yesterday, Gumshoe accidentally gave her the party list instead of her receipt.”

“Then isn’t more of a party?”

“Probably, but I think Sis already knew. Anyway!" she claps her hands together, "Are you going?”

His resolve not going into town is strong, but Maya’s hopeful and pleading eyes are too much for him.

Too much like Trucy's...

Letting out a breath, which he didn’t even know he was holding, he says, “Sure. I can stop by.”

“You’re the best, Nick! And you have to report back about everything that happens!”

“Eh? I can’t just say hi and leave?”

“Nope! You’ve got to stay the whole time!”

He doesn’t understand why a caring little sister like Maya isn't going to her own sister’s birthday party. But he gets the senses that it’s a sensitive topic, so he just goes along with Maya’s plan.

 

Through the grapevine (meaning Maya and Pearls), Phoenix discovers that the party starts at sunset and is at the Mayor’s Manor. And it’s the fanciest house Phoenix has seen in this town. It’s one of two two-story houses in town and has a nicely kept front garden.

Not one to back out of a promise, Phoenix takes deep breaths before knocking. But the door turns out to be unlocked, so he just enters without waiting for anyone.

The interior somehow manages to be professional, yet homey. There’s one big room that is the living room, dining room, and kitchen all together. Some stairs probably lead up to the Chief’s room. There are a lot of people helping with last minute set up. And most of whom he doesn’t recognize. He scans the big three-in-one room for his daughter. She’s in the corner of the room on top someone’s shoulders hanging up some streamers.

“Higher, Polly!” she says to the person holding her up.

“This is as high as I can go! You’re already on my shoulders!” the person says. They're so wobbly it looks like he’ll collapse under Trucy’s weight.

Dad instincts kick in and he rushes to remove his daughter from the precarious situation. But before he has the chance, a man — this time much taller than both Phoenix and the person previously carrying Trucy — comes up and plucks her off of Polly’s shoulder and onto his own.

“Justice-dono is mighty fighter, but he lacks the height necessary for such a noble task,” the newcomer with a black and white ponytail says.

Trucy, now happy with her new vantage point, giggles and goes back to pinning the streamers onto the ceiling’s molding.

“Hey! It’s just streamers!” the former-shoulder-stool shouts.

Phoenix can clearly see the person now that Trucy’s cape isn’t cover the person’s back. His red outfit is almost as loud as his voice.

“Hey Pal!” Gumshoe, the general store owner, greets him from behind with a rough hand to the shoulders. Phoenix flitches, and then greets the — surprisingly strong — store owner.

“Glad to see you made it!” Gumshoe keeps talking. “Haven’t seen in town lately. Started to get worried that you got lost in the forest.”

“Heh…” he lamely starts, “Yeah, busy on the farm, you know?”

“Well, it’s good to throw yourself into your work, but careful not to overwork. Or else you’ll become a regular at Newton’s.”

“Newton’s?”

“He’s the town doctor. His place is right next to the shop!”

Now that Gumshoe mentions it, Phoenix remembers seeing a sinister gothic-looking building next to the general store. He didn’t dare take a second look at it.

“Creepy place for a clinic,” Phoenix mumbles under his breath.

But not hearing the comment, Gumshoe continues on, “So what do you think?”

“Of?”

“The decorations, of course!” Gumshoe says with a proud smile. “Everything is from my shop!”

“Oh, uh,” Phoenix quickly glances around the room, “…those paper flowers look nice.”

All he sees is a bunch of white and pink flowers. They’re different shapes, for sure, but other than that, they look all the same. But they do add color to the brown wood in the room.

Gumshoe’s smile, somehow, grows bigger. “You think so? Maggey made them! She even studied up on flowers’ meaning to create the best paper flower bouquet for the Chief!”

“Miss Maggey made those?” a gentle female voice chimes in from the other side of Gumshoe.

“Sure did!” Gumshoe turns to the woman.

When Phoenix leans forward to get a look at the woman, he’s shocked to see her again. The same doe eyes, long braided hair, and humble aura.

She sees him staring, she smiles gently, “Hello, I don’t believe we’ve met.”

What the hell is going on here?

“Oh, uh… I guess?”

Either not noticing his awkwardness or just not acknowledging it, she introduces herself, “I’m Iris Fey. I’m the Chief’s assistant.”

Iris…Fey?

She puts out her hand to shake, which he doesn’t notice until Gumshoe elbows his stomach.

“Right,” he hurriedly shakes her hand, “I’m Phoenix Wright. New local farmer.”

And as always, the universe works against him. He doesn’t get a chance to ask Iris Fey any questions. Instead, a young woman with pink glasses starts yelling at everyone that Lana and the Chief are coming and get to their places.

Iris Fey gives a small smile before hiding in the kitchen, while Gumshoe pushes him behind the couch. He’s too deep in his own thoughts that he doesn’t even feel pain landing on the hard floor with another man falling on his legs.

Thanks for saving me small talk, oh great being, but what is she doing here? How is she here? And why now?

Gumshoe, once again, brings him back into the present by pulling out them of hiding.

“Surprise!” he and the other guest shout.

The Chief is standing in front of Lana looking over-the-top shocked, “Oh wow! Everyone did all this for me?" she wipes, probably fake, tears from her eyes. "You’re the best town a mayor could ask for!”

“A bit much, Mia,” Lana, smiling, says.

“It’s a genuine reaction! I didn’t think you were going this big!” Mia pouts.

“Alright, you lovebirds,” the pink-glasses woman claps, “It’s time to get the party started!” She immediately goes to pour everyone drinks.

When she gets to the loud red man, he snorts as he stares at a cup of pink liquid, “You better not get wasted again.”

“That was one time!”

“But also a very memorable time,” the man smirks. “I think even Clay heard you from-”

KA-TONK!

“Would you stop snackoo’ing me!”

“Then stop saying unnecessary things!”

At this point, Phoenix is grateful for being forgotten in the corner. It does give him a chance to look around the even more lively room.

Trucy, now down from the man with the black and white ponytail’s shoulders, is huddling in a corner with Pearls and a pair of twins.

The black and white haired man is standing next a young woman, whose red hair is almost as bright as her yellow and white dress. She’s talking a mile a minute, but contrary to his sour expression, he doesn’t seem to care. Phoenix can faintly make out a smile.

Gumshoe moves next to his wife, who Phoenix has run into once on the beach. He can’t hear what they’re talking about, but the couple end up gesturing to the flowers with blushes.

He watches as a bunch of other people he doesn’t know talk and joke with each and wish the Chief a happy birthday.

His eyes finally land Iris Fey (still sounds strange). She talking to a man who looks like he’s already drunk, but still managing to draw something on a pad.

He feels an impulse to walk over there and talk to her, but the Chief, unintentionally, stops him.

“Hey, stranger,” she says with a smile.

“Hi. And um… happy birthday,” he holds out his hands, which makes the Chief smile. But she humors him and takes it.

“Honestly, didn’t expect you here,” she says with a more devious smile. “Rumor has it, our new farmer likes to haunt the forest.”

Phoenix scratches the back of his head, “I guess. It’s a good place for fishing.”

“I didn’t realize you were into fishing.”

“Neither did I, until I got here. Mister Badd gave me a fishing rod for free on my second day. Dunno why, but I wasn’t going to question him with that glare of his.”

“Ha!” she continues laughing before replying, “He doesn’t look like it, but Tyrell Badd is a complete sap.”

“Eh?”

“Yup! Total sucker for kids, fish trivia, and actual suckers.”

“Suckers?” he says as he face drops.

Suckers, like people? Is that why he gave me fishing rod?

"He's got a big sweet tooth. If you ever want a favor from him, just give him a lollipop. Or ten.”

Rough-looking guy with last name Badd and has a weakness for sweets... Nope! He’s still terrifying...

"So how was the first week of farming?"

"Oh right!" Phoenix opens up his backpack. "I didn't realize it was your birthday, so it’s a bit last minute. But here!" he hands her a parsnip that he and Trucy proudly harvested. "It’s from our first harvest from the seeds you gave us!"

She looks honestly surprised, "I'm impressed." She examines it, and Phoenix didn't realize how nervous he is while waiting for her opinion. She, then, eats it before Phoenix can blink. “Ah, that hits the spot. Thanks for that!”

“No problem, Chief.”

She smiles at his words, “I’m glad that you’re settling nicely if you already know that name. So, how's my challenge going?"

"Challenge?"

"Have you met everyone in town yet?"

"Ah, no, not yet. But I think Trucy has."

"Ha. That's not surprising. She's been a positive force in the town already."

Phoenix can feel a familiar pride he always gets whenever someone praises Trucy. "She's really the best. She's the dream child and I got lucky."

“So you're a doting dad,” she smirks.

"Heh, I guess I am..."

“But I'm glad you and Trucy are here. And I hope you can find home in our little town."

A flash of the JojaMart and her face pops in his head and it holds him back from saying any more than, "Thanks.”

"Well, I'll come back later. Gotta make my rounds."

"Right!" he gives her a small salute in lieu of a wave. She leaves him with a smile on her face.

And he continues standing in the corner alone.

I promised Maya I would stay the whole time, but there isn't much to do... How many times can I walk to the food table without looking weird? Well, I've got nothing else to do.

 

Three plates of desserts and one check-in with Trucy later, every adult around Phoenix is drunk.

At some point, Ema (the pink-glasses woman) and Apollo (the loud red guy) drag all the adults in a game of King's Cup. And before anything starts, Phoenix manages to replace his wine with grape juice. The game ends with Simon (the big black-and-white- haired guy, who really does look like a samurai) drawing an ace and making everyone else chug a whole drink.

Then, the loud redhead (or Cykes-dono as Simon keeps referring to her as, but Phoenix doubts that her real name), challenges everyone to an arm wrestle. Whoever loses drinks. Apollo loses fast and hard. Ema, Gumshoe, and Simon put up a better fight, but still lose. And it's debatable if the Chief actually wins, or if Cykes-dono gives the birthday person the win. Phoenix, innocently, goes to refresh his drink and check on his daughter during all this.

And after a very poor attempt at karaoke (with horrible renditions of some Europop songs), the loud youngens lay on the couches stacked on top of each other, but not asleep. Somehow, they are playing truth or dare. He's not sure how the dare parts are going, but at least there isn’t any drunken singing. Or yelling.

Meanwhile, Mia and Lana are in the kitchen talking; they, somehow, can act sober.

Gumshoe and Maggey are reorganizing the food table. Earlier, the already-drunk-but-drawing guy crashed into the table before passing out under it. And it's where he still remains. The couple is mindful of his feet.

And Iris Fey sits with the actual kids.

As much as Phoenix wants to talk to Iris, he’s probably not getting the chance tonight. And most of his body wants to run far, far, far away from this place just at the sight of her.

This might be the best time to leave. It'll be enough for Maya, right?

He knows Trucy will make her own way back home, so he just grabs backpack by the front door.

He gets outside just in time to hear someone drunkenly yell: “Present time!”

Chapter Text

Phoenix wakes up in an odd mood the day after the Chief’s party. He would've just written it off as a hangover if it wasn't for the fact that he didn't drink any alcohol.

Did someone spike the drinks? Probably not... The juice was for the kids.

"Daddy! Stop thinking sad thoughts!" Trucy calls out as he leaves the shack. She, unlike him, wakes up perfectly in spirits. She’s already checked the mail and watered the crops by the time he’s on the farm.

"How'd you know my thoughts were sad?” he calls back.

"You were snoring last night!"

"What's that got to do with my thoughts?"

"You always snores when you have a bad dream."

Did I have a bad dream? I can't remember if I did...

"Sorry, sweetie. I didn't keep you up, did I?" he walks down the porch to the chest.

"Nope," she places the watering can in the chest and takes out others items for the day. "You weren't snoring too loudly, so I didn't wake you up. Old people need their rest, you know?"

Cheeky.

Wordlessly, he walks over to Trucy and lifts her up by the waist. "Can an old man do this?" he says with grin and increasing pressure in his back.

“Ack! Daddy, put me down!” Trucy flails her arms like a windmill.

He spins her around a few times before his back and knees start to give out. So, he puts her down with a strained smile. "Okay, but only because you look like you have a day planned.”

“I do!” she says taking out a bunch of wood. And another. And another. And the next item she takes out is… another bunch of wood.

“Um… Truce? Why are you taking out so much wood? Weren’t we saving that for a barn?”

“Yeah… But, this is to save a lost cat!”

Do I want to know? …Eh, should be fine. There are still plenty of trees left to cut down… Sorry, nature.

“Well, alright,” he says as she takes out their last piece of wood. “I guess I’ll go back to chopping trees.”

“Sorry about that, daddy. But after the bridge’s fixed, we’ll be able to go to the other side of the beach!”

“You’re fixing a bridge?”

“Yeah! You know the broken one by Eve and Espella’s cabin?”

Cabin on the beach? There was something like that, but it didn’t look like anyone lived there… But… I don’t remember a broke bridge…

“So the cat’s stuck on the other side?”

“Yup! I think I also saw items that the Juminos wanted on that side, so it’s a win for everyone!” Trucy hauls her lumpy pack on her back. It doesn’t look very comfortable to say the least.

As Trucy is ready to save a cat, he says, “Have fun fixing a bridge, but be careful.”

“Yeah, yeah” he can hear her eyes rolling. “See you later, daddy!" Trucy waves goodbye.

With Trucy out for the day and the crops taken care of, Phoenix sets out to chop down more of the trees littered around the farm. At least he gets to clear more of the land. And it would really help having animals on the farm. The cows don't look too hard to take care of; just put out some hay and pet them once a day. And maybe they’ll finally have something to drink other than boiled lake water!

 

He swings the axe one last time before exhaustion takes over his body. It's only ten in the morning and he already wants to go to bed. He leaves the tree standing and collects the fallen pine cones.

While he’s storing all the new items inside the chest, he gets a glance of a leftover parsnip and remembers the Chief's party yesterday.

He groans as he slams the chest shut. The one thing he didn't want to spend the day thinking on. Because now he’s thinking about a specific person he does not want to think about.

For how similar she looks, Iris can't be her. She's been dead for eight years. I didn't go to her execution, but Grossberg told me it happened. Even forced me to take the day off, and the Joja bosses sure didn't like that.

But... Didn't Maya say that Iris was a cousin and a witch too!?

Does that mean magic could've brought her back and she's living as 'Iris'? Does magic even have a limit like can't bring back the dead? Would it be too weird to ask Maya? Or if she and Iris are different people, could she have been a witch too?

He nearly collapses at the thought. He's long accepted that she felt nothing for him the whole time they were together. But the idea that he had no control over his actions and feelings truly paralyze him.

Could she have made me do something? I don't recall doing anything odd or someone bring anything up?

But now that the idea is in his head, it's not going to leave anytime soon. He also knows that the only way to get answers is to ask Iris about it or Maya about magic. Neither option sound very appealing.

What if Iris does reveal herself to be her? Or if Maya says mind-control and reviving the dead is possible? ...It's in the past. It doesn't matter. Focus on the present and future. The truth of what happened died with her. Forget about it.

Determined, he uses the rest of the day chopping trees in the forest, he eats as many freshly made field snacks as he can to keep going until nightfall.

Too bad that even nearly collapsing onto bed doesn't do anything to clear his mind. He has another dreamless night and Trucy gets significantly less sleep.

 

Thankfully, Trucy doesn't give him too much grief for snoring two nights in a row. But she does leave him with such loving-parting words: "Be sure to treat your parsnips grandchildren right when giving them to Gumshoe! They are much more sensitive than your amazing daughter who raised them from seedlings." 

He watches her leave the farm going north; towards the mountains… and the mines. A part of him almost makes him follow her.

What if she passes out down there? Will anyone know she's there?

But the other part, which is much louder, trusts Trucy knows her own limits. Plus if he doesn't sell these parsnips, she really will give him grief.

He, literally, shakes the thoughts out of head and sets out to harvest and water the crops.

The potato plant, which awkwardly sits in the middle of eight mature parsnip, finally sprouts more than two leaves. While the green bean stocks are the same as ever: greeny leaves wrap around the trellis.

After he pulls out each parsnips, he walks to the storage chest and prepares his backpack for the day. Since Trucy left the crop sale to him, he'll also need to buy more seeds. And plant them. But he can wait until later in the day. He'll just be sure not to use up all his energy.

Physically ready, Phoenix slowly walks to town. He's still not confident about walking around town. If there is a JojaMart here, that must mean there is a manger and workers living here. Other workers might not be bad, and he can probably sympathize with them. But running into a manger would be the worst. Actually, the worst would be if the manger somehow knew his name and spread the story about him here. But until he knows for sure who the manger is (and therefore who to avoid), he's staying as far away from that building as possible.

Once he enters town, he rushes to Gumshoe's. He does briefly look at the supposed doctor's office next to Gumshoe's.

Nope! It's still as creepy as I thought it was... Wait... Is that a gargoyle? …Thank god for my great immune system.

Moving on, he ends up running into the general store. Gumshoe is already behind the counter and eagerly greets him, "Morning, pal!"

"Hey, Gumshoe," he takes a deep breath. The shop is as normal looking as ever. He mentally adds the creepy doctor's building as a reason not to come to town more than necessary.

"What can I do for you this early? Not even Lana and Ema come in until after 10."

"Got some fresh parsnips for sale, also I need to buy more seeds."

"Right! How many have you got?"

"Um..." Phoenix takes off his backpack and pulls out all the parsnip, "15."

Like with the first harvest — which was only four days ago — Phoenix feels a rush of joy and pride when Gumshoe hands him over 500 gold for his crops. To think something he and Trucy grew from the dirt could be worth that much. His determination of becoming the best farmer is renewed. He will have a future here. And he'll make sure it's a good one.

Once he finishes with Gumshoe, he hikes to the forest.

He completely forgot about telling Maya all about the Chief's party yesterday.

Hopefully, she won’t make me drink another potion.

When he arrives at Maya's corner of the forest, he actually feels refreshed and revived.

 

Those feelings quickly vanish once Maya's gossip-hungry-claws digs into him.

"Who was there? Did Sis fake cry? Did Athena flip anyone over? Was Fran there? And did she whip anyone?” she says with a grin and fists near her face. She looks like she might punch him if he doesn’t answer her. Then she tucks her hands behind her back and her grin turns even more mischievous, “Oh, I bet Larry said something and pissed her off.”

"Er... lot of people who I don't know. Yes. No? Who? And no! Why would she have a whip?"

"But, Niiick, who was there?" she almost begs. "Give me the deets!”

“Alright, alright," he scratches the back of his head while recalling all the names yelled. "There was, let’s see… Apollo, Ema, Simon, someone Simon kept calling Cykes-dono

"That's Athena. And Simon's cool like that."

He tilts his head before continuing, "Okaaay... But I didn't really many more. Those were just the ones be shouted every other minute."

She claps her hand together and hops in place, “Sounds like a town party alright! And your report gets a B+!"

He stares at her for a moment.

"So that's normal?" he can feel a sweat beginning to form on his forehead.

Aren't there festivals in this town too? Maybe I'll just hide in the forest those days...

"Yup! Add in a few more bird attacks, whippings, and bad German singing and you got a Pelican Party Special! ...Huh, too bad there wasn’t a P word for special…” she says the last part to the side, but his mind is stuck on bird attacks and whipping being part of a normal party.

And now his bangs are actually stuck to his wet forehead, “Well there was some singing, if you could even call it that, done… Wait! Are whipping and bird attacks even legal!?”

"Hmm," she rests her head in her hand while pausing, “I don’t know. I mean, the only law enforcement around here is Sis. So really, who's to say what's legal?" she says with a too bright of a smile.

"Right..."

I hope you never end up in a court of law…

"So! What did you get Sis?" Maya quickly shifts back into her fighting pose.

"A parsnip," he says with full confidence.

It was a really good parsnip... Probably the best of the bunch.

"Wow..." Maya relaxes her body and looks at him carefully. "You must be broke."

"Hey! It was a great parsnip and I didn't even know about her birthday until you mentioned."

"You don't check the town calendar?"

"No?"

If it's in town, that explains why I didn't know about it.

"Nick!" she puffs out her cheeks and furrows her brows. "How else are you going to know people's birthday! If you want to be friends with everyone, you've got to give them something they'll like!" She then leans to the right with a grin, "By the way, my birthday is the 17th of Winter, so you've got time. And I'm expecting the best gift ever!"

That's right after Trucy's adoption day... I can remember that... Right?

Chapter Text

For the first time since moving, Phoenix doesn’t wake up to Trucy’s footsteps or voices on the TV. Soft rain patters echo throughout the shack. Once Phoenix blinks awake, he’s relieved — despite the falling-apart-house — there isn’t any water leaking in.

Together, he and Trucy decide today is a day off. With the rain taking care of the crops, they stay in for the day.

Trucy’s flips between the three TV channels, while he starts the fire.

“Anything interesting?” he ask as he settles next to her. Placing the TV in front of the fireplace is a good idea. Warmth spreads on his back as he just sits there.

“Yeah, we’ve got sucky luck today, so it’s good we’re staying in. And! I learned how to make stir fry.”

“But you don’t like most vegetables?”

“No, but we're growing a lot of vegetables, and we might as well eat them. Or at least sell it for more than the normal crops.”

“And how are we going to cook with no kitchen?” he bumps their shoulders together as he smirks.

“Oh, right…” she taps her head and sticks her tongue out.

A knock stops the conversation cold. They simultaneously face the door and stare.

“Uh... Did you invite anyone over?" he asks.

“Nope!” She’s turns off the TV. “Did you?”

“Uh-uh,” he throws on his grey hoodie over his stained T-shirt before opening the door.

The door reveals a soaked, but out of the rain, Miss Skye on their porch, “Hello Phoenix.”

“Er…” Phoenix straightens his back, “Hello Miss Skye.”

“Good morning!” Trucy cheers from behind and walks to stand next to him. “What can the Wrights do for you?”

“I was tending to the animals this morning when I noticed this little guy,” she nods towards a dog that Phoenix hadn’t noticed, “sitting at the entrance to your farm. I haven’t seen him before, and he's not mine or Ema’s, so we think he might be a stray,” she softly pets the dog’s head.

“Poor thing!” Trucy coos and kneels in front of the dog. She rubs and squishes his face. In return, the dog attempts licking any part of Trucy he can reach. Trucy grins and laugh.

“I’m glad you like him. Ema and I are hoping you’d be open to having him on your farm?”

“Oh, can we, daddy? Can we, please?” without missing a beat, Trucy faces him with her biggest pouty face.

“Um… Well…” he scratches the back of his head. 

We're planning getting barn animals soon, so a dog isn't really all that different, right?

“Come on, daddy!” she picks up the poor drenched thing and holds him up underneath her face. “Look at us, we’d make a great duo! Trucy the magician with her mighty mutt will make history.”

“Well, when you put it that way,” Phoenix’s resolves — as if he ever had some against Trucy — crumbles away. He crouches to be eye-to-eye with the dog. “Welcome to the family.”

“Yay!” Trucy cheers with a spin in the house.

A low laugh directs Phoenix’s attention to Miss Skye, who’s still standing on their porch, “I’m glad you’re taking him in. What’ll you name him?”

“Mr. Puppers!” Trucy says without hesitation. “He’ll be Mr. Hat’s newest partner for my upcoming show!”

The dog, still in Trucy’s arm, looks almost gleeful at the name.

Well, at least he looks willing to be Trucy magic partner… Gods know she already tried making me the-assistance-that-loses-his-head…

“Mr. Hat?” Miss Skye, naively, asks.

Trucy gives him the dog before going into her magician stance: feet apart, hands on hip, chest puffed, and giant grin: “Behold, the Great Mr. Hat!”

Even after seeing the trick a thousand times, he still squeals when the wooden dolls appears behind Trucy. Thankfully she’s grown so that Mr. Hat isn’t twice her size.

But that did add to the magic effect of this trick… Wait, when did she pull out Mr. Hat? Does she take him everywhere?

“Oh my!” Miss Skye yelps. She gives Trucy and Mr. Hat a curious look before her normal expression returns. “While I’m not sure how it’s physically possible for Mr. Hat to be hide on your person, I’m glad to finally see some of your magic that I’ve heard so much about.”

“People know of Miss Trucy’s great magic? How marvelous!” Mr. Hat ‘says’.

To Miss Skye’s credit, she only gives a passing look at Trucy’s still moving arm behind her back and Mr. Hat moving mouth before replying: “Gumshoe will talk anyone’s ear off about how amazing the new magician’s tricks are. I’d imagine much to the annoyances to the other magicians I’ve heard about in town.”

“Oh! Bonny and Betty! They’re actually helping me with my new routine! And I won’t mind having them as my rival!”

“My, my. It’s seems Stardew Valley will become the hottest spot for the best magicians,” Miss Skye gives the faintest of smile. “Well, I’ll leave you to your day. Enjoy and good luck with Mr. Puppers.”

“Thanks! Have an awesome day too!” Trucy waves the dog’s paw as Miss Skye leaves.

Phoenix hands Mr. Puppers back to Trucy so he can close the door. When he turns around, all he sees is Trucy with Mr. Hat, Mr. Puppers, and a grin. Their day off just tured into a “Trucy begging to dangerous magic tricks from her family’s former troupe and Phoenix saying no, but agreeing to a less dangerous option” day.

Thank goodness for the lack of knives in the house. I really don’t need a knife-thrown-haircut right now.

 

The next day, pollen fills the air along with snot. It seems everyone Phoenix meets is allergic. Well really it's only Maya, Pearls and Kay, but he’s still heard enough sneezing for the year.

Trucy takes Mr. Puppers first thing in the morning to the mountains for a “walk”. That will just so happen to take all day.

When he visits and gives Maya a freshly harvested potato, she’s sneezes her way through a semi-coherent “thank you” and “it’s delicious” before kicking him out of the tower and into Pearls.

The poor girl can’t even get through her greeting bow without a runny nose and scratching her eyes. She ask him to tell Trucy she can’t meet today. He doesn’t get a reason before she’s running in and out of the tower with arms full of scrolls.

He later runs into Kay for the first time on the beach. When he asks why she’s so far away from the mountain, she gives him a grand speech about memories and treasure. Then just flat out asking him if he’d look for her lost camera. But pollen flies into their faces and Phoenix starts wishing he had a box a tissues in his backpack.

By the end of the day, he's glad to return home and away from people. He doesn’t even bother asking any questions when Trucy and Mr. Puppers come home and the dog's covered with blue and red (hopefully) paint marks. 

 

With clear air and a new day, Phoenix and Trucy rush to buy more parsnips seeds. They forgot (well, Trucy forgot; he didn’t know) about tomorrow’s Egg Festival. It's only when they read the Chief's letter — reminding them it’s happening and everything will be closed — that they realize a harvest will be ready tomorrow as well and they need seeds before than.

But some wiggly worms distract Trucy away from the path and towards a patch of dirt by the bus stop.

"Hey, were these guys here before?" she asks.

Phoenix, who never really paid much attention to this area besides for forgeable items, replies, "Can't say. But we should probably leave them be. Nature, circle of life, and all that."

"But what if they're hiding a grand secret?" her eyes sparkle.

"Who would leave a grand secret to a group of worms?"

She thinks before decisively saying,"Nature. Think about, daddy, they're so unsuspecting that everything would over look them."

"Except a curious teenager."

"Especially a curious teenager," she enthusiastically nods.

"So what do you want to do about the worms? Take them home? I think Mr. Puppers would get jealous if you suddenly decide to use them in your act."

Even just in a few short days, Mr. Puppers has a favorite Wright. He lets Phoenix pet him every day after he fills his water bowl, but that's it. Mr. Puppers follows Trucy around the farm any time she's home. He evens sleeps at the foot of her bed like a guard dog.

"Of course not! I could never do that to Mr. Puppers. We'll just dig up the dirt! Give me the hoe!"

"Wha? What about yours?"

"I left mine in the chest, but I know you didn't."

He does actually have his… for some reason and luckily for Trucy.

Maybe I should start leaving it home and make more room for other things.

He pulls out his hoe and relinquishes it to her. "Fine, fine. Here." He gives the worms a second look, "Rest in peace little guys."

"Daddy!" she puts her empty hand on her hip, "I'm not killing them!"

"Then good luck find a new home little guys," he salutes them, "Real estates sucks."

"That's better!" she says before tilling the ground to reveal a... prehistorical tool?

"That's... Not something I was expecting," he says as he stares at the hammer (?) in Trucy's hands.

"And to think that we could've just walked right by it!” she brings the tool closer to her face to examine. She, then, declares, “This belongs in the museum!"

Probably true, but how are we going to get it there?

"Is there even a museum around here?" he ask aloud.

“Yup! It's by the blacksmith."

"Oh," he tries recalling if he's seen a blacksmith in town, "where's that?"

"Across the bridge from Chief's house."

"Ah."

So the town has a blacksmith, but no clothing store? A hoodie isn't the best thing for farming.

"So! Now that you know where the museum is, daddy, you should go and donate it!"

"Huh?" he jolts out of his thoughts, "What about you? Weren't you going over to the Chief's house, anyway, to meet Pearls?"

"She's not over there until sundown, and the museum closes before that."

I guess it would be more convenient for me to take it... Alright, just this one trip across town. I'll go and come right back.

"I'll tell you how it goes," he agrees as they finally walk into the main area of town.

"Yay! Thank you!" she shoves the artifact into his hands, hugs him, and runs off to Gumshoe's.

Guess I've been excused from shopping duty. Let's see, she said it was across a bridge near Chief's house... But… Where was her house again?

 

Three hours later he finally finds what looks like a museum in the corner of town. But he's not completely sure if it's a museum. It’s next to the blacksmith like Trucy said, but the sign looks more like a library sign.

It’s a nice enough building that Phoenix walks in. With a building this far out on the edge of town, he expects a tiny and rundown room, but the place is pretty big; much bigger than the outside looks at least.

Next to him, as he walks in farther in, is a series of shelves. Some are empty and others actually have books in them, but not many. Farther back, he spots big empty tables.

Is a museum still a museum if there isn’t anything on display?

“Good day,” polite voice brings his attention towards the woman behind the counter. She has impressive bangs that hide half her face with braids wrapping around her head.

“Hello,” he greets back as he walks up to the counter.

“How may I help you?”

He explains how he and Trucy found the prehistorical tool and asks if he could donate it.

“Yes, course,” she says with a small smile. “It’s been years since the town’s had anything worthy of displaying.” She labels the hammer-thing before turning back to him, “If it’s not too much trouble to ask, if you find anything else interesting, will you donate it to the museum collection? Or even old books for the library? You’ll receive a reward, of course.”

It’s not like I’ll have much use for things like this… Oh, wait… is this another collecting quest? …This town is trying to make me a hoarder… And if it’s to help the town, there’s no way Trucy’s leaving it alone…

“Sure. Er… Does it matter who donates? My daughter will probably come in with more.”

“That’s not a problem…,” she trails off as if she lost her thought. While quiet, she tilts her head and narrow her eyes, “Are you the farmer that recently moved in?”

“That’s me, Phoenix Wright at your service.”

Looks like Maya and Trucy are rubbing off on me…

“Yes, that was the name,” she says not really to him. She says louder, “Your daughter is still school-age, correct?”

“Yes?”

Has she not met Trucy, yet? But Trucy knew this place was here…?

“Then would you like her to continue schooling here? It’s more like tutoring than an actual school, but it’s well rounded enough that she’ll learn the same things, if not more practical, as she would in a school .”

A tutor, huh? Guess that’s why there isn’t a school around here… Where even is the closest school? Probably should’ve looked that up before moving…

Then again, Trucy made it clear that she’s most definitely not doing college… But finishing high school, or I guess the equivalent, would be nice…

He asks more about the tutoring and finds out this woman, who introduces herself as Justine Courtney, and some other townspeople take turn teaching the kids their specialities.

Miss Courtney herself teaches general education (reading, writing, and anything else needed), Eve Belduke-Cantabella is in charge of history, Miles Edgeworth is a math tutor, Franziska von Karma lectures in German about geography, and Ema Skye, every now and then, explains some science demonstration. And others jump in if they have free time.

Some of those names sound familiar. And it doesn’t sound like a bad thing. Almost like a real school… Can’t hurt to ask Trucy about.

"It sounds great, but I’ll talk to Trucy about it first," he says.

"Excellent. I hope she's agreeable. I believe many of her friends are currents students already."

They say goodbye (she does mange to squeeze in a reminder for donating artifacts) before Phoenix leave the building.

He's figuring out which way is home when someone crashes into him; a quite rude and unpleasant-looking someone at that. He appears older than him with balding grey hair and wearing the ugliest blue suit he's ever seen.

"Watch it!" the man snaps not really looking at Phoenix. His hands smooth down non-existence wrinkles and he glares at Phoenix, "Honestly, do young people not care about respect anymore?”

"Er... Sorry?" Phoenix lamely says. He takes a step back and recounts Trucy’s description of people. The names are lost, but appearances and attitudes are not.

I haven’t heard of such rude person being town. Trucy would’ve definitely complained about that…

"You!" the man rudely points his finger into Phoenix's face, "who are you? Are you a resident here?”

"Yes...?" Phoenix, not really sure who he is or what he wants, replies.

Something about this man seems vaguely familiar...

"Impossible! I know everyone here!" the man taps the top of his head while speaking. Then with a near glare, spats, "Who are you? Where do you live?"

Okaaay... Who does this person think he is?

"Phoenix Wright—" he only manages to say as the man shrieks and puts a hand and elbow up to his face so fast it's like he's recoiling from Phoenix.

"'Phoenix Wright?' The same that dared besmirch the good name of Joja Corporation? The one that was fired so quickly that a new document had to be made?" the man's face returns to normal and he resumes tapping his head again, but smugly and slimier. “And here I thought you died after your disgrace."

What? How? ... ...Great. Just great. This guy’s a Joja lackey... At least that explains the tacky suit... So it's still the uniform for higher ups? Guess I know who to avoid now...

And excuse you! I was demoted, not fired. Also I quit your beloved corporation.

"So what if I am?" Phoenix can hear his voice deepen. His eyes narrow as he tries to figure out just what this man wants.

"I'd never thought I meet the man responsible for that scandal... Quite a mess you left us. You might've gotten fired, but you left the rest of us to do the clean up."

Right because getting demoted, and then blacklisted in the whole city is worst than covering up already shady things...

"What do you want?" he nearly snarls.

I need to chop a lot of trees before seeing Trucy... Or really anyone.

"Well, I planned on meeting the pathetic museum's curator, but I found something much better," Phoenix can see a malice glint in the man's grin. The glare on his glasses don't help making the man look any less smug. "Well, then," the man turns around, "I'll be leaving, but I'll be sure to note your presence here. The higher ups will certainly be interested in this town now..." The man taunts as he walks away.

Phoenix is left behind just standing in front of the museum/library entrance. He stays there until someone else walks up.

Done with people, he, probably rudely, brushes past the new man and just walks away.

Just faaaanatistic. So the news did reached here... Just great... The worst is over, I guess, but now everyone knows... Or they will soon enough... Great. Great, great, great. And it was a disaster last time.

His mind repeats ‘great’ over and over again. His feet, meanwhile, are just going forward. He doesn't pay any attention to where he's going until he hits stone pavement. It's only then that his mind wakes up from replaying what happened after the news got out the first time.

The buildings around him look completely new. A few houses on one side and an old and worn building on the other. On the worn building's front is a large wooden sign with: "The Stardrop Saloon" and "Food ~ Spirits” written on it.

Spirits are something he could really use right now...

With half a mind yelling Trucy! Trucy! Think of Trucy! and the other screaming Screw it! You tried and it's over!, he walks into the just-opened saloon.

No customers are inside, and that certainly doesn't stop his mouth from ordering two beers nor his hands from paying the familiar grumpy-looking owner.

Not one for day-drinking, or drinking in general, the coherent part of his mind tells him to drink this away from people. Who knows how’ll he act when drunk for real? And for the first time in years.

After he leaves the saloon, his feet take him to the forest. The one place with any sense of safety and privacy. He quickly passes the ranch and stops from going anywhere near Maya's tower. The thing he wants least, besides Trucy seeing him like this, is running to Maya or Pearls like this.

So he makes his way south.

Some way or another, he ends up on a small island in the middle of the river with only planks as bridges connecting it to the main land.

He settles as comfortable as his body is physically capable of at the base of some tree. He listens to river and fish as he drinks his first beer since... college?

Probably something like that... Gods... If that man tells him, it really will be like before... And perfect. The festival is tomorrow....

Chapter Text

Not only is Phoenix still in a terrible mood from yesterday, but Trucy is watching him with careful eyes. He can feel her gaze as they harvest and replant more parsnips. He knows she wants to ask questions, but even he’s not really sure how he’d answer. He was so careful to not let too many details reach her the first time.

By the time they arrive in town for the Egg Festival, he's relieved when she, literally, skips off and away from his gloomy self.

Gumshoe and Maggey's stall is the first thing he spots. Fortunately for him, Apollo and — who he thinks is — Athena are bickering over a stuffed animal, so he passes them and avoids pleasantries with all.

His go-to for events like this usually is taking constant trips to the food and drinks table.

And a small drink would be nice right now...

But as he gets closer to these tables, he can tell that the Simon-the-scary-samurai hovers near the tables in order to trap people into uncomfortable conversation. Another type of party-tactics, which he and Grossberg were victims to many times.

With his plan gone, he takes a roundabout path to the other side of town where there isn’t much of a crowd. Or anyone at all. On his way, he spots the Chief next to a bunny-cardboard-cutout that has a hole for a person's head. She's talking to Miss Skye and a man with brown curly hair and a fedora.

Mister Badd — who Phoenix hasn't seen since getting the fishing pole, but still very memorable — is pacing up and down the side of the confetti-patterned tarp. His eyes never seem to stray from Kay, who is goading a guy with funny looking hair to take a picture in the bunny cutout.

Miss Courtney is talking to a man with long silvery hair while they watch a younger boy and girl run around.

Pearls and Trucy quickly find each other and start doing something with flowers. Thankfully, Trucy doesn't feel the need to call him out to Pearls. He loves talking to Pearls, but just not now.

He even spots Iris Fey, who — thanks to Joja— he actually momentarily forgets about. She's running around and ducking into odd bushes before moving onto the next. He makes sure to not cross her path as he walks towards the graveyard.

It looks like everyone in town is here.

The good thing is there isn't a tacky blue suit in sight... But that still doesn't mean that they don't know... Doesn't news tend to travel fast around here?

He’s about to plant his feet by the three gravestones near the end of town, when he notices familiar purple robes peeking out from a tree. He looks back towards the town and easily spots Pearls between Trucy and twins.

What the? She never comes to town... And why is she hiding?

So confident of who's hiding, he sneaks up to the tree with Maya.

“What you up to?” he suddenly asks; not realizing Maya’s actually up sitting on a branch.

“GAH!” Maya yelps as she nearly falls off of her post. “Nick! Don’t scare a person like that!”

“Sorry, sorry,” he says as he helps her down from the tree. “Didn’t realize you were part cat,” he gestures to the tree.

“Hmph!” she puffs out her cheeks, “I’ll have you know, tree climbing is very important to a witch’s training!”

“Oh yeah?” he raises an eyebrow.

“You betcha! I’ve got to know nature and the trees pretty well!”

“Whatever you say,” he feels an actually grin coming to his face. As wonderful as Trucy is at bringing him out of his darker moments, she shouldn’t have to do that. But talking — almost — nonsense with Maya is proving just as helpful; along with no ‘horrible parenting’ feelings.

“So how’s the festival going?” Maya asks. Her body perfectly aligns with the tree trunk.

“Uh, going, I guess? Nothing as exciting as the chief’s party,” he glances back at the town. Everyone gathers around the chief as she makes some kind of announcement. “So why are you hiding back here?”

“Huh! Oh, you know, got to keep an eye out for magic and stuff!”

He pauses before pointedly asking, “Is that why I never see you out of your tower?”

“Spirits are unruly during festivals, so it’s best to be in person on these days.”

“Okay…” he still doesn’t quite believe her, but she’s not going to give him a straight answer anytime soon.

“So why are you hiding?” she turns the spotlight on him.

“Hiding? I’m not hiding.”

“So what were you doing at the graveyard? Huh? Getting a head start in the hunt?” she probes.

“Yup!" he hurriedly replies. "Just preparing, you know? I’m teaming up with Trucy since we’re new and all.”

“Uh-uh. So you were just looking for birds in the cemetery before the hunt even starts.”

Without missing a beat he says, “Exactly.”

“That’s cheating, Nick,” she leans to the side with her arms behind her back with a grin. “Except it isn’t a bird hunt, it’s an egg hunt.”

“Oh…”

Well, I kind of walked into that one…

“But I guess it doesn’t really matter!” she claps her hands and gives a bright smile. “I’m glad you’re here!”

“So I can be your spy again?”

Please don’t make me talk to people right now. It’s weird enough standing out in the open and just watching people.

“Nope! You can help me commentate on the egg hunt that’s about to start.”

“So that’s an actually thing?”

“Of course! Why else would we have an egg festival?” She pauses before continuing, “And it sounds like it’s starting now!”

With some maneuvering, they both manage find a comfortable position on top a tree branch. Phoenix watches as the children of the town, plus some adults, run around to every nook and cranny of the town.  While Maya starts her commentary immediately: “There goes Thena diving to the egg near the Courtney house before the loser-in-love Larry can come even close.

“And what’s that! Over by the Sahdmadhi house, the de Famme twins are closing in on a trio of eggs. But will John Marsh, the undefeated champ, beat them?

“Let’s find out after we cut to Trucy Wright, the newcomer on the block, searching in the town garden. She finds an egg, but gets stopped by Raymond Shields! Darn it Ray! Now’s not the time for hugs! Anyway, back to John Marsh, it seems the twins found two of the eggs first, but he did grab one of them.

“LOOK THERE GOES PEARLY SAVING AN EGG FROM THE YATAGARASU HANDS! YOU’VE GOT THIS, PEARLY!

“And it looks like Rayfa is using her ribbons to trip people! I bet Simon taught her that. Oh! It looks like Fulbright was foolish enough to fall for it! And you can hear the samurai’s cackle for miles, ladies, gents, and others. Meanwhile, Rayfa nabs another egg! Wait, are Polly and Yuty holding up signs? Man, that’s got to be embarrassing… But make sure to save that for Spirits Eve, you two!

“The de Famme twins are on the move again! But it’s a three way race this time! With Trucy and Pearly closing in as well. Who will — GO PEARLY! It seems Betty is — RUN PEARLY! YOU CAN DO IT! Oh. Trucy got this one…  PEARLY! SIS PROBABLY HID MORE BY HER HOUSE!

“Rayfa’s ribbons find another victim: Thena! Who was too caught up with reaching the egg! Another one for Rayfa! She passes by her family and… kicks Polly!? And gets another egg! Man, talk about kicking two birds with one stone.

“And Ray is back at it again with hugs, but it’s John that’s trapped this time! How will he — Did John just hand Ray a bunch of chocolates? But it looks likes it worked! John moves pass and collects two more eggs! It looks like he’s learned from last year. Man, his mom must’ve been mad about the milk.”

For the rest of hour, Phoenix listens to Maya’s not-so-unbias comments. Even though they’re both hiding, it’s a miracle that no one hears the yelling. Well, Trucy and Pearls come close looking for an egg and wave. But no one else can hear them it seems.

Either magic or people just really want to win…

“…And that’s all folks! Sis calls time and everyone returns to the town center. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll be back at the end of the season for the Flower Dance!”

Maya takes a deep breath before talking even more, “So who do you think won?”

“Er… maybe the twins? But do eggs found by twins count as found by one or separate?”

“Hmm… No clue, but they did find a lot, didn’t they?” she rests her head on her hand. “And here I was hoping Pearly would win… Not that I was against Trucy, but it would’ve been nice for a Fey to win once.”

“Haven’t you done the egg hunt before?” he asks. From her spirits and commentary, this festival is right up her alley. But then again, there’s always that odd feeling he gets whenever Maya and the town come up together. Didn’t he even say a while back that this was the first time he’s seen her outside of the tower?

“Well… no… I wasn’t allowed to… And I’m really not allowed now…”

Allowed? Are your parents super strict? Hard to imagine in a place like this…

“What about the Chief or… your other cousin?” he stops from saying her name aloud. It still sounds like a lie.

“Well, really none of us were allowed… But Pearly is a bit different… In a good way! A lot of things’s changed since I was a kid! …Wow I sound like an old granny. Ha! If I am old, should I start growing warts? Or maybe dig out that old pointy hat? Oh! I could carry a broom. Too bad I don’t know how to actually fly.”

Cutting off her ramble, he asks, “So… what's so great about the grand prize everyone’s competing for?”

“Well, the first time you win, you get a straw hat. But! It’s the wins after that that’s the real prize. After winning once, you get 1,000 gold!”

“1,000 gold!?" he yelps before mumbling, "Maybe I’ll try starting next year.”

“Oh, what’s this?" she leans in, "Your farm already going bankrupt?”

I'm not that bad with money... Thank you very much... Most of the time...

“No, but with 1,000 gold, we could get a well on the farm.”

“Wow, you’ve really embraced the farmer life if that’s all you want for 1,000 gold. If I got 1,000 gold, I would buy big TV for sure. Then I could finally finish the Steel Samurai series!”

Steel Samurai? Is that that show Trucy got into a few years ago? Or was it a princess show?

“But—” he starts, but gets interrupted by shouting in the town center.

“Oh, what do you think’s happening?” Maya leans dangerously forward.

“Recount!” the girl and boy Phoenix now recognizes as Rayfa and John shout.

“Er, who won?" he looks at all the contestants. "It’s probably a disagreement.”

“I think you’re right! Oh, this is a first! And Sis is taking control.”

They watch as the Chief organizes the town into a few different groups. One group is solely the de Famme twins, another is Rayfa and John, Simon, Larry, Juniper, and Athena make another. They’re standing in the center of the town in front of the Chief while everyone else is divided into two groups on each side.

“Drats, it looks like we’re too far to hear. Nick! Can you read lips?”

"Nope, sorry."

“Dangit! This looks juicy.”

They watch and, poorly, guess what’s being said. At some point, Athena, Larry, and Juniper talk directly to the chief while the twins, Rayfa and John take turns grinning and frowning.

“Wait,” Phoenix’s memories fill him in, “is she holding a trial?”

“Oooh! You’re totally right! So the de Fammes won, but John and Rafya disagree? So they did count them as collected by one… I’m with John and Rayfa on this! Recount! Recount!”

The trial ends with two happy magicians and two sad kids. The Chief does place a straw hat on the Rayfa and John and they shake hands with Bonny and Betty.

“Man, I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in a long time!” Maya rocks back and forth with a huge grin. “I’m really glad you found me today! This wouldn’t have been much fun alone.”

“And I’m glad for the commentary. Even if it did make me half deaf in one ear.”

“Heh, old-man.”

“Hey!”

 

Phoenix spirits are lighter when he and Trucy walk back from town later that night.

Trucy tells him that the only reason why there was a trial was because Simon, not-so-innocently, asked if the twins could’ve used magic tricks to find the eggs. And that prompted a demand for recounts and a mini trial. The finale of that was Athena scolding Simon for starting drama and his response of: “It made a thrilling conclusion for the best hunt in years.”

“You totally should’ve come down, Daddy! Give them all a taste of your tried-and-true method of BS!”

“Language," he pauses, "kind of. And I was a criminal lawyer, not… what ever kind deals with competition disputes.”

“Well, yeah, but still, you could’ve give them the ol’ point and glare!”

What exactly does she think lawyers do?

Chapter Text

The morning after the Egg Festival, Trucy sets up the newly bought Lawn Flamingo right by the empty cave that they have no idea what to do with. Yet. If Trucy get’s her way it might just become her bedroom.

Meanwhile, Phoenix checks the mail. They have one letter and it makes no sense.

Hi.

Me sell hats. Okay, poke?

Come to old, old, old haus, poke. Bring coines.

-hat mouse

So, either Maya's pranking me or this is Joja's idea of a trap... What are they up to?

"What's it say, Daddy?" Trucy walks over with the flamingo guarding the cave behind her. She paws at the letter, which he quickly hands over.

"Dunno. Did you know a hat mouse in town?"

At this point I'd believe a dragon lives in the sewers.

"Uh-uh..." She shakes her head. A grin comes over her face as she finishes reading, "But I think I know what old house they’re talking about!"

"Old house?" he peeks at the letter again. "Is that what 'haus' means?"

"Pretty sure," she crosses her arm and stares off to the side, "Pearly might've mentioned it and it's been empty for as long as she can remember."

"Well it's not empty any more," he looks at the scribbled handwriting again, "apparently."

"We can check out another day. Today we're going to the mines!" she declares with a tip of her hat.

"Again? Didn't you go there a few days ago?"

Not that I'm ungrateful for an excuse to not know if anyone knows about Joja...

"Nope! Bonny and Betty aren't allowed down there and Mr. Puppers won't go in."

"I wonder why..." He grimly says as a buzzing, flying bug comes to mind.

"No matter! I will join the Adventure Guild today! Let's go!" she marches north.

Phoenix scrambles putting the letter away and grabbing things out of the chest, "Wait! Hold on! Take some food at least!"

 

"What are you waiting for, Daddy?" Trucy asks oh-so innocently in the elevator to his doom.

"Nothing. Just making sure you really want to do this," he takes a half a step forward. And that's enough for Trucy to pull him and press floor 5 down.

"GAH!" he yelps. "Some forewarning would be nice, Truce."

"If I waited for you, we'd be up there all day. Say, do you know today's fortune?"

"No, I thought you watched that show every morning."

"I do, but I was busy copying down the coleslaw recipe that I missed the show."

"Again, we have no kitchen..." He sags his shoulders a bit.

"No, but someday we will! And we're here!"

The elevator opens to reveal a normal looking area. Some rocks, an old mine-cart, and some weird-looking grass.

"According to Kay yesterday, I just need to fight six slimes and you need four before we can enter the Guild."

"Four? That's it? Okay... I can do this," he says mostly to himself as watches out for any monsters.

With nothing in sight, they start mining each and every rock they find. The mine-cart leads them farther in as they get more and more stone. It's at the end of the track where a ladder down just sits there in plain sight.

"You mean we just destroyed all those rocks for nothing?" his arms already want to fall off.

Maybe Trucy was on to something about weak arms... But shouldn't farming get me in shape?

"Not for nothing! We needed stone."

"Well, so much for you fighting monsters. Not even one of those fake rocks came out."

"Just you wait! There's got to be some on the next level."

There's only one slime on the next floor, two rock-crab things on the one after that, and a mole and bug on the eighth. All of which Trucy single-handedly defeat. Phoenix's new favorite monster is the bug because once it's killed, it explodes and reveals a ladder down.

"Let's go. Hopefully we find an elevator soon. We're running out of food," he says as he finishes a field snack.

"Don't worry! Pearly gave me plenty of spring onions yesterday," she devours three of them before climbing down.

When he jumps off the ladder, only seconds later, Phoenix quickly realize whatever’s down here isn’t good. Looking around, he sees green slime coating the wall, no rocks or grass laying around, and about 15 slimes moving towards them!

“What the heck!? Why are there so many!?” he yells. He draws his sword and makes sure Trucy does the same.

“Come on, Daddy! We got this! Just make sure to keep them in a corner!” she calls out as she attacks two of the green monsters.

Not one to put his own daughter in more danger than she’s already in, he lunges towards the pack of three coming upon him. The three bastards attempt to surround him, but he keeps swinging his sword, which keeps them back.

His swings pushes two into a corner while the third charges in from his left. He starts alternating his attacks, one swing to the corner then one to his left.

Shouldn’t they be finished by now? Well, alright, might as well as get the pair first.

He pushes the stray slime far enough away where he can get three good hits on the pair. It takes care of them, but the third one hits him with slime!

Yeow! What… was… that? Urk… My body so heavy…

Despite slime covering his body, Phoenix hits the slime three more times before it drops slime. He doesn’t even have time to pick up as two more make it his way. His body feels like lead and moving too fast is painful. As he swings the sword, his arm might actually fall off for real.

These two slimes prove much tougher than the others. By the time he gets them cornered, he’s already killed one, but it’s Trucy who sweeps in and kills that remaining one. The best part is a ladder down reveals itself where the slime was.

As he doesn’t see anymore danger, he drops his sword and collapses to squat with  his limp at his side.

They take a break, or rather they wait until he can move his arm without pain. After eating the last food rations, they climb down the ladder to the tenth floor with a single treasure chest.

"Well..." He says while searching the cave for any monsters, "this is something."

"Aw, man," Trucy actually looks dejected at the sight of a treasure chest. "Only one treasure? After all that?"

"Got agree with you there, kiddo. Slimed for no reason," he shakes his arm to feel something.

"Well, maybe it's a super-duper rare sword!" she reassures herself as she goes to open it.

Weary of any surprises in these mines, Phoenix inches closer and looks over her shoulders. They both hold their breaths as the chest creaks open to reveal...

"A pair of boots?" they tilt their heads and ask simultaneously.

Trucy takes them out and puts them on, "Huh, they don't feel any different from normal boots..." She takes a few steps in a circle, "Phewy... I thought they'd be at least magical."

"Well, I can't imagine everything in here being magical. Besides, who even left them here?" he inspects the empty chest.

"We can ask Kay that!" Trucy replies quickly with a grin. "Since we can enter the guild now!" She starts pulling on his arm towards the elevator, "Let's go! Before they close!"

So just as fast as Phoenix was dragged down here, he's just as fast, if not quicker, dragged up the elevator and to the log house with a sword sign next to the mine entrance.

"Ready, daddy?" Trucy asks right before she swings the door open.

Kay, clearly not expecting them, yelps out, "Whoa! Oh, it's you, Trucy. And Mr. Wright too," she brightly waves them in before yelling behind her, "Sebastian! We have customers!"

When no one comes from the back, Kay smiles sweetly at them and then marches to the back room. She leaves the door open, so he and Trucy can still hear her.

"Wha! Kay! I'm not ready yet!" a male voice cracks.

"It's after three, you goof!" she replies.

"Hair takes time!"

Kay comes back with rolls her eyes. A young man with brown hair, which has a thick strand of hair upright in a weird curl style, follows and grumbles, "I don't rush you when you're watching Jammin' Ninja."

"That's because that's art," Kay retorts, "Anyway, meet our new members! Trucy and Phoenix Wright! Wrights, this is — "

“Wait!” Trucy interrupts. She leans away from Kay and holds her hands near her mouth, "You mean you already know why we're here?"

"Of course," Kay points her nose up while scratching the tip, "The Yatagarasu knows all in the mines."

"That and," Sebastian adds on, "no one can enter without fulfilling some resistances that Kay set out."

"Sebastian!" Kay scolds him. "Don't go telling them our secrets. And you mean requirement."

"Oh, thanks," he smiles then frowns, "But aren't they members now?"

"Well, yeah, but they're newbies. They don't even know about the Monster Slaying goal."

"Even you haven't finished that, Kay," he pauses, then continues, "I don't think anyone has."

"Says you," Kay sticks out her tongue.

"Says the fact that the mines haven't been open for years until two weeks ago."

Kay blows her tongue at him and finishes her introductions, "This dork is Sebastian. He's the second-in-command around here."

"Meaning I'm the best around here and happy to show you the ropes," he manages to say both condescendingly and welcomingly.

Both he and Trucy have no idea how to respond while Kay face palms from behind.

"Er," Phoenix speaks up, "what exactly does the guild do?"

"Explore and chase after the greatest adventure possible!" Kay answers.

And Sebastian says in unison, "Gather information about weird things in town,"   

They turn each other and just stare. 

"You spend too much time with Mr. Edgeworth," Kay complains first.

"Have not. And aren't you the one who spent years tagging along and being his assistant?"

"Yeah, but you were his apprentice. So his boring-ness would pass onto you more."

"What do you mean weird things?" Phoenix interrupts them, which stops them from going on another tangent.

"Well, you know how sometimes you break something, and you think it's for good, and then the next day it's restored?" Sebastian answers. "Or just the fact there's monsters in the mine?"

"Our friends," Kay continues, "are researchers and they're trying to find a reason for why this town is so cool. And that's a grand adventure of its own, right? So we help out!"

"But isn't all that stuff — oof!" Phoenix stops speaking when Trucy kicks him in the knee from behind. Hard.

"Wow," Trucy feigns shock and stands in front of him, "I hadn't thought about that... I'll definitely keep an eye out from now on!"

She sends him a short glare and he shuts up fast.

I guess I shouldn't have said anything... Won't mention magic again.

"Great!" Kay gives her a thumbs-up. "You're on your way to being the top member around here!"

"Hey!" Sebastian objects.

"Everyone knows you got this position because of nepotism."

"Because you gave it to me, Kay!"

"Well, then, better start pulling your weight around here, 'kay?"

"I do," he grumbles. Then louder says to Kay, "By the way, where are your pictures of stardrop fruits? Justine asked me for a lesson on rare objects."

Oh, right tutoring. Should talk to Trucy about that soon.

"They're on my camera," she replies and quickly turns to Phoenix, "You haven't forgotten about looking for my camera, right?"

"No, 'course not."

I did actually until you mentioned it... Another note to self: find Kay's camera. Probably has a sword on it.

Trucy catches on and jumps in, “Don't worry, we'll find it in no time.”

"Great! I can't wait to have it back. Can't brag about grand adventures without any proof, you know?"

Phoenix is about to say they should get going, but Gumshoe and another man walk in and block the single exit.

Now, how do we make an escape without seeming rude...? Oh, no... Trucy looks interested... Well, how do I make an escape without seeming rude?

"Gummy!" Kay cheers and waves. "And Ray! What brings you two all the way up here?" her cheerful smile falls as she whispers, "We're not in any trouble are we? In our defense, we didn't know that thing was Fran's."

"Oh, that was you?" the man with a fedora hat says. "Sure would've been nice to know that last week. She wouldn't let me hear the end of it."

Is he Ray? The one who kept asking people for hugs yesterday?

"Kay! She wasn't supposed to find out!" Sebastian twists his face.

"Oops," she sheepishly says.

"Well, if it was you two, Franziska will let you off," the hat-man laughs.

Gumshoe pouts, "Man, if only I had your luck."

"Aw, don't worry, Gummy," Kay air pats his shoulders. "I'm sure Fran appreciates you. Why else would she shop at your store?"

"That's right!" Gumshoe perks up immediately. And he notices Phoenix and Trucy just standing off to the side watching them. "Hey, pals! What are you two doing all the way up here?"

Neither he nor Trucy can answer before Kay jumps in for them, "They're the newest guild members, Gummy!"

"Really?" Gumshoe looks like a kid on Christmas morning. "Ah, maybe someone else can finally make the deliveries up here."

"But don't you like helping out Mr. Edgeworth?" Sebastian standing hair sticks straight up when he asks the question.

"Oh yeah, I do... Help Mr. Edgeworth... Or help Maggey... Mr. Edgeworth... Maggey..." He mumbles to himself as the hat-man introduces himself.

"Don't believe we've met," the man says to Phoenix directly. "Raymond Shield, local carpenter. Call me Ray. If you need any home improvements, I'm your guy," he holds out his hand to shake.

Ah, so this is who can make our shack into an actual house...

He takes it and replies, "Phoenix Wright."

Ray let's his head hang down low, which allows his hat to hide half his face, and ominously says, "Is that so? Well, it's nice to finally meet you."

What? Does he know something?

For a moment no one says anything. Phoenix feels sweat building. But it's Sebastian who breaks the silence with an eye roll, "Ignore him. He just likes dramatics."

"I'm hurt, Seb," Ray's eyes widen and he holds up both hands, "After all, where's the fun in life otherwise?"

"Aw, he probably's just jealous that you got to do a cool entrance and he walked in with bed-head," Kay says with a grin.

Before anyone else can speak, Phoenix announces that he and Trucy should go: they have a few more things to do and really shouldn't keep everyone else too. He nearly shoves Trucy out the door as Kay and Gumshoe shout their goodbyes.

"You okay, Daddy?" Trucy leans forward to look into his eyes from below as they walk down from the mountains. He's still taller than her after all.

"Yeah, just a bit jumpy."

"Because of my kick or something else?" her look sharpens at the mention of another cause for his weird mood.

Ray was probably just teasing, but still! Weird guy. And probably weird to leave that  suddenly. Oh well. And oh, yeah, what was that kick about? Maybe telling them magic wasn't the brightest idea, but still, ow!

"Yeah," he sheepishly chuckles, "what was the kick about?"

I know she knows this is a distraction. But does she know that I know that she knows? ...Probably, this is Trucy I'm talking about.

"Okaaaay," her face slightly softens, "well Pearly and Mystic Maya both said that no one really knows about magic around here. And that we should keep it that way. I'm not really sure why, but they both asked for it to be a secret."

"Oh, but how come we know?"

Trucy crosses her arms to think. "Dunno, but we're one with the forest, right? So maybe we're allowed to know, but no one else?"

"We're definitely missing something..."

"Yeah..." Trucy sighs, "I can ask Pearly again. But you're right, it's weird that no one else gets to know the true amazing-ness of the Fey family."

Well it's comforting that I'm not the only one in town with a secret... Kind of. It still sucks.

 

Phoenix finally finds the right moment to talk about school/tutoring with Trucy the next day as they tend to the crops. She seems unsure, if her clenched fists and lack of eye contact is anything to go by. But when he says it's only three days a week and her friends are students, she lights up and eagerly agrees.

But with that decision, comes her motivation to explore the mines as much as possible before going back to school regularly. He gives her a hard pass on that plan. His arms are still sore from whatever that slime did to him. She still goes anyway, which leaves him to tend to the crops.

After that, he walks down to the forest for his daily fishing and forage trek. On his way down to the river, he spots some ripe berries on a few bushes. Still one for living off the land literally, he picks the berries off the bush. But then he spots another bush with berries and picks those as well. And past that he finds another berry-filled bush.

The morning has come and gone by the time Phoenix is certain he's found all the berries (which he later finds out are salmonberries) in the forest. Well, maybe not all. When he spots a little house in the corner of the forest, he spins around and walks away.  But he manages to find some spring onions and, oddly enough, Kay's camera near the sewer gates. After that he plops himself down on the pier over the pond near Maya's tower.

He wastes the day away just fishing in the same spot.

Trucy can make fun all she wants, but these chubs add up. Or at least we break even with all the seeds we need to buy for the end of the season.

 

Unfortunately, his relaxing day is a definite fluke. The morning after, Trucy ask if he can donate more artifacts at the museum she found in the mines yesterday.

"I would, daddy, you know I would. But I've got school now. And I've got to make a good impression!" she explains.

This must be her way of telling me to go into town and meet people. The least I could do is stand in the center of town and not talk to people. Or maybe just fish somewhere in town... That's good enough, right?

 

But even the most well-thought-out plan go awry. And by his own hands no less. Or feet in this case.

Phoenix swiftly donates everything to the museum and tells Miss Courtney that Trucy will join the school/tutoring starting today. And true to his plan and Trucy's wish, he fishes for a few hours in town. He moves along the river on the side of town before spotting a blue building that looks very out place. Without even thinking, he enters it hoping to sell some of the garbage he's caught. But instead, he just unwittingly walks into JojaMart.

He’s imagines running away and actually moving to the next town again. But another, the morbidly curious side of him, wants explore and find out just what a Joja is doing in a town like this.

So he braves walking in farther.

The first thing he sees a tired young woman behind a cash register. The only sign that she's still alive are her motions of eating some kind of brown snack.

I'm surprised that the managers let her eat on the job...

"Skye! What are you doing?" a shrill voice shouts.

Or maybe not... Skye? So she's Lana's sister... Amelia? Emily? No, Ema! That's her name. So she not only works at the ranch, but here too? 

"Eating. It's my break," Ema says while taking another bite.

"You don't have break!" the person behind the voice is a man with an obvious toupee. “Besides we have a customer!"

Phoenix watches as the man, clearly just a horrible Joja manager and possibly the same one he met, snatch Ema's food right out of her hand, stuffs it in his pocket, and walks to him with a smile on his face.

Unfortunately for the man, his face lacks all of the charm needed to pull off such a two-faced move.

“Welcome to JojaMart! How are you doing today?” he says. He's definitely not the one Phoenix met if this man can sweet-talk him.

"Er, fine. Do you guys buy fish?" Phoenix asks.

I wish I could ask Ema this, but she looks like she's about to kill someone... She looked pretty animated with all the singing at Chief's party... Talk about living the double life...

"What?" the manager, whose facial expression really does look like the other manager. "Oh, I mean, no, no, of course not. JojaMart is only here to provide you the best product in town. We don't buy."

"But," Ema, who pulls out another bag of snacks, interrupts, "if you go down to Badd's on the beach, he'll buy it."

"Skye!" the manager snaps his head back. "What have I told you about our customer service policies? Huh?" the man snarls and glares at her.

"That we don't have any?" she eats another snack piece. Phoenix suppresses an ugly snort.

"Skye! I'm this close to firing you on the spot!" he shrieks.

"Eh, fine by me. But good luck on getting the Chief on your side otherwise. Local representation in corporations and all that junk," she waves off her manager.

"Just you wait until I tell the inspector!"

"Who? Your brother? I'm shaking at the thought of two royal Paynes," Ema stuffs her snacks back in her pockets and walks out from behind the counter, "I've got some inventory to do, later."

"One day," the manager grumbles loud enough for Phoenix to hear.

Maybe coming in was bad idea... Besides on general principle. All I've done is get Ema into more trouble... Well, not that it looks like she cares. But he looks cruel enough to make her life worst...

"So," the manager turns completely to Phoenix with the slimiest grin (It must be a job requirement.), "Can I offer you a Joja Membership? It's now available! And with a Joja Membership, you’ll be able to make improvements in the community with the help of our dedicated personnel… for a fee, of course." When Phoenix doesn't start talking, aghast at the thought of Joja Membership, he continues, "Oh, and another thing… Mayor Fey promised us that if anyone else joined up, she’d let us turn that old community center in to a Joja Warehouse. Isn’t that wonderful? Membership is 5,000 gold. So would you like to join us?”

Well, I wasn't completely wrong about Joja stealing all my money... I'm sure 5,000 gold is just the start of things...  And even I did have 5,000, there's not a chance in hell you're getting any... And you're definitely not getting anything if it means destroying the community center. Not after drinking that potion-poison and seeing Trucy excited about completing another bundle last night.

He hopes his voice is deep enough when he says, "Absolutely not."

Without missing a beat, he spins around and walks out the doors.

 

That evening, he takes up drinking in the forest again. Only one beer this time, but he can still feel light-headed.

The babbling river and regular animal noises entrance him. He doesn't even notice the sun setting. After he swallows the last bit of beer, Phoenix gradually gets up by leaning on the tree. With a final groan, he wobbly stands.

Ugh... I'm not young enough to drink this often... There's got to be some kind of grape juice around here... Or do I have to produce it? I'm the town's main produce supplier now, right...?

He blinks his surrounding into focus. When he sees the sun almost gone for the night, he turns to walk home. But the rickety bridge to the main land is blocked by a figure. He rapidly blinks his eyes again and Ema comes into focus.

"Oh, hey," she says. She's out of her Joja blue uniform and now wears a mix of greens and browns with some pink.

"Hi," he waves to her.

"Didn't expect anyone here," she pulls out another back of the same brown snacks and plops down onto the same tree he stands next to. "Most know to avoid the forest on Tuesday."

"Oh?" he says. His haze is wearing off bit by bit. His leg feel like giving out, so he sits back down next to her.

Was talking always this hard? ...Must be the beer...

"Yup. This is Ema's-drink-and-rant time. So you better leave if you don't want to hear any of that."

"Oh." His mind finally clears up enough to form a complete sentence,  "I mean you work at Joja, so isn't that, like, a thing needed to keep your sanity?"

He remembers ranting to his college friend about work during their monthly calls. He really should give his friend a gift for patiently sitting through all his cursing. 

"Hmm? So you understand," she looks off to the side before looking down the ground.  "Most people around here don't."

"Well, I did work with Joja for a while," he admits without thinking.

"Oh!" she looks directly at him with a hand on her cheek. "So you are that Phoenix Wright!"

"Yup... The one and only..." He scratches the back of his neck while avoiding her eyes.

Just great... So the town definitely knows... Maybe I should live in the mountains far from town... Slimes would make good roommates, right? They're kind of cute and —

"Man," she interrupts his thoughts and her voice almost sounds wistful, "I wish I had the chance you did.“

"Wait, what?" he double takes at her word.

"I'd love to knock my boss down a few pegs.”

"Er... Right," he replies to his unexpected ally.

Maybe I don't have to have slime roommates... I guess working at Joja would let some morals slip... Still, how will the rest of the town act now?

"So, you're going to work your magic here and give Joja a bad name? Or a worst one then already?" she asks almost like a child asking for a present.

"What!" he freezes and looks at her like she's suddenly has two heads. "No! I doubt I can do much anyways. I mean, they've been here awhile, right?"

"Oh sure, but that's only because the Chief won't give them the community center... If they got it, they'd turn into a warehouse for the area. But she isn't doing anything with it... and they can't buy it without her. So... impasse."

"The community center, huh?" his mind, now clearer, connects the dots.

Joja wants it and the Juminos want to restore it...  But if the Juminos restore it for the Chief to use... That could get them out for good, right?  And Ema could quit the horrible job...

"Yeah. I don't know why that place," he notices for the first time that she's eating during her pauses, and probably has the whole time. "But the Paynes are pains about it... and how," she changes her voice to an over the top impression of that manger he met today, "great it'll be for the Joja family."

Feeling like he's suddenly king of the world, he quickly amends, "Actually, I think there is something that I can do."

She doesn't say anything right away; instead, she frowns at him with a finger pressed into her cheeks, "Really?"

“Definitely. Might take a while, but I promise, Joja doesn't have future here."

Phoenix also hopes, for the first time in a while for someone other than Trucy, Ema has a better future waiting for her beyond Joja.

She continues pouting until giving into a small smile, "I'll hold you to that. But until then cheers to Joja downfall!"

She offers him an extra beer, which he refuses. She, then, offers her bag of snacks, which he takes out a piece (it ends up being chocolate), and they share the treat (Snackoos, she calls them) as they spot the first stars and crickets chirps fill the silence. 

Chapter Text

A new day, a new Phoenix. As soon as the daily chores are done, he pulls out his copy of the community center's golden scrolls. Everything he and Trucy once had and that the Jumino required is already at the center. The rest look unavailable because of the season.

But he could start getting things from the mines...

99 slimes? Bat wings? Oh, joy… "Farmer dies due to mysterious underground forces" will be the next headline…

No! It’s to get rid of Joja! Do it for the town! For Trucy and Ema!

With his new mantra repeating in his head like a broken record, he single-mindedly makes his way all the way down to level 20. The spirits must be on his side today because he manages to find a ladder down quickly without wasting too much energy. But the sight of the elevator on the 20th floor is still a huge relief. The lake next to it, on the other hand, is unexpected. While curious about the underground lake, it's already nearing 9:00 pm. And he promised Trucy late last night to hear all about tutoring before bed tonight.

After quickly swiping the swords out of the chest and getting out of the mines, he takes a deep breath of fresh air. He double-checks he has everything, when Kay yells out, “Hey there, Mr. Wright!”

“Wha!” he fumbles and nearly drops all of his copper ores. “Oh, hi, Kay.”

“So, you finally taken an interest in the mines?” she says with a big grin.

“Something like that…” he trails off. “Oh! I found your camera, by the way,” he starts rummaging through his backpack.

Luckily I keep forgetting to take it out… Let’s see, it should be near the field snacks.

“You did!? Where was it? Are all my pictures still there?”

“Hmm... Not sure,” he finds next to the torches he brought along and hands it to her, “I didn’t check. But it was near the sewers in the forest.”

“Oh yeah! I was down there last week," she gets a thoughtful look in her eyes, but she quickly returns to the moment with an invasive stare, "Did you hear any weird noises while you there?"

"Er, no? I don't think so..."

"Ah man,” her face softens with a pout.

Despite getting a bad feeling, he asks, "Are you looking for something?"

"Kinda? Something's living down there, I know it! But Seb doesn't believe me. I can never get the noise to happen whenever I bring him down there. But he can't argue with picture evidence!” she finishes her sentence by pointing to the sky and  fire in her eyes. Then, she punches the air in between them, “Guess I have to wait a bit longer for the sweet moment when he realizes he's totally wrong."

"Right..." Phoenix says, already slowly backing away from a punch.

"Well, good night Mr. Wright! Thanks for find my camera! I owe you one!"

He weakly waves at her retreating form. With that good-deed-of-the-day done, he finally starts hiking home.

 

"And did you know that an archipelago is a small group of islands?" Trucy talks as they sit by the fire. Mr. Puppers lays on her lap enjoying the frequent pets from her. Phoenix just leans against the fireplace's side listening to Trucy's voice. Her voice isn't soft at all, so he isn't lulled to sleep like he might be on others manual-labor-filled-days. "So, Miss von Karma took us to the beach yesterday and Mr. Badd, who was fishing, gave us binoculars so we can see the Fern Islands, which are an archipelago, and not that far from the beach actually. But you can't really see them without binoculars.

"Oh! And yesterday Miss Courtney gave us a project to pick any story we'd like and try to rewrite as another genre. I think I'm going to do Alice in Wonderland and make a murder mystery! The king of hearts is killed and it's up Alice to solve the mystery!

“And! Miss Belduke-Cantabella was the my first tutor today. And, I mean, I've met her before, but man! Her teaching-self is SO different! Like she seemed so shy when I first met her, but today she was so strict! An hour lecture and then a handwritten essay!? And we couldn't leave until it was done! Well, she did teach with Eve-the-cat on her shoulder, so that kinda lessen her scary and strict factor. So I guess it's okay.

"But speaking of strict teachers! Mr. Edgeworth is the strictest and meanest! It's only my second day and I already have 30 problems due by the next time I see him. And some of them have parts! Like more than 5 parts! I don't have to be good at math to know that's already over 100 problems! I'm so glad there aren't any actual grades, or else I’d fail his 'class' before I even got started.”

“Sounds like an actual school,” he says before she can continue her tirade.

"Right? They even have the mean teachers!"

"Well, I'm not sure Mr. Edgeworth sounds all that mean. Maybe he's just trying to get you caught up to everyone else. It has been while since you've done any math in school.”

"That's not true! I worked the numbers for our budget! I already know enough math to get by."

"Then maybe he's trying to find out what you already know?"

"Maybe... But 30 problems with parts is ridiculous! I have a life outside of math."

"Well, that's math teachers for you."

"Hmmph! Meany math teachers."

Not wanting the one annoying teacher ruining this for her, he tries appeasing her by adding, “Well, at least you have a week to work on those problems. Just take it at your own pace," he ruffles her hair before yawning and retiring for the night.

But sleep doesn't come easy for Phoenix that night. Trucy stays up late only working on her writing assignment while grumbling about math the entire time. He, half-consciously, jokes to himself that she's only doing that to spite a teacher that isn't even here.

 

As he and Trucy finish selling their freshly harvested green beans to Gumshoe, the Joja manager from a few days ago walks in with a grin. He doesn't say anything to anyone.

Phoenix never watches cowboy movies — unless half-watching Maudie's Grit with Trucy years ago counts. But right now he feels like he’s in the middle of the climatic showdown in the town square at high noon.

But after standing in the center of the store long enough to catch everyone’s attention, he says, “Ohoho! Looks like business is going well, eh, Gummy.” He scans the well stocked shelves and the few early-birds customers. “Not bad at all... But I wonder if your customers know that JojaMart is currently having a 75% sale off on the same items right now..."

Phoenix sees red when he realizes what this man is doing. It gets redder when those simple words spur the other customers to sheepishly drop what they're holding and walk out the store.

Counting to 50 really fast, Phoenix looks away from manager and checks up on Gumshoe, who now looks like a kicked puppy.

"Hey pal!" Maggey, suddenly coming from the back, shouts. "Leave us out of your shady schemes!"

"Oh, assure you the only one with shady schemes is your farmer," he turns to look directly at Phoenix. "He's your... supplier, yes?"

"Hey! Leave my daddy out of this!" Trucy shouts.

"Of course, but it's my duty as a stand-up member of the community to warn the other good members of possible danger."

"What are you talking about?" Gumshoe, out of his daze, says.

"Why don't you ask the farmer?"

"Why don't you leave?" Trucy shouts with her fist up. Phoenix nearly moves to hold her back from attacking him.

"Well, I've come to say what I wanted to say. And who knows, maybe even one of my customers will become Joja members. Farewell, Gumshoe and others."

With him gone, Gumshoe slumps and Maggey runs over to him, "Are you alright, dear?”

"No," despite how much taller he is, Gumshoe looks so much smaller than Maggey right now. And the kicked-puppy face doesn't help. "How are we supposed to compete with those prices?"

"We won't! We'll compete with quality! Everyone already knows that Gumshoe's has the best qualities groceries around!"

"Maybe... But that doesn't matter if no one can afford it."

His statement stuns Maggey, "Dick..."

Phoenix shares a slow nod with Trucy and sneak out the store to give the couple privacy.

Despite having plans to go to the mines, Trucy leads him to the pathway with the abandon bus stop.

"You okay, Daddy?" she asks.

"Yeah, of course. Poor Gumshoe, though."

"It was rude of that man. But, Daddy," she softly says, “that man knows, doesn’t he?”

“Wha... That’s… Yes, he does. Apparently, word gets around Joja,” he tries laughing, but it comes out like choking.

Trucy doesn't say anything and he begins worrying that she's more upset than he thought. She finally says, “And that’s why you don’t like going into town…”

“Yeah, I guess, you’ve got me all figured out, huh?”

She considers his words and says, “You know, people here won’t hate you like the others.”

“Maybe they won’t,” he shoulders sag. “But it still would make things uncomfortable, so best not to bring it up much, right?”

“I guess…”

“Please don’t worry too much about me, Truce. I’m not going to make us move again. Beside, I think I might know how to get rid of them.”

“You do?” her eyes widen as she looks up at him properly.

“Apparently, they want to turn the community center as a warehouse, but the Chief won’t sell it to them yet. But if we can restore the center for everyone to use—”

“Then Joja will abandon their plan for a warehouse!”

“Exactly.”

“Oh! This is the best news ever! We’re going to stick it to them, Daddy! So does this mean you’re going to help out with the bundles? Even the mine ones? Wait! Is that why there were more slimes in the chest this morning?"

"Yeah..."

"Well, let's keep going!" she grabs his hand and drags him up the mountains.

 

After a monster-filled day at the mines, Phoenix rushes over to Maya’s tower before the day is over with questions about the newly caught ghostfishes. Trucy wants to give the extra away as a gift, but he's not confident that it isn't haunted. So he hopes Maya can tell him something reassuring or else he'll throw the fish back into the water.

Let them haunt the seas instead of my shack.

But all thoughts of gifts and ghostfishes shrivel up the moment he spots Maya crying over something.

Although he wants to give her space, he's already seen her and he can't leave her like this now.

"...Maya?" he says softly. 

Maya looks up and he sees tear-trails on her face, "Wha? Nick? Is that you?"

"Yeah... Are you okay?" he slowly walks to her side.

She gives a shaky smile, "Of course.”

When more tears well up in her eyes, he rushes to close their distance to warp an arm around her shoulders, "No offense, but you don't look it…” She wipes away the new tears and he can’t offer anything except for words. “Did something happen?"

"No..."

“Maya..."

"I'm fine... Really..." Phoenix supposes that she’s always been shorter than him, but her energy always makes her seem bigger. Right now, however, she’s as small as she can make herself. Her knees press against her chest and she hides her face in her hands.

“Alright, I won’t push, but,” he tightens his arm around her. He hopes it calms her down, “I’ll be here whenever you need an ear to listen. Just listen. I’ll even keep a poker face.”

“But what would I do without your funny expression?” she, tries to, says with a laugh.

“Then I’ll only respond with my face.”

“Heehee…” Maya brings her head out of her hands and Phoenix loosens his arm. She pulls away from him to be face to face with him, but she still avoids his eyes. “Thanks, Nick. Sorry about all this. It’s been… not good.”

“Anything I can help with?”

“…Probably not. And even if you could, I wouldn’t know how… I’m a pretty useless Master Witch, aren’t I?”

“What? No, you’re not, Maya! You’re a wonderful witch who’s helped me and Trucy so much since we’ve got here. And she already looks up to you a lot.”

“Really?”

“Yes, so please don’t say you’re useless. Besides, don’t forget you’ll always have Pearls.”

He meant that statement to lighten her mood, but instead her shoulders become more hunched and she starts tearing up again. “Pearly…”

Not knowing what kind of land mine he’s stepping onto, he hesitantly asks, “Did something happen to Pearls?”

Now that he thinks of it, it’s odd that she isn’t here. He doesn’t know where she usually hangs out, but it’s late and she’s a responsible girl to not worry Maya like this.

“…Yes and no… It’s quite a long story really…”

“I’m listening.”

“Really?” she looks up at him with such big eyes.

And it hits him how lonely she must be in a tower like this in the middle of the forest. How many people outside of himself, Pearls, and Trucy does she talk to? She talks about the rest of the town so much that at first Phoenix just assumed she met them some other time when he’s not around. But there are also always those odd moments whenever she does talk about the town. She really is limited with who she talks to.

“Yes, of course. What are friends for?”

“....Oooookay,” she takes a deep breath. “It’s a long story that I don’t actually really know a lot about, but, I guess, what’s bothering me now is that I can’t go to Pearly’s eighteenth birthday party. And I know it’s ridiculous to get so miserable over a birthday — she’s going to have lots more, I just know it — but…”

“But eighteen is an important one, isn’t it?” he finishes. He can’t even imagine missing an important birthday like that for Trucy. He’d force the earth to rotate backwards to turn back time if that ever happens.

“Yeah. I’m… happy she’s making friends in town… and wants to celebrate it with them and she… can’t really bring them here… so it makes sense… she’d want to celebrate it… in town…”

The quake in Maya’s voice gets worst, so he vocalizes his guess that’s been nagging at him for a while now, “And you can’t talk to people in town…”

“You knew?”

“More like guessed. You’re never really anywhere else, no matter what time I visit, so I thought you weren’t allowed into town. But, you went to the Egg Festival, so I just assumed, then, you just can’t talk to people.”

“Yeah… That’s just about it… I’m… I’m kind of… Well, cursed is a way to say it,” she says mostly to herself before speaking to him again, “There’s a curse that if I reveal myself to the townspeople, my whole family is endangered…”

Without him realizing it, anger comes out of his mouth, but not at her, “Your… entire family? What kind of curse is that? Who did that to you?”

“That… I don’t want to think about that…”

“Right, sorry,” he suppresses the rest of his anger. Whatever curse Maya has would certainly explain why such a friendly person doesn't talk to people. But then, he starts wondering if the other Feys are cursed and why it only seems to be Maya.

But he shakes those thoughts away and tries thinking of solution for Maya’s problem now. He’ll come back to the longer standing one later. And he already knows he’ll help her if she asks. “So, if you can’t go to her party, do you guys have anything special plans for yourselves? Or even just family?” he thinks it might help Maya to be with Pearly, the Chief, and… she-who-shall-not-be-named for the day.

“Well… I might get a short time in the morning with her, but I think that’s all. She already has plans for the whole day…”

“I see… And I’m guessing you haven’t told her any of this?”

“How can I? It’s her special day! I can’t ruin it with my selfishness.”

“I don’t think it’s selfish wanting to spend the day with her on her birthday… But maybe…” an idea comes to him. He doesn’t want to intrude anymore than he has. At the same time, Maya’s pretty down. Some outside help might also be welcomed. “Well, you’re free to say this is a horrible idea and kick me out…”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“I know, well, now I know, but just saying, if you don’t want me interfering, feel free to shoot me down. But… I’m guessing part of her day is with Trucy, so what if I asked Truce to switch things around so she and I can help plan a breakfast party in the tower for you and Pearls? You’d get a meal together, at least, and I’m sure Trucy will love spending time with both you and Pearls.”

She doesn’t say anything. She also doesn’t yell at him for inviting himself into a family thing, so he hopes she likes the idea at least.

“You… You’d really you do that?”

“Yes… And I’m at least 99.9% she'll say yes. Trucy loves both you and Pearls, so I don’t think it will be a hard sell, but then again, I have no idea what they have planned, so it might not work out, but it wouldn’t hurt to try, right?”

With a full emotional turnaround, Maya out right beams at him, “Right! I might not get the whole day with her, but I’ll be the first to wish her happy birthday and give her a present! Thank you, Nick!” she finishes with a clap of her hands and even bigger smile.

“Glad I can help, but we still haven’t even asked them yet, so —”

“Still! This is best thing I’ve heard for days! Thank you, Nick!”

“It’s no problem,” he sheepishly grins and starts prompting her for ideas for their own little party.

 

That night Phoenix manages to make it home just before he collapses from exhaustion.

When he enters the shack, Trucy is long asleep and lightly snoring. There's papers scattered all over the floor. In the dim lantern light, Phoenix makes out math equations, which brings a small smile to his face. For all her griping, it warms his heart seeing her being a good student.

And as he falls asleep, he makes one more plan, well more like a promise, for himself: he will start talking to more townspeople. Just what Trucy wants and how Maya can't.

 

That’s, however, easier said than done.

He really does try. He spends the day fishing in town. And not just on the border of town or in the mountains, but actually in front of people's houses. He figures he'll talk to anyone who passes by him.

He doesn't go up to anyone. At all.

Either he's busy waiting for a bite, reeling in a fish, or they're too intimidating. He thought that people here are approachable, but the only time he's free to talk, the two most forbidding people walk by. She's definitely shorter than Phoenix, but her heels and almost suit-like attire make her stand taller than his slouching form. The man next to her is just as intimidating with his actually tall-ness and furrowed brows.

Sufficed to say, Phoenix avoids both of them, and people in general, until sundown.

He tries baiting more fish, but nothing bites. He packs up and starts heading for home when he vaguely remembers Trucy mentioning that the saloon is busiest on Friday.

Which is today. What better way to meet the town, who he's been avoiding for half the season, all at once? Well, if he does anything embarrassing, he can hope that they're too drunk to remember it. From the Chief's party, it seems like people here like to let loose.

 

As Phoenix enters the Stardrop Saloon, the first thing he hears is a guitar amp screeching, which is followed by heavy German singing. He turns towards the amps, which seem to be in a separate room with a lot of people standing and cheering.

"Hey! Klav! Keep it down! It's an open mic! Not a rave!" the bartender in red yells, but Phoenix doubts anyone in that room can hear. He's proven wrong when the song cuts and the singer starts a slow ballad. "Ugh," the bartender, who Phoenix remembers as Apollo, continues complaining, "honestly, he's the one who wanted to do this. The least he could do is stick to our rules."

Phoenix doesn't try catching his attention. Instead, he sits at the far end of the bar, away from the concert, and watches the other people.

"Aw, come on, Polly," a man in a tacky suit with paint stains — at least Phoenix hopes it’s paint — slurs with a half-filled beer glass in hands, "you know you love it. Doesn't his voice just fire up your loins?"

"What? No! Absolutely not! No loins are on fire here!" Apollo’s voice gets as loud as the music once was and his face turns bright red.

"Aww..." a female voice comes from behind him, "but didn't he write those songs for you? It's awfully romantic. Don't you think, Eve?"

Phoenix slightly turns his head towards the voice and sees two young women, one with blonde braids and the other with dark hair twisted up to look like cat ears. For some reason, he feels like he should know these two. But he’s never seen these two before.

"Indeed," Eve, the dark-haired one, replies, "Poetry is one of the most romantic thing one can do." She gently takes her partner's hands. The other woman giggles and tightens her grip.

Apollo rolls his eyes, "Oh, save it for your anniversary. And I doubt those lyrics qualify as poetry."

"Well, what do we know?" Eve's coolly replies. "You'd know best as you're the only other person in town who speaks German."

"There's also Athena and von Karma,” Polly says.

With a sly grin, Eve says, "Then it's a shame Miss Cykes and Miss von Karma aren't here to translate for us."

At that moment, Phoenix knows he never wants to be on her bad side.

And if it's even possible, Apollo turns redder before shrieking with cracks in his voice, "Right! Well! That’s! You know! AH! You there!" He finally notices Phoenix sitting at the bar, "What can I get you?"

"Oh, uh..." Phoenix looks around for some kind of menu. He finds a board on the wall behind Apollo. The prices make his wallet tear up. “Just bread."

"Coming right up!" Apollo spins around and rushes towards the back room.

Applause spills from the other room as another song begins. It's not as loud as the first, but not as slow as the second. He doesn’t quite recognize the singer, but he knows she has a nice, if untrained, voice. But the song is over before he can finish that thought. And it's back to loud, obnoxious German music he hopes Trucy never blasts in the shack. It might just make the entire thing collapse. 

Apollo comes back with steaming bread and sets it down in front of him.

"How much?" Phoenix asks.

"For you? It's on the house."

"Huh?"

"Well, not really. You're Trucy's dad, right?" When Phoenix nods, he continues, "Trucy came by a few days ago and gave me a bunch of gold. She said, 'It's for whenever Daddy comes in and buys something! So treat him nicely!'" He says with a near perfect imitation of his daughter. Scary really.

"Ah, well that explains the missing gold," Phoenix shyly picks at the bread. It's delicious and still warm.

"What! Polly!" the tacky-suit man butts in. "Howzacome you never give me free stuff?"

"Didn't you just hear me say it was prepaid?"

"But I’m your most loyal customer! Shouldn't I get, like, a discount for coming everyday?

"You are not my most loyal customer. That's Ema."

"Howzabout a birthday deal? Huh? Yesterday was my birthday, didn't cha know?"

"In that case, I'd practically be giving a discount ever other day."

"Hmmp! For a bartender, you sure are a… funslayer! Y’know?"

"Well, do you want fun or beer?"

"Beer!" Larry holds up his now empty beer mug.

Apollo pours foamy beer in the mug and says, “You're going have to pay your tab at some point, Larry."

"Yeah, yeah... Just wait until I get my… uh… royalties. Should be here any day now!"

"Sure, sure."

"I — Oh, hey!  I know you! Don't I?" Larry shouts when Phoenix accidentally makes eye contact with him.

"Oh, um…”

"He's the new farmer!" the blonde woman from before jumps in.

“Yeah, Phoenix Wright,” he says.

“I’m glad we finally get to meet you!” the blonde smiles. “Your green beans are a huge lifesaver!”

“You buy from Gumshoe?” Phoenix perks up. After that Joja showdown in the store, he’s worried that business would slow down.

“Well, when we can. The prices are a bit high for us most of the time, but no cost is too great for our Eve!”

While it’s disheartening hearing that, he furrows his brows at the odd phrasing. He slightly raises an eyebrow at who he thinks is Eve, who seems to catch on to his unasked question.

She blushes and tries speaking, but only gasping sounds come out until she says, “Our cat, who Espella named Eve.”

“I had to! She looks just like you!” the blonde, with a name finally, says.

Now the names, Eve and Espella, sound familiar: Eve is the english teacher Trucy already loves and Espella is her wife. Trucy still thinks they’re “couple goals” — which he still has no idea what that means. But he knows them for something else. It wasn’t at Chief’s party, but something recent…

“Do you guys live on the beach?” he ask as soon as he thinks the thought. “With the cat?”

“That’s us!” Espella says. “Trucy really saved us when she repaired that little plank bridge. Poor Eve was trapped on the other side of the beach all winter.”

“The cat,” Eve quickly clarifies with redder cheeks.

“Heehee. You don’t need to say that every time we talk about Eve.”

“Really?” Eve raises an eyebrow. “Because there are some people in this town who hear your stories about Eve and think I did it.”

Somehow, Phoenix gets the feeling that Eve glaring at Larry without even turning her head.

“Even if that’s true, it makes for good inspiration, doesn’t it?” Espella definitely grins towards Larry.

“Of course!” Larry yells with a stronger slur and more beer mugs in front of him. “Oh, Great Witch and Fearsome Bezella, let me… uh… tell the world of your… uh… great tale! It will come to life with Larry… NO! Laurice Deauxnim’s great art!”

“If you want that story, just go read Arthur’s book series,” Eve says.

“But if you want the recent stories, come by the beach tomorrow,” Espella talks over Eve.

“Spella-baby, you are the greatest… uh… mustard…? Muse!”

“Hey, Polly!” Eve calls out to the bartender, who is running between the rooms. He stops to look at them as Eve continues, “Don’t you think it’s time to cut him off?”

He drops off an empty tray and picks up a new one with full glasses, “Yeah, last one, Larry.”

“C’mon, dude! It’s not even… eleven? Eleven, yet! The night is still happenin’!” he shouts, grabs two beer mugs, and runs into the other room.

Glass breaking and ugly screeches follow him.

“Damnit, Larry!” Apollo runs after him as new music crescendos.

“Well, it was nice finally meeting you, Phoenix Wright,” Eve stands up. She’s much taller than Phoenix expects. “Let’s go, Espella, before the train of destruction comes back.”

“Right. Still got work to do.” They gather their stuff and place some gold on the counter. “See you later, Mister Wright!” Espella waves as they walk out the door.

At last, he’s alone at the bar with his cooling bread, which is still soft in his mouth. But right as he thinks he’ll have some peace, two more people walk in.

“What’s up, Mister Wright!” Kay shouts at him. A new singing voice echoes in the building. Not as melodic as the earlier voices, but just as loud.

He shouts back his own greeting to her and Miss Courtney, who’s behind Kay.

“Evening, Mister Wright,” she says with a smile on her face.

Well that’s new. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a smile that doesn’t automatically bring trouble.

That thought dies as Miss Courtney continues, “You’re just the  man I’m looking for.”

“Oh?”

Please don’t ask for more artifacts… The worms know we’re out for their treasures and won’t pop up anymore…

“Indeed. I believe you grow cauliflower on your farm, yes? I’d planned to purchase one, but it’s been sold out at Gumshoe’s for a few days now. May I request one specifically? I’ll buy it from you directly.”

“Ah, that I can do! It’ll be a few days before another is ready, but I’ll send Trucy to lessons with one when it’s ready.”

“Excellent,” she says and sits at a table far away from the bar and threshold to the concert.

Kay, at some point, grabs an unclaimed, but full beer mug, and rushes into the other room. It’s not long before her voice, along with the pervious singer, start a duet. While Phoenix doesn’t know music, he know that those two are horribly off key.

Stuck between awkward small talk with Miss Courtney and finding out what’s actually going on in that room, Phoenix opts for the third option. He finishes the bread, waves goodbye to Miss Courtney, walks out of the Saloon, and heads home with light steps. Meeting four new people in one day is a start. Just maybe he'll finish the Chief's challenge be the end of the season.

Chapter Text

At the crack of a rainy dawn, Trucy's up and about prepping for a trip up the mountains with Mr. Puppers behind her. By the time Phoenix crawls out of bed, she's already gone. She does leave a note for him, though, asking to get last minute seeds before the end of season. The list also names a bunch of flowers that he's never heard of; sunflower is the only one he can actually picture. At the very bottom, however, there's a reminder:

Don't forget to check out the pig merchant by 8 tonight! And grab a coffee bean if it's on sale. But only if its under 3,500 g! But really buy anything there for the Juminos! No price is too high!

Under that, there's a cute drawing of the forest with the Skye's ranch and Maya's tower as the marker. A cartoon pig is in between the two above the lake.

He rereads the entire the note before just taking the words at face value.

I hope the merchant isn't actually a pig... I won't judge, but I'm not looking forward it.

He bundles up, grabs what he needs, and treks over to Gumshoe’s. A shiny beacon of a place compared to the dreary rain. The area is always so cheerful and bright; sometimes so much so it feels like it's mocking him. But when it gets rainy,  it's sad. There's no rabbits or birds out to watch as he walks. No frogs that scare him whenever he walks over a particular shrub. No squirrels chasing each other up and down trees.

By the time he gets to Gumshoe’s, he's relieved to hear the town's cheerfulness in the form of Gumshoe's boisterous laugh. He's helping another customer in stylish black and blue outfit which seems out of place for a rainy day in the countryside and more for some rich-city building.

The woman and Gumshoe are excited over something, and he can wait, so he browses the shelf. He doesn't find anything from his list on the shelves, but he does spot some parsnips on sale. He puffs out his chest when he spots more on the center display for everyone to see.

He's not-so-fondly remembering the trouble so of those parsnips caused him — mostly harvesting them out of the ground — that he doesn't notice another person wandering around the shelves.

Something sharp pokes at his upper back before jerking away. When he turns around, all he sees are boxes stacked higher than his height. But, as if on cue, the stack of boxes crumbles one by one to reveal the blonde women in modern clothes with her eyes wide open and mouth hanging open.

As her eyes are fixed on the mess, she starts muttering, "Oh, no. Oh, no.”

She's still repeating herself as he asks, “Are you alright?"

When she doesn't move or say anything else, he bends down to organize the boxes again.

“Yes, yes.” She kneels down and drags the boxes closer to her. “You don’t need to do that.”

“It’s not a problem. Besides, it’s partly my fault you drop everything in the first place.”

They work together until there are four much smaller stacks at their feet. He helps her up and she says, “Thank you for you help…”

“Phoenix,” he fills in her blank. “I’m the—”

“One of the farmers! I’m so glad I finally get to meet you. You’re crops have been a lifesaver! Cooking is so much more fun with actual fresh ingredients.”

“Happy to have a fan,” he feels his cheeks reddening and scratches under his spikes on the back of his head.

“Oh, but where are my manners? I’m Adrian Andrews, former curator of the museum.”

He takes a closer look at her as he tries to figure out how that makes sense. He vocalizes his thought, “Isn’t that Miss Courtney’s job?”

Seemingly understanding his confusion, she smiles, “She’s my boss. She manages the library and the building itself and I clean the museum artifacts and manage their display. Or at least I used to. Until that rotten thief made off with all of the artifacts. Justine had to let me go after that.”

“But aren’t there new artifacts in the museum? I’m sure I donated what Trucy wanted to me to…” he says the last part mostly to himself, but she still hears him.

“What? You found new artifacts?”

“Yeah, tiling the soil seems to unearth some.”

“Really? Then I should meet with Justine right away! Oh, I hope she gives me my job back! Wait, but I need to take these back home… That’s going to take hours… But she said she’d help me today…  And I can’t just leave everything for her to carry….”

He wonders who she’s talking about and even starts to offer his help, but a sweet voice from behind Phoenix interrupts, “I’m right here! Sorry for taking so long. Weeding out the garden took longer than I thought.”

Please don’t let it be her…

Phoenix mechanically turns to face the new person and there stands Iris Fey in a soaked rain coat, a soft smile, and a smudge of dirt on her face.

“Hello again,” she says directly to him. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it? And I don’t believe we ever got a chance to talk.”

Because I’ve avoiding you.

Without knowing his… impolite thoughts, she continues, “But from the stories Pearly and the Chief tell, I feel like I already know you.”

“You would, wouldn’t you?” he hears himself say before realizing he doesn’t keep the thought in his mind.

“Yes,” she slowly says with a tilt of her head. Her eyes wander over his face for something. “Pearly, in particular, is a very engaging storyteller. But it’s completely different when actually getting know a person in real life, wouldn’t you say, Adrien?”

“Indeed,” Adrian says a beat too late and hastier than before. Her voice returns to calmer one from earlier with a clearing of her throat: “After hearing the stories from others and from your own daughter, it’s nice to finally put a face to everything.”

“But haven’t we met before?” he says without even hearing Adrian’s words. His face must be something else if suddenly both Miss Iris Fey and Miss Andrews avoid eye contact. He holds firm, though, and stares directly at Iris Fey without any pretense. 

Looking to the side, she says, “Oh? You mean at the Chief party a few weeks ago? Then yes, we’ve meet before today.”

“I mean before that. Like outside of town?” he says. He doesn’t want to tip her off too much, but it’s really hard to fish for information when she’s not giving him what he wants to know.

What do I want to know? That she is her? That that person is still alive?

She rests a hand under her chin as she thinks, “That’s… not possible.” Her voice becomes… almost regretful when saying, “I’ve… never been outside of town before.”

“Never?” He’s already pushed this much, so he might as well as push harder. “Didn’t we go to college together?”

“Oh… Uh… No… I’ve never gone to college.” Now her eyes jump from thing to another. All the while avoid looking at him.

She’s hiding something… But what?

Why do you look so much like her?

Phoenix sees out of the corner of his eyes that Adrian is watching them, and he can’t really blame her. His questions must seem really odd, but Iris’ reactions should raise even more questions, right?

“If that is all, Mister Wright,” Adrian finally steps in. She hands over some boxes to Iris and rushes them towards the door. “Have a nice day.”

He’s left standing among the shelves as they leave. Questions are running though his head long enough for Gumshoe to walk up to him and wave a hand in front of his face.

"Pal? You alright?" Phoenix snaps out of his thoughts. "You that starstruck over Miss Iris?"

That jolts him to face the man, "What? No! That's... Out of the question."

"But Miss Iris is a pretty and kind woman. Unless you already have someone, pal," Gumshoe nudges their shoulders together.

"No, just me and Trucy."

"That's a shame, pal. But you never know! Maybe someone in town will sweep you off your feet."

To turn the attention away from him, Phoenix asks, "Is that how you and Maggie met?"

For the next hour, even as more customers come in, Phoenix listens to Gumshoe go on about his long love story that mostly consists of him pining for Maggey and candle-lit dinners at a horrible French restaurant in the city. Phoenix only manages to make it outside when Maggey comes out from the back and, with a red face, scolds Gumshoe for gushing so much during business hours.

 

He spends the rest of the rainy day finishes in the eastern part of the beach because he hasn't explore the area yet and to forget about his run-in at Gumshoe's. His success varies as the hours pass.

But just when he thinks he can't ask anymore questions, his last thing for the day, visiting the pig merchant, raises plenty more.

The merchant — himself, herself, themself? — isn’t an actual pig. Just the cart is pulled by one the size of a cow. And is purple. And wears a red fez.  And needs glasses.

But the pig's got nothing compared to what the merchant tells him when they shows him the products and he ask what's with the high prices.

"I smuggled these out of the Empire. Why else would they be so expensive?" they says with a flippant tone.

The Empire? Like the one that's at civil war right now? The one where the lawyers get the same punishment as the guilty? ...How did they smuggle a pillar here?

He doesn't, of course, ask anything of those questions. Just simply picks and pays for an apricot and apple, then runs home.

He does, however, ask Trucy these questions when she gets home with an armful of gems. Her trip to the mines was very rewarding, but her answers are less so.

"I don't know, Daddy. You can ask that next week."

"Next week?"

"Yup! The cart is there every weekend!" she says cheerfully.

Phoenix plops down onto his bed. This town raises too many questions and gives no answers.

 

One question does get answered the next day. It isn't one of his burning questions, but it does match one more name and face. After hearing Trucy talk about the tutor Franziska von Karma, Phoenix finally gets a chance to meet her.

Instead of a knock, there's a crack at the door first thing that morning. For a moment, he thinks it's lightning, but sunlight is already pouring into the shack.

"That's Miss von Karma!" Trucy races pass him to open the door. She's still wearing her pajamas of light blue pants and shirt with little top hats.

When the creaking door reveals a petite woman wearing black pants and shirt, which has small diamond-shaped gems down the chest, boot heels, and white gloves. Phoenix ignores all that and laser focuses on the whip she's stretched out in her hands as if about to use it.

She wouldn't hit someone in their own house, right?

"Hello," he blankly says and waves at her.

I wish I got dressed. She doesn't look too impressed that we'd open the door without changing… She probably wouldn’t even be impressed if I did get changed. Hoodies aren’t really a step up from pajamas…

“Mister Phoenix Wright," her voice is flat with a hint of a German accent. He can't read her face at all, "it has come to my attention that you have an unused cave on your property."

No hello or other pleasantries? They're a pain, but it's better than just revealing what you — creepily, I might add — know about a stranger's farm. Right? Well, I guess, Trucy could've told her...

Not sure what she wants or what answer will protect him from the whip, which is still firmly in her hands, he says, "Yes?"

Her eyes narrow at his answer while her voice gets deeper, "Then why have you not put it to good use?"

"Because I don't have a use for a cave?" he scratches the back of his head. "Yeow!"

She whipped me!

"Foolish fool! Do you not understand the gift that your pathetic farm has?!"

Pathetic? This farm is the sole provider for the fresh food at Gumshoe's. Only for a month, but still! You probably buy it too!

"But it just— Yeow!"

"As I just said, you do not understand the importance of an environment such as the one in your cave."

"Well, it's not like I can just give you it..." he mutters in case she whips him again.

But she still hears him. Or at least he thinks she does. She starts smirking (How do people actually do that and how does she look even more smug now?) and holds out an arm towards him, "Of course you can. You can let me restructure the cave in order to research its natural specimen. Fruit bats or mushrooms. Take your pick."

"Huh?"

"You heard Miss von Karma, Daddy," Trucy finally speaks up. "We get to help out with important science research!"

"You knew about this?" he asks his daughter.

“Yup!” she pops the p. “Miss von Karma asked me about it when I told her about the cave, but I though it would be good make sure you're on board too!"

"Well, Mister Phoenix Wright? Would you prefer attracting fruit bats that may leave fruit or growing mushrooms in plots in your cave?" Miss von Karma asks again.

You mean I get to choose whatever weird and creepy thing gets to live in my cave? My farm? That's a very generous offer... Then again, what would we were going to do with the cave? Make it Trucy's room? Well, I guess I don't really care which...

"Which do you want?" he defers to Trucy.

"Hmm..." She stares off to the distance with her arms cross. The one nice thing about this situation is her taking this seriously. She finally declares with hopping on her toes, "Mushrooms!"

"Very well," Miss von Karma says, unfazed. "I'll set up plots for the cave  tomorrow morning. Good day, Mister Phoenix Wright. Miss Trucy.”

She bows to Trucy and marches away without waiting for their reply.

So that was Franziska von Karma... Please never let me be on the bad side of her whip ever again. If there’s even a good side… She didn't have it when she passed me the other day, didn’t she? Wonder who the man next to her was... Hopefully he's not as violent as her...

 

After recovering from the whirlwinds Miss Franziska von Karma left behind, Phoenix asks Trucy about her plans with Pearl on her birthday, which turn out to be tomorrow of all days.

Not a lot of time for planning… As usual. Oh, well.

He explains Maya’s worry with just the bare minimum details and his idea to help.

“That’s prefect, Daddy!” Trucy cheers. “Pearly was really upset that Mystic Maya can’t come into town, but this is perfect! What should we do? Breakfast, obviously. But what would they like?”

“I’ll leave the planning to you and I’ll take whatever to the tower to set up later today.”

“Gotcha! This is gonna be the best party ever!"

Trucy takes out a some wood and metal bars, then hops away.

 

After that eventful morning, what other option does Phoenix have for the day but fishing? He's up in the mountains; somewhere he hasn't been all that much. He plants himself by the Guild, so it's not a complete shock that Kay finds him.

“Hey, Mister Wright!" she runs to his side. But the ground must be damp from yesterday’s rain because she slips pass him. "Ahhh!"

Phoenix jumps up, reaches for her arm, and pulls her back onto her feet. That motion, however, sends him flying. “Whaa? Ahh!” he screams as his reflection in the water gets bigger.

For a brief moment, his face touches his reflection and he can hear Kay trying to reach him. It doesn’t help. He takes a swim with the fishes.

Somehow, while underwater, his body floats to the center of the lake without him realizing it. The water is calm, but much deeper than he thought.

Phoenix, having not swam in years, can barely tread water. “Kay!” he yells the moment his head is above water and fails his arm out to her.

“I’m coming!” She runs away from the spot he was just at.

Panic fills him as Kay gets farther and farther from him. With little focus he has to spend on Kay — the rest is doing his best staying afloat him — he can’t possibly see how running away helps his situation.

But it does as he spots Kay’s pink outfit again as she comes towards him from the small island that turns out to be much closer to him than the mainland shore.

She pulls something long and big out of her cape and shouts, “Here! Grab this!”

She drops a trident into the water for him to swim towards. He feebly doggy-paddles to it. Kay does the rest of the work by pulling him ashore. Truly like a fish out of water, he flops around on the ground gasping for air.

Once he stops coughing, he hears Kay ask, “Are you okay, Mister Wright?"

"Fine, fine," his breathing becomes even again. He feels his hair spikes drooping  on his back. He runs his fingers through his hair in hopes of fixing it. From Kay's giggles, he's not very successful.

“Still… Sorry about that. I just wanted to pay you back,” Kay pouts off to the side.

“Pay back? For what?” he says while still fiddling with his hair. He can feel the spikes coming back to form, but it still feels sad.

“For finding my camera, of course! I just remembered I never gave you anything in return when I spotted out outside of the Guild.”

“Oh, you don't really have to give me anything. I just helped you out."

“That’s exactly why!” Her shout echoes off the mountains. “On my honor, I pay back anyone who's helped me, so here you go!" she says with a handful of gold. Just by look alone it seems like she's giving him over 200 gold.

"Kay, isn't this a bit much? I mean, I wasn't even really looking for it specifically. More like just found by accident."

"I don't like having debts."

"I wouldn't hold against you, you know."

"For you that makes sense, but still! It's the principle of things, so just accept it."

"Okay," he says and slow pockets the gold in case she wants anything back. She doesn’t take him up on that offer, and his pockets become fuller. "But I don't need a payment like this every single time."

“Gotcha! Then next time I'll share some ultra super secret recipes for the best pepper poppers you've ever tasted."

"Sounds like a deal."

As Phoenix starts drying off, another voice cuts in.

“Is that you, Kay?” Trucy hollers from the shoreline.

“Yup!” Kay turns around and waves.

Trucy rushes over and Phoenix can see her bag and arm are full of stuff.

For only being separated for a few hours, she sure has found a lot of things she wants for the party.

Once she’s on the same tiny island as them, Trucy asks without hesitating, "Kay, do you have a kitchen I can use?"

"A kitchen? Nope. The Guild doesn't have one."

"Really?"

"Yeah, I don't think my dad or Uncle Badd really thought of one when were building the Guild.”

Trucy gasps, "Your dad built it?"

"Sure did! With some help from the old carpenter. But Dad wasn't really the domestic type. I think he just forgot about a kitchen. But that's alright. Ray, Fran, and Mister Edgeworth let me use theirs whenever I want."

"Really? Then do you think you could help me persuade Miss von Karma? I already asked her, but she said not to disturb her research.”

"Yeah, Fran can get territorial over her research, but right about now," Kay looks at her watch and Phoenix guesses it's midday, "she should be out with Mister Edgeworth. They like going into the forest today for samples for the rest of the week."

"But I can't just use their kitchen without permission... Can I?" Trucy bats her eyelashes towards Kay, which Phoenix snorts at.

It’s not necessary at all, but Trucy is a charmer through and through.

"You can with my permission!” Kay says with certainty. “And if they come back, we can just say you’re helping me. ‘Sides, Ray should be there and he can help out.”

“He can cook?” Phoenix blurts out without thinking. The short impression of the man he has was not one who can cook. Maybe microwave, but that’s it. Or maybe he’s projecting…

“Surprising, isn’t it!” Kay smiles like a proud parent. “His girlfriend taught him. Then again, it’s been years… So he might not actually remember much…”

“Only one way to find out! Let’s go!” Trucy declares.

Somehow, she loops arms —still full with stuff — with both him and Kay. Together, the three of them head over to the carpenter’s, which Phoenix thought was just another house. He then spots the sign with Edgeworth Carpenter’s Shop painted on it.

The inside really is a carpenters’ place. There are stacks of lumber next to a counter. Some tree logs on the side of the room next to a small sitting area. It’s either display pieces or an actual place to sit. The only thing missing is the carpenter.

Mister Shields is nowhere to be found, which Kay notes as odd, but shows them to the back of the house with the tiny kitchen anyways. The kitchen has a small table against the wall with five chairs around it. There’s really no counter-space because the sink and stovetop take up most of the room. What little exists is taken up by jars and a microwave.

“It’s not the biggest, but it’ll get the job done.” Kay starts shoving things aside and Trucy sets her own things on the counter.

“It’s perfect! Let’s get work!” Trucy takes off her white gloves and dive into action.

Kay does the same with her brown leather ones.

Within in no time, Phoenix is squished between the two as they make more of a mess than baking a cake. They all end up with flour on their faces and hair. Phoenix has a few new burns on his fingers, while Kay’s hair looks a bit shorter. Trucy’s cape manages to avoid their mess, but her hat has a new pattern of pink streaks all over.

They make quite a sight when Mister Shields finally does comes back and finds them scrubbing the walls of cake batter with their new looks.

Their baking adventure ends with a pink cake in hand that Phoenix and Trucy bring over to Maya’s. While he’s sure Pearls will love it, he does rethink getting a kitchen in their own shack.

Maybe some cooking lessons with Mister Shields, first, wouldn’t be a bad idea…

 

Phoenix and Trucy finish farm-work faster than ever the next morning. They, then, rush over to the tower before Pearls wakes up.

They make it just in time. Maya's humming some song and shifting her weight with little hops as she stands sets down the last piece of furniture.

At least she’s already happier than a few days ago.

Just yesterday, Phoenix pointed out that she doesn't really have a dining table or anything like it. Maya's solution is creating furniture from old scrolls. She says it's safe, practical, and faster than having someone build it. It's also probably charmed to do something other than a table should do, which has Phoenix worried. The table that she created, though, looks like an ordinary one. The moving butterflies on the tabletop is a bit disorienting, but cool.

"Mystic Maya! We're here!" Trucy whispers as long as she can without signaling Pearls, who’s probably asleep in the room above them.

"Perfect!” Maya partly turns towards them.  “Can you guys bring the food out? It's in the chest in the back room. I'll wake up Pearly."

"Roger!" Trucy salutes.

Phoenix gives a more casual salute, then walks to the area behind the towering bookshelves. He hasn't really been back here before. Just once when Maya asked him for some ingredient; even then it was more of peak than anything else.

The back room is much simpler than the front. It doesn't have any of the magical marks that he's started associating with Maya. It doesn't even really feel like her. The wood's too dark and clean, while the rest of the tower is pretty cluttered. But the one undeniably Maya's thing is the big chest. The wood is the same color as her purple robes and the top is covered in stickers of cartoon characters. Plus it has a big M as a keyhole.

Trucy takes out the pink cake, a stack of pancakes, maple syrup, and some milk. She forces everything but the cake into his hands. Together, they walk back to the front room and Phoenix takes a better look at the newly decorated place.

Outside of the new table and chairs, there's more color in the room. The dull colors of the bookshelves are replaced with cheery signs like "Happy Birthday!" or "Pearly's the Best!" over them. The table and chairs are placed where the creepy green cauldron usually is. Even the area with the pentagram and candles are redecorated into a line art of Maya, Pearl, Trucy, and himself. He's not quite sure if it's cute or creepy. It was, after all, the place with a pentagram. But he can't ignore the picture of the smiles on the girls’ faces or the smile Pearls will show once she sees it.

"Okay, Daddy!" Trucy pulls him out of this own head and back to the current situation. "So we're starting with pancakes, then cake, then presents as the grand finale!"

"Sounds like a plan," he says and sets everything down on the table.

"So," she says with fancy, silver utensils in hand, "how do we set the table?"

Right, that.

It's been a long time since Phoenix ever needed a fancier set up than just a knife and fork. Almost certainly before he adopted Trucy...

"Um, how about we put the knife here, fork there, and whatever else up here?"

Four sets of knives end up on the left of the dishes with forks on the right and spoon and napkin above the plate.

"Something looks off, doesn't it, Daddy?" Trucy steps back and assesses their work with crossed arms.

"I think you're right..."

But what? I’m sure something goes above the plates… Hmm?

They don't get any time to change anything. Footsteps rush towards them and the door leading up stairs slams open. Pearls runs at them beaming and shouting, “Trucy, Trucy!”

“Happy —” Trucy shouts as Pearls tackles her into a hug and they end up as a giggle blob on the floor, “Birthday Pearly!”

“Hug Pile!” Maya, from stairs, rushes over and grabs Phoenix. She, then, shifts their weight down to the floor.

"Gah!" He screams and braces himself so he doesn't put too much weight on the girls. His fists hits the floor instead of a flat palm, so he just tumbles to the side of the girls anyways.

"Daddy!" Trucy whines. "You too heavy!"

"Wha?" He checks if he really did crush her, but only his leg in on top of her. "Hey! My leg isn't that heavy!" He shifts to sit upright and cross-legged. He checks up on Pearls, who's laughing under Maya's weight, and smiles. "Happy Birthday, Pearls."

“OH! Mister Nick!" Pearls sits up straight. She stares at him as if he just grew another head. "You smiled!" She cheers.

"Huh?"

"It's the first time I've seen you smile!"

He scratches the back of his head as he tries recalling the last time he smiled. “Have I not smiled before?"

"Not at all!" Maya cuts in. ”I was worried you couldn't smile at all. I was going to make you a potion to fix that, but looks like I don't have to!"

Hooray for that.

Finally having enough of the hug pile, Phoenix helps everyone up and they all move to the table.

Before anyone can eat, though, Pearl makes sure that everyone has their utensils set up the proper way, which is fork to the left and knife on the right. And Trucy gives him grief about, but it doesn’t bother him. It doesn’t. Really.

The morning passes by fast, so they do cake and presents at the same time. All three of them have present for her, but she hides her red face in her hands,“I couldn’t accept three wonderful gifts. I already got the best gift by seeing Mister Nick’s first smile.”

“Thanks.” Phoenix ruffles her hair, but not too much to mess up the fancy twist.

Trucy eats her whole cake piece in one bite. When she finally swallows, she glares at him: “Daddy! That's not fair! I was going to give Pearly the best present!”

It would be much more threatening if there wasn’t pink frosting smearing around her nose.

"Try again, newbie,” Maya says with her own mouthful. “I have the best present. I'm her cousin after all."

Trucy, who probably knows she's not topping that one, just pulls out a purple flower. “We’ll see about that!”

“Is that a Fairy Rose?" Pearls leans forward to Trucy's hands. “Don’t they only bloom in the fall?”

"They do! But I was super lucky at the traveling cart one day, and I knew I had to give it to you!"

"It's so pretty. Can I really have this?"

"Of course!" She hands over the delicate flower.

"Thank you, Trucy. I love it!"

"Oohoho," Maya laughs, "A wonderful gift," Trucy sits up straighter, "but just a little short of perfect.” She reaches into one of her sleeves, “Behold, one of the great treasures of the sea!" Maya pulls out a small blue sphere. "And also Pearly's namesake!"

Wow… Not everyday that you see a pearl… Especially one with that kind of shine. 

"Where did you get that?!" The girls cry out together.

"Oohoho! So you two wish to know Mystic Maya's ways? I'm afraid you two are still 10 years too early to know!"

"But Pearly's an adult and I'll be one next year!" Trucy pouts with her elbows on the table and head resting on hands.

"Oh, I know, Mystic Maya!" Pearls raises her hand.

"And what is your answer, celebrated apprentice?"

"You asked Bikini to bring it to you, didn't you?" Pearls claps her hands together.

"Bikini?" Father and daughter ask simultaneously.

Who names their kid Bikini?

"A mermaid-friend! She usually lives near the Fern Islands, but she comes to the coast in the winter. Oh, I can't wait until you meet her, her singing is amazing,” Pearls talks a mile a minute and hops in her seat.

“A real-life mermaid? Can you believe that, Daddy? Winter can’t come fast enough!” Trucy responds with the same energy.

“But enough of that. Pearly, what do you think of my present?” Maya asks with a puffed out chest.

“I love it too!” Pearls grins with another clap. Soon after, however, her happiness falls from her face and she starts bitting her fingers, “But it almost feels like Mystic Maya had an advantage, so I’m not really sure who had the best present…”

Pearls’ decision, or non-decision, prompts Trucy and Maya arguing who had the most thoughtful gift with her acting as mediator. Phoenix unassumingly eats his share of cake as things heat up.

“You had to buy your gift!”

“You didn’t even get your gift yourself!”

Phoenix feels another smile on his lips as Pearls declares both gifts as the best. Maya swoops in for a tight hug. Trucy follows a beat later with a tint of red in her cheeks.

Pearls is right: it has been a long time since I last smiled. I guess it’s been a while since something or someone other than Trucy made me smile.

But now…. No matter the past, I want to see Trucy, Pearls, and Maya’s future with a smile.

Besides, Trucy’s always wanted siblings and I can’t imagine better sisters than Maya and Pearls.

As Trucy and Maya move onto showing off their magic abilities (which is how Mr. Hat gets a place at the table), Pearl gives him two thumbs up before joining in the growing madness.

Take that, you two! In the end, I guess I won the present contest!

…Wait, why is Maya getting a jar? And where did you get that knife? I thought we weren’t doing knife-magic tricks anymore, Truce... Pearls, please stop these loons!