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Which Way?

Chapter Text

Houaku watched as the rain dripped on the windshield of the bus. His father had wanted to sit at the very front of the vehicle and denied him both the window seat and the privilege to sit somewhere else. They sat in silence on the way there, neither wishing to say anything. He knew they were going to visit his grandfather, but he didn’t know why. His father hated the man and never wanted to see him unless he needed to dump Houaku there for a month or there was a family gathering. 

He didn’t like his father very much. All he ever did was gamble and when he wasn’t doing that he would just shout or hit him. He always looked forward to his father’s bankruptcy breaks when they would take this very same bus out to a quaint little farm in a village off the coast of the Gem Sea. Despite the fact that his father never gave warning to when this would happen, his grandfather would always welcome him with open arms. During the short periods of time he was there, he was sure to make the most of it. 

But this time, his father hadn’t gone broke, he’d actually been on a winning streak. Maybe this finally meant that he would get to live full time with his grandfather! At least, he hoped. He was curious, but knew better than to ask his father questions. With no time left to think, the bus screeched to a halt. Houaku and his father quickly rose from their seats and made their way off the bus. A middle aged man with a mustache and a large umbrella stood waiting for them. 

“Mr. Lewis!” Houaku rushed towards the man who pulled him into a tight hug. His father glared, but joined them under the umbrella. “What’s going on?” The seven year old asked. Lewis looked up at the boy’s father, shocked, before looking back to Houaku and pulling him into another tight hug. He softly whispered, “I’m sorry,” a few times before lifting the boy up in his arms. The three began the trek to the farmhouse from the bus stop. 

His father tore open to door to his grandpa’s small cottage, surprising the doctor sitting inside. “S-sir!” She stammered, her forehead wrinkling in her anger. “Please try to be more quiet. Your father is-” 

“We’re here old man. Now what do you want?” He coldly told his father. 

“Sir!” The doctor spoke angrily, her curly hair bobbing with her. “I’m going to have to ask you sit down!” She pointed to a chair in the corner. “You can cause serious stress in the patient which might damage his condition. 

“And what does that matter?” He asked, sitting in the chair as he was told. “The bastard’s gonna die soon anyway,” the doctor’s face turned as red as a christmas light, but before she could retort, a voice cut her off. 

“Pop-pop’s gonna die?” Houaku asked, now standing in the doorway in front of Lewis. “B-but why?!” He sobbed, the tears beginning to run down his cheeks. “Pop-pop’s the best person in the whole world!” The woman’s gaze softened at the boy’s words. 

“Houaku,” everyone in the room turned towards the bed where his grandfather lay. 

“Mr. Fernsby, please don’t talk. You need to conserve your strength!” 

“Now, now Dr. Reigan. I’m not that old and feeble. Plus, I know when my time is up,” He looked back to his grandchild. “Houaku,” he began. “Please take this sealed sealed envelope.” With tears still coming, he took the letter from his grandfather’s hands. He looked at it for a moment before going to open it. “No,” his grandfather commanded. “Don’t open yet. Now listen to me. There will come a day when you will feel crushed by the weight of modern day society and your bright spirit will fade before a growing emptiness. When that happens, my boy, then you’ll be ready for this gift,” Houaku nodded vigorously, pounding his grandpa’s words into his head. “That’s a good boy,” he let out a dry chuckle. “Now, please, pop-pop… needs some rest…” His grandfather eyes closed for the last time and left the world with a smile on his face. Everyone in the cottage became perfectly quiet for a short moment, with Dr. Reigan and Lewis bowing their heads out of respect. Houaku broke the silence for the first time in his life. 

“Pop-pop?” It came out as barely a whisper. “Pop-pop!” This time it was louder. The boy lightly shook his grandfather’s body as if it would wake up. “Please! Please don’t leave alone!” He cried. His father stood up and made his way towards the boy, his hand on his belt. A warning sign to stop. 

“Be quiet boy!” He shouted. 

“No!” He shouted back before getting quiet. His father stood shocked for a second before turning to that of anger. 

“Houaku!” With that, the boy stood up straight before making a bolt for the door. He pushed passed Lewis and ran out into the pouring rain, three figures chasing after him. The rain clouded his vision and branches and bushes cut his arms. All the same, he kept running and running. If his father were to catch him, well, let’s not discuss what unspeakable acts would be committed. So he kept at it. 

After what felt like hours, Houaku finally stopped to catch his breath. His lungs felt like they were about to burst and his body what cold. Taking into consideration that he’d run a long ways from his grandfather’s house and that he’d stopped hearing his father’s angry voice a while back, he decided that he’d be good to rest there for a while. He curled up next to the trunk of a large oak tree and tried his hardest to stay warm. 

He never meant to fall asleep, but exhaustion was hard to fight when you have no energy. He looked to the cloudy sky, eyes sagging and threatening to close. The mist swirled in front of him, forming the rough figure of a man. He blinked sadly at the figure. Was it his father? It didn’t matter, he was too tired and cold to fight back. And with that he closed his eyes.

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As light leaked through the trees, Houaku blinked into consciousness. He was half expecting to wake up back in his grandfather’s cabin with his father ready to scream. Instead he was greeted by the chirping of blue jays and the suns soft rays. The storm that had been there last night had all but gone and there was not a single cloud in the sky. The only rennet of the rain was the morning dew dripping from the leaves above and his now soaked hair and clothes. 

Pushing himself off the ground with a grunt, Houaku began to take in his surroundings. There were trees as far as the eye could see and not a single house, lake, or river in sight. He also didn’t know which direction he came from so going back wasn’t exactly an option. He thought for a second about walking north until he found someone who could call his dad but pushed the idea away. After all, why on earth would he want to see him again.

Shivering from his still wet clothes, he began to walk. He wasn’t sure how long he walked for though. An hour? Two hours? Maybe only fifteen minutes. Eventually though, his coldness became to much to bare and he fell to the ground below. Instead of being greeted by the harsh dirt he had expected he felt a softness beneath his head. His grandfather always told him to never look a gift horse in the mouth so he decided to just close his eyes and let sleep overcome him again. 


The next time he awoke was to the strange aroma of pine needles and mushrooms. Opening his eyes he didn’t recognize where he was in the slightest. He was in a small room with a single twin sized bed and tiny dresser. Onto of the dresser was a new outfit for him to change into. It wasn’t anything too fancy. Just a black t-shirt and a pair of purple overalls to go overtop. Along with dry underwear and socks of course. 


Houaku sat up from the strange bed, confused. How had someone found him? He had been in the middle of nowhere! After a few seconds of debating he decided to put on the clothes finding that they fit surprisingly well. It was almost as if someone had been waiting for him to arrive. Even preparing him an outfit in advance. 

But that was crazy! Houaku knew that magic existed but spell casters, seers, and the likes were very rare. They lived long lives and barely ever took on apprentices. Most lived in isolation while others used their powers for fame and fortune. Of course the latter being much rarer and mostly composing of fortune tellers. 

Putting on a brave face he decided to investigate what was beyond the door that led out of the room he was in. Taking a deep breathe he pushed it open and found himself in a hallway. In front of him was another door, identical from the one he had just come out of. Towards the back of hall there seemed to be some sort of library and the front opened up into a larger room. He could here a sound similar to boiling water and an oddly sweet smell. 

“Ah you’ve awakened,” a voice coming from the front room interrupted his thoughts. “Come here my boy you much be hungry,” despite the warnings his school had given him,  he decided to go towards this voice. After all, this was most likely the person who saved him back in the forest. 

Houaku stepped into the front room, taking in it’s sights. There was a large bubbling cauldron that smelled like grass and maple-: well as various books scared around tables and floor. Next to a pentagram drawn on the floor, there was another room, a kitchen. It was small, only containing a fridge and stove with a table only big enough to sit two adults at once. In the dented of the room stood an old bearded man, with purple hair and a wizard’s cap. His eyes seemed to sparkle with curiosity as they met with Houaku’s. He smiled. 


Chapter Text

“Welcome to my tower. I am M. Rasmodius, but most just call me the Wizard,” the man reached up and brought a hand through his beard. “I have foreseen your arrival for many moons now. Forgive me for not coming to get you earlier in forest but I’m afraid my magic was not strong enough to warp both of us back here. I had to wait for you to come a bit closer. However know that I was watching to make sure you made it here safely,” Houaku’s mouth was gaped and his eyes were wide. 

“I know this may all come as a shock to you now but let us eat,” the Wizard stated calmly before moving to the kitchen with the young boy at his heels. He’d once read in a book that magic castors were almost always benevolent due to their divine connection to the spirits and, in some rarer cases, Yoba. Of course that didn’t mean there weren’t any cases of evil witches or wizards, but they were extremely rare and most were sealed away.

The wizard stopped in the front of the fridge, pulling out a glass bowl full of strange fruit that he had never seen before. The man set to bowl down on the table and gestured for Houaku to sit down across from. The boy did so, before staring at the bowl in front of him. “You must be hungry my boy, take as much as you’d like,” the wizard said, noting the shocked look on the boy’s face afterwards.

Carefully, the boy removed a large reddish orange fruit from the bowl before him. He slowly took a small bite, letting the sugary flavor roll over his tongue. It was delicious, the sweetest thing he’d ever tasted. Without so much as a word he finished the fruit before starting on another. Rasmodius laughed at this.

”I see you enjoy the sweet gem berries, hmm?” He asked jokingly causing the boy to stop. 

“I-um, thank you very much Mr. Wizard!” He spoke excitedly. “I’ve never met a real magic castor before and you guys are really cool!” He practically shouted before downing another fruit. Wizard chuckled as Houaku finished the bowl. The poor boy probably hadn’t had a good meal since the last time he was with his grandfather. 

“Thank you young one,” the man stood up, offering a hand to the boy. “Now, let us be off then,” Houaku frowned a bit at this.

”...Are you going to take me back to my father?” He asked after a moment of silence. The wizard sighed. 

“No my boy. That man has no right to call you his son,” the seven year old’s face lit up. 

“Really?!” He exclaimed standing up and taking Rasmodius‘ offered hand. “Thank you, Mr. Wizard! You really are the best!”

The two left the tower behind and for the first time Houaku got a good look at the surrounding area. There were lots of trees, with moss and mushrooms covering almost every last inch of the forest floor. The sunlight leaked in through the treetops and bright blue butterflies danced through the air. 

The tower itself looked much rundown than it actually was, however. With large vines tangling in between the stones, wood peeling off the roof, and broken windows. “Mr. Wizard,” the boy started. “Did you put a spell on your tower?” He asked. 

“Ah, yes I did my boy. I suppose you must have wondered why it looked so much different on the outside than it did on the inside,” he added. The boy thought for a moment before asking another question. 

“Are we still in Stardew Valley?” He looked up at Wizard. 

“We are indeed,” he nodded. “Currently we are buried deep within Cindersnap Forest, however this still counts as part of the town. As such I make it to all the town festivals. Though I think the villagers are mostly just afraid of me.”


“Well I think you’re pretty cool,” Houaku responded. Wizard softly smiled. 

“Thank you, Houaku.”