Persephone the Harvest Maiden: ...Don’t worry, Mom. If we take the military’s debt into account,
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: we’ll have money to live for even a century.
Farmwife: If they’re ever going to repay that...Cough! Cough!
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Wars caused many to suffer. I’ve heard that the death toll in the front is high.
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: And it has already outweighed the military's ability to pay out solatium.
Farmwife: Persephone, you don’t have to bear that for them.
Farmwife: Who’s going to pay for you in the future?
Farmwife: And what about your dowry? What can we live on?
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Mom, I’ll always be with you.
Farmwife: Hmph! You think staying with me fulfills your filial duty?
Persephone had worked with her family on the farm since birth. Her beauty grew with her age; Persephone might have been wooed away if not for the shortage of virile men due to war. As for the glib aristocrats, an ordinary sickle was more than enough for Persephone.
Farmwife: What a pity; your father gave you such beautiful blonde hair —
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: But he himself didn’t stay!
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Mom, forget about him!
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: You keep telling me to make allowances for his faults...
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: He left us only because he didn’t want to live a hard life!
Ivory Werewolf: ‘What a bad luck... Shouldn’t have chosen this day to rob the wheat...’
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: If you come back again, I will cut off your hands!
After all, Persephone was all bluster. She could not harm anyone with her sickle. Since her mother became sick, Persephone worked on the wheat field on her own and so, threw all the hard work at the wooers. That not only lightened her workload, but would also irritate those aristocrats who do not leave with the military. This approach did drive away some of them, but a few loyal ones still worked hard and listened to Persephone’s every order.
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: If they go on like this, I won’t be able to reject them when it’s harvest season.
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: If I carelessly get moved by them —
At dusk, Persephone went into a forest and hid her sickle, planning to ask the wooers to find it back tomorrow, wasting their time...
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: ‘This is stupid...’
Persephone flung the sickle down a well, giving sounds of clang. She shouted:
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Why am I doing this!
???: Of course you do not have to do this.
Persephone was startled and looked around, but no one was there. The voice of a male said tenderly:
???: Take this, Persephone.
A shiny harp rose from the well. Persephone approached it and saw the golden harp had a sickle on one of its ends. The voice rung again from the bottomless well.
???: This sickle is made for you, Persephone. Protect your purity with it...
???: Come. Let me awaken the power within you —
Old Farmwife: Even if you don’t want to marry, you should at least experience love.
Persephone did not answer. She wrung the towel and continued to bathe her mother.
Old Farmwife: You’re still young.
Old Farmwife: You can’t spend your whole life caring for the old and tending to the fields...
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Mom, I don’t mind.
Old Farmwife: You don’t. But I do!
Persephone held back her emotions, helped the old lady to her bed and tucked her in. Before leaving, the old lady said to Persephone:
Old Farmwife: Remember to bury me by the fields...
Persephone walked out of the old lady’s bedroom. She repressed the urge to cry and went alone to the fields. She picked up the unused sickle — the golden sickle the mysterious man gave her — and harvested the mature herbage. The golden sickle absorbed power from Persephone and a broad field of herbage was cut down easily. Although Persephone focused on her work, tears still flowed from her eyes, blurring her vision. This led her to stop working and weep within the fields.
Since her mother’s death, Persephone became depressed and cold. In the past, she used to roughhouse with her wooers, but now, she harshly drove them away, with a cold light gleaming from her sickle.
Unfamiliar Female: Graceful Persephone, your sickle is impure.
On a day, a female in long robes came before Persephone. She glowed with a dim golden light and had metal wings on her back...
Unfamiliar Female: You have to discard it.
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Why should I listen to you?
Persephone refused to give up on the sickle. Why should her listen to a stranger? Even if she glowed with golden light and said with a solemn voice —
Unfamiliar Female: May the pure maiden stay away from danger.
The female suddenly leapt and appeared in front of Persephone. The stranger was graceful and beautiful. The two looked at each other in the eye. Persephone thought she once saw those eyes and a familiar voice in her head told her to believe this stranger. The female put her hand on the sickle and she dissolved as a light and adhered to the blade. Persephone did not have the time to ask before the crack opened and she fell into an unknown abyss —
Frost Savant: Beautiful Persephone! Do you like my betrothal gift?
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: What are you talking about?
Frost Savant: The sickle in your hand is my gift to you!
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: How come —
Persephone gradually became sluggish. The golden sickle kept absorbing her power. Persephone was rendered powerless and could only watch the man approach her. Within the Demons’ encirclement, she started to scream. Golden light flashed from her as the power of the unfamiliar female, creating a barrier between her and the Demons. At the same time, cries emerged from the outer rim of the demon circle. A flaming bull came up to Persephone’s side —
Unfamiliar Female: Dragging others into misfortune for your own desires.
Unfamiliar Female: Is this the way of Demons?
Frost Savant: There are things even surpass “misfortune”,
Frost Savant: but you Astralists could never taste it.
Persephone listened to the Astralist and mount the bull. Its flame gave her a feeling of warmth. An unknown power also lifted the curse of the sickle and the unfamiliar female’s solemn voice rung again:
Unfamiliar Female: Are you willing to utilize your caution and sensitivity,
Unfamiliar Female: and uphold pureness in the realm of Humans?
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: I do not possess such qualities...
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Sensitivity? I’m just a nit-picky and mean person...
Unfamiliar Female: With the Court as my witness, allow me to guide you.
The Astralist always changed its form. It migrated onto Persephone’s back and turned into a golden pair of wings. She then dashed out the Demons’ circle with the help of the bull and the Astralist. The power of the Astralist spread inside her body and she felt released from the curse. She was as happy as she would be at her wheat’s harvest. The disenchanted sickle truly became a gift of Persephone, serving as a monument to her relief from the past —
God: ‘I want to cling to you and forever be with you, but...’
God: ‘...if I don’t possess my own self, who can I devote to you?’
Young Lady: ‘We want to possess each other because of love...’
Young Lady: ‘But when I harvest the wheats,’
Young Lady: ‘I wouldn’t keep the crops for myself just because of love, it’s...’
God: ‘because they are destined to leave?’
Young Lady: ‘No. It’s because they’re the yield of love.’
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: So mother was willing to let him go?
The Astrologer: I cannot determine —
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Alright, I understand...so it’s because he’s a God and he can’t be with mother.
The Astrologer: He also stated in his last words to retain his power for his daughter.
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: He’s not a warrior of the Court anymore?
The Astrologer: His duty has ended.
The Astrologer: Power of God makes them immortal.
The Astrologer: But when their duty ends, or when a suitable successor emerges,
The Astrologer: they pass on their power.
The Astrologer: And regain “death” .
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: So you’re saying my dad —
The Astrologer: He has passed away. And under the order of constellations,
The Astrologer: you shall succeed his power and his place as the Court of Virgo.
Eostre, Goddess of Spring: You are the successor chosen by the Astralist?
Eostre, Goddess of Spring: Demonstrate your power, or I can’t be freed to travel!
Persephone the Harvest Maiden: Travel?
Eostre, Goddess of Spring: Right. That is my new “job”.
Court of Cancer - John: You have swift moves with your sickle,
Court of Cancer - John: but why do you always aim at the lower side of your enemy?
Court of Virgo - Persephone: Really? I’ve never noticed it...
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: It must be your habit of harvesting wheat.
Court of Aries - Poppy: Armstrong, you knew Persephone long ago?
Court of Taurus - Armstrong: Not really “knowing” —
Court of Scorpio - Alma: A crush, right?
Court of Virgo - Persephone: Ah! The Court of Sagittarius is here! I’ve got to ask him to fix my wings...
Persephone lived in the Zodiac Courts and developed friendships with many. Most of them were chosen by Astralists to be the successor of the Courts. Poppy, a frank girl, was saved by the Court of Aries; Armstrong fought with Gods against Demons and was chosen by the Court of Taurus; John woke the Astralist of the Court of Cancer and lived with it at the Court, while the Court of Sagittarius was an exception. He was the first to find the Astralists asleep in the realm of Humans and helped these deities return to the constellations...
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: How curious...
Court of Virgo - Persephone: What?
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: The Astralist connected the shape-shifting device to the power source.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: You might feel a bit unused to it,
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: but if you get familiarized with it, you can fly even farther...
Court of Virgo - Persephone: Isn’t that good?
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: ...Maybe.
Persephone understood his words: The Astralist had recognized her as the only one and did not plan to shift its representative. This also meant that the Astralist had admitted her ways and approved her will.
Court of Virgo - Persephone: I understand. In the end, I will be with the constellations —
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: No, the so-called ‘the end’...the future is ever changing.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: If nothing changes, we might just as well die in the hands of Demons.
Court of Virgo - Persephone: You always talk like that.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Because I —
Court of Virgo - Persephone: — failed to find a successor.
The Court of Sagittarius gave a mirthless smile and patted Persephone on the head.
Court of Sagittarius - Hertz: Attend to the realm with your sensitivity.