Posts Tagged ‘romance’

Are you a new reader of the Tales from the top of the hill? You might want to read them from the beginning here!

Lady Winter

"Please bring me back silence from your far away kingdom, where no one wanted to live"

My arms were still hurting from today’s labor and I was already headed for the top of the hill, unable to wait anymore for tonight’s event. There wasn’t anything particular going on today but this was now part of my routine and I was always looking forward to it. I started to ponder what I would do if she decided not to come. Would I still watch the starry sky alone? I didn’t think about it for too long since I saw her from a distance, already lost in her thoughts, leaning back on her arms. I climbed the hill and silently took place next to her, assuming a similar position as her. We waited quietly until the nightfall, I was sometimes rubbing my arms to ease the pain and before the sunset, I could barely feel it anymore, Just as the first star lit the cloudless sky, she slowly opened her eyes and spoke.

“The winter is coming faster this year isn’t it?” she asked. I couldn’t agree more, we barely dived into autumn and we already had signs of an upcoming new season. My father and I have been working all week to make sure that everything would be ready to welcome the winter. “We’ll definitively have an early winter, it’s too bad… I kind of like the color scheme that autumn has. It feels warm even if it’s a bit cold sometimes, the way I like it!” She giggled to herself as she was completing that complicated description of the season we were in.

“Yes, it is for sure coming faster than expected but I think we’ll still be well-prepared for it. Do you think we’ll be getting any snow this year?” I asked, hoping for some spoiler that she could manage to predict. We weren’t really lucky with that, we had freezing winters but uncommon were the years we could even see an ounce of snow so we had a saying that told that if it would snow during the winter, the earth would be happy and grow larger crops when spring came. The immaculate flakes would then rejoice more than one when they fell. It was also some light of hope for those who relied on the earth to feed their families, helping them through this hard and demanding work. Even if it wasn’t true, they believed it so they would feel like they’re were working together with the ground to make things grow. She laughed a bit at my question before replying on a frivolous tone.

“Not if we kill Palsye!” she thought she was funny but she took a semi-serious face when she saw that I didn’t understand or knew what she was referring to. She proceeded to try and explain to me. “There’s a legend that was quite popular when I was young in my hometown. It was the one of a young girl named Palsye, that supposedly lived a few leagues from the place I grew years ago. She had skin white as snow, short pale blue hair and blue eyes. From the outside, she almost looked like a little angel but she wouldn’t talk quite often, she always seemed depressed and sad. The story also says that she would be staying in her room during the day and sometimes wander around in the town during the night, her parents shut her in because everyone felt uneasy in her presence. If you stood in the same room as her, you would feel a deep chill run down your spine and even tough blacksmiths would be shivering. Needless to say that she was lonely in this world where most of the people prefer when it’s warm so it was probably the reason why she was so depressed. As the years passed, people of the village would start to hate her, they blamed the rudeness of the winter on her and said she was a witch or a demon that brings bad luck. To add to her behaviour, people who met her during the night said that they were scared to death when they got stared by Palsye, receiving a glance from her as cold as the cruelest winter. Her parents loved her but didn’t really know what to do with her, she wouldn’t probably ever get married or have children and she might not even want to anyways.” She took a pause, giving me a rest, some time to assimilate what she said and even ask a question if I ever had to. Since I’m a good listener I made her a sign to keep on.

“One year”, she resumed, “the winter was really strong and harsh, it came so early that people from the village didn’t have time to collect food and wood before it began. Everyone was having their own difficulties and they all felt the need to blame someone else for their laziness. They blamed Palsye for the early and violent winter, for the snow drowning their vegetables and the ice covering the lake where the fish was caught. Her parents tried to defend their daughter, telling everyone that she was only a little girl, she couldn’t do such things but the people of the village wouldn’t want to hear anything. They really had a strong hatred towards her and they wanted to let her know. When some of the townsfolk barged in her room, they started yelling at her, they plaid they would all die because of her. Not once the little girl looked at them, not once her mouth opened. Her parents were also being targeted and made accomplices of the town’s foreseen demise so they kept quiet, while being killed deep inside.” She took another pause to breath and immediately started storytelling again.

“I’ll skip the details but the townsfolk decided to kill Palsye in order to save the village. They thought that the winter would stop, that their misery would end by killing this girl. Weeks after, the winter was still raging and many villagers died from famine or cold, it was a terrible year for this little town. It was also the last year this town ever saw snow falling down the sky, the winter would still be cold, as it is here, but many people thought that Palsye’s death was the reason why they wouldn’t get snow anymore. She had many different names through the years, I think the most popular one is Lady Winter, it’s a pretty poetic name and many writers wrote tales of her, being all alone in her kingdom of silence, where no one wanted to live.” As she finished her story she rested a bit in the tall grass as if she was extenuated from talking. I think she was happy to have been able to tell me this story.

“Well that was a pretty interesting story, a sad one for sure, I wonder if it’s also the reason why we rarely get snow too.” I started to think about Palsye, how would have she been if she actually spoke to people and what would have happened if they accepted her even if she was different. I also thought that the cruel winter that fell on them was probably a punishment for them being selfish and blaming someone else for their mistakes, that’s somewhat pathetic. Do people really hate cold that much? I understand from a biological point of view that humans tend to stay at the same body temperature so they can function normally but I think that cold is also part of the nature and of the seasons. Why not try to live with it, I can only see good things happening. She has remained pretty silent so I decided to end it so we could be thinking by ourselves without having the awkward feeling to have to say something.

“I wonder how it would have been if I lived in the same town as her. I would probably try to be friends with her, I kind of like cold and mysterious girls, they’re my type.” on those clever words, we stared at the stars for a good moment without saying a word and then I decided to head back by myself. As I was stepping down the hill I looked behind me to look at her, I think she was looking back at me but I kept on walking down the hill.


Edit : A little bonus, this is what inspired me for the title (and a bit of the story too). It’s a song I wrote, performed by Winterfall (I’m playing the piano!). The name of the song is “Hymn for my dreams” but the former name was “Lady Winter”. Click here to listen to it!

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Are you a new reader of the Tales from the top of the hill? You might want to read them from the beginning here!

Season of dreams

"Have you ever dreamt of doing something really great and rewarding?"

She was eating an apple when I set foot on the top of the hill that night. It was getting colder every day and I even had to bring something to keep myself warm. An old leather jacket was lying around in my house, untouched for years, with the smell of woodfire smoke impregnated in its layers of fabric. It was obviously the time of the year to collect the most delicious and tasty apples from the trees of our region that were growing them. I kept my jacket under my arm as I sat next to her. I didn’t want to disturb her feast so I waited until she was done to start off the night.

“Today felt like it would never end”, she looked at me mysteriously as I kept on talking. “I have been chopping wood all day in preparation for the upcoming winter!” She didn’t seem impressed and her gaze went back to the apple core she left in the grass. I wondered if she got saddened by something today since she was pretty silent, she usually was the one talking and initiating conversations.

“Have you ever wanted to climb a mountain?” she asked me out of the blue. I wasn’t prepared for such a question and I believe I’ve let my face translate my feelings of confusion for a moment since she almost instantly resumed her speech.

“Oh, it can be something else than a mountain, I meant to ask if you ever dreamt of doing something really great and rewarding?” Honestly, I didn’t have any idea of what I should answer to this question. Did I ever set a goal for myself in my life or had any idea of grandeur like the one of climbing a mountain? Such an achievement was far different from climbing this grassy hill when the night falls and when the cicadas go to sleep. It almost became a habit, something my body would do on its own without needing me to think about it. I don’t really hate it, it means less efforts for me and I must say that those nights were kind of enjoyable. Taking the time to stop running and actually speak and think about life was somewhat refreshing for me, escaping the redundant life I had. We could speak for hours, always switching topics but always having something to say about it.

While I was pondering about her question, she started to stare deeply at me. I could easily feel her gaze pierce right through my soul like a sharp but not painful arrow. I kind of had the feeling she was trying to read my mind to try and guess the answer before I would even dare to open my mouth. I kept the suspense for a few more seconds before finally answering with the most boring answer I ever said.

“I don’t know, not really, a mountain’s pretty high isn’t it? I think I would get scared by heights.” As I was speaking I wondered for a moment if I was really suffering of acrophobia or if I was afraid of something even bigger than a mountain. I’m lucky that I wasn’t going to add anything else after this because she decided to talk anyway.

“I think it’s another reason to add in favor of doing it. Don’t you want to challenge yourself, overcome something bigger than what you can leap? I think it’s exciting just to think about it, going beyond the limit of what you can imagine yourself being capable of, you can come back from this pilgrimage stronger and more confident about yourself than before, right?”

I listened to her in awe, I was a bit surprised by her again, for the second time tonight, that she would say something like this. I started to believe she had some kind of crazy idea floating around in her head and she probably already knows I would follow her anywhere. Fearing the worst, I tried to poke at it with the care of a tailor.

“It’s great for you to have such aspirations, but it’s a bit silly to only dream of it and never be able to gather the courage of actually doing it. I must agree though that such a rewarding event would be pretty groundbreaking for something as monotone as my daily life. I understand it’s a bit hard to start since you could easily get depressed if you failed at what you were aiming for. Some people would probably just abandon before even trying because they’re afraid to fail.” I said all of that on a serious tone like I spoke with years of experience, I barely knew anything about life yet, still experimenting things and here I was, giving advice to the young.

“What if you fail? Does it mean you’re incapable of doing it? What exactly is this obsession of succeeding everything at the first attempt? I think life is a game of trial and error, where you learn from your mistakes and succeed from experience. People who don’t even want to try and that would rather stick to things they have for granted make me sad. What is going on with everybody wanting to get everything the easy way? It’s like people don’t like challenge anymore, isn’t that mundane?” she said on the verge of tears, with a bit of pity for the rest of the humanity. I guess she realized something really important tonight, I don’t know if it would actually change her life, we’re only discussing, not taking life decisions on this hill. The stars would sometimes guide us through difficulties and maybe I once believed I could tell the wrong from the right, at least for myself that is.

“I think there’s more than truth in what you said” I replied to her, without giving further explanation or context, I think she understood on which ground I stood and she was happy with it. We spent the rest of the night staring at our reflections in the cloudless night sky, our heads full of ideas and thoughts we didn’t bother sharing now. The cold wind began to slightly bite my skin but it was more pleasant than annoying, I could however notice that she was shivering a bit. I placed my leather jacket on her shoulders without asking permission.

“Thank you…” she said, with the most quiet voice in the world.

Are you a new reader of the Tales from the top of the hill? You might want to read it from the beginning here!

Sunset at the top of the hill

Tonight when I arrived at the top of the hill, I found myself being alone sitting on the grass. I arrived a bit early I must admit, there were still faint orange rays of light piercing through the treetops from the last bits of a sunset already forgotten. The wind was gently blowing in my hair, bringing up the sweet scent of autumn to my nostrils. I took a big breath in but it ended up being a sigh when it came out.

“Why are you sighing? Did you miss me that much?” a familiar voice said behind me, followed by a cute giggle. I turned around and saw her in a seasonal red coat and a fitting scarf that covered her mouth in a lazy but delicate way. I didn’t answer her question with words, simply sending back a smile.

“Are you afraid of getting cold?” I asked jokingly. She didn’t seem quite irritated but she looked away for a moment. She was looking at the sky as her hair received the same treatment as mine from the wind. I thought it was more graceful and spectacular when blown into long and silky hair though.

“Aren’t you going to sit?” I asked her since nothing was happening. Not because I disliked silence or the smooth sound of rattling leaves in the trees but because I was afraid she would begin a conversation while standing and I, comfortably sitting in the grass, would feel awkwardness towards this situation.

“No”, she replied, “It’s going to rain, I saw it”. If she saw it, that was no mistake. I looked up to the sky to find clouds, to no avail. People considered her a prophet, in my opinion she could just have some good intuition or ridiculous amounts of luck but since I’m a human, I tend to believe what I’m being told, even the inexplicable.

This “myth” started a few years ago, we were still young and clueless. We’re still clueless but that’s not what I’m trying to say. My father is a fisherman, he leaves the shore every week or so for a few days and then comes back with food for a handful of people living near us. He never asked anything in return and would refuse any kind of payment. One night, there was a thunderstorm raging outside, the wind was blowing so hard that walls were shaking. Obviously, she was afraid of thunder so she didn’t sleep at all during this night. In the morning, she woke up my father early and she told him not to go on the sea today. He told her that the storm was over and it was safe but she insisted that another one was coming and he had to stay home, he didn’t want to be mean to her but he kind of had to go. As he wasn’t replying, she started to cry, repeating the same words over and over again. In the end he decided to stay home but his fishing pals went anyways. This very night, all of sky’s contents fell down on earth. Two weeks later, they were still missing from the coast and it’s only one month after that somebody found the floating body of one of those men ashore.

Since then, she has been able to predict major events that were taking place around us, not only related to weather but I think she saved a few lives with this “power” of hers. That’s not something I can boast about, the only life I saved is some mice that was going to get eaten by a snake, I just scared the snake away and the mouse fled too. I wonder what kind of feeling you get when you actually save someone’s life. I guess you’re happy for the person to be still alive and able to see the life’s wonders. I guess it’s also heart-warming to get thanked honestly, it doesn’t happen anymore recently with all this selfishness around the corner, at least there are still a few heroes in this world.

“What are you doing?” she asked me while being surprised by a stealthy drop of water on her nose. “It already started raining, stop spacing out!” I jumped on my feet and followed her as she turned around and leaped down the hill like a little rabbit. I guess our discussions can wait for later, we still have a long way to go, what if we ever run out of topics? It probably won’t happen but if it ever does, we’ll have one more night alone with the stars, talking about everything that would come to mind.

And as I was going down the hill I turned my head around to see big rain clouds, I’m not sure why I didn’t notice them at first but they were aggressively coming at us. I wanted to at least give her a hug before going part ways, but when my head went back to it’s original position, she was already gone.

Beyond the stars

"I wonder how far they are"

It was one of those nights where I was lying in the grass at her side. The ground itself was still a bit wet from the afternoon’s rain so we brought one blanket each keep moist away as we stared into the dimly lit sky. Those nights were usually pretty quiet at the start since we believed it was a bit disrespectful for the stars to begin talking about life and philosophy while they were still asleep. Under those circumstances I would occasionally take the time to think about useless things and make peace with my mind. As the first stars began to shine in the darkness she spoke.

“I wonder how far they are”, she said with a melancolic tone.

I wasn’t certain of what she was talking about but I still asked in a semi-certain voice “The stars?”.

She didn’t reply yet, bit I still got a confirmation when she raised her hand to the sky, trying to grab something. “When I was younger”, she said, “my parents would call me their ‘little star’, but as far as I know stars are probably a few more times larger than the planet we live on!”.

I was a bit surprised at this statement for a topic starter tonight, we usually had easier conversations to warm up our brains, but she seemed pretty confident and serious about this so I decided to let her continue, giving an approbative silence.

“I learnt today that stars are the biggest things in the whole universe! How awesome is this? One amazing thing is that thew somehow all fit in our sky. Another amazing but sad thing is that not much people care about stars these days. This is what I don’t get.”

I was still confused about where she was leading this monologue but I still kept quiet, I wouldn’t really know what to say anyway and she looked like she had a pretty good starting idea, well maybe it was only an illusion but I felt she had some strong feelings about this. She still paused, as if she waited for me to say something to give her a chance to sort her thoughts but when I finally decided to open my mouth to talk she proceeded her one-sided conversation.

“Everyone tells me that the big things are the most important in my life, that I should be thinking forward to them, like getting married, having children, school, work. I get it that those are big chunks of my life but if the big things are the most important, why are we ignoring the stars? What’s the impact of a town girl not getting married early versus two stars colliding with each other, creating some kind of new world and maybe even life?”

This felt hard for me as I was taking my time to choose every word before saying it, not to get misunderstood and derail the conversation somewhere we both didn’t want to go. Still gazing at the constellations, I answered her on a (I think) convincing voice.

“Even if everyone wants to focus on the big things, we all tend to care more about the little things. It’s like trying to find a little bit of happiness in everything so in the end you’re happy whatsoever the result you get, right? If you work twenty years without ever smiling once, there isn’t any end to this that will justify the sadness you would have been through, do you understand?”

I asked her a question, but I kind of already knew the answer so I kept on talking before she could even try to say something.

“Big things like stars are too far from us, too gigantic to grasp like it’s nothing. Sure they look really tiny from here, this hill that has been host of many discussions about life in the past and probably for the future too, but even if you try and reach out your hand to them, you won’t catch them like that, it’s not the way it works, you don’t have to stretch your arm every night in hope that someday your arm will be long enough. I believe it’s how life works and people who care too much for things they can’t even get a glance of yet are fools who cannot appreciate enough the present time and are eager to be something they aren’t. That’s how I see the whole thing, I prefer getting every feeling and memory from the present and enjoy it than wait for later, like those nights spent with you under the stars, talking about useless stuff. That’s how life should be.”

I finally turned my head at her to see her reaction, I was expecting either a confused face or a boggled mind. At the opposite, she rolled herself in her blanket up her nose and was looking directly into my eyes with hers being wide opened. I felt a bit uneasy and shy about this turn of events. I wasn’t the only one.

“W-why are you blushing?”

CatherineSo I just finished an awesome puzzle game named Catherine, made by Atlus on the PS3 (available too for xbox360)
A good load of pictures incoming! (not really but more than I usually do!)
By the way “Kyasurin” is the japanese pronounciation of “Catherine”

You play as the protagonist, Vincent Brooks, who finds himself facing his girlfriend named Katherine who pressures him to get married. This is actually a big decision to take for Vincent, he never really thought before about his future and I think he doesn’t really want to. After all getting married is a step not many of us are ready to take too early and more and more people are starting to question the advantages of getting married. With all this confusion, Vincent can’t just come to a conclusion right now and tells Katherine he has to think about it, Katherine reminds him that they’re been dating for five years now and even her parents are starting to talk about this whole marriage thing. After closing the discussion with his girlfriend, Vincent thinks it over at the bar with his friends while drinking some cocktail when a young and attractive girl arrives and decides to sit right next to Vincent.

Meet her at the barToo bad for anyone who would care but she’s quite Vincent’s type (and mine too, while we’re at it) with her drill-like hair and her flirty looks almost makes you uneasy to look her in the eyes. She also, for some obscure reason, wears a pretty provocative dress, borderline lingerie while being at the bar, she was probably just here to get a drink, no intentions to flirt around or anything. Anyways, Vincent gets easily drawn into her deep blue eyes and gets charmed by her angelic voice, Catherine is a professional fisherman.

Catherine in your bedNext thing you know, when you wake up she’s naked under your blankets in your bed, sharing your pillow. This is bad and you know it. What’re you gonna do, you cheated on your girlfriend who’s asking you for marriage with a beautiful and gorgeous girl and the worst part is you don’t remember anything about it (I mean…. if you’re gonna do things with another girl, you should at least remember it, you can’t even say “it doesn’t count as cheating since I don’t remember doing it”, so it’s a lose-lose situation). As the days go by, you keep meeting Catherine at the bar and having strange nightmares at night.

The game is designed as a “dating simulator” during the day, while you speak to others and make decisions, the plot bends to what you do and a little “meter” tells you how you’re doing (a bit like in Fable, either you’re “lawful” or “evil”, this time you’re going for the “red” or the “blue”, making stuff with Catherine goes towards the red while empathizing with Katherine makes you go to the blue).

During the night, the game becomes a puzzle game where you have to climb at giant tower made of blocks of different types, you have to push and pull them in order to climb them. It’s a bit confusing at the start but as you climb, you start to meet other people but they’re all sheeps. They talk your language though, they all seem as lost as you in this and further on you can notice that people you meet in your nightmares are people from the real world too that all have a connection with you. At the end of each night you have to encounter the “boss” of the stage, that is actually an horrific mashup of someone you know with the feelings that the character has for it, creating all kinds of monsters that chase you with demon-like abilities (some are really annoying too!). The master of the place tells you that there are 8 floors to this block structure, and due to the fact that you climb one floor per night you can guess that the game will have about 8 days and 8 nights.

I really liked the story but since I’ve decided to play of the “hard” difficulty on my first playthrough (I do this all the time, it’s a bit like a religion for me, I’m a masochist… I guess) I spent more time doing the puzzles than actually following the story, a lot of reloads and life-farming were included. The puzzles were actually really challenging on hard mode and I liked this part (almost gave up one time, on the last levels but still did everything on hard *proud proud*). I somehow found myself really involved in the plot, making all sort of comments on the characters to my friend that was watching me go through that crazy spiral of feelings and mind-boggling experience (thank you for your support Mr.32) and I must say that I was really happy when I got the ending I wanted!

I don’t want to spoil anybody that haven’t played yet or didn’t get this ending but I found myself getting the “Catherine True Ending”(a.k.a. Master of the Underworld), Youtube it if you’re curious but that was one hilarious and awesome ending, I bet I wouldn’t have gotten such a good ending if I went on another route so I’m pretty much satisfied.

I recommend this game to anyone who likes to challenge their mind, emotionally or to solve puzzles, this game is really great.
So did you play this game? What did you think of it? What ending did you get?
If not, do you plan on trying it? Not your type of game? It’s fine, there wouldn’t be so many different types of game if everyone liked the same things!

Oh by the way!! The music in this game is really good too, the OST CD came with the game so I can listen to it! Here’s one of my favorites!

 

Edit : Typos… again!