Magical Juggernaut Heather Crunch versus Patient Gardener Dahlia Marigold

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...So this is it, huh?

I was expecting something more GRAND and MAJESTIC for the Seventh. Like the Taj Mahal.

Not some Chinese monastery. It's not even that big. And it's certainly not that fancy, either. Nice decor, though.

I am even FURTHER let down with the almost total silence of this place. I do NOT enjoy silence. And it speaks volumes about a TOTAL LACK of kung fu fighting. Truly, TRULY disappointing.

BUT... All is not yet lost! For this humblest of sanctuaries can yet redeem itself! By assisting ME, Heather Crunch, in... In...

...I don't know what it is, but I have the UTMOST CONFIDENCE that they will know what it is I must be assisted with! A confidence expressed with my cocksure stride through the main entrance, my posture one of LIMITLESS CHARISMA as I enter the foyer! My SMILE, as I come face to face with the Spiritual Liege, BLINDING in its-

"Who you?" she snaps, -snaps-, at me. "What you doing here?"

I pound my fist to my chest and speak clearly, "I am Heather Crunch, Eversor Rank Leader of the Sixth Officio, and I have come seeking guidance!"

"Go away! You two hour early!" Hah! Like that's a good enough reason to delay!

"I am being PUNCTUAL! It is a VERY GOOD QUALITY for someone like me to exhibit!" THE CRUNCH TRAIN IS NEVER LATE!

She covers her ears. "Aiyah!" she shrieks, "Shut up, noisy girl, you give Xiaomei headache! You sit outside and wait!" She points back the way I came. BUT I CANNOT GO BACK, ONLY FORWARD!


"Outside! Now!" she cuts me off. My voice is louder, yet hers manages to rise above it somehow!


"You not listen! It one of many problems you have! Go outside and sit!"

But I must put my foot down! I cannot wait any longer! "I seek training RIGHT N-"

"Enough! This your training! Sit outside!"

...You should have said so in the first place!

I take my leave and seat myself on the polished wooden floor. If sitting is all that it takes, then HEATHER CRUNCH WILL SIT! Still as a statue, quiet as the TINIEST MOUSE!

...It doesn't feel like a challenge though. It's too easy. I could be -doing things- while sitting. Important things such as even MORE training! Or making AMENDS to those who I have WRONGED! And yet I can do NONE OF THESE THINGS SITTING DOWN! It feels so wasteful!

I stare intently at my reflection in the polished wooden floor, thinking deeply. Wondering what I should devote myself to doing during this ordeal...

Aha, I have it now! I shall compose an -anthem-, an anthem to ME! To honor my GREATNESS for when I have completed these trials and been born anew!

I can see it now... A sweeping orchestra. The opening replete with violins and trombones. Trumpeters blow their horns as the pace picks up. Drummers march and cymbals clash! THUNDER RUMBLES AND THE GROUND ITSELF SHAKES!

"SAVE US HEATHER CRUUUUUUNCH, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!" The lyrics need some work, but it's a start. So next would be-

"Aiyaaaaah! Stupid girl not know when to shut mouth!"

I know it's not that great without the instruments, but that is unnecessarily harsh. I must explain myself clearly to the Spiritual Liege, and I do so, stating, "I haven't finished it yet, BUT WHEN I DO IT WILL BE GLOR-"

"Xiaomei not care!" she interrupts. Why does she keep doing that? "You go outside, work with Dahlia! Put stupid girl like you to use!" The girl extends a finger to the east, to an unremarkable door. I suppose that means this person is outside, then.

"YES, MA'AM!" I call out, saluting sharply! Then I turn on my heel and MARCH outside the way I was showed, EAGER to learn what this Dahlia person would teach!

"You do everything she say!" she calls after me, then yells, "And be nice or Xiaomei make you so sorry!"

The smell of flowers ASSAULTS my nostrils as I step outside. A field of flowers fills my far-seeing faculties with fancy fragrances. Somebody, somewhere, has TOILED LABORIOUSLY to create such a splendor.

But it -still- pales in comparison to ME!

"So yo'uh the one givin' Plum-Blossom a hahd tahme," a voice nearby drawls slowly. Walking out from behind a row of plants is a woman in a sundress and a straw hat. Even for one such as myself, it takes a moment to put together what she's saying.

"Are you Dahlia?" is my cautious inquiry.

"Ah'd prefuh ef yew cawlled meh Miss Marehgold," she says back, a folded parasol in her hand. I believe she just asked me to call her Miss Marigold.

I stand tall and bellow -proudly-, "I am Heather Crunch, Eversor Rank Leader of the Sixth Officio! It is -nice- to meet you, Miss Marigold!"

And Miss Marigold is examining me, scrutinizing me like a fine work of art! "Hmm..." she muses, eyes bright, "Ah think Ah see what needs tah beh duhne."

...Oh! Impressive! I am -awestruck-, for I did NOT expect to find the answers I sought on the first day! "Amazing..." is the only fitting thing to respond with.

"But befo'ah that," she says, holding up a hand to my hat, "Ah can't haylp but notice the flowahs in yo'ah hat."

Haha! She likes the hat! "It is a VERY nice hat, is it not?" I boast.


...She's not looking at the hat, is she? As though her voice came from far away, Miss Marigold tells me, "Roses symbahlize beauty. Deep pink ones lahke these mean 'appreciation' and 'gratitude'." She looks back to me, smiling, "Es the'uh somethin' yo'uh grateful foh, Miss Crunch?"

They just came with the costume... But she looks like she wants a response, so I proclaim, "I am grateful for this chance to redeem myself, to become a better person and make RIGHT what I have wronged!"

Miss Marigold keeps smiling even as she says, "Is that all? How disappointin', Miss Crunch."

"Disappointin'?!" Have I already failed?

She shakes her head, speaking reassuringly, "Yew shouldn't worreh about it. Shall weh get stahted?"

Without waiting for reply, she turns about and heads away. I quickly follow behind, deeper and deeper into the maze of plants.

I think I saw some of them move.

"Yo'uh task foh the dhey es to pull weeds," Miss Marigold's voice -snaps- me out of my reverie, and I dutifully listen to her instructions. "They'ah resiliehnt thangs, so yew need to te'ah they'um out bah the root."

I grin widely and salute smartly, and -then- I reply loudly, “Understood! I will –not- let you down!”

"Good, good." She sounds pleased. "Ah’ll beh back come evenh'nin to evalhuate yo'ah progress." With the task given, Miss Marigold leaves me by myself.

And thusly, THIS is how Heather Crunch works towards her redemption! Kneeling in the muck and getting her hands dirty! The sun blazing overhead! The tenacious weeds hiding their roots deep underground to escape the HANDS OF JUSTICE! HA! I wouldn’t have it any other way!

As the lady informed me, a PLAGUE of invasive weeds invaded this Eden. Perhaps the task was simply too arduous for someone of her delicate sensibilities. Perhaps it is fate – fate that I, Heather Crunch, restore this field to its pristine glory! Though the earth tries to swallow me, and dirties my wondrous garments, I will not relent! I grasp the offending plants near the base and RIP them out of the ground. I HURL them behind me, into an open space. It grows and swells into a pile, as I DIG OUT the most stubborn weeds by the roots. I am the EPITOME of CAUTION as I DUTIFULLY AVOID harming Miss Marigold’s plants.

My hands are grimy and disgusting. And yet it is FINE! It is absolutely fine for me, for I can already –feel- myself becoming a better person. Better than yesterday, better than I was a minute ago, better and better every second, ALWAYS STRIVING FORWARD! NOTHING STOPS THE CR-


I barely felt anything while my face was pressed into the mud. And in spite of how much I struggled, I could not pull myself up! I try to wrench the hand off of me, and yet it WILL NOT BUDGE! WHO could feasibly keep Heather Crunch down?!

"Ah must apolahgize fo'ah mah rudeness," comes Dahlia's drawling voice, "but Ah needed yew to stop tearin' up mah sunflowahs, and yew didn't seem to he'ah meh shoutin'."

Miss Marigold pulls me back up - she's got a really strong grip - and after wiping the dirt from my eyes, I survey the damages. I did not realize it until it was pointed out, but these are -not- dandelions I was pulling. The is a rather conspicuous amount of upturned soil in this sunflower patch I was just in. How mortifying! And here I was so -proud- of myself earlier.

I try to apologize, and yet, "I did not intend to do that," is the best I can give.

Miss Marigold believes me, reassuring me, "Ah'm sure yew didn't. We'll try agaihn tomorra'."

Thank you. "Tha... That would be nice, yes." That was not a thank you. Say thank you! SAY THANK YOU!

"He'ah, please allow me to show yew the way out." I can't tell if she's offering to show me out of here, or demanding it. I'd rather not dwell on it, so I nod along for now.

She's quiet the whole way back, and I don't really have anything to say. Not during the walk. Not when we return to the temple. Not when she waves me off.

The whole day feels -wasted- upon me. I have FAILED at improving myself, and I have NOT done any good. This has been a decidedly UNGLORIOUS day in my life, and it is starting to bother me. I need to do something to clear my head.

I think I'll run around town. Perhaps -there- I can find somebody to assist. Or perhaps some time out of the stifling sanctuary environment will help me clear my head. Yeah, I'll be able to focus better after that.

It is as I enter the nearby town that a CHILL runs down my spine.

How... How odd. And foreboding. It feels as though I am being followed. And -yet-, when I turn to look around, I see absolutely nothing there. Either things are really starting to get to me, or somebody is REEEALLY good at stalking me. And that I am being stalked by somebody.

I start jogging away, trying not to look suspicious, to see if the feeling persists. One block, two, three... It's still there. Even in the middle of this almost empty street, with little more than a few shops and a white van, I still feel as though I am being pursued. I hear no engines over the relative quietness, only my own heart thumping at a nameless dread.

...Waaaaait, that's an unmarked van. This is exceedingly suspicious-

The back doors of said van FLING open as a pair of people pop out! Pink-haired twins in china dresses, arms outstretched and beckoning me into the dark interior of the vehicle.

"Heyyyy, Mighty Heroine Heather Crunch!" teases one of them in a cheerful voice that sets me on edge, "there's candy in our van!"

...What? I try not to show any confusion on my face, as I expected her to say something more sinister for... I don't know why.

The other girl, a demure looking one, adds, "It would be lovely if you'd join us." Both of them gesturing towards the van. It's rather obvious that they want me to get inside, but to what ends?

I'm getting a feeling of intense bad vibes from this. Something horrible likely awaits if I step inside. Something terrible. Something scarring.

Something that cannot be allowed to go unchecked. I couldn't live with myself if I chickened out here and somebody else suffered for it. Heather Crunch is NOT going to sit idly by when evil sits in plain sight!

And I must shamefully admit to myself, I'm rather excited!

"Haha!" I give my best smile as I laugh some confidence back into myself. "Know today that -you-" I gesticulate towards the both of them as I clamber inside, "have bitten off FAR MORE than you can chew!"

One of them has the -gall- to giggle, to which I make a show of gritting my teeth! Grrrr! She's the one that climbs in after me and shuts the doors, trapping me in the lightless interior. It is shortly afterwards that the engine revs to life, followed by a sensation of movement as the vehicle starts moving.

Yes, bring me to your secret base. Your wicked schemes will not avail you today! Not while Heather Crunch is here to stop you!


"Oh, poo."

There's the familiar sensation of something sharp being shoved into my arm, and then being -repelled- by my UNBREAKABLE RESOLVE. I GLARE accusingly at the direction of the offender, whose dim outline shows an easily recognizable implement in her hands, minus the tip.

"Did you just try to jab me with a syringe?" I query ANGRILY.

"Is it too late to say no?" she asks in return. Interesting.

"...Not really," I reassure her, wagging my finger in her grinning face. "but it would be EXCEEDINGLY SUSPICIOUS if you did."

That didn't sound natural, though. Best to change the subject.

"So, WHERE is the promised candy?" I ask, as though it were exceedingly important. The grinning girl in the china dress pulls out a small capsule from somewhere and holds it up for me to see. I can almost make out what look like a skull and crossbones on its surprisingly large surface.

"It's in this pill right here~," she chimes.

I fold my arms and make a show of pouting. "I don't like pills," I say firmly.

"It's science candy," is her response as she conceals the skull with her fingers.

"VERY WELL!" I yell, giving the appearance of appeasement as I hold out my hand, "Give it here!" I don't even look at it as I pop it into my mouth.

The fiendish girl titters, "Gosh, I didn't think it'd be so easy," while rifling through a sack for what are undoubtedly terrible implements. Yes. Let them think that I am going along with it. That they have the upper hand. That I am not READY for them!

I discretely spit the offending thing into my hand, and conceal it in a pocket.

They are in for a VERY rude awakening! It's only a matter of time before the Crunch Train plows RIGHT through them!