Wish Upon a Bamboo Stalk
While Prince Yahiko and Princess Amdina’s ardent romance eons ago may have ended in tragedy, their spirits live on in Celestial Nights, a festival that unifies all of Vana’diel. Festival patrons weave poignant poems to the faerie apples of their eyes and tie them to bamboo stalks in hopes that they too may be blessed with a love as passionate as the one the prince and princess shared.
Forget not the annual production honoring this legendary couple, either, as enthusiastic thespians will once again reenact the epic tale that sends the whole realm into an amorous swoon. However, an acute case of stage fright threatens to cripple the performances of two young entertainers. Will your exuberant encouragement be enough to keep the show from careening off the precipice of failure?
Enna stroked the obi wound around her outfit as she bemoaned her predicament.
Curse that fluffy, white, adorable, yet terribly stubborn creature!
The thin, light pink yukata from the Far East she was to adorn was made of a single layer of cotton and thus perfect for a jovial summer afternoon, but her moogle attendant was nearly suffocating her in the process. Needless to say, his insistence that, “Pain is a person’s perpetual partner in the pursuit of pulchritude, kupo!” was little—if any—consolation.
Once her preparations were complete, she checked the time. “Oh no, I’m going to be late!” she cried, and darted off toward the fountain in Bastok Markets—the sound of her shoes clacking against the cobblestones constantly reminding her to hold her yukata up so it would not get scuffed on the street.
By the time Enna arrived at the fountain, the area was already overflowing with yukata-clad festival goers eagerly awaiting the perennial highlight of Celestial Nights; the reenactment of Prince Yahiko and Princess Amdina’s tale of star-crossed love.
Where could you be, Yuri?
The beating inside Enna’s chest came to a visceral crescendo after countless surveys of the crowd ended in vain. She procured the onnagusa yukata she was wearing only last summer, so it would be the first time he would see her in such festive raiment…and possibly the last.
There was no hope of fighting alongside him in her current state; she knew she would first need to hone her skills as a white mage in manifold battles before even attempting to set foot upon that treacherous frontier.
The sound of projected voices coupled with the sudden hush of the crowd disrupted her melancholy reverie and returned her to the present. The girl playing Princess Amdina was pretty enough, but seemed to lack confidence in herself; the poor thing could barely keep her footing around the dashing actor playing Prince Yahiko. As the play dragged on, her delivery grew more hesitant and halting, until the whole production was ilms away from coming to a dead halt. At that moment, Enna realized that this actress was playing out a predicament identical to her own down to the minutest detail. Before she had even realized what had possessed her, she let loose an emphatic cheer, “I know you have it in you!”
A lone woman suddenly approached the prince mid-performance and tried to drag him off with her! Yet Princess Amdina made no move to interject—she stood there as stiff and frozen as an opo-opo in Xarcabard. “Stop being so scared and just say something already!” Enna bellowed as she fought through the frosty forest of onlookers and emerged at the front of the crowd.
Wait—who am I to give such advice? I, who am just as timid as she!
Just as Enna began to doubt herself, she heard an effervescent popping sound—hardly appropriate during the reenactment of a tragic love story—reverberate in the sky above the audience, followed by five bright explosions above them. Every last patron glanced skyward at the fireworks, even if only for an instant…but that instant was all the impetus Princess Amdina needed to take action.
“Harken, my dear Prince Yahiko, for that is the sound of thy pursuers’ cannons. Should they succeed in capturing thee, I fear we shall never meet again! However, i-if thou would be so kind as to profess thy l-love for me anew…”
The girl’s face took on a hue deeper than crimson abyssite as she realized that her display of courage had been witnessed by all in attendance. The prince was visibly taken aback by her bold declaration, yet said nothing; his only response was a stare that dove straight into the depths of her heart. Everyone, including Enna and even the girl playing the scandalous seductress held their breath in anticipation of the leading man’s next move. He extended his hand toward the princess. She took it. He then whisked her towards him and engulfed her in an embrace. A deafening roar of elation erupted from the crowd, the show having captured their hearts anew.
Turning around to see who had called her name, she found Yuri standing behind her. “Please forgive my tardiness. It took an eternity wading through that crowd trying to find you.” Enna noticed that his hands were blackened with soot and he smelled faintly of gunpowder.
“Yuri! So you’re the one who…”
“Seeing how the play was going…I thought I’d lighten the mood a bit.”
“Lighten the mood!? Your little fireworks nearly made us all go up in smoke along with them!”
“Maybe so, but it looks to me like everything turned out for the best,” he said, and the two shared a hearty laugh.
“Let’s go goldfish-scooping,” Yuri suggested. As he started to lead the way, Enna latched on to the sleeve of his yukata.
“I…have something I must tell you,” she announced, galvanized by the actress’ confession of love. She would not let this be the last promenade they took through these streets together.
As the two lovers began their stroll down the road to romance, somewhere off in the distance, a piece of parchment knotted to a bamboo stalk rustled in the gentle afternoon breeze.
|Story : Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration : Mitsuhiro Arita
Celestial Nights will twinkle into view at 1:00 a.m. (PDT) on Monday, June 27 and fade with dawn’s light on Monday, July 11 at the same hour.
To partake in the festivities, adventurers need only speak to the event moogles stationed in the following locations:
Northern San d’Oria (D-8) / Bastok Markets (G-8) / Windurst Waters (north side) (F-5)