From Ugly to Outstanding
Pink petals have begun to drift upon the fresh late winter breeze, once again signaling that the Doll Festival is neigh.
The stifled squeals of girls unable to hide their anticipation add to the realm’s excitement as they spring out from homes and serenade passersby on the streets.
Further enhancing this season’s convivial air is the popularity of memorial dolls from the east being adopted for use in the festival. Yet for every glee-filled giggle emitted by children around this time of year, there should be an equal number of tears shed for the dolls forgotten and left gathering dust in back corner boxes. Should you feel even the slightest of watery swellings at the corners of your eyes while reading this, please, take your doll out of its box or basement and let it feel the refreshing early spring breeze and let her know you care.
Also, may the winds of fortune blow heartily upon Vana’diel’s little women, bestowing them with health and happiness in the coming year. Perhaps more would be blessed with good fortune if they were to spend more precious moments with their inanimate loved ones.
Dust off this account of one such doll that remained neglected for years and see what a little love and magic can do.
Anodede’s family had not a single festival doll in their possession. Every year the winter frost thawed and the Doll Festival came, and every year it passed by without a peep from anyone in her household…until she reminded them of it. She was turning six this year, and she was more determined than ever to convince them to buy one. Her mother, however, held steadfastly to her values, stating her rebuttal with an expressionless face only someone who has become thoroughly bored with constant repetition can affect.
“You’re still too young. Maybe next yeary-wear.”
“But you said that lastaru year!”
“Oh…did I? Well, then I’ve changed my mindy-wind.”
“Mooom! Fine, if you’re not gonna get me a festival doll, then I’ll find one myself!”
After her tantrum subsided, Anodede went right to work rummaging through her mother’s closet. There just had to be at least one doll hidden somewhere amongst all the old clothes and useless knickknacks, right?
Once myriad boxes had been upturned and almost every ilm of the closet had been scrounged, she came up with a single, small box. Anodede’s heart began to pound, and she could hardly contain herself as she jumped about the room in joy.
This is what is must be like to open-wopen a treasure chest!
Though she could not even join the Star Onion Brigade, let alone battle vicious monsters, the feeling of accomplishment was the same.
“What in the world could fitaru in this box?” she thought aloud over the beating of her heart as she reached out a trembling hand to lift the antique container’s alluring lid. Her eyes met with a doll’s as they peered into the box, but the look that crossed Anodede’s face was one of utter disappointment. Its clothes resembled dry leaves more than cloth and whatever was used to draw its hair had bled onto its face, leaving it an ominous shade of pitch black.
“Mom, what kind of dolly-woll is this?”
One look at the hideous creation was enough to force her mother to look away, rendering her momentarily speechless.
“Well…you know, I…uh…don’t know! Heh heh heh.”
“Okay! I’ll go asky-wask my friend then!”
“Huh? W-waitaru, Anodede!”
She dashed out of the house, doll clutched in hand. The girl’s curiosity had certainly outpaced her senses, for as she rounded a corner at the Optistery, she almost ran straight into her friend. Coincidentally, the boy was rather precocious for his age, which made him the perfect partner to field Anodede’s question as it shot from her mouth like fireworks.
“Oho, how lucky-wucky you are, for I just read of these momentarus ago,” her friend boasted as he opened a hefty text with the words A Compendium of Eastern Knowledge illuminated on its cover. He then flipped effortlessly to the chapter on the Doll Festival and began explaining about how their stitches are held together with wishes of health and happiness. The figure’s attire and general shape suggested that was the only possible category into which it could fit, but Anodede remained unconvinced.
“But, look! It’s not cutesy-wutesy at all…”
“Hmmm, then how aboutaru this?” he proffered, showing Anodede one of the final pages in the tome.
“Read this part about ancientaru mysticism.”
“Mysticism. Like curses and such.”
“Curses…like baddy-wad words?”
“Kind of. In the east, people use dolls to putaru spells on people. They weave the hair of their victim onto the doll and stabby-wab it over and over again while they dance the nightaru away!”
I don’t ever want to visit the eastaru! It’s too scary! How could they do something like that to a poor dolly-woll? And what if mine is supposed to hurtaru people…?
Meanwhile, back at Anodede’s house, her mother sat with her head in her hands and let out a long, exasperated sigh. She still remembered how excited everyone was about those new dolls from the east around the time that her daughter was born. You had to be in the right place at the right time in order to find one on a vendor’s shelf. If she couldn’t buy her daughter one, then she figured she would just have to make one herself. Using the memory of the ones she’d seen before, she began knitting her own. She was no Weaver’s Guild member, or even half as skilled as some of her friends’ daughters, and all she could see when she laid eyes upon her creation was some sort of eerie apparition. Still, it was born from a love of her daughter, and she simply couldn’t bring herself to throw it away. Thus, she decided the only prudent thing to do was hide it in the back of her closet and have it get lost amidst the passing years.
Her daughter’s sudden call announcing her arrival home wrenched her back to reality. Anodede still clutched the doll tightly in her hands.
“Anodede…I was just thinking-winking about what kind of doll to get you for the festival,” she began, but was soon rendered speechless a second time when her daughter put the doll on top of a bureau, displaying it proudly.
“I don’t wantaru one anymore. I like this one.”
“It isn’t an ancientaru mist doll after all. That’s what some nice old—I mean young—lady told me.”
Apparently, a kind mage she’d met outside the Optistery had assured her that there was nothing unlucky or scary about the doll whatsoever.
“A cursed doll!?” the mage scoffed haughtily. “Don’t be ridiculous! This piece of filth is nothing-wothing like the eastern dolls of which you speak! How do I know? Because I’m an expertaru in that field.”
“She sounded really confidentaru, so I’m sure she’s right!”
“Aha…I’m sure she is…”
“That’s why I’m really glad-wad to have this doll!”
Taking a second look at the doll, the woman stared dumbfounded. Its eyebrows were now thin and straight, its lips a subtle shade pink, and its expression a warm smile. The mage must have used a magic marker to redraw its face, but no matter how it came to be, the dolls features were exactly like the ones Anodede’s mother had imagined when she first drew them. The doll’s clothes remained as shabby as ever, but even so, this doll would no longer scare anyone.
“Before she left, she told me ‘Whoever made this did so with tender loving care, so you better treataru it carefully too,'” Anodede said with a gigantic smile on her face.
Her joy was contagious. “You finally have a Festival Doll of your very-wery own! Just be sure to put it away after the festival, though, or you’ll never know maritaru bliss!” beamed her mother.
“…Or I’ll never find a mataru?”
“Don’t worry, honey. It’s just an old superstition-wition.”
Just then, a certain howl of pain shot through Windurst that sounded like a mortally wounded chocobo. The next day, townsfolk could not find any chocobo remains, but reports that a certain powerful mage ran through the streets with tears streaming from her eyes came flooding in from all corners of the city.
|Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita
The Doll Festival event will commence at midnight (PST) on Tuesday, February 19 and conclude at the same hour on Monday, March 4.
For the duration of the event, moogles will appear at the locations below to distribute Doll Festival–themed paraphernalia. These same areas will also host dainty doll displays for your viewing pleasure.
– Southern San d’Oria (J-9)
– Northern San d’Oria (D-8)
– Bastok Mines (I-9)
– Bastok Markets (G-8)
– Windurst Waters (north side) (F-5)
– Windurst Woods (K-10)