Spirit of the Samurai (16/04/2013)

Bucolic breezes begin buffeting the cheeks of cheerful citizens throughout the three nations as a sign that spring is in full swing, kupo! And what better way to welcome this warm weather than wielding a wooden weapon in the Feast of Swords?

This festival may have been forged with the fire of boisterous boys in mind, but lately a growing gaggle of gallant girls have expressed extreme enthusiasm in the event, too. Well, the more the merrier, I always say, so let's munch on mochi in celebration of our stupendous new supporters, kupo!

Also, that Far Eastern armor has been "borrowed" by brigands―

Uh...should I actually agree to apply the word "again" here, kupo?

...Well, it seems the cat's out of the case anyway. Please, I request with rectitude that you requisition the runaway regalia once again, kupo!

Yes, just gazing at the array of ardent adventurers chasing churlish cheats while carrying katanas whittled from wood makes me wish we could witness this event every y―

At any rate, please prioritize procuring the priceless panoply to placate the princes and obstruct the onslaught of oriental outrage. Over and out, kupo.

"Now that we're alone..."

Ahria's voice was calm, but her gaze was more terrifying than the darkest recesses of Bostaunieux Oubliette.

"You needn't c–c-creep so close to converse, kupo! "

"Oh, but I do. I shan't let you let you float away from me again. This time, we're going to have a nice, looong chat."

"You're p-p-penetrating my personal space, kupo! Please pull back and let us discourse at a more d-d-desirable distance."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Moogle. I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

Ahria was a budding samurai from Bastok, and she was deadly serious about her studies. It had been her lifelong goal to travel to the Far East and extract every last secret of the profession's techniques from the founders themselves.

While the vast majority of adventurers' eyes were transfixed on the west and the mysteries that awaited them upon Ulbuka, Ahria's gaze had never left the eastern horizon once in her years of study. Now, with fewer people than ever to compete with, her dream was ilms from materializing before her.

"As a practicing samurai, I believe it is well within my rights to know the truth."

"Wh-wh-what topic's truth are you targeting, kupo?"

"The Feast of Swords."

"The Feast of Swords...kupo!?"

"Was that a gulp of shock and fear I heard just now? It certainly sounds like you're hiding something..."

"H-h-hide!? Why, we hardly have a heinous hair on our heads, kupo! There's no way in the world we'd withhold wisdom from anyone!"

His stuttering, his defensive tone, his incessant fidgeting...they all belie his vehement denial. Now, how do I go about coaxing the truth from him...?

As is well-established by now, the Feast of Swords was originally a custom practiced in the Far East. Banners of gigantic fish are hung from corners of households, and boys adorned with armor set to spar, all in hopes that they will mature into hale and hearty men. Through this annual ritual, boys are ingrained with the virtues of bravery, valiance, and chivalry. It is a festival by heroes, of heroes, for future heroes.

―At least that is what it should be, but these days...

"It's come to my attention that the Genji Armor was 'stolen' again this year..."

"...Is that so? I must profess I'm perfectly perplexed."

"Hmmm, interesting... Would you mind if I asked you one more teensy-weensy little thing?"

"...Continue with your questioning, kupo."

"If my memory serves me, the Genji Armor is on loan from the Far East, which they agreed to lend after the MHMU's talks with a certain samurai, correct?"

"Th-that's just about the gist of it, so say some."

"However, if that is the case, then it stands to reason that the armor should be under constant supervision, lest we incur the ire of our benefactors. And yet, some ragtag band of cutthroats just happens to not only succeed in stealing this closely-guarded symbol of goodwill, but they actually wear their prize out in public."

"We exert an excruciating effort to recover that regal regalia while preserving its pristine patina, kupo."

"It's my understanding that adventurers are the ones who recover the armor, not the MHMU."

"Maybe, but we arrange the armaments that assault the acrimonious."

"Kupelcian the master carver creates them, does he not? I did not believe he was a member of the MHMU."

"...How astoundingly astute of you, Ahria. You'll make a spectacular samurai and scholar, kupo."

To be honest, the Vana'diel Tribune made her life much easier in this respect, since one of its back issues vividly described every detail of the event's history. Such particulars only set the stage for the crux of the article, however―that relations between the two realms could suffer greatly due if the Far East perceived the rash of thefts as resulting from neglect on the part of the MHMU.

As fortune would have it, such thoughts were revealed to be nothing more than doom and gloom from sensationalists. The Feast of Swords proved popular year after year, and more children benefit from the values it teaches each time.

"But I digress. The festival continues to receive rave reviews and more people attend every year, right?"

"Truly. It's a terrific trend indeed, kupo."

"I recall that, a few years ago, the Far East was kind enough to provide us ceremonial helms and blades."

"And how hefty a haul it was, kupo! They certainly have the most humongous hearts of any citizens I've seen."

"Then, the year after, a traveling samurai graced us with his presence and displayed his most breathtaking skills in the Metalworks."

"Shino was quite the attractive artisan, a fact that didn't go disregarded by the dames there that day, kupo."

"I won't lie. Seeing him wield his sword the way he did set my heart aflutt―uh, never mind. It's not important."

"Ahria, your face is flush with a ruddiest red radiance. Mayhap something's the matter, kupo?"

"N-nothing's wrong! Just forget I said anything. This isn't about me."

The real issue at hand is why the Middle Lands doesn't fall out of favor with the Far East if they can't be bothered to protect the symbol of the bonds between them. The Genji Armor gets stolen every year, but the Far East remains silent on the matter, as if it's condoning the whole chaotic course of events...

"Have you seen the article a trusted Windurstian newspaper recently published? They espouse the theory that the MHMU is behind the annual theft of the armor and that the whole event is part of the Feast of Swords tradition."

"Theory!? More like 'conspiracy theory,' kupo!"

"I don't know. It all seems pretty convincing to me..."

"Wait... I abjure that aspersion. It's not a conspiracy, but a complete concoction, kupo! The MHMU is in the middle of making measures to sue the slacks off these slander slingers as we speak!"

"I really don't think you have grounds to sue anybody..."

"Not for the nonce, but it never hurts to have helpers heartily harvest heaps of information to strengthen your standing, kupo."

Suddenly, as if on command, the moogle began to tear up.

"The Mog House Management Union may seem to be weathering the woe well, but we're at wit's end! We want to keep this fair firmament free from fortune-filching felons as much as anyone, kupo."

"Then why, pray tell, have no details ever been released about the people arrested?"

"N-no details got divulged, kupo? ...Must be a bureaucratic blunder."

"Yes, I'm sure it was that..."

"Please don't pull my paw in such a mean manner, kupo," the moogle mumbled as he stared disconsolately at the ground.

Ahria let out an exasperated sigh. While it may be fun to cause this moogle such consternation, that wasn't what she had come here to do.

"I'm sorry. I guess that at the heart of it all, I'm simply worried that the commotion that inevitably surrounds the festival undermines its true purpose and marginalizes the samurai."

Upon hearing Ahria's confession, the moogle perked up his pompom and shot back defiantly.

"The soul and spirit of this ceremony are alive and well, kupo!"


"Think on this, then. All adventurers assail their adversaries with a weapon in which they are well-versed. Right, kupo?"

Warriors hack their opponents to bloody pulp with axes, dragoons impale their foes upon their long polearms, and rangers rain volleys of arrows down on unsuspecting enemies with their bows. Every vocation has its own weapon of choice―a fact with which Ahria was quite familiar. It took countless years of practicing for hour after hour, day-in and day-out to become proficient in even one form of armament. It would be no stretch of the imagination to say that adventurers devoted their entire lives to their weapons.

"During the Feast of Swords, however, bard and blue mage, dark knight and dancer alike all wield the same weapon―the katana, kupo."

Realization dawned upon Ahria. Of course! The ones used during the festival may be crafted from wood instead of steel, but they were a katanas nonetheless. While only samurai would carry these blades normally, everyone had the chance to chance to use them during the Feast of Swords.

"There isn't a more marvelous method for maximizing mastery of the samurai spirit, kupo!"

"Mastery of the samurai spirit..."

"Self-certainty isn't my strong suit, but this point I propound blasts the bull's-eye of belief, kupo," the moogle beamed as he puffed out his fluffy chest in satisfaction.

I was worried that the MHMU was hiding the truth from us the whole time, but in the end, they've given me more piece of mind than I could ever hope for.

Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita

Event Schedule

The Feast of Swords will come whirling into the three nations on Wednesday, 24 April, 2013, at 8:00 a.m. (GMT), and return to its sheath on Wednesday, 8 May at the same hour.

How to Partake of the Feast

1. Firstly, converse with one of the event moogles stationed in the following locations to procure an ibushi shinai:
Southern San d'Oria (J-9) / Northern San d'Oria (D-8)
Bastok Mines (H-9) / Bastok Markets (G-8)
Windurst Waters (F-5) / Windurst Woods (K-10)

2. Having equipped said ceremonial arm, proceed to have it imbued with a dose of moogle magic by one of the friendly neighborhood M.H.M.U. representatives in the areas below.
West Ronfaure (I-6) / East Ronfaure (G-6) / La Theine Plateau (J-8) / Jugner Forest (I-8) / Batallia Downs (K-8) / North Gustaberg (L-8) / South Gustaberg (L-8) / Konschtat Highlands (I-6) / Pashhow Marshlands (K-6) / Rolanberry Fields (K-5) / West Sarutabaruta (J-8) / East Sarutabaruta (G-11) / Tahrongi Canyon (I-6) / Meriphataud Mountains (E-5) / Sauromugue Champaign (E-5)

3. Join forces with your comrades to seek out the armor-thieving brigands and put an end to their vice and villainy! Word has it that successfully fending off your enemies' special attacks with your enchanted shinai will reap you considerable rewards...

4. When the battle has been won, trade your shinai to the ??? that has appeared in place of your vanquished foe. You just might be awarded a fabled blade for your feats of valor!

Mind The Three Maxims of Moogle Magic

#1: The moogle-magicked hero will be fleet of foot, but feeble of body. (Level will be restricted to 1, but movement speed will be increased in its stead.)
#2: The enchanted blade is to be brandished against brigands alone. (You will not be able to target standard enemies, but neither will they attack you.)
#3: Moogle magic is a fickle mistress, and will abandon you if you venture too far from the fray. (The enchantment will be lifted if you zone into another area or log out.)