Harvest Festival 2009: Tales from the Cryptaru (10/09/2009)

Trees bedecked in gold and crimson hues, a crisp breeze in the air and the mouthwatering aroma of pumpkin pie wafting from the windows of taverns and homes...
Autumn has come to the three nations, and with it, that most devilishly delightful of seasonal celebrations, the Harvest Festival!

But all is not well, as honest-to-goodness ghosts are plotting to use the guise of the annual masquerade to skulk into town and wreak unholy havoc on the unsuspecting citizens. Brave adventurers who join with the moogles to rescue the nations from their plight will receive due reward in the form of a splendidly ghoulish lantern said to ward off malign spirits!
How did people come to attribute such supernatural powers to a simple lighting device carved from an overgrown gourd? The answer lies in a timeless tale passed down in Windurstian lore...

As the stifling heat of summer fades into memory and trees begin taking on fiery hues, a legend is oft heard being told in the streets of Windurst. Hear now this heart-warming, age-old tale of a love undying and true...

Once upon a time, two Tarutaru youths—a good-natured lad and a winsome lass—met and fell in love. He resided with his family in the city's western district, while she lived in the east under the watchful eye of her conservative father and mother. Convinced that they were destined to grow old together, they decided to seek the blessing of each other's parents. And so it was that a meeting of the two families was arranged at a cozy tavern in Windurst Waters. There, the future of the lad and lass would be discussed, and the joining of the two clans, deliberated. But to their grievous disappointment, things did not unfold as the young lovers had hoped.

On that fateful day, the girl's parents made their way to the meeting place in high spirits, having had their ears bent for weeks by their daughter regarding her perfect sweetheart. But as a torrential rain spoils a sunny picnic, so too were their cheerful expressions washed away the instant they set foot in the tavern. Recognizing the parents of their would-be son-in-law on sight, they turned and stormed out of the establishment, leaving naught but an unmistakable look of contempt. Trading a confused look with her beloved, the girl, too, ran out in pursuit of an explanation from her incensed parents. As fate would have it, bad blood had existed between the two families for generations, a long-forgotten incident having torn a seemingly irreparable rift between them. Vehemently vowing permanent dissociation, the erstwhile neighbors went their separate ways, relocating to opposite ends of Windurst. Unbeknownst to the two youths, the enmity had persisted to this day.
What should have been the joyous joining of two hopelessly in love ended in heartbreak and tears. Forbidden from seeing each other ever again, the two youths were forced to meet in secret, their moonlit trysts in the sweeping plains of Sarutabaruta continuing for weeks, months, seasons...
"Someday, my lovey-dove," the girl consoled her despondent beau as he accompanied her back to the capital's western gate, their nigh daily routine. "Someday we'll makey-wake them understand..."

One blustery fall evening, the young man stole from his home under the cover of darkness and the unabating harmony of insects. A thick blanket of clouds had veiled the moon and stars, causing an inky black night to descend upon the city. In possession of a candle to light his way but not the means to prevent the howling wind from snuffing it out, he found himself stuck by the city gate, agonized by the thought of disappointing his beloved. At that very moment, as if in answer to his plight, a bright orange pumpkin entered the corner of his eyes. The misshapen face carved in its bulbous side, perpetually flashing a toothy grin, told a sad story of abandonment—no doubt someone's failed attempt to create the traditional decoration for the annual fall festival due to commence on the morrow. Sighing a breath of relief, the young man claimed the homeless pumpkin for his own to use as a makeshift lantern. Securing the candle within its maw, he hurriedly ventured out into Sarutabaruta, a single speck of light within a sea of black.
Mindful not to take a tumble on the uneven terrain, the young man made steady way towards the rendezvous point, each step closer to his beloved adding to his cheer. But alas, the night, overflowing with mischievous intent, had other plans for him. Cresting one of Sarutabaruta's hillocks, he was greeted with a spine-chilling sight. What he first thought was a white scrim of unseasonal fog turned out to be a phantasmal procession of undead: ghosts, skeletons, and other unholy beings unheard of in these parts. Even as terror gripped him, he sought and found a hiding place within the hollow of a tree and, blowing out the candle flame, crouched there listening to the beating of his own heart. He snuck a peek from over his tattered old mantle to witness the seemingly endless advance of undead. Even the skeletons with their corporeal legs appeared to glide over rather than walk the plains. After what felt like an eternity in silence, the tail of the procession finally came into view. Thinking the ordeal over, the young man lowered his guard...and allowed the chill night to get the better of him.
A mighty sneeze, all the more thunderous from his attempt to stifle it, sounded out across the darkness. The ghastly column came to an abrupt halt, a blood-curdling mélange of ghostly whispers breaking out.
"Whooo goooes therrre?"
"F-f-friend or f-f-foe...?"
With naught but the thought of his beloved's beautiful smile in mind, the young man acted with heretofore unseen swiftness and resolve. He relit the candle inside his makeshift pumpkin lantern and, slipping the entire thing over his head, emerged from his hiding place in three unhesitating steps. Summoning all the breath his little lungs could hold, he let out a mournful wail.

To the ghouls and ghosts, the ghastly, glowing orange head atop a tattered mantle beating in the wind made for a positively curious sight. But having no reason to assume that the creature undulating to and fro before them was anything other than that which it claimed, the phantasmal procession continued on, unquestioning. So it was that the young man survived his literal brush with death.
At long last, the young man arrived at where his beloved awaited, but in the wake of his heart-stopping encounter, had neglected to remove his pumpkin headpiece. Met with this frightful specter in pitch darkness all by her lonesome, the horrified lass let out a single shriek before promptly fainting. The young man could scarce believe his ill luck that night. With naught else to do, he carried his unconscious sweetheart back to her home, where consequently, their secret meetings were brought to light. But in a soul-stirring twist, upon learning the extent of their children's devotion to each other, the parents underwent a radical change of heart. All four were united in the belief that such love as would risk great dangers must be allowed to bloom. With their wholehearted consent and blessing, the two youths were wed on the very same day the following year. And through the love they bore for one another, peace was finally made between the long-feuding clans.

And so this olden tale draws to a close. Its legacy, however, lives on in Vana'diel to this day. As word of the young man's escapades spread, carved pumpkins, once considered humble fall festival decorations, became seen as magical charms used to ward away unwanted visitants from the netherworld. So when next you take carving knife to pumpkin, pray spend a moment in remembrance of the two youths of legend whose undying love found a way for them to be together.

Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita

Event Schedule

The Harvest Festival event will skulk into town on Friday, October 16 at 1:00 a.m. (PDT) and dissipate into the darkness on Monday, November 2 at the same hour.

Your Purple-winged Partners

Brave adventurers willing to take up the task of driving off the unholy infiltrators should seek out the moogles stationed in the areas below. Complete the tasks assigned, and you shall be met with great reward!

West Ronfaure (I-6) / East Ronfaure (G-6)
North Gustaberg (L-8) / South Gustaberg (J-7)
West Sarutabaruta (J-8) / East Sarutabaruta (G-11)

Trick or Treat!

As Harvest Festival tradition goes, the residents of the three nations have dressed themselves in fearsome costumes, hoping to spook adventurers and earn a treat or two in the process.
By trading certain treats to costumed NPCs, characters will be able to dress up as monsters or beastmen themselves, and acquire beloved Harvest Festival items to boot!

Southern San d'Oria / Northern San d'Oria
Bastok Mines / Bastok Markets
Windurst Waters / Windurst Woods
*NPCs will accept most food items of the Sweets category, with certain exceptions that do not appeal to their finicky palates.

Wake of the Lilies

The Harvest Festival will again play host to the Wake of the Lilies, with three aspiring exorcists from the West making their annual pilgrimage to the three nations. Would-be shadow-hunters should seek them out at the following locations:

Gertrude in Northern San d'Oria (D-8)
Brian in Bastok Markets (G-8)
Roger in Windurst Waters (F-5)
*After successfully completing an exorcist's request, players will be required to wait one Vana'diel day before accepting another.

Seasonal Stalls

As in past years, a specially decorated shop dealing in Harvest Festival wares will be open for business in the area listed below. Speak to the moogle shopkeeper while outfitted with an item obtained from the Wake of the Lilies event, and you just might be in for a special treat!

Upper Jeuno (G-7)
*Location information corrected on October 16, 2009 at 5:00 a.m. (PDT)