A Feast for the Soul

This page has been archived here from official Square Enix sources. It was originally posted on 13/12/2010.

A chilly midwinter evening, a time to spend by a crackling fire in the company of loved ones…

One such night during the Starlight Celebration finds a company of friends gathered in Jeuno to draw the curtain on another year of high adventure.

"Awww, yeah. When I'm done with you, you gonna be so shiny you'll blind monsters before they even know what hit 'em," cooed the Galkan ranger to his Annihilator rifle as he lovingly polished its metallic length with an oilcloth.
"For the love of the Goddess, Boriagg, could you not talk to your gun like that? It's plain…crrreepy," interjected the Mithra Yutte Jaborah, her eyebrows furrowed in a clear show of distaste.
Not pleased at having his reverie broken, Boriagg snapped. "Bah! What would a red mage know 'bout the bond between a ranger an' his gun? You know how much o' my blood an' tears went into acquirin' this beaut?"
"I must confess, I'm inclined to side with Boriagg on this occasion," said Ehaurard the debonair young Elvaan, easing himself into the exchange with the collected tone typical of those of his knightly trade.
"Hey! I thought paladins were sworrrn to defend the honor of damsels in distress!"
"You are not wrong, my dear Yutte. If I find any such lady, you can rest assured I shall leap to her aid," retorted Ehaurard with a grin, which was quickly replaced by a look of perplexity as he continued. "Nonetheless, though I do not disapprove of Boriagg's favorite pastime in principle, I must needs take issue with his choice of location."
"Huh? I've unloaded all the bullets, if it's explosions you're worried about. What's more, I'm facin' away from the stove," replied the hulking Galka, petulantly redoubling his polishing efforts.
"While I take great comfort in that knowledge, there remains the problem of your not-inconsiderable bulk blocking the fire's heat from permeating the room, to say naught of it hiding the stove's pleasing aesthetics from view."
"Bah! Stoves and aesthetics aren't meant to mix, if you ask me. The ones we got in Bastok, they give out thrice the heat with none o' the fancy-shmancy frills."
"The height of unrefinement, I'm sure," Ehaurard responded with indignation, having borne the stove from his native San d'Oria especially for this gathering.

Bristling in his turn, Boriagg looked up from his gun and shot a glare at the now-smirking paladin. But no sooner had he drawn a deep breath with which to unleash his fury than he noticed Yutte curled up like a ball on the floor, sleeping.
"Hey! What's the big idea, startin' the fire an' then dozin' off!?"
Letting out a colossal yawn and shooting the Galka a disgruntled glare of her own, Yutte replied. "I've had a long, trrrying day, if you don't mind. Besides, when it comes to stoves, everybody knows that Windurstian ones are superiorrr by a country malm. The magicked flames we use offer top-class safety while allowing for a stylishly porrrtable unit!"
"Ah, yes, but that portability comes at the cost of warmth, does it not? A stove of Windurstian make might suffice to keep one's privy heated, but no more."
"You can say that again, brother!" Boriagg showed his support in a quick shift of allegiance. "An' speakin' for myself, I'd take a real, roarin' fire over a pissant magical variety any day o' the week! Gahahaha!"
Not one to take mockery lying down, Yutte snapped to wakefulness, hackles all arisen. Before the gathering could grow anymore ill-tempered, however, a fourth voice rang clear across the room, accompanied by the entry of its lady owner: a young Hume white mage wearing a perpetual smile.
"Have we been playing nicely, hmmm? In the off chance that people are confused, I didn't rent this place for the purpose of hosting squabbles and—Altana forbid—fisticuffs."
"Mayuki, you're back! But…what's with that outfit?"
"Is something out of place? Last I checked it was Starlight season."
"That's well and true, but—*snicker*—you look utterly rrridiculous!" Yutte offered in honest appraisal moments before crumbling into a fit of guffawing. The other two, having apparently shared the same sentiments regarding Mayuki's loud combination of a mandragora-motif apron upon a smilebringer costume, were also taken by a laughing frenzy.
"All right, already! I can take a hint, but first things first. Clear the way so I get dinner started." So saying, Mayuki stepped forward and hefted a stout clay pot to rest upon the San d'Orian stove that had fed fuel to the verbal bout but moments ago. Before long, the pot began to bubble and steam furiously, filling every corner of the room with an appetizing aroma and flushing away the last remnants of tense air between the companions.
*Sniff, sniff* "Could this be…?"
*Slurp* "Is it truly…?"
*Gasp!* "Hot pot!?"
"None other! And no ordinary variety, I'll have you know! I went to great pains to procure only the freshest, tastiest ingredients for this occasion!"
"Much have I read of this Far Eastern tradition. As I recall, it is a communal dish partaken among family and friends," remarked Ehaurard, barely able to contain his excitement.
"This is just fantastic, Mayuki! Thank you so much!"
"You're thanking me now, but wait till you actually taste it! Now, I'm going to serve up a hearty portion for everyone, but under one condition: you have to promise me there'll be no more quarreling. Are we clear?"

Stomachs growling in near unison, the three others shared a hangdog glance of the chastised.
"W-we weren't quarreling, Mayuki, I swearrr! I was just…errr, commenting on the ornate elegance of San d'Orian stoves!"
"I, too, must…uh, voice my admiration for the engineering ingenuity present in stoves of Bastokan make."
Feeling the weight of three pairs of eyes upon him, Boriagg tucked away his oilcloth and mumbled his marvel at the portability of Windurstian stoves. By then, a jovial mood had settled upon the four companions.
As Mayuki doled out the delectable contents of the pot to the last drop and morsel, Yutte walked over to the window, unlatching it to clear out the gathering steam. Pausing a moment to look outside, she let out a cry of sheer delight.
"Guys! There's not a cloud in the sky tonight, and the stars are rrreal pretty out! What say we wander over to Ru'Lude afterwards for some good old-fashioned starrrgazing?"
To that proposal the others expressed their resounding approval.
Seating themselves at the dining table, the reconciled companions dug into their scrumptious Starlight feast, staying their utensils every so often to fondly and spiritedly recount the events of the past year.
"I can't believe another fourrr seasons have already come and gone."
"They do say that time is wont to fly when one is in fine company."
"Cheers to that, and here's to another year of fabulous adventures!"
"Gahahaha! With a bloke like me about, you can count on it!"

Thus did the four adventurers while the night away, the warmth of the moment sustained by the broth in their bellies, the roaring fire of the stove, and above all, their priceless friendship.


Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita

Category: News

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