Beneath the Cherry Tree

This page has been archived here from official Square Enix sources. It was originally posted on 09/02/10.

Is there a more beloved symbol of spring in Vana'diel than the Windurstian cherry tree?

Only one with a heart of solid darksteel could see those delicate pink blossoms cascading in the wind and not pause for a moment to reflect on the ephemeral beauty of life.

This is one adventurer's tale…

The hand of fate works in mysterious ways. Often our most spontaneous actions, motivated by mere whim, can lead to our most treasured memories.

For Ruciaine, a young warrior hailing from San d'Oria, it began with a routine visit to Windurst during the Doll Festival, and an encounter with the curious seasonal delicacy known as rice cakes.

As any sweet-toothed reader knows, these tasty treats are imbued with magic—a special present from the mischievous mages at the Rhinostery who invented them—that transforms the eater into a bright-eyed young girl. One bite can turn a hulking Galka warrior into a blushing Hume child.

Being the free-spirited type, Ruciaine embraced the opportunity to leave behind his austere San d'Orian life and return to the simpler pleasures of childhood, if only for an afternoon. After eagerly wolfing down a rice cake, he made the most of his new form—a wee Mithran lass, with cute-as-a-button ears, tail and all—by playing a host of childish tricks on the unsuspecting townspeople.

The sun was high in the sky when Ruciaine came upon a young Tarutaru girl merrily at play beneath a cherry tree. The next moment, there was a great gust of wind, which stirred up a flurry of pink blossoms and deposited one particularly fat, fuzzy caterpillar directly onto the poor girl's nose.

The girl let out a piercing shriek and began to sob, seemingly too paralyzed with fear to simply brush the icky little critter to the ground. Thinking her a bit infantile yet unable to turn a cold shoulder to her plight, Ruciaine casually strolled over and performed the deed.

The girl's high spirits returned in an instant, and with a beaming smile, she invited her rescuer to join her in frolic. Immersed in the world of a young girl's overactive imagination, only when the sky began to darken did Ruciaine realize that he must be on his way. Disheartened at having to part with a newfound friend, the girl made him promise that he would meet her under the same cherry tree a year hence, or swallow a thousand sabotender needles as penance. (As she told it, this was a common oath among children in the Far East.) Ruciaine gave his word, and set off for home.

But an adventurer's life is a hectic one. His days filled with voyaging and battling, it was not long before Ruciaine had completely forgotten the events of that day.

Was it mere coincidence that he found himself in Windurst a year later, pausing to rest his legs before the selfsame tree? When he saw a young Tarutaru girl from the corner of his eye, the memories came flooding back. The next instant, he panicked; he had forgotten his promise, and his Gobbiebag was devoid of Mithran rice cakes to boot. Looking around for the nearest festival moogle, he took one step and—

"Not so fast, mistaru! Let me guess—you're the one who was here last year."

The girl was already upon him. Seeing Ruciaine too dumbfounded to respond, she put a hand over her mouth and let out a charming little giggle.

"You're so silly! But I like you, so I'll tell you a secretaru. That wasn't me you played with last year—it was Grandma Poruru!"

The girl explained that her grandmother was in fact one of the Rhinostery mages who had originally conceived the enchanted rice cakes so many years ago.

"Grandma always says I'm the spitting image of her younger-wounger days. Last year she had a rice cake herself, and that's when she met you!"
"But…however did you—"
"Oh, Grandma knew. 'That was an Elvaan—no doubtaru about it!' she said."

Apparently, Ruciaine's habit of repeatedly grasping for things well out of a Mithran child's reach was a dead giveaway. He gave a sheepish look and laughed—nothing escapes the eye of a wise old Taru.

When he looked down again, the young girl was holding forth a decorative pink box containing an assortment of rice cakes.

"Grandma thought you were cute. It's important to relive your child-wildhood from time to time, she said. We never expectarued you to be a man, though. Tee-hee-hee!"

Ruciaine couldn't help but join in her laughter…until a distressing thought occurred to him.

"Pray tell me that your grandmother still… That she is not—"
"She was truly-wuly hoping to see you again! Sadly…"

Ruciaine's heart sank in his chest. It couldn't be…

"Sadly, she just couldn't postpone her expedition to the Far East. 'The Rhinostery's countaruing on me to find a new recipe, and I won't be this young forever!' she said."

"Th-thank the Goddess." Ruciaine let out a sigh of relief.

"You're lucky you showed up! Otherwise, I would've had to track you down and feed you a thousand-wousand needles!"

Ruciaine shook his head and grinned. If anyone, 'tis the Taru woman who failed to honor her oath. Looking at the delicate blossoms billowing in the wind before him, he recalled the innocent, carefree smile of—

"Um, mistaru?"

Ruciaine looked down at the girl's face, and realized in that moment that she truly was identical to his companion of a year past.

"If you're not too busy-wusy, maybe you could play with me instead?"

The answer was obvious. Ruciaine gave a bow and took a rice cake in hand.
'Tis a day for the girls, after all.

Story: Miyabi Hasegawa


Category: News

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