Starlight Smiles for One and All!

This page has been archived here from official Square Enix sources. It was originally posted on 11/12/09.


Look at that glum face! No, no, that won't do at all. How do you expect to bring mirth and merriment to the children of Vana'diel if you can't even turn your own frown upside down!? Fortunately, I've got just the tale to raise your spirits.

The wind blew cold that night in Bastok, the final eve of the Starlight Celebration. Dressed in the vibrant—some might say garish—red robes typical of those of his calling, a strapping Galkan lad strode toward a lone brick abode on the outskirts of the Markets, a bulging cloth sack slung over one shoulder. He greeted the door with two strong knocks, to which it slowly opened, revealing the timid face of a young Hume girl of no more than five years.

"Wh-who's…th-there?"
The Galka beamed his brightest smile and summoned forth from his sack a box richly adorned with red and green wrapping paper and ornate ribbons. "I've got a little somethin' for you!"
The girl's response was immediate: a scream as loud as any Galkan war cry, followed by a prolonged sob. Alarmed by their daughter's distress, the girl's parents quickly stirred to the fore, staring down their sudden guest with a gaze colder than the chill wind.

Black Bear was the young Galka's name. Renowned among his peers for his imposing physique and fearsome visage, he was accustomed to seeing children—particularly Humes—react to him much as if they had stumbled across his namesake deep in a forest in the black of night. Still, one in his position must persevere. For the children!
"Ah, p-pardon me. I'm a smilebringer, y'see, and—"

The stern expressions worn by the girl's parents quickly melted away, replaced by warm smiles of understanding.
"Ah, Mio, you silly girl! Why, he's a smilebringer, come with a special Starlight present just for you. Now dry those tears and accept the pretty box from the nice man."
Black Bear redoubled his efforts, putting on a smile so wide and bright that his cheekbones ached. It was to no avail, though—Mio only glanced nervously at the ground, retreating to hide behind her mother.
"B-but he's…s-scary."

Black Bear sighed. Whatever was a smilebringer to do? His sack was still heavy with presents requiring delivery to countless other children. He could return later, in hopes that Mio's uneasy heart might be placated by then, but there was no guarantee that he could do so in time. Still, he had no choice.
"You'll see me again b'fore the midnight bell tolls. I'd be much obliged if ye could ease the girl's heart b'fore then."

With that, Black Bear was off—tearing through the market streets, rushing from doorstep to doorstep dispensing presents like a man possessed. The night grew darker and colder. His ragged breath turned to white clouds before his eyes, his sweat-soaked beard half crystallized to ice, yet still he would not be stopped. This was one smilebringer on a mission.

Finally, his task all but complete, with only a single present remaining in his massive rucksack, he found himself standing before the lone brick abode where his night's journey began. The bell had not yet sounded. There was still time to spare.
Black Bear put on his brightest smile, took a confident stride toward the door…and crumpled to the cold, hard cobblestone. His spirit was strong as ever, but his body could take no more.

Feeling the chill ground beneath him, snow cascading down upon his face, Black Bear looked to the night sky and sighed. Had he failed in his sworn duty as a smilebringer? Would a child go without a present, without a smile this Starlight? Crestfallen and exhausted, he gave up the fight and let his eyelids close.
His bleary eyes opened at the sound of a door creaking open. Gazing upward, he saw a tiny face looking down at him with concern.
"Th-this…this is for you."
Mio cautiously held forth a steaming mug, which Black Bear accepted readily. One gulp filled his stomach with piping hot milk, warming him to the core. His stamina slowly returning, he sat upright and extracted the last remaining box from his sack. With only a gentle smile, he held it forward.
"Th-thank you. I…I'm sorry about before."
"Happy Starlight, Mio."
"H-Happy… Happy Starlight."
At that moment, a bell rang clear through the night sky.

Story: Miyabi Hasegawa

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Category: News

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