The Season of Cherry Blossoms and My Liege of Evergreen

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The Doll Festival–a Girls' Day tradition originally brought over from the Far East–has been an established springtime celebration for some time now.

Among a snowing flurry of cherry blossom petals, girls dressed in all their finery trade sweets and drink tea as they sit upon red-carpeted, tiered platforms that have been set up just for them by the Moogles.

Charming scenes like this one are what make the Doll Festival so incredibly unique.

It is said that some girls are charmed to the extent that they try preserving their memories of this day and their finery by using the latest technology from the Near East–a device that records images…

Here's to all the girls of Vana'diel!
We wish you the healthiest and gladdest of years this year!
Happy Doll Festival, everyone!

Yuui Tera is an adventurer from Windurst.
She is a thief. Of course, that's the job "thief," as in an adventurer brigand. Please don't place her in the same category as some common burglar!

There was a reason Yuui aspired to be a thief. You see, there was a thief of great renown whom she deeply admired.

"She's so beautiful, and such a good perrrson, too!"
When she was a child, Yuui had once unwittingly wandered into Horutoto, some ruins located near Windurst. As she wandered, lost and confused, a thief rescued her from her plight, saying, "You shouldn't be in a place like this, sweetie." Ever since then, this thief had become Yuui's subject of worship and admiration.

Yuui had secretly dubbed her rescuer "My Liege of Evergreen."
"Because she neverrr changes! She's perpetually young! And she speaks just like we young people do. That must be herrr secret for staying so youthful!"

This great bandit's name was Nanaa Mihgo.

When she turned sixteen, Yuui inevitably set her sights on becoming a thief.
With Windurst as her base, Yuui led an adventurer's life, until one day she decided to go and promote her skills to the renowned bandit Nanaa. There was no counting how many Yagudo necklaces Yuui delivered to Nanaa in an effort to impress!

And yet, Nanaa seemed to hardly remember Yuui at all.

But after studying the new Trust magic, Yuui had learned something–Nanaa Mihgo was one of the initiative participants!
Yuui could hardly contain her excitement over this new knowledge, and immediately began beating a path to Nanaa.

Trust is a type of innovative sorcery that has been developed by the Jeuno Institute of Magical Studies. It requires bonds such as faith, love, and friendship to summon an alter ego of certain persons to the wielder's side.

It is said the bonds of loyalty and faith between the summoner and the summonee are very important in the use of Trust magic. The only memory Nanaa seemed to have of Yuui, however, was that the cub had once turned in some Yagudo necklaces. Was it as the rumors said? Did one really have to go to the northern territories and perform some incredible heist in order to make an impact?
Yuui was disheartened.

"Ah well. My Liege of Evergreen doesn't belong to me alone. And besides, rrright now I've got more important things to do!"

As it so happened, Yuui, by sheer chance, had obtained the use of a photopticator–a magical picture-preserving gadget from the Near East. She had borrowed it on the promise that it would only be for one day.
"Th-this could be my big chance!"

Fortunately enough, spring was in full swing, and the Doll Festival was already underway.

Yuui realized that by using the new Trust magic, she could preserve a memory of herself and Nanaa Mihgo together against a background of cherry blossoms.

Changing into a traditional Eastern costume, Yuui stood in front of the tiered platforms which had been set up in the plaza within Windurst, and attempted to summon the alter ego of her idol.
But though she could feel the magic succeeding, the doppelganger would not appear.
"Huh? That's strrrange… I was able to summon alter egos in front of My Liege of Evergreen…"
No matter how many times she tried, the result was the same.
"Now that I think of it, the firrrst time I succeeded was outside of the city, too."
She didn't know if it had anything to do with it, but there was no point hanging around these platforms forever. For her purposes, all she needed was the semblance of a terraced formation.

Yuui left the city in search of a good backdrop for her shoot.
In Tahrongi Canyon, she found the perfect shelf-like formation.
She placed the photopticator on top of a rock a short distance away, then she set up a mechanism to trip the device's switch.
Lastly, she chanted the spell and summoned "Nanaa Mihgo."

Her Liege of Evergreen's alter ego suddenly appeared by Yuui's side.
Twisting her head curiously from side to side, Nanaa Mihgo asked, "So wherrre's the enemy?"
"Oh… so that's herrr outfit," said Yuui.
Nanaa was holding a short sword at the ready, searching for an enemy to engage.
The beautiful bandit looked striking in light armor and wielding a sword indeed, but next to Yuui―who was dressed in traditional Eastern garb―Nanaa looked strangely out of place.

"Oh well, guess this'll have to do. Now then!"
Yuui plopped herself down on the step, and then patted the space next to her as a prompt. However –
"The enemy! Wherrre's the enemy!?"
Nanaa was still standing, sword at the ready, scanning for a foe.
"Um…won't you please sit down?"

Just because Yuui summoned her Trust companion didn't mean it would act the way she wanted.
An alter ego acts exactly as its original personality would, you see…
"Um! Could you sit, please?" asked Yuui, facing Nanaa.
"Are you giving me orrrders?"
"N-n-no, not at all! I would never be so rrrude to My Liege of Evergreen!"
"…What did you call me?"
"Greenliege for short!"
"…? But I'm a woman."
"Yes, of course! I know!"
That's what made it so cool!
"You sure are…diffurrrent."
"Tee-hee! Ooh, you prrraised me!"
"I wasn't prrraising you, but…whatever."
With that, Nanaa went back to her battle stance.

Nanaa would not sit, no matter what.
"*Sigh* Oh well. Then I suppose we can take the image standing up."

Facing the device, Yuui pulled the rope in her hand.
The rope yanked the stick it was tied to, which toppled the board the stick had been supporting.
The board fell onto the raised side of a see saw, flinging into the air an egg which had been placed on the opposite end.
The egg landed in a basket which had been placed a few steps away.
Near the basket was an Elshimo Newt tethered to a chain. The Elshimo Newt stretched its neck to eat the egg, pulling its chain taut.
The chain rotated a pulley, which clacked as it wound up some string.
Once the chain was pulled completely taut, the switch on the image recorder tripped with an audible click.

Nothing happened.

A bright light should have flashed from the image recorder as the light crystal expended itself.
"That's strange… Perrrhaps it's brok-"
Yuui stepped down to approach the device…and froze in fear.
"A Goblin…!"
With a shrill battle cry and wielding a pickaxe-like weapon, a member of the infamous race of beastmen leapt out from the shadows of some boulders and came hurtling toward Yuui!

"Oh no…!"
Yuui had taken for granted that hostile monsters rarely appeared in Tahrongi Canyon, but it was too late for regrets.

Because she had changed into her decorative outfit, Yuui had not even a dagger to protect herself with; she was defenseless.
Just then, a lightning-fast shadow streaked in between Yuui and the Goblin.
The blade of a short sword glinted briefly as it caught the light of the sun before landing deftly – and fatally – in the Goblin's chest.
In the blink of an eye, the Goblin was felled.
"King Cobra Clamp…"
Indeed, the blow had been exactly like a strike from the fangs of a venomous snake.

"Whew! That was close!"
"M-my Liege of – I mean, Nanaa Mihgo!"
"Oh? You know who I am? Ooh! Is this is a Trrrust version of me…?" the real Nanaa Mihgo said as she gazed upon her alter ego, which was still in battle stance on the tiered step.
"Shame on you! You'd better be morrre on the ball if you're supposed to be my alter ego!" said Nanaa, admonishing her own double.

"O-oh, it's because I didn't evoke the will to fight…"
"Oh? Is that so? Ah well then, I guess it can't be helped. Be more careful from now on, you hearrrr? Buh-bye!" said Nanaa Mihgo as she leapt away, waving her hand cheerily in the air.
And with that, she was gone.

"I…I can't believe it! Once again, I've been saved by My Liege of Everrrgreen! What an honor!
O…oh no! That was my prrrime chance to take an image of her, and I wasted it!
…Come to think of it, I wonder why the device didn't work…"

The Elshimo Newt Yuui had worked so hard to trap alive was long gone, and the sun was near to setting.
"*Sigh* I suppose it's too late to take any images now. What a letdown."
Yuui had to get back to the city, for it was almost time to return the borrowed photopticator.
Nonetheless, it had been a memorable day, for she had gotten to meet her idol in the flesh!
"Oh well. Guess I'll head back."

Sadly, the photopticator appeared to be missing its light crystal.
It had been snatched away in a split instant while Yuui was talking to her Trust companion.
That is why the device hadn't worked.

Watching the retreating figure of young Yuui walking back along Tahrongi Canyon with her Trust companion in tow, the esteemed bandit of Windurst shrugged her shoulders slightly.
"Sorrrry. But even if she's just my alter ego, it would've been too embarrrrassing to have her posing like a doll on a pedestal."

Shrugging once again, Nanaa juggled the light crystal playfully in the palm of her hand before finally tossing it high into the air. The crystal, soaring skyward among the flurry of dancing cherry blossom petals, glinted briefly as it caught the light of the setting sun.


Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita

Category: News

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