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Celestial Nights 2013
| As the scorching sun sets in the west, dusk settles on the swaying bamboo leaves, and the great milky sea of stars rises in the endless sky, fireworks begin to dot the heavens, lights dazzling as they draw all manners of shapes and figures across the horizon.
Celestial Nights has once again descended upon the land.
The timeless tale of love between Prince Yahiko and Princess Amdina serves as a reminder to all that no time is wasted if spent with someone important to you.
Though the festival is upon us this year, as many years before it, something is a little different this time around.
"The M.H.M.U. may be a persistentaru fixture in these festivals, but don't you think they can be a bit boring sometimes?"
Her proposal was simple: have people pair off into couples, dress up in matching outfits, and walk throughout town giving impromptu performances. The couple who earned the most adoration from the onlookers would be declared the winner.
"Do you really think that would be fun?" questioned the ranger Tamaki.
"That's rightaru! Couples like you and Tamaki!"
"What's most important is that you wear your matching outfitarus with dignity and pride!"
Kaieh just knew that Chekiki was purposely trying to get under his skin.
"You can sing, dance, or even reenactaru the lovey-dovey scenes of Prince Yahiko and Princess Amdina's most primal emotions!"
"Tohoho," laughed the other linkshell members. They, too, enjoyed a good party, so Chekiki's proposal passed by an overwhelming majority.
They agreed on a time and date without much trouble—Ru'Lude Gardens in Jeuno, on the first day of Celestial Nights.
Warp forward to one week before the event. The first two to express their intent to participate were a pair of lovers from within the linkshell. Other members took this as a sign, and confessions of love poured forth like water from a stream, with new couples forming left and right. Things were starting to heat up, and even pairs of friends who originally expressed doubts decided to throw their proverbial helms into the ring.
In fact, it wasn't long at all before everyone had been paired up—everyone, that is, except for Tamaki and Kaieh.
"Gimme a break," Kaieh fretted as he tied a strip of paper to bamboo.
"What're you doing?"
Tamaki wiped his hands on his leggings and nodded curtly.
The two headed to Dangruf Wadi to hunt worms—the largest of which was a fearsome beast whose body length was twice the size of an average hume.
They were treading carefully across the brown rocks, eyes fixed straight ahead, when a loud rumbling at their feet caused them to freeze in their tracks. The very earth split in twain, and the fiend burst forth from the ground, throwing dirt and rocks yalms into the air. Its body flipped back and forth like a whip, the full force of its might bearing down upon the land.
The stubborn, gloomy feeling that had gripped Kaieh's heart of late begun to melt away as the three engaged in the dance of blades. "Why are we only in sync with each other when battle calls?"
The struggle had gone on for so long that neither had noticed the sky turn a bright shade of orange with the evening light.
"I've had it with this stupid thing!"
Kaeih turned around in surprise. Tamaki had lowered her bow and stood as straight as an arrow.
"There you are!"
Not an hour later, the two were in Ru'Lude Gardens, dressed in matching costumes.
"Don't just standy-wand there! Go make the rounds!"
Chekiki was having none of his protests. She bounded on ahead without so much as a glance back.
"So, uh...do want you to do this?" Kaieh asked with a sheepish grin on his face.
The two began to plod along the road without so much as a thought, only a half-step separating them. Their shoulders were so close together as to almost touch, yet the something greater than distance was holding them back. They proceeded together, in silence, neither lending hand nor word to the other.
They would be at their final destination as soon as they passed the Auroral Palace. Up in the distance, Kaieh could see the faces of his comrades, eyes twinkling with anticipating. The skies above were the dark blue of night.
"We didn't end up doing anything for the crowd yet, so uh...want to sing a song?" Kaieh suggested with hesitation.
Not even half a second later he realized what exactly had come out of his mouth. Tamaki stared at her wrist, her eyes looked up Kaeih's fingers.
Cheers and whistles greeted the two as they glided down the promenade. As they looked around, they noticed they were surrounded not only by friends, but by countless adventurers from all walks of life, all of whom were cheering them on. Kaieh and Tamaki realized that the onlookers had seen everything that had transpired and could only stand slack-jawed in mortification.
But never once did their hands separate.
The winds on the highest part of Jeuno began to pick up speed, spiraling upwards as if trying to grasp the stars above.
What was their wish, anyway?
"I wish that this year I can be true to myself."
Story: Miyabi Hasegawa
Illustration: Mitsuhiro Arita
Celestial Nights will be held from Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. (PDT) to Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at the same time.