Thundering fireworks lit up the night sky, and so began the adventurers' festival.
Always on the scene, our correspondent Myhal (Gilgamesh) reported that some adventurers stopped in their tracks to observe, whereas others looked for ideal sites from which to sit and watch the spectacle. Then, after a time, they would disperse to take part in the various events that were waiting for them.
One such event was the Moogle-sponsored "test of courage," where adventurers tested their mettle by venturing into treacherous locales in a nearly defenseless state.
However, before they even set one foot into a dungeon, adventurers were faced with a difficult decision.
One of the rules the Moogles had set for the test of courage was that it had to be taken in pairs. Furthermore, the partners had to be of different race and/or gender.
As a result, it appeared that many adventurers had a hard time deciding who to invite first as a partner. They were being asked to make the ultimate decision, albeit for entertainment purposes.
Correspondent Palulu (Siren) commented that the complex emotions brought forth by this event were both troublesome and entertaining at the same time.
As a reward for participating in the test of courage, adventurers were given yukata. The desire of the adventurers to dress in the festival's traditional garments contributed greatly to the success and popularity of the event.
Correspondent Mizakura (Quetzalcoatl) reports that these yukata have created new fashion trends among adventurers.
For example, the yukata-subligar ensemble became a standard style among adventurers during the festival, with its sporty and refreshing look.
"I would never fight monsters dressed like this, but it's really a cool, brisk look," said a Tarutaru named Porpora (Valefor). "I'm gonna wear it to goldfish scooping tomorrow!"
This brings us to our next event. As many adventurers obtained their yukata and the festivities were reaching their peak, merchants selling "goldfish scooping" equipment began to appear throughout Vana'diel.
These merchant sold items called "super scoops," special tools used to scoop goldfish. The adventurers then traded in the goldfish they caught to the merchant to obtain various prizes.
One such prize was the "spirit mask," a novelty firework. Correspondent Across (Phoenix) learned that some adventurers brought this item with them when they ventured into dangerous monster lairs, in order to lighten the mood when their parties faced powerful enemies.
Amongst a crowd of adventurers crouched by the waterside and playfully chasing after goldfish with their super scoops, a somber-looking Mithra named Dicca (Titan) lamented:
"I've been eating all the goldfish I've caught on the spot because they look sooo good. I didn't know you could trade them in for items! Why did I have to eat so many? Now I have to start all over again!"
With that, she darted towards the goldfish scoop merchant. Apparently, the passion for scooping still burned strong within her.
Moogles and super scoop merchants aside, what livened up the festival the most were the independent events organized by adventurers.
This reporter had the opportunity to attend one such event--a street fair in the Kulatz Bridge market area in Bastok, organized by an independent association of adventurers called "Higedandy (Titan)."
I asked Higedandy representative Gillbert as to the impetus behind the event.
"This event was organized due to a strong demand from fans to see the Vana'diel Players in action during this festival."
Thus, this event based on Higedandy's most popular event, the "Vana'diel Players Showcase," came into being.
"One issue we have always faced is overcrowding, which results in some people being unable to see the stage," Gillbert added. "For this occasion, we opted for a street theater format, so that people can casually watch the performances while enjoying the other attractions at the same time."
I myself was able to see the popular performer Yoshimoto Lumine in relative comfort. Since the stage was set up with the Bastok Market fountain to its rear, it was very easy to see. Thus, the audience was able to fully enjoy the performer's deft rhetoric.
The ability of the organizers to adapt to current trends could be seen in the Yukata Fashion Contest, an idea brought about by the massive popularity of yukata among adventurers.
Despite its name, the contest did not require contestants to wear yukata, allowing for a vast array of styles across the fashion spectrum to hit the runway. Everything from meticulously coordinated ensembles to memorably outrageous combinations was put on display.
In the end, an Elvaan male took home the winning prize of 100,000 gil. The combination of his prized red mage accoutrements and a rusty subligar locked the gaze of all in the audience. It is said his friends now call him the "Bare-thighed Prince."
Various other games and bazaars could be seen in Bastok Markets that night, providing adventurers with the joy and relaxation they needed off the battlefield.
The official Higedandy Bazaar was something that the members knew they would lose money on (and they did), but strangely, they did not appear upset at all. Rather, they seemed quite satisfied as their items flew out of their packs.
An interesting game called "Guess my Emote" was also a huge success. In this game, a player has to choose one out of five set emotes, and put one out when the signal is given. The player wins if his emote matches the one put out by the game master. As three correct guesses in a row wins a cash prize, hordes of repeat customers were constantly present by the booth. "So many people won that I actually lost money!" commented the game master, but he said it with a satisfied smile. For him, it appeared that the enjoyment he provided was more important than profit.
But all good things must come to an end, and the Kulatz Bridge Fair was no exception.
When the organizers appeared in front of the auction house, they were greeted with cheers and applause from the attendees. After announcing the winners of the Yukata Fashion Contest and various other games, Gillbert concluded the event by saying, "We hope to see you all again at our next event!"
After the closing ceremony, I asked Gillbert what he thought made this event so successful, and he replied:
"Teamwork, as always, was a key factor, as was the strength of the performances. We also tried very hard to prevent problems we encountered in the past, and took in suggestions from many people."
The determination and satisfaction in Gillbert's eyes were not unlike that of an adventurer after completing a difficult quest.
Under a night sky lit brightly by fireworks, most all adventurers set aside some time to enjoy the festivities and reaffirm their bonds with their friends.
In the opinion of this reporter, it is this common respect that all adventurers share for enjoying life that makes their bond so strong.