Beauty and the Bestiary
Beauty and the Bestiary (05/16/2014)
I'm always cooped up inside Heavens Tower, working long hours while buried-wuried under a mountain of paperwo--er, enough about me. Let's get on with the show!
Good afternoon, adventurers! As I'm sure you all know, my name is Kupipi, and I'll be your mistress of ceremonies for this most cutesy of combatarus!
Today's event is brought to you by the magnanimous folks at the Jeuno Institute for Magical Studies. "We take the 'ick' out of 'magick'."
While this contest may be held to determine who's the fuzziest-wuzziest creature in all of Vana'diel, the judges are pricklier than a bed of needles. It isn't for the faintaru of heart!
Why even bother choosing from amongst so many worthy entrantarus? Because the institute feels that its Trust magic has yet to reach its due levels of renown.
...or something like that. I wasn't really paying attention during the briefing.
And make sure that you summon my alter ego-wego. If you don't, I'll sneak into your room while you're sleeping and gouge out your eyeballs!
Hee hee hee... Anyway, the institute is busy making new scholastic breakthroughs or whatnot, so they've pawned--I mean put the Tenshodo in charge of conducting this crescendo of festivities. With an organization like that backing it, you know you'll be in for a wild time!
Well, seeing as how everything sets in motion today, I best get back to work before the Tenshodo smuggle-wuggles me off to some strange, foreign land for being derelictaru.
Kupipi, the secretary of Heavens Tower, squealed with glee as she announced the commencement of the preliminaries.
"May the curtain be dra?wn on this first-ever clash to become Vana'diel's most beloved beast!"
Her voice echoed off the rafters of the Marble Bridge in Upper Jeuno, causing the ears of the audience to ring and their mugs to rattle upon the tables. The throng was deafly silent in anticipation of this heralded event. All eyes were fixed upon the diminutive host with a massive presence who stood proudly on the makeshift corner stage fashioned from a table and stall.
"The Tenshodo ensured me personally that it made only the most arbitrary and specious of decisions when selectaruing these judges. First up, we have that zany zoologist's gofer, Atelloune! Say a word to these people who couldn't care less about you, dea?ry."
"I hope this contest actually has some scientific merit. I wouldn't want to feel like I went through all this trouble for nothing," she said perfunctorily as she gave a curt bow.
"Next is Brygid, the girl who sits so? far on the cutting edge of the Bastok fashion scene that she bleeds originality."
"Hello, my adoring fans. A word of advice-blue is the new black this season!" the tiny tot proclaimed with an air of confidence.
"And last-and very possibly least-is the gray-haired geez-"
"Put a sock in it already. I'd wager this 'gray-haired geezer' has spent more time with adventurers than you. You don't have to try so hard with these introductions, you know."
"But I do! What would such an important Jeunoan extravaganza be without po?mp and ci?rcumstance?"
"Well, I'd appreciate it if you got this over as quickly as possible. I've got real work to do," Maat grumbled.
"...You heard the man. Let the games begin-win!"
Although Kupipi was unable to elucidate much thanks to Maat's ornery mood, perhaps an explanation is in order. Trust may be a type of magic, but any adventurer can wield it; the sorcery is not confined to those who practice the arcane arts. That said, there are conditions to its use. One must have strong bonds with the party involved in order to call forth a simulacrum of that person-bonds based upon the precepts of trust, friendship, and camaraderie. Without those intangible attributes, a trust spell will fizzle as soon as it is cast.
In honor of this new magic, the institute decided to hold an event that evinced the principles it propounds.
That preparation has culminated in this competition, which features some of the world's most adored denizens all vying for the title of "Vana'diel's most lovable species."
More precisely, the contestants themselves assembled out of desire for the rumored prize money...as well as fame for their race.
"Despite the fact that not a single thought has gone into selecting them, we sincerely hope the judges are more persnickety-wickety when choosing victors."
Kupipi's bold statement seemed in direct contention with the formal atmosphere of most tournaments, but perhaps it was for the best, considering the laid back nature of this event.
Without further ado, the matchups were posted on the wall, inscribed with a calligrapher's brush on a sheet of Far Eastern parchment. The attitude of the judges and organizers may have been rather lackadaisical, but the gravitas typical of traditional rituals was evident.
Match, the First: Moogles vs. Mandragoras Match, the Second: Sabotenders vs. Leafkin Match, the Third: Qiqirn vs. Goblins Match, the Fourth: Chocobos vs. Mog Garden Crabs
As per the ornamental parchment, a moogle and mandragora representative each took the stage. Though the norm would be for a single individual to fight on behalf of the entire clan, an exception was made for the mandragoras. They chose Ake and Ome, arguably the two most iconic of their kind who also happen to ring in the New Year by marching in procession with its time-honored bestial harbinger. Their festive and flamboyant fashion sense may have garnered them additional support, as audience members whistled loudly upon seeing the two's heads adorned with vibrantly colored oranges.
"They're so cute I could just e?at them all up! Go, go, mandragoras, go?!"
Even the hostess of the whole affair was already displaying her bias, so popular was the floral duo.
"Entrust to me your ears for mere moment before the ballots hit the books, kupo," entreated the moogle combatant over the mandragoran fanfare.
"Don't tell me you wish to file a grievance-wievance or anything."
"All I request is that you ruminate on the following: should the mandragoras be given alter egos, would they be able to adequately ambulate over the blazing and barren sands of the Altepa Desert and Valkurm Dunes? I think not, kupo!"
"He has a point. There's not a single season in those places that'd work with their outfits," Brygid nodded in agreement.
Brygid's words weighed heavy on the other two judges, for the moogles won in a unanimous decision, leaving the madragoras to take root in greener pastures.
Thus, they moved on to the next bout: sabotenders against leafkin. As leafkin cannot speak, they were provided with a Mithra straight from the southern islands to plead their case. While the sabotender was more concise-preferring to simply rock back and forth in place-the Mithra was practically tying her own tongue espousing the qualities that made leafkin more endearing than any of the other competitors.
"If I wanted to hear something this long and bo?ring, I'd shut myself in the back of Heavens Tower and read inventory lists all day."
"Yeah, I'm about to nod off listening to this drrrivel."
"What!? It just up and disappear-weared!" Kupipi squeaked as the sabotender vanished, leaving only a puff of smoke behind.
"Well, it is what it is," Atelloune added matter-of-factly. "Beastmasters cannot have their Amigo Sabotenders roaming forever."
Meanwhile, the fugitive sabotender's owner bit his lip in apprehension behind the curtains backstage. With his prize monster disqualified, the leafkin earned an automatic berth in the next round.
"All that prrreparation and my speech was worthless," sighed the leafkin proxy.
The third duel was a clash between two different factions of Beastmen. Despite their contrasting backgrounds, the Qiqirn and Goblin delegates both pulled out gigantic spherical balls of gunpowder from their pockets simultaneously.
"No, don't you dare! You're going to blow this place to smithereen-weens!"
"Buburoon be making biiigest boom-boom! We be getting looots of jingly from biggest boom-boom."
"Ya see, our Gobbie bomb make twinkly time in people's eyes. Star dance in eyes wow people, they give us win."
"To see two completely different species using two completely different thought processes to arrive at the same solution...this is exactly what science is all about! This may indeed give us insight into why Qiqirn and Goblins take such a keen interest in explosives!" Atelloune interjected, her enthusiasm palpable.
Kupipi remained unconvinced, however, retorting "This is supposed to be an easygoing affair, not a one-way ticketaru to the afterlife!!"
"Oh ho ho, looks like I woke up from my snooze at the right time!" Maat boomed. He calmly rose from his seat, climbed onto the stage, and kicked the bombs out an open window moments before they detonated. Luckily, the force was only strong enough to shake the frame of the tavern slightly, and not a single plank caught fire.
The crowd gasped in awe, then began bandying about praise for Maat's "legs of steel," and finally broke into a crescendo of applause. Kupipi, however, could barely do anything besides emit a sigh of relief.
"I cast my vote for adjourning this competition, going home, and stuffing my face fu?ll of rolanberries."
Atelloune put in with the Qiqirn while Maat sided with the Goblins, leaving the deciding vote to Brygid...who also chose the Goblins. When pressed for the reasoning behind her selection, she responded, "Both of them talk like threadbare smocks, but in the end, I managed to put together what the Goblin was saying. That's it."
The fourth preliminary match pitted the genius chocobo chick Sakura against the crabs that scuttle about Mog Gardens.
"Alright, what do you have to sa?y for yourselves?"
"Fine. Judges, castaru your votes."
Though it was a split decision, Sakura squeaked through to the next round. "I don't know why Maat didn't vote for her. She's just too cute."
The audience let forth a round of applause in deference to the two female judges' opinions.
The semi-finals had the moogles going up against leafkin, while the Goblins battled the chocobos.
"Maybe I should rehash the more purrrsuasive points of my spee-"
"Prithee pay heed to my protestation, kupo."
"Grrr. What is it now!?"
"We moogles overcame the onslaught of our opposition based solely on our own masterly merits. However, the leafkin are aided by an amazingly articulate artificer. I cry foul play, kupo!"
"What!? But they can barely make sounds, let alone exprrress themselves!"
"It's still...undoubtedly unfair, kupo..."
"Don't look at me like that. I'm not the villain here. I'm just a Mithra trying to make an honest living. You wouldn't want to deprrrive a hard worker of her craft, would you?"
" It...it runs radically counter to the rules. Waaaaaaaaah!"
"Okay, okay, just stop looking at me like that. You're tearing my heartstrrrings apart."
Everyone in the building took the Mithra's subsequent silence as admission of her defeat, and the moogles were declared victorious immediately.
In the other semi-final bout, the crowd shrunk back and shielded their faces in unison once they glimpsed that Goblin clomp onto the stage. There was no telling what this loose cannon who tried to light fireworks inside the building had up his sleeve.
"Enter the chocobo child pro?digy Sakura! ...Sakura? That's your cue-wue, Sakura! Get out here!"
Yet Sakura did not appear. No one had the slightest idea where she had gone.
Kupipi echoed the sentiments of every audience member when she cried, "Where has our darling Sakura gone? She couldn't have run away. That wouldn't just be imprudentaru, it'd be senseless!" Considering the reaction Sakura had received in her first bout, there wasn't a single person who thought she would lose.
"Maybe she just misinterpretarued what a 'runaway victory' is... Anyway, the Goblins wi?n! ...Oh no, not another bomb!"
"This one different. It special for wintimes. It spew ponzes and ponzes of red light in sky."
"Someone sto?p him!"
"A hero's work is never done."
And with another swift kick, the explosive went flying out the window, where it launched high into the air and lit the sky in bright and deadly flames.
"That weird. It should've been red and streamy, not boomy."
"Shutaru your trap!"
"I guess that means the moogles will square off against the Goblins for first place, making it a...wa?it for it...Mooblin Battle!"
Kupipi then turned around to ask for the judges' thoughts on this development, but noticed something was odd.
The headlining judge could not be reached for comment, as she was taking a nap.
"Wakey, wakey, don't make me get the ra?key..." the mistress of ceremonies threatened as she ominously shook the young girl's shoulder, but to no avail-Brygid was down for the count. In desperation, Kupipi looked to Maat as a backup...and promptly realized he wasn't in his seat.
"Atelloune, where'd that geezer-weezer Maat go?"
"He left saying he had to heed the call of training."
A quick glace out the window of the Marble Bridge revealed that dusk was already descending upon Jeuno, and candles would be needed sooner than later. Due to the eatery's constantly changing schedule and restrictions on clientele, it could only be rented for today. Therefore, Kupipi had to act quickly.
"Sorry, but we'll have to reschedule-wedule the finals for another d-"
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the signal of a stagehand. Upon conferencing with the assistant, she reclaimed center stage and bellowed out the news she had received.
"Adventurers, polish your armor and shine your wands, for I've just learned that you can all be part of the gra?nd affair that will be the Mooblin Battle!"
Having finished her announcement, she still had enough air in her lungs to heave a sigh of regret.
It's only been a day and I'm already pining for my desk back in Heavens Tower. At least there I'd get to eat the exotic delightarus adventurers would bring back.
And yet that defeatist attitude was only a brief mental respite. The Tarutaru remained devoted to her mission and she was not about to give up after coming this far. As a final spurt, she took another deep breath and belted out her closing lines.
"Who will emerge as the lodestar of adorableness? The downy-wowny moogles with fur as pure as freshly fallen snow and tongues as persuasive as the most well-read scholars? Or will it be the Goblins with their floppy ears, comically large haversacks, and gritty attitudes? No matter who wins, we hope the event will provide you with a chance to develop deeper bonds with those around you. And remember that you can always place your trust in Trust magic!"