An amusing little story-within-a-story oneshot that I came up with as I was carving a pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern for Halloween. Dimo Nor tells the legend of how the Lilty people first survived the coming of the miasma, and went on to migrate to Alfitaria, explaining why it became custom to carve pumpkin shells into luminaries.
Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles or any characters or locations within; I only own my Tipa caravanners and their kin, and the mythical figures mentioned in the inner story.
"Pumpkins! Get your pumpkins! Just in time for the Feast of Leonora!" hawked a Liltian merchant from his produce stand when the caravanners from Tipa entered Marr's Pass from the south, for the first time since an eager green-eyed Lilty named Dimo Nor and a cheerful lavender-haired Selkie named Anaїs Nin had entered the caravan.
"All right!" cried Dimo Nor eagerly, sprinting away from the wagon to the produce stand, tossing a five-gil coin to the merchant and then running back to the wagon with a large pumpkin in his arms.
A quiet Clavat caravanner named Lydia, though the new Lilty's exuberance amused her, had no notion of why Dimo Nor wanted a pumpkin. What would he do with it? "Are we supposed to eat pumpkin soup or pumpkin pie on the Feast of Leonora? Is that why you were so eager to get one?" she asked with a chuckle.
"Good golly, no," he answered amusedly, "even though you could make pumpkin soup, or mill the seeds and add them to bannock bread! No, it's a Lilty custom—been that way since the miasma swallowed the world."
"Then tell us all about it when we find a place to rest," Lydia told him, anxious to hear whatever amusing story the youngest caravanner could tell.
Finding a place to rest was not difficult for the caravan; Dimo Nor had a cousin named Perkin, a miller living on the east side of the crossroads-town, who was glad to welcome Tipa's motley caravan for a stay. Once seated around Perkin's table for dinner with his wife Glenda and their two sons Dale and Culley, Dimo Nor explained the legend behind the Feast of Leonora to his fellow Tipa caravanners.
"Everyone knows that in-between the miasma's coming and the time people started finding crystals to flock around, everyone's survival depended on staying a step ahead of the miasma," Dimo Nor explained. "At that time, there was a Lilty girl named Bridget who was the charge of the Lilty-formed Dreamweaver Leonora. She was the oldest child among six who were orphaned just before the darkness fell. She led her brothers and sisters to outrun the miasma, and when they couldn't run anymore, they rested in a patch of giant pumpkins big enough to carve into houses—they say some of the pumpkins were as big as the mushrooms that now make up the Mushroom Forest!"
"Wow!" exclaimed Anaїs Nin. "Those must've been big indeed!"
"Faeries must have lived among the pumpkins there," explained Khetala, the Yuke woman who presently led the caravan.
Dimo Nor gave a nod of agreement as he continued: "Leonora had ordered the faeries to shelter and provide for Bridget and her siblings, so the faeries helped them hollow out the pumpkins into safe places to dwell, and the presence of the faeries protected Bridget and her brothers and sisters from the miasma. There they could live comfortably, eating the seeds and pulp of the pumpkins as their staple food source. Eventually Bridget wanted to look for other refugees, so she took a pumpkin of much smaller size—like the kind farmers grow today—and carved a cheerful smiling face into its shell. She speared this pumpkin on a stick to carry it around easier, and asked one of the faeries to travel with her inside the carved-out pumpkin, both to protect her from the miasma and to light her search."
"Bridget must've thought the smiling-face-light would bring hope to the hearts of Lilties who would've otherwise fled much farther," acknowledged Lydia.
"And indeed she had success in leading refugees to the faerie-kingdom that way," Dimo Nor agreed. "Eventually Bridget entreated the faeries' protection for a good twenty or so families of Lilties who sought shelter in the great pumpkin patch. For about a hundred years that was how the Lilties lived, and families would carve smaller pumpkins into homes for the faeries that protected them, in exchange for the faeries' protection against the miasma."
"What happened after those hundred years?" questioned a hazel-eyed blond Clavat named David, who was Lydia's older brother. "Was it then that monsters started terrorizing the four peoples?"
Dimo Nor nodded, now seeming saddened. "Yes, that's when the demon sent legions of undead from the ruins of Rebena Te Ra to attack the Lilties who lived in the giant pumpkin-patch," he explained. "The angel Leonora bade the faeries use their magic to aid the Lilties in battle against the undead, but when the ghosts and nightmares wouldn't cease to attack, the Lilties eventually abandoned their pumpkin homes. As they migrated northeast, the children among them carried the pumpkins they'd made into faerie-homes so that the faeries would continue to protect them against monsters that they couldn't fight without magical aid."
"Kind of like forerunners to the crystal chalices that caravanners like us now carry," said Lydia thoughtfully.
"Leonora guided the descendants of Bridget's people to what is now Alfitaria," Perkin continued where Dimo Nor left off, "and when she married the Defender Raoneth, he became the protector of Alfitaria. Ever since then, in the week before the second full moon that follows the Autumnal Equinox, Lilties have carved pumpkin shells into lanterns reminiscent of the one that Bridget used to guide refugees into the faerie-kingdom. They set the lanterns in their windows and light them every night until the full moon, the Feast of Leonora, and then at the dawn that follows that full moon, they draw Leonora's seal in the earth where they bury the lanterns."
"Tell them about the goblin invasion!" bade one of the children, the brown-eyed boy Culley.
Anaїs Nin's eyes widened, partly in amusement but also partly in apprehension. "What happened?" she asked.
"Let me answer for this one," Dimo Nor bade his cousin. "They say one year, when Alfitaria was still young where cities go," he explained to his fellow caravanners, "a band of goblins tried to attack from the south on the feast-night. The people who first spotted them were worshipers carrying pumpkin-lanterns to a shrine as offerings to Leonora—and several of them (all but one, in fact) threw their lanterns at the goblins in the battle that ensued. Thankfully the battle was over as quickly as it began, and when the one Lilty boy who kept his pumpkin-lantern at last offered it up to Leonora, he also gave thanks and praise to Raoneth for victory against the goblins, on behalf of everyone who'd used their lanterns as battle weapons. It turns out that both angels were pleased with the Lilties of Alfitaria afterward and granted them a good few centuries of prosperity."
"Well, now we know why you wanted a pumpkin to carve so much," David summed up with some amusement. "Were you thinking of taking it along with you when we leave Marr's Pass and then throwing it at the next monster that we meet, just for good luck?"
"Yeah, something like that," answered Dimo Nor with a chuckle.