Before the Long Night
Mary has a touch of the holiday blues as she observes her fellow crew members hustling and bustling with preparations. A heart-to-heart talk with Ladiva about their feelings and childhoods helps Mary shake off her funk and fully embrace the holiday season.
The most wonderful time of the year is drawing near. (Captain) and company are doing a favor for Santa Claus.
They've been asked to get a tree for the whole town to enjoy.
On top of that, Feena has an ambition of her own.
Feena: I wanna play Santa Claus!
And so that's how the crew came to lend a hand to Santa.
Feena: Da-da-da-daaah! Here comes Feena Claus!
Clarisse: Whoo! Lookin' good! Own that suit!
Feena: Your outfit's really cute too!
Feena: Who'd a thought changing clothes could make you feel like a totally new person?
Feena: I'll show everyone how good a Santa Claus I can be!
Mary: Huh? Everyone's all dressed up...
Feena: Yep, don't we look awesome?
Mary: Yeah, you do, but isn't it a bit early to be wearing that?
Mary: The main event Santa wants us to help with is still a few days away. You're both jumping the gun.
Feena: Aw, c'mon. How often do we get a chance to wear this? Once a year isn't enough!
Clarisse: I couldn't agree more. You get dressed too, Mary.
Mary: Huh? Hey, wait!
Mary: Eeek! Okay, okay! I can dress myself!
Feena and Clarisse more or less shove Mary into her outfit.
Feena: Now that is super cute.
Clarisse: Yeah, love the vibes.
Mary: Nnn... I knew it was too early for this...
Mary: It's kinda embarrassing to get all excited as if the big day were already here...
Feena and Clarisse are having none of what the unusually bashful Mary has to say.
Feena: Wrong! You gotta bring the excitement right up to the real thing!
Clarisse: That's right. And not just because Santa Claus is counting on us.
Clarisse: It's for everyone in the crew who are preparing for the main event!
Mary: I mean, I get that, but...
Feena: Let's see some smiles! Cheer with me now!
Feena: No-el! No-el!
Mary: N-no, el... No-el?
Clarisse: Noel, Noel!
Mary: Ah, haha...
Mary is overpowered by Feena and Clarisse's festive spirit.
Mary: Geez, those two take this holiday stuff way too seriously.
Mary feels dazed as she watches her fellow crew members scurrying about, prepping the ship for the big night.
Lyria: So I should poke these into the orange like this?
Rosetta: Yes, you stud the orange with cloves, keeping the spacing as close as possible.
Rosetta: It's called a pomander, and it's used as decoration around this time of year. Does a wonderful job of keeping bugs away too.
Lyria: How interesting! It's useful and pretty at the same time!
Lyria: Hi, Mary! Do you need something?
Mary: Oh, no. I was just passing by...
Lyria: Well, if you have time, why don't you make pomanders with us?
Mary: Um, sorry! Some other time!
Before Mary can call out to her captain, Vyrn beats her to the punch.
Vyrn: Get the lead out, (Captain)! Let's head into town!
Vyrn: It's gonna get even busier soon. If we wait too long, everything'll be sold out!
(Captain) agrees, grabs a shopping bag, and disembarks.
Mary: Tis the season...
Mary walks dejectedly into the dining area. She sits down at a table, cupping her head in her hands.
Mary: Everyone's having a blast... Well, it is the holidays, after all...
Mary: Kind of feel like I'm being left out.
Ladiva: Hey, Mary.
Ladiva: You don't look so well. What's wrong?
Ladiva: Burned out from all the holiday preparations?
Mary: Hi, Ladiva.
Mary: It's not that... I guess you could say I'm just not feeling it.
Mary: It's like I'm in a rut...
Mary: I'm not really doing a good job of explaining myself, am I...
Ladiva looks at Mary who is now slumped against the table.
Ladiva: You know, I was just about to get dinner started. Would be so kind as to help me?
Mary: Huh? S-sure, if you want me to.
Ladiva: Thanks! You're a lifesaver!
They each take a kitchen knife and start to work.
Mary: By the way, Ladiva, do you enjoy this time of year?
Ladiva: I sure do. Getting to spend time with family and friends is such a treat.
Mary: Yeah, I think so too.
Mary: I lived in poverty as a kid. A kid no one wanted until the old man took me in.
Mary: Even though we were poor, we always tried to make the most of the holidays.
Mary: Gramps and the other orphans, we all did our best to decorate everything.
Mary: It was fun.
Ladiva: That's a wonderful memory.
Mary: Yeah, I didn't always see it that way, but now I can.
Mary: If I had a mom and dad, I could eat a fancy dinner and open presents.
Mary: It's so normal when you think about it, but I'm jealous of all the kids that get to spend their holidays like that.
Mary: Right now everyone's busy getting things ready too. They all look like they're having the time of their lives.
Mary: This is the holiday scene the me from long ago would've absolutely dreamed of.
Mary: Now I can't help but think if it's right for me to join them.
Mary: I'm not sure why that idea jumped into my head. Everyone even asked me to participate.
Mary's words trail off, and Ladiva stops chopping.
Ladiva: I know how you feel.
Ladiva: It was my first holiday after I'd lost both my parents. I envied the other children I saw walking through town.
Ladiva: Of course I had friends and the headmaster at the group home to keep me company.
Ladiva: But I still felt the stab of indescribable loneliness whenever I saw another child hand in hand with their mom and dad.
Mary: Is that so...
Ladiva: Yes, but then again happiness isn't a contest.
Mary: Yeah, that's true.
Mary: How did you deal with that loneliness, Ladiva?
Ladiva: Hmm... There certainly was a time when I wondered where I could find my true self.
Ladiva: As I grew older, I sometimes wondered what my parents would have said to me if they were still alive.
Ladiva: But the loneliness and envy I feel is still a part of who I am. I should accept it and move forward.
Mary: Just like that.
Ladiva gives a small nod and resumes cutting.
Mary: (Loneliness and envy is still a part of who I am.)
Mary nods and breaks into a huge smile.
Mary: I'm gonna do it! I'm gonna party like I've never partied before!
Mary: No more holding myself back. It's a new me!
Ladiva: Hehe, there you go.
Mary: I'll start by taking care of dinner and then going back to help with decorating!
Mary: I'll make it the most absolutely perfect main event there'll be!
Mary finally realizes that she's already found the place she's always wanted to be.
Casting off the shackles of her doubt, she looks forward to spending time with her dear friends.
Yuletide's Pre-Eve Bash
Rosetta and Rackam almost end up going with a small tree to put on the airship, but Mary convinces them to get a big one. The crew lands on an island famed for its trees, cuts one down, and carries it back for decorating.
Rackam and Rosetta are discussing getting a tree for the airship.
Rosetta: We have enough room to place the tree on the deck.
Rosetta: But how big of a tree can the ship support?
Rackam: Good question. If it's too big, it'll sink us pretty darn fast.
Rosetta: That's what worries me. I suppose going a little smaller couldn't hurt in this case.
Mary: Objection! We always have to wait so long for this! So I say go big or go home!
Mary: Have you seen the size of our crew lately? We need one that's big enough for everyone to hang their ornaments on!
Rackam: Mm... I can't argue with that. It'd be great if everyone could join in on the fun.
Mary: As long as Rackam's at the helm and we keep the tree from flying away, we won't crash!
Mary: Right, Mr. Helmsman?
Rackam: Haha, we've got a master of flattery here!
Rackam: But you know what? If we secure the fixtures and account for the wind, it just might be possible...
Rosetta: Haha, then Rackam has spoken. Let's get a big tree just like Mary suggested.
Rosetta: There should be an island around here with a nice, big tree we can chop down.
Rosetta unfurls a map and points to an island.
Mary: Now that we've got our destination, it's full-steam ahead!
Mary: We're running out of time. If we keep dillydallying, all the good trees will be gone!
Rackam: You don't miss a beat, missy!
Mary: I'll go tell (Captain) we're leaving. Get the ship ready to go, Rackam.
Rackam: She's certainly motivated today, isn't she?
Rosetta: Haha, looks like she's enjoying herself. I think that's a good thing.
Rackam: Couldn't agree more! All right, I'll be on the bridge.
After hearing the news from Mary, (Captain) gives the order to take off.
The crew arrives at the island that specializes in cultivating trees.
Mary: Hi there! I heard this village takes care of the nearby forest trees.
Young Man: Welcome! You're looking for a tree for the holidays?
Mary: That's right! Give us the biggest one you got!
Vyrn: We're sprucing up the deck of our airship!
Young Man: The biggest, huh... Actually all of the trees we've cut down have been reserved already.
Mary: What? You're all out?
Lyria: Oh no...
Young Man: Now hold on there. Don't give up just yet. Think you can handle cutting down your own tree?
Mary: Uh, yeah. No problem.
Mary: No problem, right, (Captain)?
(Captain) nods on the spot.
Young Man: Great!
Young Man: Each tree has a tag. Red ones are off-limits, and green ones are reserved.
Vyrn: Hm, so don't go cutting the red and green ones.
Young Man: Blue ones are open to anyone, so you guys can go into the forest and pick out whichever you like.
Young Man: There are surprisingly few customers who want big trees. Should be quite a few left.
Lyria: We have to make sure we get the best one for the ship!
Mary: Yep. Let's get in there and find our perfect tree! C'mon, (Captain)!
Following Mary and the others' upbeat example, (Captain) ventures into the forest.
Yuletide's Pre-Eve Bash: Scene 2
Everyone has a jolly time decorating the tree with an assortment of handpicked ornaments. Mary's handmade himmeli ornament is a hit—she ends up teaching her friends how to make them.
Lyria: Hmm, this tree is kind of skinny, don't you think?
Vyrn: Rackam said a wider trunk would be easier to hold down.
Mary: C'mere, you guys! I found a super nice one with a blue tag!
(Captain) and the crew make their way to where Mary is standing beside a splendid tree.
Mary: What do you think? Isn't this one worthy of our ornaments?
Lyria: Yes, it really is!
Lyria: It almost feels like a waste to cut it down though.
Mary: Think of it this way. I'm sure the tree will have a great time spending the holiday with us!
Lyria: I guess you're right.
Lyria: Okay, Mr. Tree, let's have a fun time together this winter!
Everyone pitches in to fell the huge tree and carry it back to the ship.
The tree is quickly installed onto its base on the deck, and the crew gets to decorating.
Lyria: Oooh! This wooden reindeer ornament is so cute!
Walder: Truer words were never spoken! Such wonderful craftsmanship was carved by yours truly, Ghillie Ranger Walder!
Lyria: Wow, you're so talented, Walder!
Walder: I've been wood carving for as long as I can remember.
Walder: Reindeer ornaments aren't the only ones I plan to make. You'll just have to wait and see what comes next!
Sen: Hi, everyone, mind if I put this on the tree?
Vyrn: Course! (Captain) said anybody could hang up whatever they wanted.
Vyrn: What did you make? Me and (Captain) made apple-shaped ornaments.
Sen: Hehe, that's great! Mine's kinda... simple actually. It's a paper chain.
Feena: Don't sell it short! Those colors really make it pop!
Sen: Feena... Is that cotton?
Feena: I thought we could use it as fake snow. That way we won't have to worry about it melting!
Sen: Oh, I see!
Feena: Here, I'll hold the other end of your paper chain. Where do you want this?
Sen: Why thank you! Hm, we should probably leave the bottom of the tree for the kids to decorate...
It isn't long before everyone's imaginations manifest into reality—a kaleidoscopic tree bustling with personality.
Meanwhile Mary is decorating quietly in her own little corner as if she's hiding herself from the others.
Mary: Ack! (Captain)!
Mary: It's not nice to sneak up on people like that.
Mary: Hm? This? Oh, it's something I've always wanted to hang on a tree.
Mary: My ornament isn't very exciting. It's called a himmeli.
Walder: Whoa, did you handmake it too, Mary?
Feena: It ain't flashy, but it's chic!
Feena: How do ya make it?
Mary: You run thread through pieces of straw and tie them into whatever shapes you want.
Mary: It's kinda plain, but the old man that raised me would always make 'em this time of year.
Mary: You hang them up to wish for bountiful harvests.
Feena: Hmm, harvests... Since we're skyfarers, does that mean we'll be buried in missions?
Mary: Ahaha! In my case, I feel like I'd get my hands on mountains of treasure.
Sen: In other words it's an ornament of good omen.
Sen: Say, think I could make a himmeli?
Lyria: I want to try it too!
Mary: Um, yeah! It's easy!
Mary: I'll show you step-by-step. Let me just go get the stuff from my room.
With the festive tree as their center piece, the crew members continue their preparations for the main event.
Yuletide's Pre-Eve Bash: Scene 3
Mary and a few others partake in Feena's Yuletide Pre-Eve Bash where they share snacks and chat into the night. The proposition of a room-decorating contest brings the bash to a close, and Mary retires to her room to wrap gifts for her family.
Now that the tree decorations have been more or less finished, all that's left to do is wait.
Feena: Hey, you free tonight, Mary?
Mary: Tonight? Sure. I don't have anything planned.
Mary: Did you want to shop or something?
Feena: Boy, do I like the sound of that!
Feena: But I'm gonna pass this time. I was thinking of getting a Yuletide's Pre-Eve bash started.
Mary: Yuletide's Pre-Eve? What's that?
Feena: We'll trade snacks and chat before bedtime.
Feena: Like a mini potluck, yeah?
Mary: Ah, gotcha. Feels like everyone's holding potlucks ever since we've been picking up more people.
Feena: I know, right? It'll be a fun lead-up to the main event!
Mary: I'm in! I'll need to scrounge us up some snacks.
Feena: Now you're talkin'!
Feena: I invited Clarisse, Sen, Arulumaya, and Ladiva!
Mary: Got it!
And so Mary joins Feena's get-together.
Feena: Attention, ladies! Thanks for all your hard work getting this holiday good to go! Now let's kick back and relax!
Ladiva: I brought mini sandwiches. Go ahead, take one!
Sen: I love the delicious food you make, Ladiva.
Ladiva: Oh my, thanks for the compliment, Sen!
Arulumaya: Things looks cuter when they're smaller for some reason. But what's even better is they're quick to eat.
Clarisse: Yep. It's just like Ladiva to think of everything.
Mary: I brought some baked goods, but maybe they should've been smaller too...
Feena: Whatcha talkin' about? I could eat sweets till I explode!
Sen: Yes, I guess it's possible...
Clarisse: I'll have one, Mary.
Clarisse: Om nom... Mmm! Flaky and sweet! Sooo good!
Clarisse: Did you buy these? Where'd you get 'em?
Mary: I couldn't go out too far, but I found a quaint little shop selling these.
Arulumaya: I've been so busy getting things together that it completely slipped my mind to check out any stores.
Arulumaya: Mm, you can really taste the butter.
Mary: It's a row of stores that sell so many cute things, like ornaments to hang in your windows.
Sen: Oops! I was so focused on the tree that I forgot about decorating the rooms!
Feena: You said it!
Feena: Is it too late? Should be fine to leave the decorations up until New Year's, right?
Ladiva: It's fine where I come from. I'd want to leave them up for as long as possible since it only comes by once a year.
Arulumaya: There are a lot of rooms on this airship. I think it'd be nice if they each followed a theme.
Arulumaya: One could be all red, one could be all green... Maybe an over-the-top room followed by a sophisticated room...
Arulumaya: Don't you think all the variety would be a feast for the eyes?
Feena: I like that idea!
Feena: And let's have a contest to see who's in charge of what rooms!
Clarisse: Aaah, I can't wait anymore! Let's do it! Count me in!
Sen: I want to give it a try. Should I talk to (Captain) about it tomorrow?
Mary: I think (Captain) would like it too!
Ladiva: I agree that it's a lovely idea. I would love nothing more.
Ladiva: But I'm absolutely swamped with missions among other things. I'll have to check my schedule.
Arulumaya: There always seems to be a last-minute rush to get missions out toward the end of the year.
Mary: I wonder why that is? Isn't it clear that this time of the year is meant for rest and relaxation?
Feena: Nah, there's always people who leave things to the very last minute without realizing it. Take my last job for example...
The energy of the bash ratchets up as the food slowly disappears.
Ladiva: Getting sleepy, Sen? You'll catch a cold if you sleep here. You should go back to your room.
Sen: Yeah, sorry. I really want to stay, but...
Feena: Mm, maybe it's time to call it a night.
Arulumaya: We lost ourselves in conversation, didn't we?
Mary: This is my first time really chatting with everyone.
Mary: It was fun.
Clarisse: But not the last! Next time we'll invite even more people!
Feena: Hear, hear! Until next time!
Following the success of the bash, promises are made to hold more in the future, and the guests go their separate ways.
Mary: Phew, that was so fun.
Mary: And it wasn't even the main event. Haha.
Mary: Yawn... I'm sleepy, but there's one more thing I've gotta do!
Back in her room, Mary lays out presents and wrapping paper on her bed.
Mary: Let's see... This one's for Syr, so I'll go with green for that. And a big bow to top it off.
Mary: For Altos and Gramps, I think smaller ribbons would be better.
Mary wraps each gift for her family members with loving care.
Mary was a little apprehensive of the crew's boisterous holiday festivities at first.
But she acclimated to the cheeriness of her friends and even channeled some of that joy toward her family.
Her heart brims with gentle warmth as snow piles up softly outside her window.