For us freedom-loving bards, it is our journey, and not our destination that we most enjoy. Or at least, that is what I believed for many decades before arriving in Mondstadt.
Today marks my tenth day in Mondstadt, a complete contradiction to my initial itinerary. (I was originally to leave for my next destination two days ago.)
One reason I've decided to stay is that I found Mondstadt to be perfectly faithful to its depiction by Alan the Bard, whose poetry inspires me the most. Its sweet and mysterious secrets are hidden in unknown spots, silently yearning to be discovered. However, if I'm truly honest, my stay in Mondstadt has been extended because of Ludi Harpastum, an annual festival in the city. What a delight! How could I miss out on such an occasion?
I once heard a drunk Mondstadt merchant say that when Mondstadt was still but a small village, it was graced by the feather of a free bird, dropped by Barbatos. It was that feather that allowed Mondstadt to become the city it is today. Ever since, a commemoration has taken place every year to thank the Anemo Archon for his blessing. Over time, this commemoration grew to be the huge festival that we all know as Ludi Harpastum. Nowadays, it is fifteen days full of exquisite wine, poetry, music, flowers, and rituals. At this time of the year, the whole city bursts with joy and freedom.
The citizens of Mondstadt were already busy preparing for the festival on the day I arrived.
Taverns and restaurants display their finest dishes at their doorstep, while Dawn Winery delivers plenty of barrels filled with craft beer and cider. (Believe me, Mondstadt has all the best brews in Teyvat.) Barbatos' guidance will lead you through the happy streets of Mondstadt, where all kinds of cheese, grilled meat, and fresh fruit release delicious fragrances. Each family hangs a handmade Harpastum on their doors, made by the lady of their household. Inspired bards from all over the continent stop in their tracks to sing their wonderful poems.
I'm sure that folks nowadays have forgotten about the original sacred aspect of Ludi Harpastum and might see it as a mere succession of lively events, no different from any ordinary festival. However, to us bards with a keen eye for detail, Ludi Harpastum is definitely the best festival in the mystical land of Teyvat. Even an outsider to Mondstadt like me can enjoy the feelings of freedom and independence that are unique to this city in just a short amount of time.
In my opinion, the people and customs of Mondstadt are freer than in any other place in Teyvat, and it shows during the exciting festivities of Ludi Harpastum which last all night long.
I attended the gliding championship during the last days of the festival, standing among the cheerful crowd on the plaza next to the cathedral. There, I immediately recognized the girl who showed me around Mondstadt on my first day. I remembered her proudly telling me about being a gliding champion, though I had doubted her at the time. Now that I've seen her glide with my own eyes, like a red flash tearing through the sky, I have no choice but to admit that Barbatos blessed his people with freedom, courage, vitality and fierce willpower. All of these things run deep in their veins.
Of course, I needed to find a way to apologize to the great Anemo Archon for being skeptical of his disciple. After the championship, I quietly hung a poem that I wrote for the young girl in fiery red on the most obvious wind chime in the plaza, in the hope that she would find my apologies and best wishes — things I was too ashamed to tell her myself.
Even in the middle of the night, it's not unusual to hear noise and to see the market being illuminated by glowing lights when I gaze outside my window. When I one day become too old to travel, I wish to settle in a small house I'd build in a sunny place on the outskirts of Mondstadt. If people were to knock on my door to bring me craft beer from Angel's Share, I'd welcome them with my most passionate verses.