Flotsam and Jetsam
NOTE: For yearly Esca, something about a minor or background character and I chose the dolphin man because I've always been curious about him. I also really wish we saw more of the non-human races of Gaea (other than Merle, of course). There is so much world-building that can still be done.
So here is an attempt at exploring what his life might be like post-series. And since I am terrible with names, I won't even try to give him one. I'll just refer to him as the merchant.
After writing this I realize I've made him seem like a kind of Gaean Little Mermaid in that he collects thingamabobs and trinkets just like Ariel. I don't know how I even got here. All I know is that I wanted to write something about dolphin man and I ended up here.
It's a weird little story but I hope you like it!
. . . .
He used to be simple fisherman, content to sell his catch at the market, make his profit, and move on. Life had been comfortable enough and he had never had any cause for complaint. But lately, stranger things were washing up on the shores of Gaea and certain items that got caught in his nets attracted an altogether different clientele.
For one thing, he never would have thought he would be a regular visitor at the royal palace of Asturia. But destiny was funny that way and the future queen had a particular interest in things that originated from the Mystic Moon.
So every time he found himself in Asturia, he was obliged to present himself at the palace and show any peculiar, otherworldly items he had happened to find during his fishing trips.
"What do you have for me today?" Princess Millerna asked with a smile on this latest visit.
The merchant returned her smile and brought out his most recent catch.
"Not much, I'm afraid, your Highness," he replied, laying out a small timepiece that certainly did not look like anything from Gaea.
"Nonsense," the princess replied, "You know well enough that I am pleased by anything you can bring me, no matter how small."
She took the small watch from him and looked at it curiously.
It was no longer operational, of course. Things that fell into the ocean tended to break, no matter which world they originated from. It was made of some kind of synthetic material and bore foreign symbols and designs.
He was no great scholar but he had travelled quite a great deal around Gaea and so had seen much of this world. He was driven not just by necessity but also some insatiable sense of adventure. And being part-dolphin, he was even able to explore depths of the ocean with relative ease. And that was how he would find all sorts of artifacts and trinkets, some that would fetch a good price with antique dealers and collectors and others that he simply enjoyed keeping because they were so eccentric-looking.
He would include these unique finds whenever he would sell fish at the market and though these never used to attract many customers, he still enjoyed displaying these items, for the fun of it. Sometimes, he simply reveled in the knowledge that he had gotten a glimpse of life beyond his world, and one could never put a price on such an experience.
Through all his travels, this is what he learned: Every now and then, portals open between Gaea and the Mystic Moon. Visitors come and go, but some of their possessions fall through the cracks or are left behind.
No one had paid much attention to his strange wares until one day, Princess Millerna herself stumbled across his stall at the bazaar. It was some time after the war and life was returning to normal in Gaea. The princess had been pre-occupied with the burden of her royal duties but she finally found a moment to indulge herself, albeit briefly, in one of her favorite pastimes.
She had wandered around the bazaar, greeting some of the other merchants who were her friends when she found something in this merchant's stall that caught her eye. It was a pair of shoes quite unlike any in Gaea. They were quite waterlogged and damaged but still fairly recognizable as some kind of footwear.
The merchant had seen her staring and after greeting her respectfully, he said:
"Just something I happened upon during one of my diving trips, your Highness. I thought someone might find it interesting."
"Indeed," the princess had replied, almost wistfully. And then, after a moment's thought, she decided to buy the shoes from him.
He had been taken aback by this and had almost offered to give it to he for free but she would not hear of it and gave him a generous amount of money. He had thanked her profusely.
"I'm grateful to you," the princess had said, as she took the shoes with her, "This reminds me of a good friend."
And as she left, she instructed him to bring whatever peculiar or unique items he would find directly to her. So he did, not from any desire for profit or reward, but because he was finally glad that someone else had taken an interest in his little discoveries. Not that he had ever expected this person to be a member of the royal family.
He was a simple and honest man and he would never visit the palace if he had nothing interesting to show the princess. But he managed to find a number of other foreign items during his subsequent journeys including an old knapsack (again with strange markings) filled with even stranger garments of various colors (albeit faded), some foreign looking gadgets (he could never be sure what they were for but he picked them up anyway), another pair of strange shoes, and many more.
Each time, the princess welcomed him warmly and thanked him for bringing such gifts to her. He was honored to be of service and always enjoyed his brief trips to the palace.
"You must be curious about why I keep collecting these things from the Mystic Moon," Princess Millerna told him on his latest visit.
"It is not my place to be curious about such a thing," the merchant said respectfully.
Millerna smiled. "I don't mind telling you. You see, I met a girl once from the Mystic Moon and she became a good friend. But she had to return home and I'm not sure I'll ever see her again."
"Oh," the merchant said simply, though at that moment, he seemed to understand much.
"And I'll admit that it's not simply for my sake that I collect all these things," the princess added, "I have another good friend in Fanelia who is very grateful to have some reminders of a person he holds most dear."
"Then, it seems that I have been working for quite a noble cause," the merchant said humbly.