I wrote this fic years ago, when I first played Lufia 2... It's about the return of Dekar, with some changes in the order of events. Originally I wrote the story in first-person from Maxim's point of view, but to all of you fellow authors out there who know just how difficult it is to do that, I ended up changing it ^_^ Enjoy the twist!
MAXIM STOOD BY the ports, overlooking the vast expanse of endless blue that spread out before him, the ocean. Down below, where the seawater met with the stone-paved dock, small waves lapped against the sides in repeated kisses of water and rock. In their wake were left dark stains, signifying their momentous union… In the distance much farther out, the sea glittered with the brightness of the stars as it met up with an early morning gray-blue sky.
He felt alone. Like a single man in the universe, admiring the varying beauty of the sea…
And it was then that the oddest thought came to mind:
Strange, he hadn't been thinking about his deceased comrade for a long time.
But when I look at the sea… It reminds me of him. I don't know, I guess it sounds stupid, but it's the truth…
Poor Dekar. God, was he brave. I can't think of too many men who would sacrifice their lives in a situation like the Karlloon Shrine… He was one in a million.
A large, dark shape broke through the ocean surface, shattering Maxim's thoughts as well. Its appearance was so sudden…
The silhouette was stark against a sky of such a gentle color. It loomed harmlessly above the sea for a few precious seconds, absorbing the silence, when at last gravity took hold of it. The body dropped back into the waiting sea, the water embracing it with a host of sparkling droplets and a column of white spray.
Nature sights always stirred Maxim, who had somewhat of a rustic spirit at heart.
Beautiful… I've never actually seen too many whales before. They never come that close to civilization, and here in Portravia the water's still polluted…
Without warning yet another living being threw its body into the air, where the sun's rays could caress it with a golden touch. It too fell back into the receiving waves with a soothing splash.
This whale's not alone…
Maxim knew that whales usually never travel solo, so that "thing" was obviously his companion. At first the second shape was too small to make out clearly, so he assumed that it was simply the offspring of the first sea beast.
It was a perfect day to sit around and do nothing. The breeze was exhilarating, warm. It rushed past Maxim's face, running fingers of air through his red locks, scattering them like brightly colored streamers. The feeling was indescribable, and Maxim was intoxicated by the grace of nature, by the effortless beauty he was witnessing…
Again the whale's figure leapt, and the smaller body followed suite.
…And then Maxim realized that it was human. The whale's companion was a man.
He was not mistaken: the figure, the shape, the limbs - it was all easily recognizable. That was a human being playing in the depths of the ocean with a whale!
Where are the others to see this? Is Lexis' lecture that interesting?
Maxim had never seen such a sight before, a man that swam with a whale. Though each jump from the different species was a good distance apart, the rhythm at which they were performing proved that they were engaged in play. The pair was growing closer to the dock, Maxim knew, as their individual sounds became clearer, gradually: there was the clicking and whistling of the whale, and a deep human voice, bellowing to be heard through the quiet of the morning. Soon the sounds reached a point where anyone nearby could hear them.
Again the man jumped out of the sea, and this time the whale imitated.
A gruff sailor behind Maxim was toying with a coil of rope. When the noises of the man and the beast reached his ears, he stopped presently to pay them more attention. "That man you're watchin' out there…," the bearded sailor called to Maxim.
The warrior had been lost in his own wonder at the situation. He turned around suddenly. "Huh?" Who is this guy?
Paying no mind to Maxim's obvious bewilderment, the sailor continued, "That's most likely Fish Man. Comes here every other day 'r so with 'is axe and 'is whale and a sack fulla fish. Sells 'em to the vendors here cheap. He gets enough to get by, I suppose."
"Fish Man?" Maxim's voice rose with his query, mostly due to his disbelief in the tale. He's making it sound like there's a human being that lives in the ocean, which is impossible…
"Yeah, Fish Man. Don't believe me, when yer lookin' right at 'im?" The sailor pointed out to the ocean. "I don't know what he does after he leaves here; he just takes off on that whale of 'is. I ain't never seen a man that talks to whales, but that guy there claims he can."
What's this guy talking about? I'm just sitting here, minding my own business… "Are you saying that this 'Fish Man' is a mermaid or something?" Maxim's tone didn't entirely reveal his aggravation with the stranger, but he wasn't in the mood for jovial conversation. We've seen mermaids before…
"Nah. He ain't got no tail, see. Mermaids got tails."
Fish Man, eh? Maxim turned back to the whale and his friend, recalling that the man with the creature didn't appear to have a tail or fins. A strange feeling overcame him as he witness the couple, a human figure and a black-and-white whale, continue their antics. Something seems so familiar about that… Fish Man… Why do I feel like I've known this guy from somewhere?
I've never seen a Fish Man in Portravia. He must be pretty elusive, whoever he is…
In the distance behind him, Maxim heard a few voices and scuffling feet, indicating that his friends had finally emerged from Kirmo's Laboratory, where Lexis was giving an impressive speech to his fellow researchers about the advancements he had made with Maxim's ship, Excerion.
"That was the most boring speech of my life… Remind me never to become a scientist."
"You're too quick to judge, Guy."
"Who said I was judging? It was an expression of opinion!"
There they go, at it again. Maxim smiled gently as he whirled around to greet Guy, Artea, and a silent Selan. "Guys, you should've been here a few minutes ago-"
"Why, was there something of interest going on that would have prevented my brain from turning to rock?" Guy, the blonde swordsman eyed Maxim, a witty twinkle in his deep cerulean eyes.
"Well, actually, yeah…"
"Your brain is probably rock already. You don't have respect for great scientific speeches!" Selan teased her fellow-warrior; Guy playfully swatted at her.
"Well I didn't hear you complaining when we got up to leave!"
Ignoring that remark, the magician went to embrace her husband. "Hey. How've ya been holding out here?" Her soft skin brushed against Maxim's cheek, producing a sensation so very sexual… She pulled away, her long aqua hair streaming out around her face in the wind. To Maxim, she looked as beautiful as the sea had moments ago. No, the ocean pales in comparison.
"It wasn't a bad speech," Artea commented. "Just a little long…"
"Are you kidding? It sucked ass."
"Guy, you're disgusting," Selan snapped at him, hands on hips, less humorous than before. Really, she hadn't appreciated his abuse of human language there.
Guy backed away from her, knowing that her tone meant business. "Why so catty all of a sudden?" He held up his hands in defense.
Selan shot him a cross look.
Maxim broke up their argument, remembering the spectacle he wanted to tell them about. "Anyway, I wanted to tell you something-all of you."
"Shoot," said Guy evenly.
"Well, I was looking out over the ocean when I saw the weirdest thing-I saw a man playing in the ocean with a whale."
"What?" Selan squeaked at her mate.
"Maybe it was a dolphin, Maxim?" Guy's voice bordered on the edge of sarcasm.
"No, no, it was a man! A human being! I saw it myself!" The carrot top swordsman pointed out to the sea again. "It was right out there! They got so close I could hear their voices! And one of the voices was a man's!"
"Maxim, that does sound a bit far-fetched," said the wise Artea, though already his inner nature was telling him that his fellow traveler was not lying. Maxim cannot hide it when he's lying. Guy has that ability, and so does Selan to a degree, though she prefers the blunt truth to anything else. But not Maxim. His face will betray him. The elf scrutinized Maxim a few moments longer, and could come up with no trace of a lie on his face. I thought so.
"Is it still there?" Selan queried.
"Of course! Just look out there and you'll see 'em!"
But to Maxim's befuddlement, the pair of seagoing creatures had disappeared, the ocean waves having swallowed their figures from view.
The party waited in silence, with only the wind whistling by their ears. Guy parted the stillness, "We're still waiting, Maxim."
"I don't see anything."
"But they were here a few moments ago!"
Down below the dock that the four adventurers were standing on, the man with the whale had dove deep into the ocean and swam to a point where he was right besides the stone structure of the pier. Then he began to push upward, working his muscular legs in graceful sweeps. Before long Guy and Selan caught a blinding silver gleam not too far below the ocean surface-the Fish Man's axe.
Guy pointed to the shine in the water. "Hey, lookit that!"
The glimmer of the weapon glided just a few feet under the choppy waters. It stopped when it was close enough to the party of four, then burst through the water around the dock, diamond-drops of water sparkling in the air around them, pierced by the sun. It was indeed the man who had been playing with the whale. To most of the party, the features were easily identified: long hair a deep shade of indigo floated around his neck like a cloud of blue weed. His skin had been nicely browned from the time he spent out under the sun and his eyelashes stuck out in moistened points from his face. And then there were those eyes…! Those beautiful eyes, large and tilted upward slightly at the corners, shaded such a metallic color of purple. What threw mostly everybody off-guard was the more than stubble that clung damply on his face. The Fish Man grinned that easygoing smile of his and rested his muscular arms on the surface of the dock, then placed his chin on top of them.
Leather straps crisscrossed a chest rippling with muscles, pinning the steel handle of an enormous axe against the man's broad back. He treaded water around them, keeping himself afloat.
It could only have been one person, never mind the beard or the new hairstyle.
Guy was saucer-eyed. "Y-you!" He stammered, hesitant, not as cocky or confident as before. He nearly dropped his halberd in surprise.
"Is this…? Dekar, is that… you?" Selan knelt down to be at level with the newcomer, half-smiling, half-gaping. "Is it really…?"
"Hey, long time no see." The Fish Man's face lit up like the sunshine smiling upon him.
"You're alive?" Maxim blurted out, though it came out as more of a question than an exclamation. "I can't believe it…"
It had been weeks… months, maybe. But Dekar was back, in the flesh, having apparently survived the exploding shrine of far away. Using only his arms and legs he swam to Portravia and began to enter the fishing business. When he wasn't out hunting, he was roaming the waves for a sight of Maxim or his crew. Dekar would have done anything to join up with them again, the thrill of being a wandering warrior having always appealed to him. Lately, however, he had lost his adventurous spirit, preferring the easy life he had adapted himself to.
"God, don't look so stunned!" Dekar's sonorous voice broke through the awed quiet that embraced Maxim and his party.
"You're alive! You're alive! Oh my God, I can't believe it…!" Selan squealed at him and clapped her hands gleefully. "It's like you're back from the dead…" She ceased her grinning then and sorrow paled her features.
Maxim rubbed her back with his hand reassuringly. It's not only you, but also all of us. We all feel this way. It's like looking at a ghost.
"Is it really you?" Maxim's wife extended her hand to touch him. Dekar nodded tenderly and gently pulled her into an embrace. She landed in the water with him, the sea staining her lavender dress a dark plum color. Yet Selan couldn't have given less of a damn. This was her friend, a long-time companion; she thought they lost him during his final act of bravery, but now… Here he was, flesh and blood, and here she was, in his massive arms, clinging to his beefy body.
It is you, isn't it? Oh Dekar, it's been ages… We've got so much to tell you!
She began to shiver in his grasp, the breeze making her damp body cold.
"I told you guys that the dumb always survive!" Guy repeated a statement he had made so long ago, his chest swelling with pride beneath a silver cuirass.
"Guy, no offense or anything, but shut up, okay?"
Maxim beheld the sight of his wife clinging to one of her closer comrades, affection and maybe even a tear glittering in her marine eyes. She's so hard, like a warrior… It bothers me to see her cry like that.
But like the true battle-hardened veteran that she was, Selan couldn't hold emotional scenes for too long. "Well then! Have we got a lot to tell you!"
"Yeah," Guy joined in. "We've been in a submarine, seen a mermaid village…"
"Yeah, I've seen that too," Dekar looked up at Guy, whom he had always had a friendly rivalry with, ever since he could remember. "I've been everywhere in my travels, you see."
Dekar's trademark obnoxiousness came through in that comment, but then and there, everyone was willing to tolerate it.
"So that's your whale out there, right?" Maxim asked the Fish Man.
"Yeah. After the whole thing with the shrine, they saved me. They live in groups; his family taught me how to swim."
Guy rolled his eyes, ever the skeptic. "Yeah, sure. And the other day a dog told me how to go fetch."
Artea chuckled lightly at that comment.
"I'm being serious! I can talk to these things! Watch." To prove himself, something he always felt was necessary, Dekar whirled around in the water and whistled a strange group of notes. In the distance a spray of white vapor and a squeal was his reply. The whale that had been with Dekar moments ago swam over to him and surfaced at his side. "It's only a baby," he explained, affection in his tone. "I'm part of his team now. His family has a rule where no one can swim by themselves, so they sent him with me. I'm kinda like his teacher." Dekar flashed a dashingly handsome smile and with his free hand stroked the rubbery black skin of the creature.
Amazingly, as if the sea animal could understand what Dekar had said, it nodded its great head and issued a series of clicks.
Selan was impressed; in her mind Dekar had redeemed himself of all his moments of blatant thick-headedness from long ago. "What did it say?"
"He agreed with me."
Selan's eyes grew large and she beheld her old friend with amusement. "How did you know that?"
"They taught me. They're not just dumb animals, you know."
"Like a certain friend of ours," Guy mumbled, humor rich in his tone.
"I was all alone after the shrine collapsed," Dekar continued. "Who else could I have communicated with? They taught me how to talk to them, and how to hunt. So, if you've ever seen me with a sack of fish around here before, that's how I get them. And it's my job," he gestured at his whale companion, "to teach him to do the same."
"I've got to admit, I'm a little jealous," Maxim grinned.
"I'm not jealous at all; I just wanna know how to do that myself," Guy quipped. "You know, just in case I get stuck in a collapsing shrine myself."
"You'll need patience," Dekar warned him.
"Well, if you can do it than so can I!"
"So you can understand them, and they can understand you?" Selan asked, still in Dekar's massive arms, water lapping around their bodies. Her lavender gown bubbled up around her.
Dekar nodded. He then helped Selan out of the water at long last, where she fell, soggy and dripping, into Maxim's arms. There he held her tightly.
"I don't believe we've met," Artea accosted Dekar, who remained in the water. "I'm Artea." The violet-haired elf knelt and extended a hand to Dekar, who took it and gave it a friendly shaking.
"Artea's an elf," Maxim explained.
"The ears do give him away," Dekar responded haughtily.
It was then that something strange occurred: quite suddenly, Artea's fathomless dark eyes began to penetrate Dekar's own… They seemed to pierce his brawny exterior and go deep into his heart, his soul… It was almost a trance-like state. Artea had used that same soul-searching gaze on Maxim and the others before, and Maxim himself had always grown uncomfortable under the stare of his elven companion.
He is a good man, maybe a bit self-centered, but very loyal. Artea could read his personality in a way no human being ever could. What Artea could pick up about a man in a few uneasy moments would take an ordinary person many days to learn. He does not want to join Maxim again, though… I think he's accepted destiny's decree that there are other things in store for him.
Dekar's whale buddy broke up the atmosphere of awkwardness with a seemingly questioning squeal. Artea took this as a sign to break from Dekar; he pulled back with a satisfied smile on his white face.
Maxim never had the elf figured out himself.
Not one for moments of anxiety, Selan shattered the peace and stillness, "Hey Dekar, why don't you make the whale do a trick or something?"
Dekar shook his head at Artea, then raised a brow at him. That guy freaks me out. He turned to Selan, thankful for the interruption, "Sure. Watch this." Dekar held a strong arm out over the seawater and made a few signals with his hand. The baby whale nodded and emitted a squeal as it pushed under the ocean waves once more. For a time no one saw anything, until the animal leapt high farther out, turned on its side in midair, and landed back in the ocean again with an earsplitting splash. The water churned and grew hostile as a result of the turbulence, washing up over the edge of the dock and soaking the feet of all around.
"Not bad," Selan said approvingly.
Dekar's pride swelled at the accomplishment of the unique feat.
"Hey guys! Maxim!"
All five whirled around to face Lexis, who was calling to them from the doorway of the lab building. He ran across the pathway and down the stairs, joining everyone gathered around the dock. "You guys left in the middle of everything; I didn't get a chance to ask you about my speech…" When the great genius scientist laid his green eyes on Dekar, his pleasant expression fell like a stone. His voice low and trembling, he stated, "I've never believed in their existence before, but now…"
"What are you talkin' about?" Guy sneered.
Lexis ignored the man's inquiry and spoke to Dekar, "Sir, are you really a-"
All five of Maxim's friends broke out into laughter. "He thinks that Dekar is a mermaid!" Selan giggled.
"Merman," Dekar corrected her.
"What's… what's so funny?" Lexis swiveled his head this way and that, trying to glean an answer off someone's face. "I don't understand…"
"He's not a merman, Lexis; you can stop worrying," Maxim stated. "He's an old friend of ours."
"You're serious?" The scientist questioned.
"Sure as hell." Dekar nodded at the man and climbed out of the sea, hoisting his over two-hundred-pound frame over the edge of the platform. He stood at his full and imposing height, the tallest of all present, silver streams of seawater snaking glistening paths down the contours of his body. He extended his arms demonstratively to present a pair of very humanoid legs to Lexis. "See? No tail, no fins."
Lexis nodded gravely and took his chin into his hand, studying the man that was nearly two heads taller than he was. "Interesting," he spoke after a time. "Aren't you a stunning piece of work?" He gave Dekar's firm chest a reassuring pat.
Guy laughed. "His body size makes up for his brain size."
"Why thank you."
Lexis' attention turned to the whale in the water. "And… this is…?"
Dekar whirled around. "Him? Oh, he's a friend of mine."
Lexis crossed the dock to be closer to the creature. He placed a hand on its rubbery skin, but the young whale sank beneath the waves, distrustful of the stranger. Lexis caught the distinctive pattern of light and dark of the beast beneath the ocean. "Do you know what type of whale this is?" He looked at Dekar meaningfully. "That's a killer whale! They're vicious animals!"
"He didn't try to kill me," Dekar stated plainly.
"He very well could have," Lexis informed him.
"Lexis, Dekar's been swimming with the whale out there," Maxim told him. "I've seen it myself."
"Can you communicate with this creature?"
Dekar assured Lexis, "Of course. I'll show ya." He stood above the submerged orca whale and resumed his merry whistling. The mammal jumped out of the water again, but this time only half of its streamlined body emerged. When it was at level with Dekar's face it pressed its hard snout against his lips. Then it sunk back into the comfort of its natural environment.
"Amazing. Simply amazing. I've never seen an animal obey a human like that before -well, except for a dog." Lexis was astonished by the display. "How'd you learn to do that?"
Dekar retold him his story, happy to be the center of attention. "I was by myself, after the Karlloon Shrine was destroyed, and a group of whales saved me. From then on I learned to communicate with them, and that's how I survived. I was stranded on the island where Gratze is. There were mountains all around there, so I couldn't see much of the castle… I've heard a lot about that place…" He paused there. "You all know where Gratze is, right?"
Said Maxim, "Sure. We've been there to get the engine for our ship Excerion." The monster hunter awaited a query from Dekar about what an engine was, but the blue-haired muscle man merely grinned.
"Yeah, they're supposed to be so advanced and all." He gesticulated vaguely; then his expression grew excited as he reported, "Hey, that place blew up, ya know! I was there when it happened! All of a sudden the whole island was shaking and there was this really loud boom, then all this smoke…"
"When we destroyed the Prince's tank and stole its engine, he got ticked and blew his whole kingdom up." Maxim filled Dekar in on the happenings behind the sudden explosion.
"We weren't there to see it," Selan added, "but we heard from people in Dankirk and Treadool that it was spectacular - the fireworks, I mean."
Dekar was wringing out his dark locks for the duration of the story.
Lexis ran his gaze over the Fish Man for a time. "You could use a haircut, or a shave at least."
Dekar stroked his beard thoughtfully. "Yea, I guess I could, couldn't I?" He followed Lexis as the middle-aged man led him away to the laboratory. The early day's sun caught the man's Thunder Axe on his back and gave it its sharp gleam again.
The whale felt abandoned as it watched Dekar walk away; it started clicking and shaking its head back and forth, causing a thin layer of seawater to slick the dock's paved surface again.
Dekar caught those sounds. "Hey, calm down! I'll be back, I just gotta get washed up." He turned to Lexis then, remembering something. "I haven't got your name yet."
"It's Lexis Shaia, renowned genius of the known world."
"Don't get too carried away, old man," Guy warned him.
The two men entered the lab, Lexis in the lead, to get Dekar a decent shave. Maxim watched them head in, a sort of melancholy touching his soul. Selan was right, it IS like he's back from the dead… He seemed so cool towards everything…
But then again, he never actually died; we just thought he did…
All of those events had passed at a speed too quick for Maxim's emotions. Everything was so sudden. Dekar's alive. He just met Lexis and Artea… and he was so casual, as if nothing had ever happened… Surely it was just his nature. Dekar was always out to impress and stupefy. But this time, Maxim had hoped that the two old buddies would have similar feelings about their reunion after such a long time.
He's alive though. That IS a consolation.
The merman was soon out of range of Maxim's view…