Come dance with the Wanderers... Circulation: 193,552,674 Issue: 697 | 3rd day of Gathering, Y17
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The Trouble with Tridents: Part One

by winterdreary


      The seashells, in all the different colours of the sea, glimmered beautifully on the shelves. The counter looked cleaner than usual, free from clutter except for the latest news articles about current seashell trends. Outside, the sunrays were perfectly lighting up the shop front as usual (and how the shop keeper always managed to have a perfectly lit front was a mystery yet to be solved). All of this almost made Firi forget about the conversation she was having with her boss.

      "What do you mean when you say the stock is running low? It can not possibly be running low considering the tons of seashells I brought you last week." Firi asked her boss again, who was casually rearranging the seashells on the shelves. Her boss always did that; it was to 'make them more appealing to the customers' or something like that. Firi did not really understand as she was not a saleswoman, Firi's task was merely to collect the shells from various parts of Maraqua. She had become pretty good at it, too, after having done it for a few years. She had learned all of the tricks, everything from flattering the rich Maraquan citizens to sell her their nice shell jewelleries cheap, to finding hidden treasure caves around the outskirts of the city.

      Although, in reality, all Firi really wanted in her life was a nice house, a steady income and shelves full of rare and beautiful items at home. What she got was a shack, a job where she worked almost seven days a week, and while her boss was a nice lady, it was still not the life she wanted to lead. Firi dreamt about getting a job as a treasure hunter and to live a life of excitement and fear, but King Kelpbeard was not hiring... and she had heard Captain Scarblade was causing trouble in the outer areas of the city. So while she dreamt of this, she was still happy where she was, because she was a coward (and proud of it) and she was also a realist. She wanted to have excitement in her life, yet at the same time get back to a comforting home every night (even if it was a shack). Firi then thought about everything she had been part of in her life, and she smiled.

      "As a Mutant Peophin, with all of your beautiful colours and claws, perfectly shaped for collecting seashells, you should understand my artistic demand of having a satisfactory full stock of all the different shades of perfection." Firi's boss finally answered, while stroking one of her most cherished seashells.

      Firi rolled her eyes at that remark, but decided not to argue anymore. She left the shop, deep in thought of how she was going to find a more effective way of collecting seashells. So much hard work just to please an artist's demands, at least this day can not possibly get any worse, she thought and sighed deeply.

      Little did she know what was in store for her this day as she heard someone calling her name in a loud and familiar voice, "Firi!"

      Firi turned towards the voice and saw her long-time friend, Sei. He was a Maraquan Draik, with unusually big ears and a disproportionally long tail, which made him easy to recognize from afar. They had been friends since middle school. At first, they had disliked each other because of their opposite personalities; Sei was outspoken and eccentric and Firi was quiet and reserved. After they had spent an afternoon together in detention, however, they had discovered that although they were opposites, they still had a lot of things in common, like their love for adventures and a longing for a life of comfort. Nowadays, Sei was one of King Kelpbeard's loyal trident keepers, and he took his job very seriously. As you may or may not know, King Kelpbeard collected tridents and assigned his most trustworthy guards to protect them. This, because if he ever would need a spare trident (or a few) in his battles against the enemies of Maraqua, he would never run out of stock. Apparently, even kings are worried about empty stocks.

      "Firi!" Sei shouted again. "I am off duty now, let us do something fun!"

      "Sei, dear friend, some people never get off work, and I happen to have a very important task right now." Firi answered, and gave another sigh.

      "Task!? I had a couple of great tasks today on my patrol round! First, they wanted me to discretely dump the castle's excess items in the Fishing Vortex. You know, to keep up the myth of that place being a magical fishing ground, and I managed perfectly if I say so myself. Secondly, I was to deliver a Container of Purple Liquid to the Petpet shop..."

      Sei continued to go on and on about his day, but Firi had stopped listening because she was trying to come with a solution to her problem, and Sei was distracting her as usual with his babbling. Although, Sei caught Firi's attention again when he said: "...and then I was posing with the trident for some tourists visiting Maraqua, and of course it looked great and was shining brighter than ever because I had polished it to perfection this morning..."

      The mention of the trident gave Firi an idea, a most brilliant idea that would solve Firi's seashell collecting problem in a heartbeat.

      "Sei--" Firi interrupted him as he was telling her about his task to clean the Kelp restaurant's kitchen. "...your trident is not one of the most powerful spares King Kelpbeard owns, right?"

      Sei frowned, and almost looked offended.

      "You know it is not. I have applied several times to guard one of the more prestigious tridents, but for some reason they keep rejecting my application." Sei then said with a pout.

      Firi chose not to answer that remark out of love for her friend. She did not want Sei to feel unhappy about the fact that everyone regarded him a klutz. Instead she continued, "But it is still quite powerful, though, right? I mean, if you would drop it in the Bubbling pit, it would cause a lot of disturbances to the currents because of its powers, right?"

      "Well, yes." Sei said, and looked a little bit happier.

      "So then, it should be powerful enough to blast through, let us say, a rock wall or two?"

      What are you getting at, Firi?" Sei narrowed his eyes at her.

      Firi smirked, and said in her most motivational voice: "My boss is on me about collecting more seashells, and with your help, and your trident, we could become the most famous seashell collectors in the history of Maraqua! We could easily discover treasure caves overflowing with beautiful seashells if we used your trident to break down the ocean floor rock walls, and we could put them all in this bag I have brought with me, and..."

      "What!?" Sei interrupted. "That would completely go against my honour as a royal trident keeper!"

      "And posing with your trident for tourists is such honourable work...?" Firi asked, unimpressed.

      "That... that is completely different! That has to do with keeping up the appearance of the castle and creating good public relations. It is also about making King Kelpbeard look good and..." Sei trailed off.

      "M-hm, I am sure it is about Kelpbeard looking good..." Firi added, and rolled her eyes.

      "You know Maraqua is very dependent on its tourists to increase trades in order to be able to afford all of the repairs necessary due to the incident with The Curse of Maraqua." Sei continued. "I am sure you remember the famous battle between King Kelpbeard and Captain Scarblade, where the spare tridents played a very big part to Kelpbeard's victory, I might add. You know my father..."

      "Yes, yes, Sei, alright."

      Firi interrupted Sei before he yet again could tell her about the story of his father and how he had played a huge part in the final stages of the battle. If Firi remembered correctly, Sei's father had, against all odds, handed King Kelpbeard his spare trident in the last few moments before it would have been too late for Kelpbeard to make his final move. The secret of the spare tridents were that, while some are more powerful than others in their default state, once King Kelpbeard touched them they transformed into his own powerful trident. When Sei's father handed King Kelpbeard his spare trident it transformed and allowed him to make one more move. That led to the victory against Captain Scarblade, and was the reason why Sei's family had become a trusted ally to the king, and probably the only reason why they had ever let Sei serve as a trident keeper, despite of his... qualities. However, Firi knew how much it meant to Sei, and she would never be able to convince him to help her if it meant any kind of dishonour to King Kelpbeard.

      Maybe I could trick him somehow and borrow his trident and return it before he even knew it was gone? Should not be too hard, Firi thought. Although, speaking of gone...

      "Sei?" Firi began. "Where is your trident, by the way?"

      Sei's proud manner abruptly changed and a panicked look emerged on his face. He looked around for a brief moment but reality had already struck him -- the trident was gone.

      To be continued…

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