Mermaids, dolphins, and humans are forever bound. This claim all Merfolk will swear is true. Just how this came to be is told in a fairytale, which begins as all their true stories will: Long, long ago, when the sea was young…
Long, long ago, when the sea was young, it held all life. And in those days, its creatures were content to glide through its warm shallows or dive deep into its coldest depths. Among them were creatures able to change the shape of their being, and there came a time when first one, then another climbed onto the dry land. Choosing to live there instead, they learned to breath the air and move about the dry, rocky earth while shedding their fins, skins, and scales. Among them was the Dolphin.
Why the Dolphin left the sea is another tale for another time, but it is enough to say that, as a group, they were shapeshifters and chose to inhabit the land for a while. However, being more sensible than most creatures, they at last decided while life on land had been an adventure, they now were done with it. So back to the sea they went. But quite soon, they discovered there was one thing they missed from their days on the land: the creatures who had become Land Folk. The humans. The dolphins had grown to love them. They were nearly as smart and enjoyed a good game. They even had a kind of language and could communicate simple ideas. But they had become one with the land and had no intention of leaving it.
What Can We Do?
So, dolphins began to wonder, “What can we do about this? Especially since humans have become solely a creature of air and land, and now fear the sea.”
This was true at the time. In the long ago, humans never entered water deeper than their knees unless they fell in or were pushed, and they were sure to drown if this happened, for they had forgotten how to swim and how to breathe.
“Perhaps the Lord of All Seas can help us,” someone suggested. “He is wise and knows all things.”
So, the dolphins sent an emissary to ask the Lord of All Seas for help in the matter. He was indeed wise and, after some thought, said, “I will teach humans how to build wooden ships that will ride atop the water, and I will teach them how to swim in the places where air and water meet. Will that do?”
“Oh, yes,” said the emissary, and his dolphin kin agreed.
A New Problem Arises
And for a time, it seemed the plan might work. Land Folk put to the sea in ships, and dolphins ran before the bows, amusing the humans—the sailors—with their leaping and gliding and chattering. Humans also learned to swim, as the Lord of All Seas had promised, though never far from shore and only for short spells. They tired easily, you see.
So for a while, these things were enough. But sometimes the dolphins would remember how it was to have humans living among them, and they longed for that again. So, another emissary was sent to the Lord of All Seas to ask, “How can we bring humans into our world to live among us?”
Well, this was a much more difficult problem to solve, and the Lord of All Seas pondered it for many days and nights before a solution occurred to him.
An Enchanted Solution
“As you know, humans no longer readily change the shape of their being,” he reminded the emissary, “and I cannot force them to do so. However, I can provide them with the means, if they wish to enter my realm and live among my children. Along the shores of every ocean, in secret coves and hidden grottoes, I will cause charmed pools to form in which the transformation you seek may take place. Humans who swims in such a pool may become a creature of the water if they wish it. They will be called Merfolk.”
“But be warned,” the Lord of All Seas continued, “because these strange waters will be scattered throughout the world, I cannot control the nature of the humans who may discover and enter them. And that will determine the nature of the merfolk who come into being.”
In time, the waters of the world were populated by a variety of water folk, both benevolent and malevolent, like selkies, kappas, rusalka, and adaro as well as mermaids. Some of these bore little resemblance to anything human and were clearly the result of a terrible mix-up.
But throughout, mermaids, dolphins, and humans remained bound. Which brings me to the reason I told you this tale. Between you and me, I have found the charmed waters of this place and know how you can come along with me and leave the land behind.