Upon waking, a dry fishiness lingered in Xia Yi’s throat, but when he instinctively swallowed, it sort of tasted nice and sweet. He was still groggy, and it was as if there was a soft, warm blanket laid out over him. It felt so good that he didn’t want to open his eyes.
Honestly, the simplest bliss would be to lie on a comfy spring mattress, all tucked in, and sleep until he naturally woke up.
Apocalypse? Abilities? That was nothing but a long and scary nightmare.
As for the strange, unpleasant flavour in his mouth… Hmm, he’d probably slept for too long. Everyone felt like that before washing up. There was even a time when half of his head had turned numb from being in too long of a deep sleep! The benefit of not being a celebrity was that one didn’t have to run everywhere for appointments and shows, nor worry about their picture being taken secretly, and perhaps having the possibility of being late once in a while. Thus, it wasn’t easy for him to get such nice, undisturbed sleep like this.
Xia Yi gently turned his head, yet he didn’t feel his soft pillow. Instead, he heard some really quiet sounds of friction.
Weird… where’s my pillow? Did I throw it off the bed in the middle of my nightmare last night?
And these sheets don’t feel right either…
In his dazed state, though Xia Yi did want to open his eyes, he was truly too tired. His eyelids were heavy like soaked cotton, making it absolutely impossible for him to pull them back. So, he only succeeded in slightly shifting his arm. He could hear the very steady sound of water around him, leading Xia Yi to even more confusion. He always double-checked the windows, faucets and gas before he went to bed, so how could there be water so close to him?
His senses were still stuck somewhere in the endless darkness. Many people experienced such misperceptions when they were half-awake, feeling as if the walls and ceiling were in a distant place. What Xia Yi didn’t know was that currently, he wasn’t lying on a bed, but rather a patch of soft, fine sea sand. In fact, it was a patch that was specially cleaned to remove any coral pieces and pebbles. Moreover, instead of a pillow under his neck, there was a stack of pale yellow algae.
“This— this is really a human?”
A strange voice sounded like it was imprinted directly into Xia Yi’s head, making him unconsciously frown.
This voice was extremely unpleasant, like scraping broken metal on glass. Not only that, there was also some sputtering static in the background.
There exists someone who naturally has this rough of a voice? Without any heavy metal music synthesisers or voice-altering software?
“What kind of human can stay underwater?”
“And you don’t believe me when I say you’re dumb. If it wasn’t for that, why else would Siren want to collect this?”
The second voice was a little better, but its intonations were fluctuating all over the place. There were also pauses in the middle that sounded as if someone was speaking as they ran; it was like they were in the middle of panting.
Whoever’s voice this is should definitely do voice-overs and sound effects for horror movies.
“Ceto, you’ve arrived? I saw the marlins scuttling over my head!”
“…you still have not crawled here yet?”
Xia Yi now believed it wasn’t that he’d forgotten to turn off the faucet— rather, it was that the entire apartment building had flooded. Why else would there be so many strange voices that vocalised like they were blowing bubbles?
No, that doesn’t seem right either…My apartment isn’t the best, but it’s not that bad either. It’s over a hundred square metres and on the freaking top floor. The 28th floor! Not even the collapse of the Yangtze River dam could possibly flood my house!
Wait, why would I be at home? Didn’t I follow everyone else in the company who didn’t have any work bookings and board a luxury cruise ship before New Years?
Then, is the ship leaking?
A rough, long ribbon seemed to brush across his body. There was probably something prickly on it as Xia Yi was immediately startled awake when he felt the pain. The agonising sensation in his arm was nothing compared to the water-tower-sized head in front of him. Xia Yi almost fainted again, this time out of fright.
What in the world is that?
It resembled a fish, however the head was so big— ok fine, there’s plenty of large fish that are five-six metres long, and some could even reach over ten metres in length, so a head the size of a water tower isn’t that big of a deal— but where’s this thing’s body?! Why is there only a head poking out of the sand?
And this head is so flat, like it was squished by a door (you bastard, oarfish are born like this, got it?) so the correct adjective wouldn’t be ‘water-tower-sized’… more like ‘the-horizontal-side-of-a-water-tower’. =___=
Xia Yi pushed himself back using both his hands and feet.
If anyone opened their eyes and came face-to-face with a strange-looking fish that had red whiskers and a weird crown-like thing on its head, their first reaction would probably be to flee. Especially when there were two dangerously sharp teeth in its gaping mouth. The size of that thing meant it was definitely big enough to swallow a person whole.
Fish scales and other things could be seen around the creature’s teeth and mouth, and even though this was a shallower part of the ocean, it was still around seven to eight metres deep. But considering the size of this fish’s head, it could remain at the seafloor while it’s crown-shaped fin would’ve poked out of the water had the surface been just two metres closer.
What would humans do when faced with adversity?
Xia Yi’s pupils constricted as he quickly moved back in fear for his life; though, his ability was a step faster than his movements. Countless raging undercurrents and whirlpools appeared in the water, all thrown blindly at the strange fish.
These swirls merged with each other, creating a greater force that churned all the surrounding algaes and sardines. Everything there, other than Xia Yi, rained down on the fish’s head with surprising accuracy.
As the swirls grew bigger, Xia Yi realised that only a fool would try to out-swim a fish underwater.
He forced himself to calm down and tried to control the whirlpool, concentrating on increasing its strength in order to push the fish far away and safely swim back to land.
Finally coming to his senses, Xia Yi felt around his stomach.
If his memory served him right, he was still lying on the beach when he was poisoned. So how did he wake up underwater? Did the merman drag him down?
Before he made sense of what was happening, Xia Yi saw several dark shadows shoot past him.
Obviously, Xia Yi’s reflexes were horrible, but luckily, he was currently in the ocean and his ability was related to water. His subconsciousness activated his defense system which caused the darting shadows to slam into the strange fish despite their turn of direction.
If anyone was watching from the shore or the sky, they would’ve been astounded.
The water gathered into an expanding whirlpool where the tip steadily sharpened and its force strengthened.
Xia Yi suddenly felt something cold against his back. He immediately attempted to struggle free but the thing only further wrapped itself tightly around him. Looking down, Xia Yi understood the situation after seeing the pale arms encircling his chest and the light silver fins on those elbows. He stopped struggling since this made sense— if the merman hadn’t hugged him, it’d be sucked into the whirlpool as well. Accidentally being injured was one thing, but he definitely couldn’t allow the merman to be swallowed up by that strange fish in its anger.
“Ouch~~ It hurts!”
The shadows that glided past were the marlins that were already drained of their energy after being forcefully driven to these shallow waters. Since the giant oarfish had buried itself in the seafloor, they didn’t dare come near here at all. Still, they couldn’t run away either as the dreadful scents of sea monsters had assaulted them from all directions when they’d tried to swim back to the deeper ends. They were sucked into this whirlpool in the middle of their confused wandering and were completely dizzy after spinning all over the place tens of times. All of the marlins fainted after being slammed down, floating with their belly sideways.
To be honest, marlins’ long, sharp mouths were capable of poking through things other than rubber lifeboats. In fact, not even a substandard steel board could withstand a stab from a marlin swimming at high speed. Fortunately, the speed of this whirlpool was focused more on spinning and the target was a sea monster, so the only damage it received was a headful of little bloody dots. The whirlpool had completely spun it woozy and it’s hidden body was gradually exposed, but the sand churned up by the water prevented Xia Yi from seeing anything clearly.
All he heard was that awful metal-on-glass voice’s sudden cry before… !!!
The giant oarfish’s head, followed by its body, leaped up and out of the water.
The endless, extending shadow reminded Xia Yi of the spectacular sight of fire hoses getting flung out.
Just how long is this thing??
Xia Yi’s moment of shock naturally caused the whirlpool to dissipate. Through the murky seawater, he could see the strange fish resembling a— no, ‘fire hose’ wasn’t even enough to describe it— it was more like an old cassette that had gotten stuck in the tape recorder and was discovered too late; pulling out that tape had the exact same effect as this. =___=
The head fell back down before Xia Yi even saw its tail.
Another wave of sand was stirred up on the ocean floor.
Xia Yi felt the arms around him tighten; he immediately patted the cold skin in a comforting manner.
Given his position, he couldn’t turn around, so he wasn’t able to see the merman’s expressions.
A scream came from somewhere not too far away. “What’s going on, Ceto? Oh no! Gululu. Help!”
Xia Yi blinked in confusion. He didn’t really ‘hear’ the voice, instead, it sounded right in his head. Some of the words were vague and he had to listen to the entire phrase before somewhat guessing the meaning.
When the floating sand slowly settled, another patch of sand below the giant oarfish’s long body moved.
A giant pincer reached out to snap at the long and thick body, throwing it to the side.
“You almost crushed me to death!!”