When asked ‘what’s the scariest thing in an apocalypse?’, most people would quickly respond with ‘zombies’ before recalling just how chilling ‘human nature’ was. Almost everybody had heard of the 2012 Doomsday prophecy, but probably no one had truly believed and prepared for it. Furthermore, any meme-centric apocalyptic posts revolved around surviving ‘zombies’ and ‘meteors’… Never once had anyone considered questions like ‘what would humanity do if our magnetic field disappeared?’ and ‘how could we find and survive with tools that didn’t rely on the magnetic field?‘
Like most people, Xia Yi didn’t really want to die after discovering he had the chance of living a while longer. He’d just take every day as it was; who knew what was going to happen tomorrow?
However, just because he was open to death didn’t mean that non-scientific and illogical things could start appearing one after another!
There’s even a merman!
Even now, Xia Yi still felt that floating to this uninhabited island, being confused, and attempting to survive was all an absurd dream. Honestly, even seeing a dinosaur would make more sense than a merman since the prior could be the result of an experiment by mad scientists.
These mythological creatures truly existed!
Not just a merman, but also an octopus with large and thick tentacles that could easily topple a ship, and that dangerous sea creature that resembled something in between a dragon and a snake— how terrifying!
The first thing that Xia Yi wanted to do after snapping out of his fright was not to figure out who was speaking, but to swim back to land as quickly as possible.
No doubt about it, humans felt safest with their feet firmly planted on hard, dry ground! It was too dangerous beneath the waves!
Xia Yi was almost dragging the merman towards the surface of the sea; he needed to make out the direction towards shore.
With a sudden burst of strength, Xia Yi managed to first crawl onto the shoal rock and then onto the island without having to stop midway at all. An awful migraine began the moment he left the ocean, causing him to stumble a few steps before regaining his composure. He had a feeling that the pain had something to do with creating that giant whirlpool underwater earlier.
After clambering onto land, Xia Yi realised that his right arm refused to budge no matter how hard he tried to pull it forward.
Turning around, he noticed that the merman with long, light silver hair was still submerged in the water from the chest down. Its amethyst eyes stared up at him with curiosity and confusion. Although Xia Yi got a cramp from all the movement, he didn’t waste any time and quickly wrapped an arm around the merman’s chest, hugging it tightly. He had to bring it away from this dangerous, sea-monster-infested part of the ocean.
At first, the merman was merely bewildered, but upon realising what Xia Yi was trying to accomplish, Siren struggled a little.
It didn’t like leaving the ocean.
“No… we have to go. It’s too dangerous here.”
Hold up, not even the shore was safe. Xia Yi vaguely remembered seeing a giant pincer about the size of a table… Was that a crab? Could that creature actually crawl on land?! Xia Yi desperately prayed that he’d go unnoticed by the sea monsters, or perhaps not be to their taste at all.
While it was true that the song of the merfolk wasn’t meant to be heard with the ears, and neither was it sung using vocal cords, that, however, didn’t mean merfolk couldn’t produce sound or speech; frankly, the real reason for the misunderstanding between the two was the language barrier.
—Like… it’d be impossible for a merman who’d lived in the deep sea to understand Chinese.
Still, there were many occasions in the world where people who didn’t speak the same language tried and guessed their way through.
Siren was actually lured in by this delicacy. It was a great surprise to the merman when Xia Yi had reacted to the sea monsters with a split second of panic and fear. As it turned out, he could also turn into food… Siren swam over uncontrollably. It debated whether to eat the human or not since it wasn’t easy to find a treasure worthy of collecting. Throughout the past several days, the merman had grown fonder and fonder of Xia Yi; he didn’t constantly make the merman feel like it was facing food, wasn’t very dislikable, and most importantly, where else could Siren possibly find a human that didn’t drown in water?!
As it pondered, a steadily-growing whirlpool had appeared in the ocean.
The oarfish possessed a huge, strong body and was at the eye of the whirlpool, which allowed it to hold firm and not be tossed away immediately. The same couldn’t be said for Siren. Every so often, vicious whirlpools and undercurrents manifested in the deep sea, posing a threat to the sea monsters despite their capabilities.
Siren wanted to grab onto something, but the water was too shallow for it to find anything handy. Amidst its panic, the merman found a much better target— yes, Xia Yi himself.
The force of the maelstrom was quelled the moment Siren latched onto Xia Yi’s back; it was then that it realised just who had caused these whirlpools.
An odd ability… Doesn’t seem to be too harmful, but there isn’t much sea-dwelling creatures can do against it.
“Hurry… they’ll eat us!” Xia Yi pressed. Most of his energy was spent bringing himself to land, much less trying to drag along a merman whose weight was comparable to an adult man. He was completely winded and had no other choice than to tighten his grip. “Be good,” he continued, “Come onto land!”
It was said that there were creatures, like crocodiles, who’d hide themselves beneath the surface and pounced on their prey once they neared the edge of the water.
They have to leave the shoreline!
Of course, Siren could breath on land. However, it’d lose its speed and agility once it left the ocean. Fine, silver scales adorned its waist, allowing water droplets to roll down the slender tail. These scales were durable, not falling off or bleeding even as they scraped against the rough, sharp rocks, producing a dull thud instead.
No matter how shiny the scales looked, or how soft the skin felt, it all had to be incredibly tough in order to survive the tremendous water pressure deep within the sea. Otherwise, the creature would die a painful death where their blood vessels ruptured and their bones shattered into pieces.
Xia Yi paused upon hearing the sound, and he promptly looked down to examine the merman.
After making sure that the merman wasn’t hurt anywhere, Xia Yi finally remembered that the creature couldn’t possibly move on land. Nevertheless, the current situation was too dire for him to devise a well-organised plan. He could only hope that this merman was as smart as the ones mentioned in myths and understood what he was trying to say.
“Your hand… can you hold onto me…” Xia Yi moved the other’s cold and pale arm to his shoulder, gesturing as he spoke. This was quite difficult for him; he was already terrible enough at properly conveying his thoughts to people, much less a non-human creature. On the other hand, if he was trying to talk to another human, they’d definitely ask him ‘why’, but with the merman, all Xia Yi had to do was make sure it could complete the action. As for the rest… well, it’s like how no one truly expected a kitten to understand them when they spoke to it, right?
…so what is he doing this for?
Siren looked at Xia Yi before moving its gaze to the arm held in the human’s hand.
Despite his expression settling into one of alarmed fear, this human didn’t have the same alluring scent from earlier.
So this is not fear?
Then why is he latching onto me when he is not afraid?
If one had the time and energy, the best way to find out what someone wanted to do was to allow them to do exactly what they wanted. That way, the other party’s reasoning would become clear. Following this argument, if a pet was doing everything it could to bring you somewhere, you might as well get up and follow them. A pet was like a child, always trying to find ways to gain the adults’ attention. In these circumstances, it’d be best to humour them first before diverting their attention with food or other things. Wait, this was getting off topic… Anyways, the twisted relationship and mindsets of these two here… were awkward beyond words.
And so Siren curiously followed Xia Yi’s example and hugged his shoulders tightly from behind. This was something that was very new and interesting because the warm and pulsing veins of the human were right below the merman’s fingers… All it needed to do was give it a gentle swipe…
Hmm, humans are so fragile.
But his body was so warm, and just touching Xia Yi made Siren feel good, not to mention laying on him. He was like the temperature of the water near the surface at around noon, when it was so cozy that Siren just wanted to curl up and take a good nap.
Though Xia Yi wanted to dash out in one breath, the merman was too slippery for him to take a proper hold of. Usually, a piggy-back ride would require the person doing the carrying to hold the other person’s legs, but the merman didn’t have those! The only things that existed below the waist were smooth scales that were impossible to grab onto. If he tried to hold somewhere higher, then he’d encounter nothing but cold, soft skin— naked skin. And why did the touch feel that good? Everything was so foreign to Xia Yi, who had social anxiety to begin with. He’d never been this close to someone else and his fingers were beginning to twitch. He was this close to submitting to his instincts and letting go.
This feeling of utmost trembling and having your hair stand on end wasn’t something that normal people could understand.
Xia Yi despised touching others, and when he had no other choice, he’d take time to mentally prepare himself for it.
Though he was the one initiating physical contact, he could clearly feel the soft and icy sensation through his tattered clothes. That entire patch of skin felt as if there were needles poking at it— this wasn’t the right time for complaining!
Running for your life is definitely way more important!
After stumbling behind the shoal rocks and managing to let go of the merman, Xia Yi turned around and stared at the sea.
The ocean had calmed, and from the distance, he could only see lumps of sand as they gradually settled to the bottom.
Wait, no, there was still a really, really long shadow below the surface.
This deserted island was surrounded by the ocean. There was no fresh water or food, so had it become a challenge to see who’d give up first and leave?
What seemed strange to Xia Yi was the fact that, in the beginning, only algaes existed around this part of the sea. Then a merman and a whole bunch of possibly-poisonous sardines appeared. Finally… not just the sea monsters, but the whirlpools also seemed to have brought a good number of big fishes here. He didn’t see them clearly in the chaos, though hopefully they were all poisonous and ended up poisoning those sea monsters!
Still, the poison couldn’t have been too dangerous. He was just in pain for several hours and coughed up some blood, so the sea monsters probably wouldn’t even be affected at all if they ingested these fish.
Struggling, Siren finally managed to push itself up on the rocks and stared at Xia Yi, who was gazing into the sea.
Humans are so odd. He just scrambled out of the water as if his life depended on it, and now he is looking back at the ocean. What is he trying to do?
Also, this is too far away from the water. Not even the rising tides can reach here.
…how am I supposed to go back?