Editor: Bubbles and Nini
Xia Yi only managed to laugh once before choking on seawater. Though he didn’t need to constantly swim to the surface for air and instead directly extracted oxygen with his new and sudden special ability, it wasn’t like he had sprouted gills on the side of his neck. Therefore, he could totally choke while underwater.
The sensation of having salty, bitter ocean water pouring down one’s throat was not pleasant at all— it brought back Xia Yi’s memories of falling into the sea.
Sure enough, committing suicide required a lot of bravery. Death itself wasn’t scary, but the process of walking towards it was exceptionally cruel.
Xia Yi just wanted to find a secluded place with food near the ocean. As he wouldn’t have to worry about a lack of fresh water, there would be no need to fight anyone over that. Perhaps, after two or three months of settling down, he would even begin to reminisce about computers, novels, and all the entertainment devices he used to own. But he’d never wish for someone’s company, nor would he ever consider integrating himself into the societal clusters set up by other survivors.
Although Xia Yi turned and swam away, because he wasn’t very fast, he could still see the oarfish’s long body twitching in the sand even after a while. The conversation behind him also remained clear.
“Siren, can’t you pull it out? Then what should we do? I’m scared of using too much force. Gululu, I can only pick it up, but if we’re dragging it backwards, my pincers would snap Ceto’s body in two!”
“Climb onto the shore and attempt to push Ceto down from the other side.”
“Okay, I’ll try. Hopefully it didn’t crash too far away and can swim back by itself when the tides rise.”
“Help… I can’t wait until the tides come!” The oarfish cried.
Oarfish couldn’t breathe on land, and if the rescue process took too long, it would die despite being a sea monster.
“Dammit, Ceto! You’re so heavy! How do you expect me and Siren to pull you back, gululu? We should get Eurybia to come help! It’s strong!”
“No, the water is so shallow here that only you and Ceto can come. Nereus… its giant body is absolutely useless!”
Xia Yi couldn’t understand why he could still hear their voices as if they were right behind him; he should be far away from them now.
And the merman didn’t stop him from leaving.
Though that was a good thing, and exactly what he’d hoped for— no one wanted to come face-to-face with a group of sea monsters— Xia Yi felt an inexplicable emotion suddenly surge up inside of him.
Being antisocial since forever, he’d never liked physical contact. Usually, he’d immediately pull back just upon accidentally brushing against someone, but back then, under his shock and fear of the sea monsters, he’d managed to piggyback the merman to land. And later, when he was at a loss as to what to do with the marlin, he had no choice but to carry the merman over. Even though both trips were very short, they were still moments of great impact that he would never forget.
After pressing and swallowing down his various psychological discomforts, the cold and smooth sensation actually felt especially comfortable. It reminded Xia Yi of the water pillow that he’d bought for the summer… so cool and soft…
He hadn’t realised just how strong the merman was before. Earlier, when it’d hugged his waist underwater, he actually couldn’t struggle free. If it wasn’t for the sea monster that had beached itself out of nowhere, Xia Yi would probably still be wasting futile effort right where he’d been.
When he finally left, Siren merely spared him a wordless glance without attempting to stop him.
Xia Yi figured that he may have been wrong. Whether it was aggressive natures or scary appearances, these were all qualities that humans had decided on subjectively. Animals only killed to feed themselves; meanwhile, humans were the ones who were really hard to read. Xia Yi didn’t like to stay with his fellow humans, but he also didn’t want to stay with sea monsters who were practically radiating pure pressure. Honestly, nobody would like to live the rest of their days in fear like this. Still, since these sea monsters had refrained from harming him, and they’d even helped him on several occasions, it didn’t feel right for him to just turn and leave like this.
——And that’s where you’re completely mistaken, our poor Xia Yi. The reason why Siren didn’t stop you from leaving is because with your speed… how far can you swim? Sea monsters may have a habit of collecting things, however it isn’t as if these treasures must stay in their line of sight at all times. Nereus even lets its pets out every now and then, and then they’d lure several fishes back to the jellyfish’s stingers. And as for asking you for help, who are you kidding? Humans have always had a ‘fragile’ and ‘handle with care’ image in the eyes of sea monsters.
When Xia Yi finally swam back, he was faced with the giant crab pushing while the merman pulled hard on the oarfish. Small trails of blood were dissolving in the ocean; they weren’t from the dead marlin, but instead came from the oarfish, which had small cuts all over its body. The jagged injuries were, without a doubt, the work of the crab. The white markings, on the other hand, were probably done by Siren’s nails. Xia Yi felt a shiver go down his spine the moment he laid eyes on them.
He didn’t even know if he was just lucky earlier, or if there was something else at play.
He really was an idiot for expecting that the worst thing that could come of him ‘suddenly approaching the merman’ was a deep scratch— had the merman truly tried to maul him, he’d probably be in pieces by now.
“Ceto? Are you still alive? I’m going to take a rest if you’re dead. Gululu, I’m so tired!”
“Wuuuuuuu——” A muffled voice sounded.
Xia Yi rose to the surface and discovered that the oarfish had really beached itself hard. Its head had reached where he and the merman previously shared the marlin. He stared fixedly towards the ocean and focused on the thought of having seawater flood the entire island.
But as time passed, nothing happened.
That was because special abilities weren’t simple magic. He could summon a large amount of freshwater from the cracks of a rock because the ocean was right beside him. Likewise, An Li’s control over fire would be weaker at night and was rendered completely useless in water. The law of conservation of energy still applied in the world— whirlpools could appear in water and fire could appear in the air, yet there’s no way that a large sum of seawater could materialise out of nowhere and wash the beached oarfish back into the ocean.
Before Xia Yi could figure out a solution, Siren looked up towards him in alarm.
Infrasonic waves rarely scattered and could penetrate almost any obstacle. It was quite difficult to weaken them. As long as they deliberately lowered the hertz of the infrasonic waves, the sea monsters could hear each other no matter where they were— whether it was the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean, the tropics or Antartica. Of course, they’d be short sentences with simple meanings, but the sea monsters would also send back their own infrasonic waves of confirmation. That was why, when the apocalypse arrived and the entire magnetic field was in chaos as radiation spread, the squid still received news and managed to come all the way here from the Ross Sea in Antarctica.
It was very rare for these sound waves to be intercepted or distorted by things other than huge natural disasters like tsunamis, volcano eruptions, or earthquakes.
Siren peered at Xia Yi.
This was the second time that the merman had discovered Xia Yi stopping infrasonic waves.
It was at the underwater whirlpool before, and now…. Was this odd human trying to do something else? It seemed like both sound and ocean waves disappeared when Xia Yi was nearby. It wasn’t as obvious in the beginning, but the tide level was suddenly and rapidly declining; several marlins escaped to the deeper ends, leaving only the crab dumbly blowing bubbles in the now-exposed sand.
“Where’s the water?”
Not just the crab, even the merman, who only had a small half of its body still submerged, was perplexed. The process was very quick, so the giant crab had yet to realise its infrasonic waves had just disappeared.
Huge waves surged onto the island shore as if an invisible hand was pushing and piling all the water onto that specific area, drowning the island in an instant. The oarfish, too, was shocked. Its head and upper body that were supposed to be on land… How did I switch places out of nowhere? My body that laid on the ocean floor is being warmed by the sunlight now. How is my head back in the ocean and I’m breathing fine?
The oarfish obtusely attempted to wobble back towards the island.
“You’re heading, gululu, the wrong way! Come back!” A certain crab clacked its pincers and started dragging.
But the oarfish couldn’t hear anything and was shaking its head in an attempt to find the right direction when the mountain of waves came crashing down and back into the sea. This time, the oarfish realised something was wrong and scampered back with the ‘escaping seawater’. Siren felt the barrier blocking the infrasonic waves disappear the moment the water came flowing back.
With a swash of the water, the beached monster finally returned to the sea. However…
“Ceto, what’s that in your mouth?”
“The marlin. Siren’s always like this, throwing away delicious foods just like that!” The oarfish chewed happily on the marlin that was now missing slices from its side, completely ignoring the countless bloody dots and small cuts littered across its body.
Catching the weird expression that Xia Yi was making, Siren came to a fascinating deduction. With a quick swish of its silver tail, the merman agily gilded through the water. By the time Xia Yi caught its movements from the corner of his eye, it was too late to dodge.
Icy arms encircled his neck. “Hmm, you can hear our voices, right?”
Xia Yi didn’t dare move even a muscle as he felt equally cold fingers trail down his spine. Though this gesture would usually be considered flirtatious, Xia Yi knew there wasn’t a single ounce of romance involved here. Those amethyst eyes pierced through the water, shining with a chilling glint. Perhaps it was due to the refracted light underwater, but Xia Yi saw a faint yet terrifying smile lingering on those possibly-soft, thin lips.
“Tell me, what are you?”
“Humans don’t have powers like you. Tell me now, and I’ll let you go…” Siren smiled and moved closer until its cold cheek was against Xia Yi’s neck. Due to the close distance between them, Xia Yi could see several thin, silver scales that grew behind the merman’s ears. They looked delicate and beautiful, but what happened next rendered him unable to look at Siren any longer.
Unlike its freezing body temperature, the merman’s tongue did carry a bit of warmth.
Siren licked Xia Yi’s Adam’s apple, and the latter broke out into a cold sweat. There was nothing flirtatious about this action— Xia Yi hadn’t forgotten that the fingers trailing up and down his spine could instantly send him to an immediate death
“Not talking? Well then…”
“I can understand it.”
“Hmm?” Siren looked up at Xia Yi. That was an audible sound, not infrasonic waves. It’s true that this was how humans had always communicated… Was he doing this on purpose? Or perhaps… there is a creature in the oceans that could understand but not produce infrasonic waves? If that is the case, then I have found such a treasure!
“Thank you for the fish, but I—” Before Xia Yi even finished his sentence, Siren once again tightened its embrace, almost choking the poor human.
Ignoring its treasure’s reaction, Siren immediately began to swim towards the deep sea with its human still in its arms. Infrasonic waves with a clear sense of happiness sounded straight in Xia Yi’s head.
“I can’t understand, so you’re mine now!”