Now, don’t think that the crab was snoring away because it was simply being reckless. Rather, it was waiting for the tides to rise and the ocean to save it. With the way waves rolled in, everything would float up, especially the wood of these coconut trees— the crab could then easily flip around.
Its only frustration was that it couldn’t bring back any food. For a long time, Gululu felt that it was beneath the other sea monsters because of this failure. The land is way too terrifying!
The oarfish nodded its head in agreement when it heard the statement.
The sea monsters had no interest in questions like ‘what would humans do after this disaster’, ‘how many were dead’, or even the whereabouts of the people who were on Thaumas’ back. The only thing they cared about was the situation underwater; the earthquake was so severe that it must’ve changed the ocean floor’s terrain.
Due to great hunger, the sea monsters hurried along their way.
The crab was crawling too slowly and the jellyfish had been ‘fatally injured’, so both creatures had to be carried by the rest. Gululu was delighted at finally being able to break free of that bastard Ceto. What did you say? That the squid, on the other hand, has barbed tentacles? Well, only the jellyfish was afraid of it, whereas Gululu was a crab with a thick, hard shell… Why would it be afraid at all?
The tallest mountain in the world was the Himalayas1Author may have made a mistake here since Mauna Kea is actually the tallest mountain because the rest of it is submerged underwater., while the highest point above sea level belonged to Mount Everest. But what about its polar opposite?
The Mariana Trench stretched far and wide along the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and one of its dips— Challenger Deep— had a sea level of -11,033 metres. One could pretty much drown the entirety of Mount Everest in it and the tip would still be about 2,100 metres away from the ocean’s surface. Normally, a thousand metres below the surface was enough to be categorised as the deep sea… =___=
As seen from the octopus’ name, Abyss— those who knew that sea monsters were more than just legends believed that these creatures originated from that haunting chasm. On many occasions, they’d intercepted strange infrasonic waves but had no means of interpretation. At the same time, dispersing whirlpools would appear in Challenger Deep every decade or so. They weren’t big, but were still incredibly strong and capable of dragging down organisms within 500 metres of the area; such was a misfortune suffered by some underwater micro cameras which scholars had placed onto large fish in order to study underwater habitats. Without a doubt, the cameras had ended up being shattered by the deep sea pressure. As for the fish? Who knew? They were probably flattened into fish jerky.
In recent years, technological advancements had enabled a few finely-crafted instruments to peek into that mysterious canyon. There was no doubt that Challenger Deep had been a main destination for curious minds; it was bone-chilling and pitch-black, but not devoid of life. Marine beings, like fish and single-celled algae, thrived in such an environment.
Of course, then there were sea monsters!
A ginormous octopus covered in blue circles glowed faintly in the deep sea. As it lulled in the darkness of Challenger Deep, it was undoubtedly beautiful. Its tentacles all faced the same direction and curled with the almost non-existent tossing of the currents. Given the immense water pressure, the octopus’ entire body was flat like a piece of paper.
Frankly speaking, the scholars weren’t strangers to this sea monster.
—A creature that appears to resemble a blue-ringed octopus yet is enormous in size. It has a history of following large ships from underwater, but there’s no record of it attacking any vessels. Now, having been caught on camera, ‘Abyss’ is definitely a fitting name!
A monster that seems to have clambered up from the depths of a hellish abyss— you couldn’t get more accurate than that!
【I was also at Challenger Deep at the time… Why did no one notice me?】The oarfish complained.
The sea monsters didn’t always stay at such extreme depths, because while their ‘home’ was amazing, there was a significant lack of food! Their best choice of action would thus be to feast deliciously first and then head back to sleep!
Eurybia nibbled on its own tentacles— thank goodness sea monsters didn’t need their mouths to talk.
The first thing that greeted Xia Yi when he awoke was a giant squid. It was reddish-pink in colour and swam back and forth in search of food. Having found none, it resorted to sucking on its own tentacles.
Since it was always a beat slower than the rest of the monstrous group, all the passing fish, shrimp, or shellfishes would be snatched up by the others. Even Nereus would lash out its tentacles to sting its prey. The crab snapped its pincers and darted out from the side; having caught food for itself, it happily munched while not sharing the slightest morsel with the squid that was helping carry it along.
【Mmm, hungry…】Eurybia stared at its companions.
If they were humans, perhaps they would’ve been overcome with compassion and shared some of their leftovers.
But in the wild, even those who weren’t sea monsters had the tendency to stake claim over food! A starving companion staring at them would’ve given them nothing but wariness— it was merciful enough that they hadn’t threatened and chased said companion away.
Eurybia being an extremely picky eater was much worse; it found something lacking in all that was come across in the tropical regions. Its ‘hometown’ was the Ross Sea, and the squid loved the Antarctic krill there… Urgh, missing them so much.
Therefore, it could only continue to nibble its tentacles— was this supposedly the squid equivalent of biting one’s fingers?
【Can’t we not go to Challenger Deep? There’s even less food there!】
【But Eurybia, it’s very cool there!】
【Ah!】The dumb squid was in a dilemma: do I want refreshing coolness or food?
—My dear, why are you even pondering over this? You could just go home! Yes, Antarctica is quite far away… but you’re not Gululu! You can just swim back!
All edible life except for algae was devoured clean as the sea monsters passed through. Oh wait, hold up— Thaumas was lying atop a patch of lush, brown algae and munching happily!
It was slow, but no one fought it for its food, so it was quite relaxed where it was.
【Oh, you’re awake?】Thaumas was startled by Xia Yi rolling right off its back.
How could I not see him? He literally fell right onto the patch of algae in front of my nose!
Xia Yi didn’t see the light silver merman, and while the other sea monsters were amusing, it was still a bit frightening to see them so close up. Especially when the barbs on the squid’s tentacles had sunlight bouncing off them despite it being underwater! Even an idiot could tell how sharp they were.
It really wasn’t in Xia Yi’s best interest to remain with these big guys.
Stretching out his sore limbs, Xia Yi discovered that while they were still a little heavy, he could somewhat manage swimming motions. Also, perhaps he’d starved for such a long time that the burning pain in his stomach had already disappeared. The ocean was so vast that he could go anywhere, and as long as he distanced himself from people, Xia Yi was confident that his ability would grant him relative safety.
【Wait! You can’t go!】Seeing Xia Yi’s actions, Thaumas realised what Siren’s treasure was about to do. However, its size and oar-like fins meant that in order to catch him, the sea turtle would first have to reposition its entire body with great difficulty. So it yelled, 【Abyss! Eurybia! Stop him!】
Immediately, a myriad of tentacles popped up with a swish, forcing Xia Yi to stay where he was.
Breathless, Thaumas managed to catch up. Shaking its head, the sea turtle said, 【You can’t leave. What’s Siren going to do if you’re gone? It wasn’t easy for Siren to find a merfolk that’s to its liking, and unlike many years ago, the merfolk population is now too meager. If you don’t stay, you won’t be able to find another of your kind elsewhere. Are you planning to remain like this forever?】
Life wasn’t easy for merfolk in heat. If they couldn’t find another of their species, they’d be stuck with that awkward appearance… which would be a huge hassle. Without fishtails, swimming was awfully labourious.
Xia Yi didn’t know whether he should laugh or be frustrated at Thaumas’ attempt at persuasion.
Outwardly, he appeared to have neither reaction; freezing where he was, Xia Yi looked awkward and strange. He didn’t know what to do.
Should I try explaining things to the sea monsters? Forget that, I can’t even say the word ‘heat’!
One mustn’t forget that infrasonic waves could only be produced when the speaker was focused on a single thought.
As it spoke, the giant sea turtle suddenly grew sad. Tears poured out of its eyes, except because they were underwater, it could’ve cried itself to death and no one would’ve been able to tell. Yes, a real tragedy.
【You aren’t like me… I’m the one out of luck! I have nothing to do with these guys who came out of Challenger Deep. Boohoo! I used to be very normal, but then I just kept living and living and never died! Now I’m this big and have no chance of finding a mate for reproduction… sigh… Oh well, I’m old anyways…】
The sporadicness of its train of thought was even more bizarre than Xia Yi’s logic.
Looking up at the gigantic sea monsters, Xia Yi remembered the pictures of the treasured species that he’d once searched up for a filming.
Pacfic Ridley Sea Turtle… They were a vulnerable species, weren’t they?! And they were usually small in size!
Amidst its rambling, Thaumas heard Xia Yi’s question, and it took the turtle a moment to realise what he meant. Peering closely at Xia Yi, it thought: He doesn’t really sound like a merperson, but that’s definitely infrasonic waves.
【Siren went to find you food.】
The merman’s taste and appetite was even pickier than that of Eurybia, not to mention the fact that it wasn’t feeding only itself.
【You like eating oysters? Haha! I like them too.】Thaumas stated excitedly.
Honestly, Xia Yi had no awareness of his surroundings when he was burning up with a high fever. He hadn’t had much experience with oysters – not even roasted ones in restaurants – so he didn’t have any opinion towards the shellfish. But apparently that was what Siren was feeding him earlier?
His forehead was no longer hot, and stickiness was the only discomfort he could feel now since the bitter tang of blood had disappeared from his mouth. The inflammation in his gums had also gone down. Oysters could do that? Xia Yi’s mind wandered off again.
While this fever seemed abrupt, it was to be expected.
After all, it’d been almost a month since he last ate something ‘normal’.
Fevers, gum inflammation, and general pain was really the least of the possible concerns. Even things like gastrointestinal bleeding would’ve been plausible considering that before he’d met Siren, Xia Yi was often starved. He’d previously hypothesised that regardless of how powerful an ability was, it would have its limits. Though he was able to cleverly utilise the churning of the waves to create a whirlpool, his body couldn’t support such a prolonged depletion of energy, so the fainting that resulted afterwards didn’t surprise Xia Yi at all. What confused him now was that not only was his energy replenished and he wasn’t sore all over, but also that the odd frailness he’d experienced earlier was gone as well?!
Xia Yi’s brain wasn’t an encyclopedia, nor was it Baidu; his memory wasn’t so well catered to wordy explanations as it was to pictures. Thus, he had no idea that he’d almost died of a fatal disease called ‘scurvy’. He also didn’t know that oysters were one of the only seafood that contained an abundance of vitamin C. While it couldn’t compare to fruits and vegetables, it was enough for a dire situation.
When Siren returned, it saw Thaumas munching on algae and simultaneously explaining the deliciousness of oysters quite seriously. Xia Yi seemed to be listening with genuine interest…
The hard outer layer of shellfishes posed no difficulty to merfolk; they didn’t even need to bang the shellfish on a rock because their strength alone was enough to pry it open. Considering how some shellfishes and clams were indeed appetising, they fell into what the merfolk would categorise as ‘food’.
After Xia Yi ate that shellfish, his burning temperature gradually cooled overnight and the taste of blood was gone from his mouth. Of course, Siren would’ve realised this and connected the dots. Leaving Xia Yi in the care of the sea monsters, the merman swam far away in search of oysters. Luckily, these shellfishes grew near shallower waters and weren’t very difficult to find.
Siren didn’t return alone.
The merman was single-handedly dragging a large fish— almost as long as Siren itself— that possessed a very thick body and a crescent-shaped tail. The journey had the fish on the verge of death.
At first glance, Xia Yi thought that this fish looked very much like a torpedo… = ___ =
Yet what rendered them all speechless wasn’t the fish, but rather that there were a few oysters stuck on its back.
Marine animals didn’t have hands, so they couldn’t regularly clean themselves. As such, some types of shellfish would blatantly stick themselves on, creating a parasitic relationship or simply hitching a ride. One must admit that this was a good tactic for promoting reproduction while evading natural predators; for instance, who dared to eat a shellfish on the back of a shark or whale?
Well, sucks to be you, because there exist creatures who do dare!
Disincluding the sea turtle and Lion’s Mane Jellyfish, the sea monsters’ eyes lit up.
Tuna! They taste even better than marlins!
Siren usually only ate the best part, leaving the rest to them! They couldn’t wait, nor could they find Xia Yi more pleasing to the eye! It’s a blessing that he only likes to eat oysters!
Gazing at the fresh oyster meat that was handed to him— straight off the back of a tuna— Xia Yi’s expression turned into a complicated one.
He was never conditioned with the ‘ways of the world’, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t understand kindness.
Even when what stood in front of him wasn’t a human at all.
With a perplexed heart, Xia Yi accepted the oyster and took a bite. For someone who wasn’t accustomed to seafood, it tasted a little weird.
Xia Yi believed that no one would show kindness without wanting something in return. Thus, he never expected anything out of the ordinary, and that way, he’d never be hurt or have his hopes fall.
【Shayi, come back with me.】
Xia Yi’s mind wasn’t present; he didn’t even grasp that he’d subconsciously agreed.
These were infrasonic waves, not actual verbal communication. It was much easier for a person to not realise they were ‘speaking’.
But dear Xia Yi, would you still dare to agree if you knew what kind of place Challenger Deep was?