For humans, the ocean would always remain a mysterious place. Not many people were lucky enough to have been here, to witness the dazzling coral reefs and the algae swaying gently to the currents. This was a hazy kind of beauty, as if the viewer was resting right below a ceiling fan of lights; the ever-bending light would cause a hindrance to the vision, inducing soreness to the eyes, but once someone stayed in this place for long enough, their brain would force them to adjust to their surroundings. In fact, since they could never see anything clearly, one would be able to pay extra attention to these strange wonders.
Only tiny fishes and shrimps were able to escape from the paths of the ravenous sea monsters. They’d sneakily poke their heads out from cracks in the rocks, only to duck back down with lightning-fast speeds. They’d pretend to have never existed in the first place and the predators would let them be; these creatures were hiding in such small places that even the sea monsters had no way of getting to them.
Flourishing coral reefs and rock clusters were the havens of many organisms.
Xia Yi watched as the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish suddenly released its web of tentacles towards a thicket of beautiful brown algae. Immediately, several pinky-length fish appeared on its stingers. Their tails twitched for a moment before becoming motionless. A school of these fish dashed out from the depths of the algae cluster; the lucky ones were able to hide in a crack in the rocks, while those unlucky enough swam head-on into Abyss’s sucker-filled tentacles.
These fish were too small for Abyss’s liking, so it threw them all onto the jellyfish’s tentacles.
Nereus didn’t have that big of an appetite, so it was happily filled along the way. It quickly floated about in satisfaction, allowing the octopus to continue half-shielding its ‘leaking’ body as they moved forward.
Frankly speaking, the first one to become full was Siren. After consuming over ten pieces of the best parts on the tuna, the merman had tossed the fish to the rest of the sea monsters. This evoked a series of brawls that ended with the oarfish tightly knotting itself around the giant squid, unable to get free at all. From a distance, it looked like a silver rope had bound the body of a squid.
The sea monsters – who, at best, had appendages but no fingers – were dumbstruck.
Siren swam over and spent a long time trying to get them apart to no avail; because of its overpowering attack (with nails) and force, the oarfish didn’t stop screaming until the merman had backed away. To make the situation worse, Eurybia was also carrying the crab in its tentacles… This was a recipe for chaos— screams, shouts, and curses were thrown around. It wasn’t until Abyss had happily finished off the tuna that the octopus swam over to remind Siren of Xia Yi’s existence.
This was honestly an eerie and absurd sight. The closer Xia Yi got to the sea monsters, the more intense the terrifying pressure became. The octopus, Abyss, was about half the height of the Thalassa Goddess, which meant the monster was well over twenty metres tall. And while the squid named Eurybia wasn’t as large, its tentacles were still over ten meters in length. Ten meters! That’s about three stories high!
This wasn’t a 3D action movie, nor was it some dramatic projection— it was a real, living, gigantic monster.
Upon closer inspection, the barbs on the squid’s tentacles were extremely distinct from each other. Like teeth, they were densely packed together, sending waves of dizziness to Xia Yi’s mind.
Thankfully, his trypophobia wasn’t too severe and the only result was a slight gagging reaction.
Not too bad… If he took a few more glances at it, he could eat less and save food.
Though Eurybia stayed still, the oarfish was struggling hard. Due to it being jabbed by the squid’s barbs, Ceto jerked blindly and eventually landed itself in a knot that it couldn’t untie…
【Do not move!】Siren stared coldly at the two fumbling sea monsters.
Only then did Xia Yi dare to come close. Even under such circumstances, he carefully crafted a very dense layer of water around himself with his ability. That way, he wouldn’t suffer from an unexpected death if a tentacle was to accidentally whack him.
First, he needed to find where the respective head and tail of the oarfish were at.
After swimming several times around the twisted mess, Xia Yi realised how ridiculous this knot was. Half of it was composed of Ceto coiling in on itself, meaning that while Eurybia could pull out its tentacles by force, the oarfish’s body would definitely become a mess. Maybe it would even end up like a string of seaweed— brokenly connected.
The problem now wasn’t whether the knot could be untied, but how he could leave enough room during the untying to allow the oarfish to pull free its head or tail. This was much more difficult than the games he’d used to play.
Luckily for him, Xia Yi was the type to forget everything else when focused on a single task.
Thoughts like ‘the sea monsters are scary’, ‘how to clear up my situation’, and ‘when can I leave’ had all been tossed from his mind.
Xia Yi was trying to recall the Chinese nine ring puzzle he’d played with back when he was a child at the autism center. He was sure that the current predicament couldn’t be more difficult than that.
Except the nine ring puzzle was an inanimate object while the sea monsters were alive =___=
Although they were threatened to stay still, they could holler all they wanted.
Most importantly, they had no idea of the ‘left’ and ‘right’ that Xia Yi spoke of. Sure, they could hear the term through infrasonic waves, but the sea monsters would just dumbly ask, “What is left and right? Can you eat them?”
Resigned, Xia Yi placed his hand on the area behind the oarfish’s head, which he suspected was the neck. Hard to say since a fish doesn’t have that thing to begin with. Punching hard, he motioned for the oarfish to move to one side.
He was too weak and Ceto merely stared blankly at him, unable to figure out what had just happened.
Xia Yi paused for a moment before he created a ball of seawater and slammed it down. If the oarfish wiggled too far in one direction, it would be slammed back until it stopped exactly where Xia Yi wanted it to.
When the knot was finally untied, all the sea monsters were looking at Xia Yi with admiration.
Amazing! Insane! He accomplished something that even Siren couldn’t do! And he did it all under Ceto’s yelling! So calm and collected! Full of logic and cool-headed! Such a rare existence!
One must remember that sea monsters were an unruly bunch. They ate when they were hungry and shoved their way through when unhappy. Once, Nereus had accidentally tangled itself in a cluster of algae. It was stuck for over ten days before Abyss had finally answered its infrasonic waves and came to the jellyfish’s rescue.
Even then, the octopus had crudely torn apart the algae. Thus, watching someone patiently complete a complicated task was almost a magical experience— the sea monsters all found it extremely intriguing.
The good thing about being in the ocean was that the spectator stand was all around them; the monsters could get a good view no matter where they rested.
When they set out again, the oarfish stayed far from the squid and refused to go near it at all cost. This was their last hunt for food before they reached the deep sea, so they had to be thoroughly prepared. However, they couldn’t eat too much either because their full stomachs would be the only thing that would bulge out under the frightening water pressure, and having one’s stomach squeezed by the water would definitely induce indigestion.
There were supposed to be schools of bright tropical fish thriving amidst the exquisite coral reefs, but what now stood in front of them, while breathtaking, was deathly still. It was like a high-resolution screensaver, where the temperature and brightness had been leveled but the fish had yet to be placed; its purpose was nothing but being a pretty background.
It wasn’t until Nereus spread its tentacles down like a web and caught a whole school of little fish that Xia Yi realised there was indeed life in these corals— they were just hidden in their own unique ways.
For example, when Eurybia swept its barbed tentacles against the reefs, it caught a strange fish that was the same colour as the rocks. It was very large, but it was able to constrict its body into a small crack. With the help of the protruding bones at its head and back, the fish was able to disguise itself as one with the coral reefs. Its mouth hung open, waiting for small fish to hide in it during their escape from predators. A very fascinating way of hunting.
Sadly, its instinctive swallowing of the fish that Nereus had startled caused it to be discovered by Eurybia. The squid didn’t hesitate in scooping the fish up to fill its stomach.
The seemingly hard bones and shredded fins floated from the squid’s mouth and drifted in the water, cruelly beautiful.
Innumerous ocean organisms hid and watched in fear as the towering figures passed by.
Siren suddenly swam over. Just when Xia Yi was going to move away in uneasiness, a shadow sprang out from the sand that the crab was fiddling with. Fortunately, Xia Yi had still maintained the dense water shield that he’d created when untying the oarfish. The shadow dizzily bounced off and fell right into Siren’s hands.
It was a black sea snake with white rings, about the size of a chopstick.
Xia Yi stared at the snake in horror; if this was on land, a snake coloured like this would’ve been nothing but extremely venomous. (In reality, most sea snakes aren’t venomous, but the ones that were are even more deadly than their land counterparts.)
As Siren peered at the snake, Xia Yi couldn’t help it anymore. 【It’s venomous.】
The merman looked up in surprise, loosening its grip.
The sea snake didn’t try to bite Siren at all. Instead, it dove back into the sand, trying to find a new place to hide.
【Where?! Where is the venomous thing?!】Abyss shot over, bringing its entire body onto the sand in an attempt to prevent the sea snake from escaping. 【Venomous things are the most delicious! Honestly, Nereus, I ate a small jellyfish the other day— and bah! It wasn’t good at all! I also secretly ate your broken tentacles and those tasted pretty good!】
The rest of the sea monsters stared.
【Siren, can I eat Nereus? Of course, I promise I won’t eat all of it…】
The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish was flabbergasted.
Xia Yi felt a disturbance in the flowing currents and realised that Siren was eyeing the dense water shield with displeasure. Ignoring the demanding octopus, the merman hugged his waist close. Realistically, this was a great choice because the ‘prey’ would usually be unable to struggle free.
【Shayi, I am hungry too.】
Long, light silver hair scattered in the ocean its owner quickly retreated into the deep.
【I also would not eat all of you…】
Speaking like this will only scare people to death.
Xia Yi patiently tried to explain, 【I’m not a merman. You’re mistaken.】
【But I really want you. I want to see you no matter where I swim.】
What am I supposed to say under these circumstances? Do I give a photo? It’ll only get ruined in the water.
Siren disregarded the dense shield and easily ripped it apart with sheer force. It had that strength because its life consisted of quickly adapting to the water pressures of the deep and shallow seas. Without such power, it would die.
Siren gazed at Xia Yi in confusion. In what the merman could sense, Xia Yi wasn’t necessarily happy, but he wasn’t disgusted either.
If Xia Yi was a human, then humans were truly difficult to comprehend.
Sea monsters had emotions that were simple, intense, and easy to distinguish. Perhaps that was why humans were the favourite delicacy of merfolk. In the ocean – or maybe even the entire world – no other creatures were as complex as them.
Right, I remember what a human once said during one of my hunts.
‘Like’? That’s something humans value greatly.
【Shayi, do you not like me?】