Xia Yi awakened with a start, his eyes suddenly flying open. A blurry haze greeted him, and for a moment, Xia Yi had no clue where he was. He even began to wonder when his bedroom lamp had changed to a flashing neon light that induced a blinding and dizzying sensation.
It took him a while to realise that what flowed above him was dark ocean water.
He was about 800 metres away from the surface.
Though laying on the algae-covered deck of a sunken cruiser was very comfortable, he was still positioned oddly. Xia Yi had never tried sleeping at a 45° angle, and even worse, the incredible buoyancy of the seawater was a huge problem, too. If it wasn’t for the light silver tail on his waist, Xia Yi was sure that he wouldn’t have woken up in the same place he’d fallen asleep.
—Especially if he managed to get himself washed away by the currents just because he was sleeping!
Xia Yi was strangely reminded of the ‘life is a journey of travel’ statement by Thaumas, the sea turtle. Does that have anything to do with this reality? No goal, no direction, just eat until you’re full and then float… The ocean would walk it through its journey. Sleeping and travelling simultaneously, waking up to a new place everyday… Sounds like something fun…
Frankly, Xia Yi didn’t really dare sleep. Still, as all who attempted to stay awake knew, the longer one tried remaining conscious, the more their imagination would run wild until they slipped into la-la land. The next thing they knew, they’d be startled awake with no idea how much time had passed by.
The layers of water remained as he’d created them, and the sudden increase in pressure had resulted from Siren rolling onto him while it slept. In all honesty, the merman wasn’t too heavy due to its bone structure being completely different from that of a human’s; being too heavy would hinder their agility.
Xia Yi had carried Siren before, so he knew that the merman weighed around 80 or 90 pounds, and with the help of the ocean’s buoyancy and the deep sea’s water pressure, a mere tail on his waist wouldn’t have been enough to startle him awake. The real culprit behind this was a certain snoring squid. Technically, no one could hear it snoring, but its body was puffing up and down in a rhythmic tempo. Some of the squid’s tentacles had just landed right by Xia Yi’s feet.
Squids only had barbs on their eight shorter arms, not the two long tentacles that extended further than the rest. Despite that, the weight of those two tentacles was nothing to be carefree about. Although Xia Yi had his water layers to act as a blockade, there was no way he wouldn’t have woken up after being ‘attacked’ by Eurybia, whose sleeping habits and posture were awful.
After a conflicted debate, Xia Yi churned up some seawater to roll the tentacles to the side. Believe it or not, Eurybia didn’t stir at all from this series of movements. Rather, it followed the water’s pull and rolled to the opposite end of the deck. Its head still laid on the ‘floor’ while its tentacles spread over the sunken cruiser. It continued sleeping in a strange upside-down position.
Above, the oarfish had also fallen asleep where it was, curled around the mast. However, like a loose ribbon, its body was drifting around the piece of metal while its head drooped over the very top of the mast. As a sea monster, Ceto’s head was definitely one of the smaller ones, so Xia Yi could only hope that it wouldn’t collapse the precarious mast altogether.
The Lion’s Mane Jellyfish was resting in a much more practical way— its tentacles were tangled in algae. The currents of the deep sea weren’t that big, but there was still some movement that made the jellyfish’s body gently sway, resembling a kite in the air.
The octopus, Abyss, had already squeezed into the hull, so it was nowhere to be seen.
The crab’s sleeping posture might’ve been the most standard; it rested on its stomach in the sand near the cruiser and just stayed there. Except this could easily remind people of a stupid riddle: what animal laid on their stomach when positioned in prone, when they walked, when they slept… what? A frog? Frogs technically sat…
Siren laid beside him, its long silver hair flowing amongst the algae. Since they were underwater, Xia Yi’s small movements had no chance of waking it up. Lit by Nereus’ bioluminescent body, the merman’s eyes remained closed while its eyelashes cast faint shadows on its face. Mother Nature was truly a wondrous existence; who would’ve imagined that there existed a bewitching creature that so closely resembled the myths and legends?
But why is it that humans have never discovered traces of merpeople?
Is it because sea monsters dwell in places that are too deep?
Xia Yi recalled Siren saying that it had never seen another of its species in heat. In such vast oceans, was it extremely difficult for Siren to meet another merperson? Then could there be a reason as to why these sea monsters had gathered together? For instance, none of them had companions, were too large in size, or couldn’t find others of their kind to communicate with. They could only wander the seas, all alone.
They reminded Xia Yi of himself— someone who didn’t want to walk into the crowd but couldn’t help gazing at the bustle. He was satisfied and entertained simply by watching.
Don’t know how Li Shao and An Li are doing…
Xia Yi’s mind raced off. Subconsciously, he reached out to feel and press at the silver tail on his waist.
The scales were beautiful, smooth, and tough, opening and closing slightly in the water.
Xia Yi didn’t believe in the ‘like’ that Siren proclaimed. Even if another person said that to him, he wouldn’t believe their words, much less what a non-human was professing— the reason being that he didn’t need the ‘like’ or ‘love’ of another person. He was happy on his own. The only difference now was that if a person had said such things to him, Xia Yi would’ve started avoiding them at all costs. However, Siren’s words only made him a little frustrated.
In Xia Yi’s eyes, Siren had no clue what the word meant.
Thus, the feelings and pressure that the merman evoked all had a limited effect on him.
Take the present, for example, where Xia Yi couldn’t help but start asking questions: Should he stay lying down and unmoving like this? What time is it? What should he do? He was someone who lived with a regular schedule, but unfortunately, he no longer had the one-man hobbies he’d once possessed. Was he now supposed to embark on a deep-sea exploration or something? Xia Yi didn’t possess the urge or drive for such adventures. He’d rather quietly stay in one place and listen to himself breathe.
Though he couldn’t hear his own breathing now because the action no longer existed…
Xia Yi wasn’t confident about finding some sense of direction if he were to float to the surface at this very moment.
He turned to face Siren. It was no surprise that, unlike him, the merman wasn’t clothed. Other than its scales, its hair acted as the only covering for its body. But being underwater meant Siren’s hair couldn’t cascade down its shoulders even if it wanted to. Under the glowing light, its naked skin seemed extraordinarily smooth, and when Siren closed its eyes, it looked like the most exquisite sculpture or oil painting. One couldn’t help but be mesmerised by the sight.
As long as a person had a ‘normal’ standard for beauty, it’d be very difficult for them to refuse Siren’s proposal of ‘like’. It was even worse for someone like Xia Yi who wasn’t good with his words to begin with.
The ‘like’ of a sea monster probably means the same thing as them liking to eat oysters. Meanwhile, something like ‘heat’ is probably because Siren can’t find another of its kind… Xia Yi didn’t think too deeply or too much about that. Straightening himself, he easily swam from the deck to the edge of the cruiser.
Before him stood a giant and terrifying chasm— a gloomy and mysterious trench.
Xia Yi always thought that the deep sea was around 2000 to 3000 metres below sea level, but there were still plenty of organisms around this sunken cruiser. Albeit, they all appeared quite strange… but it was a sad sight seeing a sea cucumber crawling along the cruiser! It’d probably sensed the sea monsters’ arrival and wanted to flee in fear. Yet by the time Xia Yi had woken up, it’d only made it from the deck to the other side of the hull, incredibly slow… Well, in a sense, it wasn’t easy squirming beneath layers of algae and shells.
A shadow fell over him and Xia Yi quickly swam out. Seconds later, the cruiser sunk a few feet into the sand.
【Eurybia… just sleep, why are you rolling around?】Awakened, Siren propped its head up in a daze. It looked over at the squid whose body had half-smashed onto the deck.
For sea monsters, the weight and movement was the same as humans tossing in their sleep— a completely unconscious action. The squid continued snoring in its twisted position. Siren, on the other hand, felt like something was missing from beneath its tail. Its amethyst eyes blankly stared forward for a while before it glided over. Hugging Xia Yi tight, the merman laid back down and rested its head on Xia Yi’s stomach. It probably hadn’t fully awakened and fell back asleep almost immediately.
This time, Xia Yi clearly felt a faint and rhythmic rise and fall.
The merman was breathing.
Water flowed past its slightly parted lips and escaped from the small cracks behind its fan-shaped, translucent fin-ears. Those slits were likely to be the merman’s gills. If Siren wasn’t so close to him, it’d be difficult for Xia Yi to realise where its gills were located because its ears were usually hidden behind its long hair.
Frankly speaking though, Siren didn’t have any greater intent behind its actions. Even Abyss slept while hugging its large bottles…
What was bizarre this time was that it had a dream.
A dream, for the merfolk, was a memory of the distant past; sometimes, it was a nonexistent event. Their dreams weren’t about the ocean, but instead were about the bright sunshine, the shoal rocks, and ships. To merfolk, ships meant humans! Humans were their food and their… Hmm… how odd, they couldn’t remember what ‘that’ was no matter how hard they tried… but it was definitely important.
Siren frowned in its sleep.
Only young merfolk or those in their special period would dream.
For Siren, dreaming had occurred so long ago that it was no longer familiar with the concept.
There was the sea, the blue sky, nice sunshine, and a ship was sailing closer from the distance. While it looked to be strong and sturdy, it would soon – by nightfall, at least – be swallowed up by the raging storm, and everyone would be buried at the bottom of the sea. Of course, the vessel wouldn’t sink that quickly since the hopelessness of the sailors as they headed towards the inevitable was the delicacy that the merman longed for.
The dream was akin to every other one in existence. There was nothing special about it. However, Siren had a feeling that something was missing this time.
Siren waited and patiently searched as the ship in its dream sank to the ocean floor. It wasn’t until the ship became another habitat for underwater creatures and a playground for the sea monsters that Siren finally realised what it was waiting for.
Where is Shayi? Where is the human?!
Did I not find him in the ocean, before the ship even sank?
Dreams were often disorderly, melting together memories from the past and the present. If this were Xia Yi, he’d take a sip of water after being startled awake and forget about it the next morning. And yet fear grasped the still-dreaming merman. An unknown emotion toppled over Siren because the dreams of the merfolk were supposed to remain the same forever.
When Siren abruptly grabbed his arm, Xia Yi could only be grateful for the layers of water between them. If they weren’t there, several deep gashes would’ve definitely scarred his flesh.
【It’s Xia Yi,】he murmured after growing drowsy again due to him having laid there for a while now.
The ocean was too quiet, almost devoid of any sound since no fish dared to come and disturb a group of sea monsters.
Xia Yi barely registered Siren releasing his arm. The thought ‘it probably slept enough’ flashed through his mind before he was lulled back into a semi-conscious state. Therefore, he didn’t notice the strange change Siren’s silver tail underwent the moment the merman jolted awake.
The reconstruction of one’s bone structure was a very complicated process. In its shock, Siren started to swim out, before seeing its tail that was beginning to change soon revert back to its original state.
As pale fingers caressed the scales, Siren gazed at Xia Yi and a realisation suddenly dawned upon the merman.
A young merfolk’s dreams told it how to find food, while during the special period… only that person. They were the only one the dreams focused on… and dreams were a sign that would reveal all in the end.
Xia Yi was a human.
And what merfolk desired were humans, never another of their own kind.