‘Beast’ as a derogatory noun was a swear word invented by humans, and the connotations behind it were understood by most people. However, the reality was quite amusing; sea monsters, at the very least, weren’t ‘beasts’ at all— in other words, they would not randomly grab a mating partner.
Firstly, they needed time. If it wasn’t the right season, sea monsters wouldn’t so much as glance at a member of the opposite sex no matter how perfect they might be.
Secondly, the location was important. Many fish, sea turtles, and crabs would migrate thousands of leagues back to a specific region just to attend a gigantic blind date party. There, the creatures would compete with each other to win the other sex’s favour.
The main point wasn’t whether one looked nice, but rather their strength. House? A car? What was that? What one’s father did? Like any of them knew who either one of their parents were! The ordeal was ‘love at first sight’ and ‘play hard, forget hard’. =__=
Once all that had to be done was done, the bustling region would calm back down. The matches would part ways, not even caring if they’d never meet each other again for the rest of their lives! There were no such things as families or responsibilities of that sort; offspring didn’t need to be taught (fed), and the most important thing to worry about was to hunt and avoid predators. Every year, they’d swim over when the month came. Then once they seized the place that had the best and most abundant food, as well as the safest corner, the only thing left to do was to wait for the beauties to come knocking—
Anyhow, everything said up there was superfluous. The whole point was to highlight the importance of the environment, season, partner… In some cases, even the temperature of the water and how much food was around were all conditions that needed to be fulfilled. So Thaumas’ question wasn’t the turtle being meddlesome— it was common knowledge that sea monsters must find a proper place.
—Oi, going on a honeymoon?
The sea monsters weren’t the slightest bit hesitant to say goodbye.
In fact, Eurybia couldn’t wait to go back to Antarctica with Gululu. The oarfish dove back down into the deep sea; the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish needed to raise another school of obedient big-eyed emperor fish; Abyss would visit poor Phorcys; Thaumas would keep floating about on the surface… There was no such thing as loneliness— if anyone missed someone else, they’d just need to lower the hertz of their infrasonic waves and create a free, worldwide telephone line. If they wanted to host a gathering, they could swim over themselves or wait for someone to come to them. Living, you know, was all about being relaxed, satisfied, and carefree.
The vast ocean was their wonderland and they could stay wherever they wanted.
Apart from Thaumas, who listed a whole bunch of beautiful and mild coral reefs, the other sea monsters turned and silently swam away. Mmmm… According to the legends they’d heard and witnessed, not a single merfolk was a creature that could be provoked. Siren was of that sort, and so was Xia Yi.
Thaumas took its sweet time to describe all of the locations before swimming away, happily satisfied. Xia Yi listened to its ramblings like a tourist would to his guide.
The ocean was filled with countless fascinating places.
There were underwater volcanoes that never extinguished, with lava extending far through those waters. This was beautiful, warm, and comfortable— and most importantly, there were a multitude of uniquely-flavoured fish and shrimp.
At the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean were these currents with triple whirlpools. According to Thaumas’ descriptions, it sounded like letting a maelstrom sweep someone in for a journey was as exciting as riding a rollercoaster.
The Australian coral reefs were home to Abyss’ species, the blue-ringed octopuses. There was also a plethora of gorgeous and delicious foods; it was wonderful simply eating and sightseeing at the same time.
In the regions near Maldives, the water was so clear that one could see the soft, white sand at the bottom of the sea. Even at tens of metres below the surface, a quick look up would invite the white clouds in from the sky.
For him, autism only discouraged him from chatting with others or concerning himself with outside matters. However, this didn’t mean that he liked to lock himself up in his room— on the contrary, he was more attentive to the details of Mother Nature’s beauty. The best places were those that were deserted yet enchanting.
Xia Yi had never gotten the chance to— no, even if he did, he wouldn’t have wanted to go vacationing. He’d rather stay at home and watch documentaries.
Any famous tourist hot spot was synonymous with crowds of people, noise, shopping stalls, and kids… The mere thought of it was enough to make Xia Yi cancel any hypothetical plans. Furthermore, in order to get to these places, he would first need to take a plane, train, or boat! Xia Yi was the definition of ‘avoiding as many public places as possible by all means necessary’.
Okay, so now the problem was… Xia Yi figured that if he didn’t have Siren, there was no way he could find any of those places! GPS was basically non-existent, and even if he had a waterproof map, there was no way Xia Yi would be able to prevent himself from getting lost at sea!
Of course, the biggest advantage of Siren’s presence was that he no longer had to worry about sharks or other such creatures! (This is what should be highlighted…)
【Going to land first.】
【Huh?】Siren had long forgotten the matter brought up in an earlier conversation.
【Clothes…】Xia Yi started mentally planning the things he needed.
It would probably be too difficult to find completely sealed medication, not to mention the fact that it’d be hard to use it even if he could get his hands on some. Clothing… It’d be good as long as it was clean and changeable. Shoes… No, he could scratch that from the list— those that were tight weren’t suited for prolonged submersion in water, while slippers would be washed away by the waves.
Uhh… Xia Yi honestly felt that at this point, even junk food like fries and burgers would be great! Though the chances of him finding them were close to none.
As for canned food… He’d consider fruits, but definitely not fish.
Of course, it’d be more likely that he wouldn’t find anything other than clothing!
There was no way for Xia Yi to cross the region littered with spider crab corpses. Even if those sea monsters were dead, their sharp pincers and claws remained a serious threat.
【If I swim along the shoreline from afar, I should be able to find a city that was once bustling.】
The biggest benefit of using infrasonic waves was that Xia Yi could communicate the thoughts in his head simply by going over them, unlike before, when misunderstandings constantly occurred because he always pondered things over by himself.
【You… will not leave me?】Siren’s eyes bored into Xia Yi.
Perhaps the average person would find the stare eerie and wouldn’t hesitate to escape it; unfortunately, Xia Yi didn’t feel it at all. It was common for him to be singled out in a crowd, with people pointing at him and whispering behind his back. Being accustomed to this – plus a natural tendency to not pick up on people’s emotions – meant Xia Yi only understood the surface meaning of the question. Thus, he responded normally and calmly:
【Mhmm, I will not.】If he left Siren, he wouldn’t be able to go to those places!
This was someone who’d help him search for food, eliminate danger, lead the way, looked nice, and most importantly, despite the issue of liking to touch and hug, the merman would never bring up random topics that Xia Yi had no interest in. Where else would he find such a companion!
Siren had no way of knowing Xia Yi’s bizarre logic; the merman only felt immense joy.
It wasn’t that Siren didn’t have the thoughts Thaumas was mumbling about, but rather that he didn’t want to wreck the status quo.
As a merman, Siren had never seen another of his own kind. Many other creatures had also never seen their parents, yet they were born knowing how to hunt and avoid predators because those abilities were instincts ingrained in their DNA. For merfolk, this included a murderous reaction towards any other of their kind, as well as an intense care for the human that appeared in their dreams. They were especially alarmed by any signs related to ‘leaving’ or ‘betrayal’.
What merfolk needed were partners to spend the rest of their lives with, except this was the one thing they could never have.
After many generations, there would definitely be certain actions passed down by genetics: cheetahs would bring food to win their lover’s favour, hoping for a lovely night after a sumptuous dinner; wolves would start by quietly following the possible mate they were interested in and only coming close after multiple attempts— even then, they must always have a retreat path prepared, or else they’d be in for a beating of claws and teeth.
These were all behaviors that followed a regular pattern. While none were especially surprising, they worked quite well in all situations.
Usually, there were only a few reasons as to why a human chose to leave: longing for their past life, or because they were disgusted by life on a barren island at sea. When they brought food, merfolk would also bring interesting things like shells. They didn’t quite dare to use force against their humans because the shock and fear might cause an undesired outcome. In most circumstances, merfolk preferred to use the advantage of their appearances to entice.
However, what they never understood was the reason why humans were so fickle. How come frustration and resentment would follow after a period of willingness and delight? Why would the mutual attraction and love between them suddenly disappear? Was it because they weren’t good enough? Or they didn’t give enough?
Sadly, they would never have a second chance.
If there was a child born, their genetics dictated that they be even more careful and cautious in their attempts at controlling. So, this was why Siren didn’t do anything extra. He was hoping for the arrival of some kind of change; still, he subconsciously worried about whether this change would cause Xia Yi to leave him forever.
——Unafraid of water and can control the waves…
If Xia Yi was determined to avoid him, Siren wasn’t confident that he could keep his human.
【I see the dyke already. Wait for me here?】
Confused, Xia Yi looked at the merman who was all of a sudden acting odd. He pointed at the water aheadt.【There’s a lot of nets in the shallows that weren’t ripped apart by the spider crabs. What if your tail gets tangled in them?】
【Just rip them apart.】For merfolk, this wasn’t even a problem.
【But—】The issue was that there were definitely people on land— not only that, but they’d likely encounter people fishing upon reaching shallower waters.
How could Siren appear in such a dangerous place… As violent as spider crabs may be, Xia Yi wasn’t there to witness them directly attacking humans. Later on, he was controlling the ocean from far away. In his mind, the most dangerous creatures in the world would forever be humans; they were more unpredictable than any disaster or apocalypse, and could be driven utterly mad by mere benefits.
What was the concept of a merman? No matter what era they were in, the capture of one was enough to be a major discovery!
If it was the giant octopus, then a pop of its head above the surface would send everyone running for their lives. But for Siren… Clearly, he would only bring the opposite kind of uproar.
【I… don’t want others to see you!】
Xia Yi wasn’t good with his words, so what he said— well, okay, it did sound like something totally different, even though what he meant was the exact literal interpretation of his statement. Thus, he was at a loss when he saw Siren’s immediate change of expression.
【When will you… come back…】
【Tomorrow’s dusk at the latest.】
Xia Yi calculated the amount of time it would take to find what he wanted, but Siren was definitive in his rejection.
Xia Yi was also anxious because the apocalypse had fallen about a month ago, and it didn’t take much imagination to picture how dangerous the city would become after all electricity and water came to a stop. Despite having a special ability, Xia Yi never thought that his power was enough to solve everything.
Assuming that Siren’s odd behaviour was out of the same concern, Xia Yi quickly came up with what he thought was the safest plan.
【I’ll stay far away from people and only take what others don’t want.】
【Tomorrow morning?】Siren questioned closely.
【Alright, tomorrow morning.】
Xia Yi felt that something was off, however he couldn’t quite put his finger on the thought. It wasn’t until he was alone and had swum a good distance towards the dyke that he finally realised…
——It seemed like he’d never voluntarily made an appointment with anyone prior to this, and never had there been someone who would wait for him at a specific location when the time came.
Turning around, he could faintly make out a silver figure in the water right where they’d parted ways, showing no signs of departure. Though it was well into the night, there were still a number of hours till daybreak.
A thought that had never appeared before suddenly barged into his head.
Siren is just waiting like this… Has he ever thought about what would happen if I never went back?