t/n: sorry for the late update TT but I won’t drop the project!

It was quite fun to show Erich around the sea.
Erich poked at the coral with his hand, and carefully looked at the starfish in his hand.
There was also a competition to see who swam faster.

‘Isn’t that pretty unfair to me?’

Erich grumbled with a look of dissatisfaction and did his best.
Of course, it was Rayan’s victory.
He tried to be lenient, but Erich threatened not to go easy on him, but if Rayan slowed down a little while glancing, his eyes immediately narrowed, so Rayan couldn’t help it.

Anyway, they spent their time that way.
One hour was shorter than expected, so Rajan had to breathe into Erich once more.
Again, when their mouths touched, Erich flinched.
But he concealed it briefly.
In any case, the more times he breathed in, the more they could swim in the sea.

Before they knew it, it was time to part, sadly.
Rayan, who had sent Erich up to the shore of the cave where they met, faltered, and found an excuse to stay a little longer.

“Erich.
Why did you jump up and down like that earlier? You looked like a loach.”

“That’s…”

He recalled the memory and looked embarrassed.

“I don’t know how to explain this to you, but the kiss… It’s between lovers.”

Oh.
Rayan let out a shrill voice as if in response.

“Do humans kiss?”

“Are you different?”

“We tangle our tails.
And give each other’s scales as a token.”

For mermaids, the expression of affection with a companion was entwining each other’s tails.
Family and friends expressed intimacy to the extent that they briefly touched their tails.
However, since humans do not have tails, they seem to show it in a different way.
To show affection by kissing.

“Then did we kiss?”

“No.
Also, it’s different to call it a kiss, but…”

“Different? How do you kiss?”

“…”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

Erich looked at him with eyes that reminded Rayan of the way Alle looked at him immediately after he caused trouble.
Erich, who had touched lips with Rayan, and then shook his head.

“You don’t have to know.”

It must be because he’s still a child.
Rayan’s eyes narrowed after concluding and asked.

“Have you tried it, El?”

“That… No.”

“Because you’re still young?”

Erich furrowed one eyebrow.
Now that Rayan had been meeting him for a while, he could guess what that meant.
That meant that he was uncomfortable.
Rayan had been raising the corners of his lips, but his expression quickly turned pale again.

“Why are you making that face?”

Come to think of it, whatever it may be, if the act of breathing in him was an expression of affection for humans, he shouldn’t have done it to Erich.
Then his lover won’t like it.

“Rayan.”

But Rayan wanted to show him this sea.
He still had a lot of places he wanted to show.
And he wanted to show him how cozy it was to be immersed in his body, relaxed.

“Then now I can’t show you the sea?”

As Rajan’s eyebrows drooped, Erhard paused, sighed, and shook his head.

“Do what you want.”

“Really?”

“I also….”

“Erich.
I didn’t hear what you said.”

Rayan, who was immersed in elation, did not hear him.
It was also because Erich had bowed his head and mumbled.
When he urged him one more time with an “Hm?”, Erich said as he tapped the ground with his feet.

“I liked it too.
It was fascinating.”

Was that something to be ashamed of? Rayan, who saw Erich not knowing where to put his eyes and was so busy looking everywhere, did not understand why he was so shy.
Rayan tilted his head blankly, and Erich lowered his body to the ground with his knees on the ground, pulling his gaze closer.

“… You are really strange, Rayan.”

When I’m with you, I keep acting as though I wasn’t myself.
Erich’s words were incomprehensible.
When Rayan scrunched his nose, the other said, “You don’t have to worry about it,” while tapping his nose and stood back up.

Now it was really goodbye.

We will meet again tomorrow, so why am I so sad? Ah.
Well, he said he was tired of meeting at night like this, so they should reduce the number of meetings.
Because young humans need to grow up.

“Erich needs a good rest, see you in two nights.”

“Ra-”

In case he wanted to correct his words right away, Rajan swiveled his body into the sea without even thinking of listening to him.
Erich was beckoning with a bewildered face and seemed to say something, but his words were already trapped by the waters and could not be transmitted.

Rayan waved his hand a little and went further down.
The image of him moving slowly when playing with Erich a while ago was so fleeting.

It took more time than expected.

Only Ayla or Yuri would look for him, and it was still too late for them to stop by, but unlike Ayla, who had a little common sense, Yuri suddenly visited him late at night under the pretext of being his guardian.
Whenever he came over, Rayan would tell her about the outside world, but that would be difficult for today.

“…”

The lower he went, the lower the water temperature was.

Rayan, who had never felt this cold, thought it was cold because he had just gotten used to the relatively warm temperature above.
He was embracing the outside world like this little by little.

If he had to leave Atisa after the birth of a new Simere, should he build a nest close to the land? It was an idea that he couldn’t even think of before, but now there was Erich.
If it were him, he would stay with him for a long time.
He wouldn’t abandon or turn away from him.

When did you really come to trust such a young human? But it wasn’t bad.
The corners of Rayan’s lips twitched.

That’s why Rayan, who was always wary of sounds in the surroundings, didn’t hear anything this time.

Swish, swish—

It was already too late by the time he heard the strange sound of something breaking the current.

Not too far away, he saw a swarm of something swimming swiftly towards him.
It was a group of sharks.
His body moved beyond his expectations.
Rayan swam quickly.
Please, let them just pass by and not discover me.
The thought of them approaching him exactly as if he were a target made his saliva dry.

Even mature mermaids cannot defeat them if several sharks try to attack them, much less Rayan, who has not become an adult, he would not be able to withstand the sharp teeth of sharks.
The flesh would be torn, and he would be lucky to survive intact.
He wanted to live.
At least for now.

Rayan bit his lip and squeezed all his might to get out of this place.
But despite his prayers and efforts, he could feel the sharks chasing him.
He repeated the pleasant memories that had just happened before, fading and clearing.
It was like a dream.

“…”

How far did he have to go to get to Atisa? If he went as far as Atisa could see, they would give up hunting.
A protective barrier was put in place, and trying to bite a mermaid there would literally be a declaration of war.

The problem was that it was a long time before Atisa could still be seen.
Not a single ray of light that illuminated Atisa could be seen.

His hands were busy cutting the water.
The sea had never been unfriendly to him, but he now finds it difficult to get through and move forward.
His tail, which he waved with all his might, was numb enough that it would not be strange even if he became paralyzed soon.

A giggle and growling laughter could be heard from not far away.
They moved their fins wildly to shake the current, pushing Rayan further forward or sideways.

It seemed like they were chasing Rayan for fun, who was desperately running away.
Rayan was now a ruthless prey, and therefore he had no choice but to falter as they wished.

As the situation of being chased and almost caught as a prey was repeated, he gradually lost strength.
His hands were constantly wading in the water.
Rayan, who had been swimming away without even having time to look around, came to his senses when he realized that he was gradually heading towards the border of the Black Sea.
The color of the water was changing.

The sharks were not just enjoying his desperate escape.
Their aim was to lure him to the Black Sea.
If he crosses the border of the Black Sea, his chances of surviving will disappear without a trace.
Also, to die there, it would be his own fault.

But getting closer to the Black Sea also meant that Atisa wasn’t too far away.
What should he do? First, he had to give his tired body a little rest.
Before crossing the border of the Black Sea, Rayan looked around and saw a bed of seaweed swaying like a giant shadow.
Without further thought, Rayan quickly swam into it and hid his body.

The seaweed would slow the sharks’ movement, which will save him a little bit of time, if not long.
He hid among the seaweeds and stayed still, and after a while, he heard the sound of sharks whipping the seaweed with their fins and looking for him.

“Where’s that little one?”

“He must be hiding cutely somewhere here.
He wasn’t an adult, was he?”

“If he was an adult, he would have tried to fight back, but he was small.”

“I mean, the young ones are not afraid at all.
It always happens once or twice.”

The sharks giggled.
Rayan held his breath even more.
It would have been better to just lose interest and just give up, but there was no sign of that at all.

Fortunately, they were far from Rayan and were looking on the other side.
The only chance was now.
They did not find him and he moved stealthily, hoping to go further.
Seaweed brushed his cheeks sharply.
The tender skin was being chaffed, but the pain was nothing to him right now.

“Where the hell is this little thing hiding?”

The shark’s tone grew fierce, as if the situation of searching through the water plants was not pleasant.
If caught, it looked like Rayan would be chomped immediately.
Rayan swallowed his saliva and made a few drops of water and blew them away, then moved very slowly, trying not to make even the slightest sound that could be caught by the sharks’ sensitive ears.

“… Ah.”

With a stroke of bad luck, some seaweed got entangled with the tip of his tail.
Rayan, unable to hide his shock, let out a groan that was audible to the sharks.

Rayan panicked and tried to untie the seaweed, but his hand kept slipping.
The seaweed continued to move limply and gripped his ankle tightly.
Rayan groaned as he put more strength in his tail, but to no avail.

“Found you.”

A dark shadow fell over Rayan like a nightmare.

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