Rayan wandered around the place where Artisa’s protective barrier began, without trying to hide his gloomy expression.
He wanted to cross the line.
A shadow fell over Rayan who was full of thoughts that could not be fulfilled.
Alle was looking down at Rayan with stern eyes.

“Rayan.”

“You’re looking at me with your eyes wide open.
Are you afraid I’ll go outside?”

As Rayan shot back at him with a sullen expression on his face, Alle sighed as he touched his forehead.

“Go back.”

“It feels like I’m grounded.”

“Yes.
Shall I tell Mer who gave that order, then? It’s probably better, isn’t it?”

“…I’m going back, I’m going back.”

Rayan grumbled as he swam back to the palace.
Flipping his tail in the direction where Alle was, was the only protest and grumpy thing he could do.

Rayan laid down on his clam bed and smacked the floor with his tail.
He glanced over with his head between his arms and looked at Alle, who was seen through the flowing hair, with wistful eyes.
Alle stood and watched Rayan as his gatekeeper, regardless of whether he glared or not.

“Alle.
Aren’t you going?”

“What.”

“You said you are only going to stay for a while.
I’m worried.”

Alle was not staying completely.
For some reason, he was still caught up with the killer whales issue.
Apparently, Alle should have already left, but for days he had stuck to Rayan’s side and didn’t leave.

“Soon… Never mind, you think I will be able to go now? Leaving Rayan alone, who is only looking for a chance to go out?”

“I said I’m not going out.”

“Pfft.”

Alle snorted, showing disbelief in his words.
As soon as Alle disappeared, he was planning to go see Erich, so Rayan could not strongly deny it.

“Rayan.
Why are you so fearless?”

“…”

“It’s a problem to show yourself to humans, yes, to humans, but you were chased by a shark.
You almost died.
You looked like you were suffering from nightmares for two days, but it seems that it wasn’t enough to forget everything.
You’re not afraid to go outside alone? Huh?”

Alle couldn’t stand it anymore and vomited out words.
It was quite unbearable that the young mermaid could not understand it.

Just thinking back on that day, Alle felt like his body was hardening and his head getting cold.
The sight of Rayan alone at the border crossing into the Black Sea, as soon as he approached, he lost consciousness and collapsed.
He had a pale face, and even the flesh on his back that had been stung by a shark’s snout.
Alle never wanted to see that again.

He was really lucky back then.
Alle didn’t know how Rayan, who didn’t even have combat skills, managed to outrun the sharks, but that kind of luck would never come again.

Besides, if he had met a shark by himself, he would have had to take care of himself.
He was startled for a day and suffered from nightmares for two days, but now he was thinking of going outside without thinking.

And it was to meet a human of all things.

If Rayan being chased by sharks gave him fear, this gave Alle a headache.
Especially when he saw him sulking because he wasn’t allowed to go out, his head was pounding and it felt like it was going to break.

He never regretted being Rayan’s guardian for a moment, but now he seems to regret it a little.
But even if he knew all this and went back to the past, he would have to become his guardian in the end.

“I can be more careful in the future.”

“Isn’t that something that wouldn’t have happened if you were careful?”

“It’s been fine so far… before.”

Rayan raised his body and raised his voice to protest the injustice, but when Alle’s eyes became suspicious, he quickly calmed down and looked at his eyes.
Still, his words were blunt.

Alle wondered, who raised him like that? Oh, yes.
It was mostly he who took care of him.
Yuri was useless or he would put ridiculous ideas in his head.

It may have been Mer who gave birth to Rayan, but it was Alle who raised him.
So he was even more upset.
He was raised by him, but how did he grow up to be such a naive mermaid? It would be enough if he acted like Ayla.
…Of course, thinking about Ayla, who only hides in front of Rayan and lives with flamboyant taste, it gave him a headache as well.

Alle sighed and sat down next to Rayan’s seat.
Lying on his back, Rayan snorted and didn’t even think to turn his head.

“Rayan.”

“… ”

“Simre.”

Even though he was called by a name he didn’t like, only his shoulders trembled and he didn’t correct him.
It was a physical demonstration that he was stingy.

“That human.”

“…Erich.”

Alle, who did not understand the murmuring immediately, pondered for a moment, and was baffled.

“So his name is Erich.”

“… ”

The silence was affirmative.
Even when Rayan was called by a name he hated so much, he stayed still, but when the human being was brought up, he couldn’t bear it and corrected his words, it was amazing.
Alle couldn’t control his expression, so he wiped his face.
He took a few deep breaths to calm himself before he was able to pretend to be composed.

“Okay.
Okay.
What kind of person is that person, Erich?”

Alle barely swallowed the question of how he bewitched Rayan, and then Rayan’s head slightly turned toward him.
A clear green eye could be seen through the hair that was loose like ink.

“If I tell you… will you let me go see him?”

“I’ll listen and judge.”

Even though he hadn’t allowed it yet, Rayan got up and jumped up.
His white face lit up.
It was like seaweed that had withered until a while ago, but it quickly faded away and disappeared out of nowhere.

“Erich gives me a lot of delicious food!”

Ah.
So, he tricked the naive Rayan by giving him food.
He nodded as if to prompt the other to say more, barely pressing the twisted nerve that was about to pop out.

Rayan was busy explaining what had happened with the human, even using his hand gestures.
From Alle’s point of view, he seemed convinced the human was not ordinary.
After all, the idea that humans must have done something to possess Rayan became more and more firmly established.
Rayan, unaware of his thoughts, continued to chatter with excitement.

Aside from the fact that his heart had become firm, it was not difficult to listen to Rayan, whose voice he did not get tired of.

“And Alle.
Humans kiss each other to express their feelings.
Isn’t it strange? Did you know?”

“… How did Rayan find out?”

Alle’s voice lowered, but Rayan, who was swept away by his feelings, was naive, unable to read the atmosphere.
His stomach has already turned several times.

“Because Erich told me.”

At that moment, in Alle’s mind, that person was imprinted as a sullen, unscrupulous man who seduced an innocent mermaid who barely knew anything.

“Just touching lips and kissing are different, but he won’t tell me how it’s different.
Do you know?”

“Rayan.”

“Yes?”

“… If you have to go to see Erich, I’ll go with you.”

“Alle too? Why? Do you want to be friends with the human too?”

Rayan widened his eyes.
He’s not slow-witted, he could usually deduce something if he observed carefully, but it was unknown why he was acting like he’s blind and deaf in front of that human being.
If it had been normal, no matter how much Alle smiled, he would have sensed and been wary of his strangeness.

“Well, let’s say so, what should we do?”

“So can I go see him today?”

“Sure.”

Alle thought if the man was the one who lured Rayan, he would try to get rid of him by any means.
Even if Rayan was saddened by it, he had to do it.
Since it hadn’t been long since they formed a relationship anyway, it wouldn’t take that long to get rid of their affection.

And even if he didn’t get rid of the man, he had a need to appease Rayan once in a while.
It’s been days since Alle ignored the message for him to return from his clan.
He could pretend he didn’t know for a few more days, but not forever.

If he kept pushing the issue, it was clear that Rayan would sneak out of Atisa again as soon as Alle returned to his clan.
There were ways to tell Ayla and Yuri, or even Mer to intimidate him but… the saying that Rayan might never be able to leave Atisa again until he died could be true.
Maybe he would be imprisoned forever.
There was not enough reasons to get rid of the prince who still holds the title of successor.

Also, there was also some part of him who didn’t want to see Rayan losing the light in his eyes.

“…”

Alle had such complicated thoughts, but Rayan was busy brushing his hand over his hair and looking at his appearance.
Alle sighed deeply and shook his head.

———

The waiting time for Atisa to fall into silence was unusually long.
Rayan hurried Alle and headed for the moor.
He always went to the cave where Erich and him met, and peeped his head out.
Next to him, Alle also popped his head out.
He was too conspicuous to come out to the coast in the form of a killer whale, so he maintained his human form.

“Is it here?”

“Mhm!”

Rayan looked around.
But whoever he wanted to see could not be seen.
He tilted his head.
Why was he not here? Erich always came first and waited for Rayan.
He wanted to surprise him, so no matter how early he came, Erich always came first.

“That person… did Erich always make Rayan wait like this?”

“No.
El would come first.
It’s strange.”

Maybe it’s because he hadn’t been here for a few days.
Or did he think that Rayan wasn’t going to come today? Rayan stared at the spot where Erich would always be standing, and then exited the cave.
Alle rushed after Rayan in the sudden action.

Rayan stopped where he could see Erich’s bedroom.

“…”

The light was off.

It was so dark that you can’t even get a glimpse of the small sparks.
On the other hand, the other rooms were strangely bright.

“Rayan, come here.
Humans are awake, what if someone sees you?”

“Wait, just a little more…”

As Rayan slowly moved closer, Alle was startled and dragged him towards himself.
Rayan waved his hand to get away from Alle, but his strength fell short.

“I wait at the place where we meet every time.
He might go there.”

Alle gently comforted him.

“… Is that so?”

“Of course.”

Rayan looked alternately between Erich’s room, where the lights had been turned off, and Alle and nodded helplessly.

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