t/n: still would really like an editor/proofreader T.T

Rayan locked himself in a corner of the room and crouched with his head bowed between his crossed arms.
He was petulant for a few days, now he was heartbroken.
Then and now, it was all because of Erich.

‘I have to go back.
It’s about to dawn.’

He couldn’t wait all night, so a dark blue aura circulated in the sky.
As he stared intently at the spot where Erich showed no sign of coming, Alle eventually grabbed him by his neck and urged him to return to Atisa.
Telling him that he can come back at night.
Then that person will be there.
That sometimes there could be days when he may forget and fall asleep.

He returned reluctantly at Alle’s soothing words, but Erich didn’t come the next day either.

And the next day too.

“… ”

Why isn’t he coming? Was he disappointed that Rayan hadn’t come for a few days? Or did he not want to be friends anymore? Was it because they were different races? Was it because there were other friends around him? Conjectures that could not be immediately confirmed unless he saw Erich, were messing around in Rayan’s head.

Rayan stared at the crystal ball.
The marble containing the sparkling world outside was a gift that Erich gave him and it was now his No.
1 treasure.

“You’re too much.”

Even if you don’t want to be friends, even if you’re upset, if you’ve gotten bored, you should have said goodbye for one last time. Rayan threw it away.
The crystal ball rolled smoothly.

“…”

Rayan, who was staring at it, reluctantly reached out his hand to pick it up again.

“Rayan!”

A roaring voice was heard calling him from outside.
Rayan hurriedly snatched it up and hid it hastily.
As soon as he hid out of sight, the door swung open and Ayla entered.

“Ayla.”

“I told you to go… Oh my God.
Rayan.
What’s wrong with you?”

Why is your face like this? Ayla greeted him with a light smile and lightly tangled her tail fin.
She reached for Rayan’s cheeks, but her grip was not strong enough to turn his face around, so Rajan shook her head with a groan and shook her hand away.

“What’s wrong with my face?”

“It’s the same expression I made when I was a kid and I accidentally knocked down a pillar and got scolded a lot, so I didn’t build it even when I got 10 days’ worth of work.”

Ayla stroked her chin and made a rather serious expression.

“Did Alle scold you? Really?”

“No.
It’s not that.”

“No wonder.
Alle was telling me to check on you…”

“I said it’s not like that.”

He denied it immediately, but Ayla didn’t seem to believe it.
Rayan glanced at Ayla and sighed.

Alle’s intention was obvious.
He had gone up to the surface several days and there was no change.
As each day passed, Rayan’s mood deteriorated, and there were many days when he did not say a word.

He thought he would feel a little better if he played with Ayla whom he hadn’t seen in a while, but it didn’t work.
Rayan didn’t know how to relieve this stuffy feeling.

“Rayan?”

Rayan’s reaction was different than usual, so Ayla was a little awkward.
She hadn’t seen Rayan’s mood subside like this in decades.
He always stood in front of them, smiling casually, even when he failed to reach adulthood, as well as when he received the ten-day grounding order.

Ayla wondered, what really is going on?

‘Ayla · If you’re not busy, can you go over to Rayan?’

She didn’t think much of it when she heard that from Alle.
At best, she thought Rayan was sulky after being scolded by Alle.
But now there was a gloom that could not be hidden on his face.
It was the first time she had seen Rayan like this.

How should I soothe him?

“Rayan.
Shall we go outside?”

She made eye contact with him and suggested something he could have liked, but his expression darkened even more.

“Or would you like me to show you something I like?”

This also didn’t work.
Rayan’s green eyes gleamed gloomily.
Ayla looked into his eyes.

“… I want to be alone, Ayla.” Rayan slumped down.

“Rayan.”

“…”

“Rayan?”

Ayla gently shook his back.
However, Rayan did not move and did not lift his face buried in the blanket.
He was really strange today, Ayla murmured and eventually left.

The door closed and soon there was no sound.

Then, Rayan, who laid still for a while and took a deep breath, slipped his body, which had been buried in the duvet.
The ceiling was visible.
Rayan blinked at it.
Eyelashes tickled the corners of his eyes.

Rayan was also frustrated.

He wanted to complain to someone, and he wanted to get an opinion.
He also wanted to express his feelings.
But he couldn’t tell anyone.
Alle, who knew all the facts, was very displeased with Erich, and Yuri or Ayla, who knew nothing, was never a good option.

Rayan, who was pounding the blanket with his hand, bit his lip and sprinted out.

Fortunately, Alle was absent at Mer’s call, and it will probably take a long time for him to come back.
Rajan bravely went out.
He looked around once for no reason even though he knew Alle wouldn’t be able to come.

Of course, there was no Alle, and there was no mermaid watching him closely.

Rayan passed the other places, snooping in front of the barrier he used every time he went out.
He was in a dilemma of whether to go or not.

As he laid down and contemplated, suddenly an idea sprung up.
Mayb Erich was not able to come out because someone caught him going out late at night.
So he might be able to see him when the sun rises.
It was an unfounded optimism.

Rayan swallowed his saliva and went through the barrier with his hands.

He went out the barrier, but Rayan was instantly lost yet again.
When they met, it was only at night when everyone was asleep, so there were only a few mermaids standing on the alert, so all he had to do was avoid their eyes, but that wasn’t the case during the day.
How many mermaids did he meet the last time he went outside with Ayla?

If so, the only way was to go through a slightly remote place, and the reason why it was so remote was because the border of the Black Sea was close.

What should he do?

“…”

He agonized, and there wasn’t much time left.

Rayan stretched out his hand.

As he left the barrier, the gentle current gently adhered to the skin.
Rayan shrugged his shoulders slightly and looked around him closely.

At that time, the reason he didn’t notice that the shark family was approaching was because he was engrossed in the afterglow of playing with Erich and neglected being vigilant of the surroundings.
But one such mistake was enough.
When Rayan moved, he was careful not to spread the waves, and he listened constantly to his surroundings.

Rayan gradually moved away from Atisa.

While he was nervous, he arranged in an orderly manner in his head what he would say if he met Erich.
He must first explain why he had not come for a few days, and then ask Erich for an explanation.
And, also…

“The little mermaid is not afraid.”

A terribly low voice caught interest and landed softly on Rayan’s eardrum.

He hadn’t felt any signs.
Rayan was stunned and turned his head towards the direction he heard his voice.
His body creaked with tension.

“… Asha?”

A young man with his arms crossed and his head tilted crookedly was looking at Rayan with a languid smile.
As his eyes met Rayan, he glided towards him.
White skin, dangerously luminous purple eyes, and fluttering black hair caught his attention.

“How?”

“While you’re leaving traces, what do you mean how?”

“I….”

“You’re going to say that you were being careful.”

Asha smiled at him and beckoned.
A shadow flickered in the vicinity.

“In the meantime, there’s been another obstacle, and everyone is just being still.”

Asha’s hand covered his cheek.

“There are rumors in the Black Sea that a young mermaid was roaming fearlessly outside without anyone’s protection and was hunted down.”

“…”

“Everyone is very interested in the little mermaid right now.
In many ways.
Or, with many meanings.”

He leaned close to Rayan’s ear and whispered.
Knowing that the word “many meanings,” has countless meanings, Rayan unknowingly leaned back and looked at Asha.

“… Asha, what do you mean?”

Asha made a face that he didn’t think he would ask such a thing.
For some reason he looked delightful.

“Well.
Something like catching and eating.”

“…”

“Your kind at Atisa says that the witch of the Black Sea lures the young mermaids and eats them.”

Asha’s hand traced from Rayan’s cheek to his neck.
This time he looked into his purple eyes, so tense that he couldn’t even push him back like before.

“Asha, are you the witch of the Black Sea?”

Asking in a trembling voice, Asha raised the corners of his lips.

“I guess that’s what they call me.”

“…”

“Then, Rayan, can I eat you?”

“I- I’m not going to taste good.”

Rayan quickly spoke.

Asha tilted his head at an angle as he took his hand from the nape of his neck as if he wanted to say more.
Rayan shook his head violently to explain why he shouldn’t be eaten.

“Look.
I’m so skinny.”

“But soft.”

“Uh, uh, when I’m being eaten, I will scream loudly in pain and make you lose your appetite.”

“A painful scream is a great appetizer to whet the palate.”

“Also, my guardian will be angry.”

“Can’t I beat a young killer whale?”

Rayan hadn’t been convinced when Ayla told him she could beat Alle, but Asha really seemed to be able to beat Alle with just a gesture.
It just crossed his mind like that.
It was instinct.

“Then are there any more reasons why I shouldn’t eat you?”

His meager excuses were all blocked by an iron wall, and Rayan didn’t know what more to say.
Rayan may be eaten by a witch of the Black Sea today – who was not actually a witch, but a male mermaid.
He hadn’t even seen Erich yet.
He didn’t even have the chance to ask why he hadn’t come for days.

“… I am defective.
So I won’t taste good.”

“Defect?”

There was a lot of interest in Asha’s eyes.
He scanned him from head to toe as his gaze explored.
It was a brief moment, but it felt like a very long time.

“Ah.
Yes.
You….”

Then he exclaimed and said something that didn’t make sense.
At the positive reaction, Rayan looked at him with anticipation.
Asha curved his purple eyes and leaned over.

“What you just said was quite interesting.”

“…”

“So.”

He whispered into Rayan’s ear.
Hearing the whisper, Rayan widened his eyes.

“Go back.”

Asha, who gave him an unknown smile, disappeared like a bubble, leaving only one word.
He was also like that when they first met.
Only the vast ocean was visible in front of Rayan’s eyes.

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