He could have ignored Asha’s words, but Rayan eventually returned to Atisa.
As soon as the shadows swirling around him disappeared, he turned on the lights and met Alle.
He looked suspicious, but did not ask more when Rayan furrowed his eyebrows and walked around the outside a little in frustration.

‘I think I should go to my family.’

He couldn’t even hear him muttering dissatisfied, saying that he had stopped by for a while and that he had to go back and finish matters.
Rayan was happy that Alle, the watchful eye, had just left.

‘Promise me, Rayan.
You won’t be in trouble until I come back.’

Alle firmly told Rayan as if he was unreliable.
Rayan thought for a moment that he should lie, but he could not nod his head or shake his head horizontally, and made a foolish expression with a straight look on his face.

Alle looked more anxious than before.
It was easy to guess why he had that expression on his face.
Rayan didn’t know that, but Alle knew of the existence of things that were chasing him while he was out.

He reprimanded him one more time and left Atisa, clicking his tongue on the way as if he had no choice.

After Alle left, and when it was late in the night, Rayan breathed out and left Atisa.

The place he was headed was not above the surface of the water.
Rayan stood on the edge of the shimmering Black Sea.
The dark pit trembled incessantly as if it was swallowing up Rayan.
Rayan swallowed his dry saliva and glided into the perimeter.

He crossed the border of the Black Sea, but the flow of the current had not changed.
There was only a growling sound from a deeper, so unseen place.
Rayan looked around, stiffening his body, contemplating whether or not to return.
He had only one reason to come here.

‘Rayan.
Do you want me to help you with one thing you want? For example, two legs that can stand on the ground so you can go see the human you want to see.’

The words he had whispered softly were so charming.

But coming this far, thinking about it, Rayan wondered if it was a trick to lure him in.
He faltered and tried to get out of the perimeter.

“You’ve come all the way here and now you’re going to run away.”

Rayan turned around, startled by the touch on his back and the voice that descended to the top of his head.
Asha smiled and waved one hand lightly.

“… Is there really a way?”

“Which?”

“I am not yet an adult.”

“Not yet an adult, but as you said, you were supposed to become an adult, but it didn’t work, it’s not anyone’s fault.”

Asha chopped up his words.
It was a little strange for him to say what Rayan had always been thinking through someone’s mouth, but it didn’t matter.
As Rayan was unmoved, Asha smiled and gestured.

As if drawn to it, he slipped through the darkness.

He thought it was scary, but it wasn’t as scary as he expected.
Rayan followed him and glanced at him.

He looked up and met purple eyes.
Rayan was startled and turned his gaze away.
Fortunately, Asha didn’t say anything.
After that, Rayan didn’t look at him and only focused on the way he was going.

They soon reached Asha’s residence.

Rayan took a breath.
A kelpie1 stood guard in front of his abode.
As soon as it saw Rayan next to Asha, it made a squawking sound and raised the spear, aiming.

“Stop.
He’s my guest.”

At Asha’s command, the kelpie became silent as if it had never been violent.

“My brothers tend to hide their faces from mermaids.”

As Rayan was about to refute saying “Aren’t you a mermaid too?”, the words were swallowed up by the tip of his tongue and rolled up into his throat.
However, Asha smirked as if he had guessed what his words were, and brought Rayan into the room.

Various gems such as obsidian, opal and amethyst lit up the inside.
It wasn’t very bright, but it wasn’t hard to tell.
Rayan hesitated and took a seat as suggested.
The seat looked stiff, but it was quite soft.

“Then, sit there and talk.”

“About what?”

“For example, about how you met that human.”

How does Asha know about Erich? He had never said it himself.
How did he know? He wanted to ask him once.
Rayan pursed his lips and looked at him.

“Someone gave me a fragment of a conversation you had with your guardian.”

Oh.
It was clear that they were the ones who had been following Rayan.
His ears flushed red.

Rayan hesitated, and then talked about Erich.
He wasn’t as uncomfortable as he had been when he had told Alle.
Alle tried not to show it, but he was not happy with the human Erich, and Rayan could tell.

But he couldn’t tell him not to hate Erich because he knew that all those feelings were his safety.
But unlike with Alle, he didn’t have to feel uncomfortable with Asha.
He could just say what he wanted to say.

Okay.
I see.
Asha sometimes responded without making eye contact, but Rayan couldn’t tell if he liked or disliked Erich.

After a brief explanation as to what had happened from when he got to know Erich and up to the present.
Asha looked at Rayan with his eyes twinkling with interest and blew something in his hand.

It was a sphere the size of his palm that had narrowed the distance gently.
It settled gently on the palm of his hand.
Rayan looked at it carefully.
The black liquid fluttered and swayed, creating a vortex in a circle.
Looking at it, Asha straightened his three outstretched fingers and waved them.

“Three hours.”

“…”

“Only on the day when the full moon rises, that’s the time allowed on the surface.”

And today was the day of the full moon.
Rayan listened to his whisper and looked at the liquid.

Asha kindly added warnings and other words, but it was difficult for Rayan to hear.
He wanted to go up to the surface quickly.
And then he wanted to meet Erich himself by knocking on the gate.

“But Asha.”

Even in the midst of anxiety, Rayan had doubts.

“Why are you giving me this? Is there anything you want from me, or why you want me to come to the Black Sea…”

“Haha.”

Rayan’s words were buried by the sound of his laughter.
Asha closed his eyes as if he had heard something funny, and smiled.
Rayan kept his mouth shut and waited for him to stop laughing.

Asha laughed for a long time.
By the time it had subsided, Rayan’s lips were pouting and jutted out.
Ashan managed to straighten up his twitching lips.

“Occasionally, come visit me.”

“…”

“You’re welcome to tell me about that human.
You just need to give me a little of your time.
I think it’s a pretty good deal.”

As he said, it wasn’t a difficult request.
But, like the kelpie, who was hostile to Rayan earlier, coming to the Black Sea was terrifying.
Asha quickly figured out his hesitation.

“If you accept, during that time no one in the Black Sea will be able to show any bitter hostility towards you.”

Asha said as if he was showing generosity.
If there were no lies, it really seemed to be safe.
No matter how enticed Rayan was, he couldn’t help but be suspicious.

“Why…”

“Endless solitude often leads to being so generous to someone.”

As he spoke of loneliness, there was a sense of separation that his words could not explain, but Rayan had no choice but to be convinced.
As he nodded his head, Asha’s expression brightened.
He then advised him to go quickly, and Rayan grabbed what was given him and turned around and went out to the Black Sea.

In the hall where Rayan left;

Asha sat on the throne and stretched his body in boredom.
A sign was heard, and a sea serpent came in and bowed.
He glanced at the gesture of reverence.
Without warmth, his eyes were only cold.
There was no laughter from before.

“What about that child?”

He spoke straight away.

“He left the Black Sea safely.
No one will harm the young mermaid.”

That’s natural.
Asha ordered them not to touch him, and aside from that, the two sharks who dared to defy him were torn to pieces by his hands that day.
The cruel hand had only done that a few days ago, those in the Black Sea remembered the bloody smell of that day and took notice so as not to offend Asha.

“But, my king.”

A few hundred years ago, Asha, who ruled the Black Sea completely and reigned as ruler, was called the King of the Black Sea.
Asha said he had no intention of becoming their king, but they did not give up their servility, so he let it be.

“How can you do a favor to a little mermaid?”

“Are you wondering if it’s because we’re of the same race?”

The sea serpent hurriedly shook it’s head in denial.

Asha usually stayed in the Black Sea, but when he could not overcome his boredom, he went out and killed.
It wasn’t just those that came in and out of Atisa that were crushed by his hands.
The mermaids, too, were torn to pieces by his hands and turned into ghastly corpses.
It was a one-sided massacre.

At that time, he had a bloody smell that could not be washed away, and it was only when it spread on the tip of Asha’s nose that he stopped the senseless slaughter and wasted time by returning to the Black Sea.

That day too, he went out for that purpose, and Asha showed mercy to the young mermaid, protecting it from the things of the Black Sea by letting him live instead of slaughtering him.
Not only temporarily, but until further notice.

It was unprecedented.

“The reason?”

Asha twirled his fingers in the air.
As he thought of the little mermaid, a light shone in his eyes.

He cited loneliness as the reason to Rayan, who had also asked why.
The answer wasn’t a complete truth, but it wasn’t a complete lie either.

“Because it’s fun.”

Not knowing what kind of bloody history there was between humans and mermaids’ ancestors who had a longing for the outside world, there was finally another connection with humans yet again.
Moreover, he was also the successor of ‘that’ Mer.
Asha wondered what the ending would be like.

“… It’s going to keep me from getting bored for quite some time.”

He hoped his predictions like this would be correct.
If he ever felt bored again, the poor little mermaid who called himself a defect would lose his protection and be ripped to pieces.

Asha’s lips twisted upwards.

 

also a mythical creature, half horse half fish

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