The turquoise fins moved in a hurry.
Rayan, who gently swung his tail and crossed the dark blue surface, smiled at the silver light reflected on the water surface in the distance.

“If Mer knows, she’ll be angry.”

The killer whale, who had been named his guardian from the moment Rayan was born, stopped Rayan with a worried expression.
Even though this secret departure was not just one or two occasions.

“Wouldn’t it be better to go back now?”

The killer whale urged him to return to the palace before it was not too late.

“What if you get caught?”

“Everyone’s asleep.”

“Mer might find Rayan.”

“Alle.
Mer won’t look for me.”

He knew.
At the words he added, the killer whale, Alle, made a groaning sound and then grumbled a little.
Laughing at his grumpy dissatisfaction, Rayan finally broke the surface of the water and poked his face out.
The sky was dark like the deep sea, but there were many other things such as the moon that illuminated the dark sky, and the stars were like that.
And Rayan liked those things.

“Promise me, Rayan.
You’ll go back after looking for a moment.”

“Alright.”

Since three years ago, the day of his coming-of-age birthday, there have been so many instances of this.
Alle was worried and anxious every day even though he had never been caught.

“Alle, do you see? The moon is round.”

At Rayan’s exclamation, Alle slapped the surface of the sea with his tail.
Drops of water scattered in the light.
It was his own pet peeve.
What makes such a thing so special that he admires it every time he sees it?

Rayan smiled brightly and rubbed Alle’s smooth hair in a circular motion.
His expression loosened up as if the touch felt good.

The mermaids would laugh and wonder how he knew it, but it would be questionable if Rayan did not know.
As if to prove that right, the tail that he had been swinging a while ago became gentler.
He nuzzled against the hand that was rubbing the hair as if he wanted to get even a little closer.
At times like this, it was doubtful whether it was a clan of killer whales famous for their fierce temper.

“Alle.”

“Yes, Rayan.”

“Have you ever seen the sun?””

“No way.”

He was very adamant.
It was obvious that Alle, who breathed heavily, wanted to start nagging.
Oh god.
After hearing it dozens of times, Rayan could now picture what words he will emphasise, what facial expressions he will make, and even where he will breathe in a sigh.

“I didn’t say anything.
I know that I shouldn’t be seen by humans.”

After intercepting Alle’s words, Rayan pouted his lips.

“I’m just asking if you’ve ever seen the sun.”

Unlike Rayan, who had restrictions on his behaviour until a few years ago, Alle was free.
Nevertheless, he had never told Rayan what the sky was like during the day.
He was afraid that it’ll awaken Rayan’s curiosity.

“It is not different from the night.”

“But Yuri said the sun was a very beautiful golden colour.
They said that the surface of the water sparkles blue in the sun.”

He could hear Alle swearing at Yuri in a low voice.

‘Dear Prince.
The sun is shining gold.
It’s very beautiful and dazzling.
To the point where it’s blinding.’

Yuri of the dolphins, who had to come to the surface to breathe while swimming in the deep sea, was the one who informed Rayan of the outside world.
Rayan knew nothing except the royal palace in the deep sea, even though he was ordered to be protected in such a way.
That wasn’t sufficient, and it made him long for the outside, so Yuri felt sorry for him.

Alle glanced at Rayan.

His black hair, which was as dark as the deep sea where there was no light, made the pale skin stand out even more.
Whenever he blinked his emerald eyes, his wet eyelashes fluttered.

As a member of the killer whale clan, he was not very interested in and did not intend to understand the beauty of mermaids, but he agreed that if Rayan grew up fully, no mermaid in the royal palace would be comparable to him.
When Rayan, who doesn’t come up half the time, put on a face like that, he wanted to grant his wish to see the sun as well.

He shoved the young master, whom he had been looking after since birth by Mer’s orders, with his snout.

On the other hand, it was comforting.

“It tickles.
Alle.”

Rayan twisted his body as he squirmed and burst into laughter.
He used to laugh a lot.
He was sweet and thoughtful.
There were times when he was dissatisfied with the fact that Rayan was the son of the king1, Mer, who dominated the sea with a stern face with a trident in one hand and a royal sceptre in the other, who was quite different from him.

“Shall we go back?”

“Already? It’s still this dark.”

“Humans sometimes hold banquets on ships even at night.”

Rayan’s green eyes twinkled at the casual words.
He was just trying to rush him, but made the mistake of igniting his curiosity.

“Really?”

“Rayan.
Maybe Mer will really get angry.”

Unlike before, when he could not hide his displeasure, Alle spoke calmly in a calm tone.
It’s because it really shouldn’t be said that Alle, who used to close his eyes in normal circumstances, speaks so seriously.

“Okay.
I’m sorry, Alle.
That’s not really what I meant.”

When he readily accepted, Alle quickly loosened his expression and slammed his tail into the surface of the water to create water droplets.
The water drops reflected in the moonlight and sparkled.
Nevertheless, Rayan’s expression did not shine as bright as before, so Alle kept saying things that would make him happy.

“Then, um, let’s go back to Atisa after a little while.”

“”

He wanted to bite his tongue even after he had said it, but he couldn’t.

“Really?”

As expected, Rayan’s face lit up.

“I’ll be here, so take a look around.
You can’t go too far, Rayan.”

“Mhmm.”

Rayan smiled brightly and lightly kissed him on the head and moved forward gently before Alle could take back his words.
He heard Alle’s cry from behind once again telling him not to go too far, but he pretended he hadn’t heard, and swam forward.

“…”

The sea was calm and there were no storms.
Perhaps because there was no Alle who was always urging him to go back, next to him, the quietness was perceived more clearly.

Swish~

Half-submerged in the sea water that gently embraced him, Rayan turned over.
The stars illuminating the pitch black sky shone brightly.
Rayan stretched out his hand towards the unreachable objects.
The water droplets on the opaque web of his fingers glistened in the light.

After enjoying it for a while, Rayan quickly fell into a different thought.
For example, Alle’s request.
He told him to look around a bit and come back, but if he doesn’t come back by the time he thinks, he will come to find him.
Then, until Alle found him, he wanted to explore the outside world a little more.

And since it’s dark.

Even if he came a little closer, no one would notice.

After successfully rationalising with himself, Rayan took action.
The light turquoise fins moved vigorously at his will.
The current could not break his will.
As the corners of his mouth went up, naturally his cheeks twitched.
Unlike what he usually does, he nimbly swam.
Even if Alle, who noticed too late, chases after him, he can’t catch him right away.

Rayan, who accelerated as he slammed his tail into the water, stopped when the sheer cliff appeared like a dot in the distance.
Any more than this was really dangerous no matter how dark it was, and perhaps Alle might get angry and prevent him from going out at night.
This was the bottom line he tacitly accepted.
So this much was just right.

Rayan peeked out just in case, and saw a pointed spire atop the sheer cliff.

Unlike Alle, who refuses to reveal anything related to the human world, Yuri used to pass on the knowledge of the human world to him who was bored (and it wasn’t much).
With the fragmentary knowledge he delivered, he knew that it was called a castle.
And that there were people living in the castle.

However, he thought that Yuri’s words that humans live in castles might be a lie.

The first time he came to this place with a view of the castle on the cliff was three years ago.
Even considering that he was able to come less than five times, he had never seen the lights of the castle lit up in the three years since then, so he would have doubted that.
Of course, Yuri said that humans sleep with the lights off when night comes, but shouldn’t the lights be turned on at least once, even by chance?

“…Huh?”

But today was different from other days.
From the castle that had been engulfed in darkness, a whitish light leaked out.
It was fainter than moonlight or starlight.
But in Rayan’s eyes, the light was very clear.

Soon the whitish light grew a little brighter, and the figure immersed in darkness appeared small.
It was a human.
Rayan instinctively tried to move his fins as if possessed.

“Simere.”

He heard a low voice calling him from behind.
At that moment, Rayan muttered with a startled expression.

“…I told you not to call me that.”

Three years ago, he was stripped of his successor’s seat.
It was not an official deprivation, and therefore his title was not taken away, but Mer no longer considered him a successor.
Because of this, Rayan also hated being called that since that day, and Alle understood him and called him by his name.
Still, calling him ‘Simere’ was a kind of warning.

“Let’s go back.”

“…”

Rayan couldn’t move as if he had lingering regrets.

“Simere, Rayan.”

Alle urged him once more.
Ah.
He won’t be able to come out for a while.
He read that hint in Alle’s voice.
So he didn’t want to move any more, no, he wanted to see it a little closer, but Rayan held back and nodded his head.

“Let’s go.”

It was time to return to his world just as Alle wanted.

 

Footnotes

Mer is said to be a woman but referred to as king (왕)

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