‘You’re Simere, yet foolish like that.’

He should have grown up originally, but the green eyes looking at his small body were cold without warmth.
Intimidated, his body shrank back naturally, and Rayan had to endure cold criticism by hiding in his long black hair.

‘It’s indeed pathetic.’

The king was the ruler of the deep sea, but he was the one who gave Rayan to the world before that.
Nevertheless, he turned his back on him without revealing even a single hint of regret, let alone decades of affection.

“Gasp.”

Rayan opened his eyes with a groan.
He felt all over his body, and only after confirming that he had no eyes on him did he realise that it was only a dream.

Why did he have a dream like this? He wasn’t really concerned about that day, but he realised it was his birthday soon.
When he came to this realisation, he started to understand why he hadn’t seen any starfish or seahorses, which had been chattering in and out of the palace for several days before.

It was obvious.
Alle must have requested for it before he left.
Don’t do anything to upset him.
It must have been hectic since he had to leave in a hurry, but he was just needlessly diligent anyway.

Rayan blinked a few more times languidly and then kicked himself out of his seashell bed.
He looked at his reflection in the glass mirror in the corner of the room.
A calm boy with hair as black as if pulled out of the darkness without a single ray of light, was facing him.

His body, which had not grown even after his first growth, was still so small.
Suddenly, Rayan remembered those who looked at him with bewildered eyes three years ago, when he broke out of his shell after 10 days.

Mermaids grew in two stages, they would become adults after the first growth and then go through a second growth within a few years after reaching adulthood.
Then, they would express unique abilities such as combat and healing, and they usually inherited the temperament of their parents.

Rayan was the son of Mer, who was considered to be the most powerful warrior of all time, and expectations were high as he showed the fastest signs of growth.
No one doubted that he was the owner of the next-generation trident.
However, Rayan broke his shell and came out without becoming an adult.

There were often mermaids who did not mature after their first growth, and usually the ending was not good.
They fell behind, and at some point disappeared from Atisa.

‘…Ah.’

Every time they saw him who had failed to grow, their gazes changed in an instant.
First of all, the king’s eyes became cold.
Mer, who originally treated him as her successor, even though she wasn’t very affectionate at first, treated him as nothing, or a shame.
Like the king, the other mermaids did not approach Rayan.
He was virtually isolated from Atisa.

The king had no other children, so even if he failed to become an adult, he was still a Simere as he had a second growth left, but if the king made a new heir… Well, what would happen then?

Each time the breeding season came, Mer selected new people and put them in bed.
Besides, it usually took about 4 years from the first growth to the second growth, so the unpredictable end was slowly approaching him.

It’d be over.

Perhaps he would be expelled from Atisa.
But he didn’t hate it or feel bad about it.
Because Rayan didn’t want any more sympathetic gazes with ridicule hidden underneath on him.

“…”

All of a sudden he had an idea.
While he had been continuously sinking, Rayan took his eyes off the mirror and turned away.
He stretched out his hand and went outside, digging through the current, but there was not much to do.

Alle, who was always by his side and hung out with him, had been away for a few days, and Yuri was never attached to Atisa, despite being named his guardian.

Yuri was free-spirited, and since he couldn’t maintain his true form in Atisa, he preferred to play outside the kingdom and only showed his face occasionally.
Every time he told Rayan the stories of the outside world, he preferred to wander outside than to have Yuri next to him.

But today, oddly enough, he wanted someone to be by his side.
It was definitely not an illusion that he missed even Alle, who would nag him at every move.

While swimming aimlessly outside, Rayan sank under the fluttering seaweed that curled around his body, thinking of the human being above him that he had been trying to forget about.

Golden hair that was a rare sight among mermaids, and blue eyes like the deep sea.
…Did the young human who had been dying and producing bubbles wake up safely under the care of someone? The letan’s words that a young human was weak kept piling up in his memory, and he couldn’t shake it off.

There shouldn’t be an encounter with humans.
He shouldn’t see that young human again.
His heart was always inclined towards humans.
So, he wanted to see him again.
Whether he was safe.
Maybe the fragile young human being was sick somewhere.

Of course, that was not the only reason.

It was the first time he had seen a human being whom he had heard only through oral stories passed down over time.
Unlike the humans in the stories, he didn’t look as cruel as the kraken of the Black Sea, nor as violent as the serpent that often burrows into the depths of the sea.
He was only warm enough to scorch his palms, and was fragile and beautiful, like the sun he had barely heard of in stories.

“…”

Should he go see it just once?

Since Yuri wasn’t here, going outside Atisa was dangerous.
It was the mermaids who ruled the Elev Sea, and most of the species made a covenant of eternal loyalty, but some did not.
Such as the shark clan and the Kraken.

There were many cases where a mermaid who didn’t have combat ability went outside Atisa and lost their life even if they were an adult.
Much less Rayan who had not grown up and could be considered Mer’s flaw.

Obviously Alle, and even Yuri, would not stand for this.

There are dozens of reasons not to go, but his mind kept leaning to the other side.
It was a time of intense debate between resignation and curiosity.

There was a wave of waves.
The limp seaweed stopped moving as if it had been electrocuted.
Silence fell to Atisa.

It was a familiar tension.

Rayan, who was playing with grains of sand buried in seaweed, stuck his head out.
He saw someone riding a seahorse and returning home from far away.
Their pitch black hair flowed.
A cool, silvery trident held in their hand.
It was the return of Mer who had gone on patrol.

It is unlikely that the king at the distant above would see Rayan hiding in a pile of seaweed.
Still, Rayan could imagine that at any moment her gaze would fall and she would stare at him with cold eyes.

Even if he tried to pretend nothing was wrong, his hands trembled lightly.

“…”

Rayan grabbed his hand and lowered his body, breaking through the protective barrier.
As he exited the barrier, the king’s gaze shifted downward, but she indifferently collected her gaze and headed straight ahead.

Leaving Atisa alone and going up the surface made him more nervous than expected.
Rayan couldn’t hide his nervousness the whole time, and he started desperately missing Alle, who would worry about him, although he would always nag at him.

It was only when he barely poked his head above the surface that he was able to relax his tense body.
He ruffled his wet hair and looked up at the cliff.
When he looked up, his neck hurt.

Rayan’s eyes widened as if they were about to pop out.

The castle still stood towering.
The reason he was surprised was the castle, which was usually submerged in darkness, was bright as though it was engulfed in the light for some reason.
He even heard a faint melody.

Green eyes as gentle as new shoots flickered continuously.
Each time, his long, drooping eyelashes fluttered and swayed in the wind.
Then he pushed his outstretched head back into the water halfway.

Still, Rayan’s gaze did not go away.

Rayan had saved a human, and the memories were clear… But he actually thought it was just a moment of illusion.
Of course, Rayan wasn’t imaginative enough to specifically think of a human he had never seen before, but it was so unbelievable.

However, that bright light illuminating the castle made him realise that it was not just an imagination, but a reality.
Him saving a young human was not just a dream.

Then, suddenly, he wanted to see him.
He wanted to see with his eyes whether the young human he had saved was doing well, and there were also many things he was curious about.

What was his name? Does he still have shiny golden hair? Would the sun be bright? Or would his hair shine brighter? The suppressed curiosity surged.
Perhaps it was a feeling that would not be resolved if he didn’t hear from him.

Of course, he may or may not see him.

Anyway, the fact that it wasn’t an illusion made him feel a bit better today.
As if to prove it, the tail beneath the water swayed softly.

“… I wonder if he’s there.”

Rayan slowly crossed the line he had set and began to get closer.
No matter how close he was, he wouldn’t be able to reach him anyway.

But it was a dark night.
The stars twinkled, and the moonlight gently tinted the surface of the sea with silver.
There was no light to illuminate where Rayan was, so he wouldn’t be caught.
At that time, he had caught the boy and put him on the shore, so he had gotten closer than this, but fortunately he was not caught.

Since there was no one next to him to urge him, the level of worry and vigilance gradually lowered.
Rayan looked at the castle, where lights and music leaked out, with his upper body half leaning against the rock.

He wanted to climb up there, but Rayan, who had not reached adulthood, could not transform his tail into legs to walk on the ground.

Even though he knew that he had no choice but to go back with regrets piling on top of each other.
He could not move easily.
He could only hit the rock aimlessly with his blue tail, knowing he probably wouldn’t ever be able to obtain legs for the rest of his life.

“… You…!”

Rayan, who had been slamming with his tail to break the rock, raised his head and looked around when he heard a voice coming from somewhere.

“Are you the one who saved me?”

A voice he had not heard at first, buried in the sound of the waves when he was distracted, became clearer as he listened.

Although he wasn’t an adult and showed no abilities, the mermaid basically had good eyesight as well as hearing.
If he paid a little attention, there was nothing he couldn’t see or hear.
Moreover, it wasn’t too far away because he came closer to see him even a little more.

Rayan widened his eyes in surprise.

A small, shimmering figure was seen.
The blonde hair that glistened in the moonlight, it was clearly the kid Rayan had saved.
A reality, not an illusion, that actually existed.

He was stunned for a brief moment.
Thinking about just running away, he tried to hide his body from the rock.
But before he could hide, his keen ears heard a splash.
It was the sound of something falling, and when he subconsciously looked at the place where the boy was, there was nothing.

Did he fall into the water like back then?

Why?

He was so feeble.

“…”

Rayan didn’t want the being he had just saved to die.
Not to mention he would be submerged in the sea, his own realm.

Anyway, the young human would have lost his consciousness again since he was weak.
He had to fish him out before that happened again.
Rayan swam towards the boy against the current.
Again, even in this dark place, the boy with shiny blonde hair was floating in the water helplessly.
He carefully grabbed the boy and carried him to the surface.

Rayan, who put him on the ground as he did then, looked at him for a moment, and then tried to bite him off because he was in trouble if he came to his senses.
At that moment, his wrist was caught in a sudden grip.

“Who are you?”

Who knows when the boy had regained his consciousness but he looked at Rayan with clear, blue eyes and asked.

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