Finally, the doctor’s identity is revealed!
And the Zhu siblings’ story somehow manages to become a touch more tragic. Do you guys think Ye Xiao made the correct decision? What would you have done in his place?
Translated by: TaffyGirl13
Chapter 10: The Truth You Do Not Know
“And the next time I opened my eyes, I discovered that I was lying in a hospital.”
As Zhu Nan murmured all of this, his gaze remained fixated on the ceiling the entire time, as though he was trapped in a distant memory.
At this point, Ye Xiao couldn’t help but cut in to say, “In other words, you don’t know how you escaped from that area of water either?”
“Yes. Moreover, at the time, Qin Ni, Hua Xia, Wei Jin Ping, Xu Yi Feng, and Senior Ouyang were in the same hospital as me. None of us seemed to have suffered any major harm, just some minor flesh wounds.”
“Then what about Professor Yu Zhi De? And where is your sister’s body?”
“Don’t know. I never saw Xiao Qian again, nor the professor. After that excursion, I cut off contact with the others. Until…until I felt my body’s condition becoming abnormal. I was extremely terrified, so I went looking for the professor by myself…”
“What’s with the monster that you said had escaped?”
“I don’t know very much about that either. When I first went to the professor’s house, I found out that he actually already had a mermaid in his basement. It was very similar to the one we caught at sea that year, and this one ate humans as well. The professor was using dead humans to feed it this entire time. Then the mermaid bit the professor to death and ran away through the sewers.”
Ye Xiao glanced at Su Mu and said, “The monster that attacked people at the swimming pool should’ve been that one, right?”
Zhu Nan thought to himself for a moment before adding, “I suspect that it’s the fetus inside the mermaid from that year. The professor has always been pouring his efforts into this research, so it wouldn’t be at all difficult for him to nurture a small mermaid.”
Ye Xiao was taken aback for a moment and did not reply.
A little while after Zhu Nan finished clarifying everything from eight years ago, he let out a long sigh, as if exhausted. He then slowly shut his eyes and serenely said, “Alright, I’ve said everything I needed to.”
Su Mu nodded and responded, “I will abide by my promise and end your life.”
Ye Xiao immediately grabbed him upon hearing this and exclaimed, “Oi, are you misunderstanding something? You’re killing a person!”
“Do you think that he qualifies as a person in his current form?” Su Mu shot back with sideways look.
Ye Xiao’s words were stuck in his throat. After a beat, he muttered, “But he’s still alive. He still has thoughts. He still speaks…”
“Get out if you don’t want to watch.” Su Mu pointed at the door.
Ye Xiao glared at him and ground out through gritted teeth, “If you really want to do it, I can’t stop you. However, no matter what, it’s impossible for me to agree with your viewpoint and your methods.”
He shot one more glance at the monster-like Zhu Nan lying on the bed living a life that was no better than death, then turned and strode out.
Su Mu slowly walked forwards and asked, “Do you have any last words you wish to say?”
Zhu Nan’s eyes trembled, and two streams of tears slowly leaked through his dark-brown eyelids.
He said, “Please, please don’t let my parents come identify my body, and don’t tell them about Xiao Qian’s matter. Just say that their son went missing, and that he might…he might never be found…”
“Alright, I will pass that on.”
Zhu Nan’s lips rose slightly after receiving this final comfort while at death’s door.
However, his eyes were still closed. As a result, he did not see the giant black dragon that instantly wormed out from the young officer’s palm…
The monster chained to the bed inside the forensics department was dead. Upon examination, the cause of death was determined to be heart and lung failure.
When Ye Xiao heard this news the next day, he was completely shocked.
How could the cause of death be heart and lung failure?
He raised his head to glance at the silent Su Mu sitting across from him. Since their other co-workers were crowded together nearby discussing this matter, Ye Xiao could not ask anything. After all, if word got out that one had privately killed an important eyewitness to a case, the consequence might not be as simple as merely being fired.
Thus, Ye Xiao quietly lowered his head and pretended to read through case files. Yet his heart was filled with various doubts.
Consequently, the incidents of a monster attacking people did not simply draw to a halt here.
A week later, a third-year elementary school student was hurt while playing next to a river after school. Their body had been destroyed and scattered, with half their head missing and a leg gone. Their throat had been shredded into pieces, and their chest ripped open to reveal the ribs.
An eyewitness passing by had stated that he had seen something covered in scales leap out from the river and chomp down on the child by the shore before dragging it into the water. The entire course of events had occurred in less than five seconds, so the eyewitness hadn’t been able to see any of it clearly. However, he seemed to have glimpsed…an enormous fish tail.
As a result, Ye Xiao and Su Mu suffered a fierce reprimanding from their boss. Because this series of cases had been their responsibility, their direct superior hadn’t cared at all if it was a monster or not – all he knew was that this chain of cases was still lingering without resolution, and there were still people constantly dying. Since it was an elementary school child that had died this time, it had caused a massive uproar as the people were greatly alarmed. The police station’s credibility was on the verge of being obliterated entirely.
Upon dejectedly leaving their boss’s office, Ye Xiao let out a heavy sigh and rubbed his forehead as he asked, “What do we do? How can we capture that damned mermaid hiding in the sewers?”
Su Mu raised his head to stare out the window at the dark clouds covering the skies outside as he said, “Rather than that, the question that bothers me more is: where in the world did that female doctor go?”
“You mean Yu Xiao Yu?” Ye Xiao looked at him. “Huh, you’re right, she’s already been missing for a long time.”
“Don’t you think she’s very strange? There’s no knowing where she materialised from. At first glance, it seems as though she doesn’t have any relation to the entire case at all. What exactly is she?”
“Now that you mention it, I’m starting to find it odd too.” Ye Xiao rubbed his chin as he tilted his head in thought. “She’s already been listed as a wanted criminal throughout the country. Logically speaking, she shouldn’t be able to run far. Plus, she’s a woman. Where could she have hidden?”
As soon as he spoke these words, Su Mu suddenly narrowed his eyes as he stared at Ye Xiao with a piercing expression.
Ye Xiao was taken aback by the sharp gaze and involuntarily took a step backwards as he stuttered out a laugh. “What-what are you looking at me like that for?”
Su Mu silently pondered something to himself for a long while before finally spinning around without a word, brushing past Ye Xiao to leave.
Ye Xiao scratched his head, completely lost. But then he heard a chilling voice suddenly speak up behind him.
“That unnecessary kindness of yours will eventually hurt you.”
Ye Xiao started. Hearing the implication in Su Mu’s words, he guiltily chewed on his lips before murmuring to himself, “Tch, nothing escapes that guy’s eyes after all.”
In the evening, the severely cloudy sky finally caused a downpour. Ye Xiao did not bring an umbrella, so after work had ended, he took off his jacket to cover his head as he directly ran through the pouring rain. By the time he reached home, he was already completely soaked through. He sneezed twice before fishing out his keys and opening his door. When he surveyed the inside from the front entrance, he found that the living room was still pitch-dark.
He hung his dripping wet coat on the back of the door and shook some water out from his hair. Then he switched on the lights. The instant they lit up, a figure inadvertently appeared by the window, frightening him so much that he nearly let out a loud yelp.
“You’re awake? Why didn’t you turn on the lights?”
Hearing the voice, the person sitting next to the window finally turned their head. Behind their long black hair was an elegant and graceful face. Who else could this person be aside from Yu Xiao Yu?
“How are you, is your body better? Has your fever gone down?” Ye Xiao placed the plastic bag in his hands down on the table as he said, “I specially bought porridge. Do you want to drink some?”
Yu Xiao Yu did not answer. She curled up on the narrow windowsill, hugging her shoulders as though afraid of the cold. Her complexion was still pale, though it was significantly better than it had been two days ago.
That day, it had been raining this hard as well. When Ye Xiao had come home after work, he had suddenly spotted a woman standing alone by his door like a lost ghost. She had looked completely bedraggled after getting drenched by the rain. Her dishevelled hair had been haggard, and she had worn only a single, thin garment, shivering in the freezing cold.
“Officer Ye.” The woman had raised her head to meet Ye Xiao’s eyes with her listless, large eyes.
Ye Xiao had been greatly shocked, nearly not recognising her. “D-Doctor Yu?”
Yu Xiao Yu had unsteadily taken two steps forwards, tears pouring down her face as she softly murmured, “Please do not arrest me yet. I have something to say, something to say…”
Immediately after speaking these words, her body had collapsed as she’d fainted in Ye Xiao’s arms.
Ye Xiao had been somewhat perplexed. Although he’d known that the woman in front of him was a wanted criminal, her pained pleading had made it much too difficult for him to have the heart [to arrest her]. Thus, during the past two days, Yu Xiao Yu had been peacefully sleeping in his bedroom.
“Er, um…if your physical condition isn’t a huge burden anymore, please go turn yourself in.” Ye Xiao looked at her and said, “Don’t force me to arrest you.”
Yu Xiao Yu closed her eyes and rested her head against the glass pane as she quietly asked, “Officer Yu, you once told me that every life in this world has significance and worth to its existence. Do you still believe that even now?”
Ye Xiao was stunned for a second, but he then replied, “Yes. What exactly are you trying to say?”
Yu Xiao Yu smiled bitterly and fell silent once more.
Ye Xiao sighed and stated, “Come with me to turn yourself in. Stealing corpses isn’t any fatal crime. I’ll plead leniency for you to the judge during the trial. Zhu Nan has already told me everything. I’m sure that you were also forced with no other options to steal the bodies from the hospital for your father’s sake, weren’t you?”
“No, that’s not it.” Yu Xiao Yu shook her head. “Actually, its was mostly for myself.”
“For yourself?” Ye Xiao frowned.
“Yes. If I did not have those bodies, I would not have survived up until now.”
Yu Xiao Yu’s tone was still calm, but Ye Xiao was astonished.
“What do you mean?”
Yu Xiao Yu gave him a pained smile. Instead of replying, she asked, “Officer Ye, you guys should’ve already found that I’m not my father’s biological daughter, no?”
“Do you want to know my exact identity?”
“Who are you?”
Yu Xiao Yu murmured out loud, her frail voice covered by the patter of the downpour.
She jumped down from the windowsill and walked towards Ye Xiao step by step with bare feet. There was a smile on her face, yet it was beyond desolate.
“Officer Yu, do you think…I’m like a human?”
Ye Xiao was taken aback as he asked in bewilderment, “If not like a human, then like what, a ghost?”
Yu Xiao Yu’s lips curved upwards slightly. She lifted her hand to tuck her long black hair on either side behind her ears.
Ye Xiao instantly sucked in a sharp breath. He opened his mouth, but no words came out.
Th-those aren’t human ears at all! They were pointed ears, like elves in fairytales had. However, they gave off a much fiercer feeling, because the surface of those pointed ears was covered in an uneven layer of fine scales.
Where have I seemed to see these ears before?
Ye Xiao tried his best to think back.
Ah, right, it was Zhu Nan! Zhu Nan also had a pair of ears like that!
“Ex-exactly what kind of…”
Ye Xiao’s words were stuck in his throat mid-sentence. Because he didn’t know whether to ask “what kind of human”, “what kind of thing”, or even “what kind of monster” she was. Ultimately, he could only blankly stare at her.
Yu Xiao Yu couldn’t help but let out a bleak chuckle as she asked, “Let me ask you, right now, do you still think I’m like a human?”
Ye Xiao was speechless for a beat before he finally began to regain his calm. He took in a deep breath and inquired, “How did this happen?”
She looked at him, a slight flush on her pale and beautiful face due to her fluctuating emotions. She chuckled as she said, “Zhu Nan has already told you everything that happened eight years ago, hasn’t he? At the time, Professor Yu brought back two things from that ship. One was the mermaid fetus, and the other was Zhu Qian’s body—”
Before she finished speaking, Ye Xiao interrupted her. “No-no way, you’re Zhu Qian? You’re not dead? Oh yeah, Zhu Nan said that at the time, Zhu Qian still had a heartbeat even though she had stopped breathing and had no pulse!”
Yu Xiao Yu’s laugh trembled as she shook her head and slowly said, “No, I’m not Zhu Qian.”
“You’re not Zhu Qian?”
Ye Xiao was stunned. He repeated her last words again in his mind and was struck with a great shock. He nearly shouted, “You-you-you, you’re actually…”
Yu Xiao Yu’s laughing gradually subsided. She nodded and answered, “That’s right, I’m the fetus that was nurtured from the mermaid that year. That’s why the professor named me Yu Xiao Yu.”
Ye Xiao blankly stumbled back a few steps as he asked, “If-if you’re the mermaid fetus from back then, where-where is that mermaid from the basement from?”
Yu Xiao Yu’s eyes remained locked onto his as she took a step forwards and spoke out each word individually, “That. Is. Zhu. Qian.”
“What? What did you say? No, that’s impossible. How could that monster be Zhu Qian?”
“Did Zhu Nan not tell you? It’s because she ate the mermaid’s heart. While it certainly cured her illness, over the past eight years, it also gradually caused her to transform into the monster you speak of. She couldn’t even recognise her own older brother. And the professor’s six students all ate Zhu Qian’s flesh, so after an incubation period, each and every one of them similarly turned into a monster. Not a single person escaped.”
“B-but, you just said yourself that it’s only been eight years. If you really are that mermaid’s fetus, how could you possible be in your twenties now?”
“Ah, how laughable. Your so-called age is just calculated based on a human’s lifespan, isn’t it? Do you think I count as a human?”
“If you don’t count as a human – if you’re a mermaid’s child – then why do you have a human’s appearance?”
“That question is one that I’ve pondered over myself many times. In the end, I did reach a conclusion.”
“I think that my mother might have once been a human.”
“Your mother?” Ye Xiao started. “Isn’t your mother that mermaid that the professor and the others caught at sea? You’re saying that the mermaid was actually a transformed human as well?”
“Yes. Perhaps my mother once sailed out to the ocean as well, then got lost in that territory. And then for some unknown reason, ate something she should not have eaten: maybe a mermaid’s flesh or a mermaid’s heart, or even possibly the flesh of a human that had eaten a mermaid. Either way, she eventually turned into a monster and ended up living in that area of the sea after.”
When Ye Xiao heard this, he couldn’t help but think of Qin Ni – of Qin Ni’s son, Xiao Bao.
From a certain perspective, it was possible that Yu Xiao Yu and Qi Jia Bao were the same. They were both mutations that had been born as a result of their mothers. They were both pitiful sacrificial victims.
As Ye Xiao thought this, his face dimmed. After a long period of silence, he slowly asked, “So, all those bodies from the hospital were actually your food?”
“Yes. I’ve tried eating other things before, but it was impossible. No matter what else I ate, I would throw it up. Human flesh is my sole source of food. But please believe me, I have never killed anyone because of this, nor have I ever eaten a living human before.”
“But what about that grandpa in the bed across from mine back when I stayed at the hospital? Was it you that took him away?”
“Yes, but I did not kill him. He really did pass away from a sudden heart attack that day.”
Ye Xiao did not speak as he quietly studied Yu Xiao Yu.
Yu Xiao Yu bit her lip as her emotions intensified. “Please believe me, I really haven’t ever killed a person before!”
“The person that attacked me that night was you too?”
“Yes, I just didn’t want you to find out.” She lowered her gaze, her voice choked with sobs. “I’ve always been trying my best to become like a human, so I only ate corpses. Even if the corpses carried a rotten taste that always makes me want to vomit, I refused to eat fresh, living humans. Because I felt that…felt that…the moment I ate a live human, then I would truly, completely turn into the monster you guys speak of…”
At this point, she was no longer able to speak between her sobs.
She covered her face with both her hands, her shoulders faintly shaking as tears dripped down from between the cracks of her fingers.
“If…if you still think that despite all this, I’m guilty of crime…then please arrest me…” As she cried, she brokenly stated, “But, but you need to understand that…in my eyes, humans are food…just like how to you humans, pigs and cows and goats are food…at least I only eat corpses, but you guys are even more horrifying by committing slaughter…I have nothing else to eat, yet you can clearly eat other vegetables and fruit…if all lives are equal, then why can you freely kill pigs and slaughter sheep as you please, yet we’re seen as monsters? If I count as guilty today, then what about you guys? Wouldn’t all of you have committed graver crimes?”
The string of questions left Ye Xiao speechless.
Yu Xiao Yu’s tears spilled down her face as she looked at him.
For a moment, the tranquil house only carried the patter of the storming rain outside. The repeated sounds were like forceful accusations that tortuously questioned Ye Xiao’s heart without ceasing.
After a while, Yu Xiao Yu bowed her head and bitterly smiled. “Forget it, I won’t make things difficult for you.”
As she spoke, she stretched out her hands, wrist-to-wrist, before Ye Xiao.
Ye Xiao stood still. He hesitated for a long moment before finally closing his eyes and saying in a low voice, “If you promise me that you will never harm a person, I can let you go today.”
Yu Xiao Yu started, then lifted her head in astonishment.
“But remember, if I learn of you hurting someone from today onwards, then I will definitely capture you even if I have to chase you to the ends of the earth.”
Yu Xiao Yu was dumbstruck as she stared at Ye Xiao. She had never in her wildest dreams imagined that this young officer would actually let her go.
In reality, Ye Xiao did not know if he was doing the right or wrong thing when he said this. However, he continued to hold fast to his initial intention – that every life in this world had significance and worth to its existence. Thus, he was willing to giver her one more chance now, to let her search for the meaning behind her life.
The two were silent for a beat. Finally, Yu Xiao Yu spoke up. “Officer Ye, thank you. As repayment, I might be able to help you find Zhu Qian.”
“You mean the mermaid attacking people?” Ye Xiao was bewildered. “How can you find her? That mermaid is in the sewers, and the sewage system is set up to spread across every corner of this city. How could you know where it is?”
Yu Xiao Yu chuckled dryly as she answered, “Mermaids were originally creatures that lived in groups. They can sense their own kind. As someone that is their kind, I can draw it out.”
Ye Xiao smiled and sincerely replied, “Thank you.”
Thus, early on a hazy morning, they went to a seashore close to the city. This was the sewer outfall nearest to S-City. If their plan succeeded, they might be able to capture that mermaid right here.
Looking out at the vast horizon filled with grey clouds and mist, the world seemed as though it had reverted to its primordial state from the birth of the universe. Before dawn, the ocean was as serene and tranquil as a sleeping infant, though the slight chill of the constant whistling sea winds sent shivers through the body. In the distance, high and low patches of hazy reefs stood in the dimness.
Yu Xiao Yu walked to the shore and stepped into the ice-cold water. Layer after layer of ocean spray rushed over her feet, splashing onto her long dress. She gazed out at the ocean surface, a serene and profound expression forming on her face, as though in a blank daze. Yet she also seemed to carry a trace of longing and yearning.
She stared out like this for a very long time without speaking.
Ye Xiao slowly walked over from behind and asked, “How do you plan on drawing it out?”
Yu Xiao Yu let out a light sight and replied, “I’m not 100% certain, but I can try using this method.”
Yu Xiao Yu glanced at him, then quietly crouched down in the water. She pulled out a pocketknife and forcefully cut her own palm.
Right as Ye Xiao was about to stop her, he was suddenly dumbstruck as he spotted her blood.
Yes, the blood. Dark green blood dripped out bit by bit from the long and thin cut on her palm, gradually flowing stronger to eventually gather into a thin stream of green blood, a somewhat chilling sight.
At this point, Ye Xiao finally was forced to admit that this young woman with a gentle face who looked no different from an ordinary person, perhaps, could not be called “human” after all.
The dark green blood trickled down from the palm, dropping into the clear ocean like ink falling into water. The waves surged forth, gradually diffusing [the blood] outwards…
“I hope it can smell the scent of its own kind.”
Yu Xiao Yu smiled, though her smile was slightly forlorn, slightly bitter.
Ye Xiao noticed her self-mocking, dejected expression and really wanted to say something comforting. However, he had no idea what to say. Thus, he could only stay silent, looking out at the traces of green blood floating out far away with the water’s movement.
Then, in a moment when he was spacing out, there was a loud splash as a massive wave surged forth from the water right in front of them. Amidst the white foam, a coiled black body suddenly appeared. Before Ye Xiao could get a clear look at what it was, the black figure shot forwards as fast as lightning, ferociously pouncing towards Yu Xiao Yu nearby.
Ye Xiao shouted as he hurriedly protected the girl in his arms and swiftly dropped down to the side.
With a splash, water flew up around him, blurring his vision. Amidst the chaos, an intense, burning sensation sliced through his back, as if he had been mercilessly lashed at with a whip. The pain was scorching.
Yu Xiao Yu shouted out in panic. While hiding behind Ye Xiao’s shoulder, she had spotted it – spotted the row of sharp canines pierce into Ye Xiao’s back. It had only taken an instant to cut open a bloody wound.
Ye Xiao let out a muffled groan. He gritted his teeth and struggled to stand up by himself in the sea water. He pushed the pale, frightened Yu Xiao Yu towards the shore and urged, “I’m fine, quick, get back on land.”
Yu Xiao Yu shook her head, feeling terrified as she stared at the long bloody gash on Ye Xiao’s back.
“Hurry and run!” Ye Xiao roared.
At this moment, the not yet satisfied mermaid nimbly turned around in the water. It raised its head and then slammed its tail down on the surface of the water once again to leap high up in the air. Its beast-like eyes ferociously locked onto Ye Xiao.
Ye Xiao quickly pulled out the tranquiliser gun he had prepared beforehand. After aiming it at the mermaid’s chest, he fired it with a bang.
However, the ammunition that flew out acted as though it had struck a metal plate, only knocking off a few scales covering the chest.
“Fuck! It really is a monster!” Ye Xiao immediately fired again.
Contrary to his expectations, the tranquilizer ammunition got firmly stuck in the scales, unable to pierce through at all.
“Damn it!” He couldn’t help but curse out.
He had not imagined that the monster’s scales would be so hard and sturdy. It was like an impenetrable armour.
After getting shot at twice in a row, the mermaid exploded in anger. It let out a bizarre scream and opened its mouth wide to reveal its pointed teeth. Then it lunged to take a bite.
Ye Xiao’s mind froze as he immediately rolled off to the side, just barely dodging this fatal attack. However, the salty ocean water instantly seeped into his back, causing the wound to hurt so much that it nearly went numb.
Yu Xiao Yu was trembling in horror. She stumbled forwards two steps before she was sternly shouted at.
“Don’t come here!”
Ye Xiao took in a sharp break as he shook the water from his hair and forced himself to crawl back up. But before he could find his balance, the fierce and ugly monster launched another attack.
“Fuck! Can’t you just let me rest for a moment!”
He cursed quietly to himself, staggering backwards multiple steps. He could see the sharp fangs about to land their mark, but it was already too late for him to dodge.
In that moment of imminent peril, a figure suddenly flew out from behind and roared at Ye Xiao:
“Get out of the way!”
Before Ye Xiao could even comprehend what was going on, he saw the person flash past like a whirlwind at extreme speeds and send a flying kick at the monster’s jaw.
The monster immediately shrieked from getting kicked, its heavy body soaring through the air before crashing into the ocean with a bang.
What’s going on? Is this LXG?
Ye Xiao was dumbstruck as he stared at the unexpected guest, his jaw on the verge of dislocating as he gaped in shock.
“Su-Su-Su Mu? What are you doing here?” He blurted out in disbelief.
Su Mu coldly glanced at him and snorted in reply, “I knew you were unreliable.”
As he spoke, he reached out to brush his hand over the back of Ye Xiao’s collar, pulling out a thin semitransparent chip like a magic trick.
“Huh, a tapping device?” Ye Xiao’s eyes widened in astonishment as he indignantly demanded, “What the hell! You-you actually planted a bug on me?! That’s crossing the line!”
“Isn’t it you that crossed the line?” Su Mu raised a brow as he retorted, “As a member of the police, you consciously broke the law, acted without permission, and secretly let a wanted criminal go.”
Ye Xiao knew that he was in the wrong. He frowned and just as he was about to argue back, there was a splash. The now thoroughly infuriated mermaid leapt out of the water without warning, lunging at them with bared fangs and brandished talons.
Ye Xiao and Su Mu simultaneously dodged in opposite directions, and the enraged mermaid’s attack missed. The enormous tail slammed against the surface of the ocean, causing a spray of water over a metre tall to shoot into the air before pouring down with a whoosh. The two people were instantly drenched.
Su Mu closed his eyes, his expression stormy as he said, “I just knew that nothing good would come out of running into you…”
“Oi, shouldn’t you be saying that I’m the one stuck with your bad luck?!”
Ye Xiao shook his dripping hair and wiped water off his face.
Su Mu let out an exasperated sigh and tossed a dagger to him. “Here, catch! Remember, aim to stab it in the cracks between the scales.”
Ye Xiao raised his arm to catch the dagger and then flashed a thumbs-up. “Good idea!”
Then, he and Su Mu stood in the freezing, knee-high ocean back to back, each holding out a dagger in defensive position. The second they got into place, a shadow suddenly broke through the surface to envelop them from above. The monster’s speed was so quick that it had reached them in the blink of an eye. However, Su Mu’s movements were even faster. All that could be seen was a flash of cold metal before a dark green fluid spurted out.
The monster shrieked in pain, twisting its dark brown body to violently swing its tail.
With its back covered in foul-smelling green liquid, it instantly dove into the water, swiftly swimming away.
“Oh no, it’s about to escape!”
Everything’s over if we let it flee into the ocean!
Ye Xiao hurriedly chased after, bounding through the water and lunging to grab hold of the monster’s fish tail. The monster howled as it resisted, then flipped and suddenly dragged Ye Xiao into the sea.
The turbid seawater instantly soaked him, the wound on his back hurting so much that he nearly lost consciousness. However, he refused to let go, gritting his teeth as he held onto the mermaid’s tail with his life.
The mermaid let out a piercing, desolate scream, then abruptly turned its head to bite down towards Ye Xiao.
However, its jaws were unable to close after opening because a dagger was directly stabbed into its mouth, piercing the depths of its throat. Immediately, disgusting green blood spurted onto Ye Xiao’s face.
Su Mu gave a hard yank to pull the dagger back out.
“Fuck, you did that on purpose, didn’t you…”
Ye Xiao queasily rubbed off the fluid on his face and scrambled to crawl up, dragging the mermaid back towards the shore.
Having suffered a severe injury, there was blood all over the mermaid. Yet it continued struggling against Ye Xiao with everything it had, constantly splashing out seawater and green blood. The amount continued to increase more, and then even more…
Suddenly, it arched its back, and seemingly expending the last of its energy, immediately broke free of Ye Xiao’s grip to jump out of the ocean. With its bloody mouth wide open, it charged straight towards Yu Xiao Yu standing at the edge of the water.
This unexpected change caught both Ye Xiao and Su Mu off guard. And Yu Xiao Yu had already lost the ability to move due to shock, blankly standing there next to the sea. Her eyes were wide as she watched the fangs get closer and closer to her.
At that moment, Ye Xiao let out a loud shout.
The monster came to sharp halt, its movements instantly freezing.
Yu Xiao Yu’s eyes were still locked onto the gaping, bloody mouth that had stopped very close to her. She immediately collapsed to the ground from fright.
Ye Xiao exhaled as he slowly walked over to look at the monster that was frozen in place. “Actually, I suspected from the beginning that you really can…understand what we’re saying, can’t you?”
As soon as he spoke this, the dying mermaid raised its head to blankly stare at Ye Xiao with turbid eyes. It opened its mouth, as if wanting to say something, but all that came out was a strange squeaking noise.
Zhu Qian. It had been a very long time since someone called it that, so long that it had nearly forgotten its name entirely. Thus, when Ye Xiao had yelled it just now, it had been shaken through.
Zhu Qian, Zhu Qian…
Oh. Realisation dawned on it. It wasn’t called ‘mermaid’ or ‘monster’, but Zhu Qian.
Zhu Qian lay unmovingly on the shore and weakly tilted its head to see the fierce and ugly scales that covered its body, the bulky, enormous tail, and its one black arm with talons at the end. As for its other arm…it had been eaten eight years ago…
Yes, eaten…by those despicable people…
“Zhu Qian, can you understand me?”
Ye Xiao slowly crouched down next to its body. Noticing that its eyes were filled with resentment, he let out a soft breath and said, “Zhu Qian, I know that you hold hate, hate for everyone, especially the people that made you turn into this form, right?”
Zhu Qian’s eyes flashed.
Hate? This feeling is more than just hate…
“These past eight years, you’ve been forced to simply watch yourself slowly transform from a normal human being into a monster from head to toe. You could understand everything you saw and heard, but couldn’t express yourself. Every day you lived in that basement, never to see daylight, drinking human blood and eating human flesh. Gradually, you turned numb to it all, turned ruthless, turned resentful towards everything. In the end, your own older brother couldn’t even recognise you. That’s why you wanted to kill your brother after you escaped from the tank, because in the very beginning, it was him that had deceived you…”
Ye Xiao unhurriedly said this as gently rubbed the monster’s ugly head as he sighed, “I’m right, aren’t I?”
Zhu Qian blankly stared at Ye Xiao for a while and two streams of clear liquid began to trickle down from her sunken eye sockets. After eight years, finally, finally, someone knew its heart. Finally, someone was able to understand it…
The tears fell, drop after drop.
Zhu Qian slowly shut her eyes, her breath growing weaker and weaker…
Yu Xiao Yu was on her knees with her hands covering her mouth, breaking down in silent tears.
Ye Xiao silently breathed out and wordlessly stood up.
At this moment, Su Mu suddenly said, “Oi, look there.”
Ye Xiao raised his eyes to follow Xu Mu’s finger. But all he saw was the horizon where the ocean met the sky. As the morning sun rose, the vivid colours dyed the azure waters bright red like a wildfire.
“What are you telling me to look at?”
He blinked in confusion. But the instant he asked this question, he spotted a small black speck appear on the surface of the distant ocean waters. It was moving towards the shore at extremely high speed.
“What is that?”
He locked onto that little black that was swiftly getting closer and closer…
Its silhouette gradually magnified, turning clearer and clearer…
Then Ye Xiao gasped sharply as he cried out in astonishment. “That-that’s a—!”
The black body bobbed up and down through the water and a gigantic fish tail was faintly discernible.
“Mermaid!” Ye Xiao cried out in alarm as he stated in disbelief, “Heavens! There-there’s actually another mermaid? Could it be that…it came because it smelled Zhu Qian’s blood?”
Su Mu did not speak. His face was exceptionally grave.
Under the rising sun’s brilliant rays, they watched the black body swiftly swim through the waters. Soon after, another black dot appeared next to it and also began to approach quickly. A few seconds later, another one popped up. Then, within a short dozen or so seconds, a fourth, a fifth, a sixth…
The number of black specks grew nearly exponentially. In the blink of an eye, the sea that was dyed scarlet by the sunrise had hundreds of black dots floating on the surface, densely packed together, even covering the colour of the ocean. They were like locusts invading a field, forming a large swarm to head straight towards them.
Ye Xiao was stunned. How could this be? Where did all these mermaids…come from?
Almost instantly, he had watched the monsters in the sea multiply in number from one, to two, to four, to eight….and each monster had a huge fish tail, thick dark brown scales, fangs that glinted in the light, as well as fierce and ugly faces. They swished up and down through the water, intermittently appearing and disappearing.
Heavens! How many mermaids are there? Hundreds? Thousands? Or maybe even millions?
Ye Xiao’s mind was completely blank as he stared in shock at the irrepressible force of mermaids. He even completely forgot how to speak, forgot how to move.
Naturally, he did not notice the fact that as the crowd of mermaids neared, the water level continued to rise without ceasing. The seawater that had only covered his feet earlier was currently about to swallow his knees.
At this moment, Yu Xiao Yu abruptly stood, a peculiar expression forming on her face.
She removed her shoes and stepped into the still rising waves with her bare feet, slowly walking towards the mermaids.
Despite Ye Xiao’s shout, Yu Xiao Yu did not even glance back, walking straight into the depths of the ocean.
Instantly, the churning waves had reached shoulder height. Ye Xiao choked a few times and, enduring the pain from his back, scrambled to reach out and grab hold of her. However, a wave crashed over, pushing him away.
He couldn’t help but slip, unable to stand steady. The sea was just about to engulf him when someone roughly grabbed his shoulders and tugged him back with all their strength. Thus, he could only follow as the two of them broke into a staggered run through the rising tide, only coming to a stop once they had retreated outside onto elevated land.
As he gasped for breath, he blankly turned his head to look at Su Mu.
“What’s going on?”
Su Mu shook his head and replied, “Don’t know.”
Everything had truly occurred too quickly. Before they could even process it, the millions of mermaids had already arrived nearby.
However, they were very serene and did not launch any attack. They simply swam back and forth through the water in circles.
Yu Xiao Yu’s long black hair floated in the bizarrely tinted water.
She looked back, finally meeting the eyes of Ye Xiao and Su Mu standing on higher land. A faint smile that carried an indiscernible meaning formed on the beautiful face lit up by the sun’s brilliant rays…
A great wave crashed over, instantly swallowing her whole.
Ye Xiao watched on in astonishment. Once Yu Xiao Yu’s figure faded, the millions of mermaids unexpectedly dove down to the depths of the ocean.
The black specks on the surface rapidly disappeared. Just as easily and abruptly as they had appeared, they vanished without warning. The waves gradually subsided as well. It was not long before the beach that had been submerged earlier became completely exposed. As though nothing had happened at all, everything returned to its peaceful state from the very beginning.
By this point, the sun had risen completely, brimming with vitality as it illuminated everything in the world, illuminated the clear and crystalline waters gleaming from the sunlight, illuminated the two young men still standing on the shoreside, gazing off into the distance.
Stunned yet incredulous expressions were frozen on their faces. It felt as though they had just witnessed an inconceivable miracle, witnessed the fulfilment of an ancient fairytale.
Where had Yu Xiao Yu actually gone? Where had the countless mermaids appeared from, and where were they now? Were…were they really people, or were they monsters from the start?
It was likely that these questions would never be properly answered. Only an eternal puzzle remained for those that had personally witnessed it – to surmise, to speculate, and to weave more mystical legends one after another.