Happy 5th Year Anniversary! It is by far one of my favorite Matthia novels to date, so PLEASE check it out! This was a joint effort by everyone in ExR for our 5th Year Anniversary. Thank you, Addis, Rikko, Aphelios, Ceti, KarateChopMonkey, gaeatiamat, and Rara.
Chapter 4: Drowning Fish
Translated by Ceti of Exiled Rebels Scanlations
Once the door was opened, a youngster that had cried until he was shaking from head to toe, tumbled out. He was dressed in a baggy hospital gown that laced-up at the back. He was utterly soaking wet, and his slightly curly hair was plastered to his cheek. As soon as he saw the people outside -mainly when he caught sight of Parral- he shrank back into the room in fright.
Parral and the Landlord repeatedly attempted to get him out. If they walked in to catch him, he would go crazy with fear, and bash his head against the walls and the floor, so they had to lure him out slowly, like a cat trapped in a pipe.
The Landlord brought some food, while Parral sat cross-legged in the doorway and spoke to him gently.
After about ten minutes, the youngster in the room tried to pick up the food that Parral had placed inside. Parral showed him how to tear open the packaging, then taught him how to pick it up and eat it.
“That pack is red braised meat flavor,” The Landlord explained as he leaned against the hallway. “If he doesn’t like it, there’s original and barbeque meat flavor over here. If he has a sweet tooth, there’s also cotton candy and cookie flavor here…”
Parral ignored him, and concentrated on communicating with the drenched youth in the room. The Landlord stared at his back. Who would have thought that he was such a patient person? He was almost the polar opposite of his previous violently angry personality.
After another moment, the curly dark-haired man finally spoke. “My…My name is Hai Feng.” Although his intonation was indeed a bit choppy, the Landlord had previously assumed that he couldn’t speak.
When he heard this name, Parral frowned. The guy who had betrayed him was also called Hai Feng.
The Landlord immediately assured him. “Ah, when we talked just now, it seems that you said that the person who killed you was also named ‘Hai Feng,’ right? Don’t worry, it’s just the same name. Don’t take it to heart. In fact, the characters of their names are completely different. Many civilizations like to choose names with meaning, so the ‘Hai Feng’ of your world and the ‘Hai Feng’ in front of you aren’t written with the same characters. The reason why they sound identical to you is because you can now understand, no matter what language you used to speak, as a result of the Revivers coming to the Crevice. It’s like Doraemon’s Translation Konjac, or TARDIS” 1
Parral didn’t understand the last few words. “What? What Konjac?” The Landlord was right, though. He was able to understand the language, although he didn’t understand the meaning of those unfamiliar words.
The Landlord remarked, “Never mind. It’s from some fictional stories in a certain space-time…”
The youngster called Hai Feng stared at them timidly. Parral looked back, and reached out to tap him on the shoulder. This time he didn’t avoid it. Thus, Hai Feng finally came out, and was brought back to the living room by Parral and the Landlord.
Hai Feng’s steps were light and slow, as if he wasn’t used to walking. After he sat on the sofa, he took a long breath and curled his legs up. Then his body finally relaxed completely.
The first words he spoke took the Landlord and Parral by surprise. He announced, “Actually, I’m not human.”
“Then what are you?” The Landlord asked. “You have very handsome features, and are of an unknown race. I probably haven’t received anyone from your space-time. What are you? An elf? A vampire or something else? No, you just ate potato chips, so you’re not a vampire…”
“I’m a ‘QuanXian’.” Hai Feng said.
Parral did not understand the word, but the Landlord understood it. “QuanXian? You actually use this word on that side…”
“Well, I have received people from another space-time. In their universe, on a certain planet, in a certain era and a certain country. The terms used there were similar to yours. They also had creatures called ‘QuanXian’, but in their world, the QuanXian was a legend and didn’t exist in reality.” The Landlord stopped to think about it before he continued, “In different space-times, there are occasionally civilizations that overlap. This is because the evolution of the universes are very similar sometimes…This seems to be the case here.”
Parral asked, “What’s the matter with this word? Can you stop being so long-winded? I haven’t been able to understand anything just now.”
“Take it easy,” The Landlord wagged his finger, and turned to Hai Feng. “Your race lives in the sea, right?”
“It’s not just the ocean,” Hai Feng elaborated. “There are also QuanXian in salt and fresh water bodies, but they are of different races. However, humans may not know this, since our population is sparser than humans, and it’s difficult for ordinary people to see us.”
“Your legs…” The Landlord looked at Hai Feng’s slender bare legs, which were curled up on the sofa.
“I originally didn’t have legs.” Hai Feng lowered his head, and rubbed his ankles.
Hearing what he said, Parral turned his head and stared at Hai Feng’s legs. Though his legs were beautiful, Parral wasn’t in the mood to appreciate them. He was just surprised.
The Landlord nodded in understanding, “It’s like this. The so-called QuanXian are also known as sirens, shark people and merfolk.” 2
“Merfolk?” Parral was even more surprised.
“Your world also has stories about merfolk, right? As long as there are large bodies of water in a world, it is very possible that there will be stories about merfolk.”
According to the most popular interpretations, Hai Feng was indeed merfolk. “The QuanXian not only had the tail of a fish, they also had a pair of pectoral fins growing from the ribs. Although the QuanXian were also called Shark People, they don’t have the razor shaped dorsal fins of sharks. Rather than sharks, they resembled the beluga whales more.”
Strangely, the story experienced by Hai Feng sounded very familiar to the Landlord, who had heard of a fairy tale from a certain space-time, “The Little Mermaid.” In the fairy tale, a young female mermaid fell in love with a human prince, and willingly forsook everything to go ashore and pursue her love.
Hai Feng’s story was very similar to this. It was just that he didn’t fall in love with a prince, but with a lifeguard that patrolled the sea.
“…A lifeguard?” The Landlord held back his smile. He guessed it would be a noble son on a cruise ship, a ship captain, a person named Rose who was ready to jump into the sea, 3 or even a pirate. He hadn’t expected that it was a lifeguard on sea patrol.
“Yes, he thought I was a drowning man, and insisted on saving me.” Hai Feng briefly smiled, but his eyes were full of sadness.
At that time, a passenger ship had capsized in that area. While the ship was sinking, some passengers who were floating nearby were pulled underwater by the swirling current.
Hai Feng and a group of his friends were in the area. They pushed the passengers back to the surface, just like the legendary dolphin who saved a drowning person. After the rescue boat arrived, most of the passengers were rescued. The merfolk left, one after another, with peace of mind.
Just as Hai Feng was preparing to dive, the sound of something hitting into the water came from the direction of the lifeboat.
A strong and muscled lifeguard had jumped in. He shouted, “Don’t be afraid, I’ll save you now.” as he courageously swam towards him.
It was obvious that the lifeguard regarded him as a drowning person, and hadn’t noticed his body structure beneath the water’s surface.
Hai Feng could have dived down directly, but he was worried that the lifeguard would follow him if he thought Hai Feng had sunk to the bottom. So Hai Feng accelerated as he swam away, and tried to shake off the lifeguard.
No matter how good a human’s swimming ability was, they couldn’t compare with a marine organism. When Hai Feng stopped, the wreck site and the lifeguard could no longer be seen. Either the human was unable to keep up with him, or he finally realized that Hai Feng wasn’t a victim and gave up halfway.
After that, Hai Feng often came to that area of the sea, and lurked beneath the waves to secretly observe the patrolling lifeboats. Sometimes he would see that lifeguard, who was tall, had a bright smile, handsome and strong legs, and beautiful, wheat-coloured, tanned skin.
One day, there was a storm at sea. The lifeguards were searching for a missing lightweight ship, and were slow when they evacuated. When they finally decided to leave, it was already too late. The storm had caught up, and their ship overturned amidst the dark clouds and flashing lightning.
“Then you saved him, didn’t you?” The Landlord probed when he heard this.
This development was really similar to “The Little Mermaid” except that Hai Feng was a male, and there was no prince.
Hai Feng nodded. “Yes, I saved him. My companions also saved many humans, and pushed them onto the reef or floating wooden boards. We patrolled under the surface and whenever we found someone sinking, we pushed them up immediately. I hugged him and dragged him to the edge of the reef. Then he woke up, and he saw my body…”
The storm was weakening. More than half of the lifeguard’s body lay on the reef as he stared in shock at the creature who sat next to him.
After that, the lifeguard often came there alone, and Hai Feng would wait for him by the reef.
Hai Feng asked him about human society, and the lifeguard listened to Hai Feng as he described the life of a merman. They talked about how to recognize weather changes, and how to avoid sharks…The lifeguard took a picture with him, then photographed his fins and tail. He even stroked his fins and fish tail with his own hands after he had Hai Feng’s permission.
When Hai Feng said this, the Landlord and the soldier met each other’s eyes. They thought that now the direction of the story wasn’t sounding very good.
They were right to think so. After that, Hai Feng fell into a friendship with mankind.
Just like “The Little Mermaid,” Hai Feng found a witch doctor in his tribe, and hoped to have human legs.
However, this matter was not as cruel as what the mermaid princess had experienced. The witch doctor didn’t have a fetish for collecting people’s voices.
In their tribe, professional witch doctors would receive a number of merfolk who aspired to grow human legs. These merfolk wouldn’t hesitate to throw away their family fortune just to get the opportunity to go to live in the human world which teemed with sensual pleasures. This wasn’t surprising, as humans had similar behaviors. Withdrawing a large sum of money, sacrificing their existing social circle, changing their lifestyles and moving to other places.
Hai Feng’s reconstruction operation was very successful. Before he fully recovered, he rushed to the surface of the sea and waited for his lifeguard.
The lifeguard came promptly. Those days he had been coming to that sea area daily to look for Hai Feng, the merman.
However, he didn’t come alone. There was a group of other humans with him.
After he saw Hai Feng, the lifeguard jumped into the sea again. He hugged Hai Feng, stroked his hair and advised him to get on board. He said that the ship was full of his close friends who wanted to thank Hai Feng.
Hai Feng immediately agreed. He hugged the lifeguard’s neck, and excitedly proclaimed, “I can even go onto land with you!”
The lifeguard’s expression changed immediately when he got on the boat.
Originally, Hai Feng thought he was just surprised at his legs, and thought the lifeguard would be happy for him…But that was not the case.
“Didn’t you say he was a merman?”
“He is! I’ve shown you the photos!”
“Then what is this? Isn’t this obviously a human?”
“This is definitely not human. You can check him if you don’t believe me. His body structure is certainly not the same as a human!”
“I also think it’s a little strange. Have you noticed it’s swimming posture?”
“Or shall we take it back and check first?”
The humans had a lively discussion with everybody talking at once.
The dry, rough hands of unfamiliar people reached out and roughly caught Hai Feng. They ruthlessly twisted his arms hard and dragged Hai Feng, who was unable to stand steadily, into the cabin. His lifeguard was completely indifferent to this.
Over the shoulders of the strangers, Hai Feng heard the lifeguard persistently entreating the other human beings. “I definitely didn’t lie. You’ll know once you check. Even if you’re not satisfied, you should still pay me as usual…”
- Doraemon’s Translation Konjac or Translation Gummy is one of Doraemon’s gadgets. “If one eats it, the user will be able to speak and understand other languages, has the external effect of the user sounding fluent in the other languages. This edible gadget can also be used to communicate with animals as well.” https://doraemon.fandom.com/wiki/Translation_Tool TARDIS (Time And Relevant Dimension In Space) is a time machine and spacecraft from the Doctor Who tv series. It looks like a traditional blue British Police Box. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TARDIS
- 鮫人 or ‘Shark’ also ‘Jiaoren’ The merman, also known as Quanxian or Quanke. It is a mystery. Similar to the mermaid in Western mythology . As early as Ganbao’s “Sou Shen Ji,” it was recorded, “There are sharks outside the South China Sea, who live in water like fish, and do not waste their weaving. The tears in their eyes can produce pearls.” https://baike-baidu-hk.translate.goog/item/%E9%AE%AB%E4%BA%BA/3813051?_x_tr_sl=zh-TW&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc
- The text says “准备跳海的罗丝” or “You jump, I jump” a line from Titanic, when Rose almost commits suicide by diving overboard, and is saved by Jack