Shao Fei felt the vibrations of something odd against his skin and frowned towards the acres and acres of algae and corals spreading out in front of him. He let his eyes wander over the Mer either floating at the edge of the seaweed field or slowly swimming above it, always cautious to not disturb the male seahorses. There wasn’t a face he didn’t know but the scales along his upper arms and the back of his neck didn’t want to calm down.
“What is going on?”
Shao Fei felt Zhao Zi’s tail against his own, comforting, and familiar and he shook his head. Nothing was amiss, the birth of the seahorses, as always, a peaceful spectacle.
“Nothing,” he murmured more to himself, but the water carried his words towards his best friend and he saw out of the corner of his eyes how Zhao Zi’s scales mimicked his own as always far more colourful than Shao Fei’s.
“Just a weird feeling,” he added and turned away from the algae field to smile at Zhao Zi.
“This area is so close to the surface, it makes me nervous, too,” Zhao Zi said as if he had worked out what bothered Shao Fei. They looked up, but nothing but darkness greeted them. It was night up above.
Shao Fei just nodded and went back to observe the big crater looming behind them. They weren’t here for the birth of the seahorses but to make sure nothing came out of that crater at least nothing that wasn’t a normal part of the deep sea. The last time a sea serpent had come out of there, sizzling, making the water around them almost boil, poison dripping from every opening of their body Shao Fei had been young, had been appointed a warrior only recently. Since then nothing and it bugged him that he felt something odd from the wrong side.
The birth of the seahorses happened as tranquil as ever, only the sighs and claps of the merfolk around them disturbed the water, nothing from the ravine behind them. When their replacement arrived Shao Fei and Zhao Zi tried to usher most of them towards home. Their tribe wasn’t keen on order their people around, which wouldn’t even be fruitful because the ocean had no walls, but Shao Fei would sleep easier if he knew no one was around the crater except the warriors appointed to guard it.
They formed a swarm without thinking about it and here and then Shao Fei felt a tail or a fin against his body and something settled inside him. Maybe miles away the humans had put something in the ocean again, had interrupted the natural flow of a stream and Shao Fei had felt the disturbance. It happened often enough.
His gills fluttered and he let water flow through them with purpose to try and flush the weird feeling out of his body. Everything was normal he told himself.
They swam deeper and deeper until they arrived at the part of the ocean’s floor they called their home. Rock and coral formations, seemingly unobtrusive but if you knew the secret entrance you would swim into a labyrinth of passages and holes wide enough to be a home. Shao Fei threw a last glance back and waited for everyone else to disappear inside the rock labyrinth before he made his way inside, too.
The movements, the words of everyone inside their home travelled through the water, changed into vibrations, into energy, bounced from the walls of the rock around them and brushed Shao Fei’s scales and skin in a comforting way, making the last of his worries disappear. This was home, this was safe. Everyone he cared about was here and safe.
Zhao Zi flicked his tail against him and threw him a cheeky smile.
Shao Fei just raised his hand and turned a corner before he would arrive at one of the bigger holes, mostly used as a gathering place for those who had just arrived home. Zhao Zi would want to complain about the boring guard shift, but Shao Fei felt like he needed some rest. He swam into the hole he had carved for himself and stretched his body to get the last kinks out from their shift.
Somewhere deep inside the rock, some fingerlings had the time of their life with blue clay, a substance they dug up to trade with, and it sounded like they painted their scales with it.
Shao Fei closed his eyes with a sigh and let himself ease into a slumber with the giggling of children on his senses.
to be continued