As we were floating there and waving to the people on the top of the hill, Ana could see our boat pretty easily. And what was under our boat.
“Wait, what the fuck?! Shit, EMP, what the fuck is that?!”
EMP didn’t seem very concerned though, and just took out a bag of bread from underneath her seat. She opened it very casually and started tossing the slices out into the water as she said, “Don’t worry. They’re not dangerous.”
“Holy shit!” I obviously freaked out when the dozens of human heads popped out of the water and started fighting with each other in order to eat the soggy bread. They obviously weren’t humans though, but ‘mermaids’. Now I say that, because that’s the best way to describe them. All of them looked somewhat feminine, but I couldn’t really tell whether they were male or female due to how drastically different their faces and bodies were from humans. Similar to the little lamia Viper, they had no noses, their heads were bald except for prickly spines and small fins, their necks had large gills, while their eyes were abnormally large… Speaking of which, their faces were well, weird looking to say the least. After all, they were apparently designed to act as fish, so it wasn’t too surprising that their heads were kinda angular, with the giant eyes on the sides of their faces, while their mouths were really big and expanded larger when they went to eat.
As for their bodies, they had fish tails from the waist down, with scaly human torsos and arms with webbed fingers. There were also some more gills on their ribs and fins on their backs, sides and lower body. Ultimately, I’d say that they were closer to fish than humans.
“Are they umm… ‘People’? Like, are they intelligent or more like real fish?” I couldn’t help but ask that as I watched them flounder around like idiots, smacking into each other and splashing water all over the place. They had hands, yet they directly ate the food without trying to grab it and didn’t bother trying to push the other merfolk away with their arms.
“Honestly, we don’t really know.” EMP sighed and looked at the ‘fish’ with pity, “They form schools like normal fish. They try to eat your bait if you go fishing, and they’re silly enough to actually get stuck on the bigger hooks. They ummm… They eat each other, like normal fish. Especially the small ones. It’s really disturbing. And they never stop growing. Ever.”
Of the mermaids that were in front of us, most of them were small. Like little toddlers or children in size, but their actual appearance was almost identical to the adults in general shape. The biggest one was at least ten feet long, from what I could tell, and the smallest were less than two feet. The main difference was that some were silver, others were black, brown, white or even blue or yellow. Their colors were as varied as actual fish.
“They aren’t all like this though.” EMP frowned, “We call these the Fishies. I know, it sounds funny, but there are actual Merfolk that look more like… Mermaids. Then there are Sirens, Water Ghosts and the Shellfolk… I’ve seen a Whalekin, like a whale mermaid, that was over thirty meters long. But it was really far away… At least a few miles out past the reefs. “
“That’s kinda terrifying and awesome at the same time.” I snickered and said, “Don’t worry… I’ll definitely be careful. I’ve spent most of my life living in basements and the majority of my time on this island was spent hiding indoors to avoid the wildlife. If it wasn’t for you girls, I definitely wouldn’t go anywhere or do anything on my own. We should probably get going though, before they start shooting at us…”
The Fishies had gone back down under the surface, so we could start paddling again without smacking them in their faces. EMP smiled and nodded, before waving goodbye to her distant friends, then helping me move the canoe towards the east. It wasn’t long before we passed Chameleon’s house. Everything beyond that point was still a mystery to me, so I was paying close attention to the shore.
“That’s Demoness’ house there. And after that is Angel’s place…” She had a concrete pier like mine, though it was a bit longer and had a ‘T’ shape. The building itself was almost identical to mine from the outside, same layout and everything, except that it had a deck coming off the second floor window facing the sea. It was also on a pretty tall hill.
“Wow, Angel has a fucking Yacht?!” There was a fancy wooden pier with special mechanisms for lifting the boat out of the water and everything. It reminded me of my neighbor’s pier back when I lived at my grandmother’s house on the creek. Her house looked very similar to Demoness’, including the deck, so what drew my attention the most was obviously the boat. It was at least ten meters long, which isn’t too small, but not that big either. The white yacht was pretty wide, so it probably had a lot of internal space, even though not much could be seen on the deck.
EMP chuckled, “What good is it though? Even on Earth, Angel almost never used it. And it takes so much fuel, but we don’t have any way to resupply without heading over to the port… At most, it makes moving items from one place to another much more convenient. And in an emergency, like if there was a tsunami, I guess we could use it to escape the disaster?”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense.” I snickered and then noticed a decent sized sailboat on the next pier. It was about the same length of the yacht, but more slender and sleek. Probably so that it would have less drag or something? Either way, it looked pretty fancy too. The house was also about the same size and shape, also on a hill, but this time I recognized it immediately, since I saw a picture of it before.
“That’s Cicada’s house.” EMP sighed, “She also never uses her boat… Mainly because she just physically can’t do it without a lot of help. And she hates being around more than one person at a time.”
One thing I noticed was that everyone had a few wind turbines, some of the houses had metal chain-link fences like EMP’s, while others had broken wooden ones that were in the process of being repaired. It made me wonder, “Why doesn’t everyone just use metal fencing if the wooden ones are so fragile?”
“Everything costs money, or time, or effort…” EMP smiled wryly, “Besides… It’s not too hard to rebuild a wooden fence, but when the metal ones are destroyed, how long do you think it takes to fix them? That’s why Demoness, Chameleon and Angel just cut down trees to make theirs from scratch. Gemini is our only Blacksmith but…”
“Let me guess. She’s too lazy?” I snickered and shook my head, noticing that right after Cicada’s house was a decent sized river running out into the ocean. Then there were two large hills, with a large valley in between them. On top of western hill was a wind turbine but the other one had a huge lighthouse, which looked pretty dilapidated. As if it hadn’t been used in decades or half a century. In the middle of the valleys was, well…
“I can’t believe someone actually picked the castle!” Even EMP was shocked. There was a literal castle made of concrete and steel rather than stone blocks. It had four watchtowers, huge walls, and the building itself was at least four stories, with a large spire at the center. There was no pier, but instead, the water from the river ran around the outside of the walls and out of the valley. Basically it had a moat. I could barely make out a dark hole in the wall, which I assumed was like some kinda secret entrance or tiny port. There was also a retractable bridge on the east and west walls, connecting to the hilltops that weren’t too far away.
“Well, I mean, it is pretty badass looking…” I sighed, “But how the fuck is Lioness supposed to take care of such a huge fortress on her own? She probably didn’t really think of that at all when she made the decisions. More importantly, why the fuck is there a castle on the island in the first place?”
“The castles on the island are really old and most of them are just ruins by now. Remember that this island sometimes stays in this world for decades at a time, and that can happen once a year to once every decade… So even though these forts were built back in the sixties and seventies, they’re probably over a hundred years old or more. Like that lighthouse over there, I think I heard that they built it in the early nineteen-hundreds… In other worlds, it could be hundreds of years old by now. Even though they repaired it a few times, it still looks really old.”
As we got closer, we could actually see potholes and blast-markings all over the castle walls. As if it had been bombarded, then repaired, and bombarded again a few times. Not only that, but there were huge metal spikes sticking out of the water in certain areas around the wall, as if they were meant to guard against giant sea beasts? There were spots in the four corners where it looked like cannons used to be set up, but they were empty now. Overall, it was actually in pretty good shape, just that it looked battle-scarred on the surface.