The mermaids were going to take action the moment Ian would step foot on Ronen.
“Fortunately, the Ronen territory has many adjacent seas, so when that person returns to that place, that’s when we’ll erase his memories.”
This, too, was a request of Ophelia’s.
She couldn’t love Ian again, but she also did not want him to suffer with this pain for the rest of his life.
Ariel stayed behind when their older sisters went back, and when she recounted what had happened, Ophelia could only answer with a faint smile.
“Yes, thank you for taking care of this matter for me. This is the final act of mercy that I can give to him.”
As Ophelia said this, she felt regretful that the man she once loved had fallen so out of grace.
* * *
Ophelia and Ariel talked until the sun went down. There was a lot that Ariel had to say because she wanted to tell Ophelia so much news.
There were also some things that were difficult to say to their older sisters who returned beneath the waters, but could easily be said to Ophelia.
While sitting on the rocks at the beach, Ophelia watched the waves rise and fall shallowly over and over again. She also shared with Ariel what’s been happening in her life recently.
“So, it was Lord Siren who sent the letter that’s given the mages so much trouble?”
“Kind of. When Alei found out about it, he was so aghast…”
“Oh my goodness! He must have been really surprised! I heard from Lord Sante the other day that there’s supposedly a conspirator inside the tower!”
“Ah, yes, that’s how it was.”
As Ophelia replied, she laughed while thinking again about how funny the situation was.
They had been on such high alert just to look for the person who sent that letter to the temporary temple.
In retrospect, it’s enough to say that they were utterly mistaken from the get-go.
After all, the culprit was the magic tower himself, an entity who could send all the sirens to do his bidding.
It was all the more ridiculous considering how Alejandro and the others, including Sante, were thinking that the culprit was the second-in-command in the magic tower, Meruzia.
—So you’re saying that the magic tower is the culprit? I mean, now that I think of it, the magic tower’s eyes were deep blue when he opened them, and doesn’t that only happen when he’s scheming something? I know how daring he is, but…
—Siren Tower… He knew about it all, but just watched on the sidelines.
In particular, Alejandro and Yennit became especially dismayed about the matter because they’re the two people who were on the highest alert against Meruzia.
On the other hand though, they did still look happy.
When Meruzia heard about it, despite being the very person being instigated, he responded blandly and went with the flow. Just as always.
—You suspected me? Well, that’s a reasonable enough inference. I was the first person who heard the news about Lord Alejandro, and I’m the one who’s the most affected by his absence…
—Aren’t you upset?
—I’m not such a narrow-minded person to let something like this affect me.
—No, but Lord Meruzia! Then what on earth were you all doing that night? All the higher-ups were gathered so late at night that time!
—Oh, you mean…
Meruzia hesitated to answer the question. But soon enough, embarrassedly, he opened his lips to speak.
—We were planning the wedding.
—Since Lady Ophelia already has a child growing inside her, it’s better to hold the wedding as soon as possible, but then Lord Alejandro was so silent about this and I couldn’t ask him myself… So we just wanted to prepare this and that…
Then Meruzia proceeded to explain and pull out a bunch of wedding plans.
Considering how embarrassed he was just a second ago, he now looked to be quite excited.
—The ceremony will be held in the largest hall on the upper floor of the tower. Once the couple enters, there will be a magic tool to set off flower petals and fireworks, and then the music of an orchestra will also automatically play at the same time, and so… We also thought that the carriage you’ll be riding to the ceremony venue will be adorned with flowers, and…
He presented all the wedding plans they came up with, from the first to the tenth. At this, Ophelia had to re-evaluate her impression of Meruzia somewhat.
As expected, he was also one of the eccentrics of the magic tower.
“I first thought that Meruzia seemed normal, but I was wrong. There are so many unique people in the tower.”
“Why? That sounds so fun though! I think a surprise wedding would be nice!”
Ophelia stopped telling her story for a moment. Actually, the people living in the magic tower and the non-human beings she knew about had very similar ways of thinking.
Ariel looked absolutely delighted by Meruzia’s plans. Her eyes were even sparkling.
“We also hold weddings in the waters, but the ceremonies aren’t so large-scale. The most important part of it is that the couple recognizes that they’ve become companions.”
“Of course, it’s not something to make such a fuss about.”
“Yeah. Still though, I think humans have a lot more fun with this!”
Hearing the yearning in the mermaid’s voice, Ophelia uttered the question unconsciously.
“Do you still want to go ashore?”
“Yes, I was going to tell you about that. I know that this is how things turned out, but… I still want to go to land.”
“If that’s what you think, then you should go for it.”
“I already talked with our older sisters. It’s dangerous to go ashore right now, but I’ll first get human legs and stay at the magic tower so I can adapt to human society.”
“Then you won’t be able to go back underwater. Are you alright with that? Humans have much shorter lives than mermaids.”
“It’s not like I won’t see our sisters again, and I don’t have much attachment to my long lifespan. Just because I’ll become human doesn’t mean that the sea would become harsh to me.”
Becoming human doesn’t mean I can’t swim in the sea anymore. I’ll just be entering a new chapter in my life.
Since Ophelia had left the continent and found a new life in the magic tower, she deeply understood what Ariel meant when she said that.
Although their reasons were different, both of them will be having the new life that they’ve always dreamed of.
Even with this, Ariel and Ophelia resembled each other.
“Our sisters said that while being a mermaid, you’ll have total freedom in the waters. But I think that humans are much more free. Humans can go anywhere, be it land or sea.”
Of course, she wouldn’t be able to do this hastily.
Presently, there was no way for merfolk to get human legs without any side effects, so the mermaid sisters asked the magic tower if they could research this.
If the research would succeed, then Ariel would be allowed to go on land.
“That way, I’ll be able to see him again.”
Without being told who exactly that was, Ophelia knew. Ian, the love of Ariel’s life, who Ophelia had left behind on land.
“Do you still love him?”
“Of course I do. It hasn’t even been a year yet, how could I stop loving him? And a mermaid’s love never fades away, Ophelia.”
And Ariel further explained that, as a matter of fact, all creatures who had long lives like her were the same.
“Because we live much of our lives alone, love has a greater meaning to us. If we call the place we return to home, then the place that our hearts return to is with the being that we come to love.”
That’s why merfolk tended to hang onto their unrequited love, or if they ever lost their companion, they would even forget how to swim.
For as long as they lived, they seemed to carry all their emotions throughout that long period as well.
Ariel chatted excitedly, then realized albeit a beat late.
“Ah, I’m talking too much about myself, aren’t I? Oh, but now that I think of it, I heard that humans love many times, so you might not understand.”
“No, I enjoy listening to you. More than anything, compared to ordinary humans, I’ve also lived some extra time.”
As she listened to Ariel’s story, Ophelia was reminded of a certain someone. And the feelings she once had for him.
“I can understand.”
She understood the merfolk, who suffered from a single emotion for decades upon end, and how they would forget to swim if they ever lost their companion.
Even though there was just one person who could shape every part of her life, she would never go back to the days when she was so lost when that person was no longer by her side.
People change and some parts of themselves are bound to get cut off, but loving someone instead means that you will shape each other as you grow together.
In other words, understanding this is what it means to love.
“Because I’m in love, too.”
And it is Alei, who I love so deeply.
* * *
As Ophelia and Ariel went their separate ways, Ophelia returned to the sandy beach.
Standing on this shore while there was no one else around her reminded her of when she first came to Ladeen.
She had been on ‘probation’ at that time, but depending on how you interpret it, it could be either an escape or an exile. With no place to return to, she faltered and wandered aimlessly.
She had been to many places before Ladeen, but it was the first time she’d ever see the ocean. So, one morning, she headed to the coast as soon as she could.
With the sun peeking only lightly over the horizon during that daybreak, even the air was damp on that dark coastline.
Not even thinking about the grains of sand beneath her feet, Ophelia walked across that shore and watched the sunrise.
The damp air blew past her cheeks, and the smell of dew filled her lungs. It was a clear memory.
Her red hair fluttered along with the wind, and soon, red light that resembled her hair appeared.
Ophelia still hadn’t forgotten the wonder she felt that day—when the light broke through the horizon, when the emptiness within her chest was filled for but a moment.
As she watched the sunrise, she felt how alone she was so keenly. And, how very familiar this feeling was to her.
It was such a familiar feeling, but for the first time, it felt so unfamiliar at that moment. Ophelia had faced the loneliness she had forgotten until then.
All of a sudden, for an unknown reason, tears streamed down her eyes. And it was as if those tears would not stop even if she were to embrace the entire ocean.
Even when she had gone back in time, even when she saw the sun rise and set many more times, the tears did not stop back then.
But now, that was just an old story.
Ophelia no longer stayed on deserted shores. And rather than loneliness, the sunrise gave her hope.
It was like this because this time she really, truly was not standing alone any longer.
Along with the sound of footsteps across the sand, she heard her name being called, and so she turned around.
As she wondered when he came to meet her, Alejandro walked closer towards Ophelia.
“Did you finish talking with her?”
“I thought you’d call me when you’re ready to come back, but I came to you instead since you didn’t. Were you sightseeing here at the beach?”
“Yes, I was reminded of the past.”
“The first time I saw the ocean at Ladeen. And the first time we saw eye to eye.”
The time when Alejandro had cornered Ian, and Ophelia had to come out to the coast to stop them. And, the day when Alejandro had confessed the inferiority he felt and Ophelia told him that he could call her by her name.
“I was thinking that, maybe, that’s when I first fell in love with you.”
Our hearts had been so close together that day, and you were so beautiful to me. I couldn’t help but love you.
“If it’s truly like that, I’m surprised. I think it was also around that time that I started to admit to the feelings I had for you.”
“Wasn’t it too early for you to start acknowledging your feelings for me back then?”
“I’ll remain silent about that.”
“You have so many secrets.”
“Since you’re asking me something like that, shouldn’t I at least be rewarded with the lips that uttered the question?”
At the unconventional logic of Alejandro’s reproach, Ophelia let out a small chuckle.
As she continued to giggle, Alejandro pulled her into his embrace. And on her temple, on her brow and the tip of her nose, which were exposed to the wind, he kissed her tenderly. It was only after this that he loosened his hold.
The sound of the waves accompanied the whispers of the two lovers.
It is a moment of happiness that will continue evermore.
〈 Never Saved You, End. 〉
This marks the end of NSY’s main story. Thank you all so much for being with Ophelia, Alei, Ariel and Sante until the very end! It was certainly such a meaningful, emotional journey unlike any other <3 I dunno about you, but I’m so close to crying right now because this is the first novel I’ve ever finished translating ㅠㅠ And weirdly enough, the chapters I still remember fondly working on were the ones written in Sante’s POV, especially chapter 64~
According to the publisher, our dear author will release side stories in the future. There’s no fixed publication date just yet, but let’s cross our fingers and hope that it’ll be soon 🤞