|❝||in the latest midnight hours when the world has gone to sleep, you've gotta get up. when doubts begin to rise and the world is at your feet, you've gotta get up. reach, it's not as bad as it seems. i cleanse in the river for somebody else, for anyone but myself. i'm not a selfless man, i'm not a man of wealth.||❞|
The strange thing about the ocean, he thinks, is its ability to change moods after you've been completely submerged -at one point, it glistened like precious metals, lapping at the golden beaches, then at another, it was a deep, alluring blue that dimmed the further you went down, the abyss paralyzing you with a sense of dread whilst the harmless oceanic creatures amused you in a curious sense.
'There's adventure lurking here for sure!' he thought, feigning a giddiness only reserved for high school girls in their fluttery skirts and knee-high socks, 'I just know it!'
If the data his client provided him was accurate as Mr. Geoss had insisted, then the artifact of interest was a few meters to the east, situated in an underwater cave within a depth that won't make him worry for his safety bubble and its possibility of popping mid-way. Drowning was not the death he'd imagined for himself, much less anyone, he believed.
By the time Xiao Jing had located the direction to which his coordinates pointed towards, he'd have already angled his body to a horizontal position that allowed him to propel it forward, swimming at a leisurely pace amongst schools of fish and long, willowy kelp. It was to his gratitude that he learned how to swim beforehand, all those years back when old man Demetri was still alive and had, out of an illogical whim, thought him how to float and swim and dive in the same day by threatening him to throw him off the Pandora at a height that he surely couldn't survive. Needless to say, the unorthodox manner of teaching was characteristic of the austere man that the inventor was, and Jing wouldn't have probably accomplished the task if it were any other man.
Because it was Demetri, the red-head was naturally inclined to laugh at the memory, and...because it was still Demetri, Jing was also prompted to recall, bitterly, that those days would never return to him. Pandora was most likely salvaged for parts by his family, and Demetri was six feet under, taking him the life of adventure that Xiao Jing craved and ran after, time and time again, even in his dreams. Surely, the slayer tries to subconsciously relive the glory days with his wizarding here and there, but there is an quintessential 'layer' to the years he shared with the inventor that appeared impossible to fabricate, for he has yet to truly recall the thrill of his time upon the Pandora.
As if noting how untimely it was for him to musing over old memories, the slayer quickly dives down, tilting his body closer to a rocky structure peeking from the shallow bottom of this part of the ocean. He breathed in, reveling in the effectiveness of the lacrima he'd been commanded to make use of, and swam closer, daring the dangers of the situation as he maneuvered behind a conveniently placed cluster of brown kelp. It was to his knowledge that the forsaken object of his client's desire made all the creatures in the surrounding area hostile - and while he has yet to encounter any true enemy while he traversed the depths, there wasn't any harm in preparing for an attack.
"Heh. I bet Marco's loving this so much, even his lapels are clapping." he mused, parting the kelp to create a small peep hole for his own convenience.
Contrary to his practically listless expression, the two beasts behind him registered his presence with a malice unbeknownst, and it was enough to cause the waters around him to vibrate in such a way that attracted his immediate attention, a familiar chill ravaging his spine in tingles.
"They're behind me, aren't they?" he said, two shadows lurking above him, causing what little sunshine that had already been filtered by the water to darken. He whistled, marveling at the size of the two creatures who glowered daggers at his fleshy human back.
"Wuddya look at the the size of you two, hoooo boy." he said, arms flexing slightly as his knuckles bent to a satisfying crack. "I'm super sorry if I'll be resorting to animal abuse, but I just gotta have that shiny treasure you keep in that cave so-"
The beasts appeared to disagree with the notion of letting him close to the artifact, or rather, they simply just detested his existence for being human, there, in their territory. As soon as he turned around to avoid the incoming tackle of a large, water-borne creature, Xiao Jing managed to vaguely make out what sort of fish he was pit against, appearing to be two of those strange 'water pancakes' that idly glided from place to place, their tails barbed and poisonous, deadly even.
"Sting rays right?" he said, tapping his chin as he jumped upward, narrowly avoiding the other fish that attempted to charge at him. His overall speed and reflexes felt sluggish when under water, but luckily for the slayer, the salinity of the ocean was just about right to give him a proper advantage against the fishy folk who knew how to move against the current better than he did.
"Up we go!" he jested, hoping unto one of the rays as it whizzed past him at frightening speeds, his body escaping the possibility of being pummeled into the ground by a hair's worth. The thing beneath him writhed and jiggled, the entire span of its body slim-y and slippery as the slayer balanced atop it like a performer at a mock circus. He'd feel himself tilt from one side to another as the beast swam at terrifying rates, threatening to knock him off as violently as it possibly could.
The red-head raised an arm, jostling the energies that gathered in streams at his wrist, before releasing them downward in a satisfying punch, the lightning spreading outward from his fist as it collided unto the fleshy skin of his enemy, rendering the creature into paralysis, a spasm rocking to its very core. In his haste, he'd quickly deduce that the other one was launching at him from behind, steeling itself for an attack, and it was amusing to play the blind fool until it was about a meter from his location, where he'd pull his body to a tilt, drifting smoothly downward as he dodged the Stingray's tackle, further taking the advantage by directing a harsh fist into its exposed belly, the stillness that followed a result that he nonetheless expected, watching with cold, barren eyes as the creature writhed and quivered in pain. In his head, it was easy to map out their demise through some very detailed procedures involving dissection and merciless slaughter - but he calmed himself, swallowing the 'monster' that thrashed about in his skull.
"Not today." he mumbled.
Instead, he'd retrieve both rays and pile them on top of each other, entangling them in the kelp bed that grew in abundance around them. He made sure to tie the two beasts with a meticulousness befitting for a fisherman, choosing to move forward as he abandoned the sting rays there.
"Meilin doesn't like soggy pancakes, I'm sure, so I'll let you guys live, for now." he said, edging closer to the mouth of the ecliptic black cavern ahead of him.