Aiden looked back and saw the massive cave bed that sprawled into the depths. On the floor rested countless orange spheres - no, eggs - that stretched as far as the eye could see. It was a surreal sight.
Aiden remained dumbfounded for a long while. Only three words constantly went through his mind.
*W. T. F.*
It was ridiculous. Aiden knew he was the strongest being in existence, so why did he have to suffer this fate?
As if in response to his prayer, he noticed some very subtly-engraved text on the wall of the cave.
"Turn your ordinary life into something else. Maybe you'll prove useful...?"
Aiden tried to read it aloud, but only a few air bubbles escaped his mouth.
*Obviously I can't talk... I'm a fish for fuck's sake! Wait, that's not even the main issue here...!*
Why was he a fish? What did the message on the wall mean?
*Ordinary? Is it talking about me? How dare...!*
After proving himself at the Academy in his past life, he rarely received smack talk. At this point, his ego was so inflated that even being called a non-insult like "ordinary" drove him up the walls.
Aiden was not ordinary. This was an obvious fact for anyone who lived in this world, including himself.
Genius? One-in-a-hundred-billion talent? Monster? Aiden knew all of these types of words applied to him better than anyone else. So seeing the word "ordinary" that was aimed at him made him so angry he couldn't see straight for several minutes.
However, getting angry was all he could do. He was an ordinary fish, after all...
*Wait, ordinary fish? Of course... It all makes sense now! The message wasn't referring to me, but all of the fish here!*
Ignoring the second half of the sentence and unaware of the fact that fish couldn't read, Aiden mentally patted himself on the back for his genius problem-solving ability.
*That message must have been engraved when the eggs were just laid which is why it's so faded. Right, I'm an ordinary fish now...*
There was no point in wondering why this bizarre situation had occurred. Aiden didn't want to admit it, but he wasn't very smart in a traditional sense. Of course, as a "one-in-ten-billion" talent, his intelligence was above average. However, "paling in comparison" was an understatement if one were to compare it to his physical strength.
*Maybe Jazz could figure this out, but I sure as hell can't.*
He wasn't as smart as Jazz, and that issue situation wasn't an immediate threat, so he concluded there was no point pondering further.
*... Am I weak now?*
Aiden wanted to test his strength, but he didn't know how. In fact, he didn't even know how to move his body properly.
*On top of that, my vision is all weird... Whatever. Let's just figure out how to move effectively.*
Swords could only move properly if the body it was attached to was competent, so it was of utmost importance that Aiden knew what he was doing.
Aiden was about to practice a common mindfulness technique that involved being aware of every part of your body. Typically he would sit down in a seiza or lotus position and close his eyes, but...
*Fuck, I don't even have eyelids! How do fish sleep??*
Though he didn't prefer to meditate with his eyes open, Aiden currently didn't have a choice.
After a minute, he "opened" his eyes. After inspecting his body mentally, he came to quite an obvious conclusion.
*This body is way too different!*
Much to his chagrin, Aiden concluded he wouldn't be able to wield a sword again.
Obviously. He was a fish. Of course he *knew* how different a fish's body was to a human's, but experiencing it for himself was something else entirely.
It was similar to knowing a fire was hot versus actually touching it yourself; there was a world of difference.
First of all, and most noticeably, was the position of his eyes. They were on the side of his head instead of the front. This field of vision would have given him a migraine in ordinary circumstances, but perhaps because he had a fish brain, it was manageable.
*Well, I *should* have a fish brain... But I can still think normally. Don't tell me all fish are capable of thinking like humans? No, no, that's absurd.*
In addition to his eyes being on the side of his head, the only way he could look around was by moving his head. It was annoying at best, life-threatening at worst. After all, he apparently still had human-like muscle memory... for some reason. He would still try to "move his eyes", but that wouldn't work.
Next was his fins. The fish body had two sets of fins - one near the pectoral area and one near the pelvic area - for a total of 4. The ones near the middle of the body were much larger than the ones near the back of the body.
As he tried swimming, he immediately realized that these fins weren't really used to swim - the tail was the main source of power. This should have been obvious, but Aiden had never observed the movement of fish in his previous life.
While pushing with his tail, he realized that the fins supported the alignment of his body and prevented him from rolling over.
There was also the issue of breathing with gills. While he focused on his breathing process, he almost died from forgetting how to breathe. On autopilot, there was no need to consider it, but once he focused on manual breathing...
*Shit, this is embarrassing!*
Aiden, the strongest swordsman to ever exist... died from forgetting how to breathe! What a story that would be.
However, he quickly figured it out. Water would enter his mouth and leave through the gills where the oxygen would be filtered out. Instead of taking a big breath of air, it was necessary to imbibe a huge gulp of water. To a human, this would seem suicidal if you were trying to catch your breath, but to the fish, it was refreshing.
Aiden attempted to sigh. It would be a while before he was combat-ready in this new body... if that were even possible.
He wanted to believe it was. After all, he had broken past limits in his old body quite easily, why couldn't he do it now?
He was an infant who had slain a well-trained soldier. No, he was something even beyond that: the human who had slain the Dragon at the Edge of the World.
*But... Can I do it again?*
He had to wonder.
If given enough time, he was sure he would've gotten even stronger as time passed. Could that fact be attributed to his human body?
He didn't think so.
Ever since he heard the myth about the Dragon, he was always told how much impossibly stronger it was than humans. It wasn't possible for a human to defeat it, yet Aiden had.
For the first time in his short, new life, Aiden "smiled".
*Maybe that's why God did this to me.*
In his previous life, he knew he was built differently than the rest of the world which was why he hadn't taken training seriously. If he had trained his hardest from the moment he was conscious... What would have been the result?
God was clearly watching and gave him the chance to prove himself again.
*If I want to be able to kill that thing again, I'll have to train seriously in this life.*
As Aiden contemplated how he would begin to train, he noticed a few of the eggs had begun to hatch. One by one, a couple of his siblings said hello to the world.
*Ah, I wonder what I look like?*
Though he was able to analyze the structure of his body with mindfulness, it didn't mean he knew what the outside of his body looked like. There was no mirror, and it wasn't like it was possible to look in the reflection of a puddle...
He swam down towards the sea floor and observed a nearby egg that was hatching. It wasn't as if the egg was slowly cracking like one would expect. Instead, the whole egg was moving about. Something was clearly trying to get out but was unable to. The hyperactive egg rolled violently atop the sea of eggs until...
Of course, that's not the sound it made, but it was what Aiden heard in his mind when a creature that looked akin to a tadpole burst out of the sphere at breakneck speed.
This process began to happen more and more often. The eggs on top, and some below as well, began to roll around and pop open. It was almost as if an earthquake had struck the underwater cave as the sea of eggs began to ripple.
The creatures had huge eyes and small heads compared to their bodies, and their abdomens were frail and undersized. The abdomen and tail looked as if they were meshed together.
*I guess this is what fries look like up close.*
A fry: a baby fish.
Maybe he was expecting something more extravagant in his appearance, but the bodies of all the fries were boringly translucent and almost fully transparent in some places. Some of them were so clear that you could still see their beating hearts if you looked closely enough.
Aiden noticed some of these translucent creatures moving about randomly. Some of them were headed for the exit of the cave. But most of them were staying near the sea floor where the unhatched eggs lay. And most of *those*...
If Aiden's stomach could have rumbled, it would have. Perhaps hatching took some energy, because he was hungry. And surprisingly, his sense of smell was extremely sharp. Something on the floor smelled good.
Following his senses, he noticed that most of *those* fish were feeding... on the eggshells they hatched from! Seeing this, Aiden was frankly disgusted. However, his sense of smell was telling him otherwise.
As he got closer to the egg he initially hatched from, the smell grew stronger. And when he was right next to it, he was sure he wanted a bite. However, before he chowed down on it, he observed it with his tiny fin. When he did, he experienced something unexpected.
*I can taste it like this? This is so strange...*
After that, it didn't take him long to realize that he had taste buds all over his body. He could basically detect food from anywhere. It was an odd trait that he didn't expect, but Aiden assumed it would prove quite useful when looking for food in the future.
*I guess it's time to eat... Thanks for the food... I guess.*
He had somewhat tasted his meal already, but it still didn't compare to when parts of the egg entered his mouth. The egg "shell" wasn't particularly flavorful, but the remaining yolk was an onslaught of umami.
Dare he say it was better than some of the finest meats he had tasted in the castle? Though he had never tasted fish eggs before, Aiden wouldn't have been surprised if they were considered a delicacy in another part of the world.
*But is my sense of taste still the same now? Probably not...*
It didn't take long for egg remnants to fill up the tiny fry's belly, and he was feeling stuffed within a moment. But just as he was about to relax, the sea of eggs shook violently.
*Shit... What's going on?*
He didn't have to wait long for his answer. Though he had noticed the rate at which eggs were hatching was increasing, that increase was nothing compared to what he witnessed now.
In mere seconds, thousands upon thousands of eggs showcased their violent behavior, and almost all at once... they burst open.
Baby fish filled the cave. It was pandemonium!
- One of the Authors of All Time
Why did I decide to write? I am an isekai fanatic. I have read and/or watched a multitude of isekais, and some of them are bad. Like, really bad (see Conception and Master of Ragnarok)... I knew for a fact that I could write a better story than those. If those could get animes, why not try to write my own? I also wanted to create a world that the reader can explore. This concept is heavily inspired by Overlord, my favorite series of all time. Although the quality is nowhere near as good, I wanted to create an experience similar to that of reading Overlord for the first time and picking apart the world. I hope I am doing a decent job.
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