16.228.You Who Knows True Pain

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 228
“You Who Knows True Pain”

“Cautious. She might fall over abruptly, and….”
“Ouch!”
“I think you just made it up and you can’t actually do it,” La-Iin huffed.
“It’s experimental still….there’s no recorded history of anyone, Warlock or otherwise, ever making their V-Puppet autonomous. So there’s no guarantee that any of this will pay off in the end. All the things I can do are things other Witches and Warlocks can do. As it stands, most of what I know, I learned from my Apeta….”
“Apeta?” Bes-Isa questioned. Sale-Dessu blinked at her. “Oops! Did I say that?”
“Um, yes?”
“What’s an Apeta?” La-Iin asked.
“Well, you call your father Dami, yes?”
“Yes.”
“Warlocks have different words for our relatives too. For instance, ‘Mamun’ is a childish way of saying mother, and ‘Falun’ is a childish way of saying father. Apeta is a neutral way to say grandmother.”
“I see….geez, all these species having their own words for things makes it confusing.”
“Why doesn’t everyone just call their parents Mama and Dami? It would make things easier,” La-Iin said.
“Well, there’s all sorts of different languages and customs…remember, long ago, all the species lived in societies where their species was the only species in that area. All different languages were spoken–Vaelis was not one of those. That and other languages didn’t come around until the species needed a way to communicate with each other….I spoke Vaelis as a kid, but I also spoke the Warlock language. Or Witch language. And even with words like Dami existing in all languages, each language has its own words for mother and father, along with the species-language words. Besides, you call your mother Mama, don’t you?”
La-Iin blinked at Sale-Dessu, her expression disturbed.
“That was an unnecessarily detailed explanation,” Bes-Isa sighed.
“Sorry,” Sale-Dessu said. His cheeks flushed. “I just rambled a bit because I didn’t want to….well, I don’t know, it was just on my mind. And besides, not everyone gets to call their parents Mama and Dami, or Mamun and Falun…I wasn’t that lucky…”
“Is there a dead parent story incoming?”
“N-no, it’s not important…” Sale-Dessu sighed. “All of a sudden I’m depressed…”
“That’s stupid. You’re depressed because why?”
“I don’t know…I guess just saying Apeta brought back memories….talking about this made me think of my own childhood….” Sale-Dessu smiled. “You’re having a good one, right, La-Iin?”
“If Mama wouldn’t get on my case for doing even a petty evil deed, it would be better,” she grumbled.
“Yes, but you’re happy at times, aren’t you? Hasn’t something great happened to you this year?”
La-Iin flapped her wings instinctively. “Yes.”
“Good.”
“Why would you be concerned about her having a good childhood? You know, if you don’t want to talk about bad things that happened to you, you shouldn’t allude to them. Getting upset because you were reminded of your grandmother, talking about how you weren’t lucky enough to have a ‘Mamun’ and a ‘Falun’, asking La-Iin if her life was going good so far…your childhood wasn’t great, was it?”
Sale-Dessu gaped. “….you have a good point, Bes-Isa. I need to be more cautious about such things…I’m sorry, I don’t talk to people much, so I’m not really used to being subtle about things…”
“If you don’t want to talk about it, you shouldn’t even be subtle and just avoid it. But now you’ve basically confirmed it for me. So, what was so wrong with your childhood?”
“I don’t wanna hear his stupid life story,” La-Iin sighed.
“Well, I do. You owe us.”
“I….” Sale-Dessu bowed his head. “I don’t….I don’t owe you.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Maybe you do,” La-Iin said. “I don’t want to hear your story but you do sort of owe us.”
“No, I don’t.” La-Iin noticed agitation in his pink eyes. “I don’t mean to be rude….but I don’t owe you my life story. I’m sorry if you’re interested, but you’re here so I can try and teach you what I’ve been doing with Eul-Bok so that maybe Bes-Isa can walk on her own. Not here because I owe you anything, much less my life story.”
“Maybe not your life story, but I wouldn’t mind hearing a little bit of it. Besides, in a way you do owe us something. After all, does putting a glitchy button in your backyard ring a bell? Screwing up the neighborhood so that La-Iin couldn’t get back to her house? Swapping her and that woman’s personalities?”
“I–”
“Look, I won’t say your life story, alright? But still, it’s not like you’ve never done bad things to us. We have reasons to demand favors from you.”
“My life story is not a favor!” Sale-Dessu yelled. “Ask for something in return, but not that! Please!”
Tears welled up in his eyes. La-Iin scoffed. “I wasn’t interested, but now you’re making me mad. At least tell us why you got so sad.”
Sale-Dessu sniffled. “I…look, as she said, I didn’t have the best childhood, okay? Of course someone wouldn’t want to talk about that…you want to look back on your childhood as a fun time, not something that makes you yell at a six-year-old and her V-Puppet for asking about….you want to have happy memories to tell others about, silly things that might have happened as opposed to having something that’s more suited to a character in a novel….I don’t want to admit that I was sad.”
“Huh.”
“I most definitely did not have the worst childhood in the world. I wasn’t sad the whole time. I wasn’t forced to do menial labor, or starved. But it wasn’t a good childhood, not by a long shot. I have a lot of painful memories…”
“Like what?” La-Iin asked.
“Again, not asking for your life story, but what kind of painful memories?”
“….” Sale-Dessu was silent for a short while, shifting his sitting position and his face hardening, becoming almost expressionless. He sighed.
“I want you to consider yourself lucky for two things, La-Iin. I know your parents are separated, but consider yourself lucky you have both of them and that they love you. The second one most of all. And also, consider yourself lucky that you….that nobody hates the Cahongyuns.”
“Hm….”
“That’s all I want to say. Really. Please don’t make me say any more. If you two were closer friends, and not demanding me to divulge things about myself I don’t want to talk about…maybe, I might, but….”
“Fine. I won’t ask any more. But you still owe us.”
“Yeah.”
“I know,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “And I’ll do something about that someday….but, for now, why don’t we resume what we were doing before, okay?”
Sale-Dessu seemed uncertain and stiff as the trio resumed practice. La-Iin and Bes-Isa kept their focus on his attitude.
‘Just what happened to him before?’ It was a question both of them had, but neither one felt like asking. Despite the fact that she would never admit it, after seeing him get mad, La-Iin was worried about what he might do to her with his powers if she infuriated him more.

—–
Sale-Dessu sighed.
“Consider yourself lucky, La-Iin. You’ve never known that level of pain, and I would never want you to. Keep being happy.”
Painful memories came back to him as he stared out at the Cahongyun house. He held a sleeping Eul-Bok tight, holding tighter to make sure those painful memories didn’t consume him.

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