29.302.The Activation of an Animated Pumpkin

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 302
“The Activation of an Animated Pumpkin”

“….damn, I’m exhausted,” San-Kyung sighed.
“It’s because you’ve been staying up all night!” Salsh-Era chided. “You need to get more sleep.”
“But it’s almost here, Dad…Halloween is almost here…just a few more days.”
“A few more will lead into November,” he said. “Although I guess you’re already planning to stay up all night on Halloween. But remember, if you stay up too late tomorrow, you’ll end up being too tired for Halloween. And I want to take that picture with you, even if you spend the rest of the day with Dosa-Mina.”
San-Kyung nodded.
“Wake up a bit. You have to get to school.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said.
“If you need a nap, take one once you get back home,” Salsh-Era said.
“Sheesh, Dad, I’m fine…”

***

After history class that day, La-Iin had a question on her mind.
The class that day had been on the history of Animated Pumpkins, from their origins to historical challenges, and she felt she knew why their teacher had picked that subject. However, hearing of their roots in Witch power made her curious.
‘I wonder if Sale-Dessu could make an Animated Pumpkin…’
The question was on her mind for the rest of the classes afterwards. She had wanted to ask Fer-Shi’s opinion, but when she remembered Fer-Shi barely knew Sale-Dessu, she opted against it. ‘She’d probably just say it’s impossible for a modern Warlock…’
Once she had resigned herself to that, however, her focus shifted to someone else. ‘I wonder if San-Kyung would be interested in knowing?’
If nothing else, it was an excuse she could use to get some time alone with him, and any excuse she could find she was willing to take.
The break time before the last class, she approached his desk. His head was bobbing lightly; Dosa-Mina gave him a light smack with the back of his hand and he lifted his head.
“…what do you want?” He said. Once she had made sure his focus was on her, she spoke.
“I had an idea for something you might like. Can you come with me somewhere after school?”
“…I’m not sure I trust your idea on what I might like,” he said. “Besides, I…I have other things to do…”
“Like sleeping,” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Shut it.”
“But it maybe has to do with your true form, sort of,” she said. San-Kyung looked back up at her.
“…what do you mean by that?”
“Maybe we can find out some things about it? And Animated Pumpkin things too. Where we’re going we might be able to learn some interesting things about Animated Pumpkins.”
“…I know a lot about myself already,” he sighed.
“Don’t fall asleep. We’ve got one more class,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I know!”
“Maybe it can help you learn to use your other form like me!” She exclaimed. She hoped that would be enough to catch his attention. It seemed to be working; San-Kyung seemed mildly interested as he stared back at her. Unconsciously she began to fidget.
“…what do you mean by that?”
“I wanted to see something that had to do with Animated Pumpkins, like I said. I wanted you to come too, since you’re an Animated Pumpkin. I thought maybe because of what it was, it could help you learn more about your true form and…maybe it can make you transform at will. Then I don’t have to wait until Halloween to see it.”
She doubted it would be the case, but it seemed to have San-Kyung’s attention, so she decided to keep up the act. “…if that’s the case, then fine. I’ll go with you, but if it’s not worth my time, I’m leaving.”
“Then I’ll just have to make sure it’s worth your time,” she said, before walking back to her seat.
Dosa-Mina turned to face San-Kyung and dropped his voice to a whisper. “Do you think she knows?”
“…I don’t know.”
“Do you really trust what she’s saying? Use a little common sense, San-Kyung. I know you’re exhausted, but–”
“I doubt it’s anything interesting,” he snapped. “I just want to know what she wants. Who knows. Maybe it will be helpful. After all, without her we wouldn’t be getting the info we need on transforming into true forms…”

After the last class, La-Iin ran over to San-Kyung’s seat and grabbed his hand. By now, San-Kyung’s head had drooped, though he looked up when she came by. He didn’t move from the seat.
“Come onnnnn!” She whined.
“Don’t just force me to move right after class has ended,” he snapped, drawing his hand away from her.
“…wish me luck,” he whispered to Dosa-Mina.
“I will be. I wish I could come with, but I bet I know what’d happen if I did…” He hugged San-Kyung close. “See you tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
“…” La-Iin glared at the duo.
“I’m coming,” he sighed, letting go of Dosa-Mina. “Don’t get diaper rash.”
La-Iin blushed. “I don’t wear diapers!”
“You’d think a half-Vampire of your age would. Then again, it’s nice not to have to smell poop during class….”
La-Iin huffed and ran ahead of him. “You’re so mean to me sometimes, San-Kyung.”
“Don’t be surprised. Besides, knowing you I’m surprised you don’t like it.”
“It’s not that. It’s just, you’re not that mean to Dosa-Mina,” she pouted.
“Have you seen how I react sometimes when he’s too affectionate?”
“You just accepted his affection back there.”
“It was a hug.”
“In front of the whole class. I still think you fail at evil sometimes, San-Kyung. You say you don’t let your love make you weak, but I think you do.”
San-Kyung glared. “I’d like to see the difference in reaction between if I had to kill Dosa-Mina, and you had to kill me. I bet I’d act faster.”
“You’d probably cry afterwards.”
“I don’t cry.”
“You do too.”
“…you know what, just shut up until we get there.”
“You gave up after one try,” La-Iin mocked.
“You know why? Because I see the pointlessness in arguing with a repetitive little kid who will just keep saying I do until I rescind. I don’t have the time to argue pointlessly. …besides, I don’t cry.”
“You do too.”
“Shut up.”
La-Iin led the way to her neighborhood, checking behind her every now-and-then to make sure San-Kyung was still following. She picked up her pace slightly when she noticed the two were moving slowly and making little progress.
San-Kyung still seemed exhausted as they walked on. ‘Is that why he’s not levitating?’
“San-Kyung, can’t you just levitate the way there?”
“I’m not listening to a little kid’s poor directions on how to get wherever the hell it is you want to take me. And I’m not levitating you. And I’m sure I can go faster than you can fly while levitating, so you’d end up getting left behind…” He yawned. “And I don’t know where the hell we’re going.”
“Are you sure it’s not just because you’re tired?” She snapped.
“I can levitate while exhausted. I just choose not to today. So shut up. I’m already sick of hearing your voice.”
After that, the both of them were silent as they arrived in La-Iin’s neighborhood. La-Iin began to head for Sale-Dessu’s house.
“You’re not just taking me to your home, are you? Because I’m not going there.”
“No. Though that would be lots of fun. Maybe I should try that when you can’t levitate anymore.”
“…good villains don’t tell their plans ahead of time, you dumbass.”
“But you never know when I’ll enact it. So I think I’m still good.”
“You just said you’re good. And I think I have a pretty good idea of how you’d enact it, so don’t start with me.”
“…I didn’t mean good in that way. Now who’s being a dumbass?” She knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door.
“If you remember my house correctly, you’ll also remember this isn’t my house. I know you don’t like people, so let me do the talking. You can just sit back and listen.”
“….ugh, this is going to be more annoying than I thought it would be…” San-Kyung grumbled under his breath. The words went unnoticed by La-Iin, who continued to knock at the door until a familiar face opened it.
“…La-Iin?” Sale-Dessu said. His focus then turned to San-Kyung. “…who’s that behind you?”
“This is Molshei San-Kyung. A friend.” Sale-Dessu noticed San-Kyung roll his eyes. He let some of his mats drop in front of his face.
“…I see. Well, you can both come in…I see you didn’t bring Bes-Isa?”
“No. I want to ask you something, so let us in already!”
“I said you could–” Sale-Dessu cut himself off with a sigh. As the two walked inside, San-Kyung couldn’t help but feel agitated, and Sale-Dessu couldn’t help but feel shy. The last thing he had expected was for La-Iin to bring by someone he didn’t know. That this new boy was almost the same height as him was enough to make that feeling worse.
To Sale-Dessu it felt as though La-Iin was leading the way in his house. She stopped in the room the two normally held their meetings and sat down. San-Kyung sat down a distance away from her. Sale-Dessu chose to sit closer to La-Iin.
“So, um, La-Iin…what did you want to talk about?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Do you know how Animated Pumpkins came to be, Sale-Dessu?” La-Iin asked, pointing at his nose. Sale-Dessu gently set down her finger.
“O-of course I do. It’s a story almost every Warlock learns sometime.”
“At school today we learned all about that history. I knew it already, but I hadn’t read up on it in a while, and it made me think. Do you think you could make an Animated Pumpkin?”
Sale-Dessu began to feel flustered, but he tried not to let it show on his face. “…no, I don’t think I could. Things were different back then, after all….”
“You can glitch the world.” La-Iin huffed. Morbid curiosity instilled itself in San-Kyung when he heard it, though it was mild enough that he didn’t care to ask.
“…glitching the world is messing with the world,” Sale-Dessu said. “What you’re suggesting is bringing someone to life…”
“V-Puppets,” La-Iin snapped.
“V-Puppets are different. Even you have the power of V-Puppetry. If that were the case then even you could bring a new Animated Pumpkin into the world. What that Witch did…she technically made a brand-new species, all on her own. It was more than just bringing life to a pumpkin…I don’t think even my Ape…the powerful Witches I’ve met in my lifetime could rival her. And she lived ages ago, so it’s not like we could ask…”
“I don’t know what to think about you sometimes, Sale-Dessu,” La-Iin sighed. “You have all sorts of powers but you never really use them for anything useful, and then even with those powers you can’t do things that sound easier than what you can do!”
“….well, let me put it this way,” he said. “I can’t even do Hex Change Operation all that well. If I couldn’t make Eu–I mean, perform it right a second time, then what makes you think I’d be able to make an Animated Pumpkin?”
“…” La-Iin glared at him.
“Besides…all we have is the story. We don’t have everything that Witch used. We don’t know all of what she did. Even if I tried to recreate what she did, if I studied and practiced and did all I could to be as powerful as she is, so I could do Hex Change Operation with ease, so I could perform all the spells that have eluded me and caused me trouble…I don’t think I would be able to do that, because we’ll never really know what that Witch did when she created the first Animated Pumpkin. For all we know, she might not have even really done that. Maybe it was an Animated Pumpkin already and she just gave it a push. After all, there is the October power surge…”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You don’t know about the October power surge?” Sale-Dessu said, gaping. “But your friend–”
“I know about the power surge, but I don’t know what point you’re trying to make,” La-Iin said, an edge to her tone.
“Maybe all that Witch did was initiate the surge, or maybe she helped the surge along with her powers,” he said. “Maybe the Animated Pumpkin was alive to begin with and its origins lie elsewhere…perhaps the Witch gave it a boost by using her powers on it and causing or heightening the surge. I’m not sure why it’s limited to October though except that they say it was on Halloween that the first AP was born…but if the power surge existed without the Witch, then it’s just one of those mysteries of the world, but even if she did cause the surge, they say she did it on Halloween, which is this month…either way I can see where a Witch played some part–the flammable blood and levitation, to start, to me that makes it obvious….but anyway, since we don’t really know everything about this story since it happened so long ago, I don’t think I could do the same. There’s too many mysteries about this. Besides, do you know of a pumpkin I could experiment on? …not an Animated Pumpkin, of course,” he said, giving a cautious glance in San-Kyung’s direction. San-Kyung’s face remained blank, though his eyelids were no longer drooping and he was focused on Sale-Dessu. Sale-Dessu felt nervous when he noticed it.
“No,” La-Iin pouted.
“…I’m sorry that probably wasn’t the response you wanted. But Warlocks have their faults, even powerful ones…”
“…” La-Iin turned to San-Kyung. “It was useless. …sorry.”
“Hey, you,” San-Kyung said, his eyes still fixated on Sale-Dessu. Sale-Dessu flinched.
“…what do you know about the chances of an Aesthetically Normal AP turning into a normal AP?”
“…I…I’ve never heard of a case like that….though I’ve heard of drugs that can simulate October power surge, sans transformation of course…but those are dangerous and rare and I’ve never come in contact with them, so I wouldn’t know if they actually exist or if they were just in development, or a myth…I…don’t have easy ways of getting that sort of information.”
“Hmph.” San-Kyung stood up. “You showed me what you wanted to. Now let’s go.”
“Okay.” La-Iin turned to Sale-Dessu. “I’ll be back. Probably without San-Kyung next time.”
“Okay. See you, La-Iin…” Sale-Dessu sighed. He watched La-Iin and San-Kyung leave his house, then relaxed.
“I can’t believe I got so nervous because of one stranger…”

—–
“Oh no you don’t. I’m looking into how you could utilize a power like La-Iin’s, I hope you remember. You’re not going looking for any sort of drugs to propel that transformation. They wear off anyway and what’s the point in risking your life for something temporary? We’re going for permanency after all.”
“I wasn’t saying I was going to use them…” San-Kyung sighed.
“Well, you sounded pretty excited about them. Still, that gives me an idea of how you COULD activate a transformation power…I need to think on that.”
“Don’t worry about it for now. Besides, I don’t let myself trust worthless random people, and Halloween’s almost here…I’ll have a natural transformation soon enough. And then, we’ll find out how I can activate it at will.”
“Gotcha. I’m looking forward to Friday.”
“…nobody’s looking forward to it more than me,” he said.

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