The La-Iin Series
“Just More Disappointment”
The moment La-Iin woke up on Monday morning, San-Kyung was on her mind.
She hadn’t seen or heard from San-Kyung since that early Saturday morning after Halloween, and since then she had been wondering what sort of state he might be in. Would he be as weak as when she had seen him last, or would he have made a full recovery within the past days?
Those questions weighed on her mind as she walked to school, and she ended up only barely acknowledging Fer-Shi, who seemed strangely wary of her.
“You seem a little off,” she said. Compared to her normal tone, Fer-Shi sounded almost emotionless, but La-Iin hardly noticed.
“…you’re acting strange too,” La-Iin said under her breath as they entered the crowd. Almost instantly she began to search for San-Kyung, hoping she would see him walking with the rest of the students, but the crowd was still fairly sparse, and she soon realized he was nowhere within the crowd.
It was only when she turned around that she saw him, his arm dangling lifelessly and his expression blank. Aside from Dosa-Mina’s appearance, which had returned to his Normal one, and the school backdrop, the sight was almost exactly what she had seen the day after Halloween.
The surprise returned to her and she ended up standing in the middle of the crowd, staring at San-Kyung with a blank expression as he looked ahead at the crowd.
“Oh, hello, La-Iin!” Dosa-Mina said. “I would’ve waved, but…” He motioned to San-Kyung with his head.
“…he’s still like that?”
“I guess when San-Kyung told you about his transformation, he never said anything about November,” Dosa-Mina said, his cheerful smile becoming wry. “Well…I’d explain, but it seems tacky to say in the classroom…”
“We’re not in the classroom yet.”
“Yeah, but there’s a crowd behind us,” Dosa-Mina said. “I’ll tell you about it during one of the break times. Although it’ll be really inconvenient…I can’t just leave San-Kyung on his own. He can barely hold up his head and I doubt he’d like someone aside from me doing that for him…”
“…I wish I didn’t have to rely on you,” San-Kyung sighed. His voice still sounded weak, though one thing that brought La-Iin a slight relief was to hear that it sounded more energetic than it had days ago.
La-Iin walked with Dosa-Mina, glancing at San-Kyung on occasion, on the path to Malicerie.
During class La-Iin felt everything was a reminder of San-Kyung’s current state. Students were focused on him in the short time before history. Dosa-Mina sat him into his seat and helped to prop him up; although from her distance it seemed to be that San-Kyung was exhausted, students closer to his seat could see that he seemed to be having balance troubles from the way he moved.
“Is this good?” Dosa-Mina asked, propping his head up gently.
“Tell me if you need me to change anything,” he said.
“Wow, San-Kyung seems really weak right now,” Fer-Shi said.
“…does that upset you, La-Iin?”
“Hmm…” Fer-Shi stared at her desk and sighed.
The feeling of surprise had returned, along with it the feelings she had after she first saw him that weak. He hadn’t seemed to improve since then at all. La-Iin had assumed, judging by Dosa-Mina’s words, he would eventually recover.
But would he spend all of November being that reliant on Dosa-Mina?
His weak state piqued the curiosity of other students as well, though none were nearly as bothered by it as La-Iin. Deki-Tyunri worried, while Lirako felt that making fun of him in that state would be pointless. The newer students began to wonder why he was in that state, save for Ai-Reia, who already knew.
The history teacher kept from questioning it, remembering last year and the phone call the faculty had received from the Molsheis. Though the students noticed that he kept a close eye on San-Kyung, as if he was worried about him.
La-Iin had expected to be summoned by Dosa-Mina after History class, but instead he had told her to wait. He only beckoned to her after Math, then eased San-Kyung out of his seat and into his arms. La-Iin followed after him as he lead her into the hallway and ducked into one of the Weekend classrooms.
“Okay, we only have this break time to discuss it, so I’ll make this quick. After Halloween, the power surge disappears at an alarmingly fast rate. Normal Animated Pumpkins will lose the extra strength to their powers before November first is done. For Aesthetically Normals like San-Kyung, it’s even worse. The sudden drain leaves him with just a simple flame power, though he’s not even strong enough to use that right now.”
“Why does it do that?”
“The power surge adds a lot of powers Aesthetically Normals can almost never use, like levitation or the ability to pumpkify,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “It also gives them stronger versions of their normal powers. Remember how I said his form changed to accommodate all that? Well, that’s how much power they gain. When that depletes, it takes a lot out of them. His connection with nature isn’t as strong, which is why he can’t use his vines. And making a seed bomb would harm him, which is why I say he can really only use flame powers…if he could manage it right now, anyway.”
“There you go, off on a tangent…” San-Kyung sighed. “But…he’s right. Losing all that power so suddenly takes a lot out of me…I just wish it didn’t make me this weak.”
“…why are you so weak now, San-Kyung? It’s not right.”
“Because the power surge ended,” he said, irritation edging his tone. “But, really…I guess I could put it like this…I had all this extra stuff added to me, then it all just drained. I got used to all the extras, so it threw me off. It’s like if you couldn’t use your wings for a month. I don’t mean couldn’t fly, I mean couldn’t use at all. You might have a hard time flying and crash into something…” San-Kyung chuckled to himself. “…that could be hilarious.”
“I don’t think I would,” she said.
“Okay then, imagine pushing yourself and running as fast as you can go, then having to come to an abrupt halt. All that exhaustion you were putting behind yourself catches up to you, and then you can barely stand. …makes sense now? Well, that’s what it feels like. I try to move a part of my body, it just kind of flops. My body got used to having all those extras. And because they didn’t leave gradually, it’s not sure what to do now that it doesn’t have all the extra strength…at least, that’s kind of what my parents and Dosa-Mina told me….”
“But I could never understand what it feels like. I just know it’s hard for San-Kyung. It’s hard for me too, though. His parents used to help him after Halloween, but I volunteered once we became friends. So I help him get to school and all of that…and since he has a hard time keeping himself up…I’ve helped him with other things too…his parents help him wash and all that, but there have been times he’s had to use the toilet at school, and guess who’s had to been the one to take him there and…”
Dosa-Mina’s face paled and his eyes widened. “Aaaaaagh….”
“Dammit Dosa-Mina, there are some things she doesn’t need to know,” San-Kyung snapped, his cheeks turning pink. La-Iin’s wings began to flap in irritation.
“…you really shouldn’t be getting angry about that. It’s humiliating for all involved…” San-Kyung said.
Dosa-Mina checked the clock in the room. “We should get going now. If you want to know more, books on Animated Pumpkins should talk about it. Or we could talk more after school. But basically it’s just his power drains and he becomes so weak during November that he can’t even stand without help. He’ll be like this for a little, but he’ll recover soon enough. And that’s the short form. Alright, see you!”
Dosa-Mina walked as fast as he could toward Class D’s second classroom, nearly crashing into Hyungdarou on his way there.
La-Iin was unable to suppress a sigh after they left.
‘…San-Kyung needs help so he doesn’t get weak like this in November,’ she thought. ‘I wonder if there’s a way he can use his true form forever…’
More than her desire for San-Kyung to return to normal, she wanted his strength to return because the feeling of pity and disappointment that weakness stirred in her was a feeling she never wanted to feel again.
“…I hate this so much,” San-Kyung said to Dosa-Mina on their way back from school.
“I know you do.”
“…how am I going to get anywhere if I have to deal with this every year?”
Dosa-Mina heard a quiet sob. He grit his teeth.
‘I need to get back to research. San-Kyung shouldn’t have to go through this every year. I won’t let things stay this way. I won’t!’
“It’s alright, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Remember what we said? This’ll probably be the last year you have to deal with this. So don’t cry…”