The La-Iin Series
“Recall the Past–Part 2”
“My Father wants you two to come by as soon as possible. So don’t be late. It’s important.”
Eul-Bok had spoken those words to La-Iin and Bes-Isa early that Sunday after slamming against La-Iin’s bedroom window, then left before either could respond. With nothing better to do, La-Iin decided to get dressed and head on over.
“It hasn’t even been a week since he last called us over. I wonder if he’s getting bolder.”
“Maybe he found out something big.”
“Yeah, he did say something about V-Puppet autonomy last time we were over. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re right.”
La-Iin knocked on his door, then hugged Bes-Isa close. Sale-Dessu took longer than usual to open the door, and when he peeked out he seemed on-edge, his visible eye wide as he stared down at Bes-Isa.
“Oh, you’re here,” he said, starting to smile. “Come in.”
“What do you want now, Sale-Dessu?” La-Iin asked. “Did you find out anything interesting?”
“Um…not anything more than when you last visited,” he said. “Actually, to tell the truth, it’s Bes-Isa who I really wanted to talk to…”
“Moi? Whatever for?”
“So I’m only over here because of Bes-Isa!” La-Iin yelled.
“I–” Sale-Dessu stared down at his feet. “…yes, sort of. But I’ll make it up to you, I promise!”
La-Iin glared at him, but she continued to follow him through his house until they stopped at the area they usually held their meetings. Even as he sat down, Sale-Dessu still looked slightly dejected.
“Why do you want to talk to Bes-Isa?” La-Iin asked.
“Because, well…the other day when you two were here, she said something that I’ve been thinking about a lot…I wanted to talk to her about that.”
“What did I say? Well, I said a lot of things, but what’s on your mind?”
“About my ch….” The rest of Sale-Dessu’s words disappeared into a mumble.
“Nobody can understand you if you mumble. You know, I actually didn’t take you for the mumbling type.”
“About my chi–!”
“You don’t need to say it. I think I already know what you were going to say. So, what about it? Finally ready to talk about it?”
Sale-Dessu cringed. “…no, not really.”
“Then what’s the point of even bringing that up? What was the point of even inviting us over? Are you going to tell me to stop? Because the only one who can make me stop is La-Iin. You don’t have that power over me.”
“I will make you stop if you keep talking about the same thing,” La-Iin said.
“I just thought that maybe if I talked to you…”
“…I had already been thinking about…parts of my childhood before you said what you did,” he said, looking away from her. “And…sometimes I have dreams about my childhood. I had some strange ones last night, and they’re what inspired me to talk to you…”
“If that’s the case then you should talk. Although I don’t really like talking about these sorts of things. My advice is best given to La-Iin, not to you. But I’m willing to give if you’re willing to talk. I’d like my curiosity to be sated.”
Sale-Dessu did not turn back to face her, but La-Iin noticed him grit his teeth. He was starting to look angry.
“…I had some hard times when I was younger. Whenever you say things like you want to hear about what happened to sate your curiosity, or you tell me that I’m letting down my guard…it’s upsetting. There are a lot of days I wish that was a better time for me. So hearing someone say they’re curious about it…”
He sighed. “You aren’t saying that because you want to know more about me. You aren’t saying that because you want to help me. You’re only saying that because it’s like an interesting story to you. ….that’s what I feel.” He glanced at La-Iin out the corner of his eye.
“I’m sorry about this, La-Iin. You can tell me what you want me to do and I’ll do it for you, as long as it’s not something too dangerous…but my idea of too dangerous can be pretty high up sometimes.”
“Wait a second. You’re trying to end this conversation.”
“Yes, I am,” Sale-Dessu said. “I can’t think of anything else to say. What I wanted was to talk. And now that I’ve told you that, I feel a little better.” He smiled. “I’m sorry I got mad at you, but thank you for letting me talk.”
“What sort of conversation is this if the only one talking was you!?”
“Do you have anything to add?” Sale-Dessu said. La-Iin flinched. She hadn’t expected to see him looking so angry.
“Not really, no. And I have to admit that you’re mostly right. I AM interested in your childhood because it seems like it would be an interesting story. But you made it sound like this was going to be a conversation and that you wanted my advice. I think you should’ve clarified that beforehand.”
“I didn’t really know how this was going to turn out,” he said. “Eul-Bok even asked to come along just in case you started asking about my childhood again. But he was getting fired up beforehand, so I put him to sleep…”
As if to prove his statement, he laid Eul-Bok on the table in front of him.
“Well, good thing you did. He would’ve just made this whole thing annoying.”
Sale-Dessu began to look slightly dejected.
“Now anyway, there’s just one thing I’d like to ask you, Sale-Dessu? Then this can be over like you want it to be.”
“Is it so wrong that I’m curious? Lots of people in this world are. Us V-Puppets may be dolls at the whims of “masters”, but when La-Iin brought me to life, she gave me all the sorts of emotions a person has. That’s just how it is. And a lot of people, no matter how good they are, like to hear about bad things that have happened. Maybe they like the intrigue, something that happens to break up the monotony. Maybe they use it as a way to motivate them to make the world better, or as inspiration to do worse. Maybe they like depressing themselves. Think about it, when reading a book or watching a movie or something of the like, people prefer conflict to a lack of it. The bigger the conflict, the better. It’s just a common aspect of nature. You yourself are curious about things that could be horrible. By warping reality you could end up getting lots of people killed or ruining their lives. Yet you still move on and let your curiosity guide your actions. So tell me, Sale-Dessu, when curiosity is the basis for something so important in your life, can you really tell me that mine is a bad thing regardless of where it might be directed?”
Sale-Dessu blinked at her. La-Iin gave her a wide-eyed stare. It made her feel conceited, and she liked it.
For Sale-Dessu, those words strongly resonated. She had a point, he realized.
“…you’re right,” he conceded eventually. “There’s nothing wrong with curiosity. It can hurt, however. And yours does. But…I won’t get on your case for it, because there’s no reason to. I don’t have to tell you about my childhood if I don’t want to. And you’re not going to do anything to me to get me to tell you.”
“Aside keep screaming at you until you tell me? Let me tell you, I DO like screaming…”
“Well, at least I have La-Iin in case you start to do that…”
“I like screaming sometimes too,” La-Iin said. Sale-Dessu sighed.
All that conversation had only reminded him of his childhood yet again. Curiosity could hurt, he knew it–he knew it from now, he knew it from the time he randomized the world, and he knew it from the reactions people had had towards his Apeta’s curiosity.
But he wasn’t quite sure how to think about it.
“Are you gonna do anything interesting now, Sale-Dessu?” La-Iin asked. Sale-Dessu snapped out of his momentary distraction.
“Um…yes, of course! What did you want me to do?”
“Hey, Sale-Dessu, before we go.”
“I want to go now,” La-Iin whined. Sale-Dessu focused on Bes-Isa.
“I don’t like giving advice to anyone else aside from La-Iin. But I wanted to say one thing. If you’re really that upset about your childhood, then give Eul-Bok a good one. ….or don’t. Honestly, I don’t care whether you do or not.”
“What kind of advice is that?” Sale-Dessu asked, before giving a soft chuckle. “Thank you, Bes-Isa, I’ll keep that in mind. See you.”
As La-Iin and Bes-Isa walked out his house, La-Iin asked, “Why did you do that? That’s good advice.”
“Won’t it be better for you if I stop bothering Sale-Dessu about his childhood? If he gets over it, then it probably won’t come up as much. Also I want to increase my favorability with him because if he really CAN make me autonomous, it won’t be good if he hates me.”
“Don’t worry, La-Iin. I thought that through more than it might have seemed.”