The La-Iin Series
“Astineth Eir-Tyuj–Part 1”
“Would you like to go on a walk, Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok was surprised that Sale-Dessu would suggest such a thing. “Would you be able to manage it?”
“I’m not allergic to sunlight and going on a walk doesn’t mean I have to socialize with anyone,” he said. “I just need a little bit of a break from the V-Puppetry project. I won’t be able to focus when things get pivotal if I overwork my mind…”
“I don’t mind going on a walk, then,” he said. Sale-Dessu nodded. “Alright. Let’s get ready and go.”
Sale-Dessu changed Eul-Bok’s clothes and straightened out his own. He locked his house and the two left on their walk, keeping along the sidewalk as they strayed out the neighborhood. Sale-Dessu kept his eyes focused on the path ahead and was silent, as if thinking about something. Despite his explanation as to why they were going on the walk, his eyes seemed distracted.
“Is there another purpose to this walk, Father?”
“What do you mean?” Sale-Dessu seemed to have been snapped out of his trance. He focused his visible eye on Eul-Bok.
“You seem distracted. Like you’ve got something on your mind. Is there something else you’re trying to clear out of there? Or is there someplace in particular you want to go?”
“…you’re perceptive,” Sale-Dessu whispered. “I guess you’ve caught me. Yes, we’re going somewhere. Last night I was reminded of something and I wanted to check it out…”
“So where are we going? I think I deserve to know.”
“Do you remember back when we found out about the woman who lives in Vaelyn who shares her name with my Apeta?”
“Mm…yeah, a little.”
“I was thinking about her recently. And I wondered how much she knows about my family now. Since she’s apparently the only Astineth living here aside from me, is she solitary like me, or does she just happen to live on her own and keeps in touch with the rest of the Astineths? I got curious, so I decided we could check it out…”
“Well, I get that, but I have a question now.”
“The list we looked at didn’t say where people lived, did it? How do you know where she lives? What if we go somewhere and it’s the wrong place? And wasn’t the list from a while ago?”
“I accounted for that,” he said.
“I stopped by the library again. It was difficult without you, but you were asleep…the site with that information has a lot of strange, illegal details. My relative…well, I’m hoping she’s my relative…she was placed in a neighborhood somewhere near the Bledger-Heilvon border. Apparently they got this information because she was a suspect in a murder case.”
“Are you sure you really want to go see her now!?”
“Yes. I’m trained in defensive magic too, Eul-Bok, so don’t worry. And I’d definitely never let anything happen to you. Besides, she was only a suspect, not the perpetrator. It was probably just because she was a neighbor and powerful.”
“I still feel uncertain….well, I can say now I’m glad I came along with you, Father!”
Sale-Dessu continued on along the sidewalk. On occasion he would pause and look confused. Eul-Bok wondered if he knew the entirety of the path. ‘I really hope you planned this through better than it looks like you did…’
Whenever he encountered a crowd, Sale-Dessu’s expression changed slightly, and he started to move faster. Sale-Dessu didn’t notice when he would do this, though he noticed how nervous the crowds made him feel. Aside from his wariness about the idea of socializing, there was one other fear bothering him.
“All you Astineths are selfish and evil. It would be better for the world if you were wiped out!”
He shuddered at the thought. ‘No, nobody would recognize me here, right? Even if they see me, they won’t know I’m an Astineth, they have no way. I’m older now than when I lived in those places.’
But it always nagged at him, the fear that the next person he encountered might recognize him as an Astineth, the fear that even if they didn’t, they would have a vendetta against Warlocks, the fear that putting aside both those things, they would simply want him dead.
It made him scared.
“Did that crowd back there make you nervous? You started tensing up and going pale just now.”
“Oh….yes, but it’s no big deal. You know I’m not good with socializing.”
“You weren’t socializing with them, though…”
“Well, it was just…never mind, Eul-Bok, let’s just keep going.”
Eul-Bok wanted to question him more, but by now he knew it would be pointless. ‘Father’s so stubborn about this, it’s frustrating. I don’t know why I bother sometimes. Wish I had autonomy already, then maybe I’d have another way of hearing what he has to say. Keeping it in like that, I doubt he’s doing himself any favors…’
“I think we’re getting close,” Sale-Dessu said. He showed Eul-Bok around. The area seemed somewhat run-down, as if the people who lived there didn’t really care about the area. Still, Sale-Dessu had seen worse, though Eul-Bok seemed put off.
“This place looks seedy! Are you sure we should go snooping around here? You know, I’m really worried that this lady isn’t going to be a good person. She may be your relative, but then, all the bad people in the world have relatives too, and some of them have to be perfectly good people…”
“We have to try,” Sale-Dessu said. “Think back, this was your idea, getting me to meet up with another relative.”
“I know, but….well, Father, there’s always the chance this woman isn’t even your relative! And what if she’s not a good person? Should you really put yourself in the way of danger for a chance that she could be your relative?”
Sale-Dessu froze. Eul-Bok’s words had agitated him, but he tried not to let it show. “…I doubt she’s not my relative. She’s an Astineth with the same name as my Apeta….who else aside from a relative of mine would give another Astineth her name? People knew her…I’m sure that’s how she got her name, from my Apeta. And don’t I take chances with danger each time I perform an experiment like altering the world?”
“I’ll protect us both at any cost, so if she is dangerous….if she is, we’ll be safe.”
‘Is it a mistake to do this?’ He thought to himself. ‘What if she is my relative but she doesn’t forgive me for being my Apeta’s grandson? She could always resent me the same way all those other Witches and Warlocks resented me. She could be evil. She could be so much more skilled than I am with her powers, maybe she could even be a Dualbreed and have extra ones to go along with them….’
Thinking on Eul-Bok’s words still agitated him, though. ‘It’s as if he doesn’t want me to do this, when it was his suggestion in the first place. I’ve come this far, so there’s no point in turning back. If I do this, I could find out more about my family. If nothing else, I might learn where they all are now. I have to try.’
A crowd was gathered up nearby a house. Sale-Dessu tried to keep away from them, but their conversation piqued his interest.
“Do you think it’s true that Eir-Tyuj lives there?” A Catori man said.
“I think so. There’s definitely some Witch living there,” said a Warlock man.
“You have to wonder about that reputation, though,” said a Cicadin man. “Wish we could see her.”
“Think we should just break in?” Said a Catori woman.
“We could, but…Witches can be pretty powerful, and if all those rumors about Eir-Tyuj are true–assuming she lives there–she’s one of the greats when it comes to mastering powers. She could probably kill us all if she wanted to.” The Warlock man stared ahead, an angered expression on his face.
“But we might be able to, if there was more than one of us…” The Catori man whispered. “And didn’t I hear that she’s elderly? Witch or not, what good would an elderly woman be fending off a buncha people with powers?”
“Elderly?” Sale-Dessu echoed.
“Isn’t there a chance she could be old?”
“I–I guess, but…I just assumed she’d be around my age…it just made me think about my Ape…”
Sale-Dessu looked up and blinked. The door to the house the group was watching opened. The group scattered, but they kept a close eye on the woman who exited the house. The woman bowed her head.
Sale-Dessu tried to get a closer look at the woman. Most of her body was covered in a long robe, but her visible hands were wrinkled. ‘I guess she is elderly,’ Sale-Dessu thought.
But something bothered him as he watched the woman stand there with her head bowed. He noticed her familiar hair and skin color. A hope started to build its way in him, but he tried to stop it.
‘You’re being stupid, Sale-Dessu….’
And then, he noticed it.
The woman lifted up her head, and he was greeted by a familiar face.
“Apeta,” he breathed. He was caught between reluctance and a desire to run right up to her. The desire quickly won out over the reluctance, and against his common sense he started to run towards her.
But before he could reach her, she disappeared. Sale-Dessu stopped in place, then glanced at the people who had been watching Eir-Tyuj.
“What was that all about?” One of them asked. Sale-Dessu started to toy with one of his mats, hoping it would keep him calm enough to talk to the people.
“I–I wanted to see who, um, this person was…I’ve heard a lot about…”
“That’s not surprising,” the Warlock in the crowd said. “Astineth Eir-Tyuj is quite infamous among Warlocks. They say she and her family are infamous for being troublemakers who care only about becoming more powerful and don’t care at all about others. I’d heard a lot about her in the past, so I was surprised to see she lived here….but she’s just an old lady now. Powerful or not, it’s gotta take a lot outta her to perform something big, so I’m not worried. I do wonder why she just teleported now, though…”
‘Me too,’ he wanted to say, but instead he turned away from the crowd. He hoped any suspicion about his identity had been cleared up with what he just said.
‘I was so stupid. I should have noticed she was using a teleportation spell.’ His face burned and he was completely on-edge, and his emotions were all a muddle as he walked back to where he had left Eul-Bok.
‘That was my Apeta. She’s alive! How is she alive?’
For now he knew there was no point staying here; Eir-Tyuj had left and he didn’t want to risk exposing himself as her grandson. But somewhere in the muddle of emotions, he was happier than he had been in a while.
“I–I’ll tell you when we get home,” he stammered. Then, making sure he was a safe distance away from the group, he started a teleportation spell. He held tight to Eul-Bok as he finished it.
The two of them disappeared from the area, leaving no trace that they had ever been there.
“What is it, Baal-Mist?”
“Hm? Oh, nothing important.”
Baal-Mist glanced over his shoulder.
“Yeah, I think I’ll stake this area out tomorrow, too….”