The La-Iin Series
“All Ends of Security Measures”
“This might sound kinda weird to you, but this cloak is itchy.”
“It’s a necessary security measure,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok sighed. Almost as soon as the two of them had arrived back home from Eir-Tyuj’s house, Sale-Dessu had set to work on protecting the house from being discovered as theirs by the mysterious assailants.
“If we want to have any hope of keeping this house, this is what we need to do,” he had said. Now the two of them stood in front of a mirror, Eul-Bok wearing a long and fluffy cloak, a necklace and large hat, and Sale-Dessu wearing more casual clothes, glasses and jewelry he had made from garbage lying around the house. His long white hair was also dyed a deep maroon.
“Do you think these disguises are enough to fool them?”
“You look weird enough to me already.”
“Hm….” Sale-Dessu fiddled with Eul-Bok’s hat until it drooped slightly in front of his face. “There we go.”
“So now that we have these disguises, what do we do?”
“I have to keep proofing the house,” he said. “Soundproof it, protect it against intruders and their kind. My Apeta showed me several spells I could use to protect the house. I never considered these spells before, but I should have. When I first moved here, I was always nervous that one of my Apeta’s pursuers would find me living here. …I had no idea they’d come back so much later in my life.”
“Are you sure they’re Apeta’s pursuers, Father? Isn’t it possible that they might be here for some other reason?”
“I don’t want to entertain those ideas, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said quietly. “Whatever they are, we have to prevent them from finding our house, because if they do, there’s no place we can go. We can’t stay with Apeta because her identity is known in that neighborhood, and I really don’t have the vuyong to buy a new house. I know I could always forge some, but my morals say otherwise, and anyway I don’t know if I’d be able to make them perfectly and without a tel…”
“What about the Cahongyuns? La-Iin and Bes-Isa like you well enough. Couldn’t we stay with them until we found a new place if anything happens?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “We couldn’t, Eul-Bok! This whole situation is my fault. I’m already upset that I’m involving you in it, too. The Cahongyuns live right next door to us. It wouldn’t take those pursuers long to figure out where we are. I don’t want to involve the Cahongyuns in this at all. There’s no guarantee they have someplace else to stay, either!”
“I guess you have a point,” Eul-Bok mused.
“We have to be cautious, Eul-Bok. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but until they’re gone, this is what needs to be done. Now, if anybody asks, we are the Tenhues. I am Tenhue Lim-Bam and you are Tenhue As-Eir. No, Tenhue As-Mei. We are not father and son or master and V-Puppet–especially not that second one. You are my little cousin who is staying with me while my sister studies abroad in Nyappon. Understand?”
“Do we have to go this far?”
“If we call ourselves the Astineths, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. And in the event that they are here for some other reason besides my being an Astineth, do you want to give them more reason to be after us by letting them know I’m an Astineth? I want to take any security measure I can. And it might be frustrating at first, but at least in the end, it will pay off. You should go and study on your own. I’m going to work on those spells Apeta told me about.”
“…if you say so,” Eul-Bok sighed.
Eul-Bok felt dejected as he studied the next day alone, fiddling with a potion recipe he had found in a book of Sale-Dessu’s.
‘I bet nobody would ever do this to the Cahongyuns, and La-Iin’s a little brat,’ he thought. ‘And I’ve never seen Father so worried before. This whole thing really has him scared.’
He hoped that soon enough, Sale-Dessu would feel safe enough to let them go back to using their own names and resume activity as normal.
The potion began to bubble and turned a pink-and-green color. Eul-Bok grimaced. “This stuff stinks! Why would Father ever want to make it!?” Remembering their new identities, Eul-Bok said, “Er, why would Uncle ever want to make it.”
‘I wonder if we’re still supposed to be Warlocks in these identities. I guess people would get pretty suspicious if Father called himself a Pureblood Bearperson or something and was able to put up all these protective spells.’
At that thought, an idea made its way into Eul-Bok’s mind. ‘I wonder if Father’s thought about those possibilities when thinking about all this security stuff.’
Curious, he left the potion behind and head for Sale-Dessu’s room.
“It worked!” Sale-Dessu exclaimed in his excitement. Of the spells Eir-Tyuj had taught him, among them was a protective shield designed to keep intruders from climbing in through the windows. Though it seemed small compared to the other spells she had taught him, Sale-Dessu felt accomplished.
‘Even one step towards protection is a step worth taking,’ he reminded himself. ‘If we’re protected enough, perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to be able to keep this house.’
Sale-Dessu flinched. “Y-yes? Did you need something? I’m busy right now.”
“Yeah, I wanted to help you with the whole security thing.” He sat at the table across from Sale-Dessu, who sighed.
“I know you’ve been working hard, Eul-Bok, but a lot of these spells are incredibly advanced. I can barely pull them off myself. I think you’d strain yourself too much if you tried to use them.”
“I didn’t want to ask if I could help with the spells. I wanted to ask you two things and whether you had thought about them or not.”
“What are they?”
“One, there are spells…or potions…I forget which one, but one of those can change your appearance drastically, can’t they?”
“They’re spells, and they can, but I don’t want to try them. If those people come back and get suspicious of my identity, anything aside from Normal will tip them off if I can’t pull of the powers. Granted, some of the powers other species have I can mimic, but I’m not good enough to entirely falsify being another species. I did consider it, though. What’s the other thing?”
“We’re supposed to be the Tenhues now, right? At home we could probably get away with using our real names. But what do we do one day if La-Iin comes banging on the door, and she starts yelling “SALE-DESSU! SALE-DESSU!” What are we gonna do then?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
“Do you have an idea for it?”
“No, not really. If I tell La-Iin about what’s going on, I get her involved in my problems. But if I don’t, and act like I really am Tenhue Lim-Bam, I’ll break our allyship. I don’t want to turn away the Cahongyuns, but what else can I do? If I act like Sale-Dessu just around her, and these people ask about me, she might say I live next door, but next door is where Tenhue Lim-Bam’s supposed to live, agh…” Sale-Dessu held tight to his head.
“Do you think we’d be better off cutting ties with the Cahongyuns? It’s not going to be a problem for me, Father.”
Sale-Dessu’s expression grew dark. “Maybe it isn’t a problem for you, but I’m fond of the Cahongyuns. I don’t want to lose contact with them because I can’t risk contacting them, but that seems like what the situation is now. Even if I dissuade those people and they leave, who’s to say people won’t notice I’ve gone back to being Astineth Sale-Dessu? I’ve never really had any friends before except within my own family. Maybe they’re not regular friends, and La-Iin and Bes-Isa just call me their ally. But I was so happy to have just that…”
“Father, don’t cry!”
“I won’t.” He dabbed at his eyes. “This whole situation has been a big stress for me, Eul-Bok. I just want things to go back to normal. I didn’t want something like this to happen again. But it’s clear which choice is the smarter one. I will have to cut off ties with the Cahongyuns, take a chance at rebuilding them as the Tenhues, and try and dissuade those pursuers until we can find a new place or they get too discouraged to come back. It’s better than the alternative, anyway.”
“Father, you’re a powerful Warlock. Haven’t you considered some other plan? Maybe there’s something you can do to keep in touch with them. Why don’t you call them?”
“I guess that’s a potential plan….though I don’t know if it would be the smartest…”
“Come on, how could calling them not be a smart plan?”
“I’d have to get their phone number in the first place.”
“It’s one last chance stacked against others. If you don’t get it, what did you lose? Nothing! I’m not a big fan of the Cahongyuns, especially that snotty Bes-Isa, but if you want to keep in touch with them, I think you should give it all you’ve got instead of just give up as soon as it seems improbable.”
“I guess you have a point,” he sighed. “Fine then. I’ll try and get the Cahongyun’s phone number. Maybe there’s even a story I could tell them about that, heh heh….maybe I’m selling my house and I still want to get in touch.”
“That’s the spirit, Father!”
“I’ll do what I can, Eul-Bok,” he said. “But I have other priorities first, and that’s keeping up the security on our house. Oops…I mean, As-Mei.”
“Come on, Father, we’re in the house right now. Don’t worry about it. Besides–how are you going to explain to La-Iin calling me As-Mei by accident?”
“In all honesty, that sounds easier to deal with than the situation we’re actually in.”
“What’s wrong, Baal-Mist?”
“That mission was a thorough failure, that’s for certain. Though that Warlock’s abilities definitely make me believe that he is Sale-Dessu. Who else aside from Eir-Tyuj’s grandson would have that level of power?”
“Who knows?” One of them shrugged. “Anyway, what do you plan on doing now?”
“I need to come up with a new retaliation plan against him, but at the same time I’m worried about the possibility of him making a break for it while we wait. I plan on listening in closely to the bug while I think up one.”
“Have you heard anything through the bug lately?”
“So, what’s your course of action in the event that he does escape before we can do anything about him?”
Baal-Mist fell silent. “He will never escape me entirely.”
The others glanced among each other, thoroughly confused, but it didn’t seem like they’d be getting an answer soon–each time they asked Baal-Mist anything, he remained silent, his eyes closed in thought.