The La-Iin Series
“San-Kyung, you’ve seemed pretty down lately. Is everything alright? Nothing wrong at the homebase?”
“Everything’s fine at home. Though, geez, I need to find my own place. Mom and Dad say it’s alright, but I’m about to be twenty! I like living with them, but I’m ready to go out on my own.”
“That’s good to hear. Nothing else wrong, then?”
San-Kyung began to look slightly nervous. He rubbed the back of his neck. “…never mind. It isn’t anything big. Was there something you wanted to do today?”
“Not particularly. And don’t just brush off your problems with never mind, either. If there’s something up, tell me about it!”
“You sound like Mom and Dad,” he said. “And I said never mind. It’s not a problem you can do anything about, anyway.”
“Oh, come on! You don’t know that.”
“I do know that, and I wish I didn’t,” he said, his expression becoming dejected. “So just–ease off, alright?”
To him, at that moment, San-Kyung felt distant and withdrawn. The feeling was frustrating, but at the same time, he doubted continuing to press him would do either of them any favors. He decided to grant his friend’s request and stopped talking about the subject.
“There’s no place in this world for someone like me, Dosa-Mina. I know you hate hearing it, but it’s true. And it’s not because oh, I don’t want a place in this world or anything, but simply because I was born needing everything that’s impossible for me. True form? Yeah, screw that. Want to be evil? Jump through hoops and get arrested because you’re incompetent. I can’t even bring myself to talk to my parents about this, and I can’t stand telling you about it. But now that I’ve started, I can’t stop.”
“I’m glad you talk to me about it, San-Kyung. It worried me when you clammed up. I’m always here to lend an ear, and besides, you know I’m not judging you.”
“Yeah, you say that. But I don’t know that for sure. And it doesn’t matter anyway. This world is garbage. What’s here in it to bring me any pleasure? It’s set up for other people, not somebody like me. Somebody like me is the kind of person they want locked away. The more time that passes, the less I find joy in the world. Eventually it’s going to reach a point where even that is impossible for me.”
“You set yourself up for failure when you say things like that.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “Considering what I threw around in my head? It’s a wonder I haven’t failed already. Eventually I’m going to reach my tipping point, and once I do there’s no turning back.”
Dosa-Mina pat his hand. “Don’t do anything drastic, okay?”
San-Kyung sighed. “I’m not sure if you’re trying to help or trying to stop me.”
“Stop you from what? I was trying to help.”
San-Kyung smiled, though his expression was pained. “Just like you always are,” was all he said.
Dosa-Mina woke up. He took a deep breath. His throat didn’t feel rough, so he figured he hadn’t screamed. And he wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t–the dream wasn’t the suicide nightmare that usually plagued him whenever his nightmares were in full force.
But Dosa-Mina had a different problem with the nightmares that had recently been occuring. Ever since the discovery that San-Kyung’s intended method of achieving his true form was most likely impossible, his dreams had been filled with the same odd sight of an older San-Kyung in the throes of depression.
‘I told myself these nightmares can’t be premonitions. Even Kkumneok told me that. If they were then wouldn’t he bring up La-Iin? But why now? Is it because this has been on my mind, or is this just happening for no reason?’
Whatever the cause, while it wasn’t as terrifying as his most common nightmare, it left him feeling empty and sad. There had to be something he could do for San-Kyung–and even if that wasn’t right now, he knew his friend had a release. He would never reach the point that the San-Kyung in his dreams did.
At least, he hoped that was the case.
“Why did you suggest we go out to Hledshess?”
“Because we haven’t been out here in a while. Also, I had some stuff on my mind and we used to come here a lot when there were things going on.”
“Are you finally going to tell me more of what’s going on with you?”
“There’s nothing to tell right now. The issue at hand isn’t with me. It’s with you.” Dosa-Mina looked away from him. “I was thinking. You and I have put a lot of time and effort into seeing if we can figure out some way to use the power that La-Iin has. Is it something innate within you that you haven’t figured out yet? Can you use it by coming in close contact with her? Is there something we’re overlooking? And then it gets shot down by some paper written by someone we don’t even know. All the time we spent and the hope we put into this, all ruined because of some paper written by an anonymous. It was incredibly disheartening and frustrating for me to reach the end of the paper. I can imagine it was even worse for you.”
San-Kyung glared and crossed his arms. “So? Was the point of coming here just so you could mock me about what happened?”
“You know me better than that, San-Kyung. I’d never do something like that. I’ve had you on my mind a lot lately, as well as that subject. Is there still something we’re missing? Maybe the paper hasn’t detailed everything and we can still find a way, just not one that deals with La-Iin. Already, before she showed us that paper, we were entertaining the idea of her being completely useless to your plan. But that wasn’t the point. I was thinking about you, being sad about all that had happened….sad and angry. I wanted to help you. And so this is what I came up with.”
Dosa-Mina motioned towards Hledshess. “You and I used to wreak so much havoc in Hledshess that the people who live here were scared to come out of their houses for fear of what we might do. So I say, do that again! Let out all the anger in you in a messy explosion of emotions! Maybe that’s an overdramatic way to put it, but I don’t care. Destruction is your passion–if you can’t reach your goal, follow your passion.”
“Didn’t you understand any of that? I was saying you should cause destruction. Let out your feelings that way. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
“Why’re you encouraging this? You never cared for it in the past.”
“I might not care for it, but behavior like that is distinctly San-Kyung.” He smiled. “So go ahead and do it.”
Dosa-Mina noticed San-Kyung’s hands begin to twitch. He walked forward a few steps, then rose vines from the ground. He began to weave an overhang above Hledshess and walk underneath it. Dosa-Mina followed after him, curious as to what he might do.
Caught somewhat in the overhang was a strange mesh that was still partway in the ground. Before Dosa-Mina could warn him, San-Kyung stepped into the mesh and fell over. Fury crossed his face and his hands burst into flames as he burned away the mesh and the vines in a whirlwind of fire. Dosa-Mina stood back as the vines collapsed and burned away into ash along with most of the mesh, which by now had been pulled from the ground and San-Kyung had freed himself from.
“It doesn’t even matter if I do this,” he said. “My powers are pathetic.”
“So? They give you the destructive ability you want. You’ve got seed bombs and fire on your side. And then you can create vines. I’m sure those have brought you a lot of comfort.”
San-Kyung rose a vine from the ground and stared at it as if it were foreign. “…everything we did was useless. I wasted your time. I wasted my time. That’s all any of this is, a waste of time. I don’t do anything that amounts to anything. And without the ability to transform at will, or permanently retain my true form, without that how can I rule the world?”
Dosa-Mina pat him on the back. “You’ll find a way. And if you think the things you do are a waste of time, find something to do that you don’t see as a waste of time. You’ll find a way to cope, San-Kyung. And maybe someday you’ll find what you’ve been looking for. But for now that seems out of reach. And I brought you here to grieve.”
“You are being so overdramatic,” San-Kyung said. Dosa-Mina noticed a waver in his voice.
“Maybe,” he sighed. “But I’ve been keeping in my own outburst. My own way of letting that all out was seeing you have one.”
San-Kyung wiped at his eyes. He repeated his earlier spectacle one last time before sitting down and covering his face.
“Say, now that it looks like La-Iin won’t be any use, do you plan on ditching her as a friend?”
“Not yet. She might not be useful to me in terms of power, but I think there’s something else I can gleam from her.”
“Sure you’re not starting to see her as a friend?”
“No way! There’s no world I’d like that disgusting reverse pedo.”
“I don’t think reverse pedo is the right term, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina giggled. “You’d think someone with your smarts would know that.”
“You shut up!” He said. “But thanks for taking me out here. I think I needed that.”
“Any time. Hledshess is good for emotional outbursts, I think. Maybe if I ever really do need to explode I’ll do it here. But not while you’re watching.”
“When you say it like that, it sounds kind of suspicious.”
“Maybe it is kind of suspicious. But I’d rather have it that way than out in the open.”
“…the adolescents destroyed our trap for them…”
“Don’t worry about this, my citizens,” Jwungeok said. “We’ll create another one. And perhaps our prior luck will continue. I think finally, those adolescents are beginning to see there’s more to the world than just decimating Hledshess.”
“For your own sake I hope you’re right.”
Jwungeok glared. “Is that a threat, Mr. Uun?”