The La-Iin Series
“Darkness Swallows You”
La-Iin had always known that her reputation within Malicerie Public School had not been a positive one, and had enjoyed that. She knew that she had worsened that opinion when she sucked San-Kyung’s blood in the school hallway in front of so many students, and had been fine with that. It garnered her some unwanted attention, but she was happy to feed off of the negativity and fear of other students. It made her feel as though she had control over the school.
But as the school week progressed, she had begun to feel as though her power over the students was diminishing. The Principal seemed to be breathing down her neck, always watching her for even the slightest sign of a misstep and being wary of every rumor she was fed. The students spread ridiculous rumors and seemed to become defensive around her, and she had barely talked to any of her friends–San-Kyung seemed reluctant to say anything to anyone and Fer-Shi had deliberately avoided her up until yesterday. Only Shuu-Kena had bothered talking to her, but as far as La-Iin was concerned that was the same as talking to nobody.
She felt as if the power she had garnered from gaining her blood power was now facing a powerful opposition–the people who would now be wary of her as a result of what she had done to San-Kyung. Her power high had ended almost as soon as it had started, and she was left to be frustrated. If the students became defensive, it wasn’t just Ai-Reia she might have to worry about in the future–it was an entire resistance of people who now knew she was dangerous.
On the last day of school that week, she had finally snapped.
“You all think this will protect you, spreading rumors like this. But nothing will. All the powers you have are powers I have, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me, not a single damn thing!”
It had taken all her resistance to keep from doing anything further than yelling, but it had already done enough. After her last class, La-Iin paid another visit to the Principal, and then listened to the crowd chatter about her as she head back home with Fer-Shi by her side.
“Don’t worry, La-Iin. I’m sure all of this will die down. Remember how everyone was talking about San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina after they had just come to the school, and how everyone wouldn’t stop talking about Saoning and Kerushao last year? Don’t worry, I’m sure this’ll blow over!”
‘Even if it does, the damage has already been done,’ thought La-Iin, though she couldn’t bring herself to speak those thoughts. ‘I figured I would only have to re-plan strategies to accommodate for my new power. Now I have to re-plan strategies to accommodate for a potential resistance.’
She tried to remind herself that the possibility had always existed and she should have prepare for it in any event, but it did nothing to lessen her anger and helplessness. At that moment, La-Iin knew that if she could have her way, each and every one of the students who dared to spread rumors about her would have sustained a severe injury at that moment.
“La-Iin, are you alright? You look a little down.”
Mit-Sun’s question at dinner time brought her feelings of helplessness back to the surface and in full force. She glared at Mit-Sun without a response.
“Sorry, sorry! I just wanted to know if something happened at school. You know, with each day that passed this week you looked more upset when you came back home. Don’t think I didn’t notice. I’m worried.”
“Well, stop being worried. I can handle my problems myself. But this is one problem even I’m stopped on. So what makes you think you’d be able to help!?”
Mit-Sun’s expression became one of surprise. “I don’t know what has you so angry, but you don’t need to take it out on me, alright?”
“I’ve had to bottle up my rage all day, Mama. My letting it out at you isn’t anything personal, but you seem to want to make it that way.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “La-Iin, when you’ve started to cheer up a bit, come back to talk to me.”
“Hmph. For someone who wanted to improve my opinion of her, you’re being awfully lazy when it comes to trying.”
“I was trying! I asked you if you were alright! But I can’t help you if I don’t know what the problem is!”
“It isn’t something you would ever care about, Mama! Even if I told you and you really truly wanted to help, there would be nothing you could do and you would probably just make it worse! So just shut up and leave me alone!”
La-Iin sunk back into her seat and scarfed down the rest of her dinner. Mit-Sun’s expression gradually changed from one of fury to one of concern.
“Y–you know, La-Iin, you can talk to me anytime you need to, right? I’m always here for you.”
“Huh. Yeah right. Don’t bother, Mama. If I can’t even overcome this problem on my own, then I don’t need to be having this problem in the first place. I’m going to bed.”
As she head upstairs, La-Iin felt as though a dark cloud were hanging over her. ‘Bes-Isa told me I should aim lower. But where’s the advantage in that? That’s basically nothing to strive for. It’s nothing to me.’
A swarm of Malicerie students watched her on all sides, seemingly waiting for the moment she made a wrong move so they could retaliate. La-Iin herself sat on a chair in the middle of this circle, making absolutely no move.
Avian students flew above the crowd, watching her with a close eye, but the students on the ground seemed even more prepared–some of them seemed ready to take her down personally. Weapons were prepared, students practiced their powers. It was a thorough resistance, and they were giving her one chance to reform, or otherwise rebel and face the might of so many people.
It drove La-Iin mad. If she had ultimate power, none of this would be a problem. Even the blood power or her flight or transformation was not enough to save her now. But if her power had been supreme, she would be able to take them all out.
There was nothing she could do. It built up her rage until she was seething and could no longer hold herself back. She bit into her arm with a force that made her wince in pain for the first time in a long while. That seemed to be incentive enough for the students around her, who swarmed her immediately. But she was able to break through with the force of her power, flying high above the other students.
It wasn’t as if these people deserved any form of salvation. La-Iin felt it in her heart–even if she was as good as could be and had never wanted world domination, she knew that this would have pushed her over the edge. It was all too much, this feeling of powerlessness. Power was hers; power NEEDED to be hers. Without power, all her dreams of ruling the world would go to waste and be buried by people who sought to oppose her, leaving her empty and worthless. It didn’t matter what stood in her way, the true measure of her strength would come from whether or not she could succeed even with so much opposition in her way. And in her heart, La-Iin felt certain she could so long as she kept pushing forward and making active progress.
La-Iin began to soar in an arc around the students before tossing them all off balance with the quickest flight she had ever managed.
Power and the world could be hers. She had the power, the potential, and the drive. And all the time in the world to figure out the perfect way to do it.
When La-Iin woke up, she felt a renewed sense of purpose.
‘That’s right. I shouldn’t have let myself get down. I have the power. No resistance can stand in my way. I’ll use this power to the best of my ability. I’ll find out a new way for San-Kyung to transform like he wants to. I have the drive and willpower! I will rule the world!’
It was far earlier than she should normally be awake, but La-Iin felt too energized to attempt going back to sleep. Instead she plotted and planned revenge for the students, new ways to utilize her power and to rule the world, and even small tasks she could do that would assist in bringing the world to its ruin.
The dark cloud that had been hanging over her felt as though it had finally lessened. Now, instead of serving to remind her of how her evil would ultimately be pointless, it was under her command and was helping her plot her plans for world domination.
“I’m sorry to come over so suddenly, La-Iin. But I wanted to make sure you’re alright. I’m really, really sorry for not talking to you all this time.”
“It doesn’t matter, Fer-Shi. I think I needed that rough patch to remind me of something very important. All these difficulties I will use to my advantage.”
“Well, um, I guess I’m glad you’re happy now?”
“I wouldn’t care even if you weren’t. I know now what I must do. This darkness swallowing me–I’ll change this darkness that wants to turn me away into a darkness that serves me as a loyal slave in my plans of world domination!”
La-Iin gave a wicked cackle, and Fer-Shi took a few steps backwards. La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. “Is that hotteok?”
Fer-Shi grinned. She set the hotteok down on the coffee table and began to share them with La-Iin.