1.517.Rapid Deterioration

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 517
“Rapid Deterioration”

Ever since the day he had read the paper which told him his goal as it was right now was impossible, the subject had not left San-Kyung’s mind for even one day. He might be able to avoid it for a short while, but it would always come back to haunt him, the reality that the goal he had been striving for was either impossible or could only be obtained by a method he had no idea existed.
The first few days had been horrible. He felt as if he lacked the energy for anything, and he knew how ridiculous it was. He had lived fifteen years of life in this way, his true form only ever arriving on Halloween, and now he was living out his sixteenth. But along the way he had built up a hope, and now thinking back on that the sight of his current form staring back at him in the mirror made him wince.
When Dosa-Mina had taken him to Hledshess, he had for the first time since that day felt even slightly better, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. Every day since then he had forced himself to use his powers until he felt over-exerted, because the feeling was much better than being reminded of what every single November for the rest of his life would be like.
He was sure his behavior was concerning his parents, and knew for certain it was concerning Dosa-Mina, but he could barely find it in him to care.
“San-Kyung, are you sure you’re alright? You’ve barely been drinking anything lately.”
“I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound fine,” Del-Kyuus said. “Please, San-Kyung. If there’s anything we can do to help, we want to help you! So please, let us, alright?”
“The only way you could have helped me was if you had waited to conceive me until I would have been born in October.” He couldn’t muster the will to snap at his parents, but the expressions they made might as well have been in reaction to him doing such a thing. “But you either didn’t know or didn’t care.”
“San-Kyung, I…we’re sorry,” Del-Kyuus said. “We really wanted a child. But we had no way of knowing you’d turn out like this. For all we knew, you could have loved being Aesthetically Normal. There’s no real way to know that sort of thing.”
“As if it isn’t common sense for Animated Pumpkins to have their children in October…” San-Kyung stood up from his seat. “I’m not going to fight with you two, but my problem isn’t something you could help with unless you went back in time.”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus gave each other concerned glances, but San-Kyung didn’t notice. It was another day he had to force himself to go to school, and it was every bit as disheartening as the other days he needed to do so.

***

As soon as school had ended, San-Kyung took his leave and head off, ahead of Dosa-Mina, towards Hledshess. Already his hands itched with the urge to use one of his powers. He scratched lightly at his palms almost the entire way there.
He checked behind himself to make sure Dosa-Mina wasn’t following him. His earlier curiosity returned as he thought back on Dosa-Mina’s strange demeanor earlier that day. He had seemed somewhat distracted and disoriented, as if something had been weighing on his mind. San-Kyung was curious to ask about it, but kept himself from doing so. It wasn’t a given that Dosa-Mina would tell him what it was, anyway.
Hledshess seemed as a ghost town as it normally did, so San-Kyung started off raising vines from the ground. Already he felt soothed watching them rise and tangle into creative shapes.
‘But it’s always this same thing.’ The vines began to tangle into knots, San-Kyung’s hands balling into fists. ‘My powers are too limited to be of much use for long. Even if I took over the world, I’d need some sort of supplement. To cover for November. To cover for my lacking powers. And what else do I have to do in life if I can’t destroy this world? Absolutely nothing. Living for me has been entirely pointless.’
Tears welled in his eyes and blurred his vision. ‘Damn it, I wish I could die!’ The memory of his pact with Dosa-Mina chased away thoughts of ending himself early, but it didn’t send away the feeling. He was filled with self-loathing and a sense of worthlessness, and too lost in those emotions he noticed not that he was tangling his vines, nor the people who were starting to approach him from behind.
“We’ve got you!” One exclaimed as he held San-Kyung’s hands behind his back. San-Kyung struggled against his grip. “So, thought you could go on terrorizing Hledshess, huh? Well, you’ve got another thing coming! We of Hledshess aren’t going to back down any longer. We aren’t the weaklings we once were. And you’re all on your own.”
People began to surround him, and at once he realized the weight of the situation he was currently in. His face was mostly visible, and he was surrounded by a crowd consisting of a large portion of non-Normals, his hands held behind his back. These people had a renewed determination, and they looked ready either to fight him or to report him to police. Whether Hledshess’ police force or Bledger’s in general, it was a terrifying idea to have to face them.
For that moment he put aside his self-loathing and struck his hands in a desperate attempt to flee from the crowd. The man holding his wrists let go, but the crowd was in hot pursuit. He kept his hands lit as he built vine walls to try and keep them from reaching him, but again it all reminded him of just how limited his powers were. He could only keep going the way he was for a short while longer.
Already residents of Hledshess were breaking through his vine shields. They tore at them and lunged for him. He fired off seed bombs, but aside from a momentary startle, it didn’t faze the crowd. Nothing he could do would dissuade them now–and even if he managed to escape, they likely had his face by now. He would be reported to police, and it would all be over. Stuck in a jail cell along with strangers he didn’t know nor cared about, earning the pity of his parents…
It was all too much for him to take. He struck a deep wound into his left palm and outstretched it towards the crowd. A flamethrower burst forth and engulfed the crowd as far as he could see, along with the vines that still stood around them. Immediately after he pulled off the action, San-Kyung ran away, head past the small lake in the forest near Hledshess, and checked his hand wound. It was bleeding profusely, so he covered it in water to try and clean it off.
It was all over for him now. What could the future hold for someone like him? As he continued to clean the injury, the tears welled in his eyes once again and blurred over his vision.
It was truly pathetic, the state he was in now. In the past, he felt he would have been able to deal with the pain of the truth and move past it. But now he wasn’t sure what path he was on, and he felt as though he had made some sort of grave mistake, coming to Hledshess.
He wasn’t happy anymore. He constantly reminded himself of his parents and Dosa-Mina as incentive to try and move past this point he was at. And at one point during these thoughts, even La-Iin crossed his mind.

—–
“San-Kyung, how did you get injured like this?”
“I was practicing my powers,” he said dryly. “That one can injure you, you should know that. All the fire powers injure you.”
“You shouldn’t use that so recklessly, San-Kyung,” Salsh-Era scolded. “That should be for emergencies only. Your normal fire power works just fine and doesn’t hurt you this much for anything you might need fire for.”
“It’s the most powerful thing I can use right now. Of course I want to use this.”
“Is this the same hand you injured last year in the Malicerie incident? I suppose you at least didn’t pull off most of your palm this time, but I agree with your father. Don’t be so reckless with that flamethrower.” Del-Kyuus stared San-Kyung in the eyes. “Really, San-Kyung, are you alright? You’ve seemed so depressed lately. I’m worried about you. Please, tell us if there’s anything going on.”
“We know how you are already. If it has to do with that, you know we won’t judge you. We’ll hear you out, so please don’t suffer like this alone. If you don’t want to talk with us, at least talk to Dosa-Mina.”
San-Kyung remained silent as Del-Kyuus finished patching up his hand, and stayed that way as he head off to his room. Staring at his night desk, after a few moments of deliberation he opted to call Dosa-Mina.
“Hello, this is Dosa-Mina, and I know that’s you, San-Kyung. What’s going on?”
“I…” For a moment, San-Kyung contemplated letting out all his problems to Dosa-Mina right then and there, but he quickly reminded himself that Dosa-Mina not only had his own problems, but he doubted he would appreciate being told that his best friend wanted to die far earlier than they had planned.
Just as usual, there was no other option for him.
“Er…”
“Yes?”
“Just…wanted to say hello,” he said.
“Are you alright, San-Kyung? You sound more drained than you have these past few days. Is everything okay?”
“It’s fine. A-anything going on with you?”
Just as earlier, San-Kyung felt completely and utterly pathetic, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it now. No matter how hard he tried or how much he resisted it, this sadness was likely to stay, and he would have to figure out how to live with it.
If he could stay that way for much longer.

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