The La-Iin Series
“Life in Solitude and Silence”
“Father, is all this really necessary? Is there something wrong with me you’re not telling me about?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with you that I see, Eul-Bok. But it pays to be extra diligent. Remember, as far as I know you’re the only V-Puppet on the whole planet to achieve autonomy. Something going wrong is very likely. And we’ve done this several times before.”
Sale-Dessu set down his gear. “But, I’m done for the day.”
Eul-Bok sighed and let himself slump to the ground.
“So, what do you want to do today, Eul-Bok? Are you going to be practicing alone, or should we continue working on those mini engines that run off of so many random sources of power?”
“Is something the matter, Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. ‘Would it upset Father if I told him about this? It could, couldn’t it? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try…’
“Well, it’s just, I always saw autonomy as a good thing–and it is, don’t get me wrong! I’ll take these last few months over my first year any day. I love being able to wander around and use my powers and all, but being the first one to become autonomous has so many disadvantages.”
“I’m sorry, Eul-Bok.”
“Don’t be sorry, Father! It’s not even your fault! Before it didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t go outside or anything like that, because this was basically all I knew. I saw other places around Bledger and they were cool and all, but nothing’s quite as amazing as your house and all the stuff you have in it. And even then, we visit Grepeta sometimes, and I’m able to see more than just these walls, but…”
“Ever since those Witches and Warlocks came by our neighborhood, I’ve been realizing just how little freedom I have. And even if I could walk down the sidewalk without fearing that someone would realize something’s wrong with me, I couldn’t now all because of those jerks. And being like this almost makes me miss La-Iin. She used to come by so often, but now it’s almost like she knows we’re trying to hide ourselves…hey, did you ever call the Cahongyuns, Father?”
“No, I never worked up the nerve to. But I can understand where you’re coming from, Eul-Bok. It’s easy to feel trapped when you know people out there dislike you for something you can’t control…but perhaps I can try and make it a little better, for now. Our situation isn’t perfect, but it’s a new month and we still haven’t met with those assailants again. I think our new identities might really work to throw them off. I hope so, in any event!”
“Do you really think they’ll work that well?”
“I want to think that they will.” Sale-Dessu rose to his feet. “I’m going to go and prepare something special for the two of us. You can practice on your own while I work on it!”
“If you say so,” Eul-Bok said half-heartedly. In truth, after saying all that was on his mind, he hardly felt like practicing his powers–nowadays it felt as if that was all he did, and though he didn’t mind it, he had to wonder how Sale-Dessu had survived all those years on his own only studying his powers.
‘WELL, there’s something else I could do.’ Curious, Eul-Bok took some books from Sale-Dessu’s bookshelves and began to read them. Sale-Dessu had numerous books on many subjects, it seemed: he had books covering sources of power, transformation in people, the various documented powers Witches and Warlocks possessed and even one on the mysteries of V-Puppetry, though Eul-Bok could tell it was clearly outdated.
‘I wonder how Father got all these books being as shy as he is? No matter how skilled he is, you can’t reproduce the exact text of a book you’ve never read. In fact, can you even reproduce the exact text of a book you have read? I’ll have to ask Father about that…I wonder if they’re hand-me-downs from Grepeta and his Mother? Hm, but this one says it’s from 2006…’
For the next few hours Eul-Bok spent his time reading the various books that Sale-Dessu owned. ‘I guess I can kind of understand how Father was okay with this. If he felt like he was always in danger, then having a lot of things to focus on even if they feel pretty samey was probably good. Maybe it’s because I’m so young that I’m getting restless like this. Hm, I wonder if Father has any fiction in here?’
Just as Eul-Bok had made it halfway through a book about a connection between potions, drugs and the powers some species possessed, he heard Sale-Dessu come up behind him.
“Uh, yeah. Wow, you have a lot of books, Father. Where’d you get them all?”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Hand-me-downs and the occasional venture outside.”
“Were you still going outside in 2006?”
“I’m pretty sure I was,” Sale-Dessu said, sounding a bit irritated. “Anyway, you can read any of these books anytime. A lot of them are pretty interesting. But are you absorbed in that book, or would you mind if I showed you a something?”
“Well, it’s not the most interesting book,” Eul-Bok said. “I don’t get all of this stuff about potions and drugs yet anyway. What is it?”
“Close your eyes. And focus on yourself.”
Sale-Dessu looked uncertain as he placed a hand on top of Eul-Bok’s head, and for a moment Eul-Bok feared that he was about to perform some horrifying spell on him. His eyes were squeezed shut for only a moment before Sale-Dessu asked him to open them.
“I feel so off-balance,” Eul-Bok groaned.
“Sorry, I’m not so good at reality-warping, as you know,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Whoa, this is a reality warp?”
“Yes. It’s to make the entire inside of this house look as if it were outside. I can do things more large-scale than this, but I don’t want to risk it. I’m not sure if I should take it as a sign that I’m getting better or worse that you’re able to recognize you’re in one, but that was my intention anyway.”
“I know it’s nothing like actually being outside, but I thought you might like it?”
“Wow! How did you create this place!? If it weren’t for this weird wall right here I wouldn’t even be able to tell we were inside! This is amazing, Father! Your powers truly deserve to be reckoned with if you can do something like this!”
Sale-Dessu’s cheeks flushed. “Please, Eul-Bok, all the praise is unnecessary…”
“But to create a space like this and limit it!? Wow, if you can do this, I might be able to do this someday too!”
“For someone who didn’t seem so interested in studying his powers another day, you certainly seem interested in the way reality-warping works.”
“How could I not be!?” Eul-Bok shrieked. “But, ah, eheh…if you went to the trouble of making this space so we could have fun, I guess that’s what we should be doing, huh?”
Giving a mischievous smirk, Eul-Bok took off across the created landscape. Sale-Dessu chased after him. Eul-Bok picked flowers along the way, marveling at how realistic they seemed, before reminding himself he was here to have fun. He began to move around wildly, only to crash into something strange along the way.
“Uh, what was that?”
Sale-Dessu cringed. “I’ve never really tried making a reality-warp that’s only confined to my house, actually.”
“What!? You’d think with all your years of practice, you would have!”
“I was a bit worried about pulling it off, mostly because of what just happened to you. And I don’t do reality warps much in the first place…”
Sale-Dessu heaved a sigh, and soon after the outside around him began to crumble. Eul-Bok looked behind him to notice an overturned table.
“Father, it’s alright. That was still really amazing that you’re able to do that in the first place!”
“It’s no substitute for really being outside, though,” he said. “I might like to stay inside most of the time, but there are some benefits to being outside that I feel like I miss nowadays. And I feel sorry that those extend to you.”
“Father…” Eul-Bok shook his head. “They don’t extend to me in the way you’re thinking of, though. I can’t go outside because I’m noticably a V-Puppet. You just don’t do it because you’re too shy to!”
Sale-Dessu began to toy with his mats. “Do you have to bring that up…?”
“But you know what I realized? I do really want to go outside, but while I can’t, I have all sorts of things I can do inside! With all the books and all the powers we can use, the possibilities are almost endless. So I can have plenty of fun inside while we’re hanging out, waiting for all this to pass and also for there to be more autonomous V-Puppets!”
He smiled. “If nothing else you’re definitely the master of making the best of your time in solitude and silence. If you could survive for years all on your own doing nothing but testing out your powers, then I’m sure that I can too.”
“Are you sure? We don’t exactly have the same personality.”
“I know that, but I’m your son! Why wouldn’t I be able to?”
Sale-Dessu gave him a curious look, then broke out in a smile. “Well, if you’re looking for something to do right now, I could show you a lot of projects I haven’t worked on in years. And there are even more books upstairs, though some of those are in the Warlock language.”
“I can read some of that!”
“Maybe today instead of testing your powers, we should be testing your knowledge of the language?”
Next door to the Astineths, La-Iin shuddered.
“I feel like something important was disrupted.”
“Same here. I wonder if Sale-Dessu was just up to some reality-warping.”
“Huh!” She stared out the window at the Astineth house. “You know, it has been a while since I stopped by. Maybe I should go over there again soon. But definitely not until I’ve helped make San-Kyung get back to his old self!”
“You’re really serious about that, huh?”
“The San-Kyung I love best is the one with all that confidence. So of course I’m serious about this. I have to help him return to how he’s supposed to act. Evidently it won’t happen otherwise.”