The La-Iin Series
“Asul-Zenza’s Travel Journal”
“Hey, Asul-Zenza, you ever considered keeping a travel journal?”
“No, not at all. Why?”
“Well, you travel to a lot of places pretty often, right? If you keep a travel journal just think of what it could add to the after experience. You’d know what places you went to, what kind of things you saw, and you’d have your own writings to back up what you tell your friends and family. Plus, it’s not like a camera where you’d be taking pictures all the time. All you’d have to do is write down what happened during the trip during your down-time.”
“Hm…well, it does sound like a good idea.”
“Not only that, but if you ever wanted to make a book of your travels, you totally could. Or you could make a little book for your daughter!”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “It sounds like a great idea, Niser-Zanta. Next time I travel I’ll have to remember to bring a notebook with me!”
“Here.” Niser-Zanta tossed Asul-Zenza a blank notebook. “When you’re in a book club there’s a good chance you’ve got a blank notebook on hand. Or at least one with a lot of blank pages.”
“Thank you, Niser-Zanta. You have my word that you’ll be the first person who gets to read my travel journal.”
“Thanks, Asul-Zenza. Break that promise, though, and you owe me Llamaki blood.”
“Llamaki blood costs an awful lot of vuyong in these parts…”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Oh, Niser-Zanta. Well, I’ll just have to make sure I really keep to that promise.”
Ever since learning he could use the in-progress device for his own means as well, Asul-Zenza had been feeling that he had freedom than ever before. His fears of being lost forever to his family and friends had mostly disappeared, save for some concerns that something might happen to him before the device reached the general public. Since then he had been traveling almost non-stop, but mostly to close-by locations. Recently he had decided to stop by someplace further away.
“They say you have to make sure to visit the right part of Aena if you want to travel here,” he mused to himself. “I hope I’m over the right part and not the restrictive one.”
Asul-Zenza searched the cities underneath him. They seemed to be mostly devoid of people who were not clad in uniform. Close by he could spot a large prison.
‘Ah ha…this must be the wrong part.’ He continued on flying, checking around for a spot he could land. ‘I hope they don’t spot me. This part of Aena couldn’t possibly be as bad as Dasdoria, but still, I don’t want to take that chances!’
Asul-Zenza spent much of his time flying before he found the part of Aena that was more densely populated. Around him he saw happier faces in a multitude of species, most wearing traditional Aeness clothing. It was quite an interesting sight.
“Excuse me, sir. Do you have the right to be here?”
Asul-Zenza flinched. Behind him stood a bespectacled Lizardfoot woman who stood slightly taller than him. More intimidating than her looks was the tone in her voice–that and the fact that he could barely understand a word of what she said.
“My…apolo…gies…Aeness is….not my strong…lengig.”
“I might be able to handle this,” a Vampire man nearby her said. “Hello there, sir. What my colleague wanted to ask you was if you are visiting Aena legally. Flying directly into Aena is prohibited, I hope you know. It’s safety reasons, nothing personal.”
“Um…” ‘Oh shit, I was so desperate to get away from that other part of Aena, I forgot one of the most important parts of traveling…Vaelyn has really spoiled me.’
“Certainly!” He said cheerfully, hoping the man didn’t notice his nervousness. The Lizardfoot woman gave him a look, but the Vampire man seemed to believe him.
“Well, then, welcome to Aena! And try to brush up on your Aeness–lengig isn’t going to earn anyone’s approval here.”
Asul-Zenza breathed a sigh of relief, which set the woman glancing over her shoulder at him one more time. ‘I should really go back and enter Aena the proper way…’
Asul-Zenza glanced around Aena. All around him there seemed to be people and buildings. ‘Really a technologically advanced place they have here, isn’t it? It’s nothing compared to Vaelyn, though.’ He dwelled back on memories of a trip to Silcoulle and the amount of technology he had spotted there.
‘I wonder what species societies might be attached to this part of Aena?’ His curiosity about the fact was overwhelming, so he took to the skies and began to fly around the more rural parts of Aena. In a patch of trees he spotted a society of Lizardfeet–and from his distance he felt he could see the bespectacled Lizardfoot from earlier among the group.
Along his flight he spotted a Siren society and a Goathoof society. The Goathoof society in particular interested him–they seemed to be holding a strange ceremony that entailed holding their meat up to the sky, chanting and watching as a Goathoof who stood in the center of them all raised a strange stick to the sky. ‘I wonder what it all means? Species societies can certainly be strange places. Not that I’m one to talk about such things.’
As he flew away from the rural areas, he began to wonder: ‘Would La-Iin like to participate in Vampire society traditions? Maybe someday I should ask her about it. I doubt Mit-Sun would participate in such celebrations with her. Maybe one day I should invite her, Ei-Tio, Shi-Bara and her husband to my house and we can all celebrate together! I could even invite my parents.’
The idea excited him. He reached for the travel journal and jot down the note. ‘Oh, I almost forgot, this is for keeping record of my travel, not for silly notes.’
Asul-Zenza was overwhelmed. Three days into his trip to Aena, he had decided to visit a restaurant for something to eat–by now he had grown sick of the food he had brought with him from home, and he was ready to try some Aena cuisine.
Unable to read any of the signs, he had ended up at a place that sold a variety of different buns. Although he couldn’t read what they were, the images made it clear that there were buns filled with vegetables, meat, blood, a mixture of the three along with various other fillings, including one containing what appeared to be mincemeat and one containing another bun.
The buns were fairly small and inexpensive, so Asul-Zenza decided to order many and try a few flavors. When he bit into the mincemeat bun, he immediately thought of La-Iin. ‘She would love this. I wonder if I could find a recipe for it.’ His personal favorite, however, was the blood and meat bun–it satisfied a craving he wasn’t even aware that he had.
Once he had finished the buns, he relaxed and sighed. ‘I need to find something better to eat next time I go out.’ Still, he felt quite satiated and reminded himself that even though he had only eaten buns, he had still gotten his fill of vegetables and meat.
Navigating Aena without a full understanding of the language had proven to be harder than he expected. He had figured he would at least be able to understand what the natives were saying, but except in the rare occasions he met a Vampire who also spoke the Vampire language, he was almost entirely lost. Everything sounded like a half-sentence to him.
“I should have asked Xelshy-Mitter to come with me. Then I’d have an Aeness translator…”
“Sir, you seem lost. Do you need directions?”
A Cicadin man had approached him, a concerned expression on his face.
“My Aeness is no good.” ‘At least I have that down…’
The Cicadin man nodded. He beckoned to Asul-Zenza and pointed him in the direction of a shop. ‘Is he trying to sell me something?’
The man led the way into the shop, which Asul-Zenza quickly realized was a bookstore. He flittered across the bookstore, retrieved a book and went to purchase it, then handed it to Asul-Zenza. Upon opening it, he could see it was a translation book from the Vampire language to Aeness.
He checked for a phrase within the book. “Thank you!”
The Cicadin man nodded, then flittered off. ‘How nice! This will definitely make my travels a lot easier!’
With the help of the Cicadin man, Asul-Zenza had been able to translate a few things by using the book. He still struggled greatly, but the slight relief the book provided him was more than enough. Through it he was able to understand what some of the buildings he was entering were, and he was able to go to an Aeness play–though he barely understood what was going on once the play actually started.
One other thing Asul-Zenza had been able to participate in thanks to the translator was a flying competition held in a more modern part of Aena. Most of his opposition in the comptetion were Birdmixes, and Asul-Zenza felt almost certain that he wouldn’t be able to out-fly them–but in the end, he had ended up in second place and had received a strange Aeness trinket as a prize.
When he stopped at the hotel for the night, he checked the date on the calendar. ‘I suppose I should be heading home soon. This is a little long for me to be visiting some place I can’t understand the language…maybe I should stop by Silcoulle again, or Neigghed, maybe. Didn’t Mit-Sun say that La-Iin would be going to Neigghed soon? Hm…’
As he prepared for the night, the travel journal caught his eye. He picked it up and read through it–it only contained a note about an Aeness translation and the mincemeat bun note. Remembering Niser-Zanta’s words, Asul-Zenza prepared for bed, then relaxed and began to write down all that had gone on during his travels.
‘This is much easier to understand than the whole trip,’ he joked to himself.
“Geez, Asul-Zenza,” Niser-Zanta chuckled. “You shouldn’t have gone there if you can barely understand the language!”
“Yes, and you were taking a risk not knowing which parts of Aena are safe to go to. New laws may have been passed in the past few years but there are still several restrictive parts,” Lise-Mara reminded him.
“You should’ve taken me! I can speak Aeness!”
“I know. I was regretting not taking you, actually.”
“Still, it sounds like you had a lot of fun over there. And those buns sound delicious. Hey, maybe someday all four of us should stop by Aena for some buns.”
“I think there might be a bun place over in Vaelyn, but I don’t actually know. Either way, that Cicadin man sure was nice to you!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“He certainly was. Without his generosity I would not have done a few of the things I did in my later days. As fun as that travel was, however, I think I’m going to keep myself contained to Vampire societies and Vaelyn for the time being. i might be able to understand some other languages, but I’d rather just stay close.”
“Not all the Vampire societies are close. The Manemican Vampire Society certainly isn’t.”
“You know what I’m talking about, Niser-Zanta.”
“I agree with Niser-Zanta that the idea of making your travels into a little book for your daughter sounds sweet. You should continue keeping track of your travels.” Lise-Mara said, handing the book back to Asul-Zenza.
“That I will. After all, it combines two of my favorite things in the world–traveling and making La-Iin happy. And speaking of making La-Iin happy, that reminds me of something else I wanted to do for her…”
“Something came for you in the mail, La-Iin.”
“Yes, really. It’s from Asul-Zenza. Who else would it be for?”
“Choungetsu, maybe,” La-Iin said. “It smells good. What is it?”
“Open it. Geez, I sure hope he didn’t send food through the mail…”
La-Iin held up a bun. “What is this? It smells like mincemeat!” She crammed it into her mouth and smiled. “It is mincemeat!”
“A mincemeat bun?”
“Try one, Mama!”
Mit-Sun took a nibble. “It tastes homemade…”
La-Iin’s smile became wider. “Dami’s goodness is one of the few good blessings out there in the world.”
“That sounds pretty uncharacteristic for you to say.”