17.594.Operation Reboot in Action

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 594
“Operation Reboot in Action”

A woman set up her stall near the plaza of Bledger. ‘I wonder if I’ll get any attention?’ She did her best to make the stall look neat and tidy.
Out the corner of her eye she spotted two hooded figures walking up to the stall. “Why, hello there! What can I get for–eek!”
“Something wrong, ma’am?”
“Ah, er, no, not particularly….is he…glaring at me?”
“Don’t worry about it. That’s his natural look.”
Two boys had approached her stall. Both were wearing hoodies that made it slightly hard for her to see their faces, but she could see their eyes, and noticed that one of them was slightly smaller than the other. Nevertheless they both seemed to be taller than her. She felt a little nervous as the smaller once glanced through her inventory.
“Ma’am, can you tell us a little bit about the potions you’re selling? We’re not all that well-versed in potions, you see.”
“Oh…certainly.” She swallowed hard. “I sell potions that mostly help people. They’re like medicine, but I’d like to hope they’re more effective than even the best medicine.”
“Mm-hm…” The smaller one had started to jot down notes in a notepad. “Tell me, would you compare potions to drugs? After all, you did just compare them to medicine.”
“Heavens no! Well, I guess some potions, but not mine! Potions should be designed to do good for you, that’s what I think! And their effects do wear off!”
“Hm.” The smaller one turned to his companion. “I’m not sure this is a good idea. I don’t care what you say, I’m still wary about potions!”
“I’m surprised, considering this seems more like something I’d be wary about,” his companion hissed. “I don’t care what you say. I don’t think this is anything like that drug.”
“What…what are you two talking about?”
“Oh, nothing. Pretend you didn’t hear that.” The smaller one glanced around her inventory. “You said your potions are for helping people, right? What would you give to someone who’s feeling weak?”
“Well, I made this potion,” she said, showing them a bottle of purple liquid. “This is designed to give you a bit of stamina. It might work.”
“How much?”
“Um, well, 2000.000 vuyong…”
The shorter one rummaged through his pocket and handed her exact change. “Thanks!”
The two walked away. She gave a nervous smile. ‘What weird people…’

Once they were a decent distance away from the Witch woman, San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina pulled down their hoods. Dosa-Mina stared at the purple liquid with a concerned look.
“I don’t see why you’re so worried about it. You’re okay with medicine, aren’t you? Vaccines? You’re a species studier. How is this worse than drugs if those other things aren’t?”
“It’s not potions in general that worry me, really. I just heard that some Witches are less than honest about the contents of their potions.” He sighed. “Besides, giving you a potion to temporarily heighten your powers? I don’t know if such a thing exists, but it sounds exactly like that drug.”
“But there’s a difference, isn’t there? You said that potions can be washed out of the system anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Can you blame me for being worried about you, though? You’ve been pretty desperate about getting what you want. But we’re here now, so do you want to try it, or not?”
“I’ll try it.” He took the liquid from him. “Any chance is a chance I’ll take. And it’ll be better than the dead-ends we’ve hit recently. If this stuff really works, and we can find a potion that does what I need….”
Dosa-Mina had mixed feelings about the ordeal. ‘Look at him. He’s so happy. If this all works out, it would really be great. He’d just have to take a potion and he could look like he wants…you need to stop feeling so wary! This is for his sake…’
San-Kyung drank the liquid. “He–hey, if you’re going to drink that now, can I try some, too?”
“Why?”
“Oh, no reason. Just curious. We’re in this together, after all.”
San-Kyung opened his mouth as if about to protest, but sighed and handed the rest of the potion to Dosa-Mina. There was only a small amount left on the bottom, and Dosa-Mina downed it in one go.
“Phew! What a bad aftertaste…”
“If only we hadn’t been so focused on La-Iin all that time. Witches and Warlocks might just be what I need. Damn it, why can’t I be half-Warlock?”
“I’ve never heard you lamenting your species before,” Dosa-Mina said playfully.
“Animated Pumpkin is fine. Aesthetically Normal is not. That’s how I feel. And if I was half-Warlock, we wouldn’t need to buy potions.”
“Mm-hm.” Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “Well, as long as you’re happy, that’s good enough for me. But maybe next time, we’ll look into potions some more before we go to creepy stalls. That lady did seem trustworthy, though.”
“If you say so…”
The two stood around in silence for a short while, waiting for the effects to kick in.
“I’m getting bored.”
“Me too. But what can we do while we wait for this to kick in?”
“Run? Running sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah, it does. We could run to Hledshess and back to here. That’s not exactly close, after all.”
“Yeah.” Right after saying that, San-Kyung took off ahead of Dosa-Mina. Dosa-Mina quickly caught up with him, and the two kept an even pace as they dashed across Bledger. The competition itself didn’t matter; they were enjoying running for running’s sake. As they passed by areas with more people, they caught a bit of attention, but at their speeds, it barely mattered. They were soon out of their line of sight.
The two kept running until they neared Hledshess, not once feeling slightly drained. Even when they made it to their stop, San-Kyung began to pace as if restless.
“Now what?”
“I have no idea.” He pulled up his hood. “Just be careful. Hey, there’s a stream near here, isn’t there? We can run past that and see what’s there.”
“Yeah. But only quickly, and then we get the hell out of here. Hledshess isn’t really the best place for us to be anymore…”
The two ran over to the stream, then bolted off past it. A path of stones was ahead of them, and they were able to hear voices. Looking around, they noticed a small Fairy society to their left.
“I didn’t even know any Fairies lived in Bledger,” Dosa-Mina said. “Wow!”
“Do you want to get caught!?”
“No. But I bet you want to wreak havoc on their little peace, don’t you?”
“I’m more concerned with getting this energy out of my system!”
The two continued to run. All sorts of winding paths were ahead of that small stream, along with some forest fixtures that Dosa-Mina was convinced were put there by the Fairy society. Once they had reached the top of a small hill, only then did they start to feel tired.
“I think we’ve run enough,” San-Kyung breathed.
“Yeah. Hey, you think that energy…you think that was the potion?”
“I bet you it was.”
“She said it was supposed to give you stamina, right? She must not have diluted it any, because I only drank a little and that was powerful!”
San-Kyung grinned. “If that’s the case, maybe I have a trump card for November…” He began to gasp and wheeze, but despite his labored breathing, he looked happy. “You should’ve looked into this earlier!”
“Sorry, there’s just a lot on Witches and Warlocks. I always get overwhelmed.” Dosa-Mina took deep breaths. “Alright, we should probably head back before we get lost here.”
“Yeah…”
“Got enough energy to keep going, or do I have to jump you there?”
“I can go on my own!” Despite San-Kyung’s protest, Dosa-Mina wrapped his arms around him and then jumped up. The jump was weak, so Dosa-Mina went into a second jump, this time holding San-Kyung in a way that was much more convenient for him. They jumped until they reached the stream, at which point San-Kyung pushed him away and continued on without him.
As soon as they peeked their heads out, they were greeted by the wild faces of a Catori and a Bearperson.
“Looks like what they say in copper school is true,” the Catori giggled. “Criminals really do come back to the scene of the crime!”
Dosa-Mina felt petrified, but noticed that San-Kyung seemed unusually confident. The duo in front of them looked ready to pounce, and yet he looked collected. When the two of them did make their leap, San-Kyung tied them up with vines, pulling them tight enough that they began to gasp and wheeze for breath.
“That should do it,” he said. “Come on! Let’s run!” He grabbed Dosa-Mina’s hand and the two ran out of Hledshess.
“You know, I’m fully capable of taking care of myself!”
“I know, I just wanted to get out of there faster! Didn’t think we’d run into those hacky “authority” people again. Think they saw our faces?”
The two came to a stop. “I wonder…”
“Hledshess is probably a bad idea. The people there already hate us enough to set bombs and traps. We have the power to fend them off, but if they riot again…”
“You have to wonder why we kept trying in the first place.”
“That place is significant, that’s why.”
San-Kyung began to walk off. “By the way, why were you so calm dealing with that duo back then? I know they’re not exactly police, but they’re still kind of authority. And they are pretty brawny…”
“I could predict their moves from miles away. Besides,” he flashed Dosa-Mina a smile. “I’m feeling confident after that potion. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have even thought about this. But this is a way I can get what I want without having to rely on someone else.”
“You do, though. The Witches and Warlocks who make them.”
“I don’t need to pretend to befriend them though, do I?”
“Yeah, guess not.”
“Lately I’ve just been a little happier,” he said. “…things started looking up for me in July, mostly anyway.”
“That’s good!”
“I’ll find my way. I’m still determined to give the world its comeuppance. Are you holding in there?”
“Huh?”
“Are you alright. You don’t talk about yourself, you know.”
“Oh, I–I know.” Dosa-Mina smiled. “Don’t worry, San-Kyung, I’m fine. And I’m even better seeing you happy. Trust me, the best thing for me is to see you act like you did back there!”

—–
“I know the real reason you’ve been happier lately, San-Kyung.”
“You know the real reason why already.”
“Nope, that’s not it. You’re happier because you’ve finally embraced your natural talent for dancing! Think about it: the best way to mock the people you’re damning to life in hell is to dance in front of them.”
“…”
“You don’t agree, huh.”
“No, I don’t. That just sounds stupid.”
“Ah well. It sounded like a good idea in my head.”

16.593.The Sewmaster

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The Sewmaster”

“Ah huh…she’s coming out nicely.”
Mit-Sun pulled the needle through the fabric once more. Finally, the project she was working on was beginning to take shape. She still felt iffy about the eyes, but figured it was fitting enough for a simple doll for a baby.
Nearby her, La-Iin was still fast asleep in her crib. Even if she hadn’t been, Mit-Sun knew she wouldn’t have been able to see the work-in-progress doll even so.
“I wonder if I should give her a name, or let La-Iin give her one…” Mit-Sun shook her head. “That can wait. For now, I just need to focus on completing her.”
The doll was beginning to come to life, and Mit-Sun could only hope that La-Iin would take well to her.

***

“My last name is too complicated!”
“Why are you complaining about this now?”
“I was thinking about what I might do if I could get married in the future. Do I end up tacking another last name onto Haunsum-Cahongyun or do I just give it to the lucky lady? What kind of screwy last name is that anyway!?”
“Your last name, dummy. Besides, I mostly just call you Haunsum Bes-Isa. Haunsum-Cahongyun Bes-Isa is only your legal full name!”
“Who cares about legality!?”
“Why do you care so much about your last name all of a sudden!? You can’t even get married! First, you’re a doll, and second, same-sex marriage is ille…”
“La-Iin’s certainly energetic today,” Beht-Soh said.
“Yeah, she’s been arguing with Bes-Isa all morning. …um, anyway, let’s not focus on her for now. I don’t think we could get through to her if we tried.”
Beht-Soh chuckled. “You’re the La-Iin expert. Oh, so, I’m sorry it took me so long to finish these, but I don’t think they would fit her anymore anyway. I forgot to ask you for her measurements, and even then it looks like she’s grown since the last time I saw her.”
“Yeah, she’s been getting taller lately. That’s a good thing, though. For a little bit I was worried she was going to stay that small her whole life. Or at least for several years…”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. It would have made it possible for her to fit these dresses. Well, here they are.”
Beht-Soh laid his dresses on the coffee table. Mit-Sun’s eye twitched. Though the dresses were well-constructed, she could tell that they definitely wouldn’t fit La-Iin–in fact, she found it hard to see how they would fit anyone bigger than a small baby.
“Um, Papa…”
“Papa?” La-Iin questioned. Mit-Sun’s face flushed. “I meant, Father…
“You’re welcome to call me Papa, you know?”
“Can we just drop this? A-anyway, these are very nice dresses, but how did you even begin to think these would fit La-Iin?”
“I told you, I didn’t get her measurements. And even though I know what she looks like now, I still can’t forget those pictures you sent me of her when she was a little baby.”
“This one doesn’t even have wing holes!”
“I….sorry….”
“Father, it’s just constructive criticism. You don’t need to apologize for it.”
“I shouldn’t have wasted any time making these, though.” Beht-Soh’s eyes were clear, but to Mit-Sun, his expression looked as if he was about to cry. Before she could console him, however, his attention turned to La-Iin, or rather, her clothes.
“Are those store-bought or did you sew those yourself?”
“Those? I made them.”
“Wow…”
“Father, it isn’t that you’re bad at sewing. These are well-constructed and all, they’re just too small for what you wanted them to be used for. It’s not that big a deal. Lots of the clothes I made for La-Iin when she was younger don’t fit her anymore. I guess I should probably do something about them someday…”
“Can I see some of the other outfits you’ve made for La-Iin?”
“Um, sure, I guess.”
“Granddami, you shouldn’t take Mama’s criticisms sitting down! Stand up to her! Oh, that would be so satisfying…”
“No, your Mama is right, I did make them too small for you to fit them.”
The conversation continued, but Mit-Sun didn’t hear the rest of it. She head upstairs, into La-Iin’s closet, and pulled out various outfits she had made for her; then she head downstairs and laid them on the coffee table.
“You’re welcome to look at all of them as long as you like. And if you want, I can let you take one home.”
“That was in my closet!” La-Iin shrieked. “You went into my room!?”
“I do all the time,” Mit-Sun said, an edge to her tone.
“La-Iin certainly seems like a handful sometimes,” Beht-Soh said absently. He was staring closely at a dress that was purple, orange and black; Mit-Sun noticed that La-Iin was also staring closely at it.
“Wow, this is really well-made. Your sewing skills are amazing, Mit-Sun! How did you get them to be so good?”
Mit-Sun began to feel shy. “Well, I had a lot of spare time when La-Iin was a baby…after Asul-Zenza left, well, La-Iin was just a baby. So I was up a lot, and I didn’t have a job to go to, and of course she wasn’t awake all the time. I wanted to be cautious with funds, so I figured it would just be easier to make her clothes myself. Also, I had been sewing before that.”
“Wow.”
“I haven’t been sewing as much lately, but I was working on a new dress for La-Iin since she’s getting taller. In fact, that dress you’re wearing right now is getting a little short.”
“No it isn’t!”
‘Why is she so indignant about that?’ “I do enjoy sewing.”
“Some of these use different materials too.”
“I try to not try and make the same type of dress over and over again. If I buy enough, the overall cost of supplies usually ends up as less than the cost of buying her store bought dresses. Although I do still get her store bought ones sometimes.”
“So La-IIn, which dresses do you like better? Mit-Sun’s or the store bought ones?”
La-Iin blinked. “My favorite dress is one Mama made…”
Beht-Soh smiled. “Even La-Iin likes your sewing skills.”
“Come on…there are people better than me.”
“You made her little doll Bes-Isa too, didn’t you?”
Mit-Sun felt her face flush. “Now you’re just complimenting me for the sake of complimenting me.”
“No, I’m really impressed. Besides, we’re family, and you gave me criticisms, so why shouldn’t I? But I can’t find anything to criticize. You really are good at sewing, Mit-Sun. You might even be able to make a business of it if you wanted to!”
“Y–you think so?”
“No. Mama’s sewing skills are for me only.”
“Well, maybe she’d like to keep it that way. I’m just saying, if you ever wanted to, you probably could make a business of sewing. Your skills are very near professional.”
“Thank you…wait, near professional? What do you mean by that?”
Beht-Soh began to look flustered. “Well, there are a few parts where the fabric clashes a little on some of the dresses…but it isn’t anything all that bad. I’m sure it doesn’t bother La-Iin.”
“Actually this dress is a little itchy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Well, of course these things aren’t always going to end up perfect. Thanks, Papa. I never thought of it that way. It is something for me to think about, though. Maybe if I can, I can actually quit Eteibreit Data Storage!”
“No!”
“But I’d need to think on it more.”
“Oh, of course. But I’ll definitely be taking cues from you from now on. Maybe I can make La-Iin a dress the same quality of one of yours.”
“Granddami, except for a select few dresses you’d probably make better dresses than Mama.”
“Hey!”
“Nah, I doubt that’s the case. Mit-Sun’s good at this. And I’m very proud of that.”
“Thank you, Papa,” she said quietly.
“You should keep your sewing only for me,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Maybe if I do decide to start sewing professionally, I’ll do stuffed toys instead,” she said. “But don’t worry, La-Iin. For now, my sewing skills are still for you. I do have to think on this more, after all.”
“Yes, you do. And so do I…”
“Huh?”
‘I never did think of that part of Mama’s skills, did I?’ La-Iin realized. ‘I could use her for more than just a slave to torture. Even though she’s been mean to me, she does have good sewing skills. She could make something nice for me, San-Kyung and our children. Maybe even a wedding dress…’
“Are…are you smiling?”
“See, I told you, even La-Iin likes your skills.”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed a deep shade of red. “You two are flattering me too much.”

—–
“Now that the doormat’s left, I demand answers! Who the hell gave me this stupid name Haunsum-Cahongyun!? How come it isn’t just Cahongyun!?”
“Because it isn’t.”
“Who did call you Haunsum-Cahongyun? I honestly don’t remember. I feel like Bes-Isa was my idea…”
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Haunsum-Cahongyun sounds familiar to me, and not just because I know Bes-Isa.”
“I guess we’ll never know, unless we can find some proof from the past.”
“If I find out that woman named me, I want you to do one of two things, La-Iin. One, change my name, or two, burn me.”
La-Iin gave no response; to Bes-Isa, her quietness was unsettling.

15.592.To See the Future–Part 4

The La-Iin Series
Capter 592
“To See the Future–Part 4”

“You know what’s weird to think about?”
“What’s that, Dad?”
“You’re sixteen and in Grade 11 now…2017 isn’t all that far away anymore. Graduation is the last step before adulthood.” Orlin-Aesth’s ears flattened against his head. “Why can’t you go back to being that cute little ten-year-old you were a few years ago!?”
“Why ten?” Dosa-Mina asked. “Aw, come on, Dad. You’ve never had a problem with me aging before.”
“It’s just the idea of you leaving the nest and all. But I guess at least you’re prepared for adulthood.” He smiled. “After all, you even have a game plan for the future, don’t you?”
“Yep! Hopefully someday in the future, you’ll see my name along with many other species studiers!”
“Hopefully,” he chuckled. “Although hopefully I’ll also see you walking around in your true…ahem. Never mind.”
“I know what you were going to say, Dad. That’ll never happen.” ‘And hopefully along with that, nobody will ever know about it, either…’

After Orlin-Aesth head to work, Dosa-Mina found himself pacing around his room.
‘Dad might be right about me having a goal. I do have a lot of ideas for my future. But I’ve never considered certain parts of it, have I?’
Immediately a few things came to his mind–San-Kyung, his nightmares, and the duo of Lirako and Airy-Aekok. ‘Sure I can strive for being a species studier all I want, but what if I can’t move past the point I’m at now? What’ll I do if I’m still having nightmares in the future?’
He sighed. ‘Well, I’ve dealt with my other problems just fine in the past. I’m sure the future would be no different, if I really had to….’

***

“Hey, Elai-Aesth, whatcha up to?”
Elai-Aesth glanced at his father. “I was measuring the properties of a certain protein Warlocks usually come in contact with. Unfortunately your unusually chirpy voice distracted me.”
“Sorry about that, kiddo. I know what it’s like to be distracted right in the middle of rigorous research.”
“Meh, it wasn’t going anywhere.” Elai-Aesth shook his head. Dosa-Mina smiled. He was thankful for Elai-Aesth–he had been the product of his last-ditch effort to have a child. Dosa-Mina was always uncertain about his willingness to show off his species, however. ‘It probably wasn’t the best idea, in hindsight, to have a biological child if I want to hide that…but I can’t see life without him now!’
“Is Uncle San-Kyung coming over today?”
“Uncle San-Kyung?” Dosa-Mina questioned. “Since when did you start calling him that?”
“What, do you want me to call him Papa San-Kyung? That man has no biological relation to me.”
“No?”
Elai-Aesth sighed. “God, Father, what the hell do you want me to call him!?”
“You didn’t need to mouth off at me like that. Just San-Kyung is fine. I don’t think he minds at all.”
“If you ask me, he seems like he minds a lot,” Elai-Aesth grumbled. “I don’t get your relationship with him, Father.”
“We’re best friends.”
“I don’t think you understand…never mind.”
“And to answer your question, yes, he is coming over here today. Happy?”
Elai-Aesth didn’t respond. Moments later he said instead, “So, Father, I was curious…”
“Yeeees?”
“Why do you walk around in that Normal form if you were so determined to have a child who had Werewolf and Siren blood in them? You make no sense.”
“I’ve been told that before by many people years before you were born, Elai-Aesth. I don’t know. I guess you could say it’s kind of a natural curiosity. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m a Normal.”
“Father, that’s physically impossible. Your powers show through even in that falsified form and there is no defined mental reason that would cause one to believe that one is–”
“I get it, I get it. It’s circumstances beyond my control at this point, alright?” A knock sounded at the door. “I think I know who that is. Try and be a little more cheerful, alright, Elai-Aesth? I swear, you’re probably the least cheerful Dslellular currently living.”
“Well, excuse my confusion, then.”
Dosa-Mina went to answer the door. San-Kyung was standing there, his eyes focused on a piece of paper in his hands, though he looked up when Dosa-Mina opened the door.
“Hey.”
“Hello there, San-Kyung! Come on in!”
San-Kyung closed the door, and Dosa-Mina ran ahead of him, though he couldn’t keep himself from glancing over his shoulder. ‘San-Kyung looks exactly like he does in my nightmares now, top to bottom, but he hasn’t been having the problems the one in my nightmares has. And I have Elai-Aesth now. He wasn’t in my nightmares…maybe I don’t have to worry. …geez, Elai-Aesth is nine now, Dosa-Mina! Of course you don’t have to worry about it anymore!’
“What’s got you lost in though?” San-Kyung asked.
“Oh, um, nothing. Just thinking about how you and Elai-Aesth can be a little similar sometimes, heh. You two both have bad attitudes.”
“Excuse me?” Elai-Aesth shot a glare in his father’s direction. “Oh. Hello, Sa…San-Kyung. What brings you here?”
“Your father, who else?”
“Yeah, I don’t think San-Kyung likes walking all the way out here. But he does it all for me!” Dosa-Mina hugged his arm, and Elai-Aesth’s face went bright pink. “Seriously, Father! Either be honest with him or stop teasing him!”
“…”
“Aha ha ha. I’ll never stop showering San-Kyung in affection.”
“Yeah, not even in your thirties,” he sighed.
“Aw, come on.” Dosa-Mina let go of him. “Actually, Elai-Aesth, I did ask him over for a genuine reason. I have something to show him. You two wait here and I’ll go get it!”
Dosa-Mina ran off, but even a room over he could overhear the starts of a conversation between San-Kyung and Elai-Aesth.
“San-Kyung, what are your intentions with my Papa?”
“Papa?”
“I only call him Father when I’m angry with him. You probably never noticed the difference because I’m always angry with him when you come over. Now talk with me. I’m aware of your xenophobia but I’d rather it not apply to me.”
“Hmph.”
“Don’t act like a child. You’re thirty-six.”
“Funny you’re saying that.”
“I value maturity in a person.”
“That makes me wonder how you deal with Dosa-Mina every day.”
“I do care about him despite his ridiculousness. Now, tell me, what are your intentions with him?”
“You should be asking him that question about me.”
“I’ve tried, trust me.”
Dosa-Mina giggled. He retrieved the files and head out the room.
“Look, I don’t know the answer to that question either. I’ve tried asking him but–” San-Kyung looked up. “Oh, you’re back.”
“Well!? Are you going to answer the question, San-Kyung!? My Papa frustrates me endlessly on this subject! If I could get a clear answer from you, I might be able to–” Elai-Aesth cleared his throat. “Excuse me.”
“Papa? That’s new.”
“He must be angry with you more than half the time, then…” San-Kyung stood up. “Alright, what is it?”
“My coworkers think I’m crazy, but I’ve been using a lot of my spare time to look into the whole Aesthetically Normal-Regular Form transformation you want so much.”
Elai-Aesth forced himself between them and stared at the papers; Dosa-Mina noticed San-Kyung flinch briefly. “So, this is what you’ve been holing yourself in your room for? Your devotion to each other astounds me. It’s also the source of much confusion on my part…”
“Aaaanyway, so in the time I’ve been looking into this I’ve found out a few interesting things. And I think it might be possible, but it’s going to take a bit.”
“I’ve waited thirty-six years. I can wait more if it means there’ll be a payoff at the end.”
“There might just be! But what I’m looking into right now is amplifiers. There seem to be a few methods worth looking in to, though.”
“Astounding what you’ve found out, Papa!”
Dosa-Mina giggled. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, it is pretty amazing.”
“Something wrong, San-Kyung? You look sad. We haven’t been able to hang out as much since Elai-Aesth came along. Go ahead and tell me if anything’s on your mind.”
“It’s nothing, really. I just wish this could have happened years ago as opposed to just having a breakthrough now.”
“Me too. But what are you gonna do?”
“What about you? You aren’t cutting anymore, are you?”
Dosa-Mina paled.
“Cutting?”
“San-Kyung, I thought I asked you not to bring that up in front of Elai-Aesth!”
“Shit. Sorry.”
“What’s he talking about, cutting?”
“Er, stress cutting! You know, like cutting paper–” Dosa-Mina flinched. Elai-Aesth had lifted up his sleeve. “I’m not stupid, Father. Your suspicious behavior made it click better than it would have on San-Kyung’s word alone. How long have these been here!?” Elai-Aesth’s paws gripped his arm tight and made him flinch.
“I–I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Look, Dosa-Mina…” Dosa-Mina glared at San-Kyung. “I’m not the one who should be telling you anything about parenting, but you owe it to that kid to tell him. I’ll…make it up to you twofold, just don’t keep him in the dark.”
“You’re saying that?”
“Father, please.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “…they’ve been here for a while. Ever since me and San-Kyung were kids. But I was older than you are now when I started. I had….certain reasons for starting that I’ll tell you about later. It’s easier for me that way…but anyway, now those reasons, they’re gone. All of them. I’ve realized it was irrational…but I can’t erase what I did in the past, no matter how hard I try.”
Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “I wish I could.”
“Father…”
San-Kyung scratched Dosa-Mina’s head.
“Why keep this from me!? You trust me, don’t you? Why do you do things like this to keep yourself from being happy?”
“I–I don’t think you understand, Elai-Aesth. I’m happier if I can pretend things are the way I want them to be. What am I supposed to do!? I can’t get rid of all these cuts!”
Elai-Aesth had started to cry. The expression on his face was a lot different from the composed one Dosa-Mina was used to seeing. He looked genuinely distressed.
“Father, I know I’m not nice to you all the time, but you’re still my Father! How do you think I feel seeing things like this!? I just want you to be happy…”
Dosa-Mina pulled him close. “Sorry, Elai-Aesth. Unfortunately, your Father’s not as strong as he’d like to pretend…”
“So–so why do you pretend you’re a Normal, then?”
“I think you probably figured that out by now, haven’t you?”
“He’s always been like this, kid. He kept these things secret from me too. I had to find out myself.”
“Why!?”
“I just want to pretend everything’s the way I want it to be…things like this are hard on me, too.”
“Father, you can’t do that. If you hold things in like this, when they are found out, it will be all that much worse. You make things hard on yourself this way. You’ll only be more unhappy if things are found out against your will.”
“Elai-Aesth…?”
“So please, be happy. It’s why I tell you to be honest with your feelings, you know…you really should be, whatever they are.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Th–thanks. I guess I can try…after all, now I know I was cutting for no good reason, maybe I can start being happier…but one thing at a time, alright?”
“You may consider me a xenophobe, kid, but maybe because you’re his child, you’re not as bad as the rest of the people. I can sympathize when it comes to him not being honest…”
“Yeah…”
“I can try. But you’ll have to be patient with me, alright?”
“Mm-hm…it’s just…it’s scary, seeing all those cuts.”
“I know. I’m sorry. To make it up, why don’t I make us all something to drink? Would you like that?”
“Yes…”
“Whatever.”
Dosa-Mina handed the papers to San-Kyung and walked into the kitchen. Soon after he noticed that Elai-Aesth and San-Kyung were close behind him, watching him with concerned expressions.
‘What Kkumneok said happened where he comes from won’t happen here. They prove that to me…people love you, Dosa-Mina. So why can’t you just tell them all these problems you have…’
“Hey.”
“What now?”
San-Kyung handed him a small picture. It was a picture of him and San-Kyung on their graduation day.
“I figured you could use a little cheering up after what happened.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Thank you. I really could…”

—–
‘If I want to be a father in the future, I’ll need to try and become honest with myself. All these problems I have…’ He lifted up his sleeve, then quickly pulled it back down. The sight of so many cuts was too much for even him to bear.
‘But things that way would just be too painful! I like things the way they are now. And even if I have to become more honest with myself when I have a kid, why should I have to show these to everyone at school?’
Dosa-Mina was plagued with uncertainty, and it made him feel sick to his stomach. ‘What would really be better for me, anyway? What do I really want?’

14.591.Situations Revisited

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 591
“Situations Revisited”

“Mr. Baelin, it’s been almost a year since that incident at Malicerie happened. Can you please tell us why you decided to cast a spell on a whole school?”
Baelin remained silent, his eyes closed.
“Mr. Baelin, please!”
“H-hey, Harliou, please don’t be so rough on him.”
“Llanni, you take these things too softly! This is a man with immense power, enough to make several people start acting out their fantasies and fears. Now come on, Mr. Baelin! If you ever want us to take you off of power suppressants, you’ll answer us! You’ll get nowhere if you don’t!”
“This whole situation is a mess…”
Baelin remained silent.
“Mr. Baelin, think of all the things you’ll be able to do once you give us the answer we want. You’re already in enough trouble for what you did. But you’ll never be out of trouble if you don’t give us a concrete answer. Come on, think about it: you’ll be free once more, free to use your powers not on unsuspecting and unaware students…and the longer you refuse to answer, the more of a blight it is on your reputation!”
“I have no reputation.”
The cops glanced among each other with wide grins on their faces.
“Come on, Mr. Baelin, we just want a concrete answer. And obviously you’re willing to talk, so tell us what it is.”
“What do I get from telling you guys? It’s not like it’s that important.”
“It’s plenty important!”
“Harliou, please!”
“Mr. Baelin?”
Baelin opened his right eye. He caught sight of a timid Birdmix, staring at him with a look of desperation. “Can you please tell us why you did what you did? It’ll actually be very helpful to you and to us. We need an answer, and you want to be free, right?”
Both of Baelin’s eyes opened, and he stared at the Birdmix woman in surprise. He cleared his throat and faced them all. “Fine. But only if I get a picture of this pretty gal to take home with me.”
“We can’t give you that! We don’t know what you’ll do with it!” Harliou complained.
“Oh, I don’t mind.”
“Vaniette, you should realize why we’re concerned…”
“The point must’ve flown right over her head.”
“Great.” Baelin cleared his throat once more. “The spell I used on those students is a high-grade Witch and Warlock spell called “Drugging Desire”. It makes the person the spell was cast on lose restraint, much like when you get drunk, and nine times out of ten presents to them a pleasurable situation. Of course, in the other one time, it brings up something neutral or horrifying.”
“Drugging Desire?”
“Why haven’t we looked into this already!?” Harliou growled.
“W-we did, we just couldn’t really find all that much on it…”
“Like I said, Drugging Desire is a high-grade Witch and Warlock spell. The only reason I was able to cast it is because I have natural talent, courtesy of my dear Mama and Papa who had so much power of their own. Anyway, now that you know how the power works, I’m supposing you want to know why I cast it on them, don’t you?”
“Yes! That’s what we’ve been begging you for the whole time!”
“Please, Mr. Baelin,” Vaniette said, her eyes sparkling. Baelin’s cheeks flushed. “Anything for the lovely Vaniette. I cast that spell on those students because I wanted to see what would happen.”
“WHAT!? YOU MEAN WE WAITED ALL THIS TIME FOR THIS BULLSHIT!?”
“He was characterized as a mischievous Warlock upon his arrest, Harliou,” Llanni told him.
“Come on, as if you guys didn’t know. You embody the stereotype of a dumb authority force. The answers are sitting in front of your nose. I’ll admit Drugging Desire is a fairly under-the-radar spell, but please. You guys have better means to learn about this kind of stuff than even I do. Vaelyn’s not exactly the Warlock hub of the world after all. I mean–”
“Please make him talk slower, Vaniette,” Harliou said. “I’m done dealing with him.”
“Mr. Baelin, can you please talk slower? And, um, explain yourself a little better?”
“Certainly. If you all should know anything, it’s that an extremely common personality trait in Witches and Warlocks is curiosity. We are the most powerful type of Pureblood naturally–that is, without drug assistance or assistance other species get from us. Of course we’re curious. We have the most power of any single species, and the species with the most power would involve us too, naturally.”
“Arrogant little…” Harliou grumbled. Llanni pat him on the back.
“When I learned Drugging Desire, I had to find someone to use it on. I live alone, you see, and my little sister would never forgive me if I used it on her. I’d be smacked up, down and all around and then some, and I don’t want that. So I used it on anyone I could find. The students at Malicerie Public just happened to be the ones you found.”
“Are you admitting to more crimes!?”
Baelin scoffed. “Puh-leeze. Crimes? You act like Drugging Desire is serious. Unless the person it’s used on has some sort of murderous desire, it really isn’t. And I had no way of knowing if any of the students there, or any of the other people I used it on, had any desires like that. But just so you know: I was observing the students at Malicerie. I did the same for the people I “drugsired” before them. I healed the other people when I was done.”
“That was nice of you,” Vaniette said.
“Ha, it was nice of me, wasn’t it? But even if I hadn’t, they would have snapped out of it naturally. In any event, I got the proof I needed, that if someone like me can use Drugging Desire, that I am an incredibly powerful Warlock. So I don’t give a damn that you guys have been using power suppressants on me. I’ll still be able to use my powers same as always when they wear off.”
“I can’t believe we’ve wasted almost a year on this bullshit…” Harliou sobbed.
“Thank you for telling us, Mr. Baelin.”
“Yeah, no problem, but you should have guessed it yourselves, dumbasses. Of course, that statement doesn’t apply to you, sweetie.”
Vaniette giggled. The others in the room groaned.
“I’m ready to leave whenever you guys give the a-okay. My life is being lived for enjoyment. And as fun as it’s been sticking around with you losers, I’m ready to get back to using my powers. Legally of course this time. I’d rather not deal with you guys again.”
All of them shook their heads. Baelin relaxed in his chair and closed his eyes once more.

***

“So I am not sure if any of you have heard this news already, but Baelin Eung-Al was released from holding a week ago today.”
“Wow, only a week ago? That seems like an awfully long time to be detained for what he did.”
“His bad behavior persuaded them to keep him longer out of spite. But in any event, when I heard of this news, I assembled you all because I want to talk on something. The event with Baelin was chaotic when it happened. School starts again in less than a month, and the future is unpredictable. Do any of you have ideas for something we might be able to do to prevent another Baelin incident?”
Everyone glanced among each other.
“We don’t really know that something like that will happen again. Why take measures against it?” Chensu asked.
“Why, Mr. Chensu? Why? Are you really choosing to ask that question?” The Principal sighed and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “Because it has already happened, proving that it’s fully possible. And we’ve had worse happen as well. I’m sure everyone here remembers the Malicerie Incident.”
The faculty fell silent. “We need something to protect Malicerie from potential attacks. They can and very well might happen again.”
“Should we hire security?” Theasis said. “That might help.”
“A good suggestion. Anyone else?”
“We could use the power of a Warlock against potential attackers,” Hyungdarou said.
“Hm…” The Principal directed to Sharai to start scrawling down notes.
“There’s plenty of ideas we can consider. Security systems, guards, et cetera….there’s plenty, but while I think this is a fine idea, I’m also worried about going overboard. Don’t want to stifle the students, after all.” Sharai said.
“By stifling them do you mean allowing them to misbehave?” Yushie asked.
“No, I’m not stupid, you know! I mean like making it so that the school is so heavily guarded that the students feel uncomfortable. If we incorporate all this stuff into Malicerie right as the students come back, they might think that something happened over the break to make us up our ante. Don’t you think that might have them on pins and needles?”
“Mr. Sharai, making a good point?” The Principal said, mock surprise in her tone.
“Very funny, Principal. You’ve admitted I can make good points before!”
“Your idea is a good one though, Principal,” Theasis said. “It does bear looking in to. We must protect Malicerie and our students.”
“Indeed. But we can’t just contemplate outside attacks as well. I’ve had concerns about inside attacks as well…”
The faculty fell silent.
“Now, anyone else: do you have an idea?”

—–
“Mr. Baelin.”
Eung-Al had been called to the park by a man he had never met before while on a walk around Bledger. Though he’d never met him before, he had a feeling he wouldn’t soon forget him–aside from his fluffy ponytail and sharp eyes, his most distinguishing feature was a strange marking on his left cheek. Eung-Al couldn’t help but stare at it the whole walk.
“So, you must come from a Warlock society. I don’t think many mark their people anymore, though. Just how old are you?”
“My age is not your concern. Besides, I am younger than you might expect for a marked Warlock. You seem to believe that all of us are old fogies…not that I’m surprised seeing your behavior.”
“Well, excuse me!”
“Now that we’re in peace…” The man stared him down. “I have a project I’m working on, you could say. Have you ever heard of the Witch Astineth Eir-Tyuj?”
“Yeah? She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“Quite the contrary, unfortunately. In regards to her I had an idea, a plan you could say…a Warlock of your ability could be quite helpful on my team. Oh, before you get that look on your face, it’s nothing to the degree of murdering her. I simply have some curiosities that need to be sated, but that lady is under high security and it’s incredibly difficult to approach her. I don’t normally approach people like this, but I was impressed by your ability to pull off Drugging Desire. That’s one I don’t know how to use yet, so to me that’s a sign of your strength.”
“I’m glad you know greatness when you see it. But I’m gonna have to decline. Sorry, but I’m interested in having fun in my own life. I don’t know about Eir-Tyuj being alive, but I’d rather do things myself. You understand, don’t you?”
“I do,” he sighed. “Fine. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. Besides, I’m not completely sure how much I should trust someone I don’t know, in any event…”
“Good for you.” He winked at the man. “Well, I’m off. Best of luck, ah…”
“Spaeic.”
“Spaeic? Feel like I’ve heard that name before…” With a shrug, Eung-Al left the strange man behind.

13.590.Hiding in the Records

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 590
“Hiding in the Records”

“Dad, do you think I’m, like, worthless?”
Her father’s eyes widened. “What made you think you’re worthless, Airy-Aekok!? Has everything been okay over the Summer? I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to spend as much time with you as we wanted to, it’s just that there’s a lot of things going on at work–”
“I know, Dad,” she said, smiling at him. It didn’t seem to ease his concern. “It’s not your fault. I just feel bad. Remember that pet project I wanted to do with you?”
“Yeah?”
“Well, it didn’t have, like, the results I was lookin’ for, you know? Just made me think…you’re so good at your job and I can’t even do something I want to do for fun right.”
“Don’t say that about yourself, Airy-Aekok. So what if you don’t get something done the right way the first time? I wasn’t always good at being a cop. There were times nobody wanted to rely on Llanni for a job…but I kept going and I improved, and if I could do that, you can too.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re my Dad.”
“No, I’m just saying it because you’re Airy-Aekok and even if you weren’t my daughter, I’d still like you,” he said. “Besides, I really do believe that. So I don’t want to hear you saying anything bad about yourself. Gush about teenage boys instead!”
“I wasn’t really, like, saying anything bad about myself, though…but I’m always willing to gush about teenage boys! I haven’t, like, seen any good ones in a while, though.”
Her father smiled. “Oh! Airy-Aekok, there was some information you wanted to look into, right? Did you ever find out what it was?”
“Not exactly? I mean like I have a pretty good idea, but I don’t have any definitive proof.”
“Proof can mean a lot,” he told her. “So I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you stop by the library? I do have a library card, and you’re welcome to use it.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, really!”
“I’m not sure how I’d find what I’m lookin’ for at a library…”
“You’d be surprised by what you can find at the library.” He handed her a small green card. “Just use that whenever you decide to go. But since I’m home, I figure we can do something to pass the time for now, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Maybe we can see if any of the boy bands have come out with a cool new song!”
Her father began to look uncertain. “That’s not exactly what I meant…but if you want to sweetie, then we’ll look.”

***

Airy-Aekok had always greatly admired her father, ever since she was little. She saw him as an ideal of strength and fortitude that everyone should strive for–that and a smart man who searched for true justice and the facts about a situation. She found it hard to doubt him with his display of honesty, something he had proven conclusively she could trust him on, time and time again. So she head to the library after he left for his shift to see if he was right, and if there was a resource in the library she could look to.
‘Yeah, like a birth certificate book,’ she thought. ‘My Dad’s honest, but he doesn’t always have the right idea about things. I doubt I’d find information specifically on Dslellular Dosa-Mina here.’
But school was scheduled to start in less than a month. What did she have to lose?
When she entered the local library, she was astounded by its size. Just by walking in she saw shelves upon shelves of books that stretched up high. Tall bookshelves stood even higher than that, on floors only avians could reach without assistance.
It was an amazing sight. “Who knew that this close library was like, this grandiose?”
“Please be a little quieter in the library,” a librarian said. Airy-Aekok nodded and went running through the library. Other patrons gave her quizzical looks, but Airy-Aekok payed them no mind and instead went looking through the many shelves to see what each one held. The shelves nearby mostly had informative books, all on an array of different subjects. A sudden desire stirred in her, and Airy-Aekok couldn’t help but start scanning the shelves closely, looking for books focusing on a subject near and dear to her heart.

“Dad made a good point. You really can find a lotta stuff in the library!”
Someone shushed her, but the sound barely registered. Airy-Aekok walked, arms full of books focusing on boys, to the back of the library. A sign had stated that in the back there was a reading nook, and while Airy-Aekok felt it would be easier to simply take the books back home with her, she was too curious not to see what the nook looked like.
On her way there, she spotted an area that was filled with desks. Distracted, she head that way instead and spotted row upon row of computers, many with people staring intently at them but still a fair amount of ones that were unoccupied.
“I wonder.” Setting the books down on one of the desks, Airy-Aekok sat down and opened up a search engine.
‘Like I’ll get many results, hah.’ She typed in ‘Dslellular Dosa-Mina’. As she had expected, not many results came up, and what results did mostly surrounded other people who were also called Dosa-Mina, though by what she could see, not a one of the results had to do with someone who had Dslellular as their last name.
Upon scrolling further down the results, however, she spotted a curious link: “Dslellular Dosa-Mina–list of Vaelyn Residents”
“Huh.” Curious, she clicked on it, and up came a website with several names on it. Airy-Aekok was startled to see that her’s, her father’s and even Lirako’s name was on the list, although it seemed to be an older list as Airy-Aekok noted that when she clicked Dosa-Mina’s name, the age it listed there was thirteen as opposed to sixteen.
That only caught her mind for a short amount of time, however–what caught her eye after that was the rest of the details. The page was skimpy, but what was written in the species section clearly did not read “Normal”.
Airy-Aekok gasped. Nearby people stared in her direction.
‘This is it! This is the proof me and Lirako need, isn’t it!?’ Airy-Aekok began to check her pockets. On occasion she would bring along a small digital camera–a habit she had picked up from her father–and she was pleased to see that it was in her pocket. She took a picture of the page, closed it out, then ran off to the front of the library with the books about boys in her arms.
But she could barely think about teenage boys right now, save for one: Dosa-Mina.
‘I really need to thank my dad,’ she thought. ‘Without him I’d have never found this out!’

***

“WHAT!?”
“Yeah, look! I think the page was, like, illegal but still! That only proves it even more if it’s illegal!”
“So I suppose we were half right…”
“Now that we have this though, we really need to think about what we’re gonna do. School’s gonna start in September again. Should we, like, keep it to ourselves, or tease him with it? Think’a all the things we could blackmail him into!”
“I’m not so sure we have the same idea here, Llanni,” Lirako said.
“What makes ya say that?”
“I’ve got something else in mind,” she said. “I just don’t know if it would be safe for us to do. I mean after all, he’s a Dualbreed with Siren powers on his side…nullified ones, but Siren powers nonetheless.”
“What is it?”
Lirako shook her head. “I’m not sure I should say…”
“Aw, c’mon!”
“Airy-Aekok, I’m home! Where are you?”
“Oh, hi Dad!” Airy-Aekok called. Her father walked into the room and smiled; then, his eyes fell on Lirako. “So you invited a friend over, huh?”
“Uh, yeah,” Lirako said, covering up Airy-Aekok’s camera.
“Did you go to the library?”
“I sure did,” Airy-Aekok said. She flashed her father a wide grin. “By the way, Dad–thanks.”
“Not a problem. Feel free to check out books on my card whenever, but make sure you return them on time, okay?”
“I will!” Airy-Aekok said.
“I’m going to make dinner now. Unless you’ve already eaten?”
“Nah, I’m too excited to eat!”
“I guess you got out a good book, then!” He chuckled. “And miss, you’re welcome to stay for dinner with us.”
“Oh, uh, sure!”
He walked out of the room. Airy-Aekok dropped her volume before speaking.
“Whatever we do, there’s this I know. We have the information now, and that’s a success. It means we succeeded, and even if we never do anything about it, that’s something to be happy about!”
Lirako giggled. “I guess you’re right. After all, even if we do keep it a secret, it’s our dirty little secret, and there’s something kind of fun about the idea of never telling him we know!”
She stared out the window. “Still, I’m not sure I want to keep it a secret…”

—–
Dosa-Mina shuddered.
“You alright, son? You’re not catching a cold or anything, are you?”
“No, I think I’m fine. Just a shiver.”
Dosa-Mina shuddered again. “Ugh, I feel uncomfortable…”

12.589.Transition to Recovery

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 589
“Transition to Recovery”

“Y’know, Ai-Reia, you’ve seemed a little happier this Summer break than last Summer break. Especially after those kids…Kokohara and Fyuori, yeah?”
“Yes. And what are you doing calling them kids? They might be younger than you in years but in terms of general maturity you aren’t all that much older than they are.”
“The years still count for something, sis. Anyway, I’m happy to see you happy, especially after all that was going on. Are you feeling better?”
“I have been, actually….oh! You bringing this up reminded me of something. Mother, Father, would you mind if I invited Kokohara and Fyuori over tomorrow?”
“Hm? Not at all,” her father said.
“I’d be happy to see them again,” her mother said. Ai-Reia smiled. “Thank you.”
“You know, it’s so weird that your best friends are teenagers. You’d think they’d be around your age!”
“I would guess that my smarts alienate the normal kids around my age,” she sighed. “But I’ll take what I can get. I do like Kokohara and Fyuori. But this can all wait for tomorrow, can’t it?”

***

Ai-Reia flipped through her diary. Page after page, she would lament about something that was going on in her life, be it something to do with La-Iin, Ca-Miela or the rest of her family. Sometimes she would see entries about her prodigy status. Reading through it made her cringe, but she continued on anyway.
‘This diary saw me through my darkest times, and it was also what helped usher in more,’ she thought. ‘But things have changed since the days I thought I needed this. I’ve realized Ca-Miela has a true potential. My family is showing love for me once more. La-Iin’s hopefully realized she cannot use me, and I have friends now, impermanent as they are…’
Upon finishing the last page, she closed the book. ‘Still, something feels like it’s missing….’
“Ai-Reia, Kokohara and Fyuori are here,” her mother called.
“I’m coming!” She hopped out the bed, leaving the book behind, and went to greet her friends.
“Herro, Ai-Reia! Oopsy. I mean hello.” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“Don’t worry about it. Come on in!”
“Your house really is nice, Ai-Reia,” Im-Dei said. “I like the way it’s decorated.”
“Thank you. Although if I were the one in charge of decorating, I think it would look a little different.” Although she tried to muster a giggle, the reminder of the subject at hand kept her from doing so. “I, ah figure you two know why I called you here today.”
“We’re here to help you too, so it doesn’t bother us,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “Or, at least, it does not bother me. Does it bother you, In-Dei?”
“No, not at all. …well, maybe a little bit, but not for the reason you’d think.”
“You might just be wrong about that one, Fyuori,” she said. “Follow me.”
She led the two to her bedroom, dashing in ahead of them. She grabbed her diary and held it away from them.
“This diary contains a record of the way I felt for a…period of time,” she said. “I’ve had a hard time, although I guess it doesn’t compare to people who have been through worse. But it was horrible. This was my only escape, and when it was taken away from me I started to deteriorate because I had made it the only thing that made me happy…everything else I considered to have a bad side.”
“Ai-Reia…”
Ai-Reia held up a hand. “Please. I need to get this out without commentary. …I don’t know exactly what it was that caused my behavior, but I have a theory. I think it was stress. For a long time, I did worry that there was something wrong with me…of course with my curious mind, I had to look into it. And while admittedly a few of the things that I thought were concerning, I can chalk that up to, well…I am still little…I don’t always understand the full weight of things right away.”
Ai-Reia glanced at the duo, but their expressions gave away nothing. “When I started feeling happier again, I realized I didn’t want to go back to the way I was before. Not only that, but I realized it was the best thing for me. My family has always been my biggest supporters and my best of friends. You two might not be around my whole life, but you definitely enrich it. And as for that bully, La-Iin….if I can recover, I’m showing her that what she did to me does not affect me. It will not stop me from succeeding where she will likely fail. So this is my goal. I will recover from what happened before, and become a new Ai-Reia.”
Her face flushed. “Sorry, that was probably a little over-dramatic…”
“I’ve heard worse,” Im-Dei said. “And we’ve wanted you to be able to move past things too.”
“It does make sense, Ai-Reia. Of course you want to be happy instead of unhappy!”
Ai-Reia smiled. “Yes, I suppose I do. And more than anything, I didn’t want there to be anything wrong with me. Knowing what I know now, I really feel like I can make an improvement.”
“Part of the improvement can also be not dwelling on the past so much,” Im-Dei said. Ai-Reia chuckled. “Yes, that’s true. And I hope I can do that when school starts again. I think I can improve, but I worry about whether or not seeing La-Iin again will stir those old feelings in me…”
“I’m sure if you devote yourself to this, you’ll be fine,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “But to devote yourself, like In-Dei says, that’s to stop thinking about what happened and focus on the Ai-Reia you want to be. And what is it that you want to be?”
Ai-Reia didn’t need to think on it. “Normal. I may have smarts beyond my age, but that’s just a matter of individuality. I want to be a normal person. And I would like to study more. There is just so much to learn in this world, after all. I wonder if I’ll have the time to learn more about it all?”
“That’s silly to say. Of course you will.”
Ai-Reia gave a half-hearted chuckle. “I suppose I will…”

“You aren’t going to put blood in as a secret ingredient again, are you?”
“It isn’t a secret ingredient to us Vampires,” Ai-Reia said calmly.
“It’s an unpleasant secret to those of us who are not, though!” Shuera-Kaizima shrieked. “Please, no.”
“I’m not sure I can keep that promise.” Ai-Reia dripped blood into the batter. Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei flinched. “Oh, come on, you two. You’d almost think I was the oldest one here. Especially you, Shuera-Kaizima. Catoris are carnivores–I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of blood, and anyway isn’t eating flesh more gruesome than eating something flavored with blood?”
“If it would not kill me, I might be a vegetarian,” Shuera-Kaizima sighed.
“Well, I guess that’s a Vampire tradition, to put blood in food,” Im-Dei sighed. “I’ll respect it…but I don’t like it. I guess it’s not all that easy to taste, though…”
“That’s fine. I’m not the biggest fan of blood either.” Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei shot her surprised looks. “But that’s only because I’m not a bloodsucker yet! I’m sure my taste for it will come with time.”
“As it does,” Reuf-Bu said. “I thought blood tasted like spoiled ham before I could suck blood. Now I love it.”
“You two are crazy. I loved blood even before I could bloodsuck!” Zih-Amo said.
“Why even is there a wait time for the bloodsucking power? Could you not suck my blood now if you wanted to?”
“It has to do with cravings,” Ai-Reia said. She then tapped her canines. “That, and underdeveloped feeding holes.”
“Ah.”
“Reuf-Bu, Zih-Amo, if you’re going to be in the kitchen, the least you could do is help out.”
“Oh noooo!” Zih-Amo shrieked. Reuf-Bu grabbed her by the overalls. “If I’ve gotta help, you’ve gotta help too!”
“Eek!”
Ai-Reia giggled. The kitchen soon became rowdy with the addition of Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo, but the treats were finished that much faster. Ai-Reia was sure she was having the time of her life, laughing and chatting happily with her older siblings and friends.
Still, something felt like it was missing. ‘I’m sure this would be better if Ca-Miela were old enough to join us.’

When the treats were done, all five of the cooks set them down on the table. Ca-Miela stared at them wide-eyed, and seemed anxious to eat one, but was instead handed a bottle by her mother.
“It might sound conceited, but I figured since I’m making a resolution, why not celebrate?”
“Because some people make resolutions they won’t stick to?” Reuf-Bu said. Ai-Reia nudged him lightly with a fist.
“I am sure Ai-Reia will keep this resolution. She’s serious about it.” Shuera-Kaizima told him.
“Don’t I know that. I live with her, you know.” He rubbed his hands together. “Well, it’s a win-win, then! You’re going to be more happy, and we get treats because of it!”
Everyone at the table began to reach for treats at once, making a bit of mess on the table. Ai-Reia found herself amused by the display.
“Are you really going to be happier from now on, Ai-Reia?” Her mother asked. “I’m still worried, you know…”
“I understand, Mother. But my resolution is to enjoy life more. I can’t keep dwelling on the things that upset me, otherwise they will only serve to upset me more. I’m sure I’ll still be stressed at times–the downside of being such a young child prodigy….but here in Bledger, do I really have to worry all that much?”
“She has a point,” Reuf-Bu said before cramming more food into his mouth.
“I felt it on my birthday. Once everything started going right, I knew what I had to do. So I’m certain now. I will not go back to that point I was at before. I will prove my true strength by showing this world that I can move past it, and be happy!”
Almost everyone at the table smiled at her, save for Ca-Miela, who was still drinking from the bottle. Ai-Reia smiled back.
‘Just you watch, La-Iin. Your threats will mean nothing to me when I return to school. This Summer has made me a changed woman!”

—–
Late that night, after Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei had long since left, Ai-Reia stepped outside with the diary and a lighter she had managed to swipe from the kitchen. She hoped nobody noticed it was missing.
She checked through the pages once more. Each of them made her as uncomfortable as they had earlier that day.
“If I really am going to stick to this plan, I can’t be reminded of my past by you,” she said, then set the diary on fire. She tossed it to a portion of gravel and watched it burn, keeping close by just in case the fire began to spread. To her luck, it stayed mostly contained to the diary.
As she watched it burn, an uncertain feeling washed over her.
‘That monstrous feeling…those violent dreams…am I sure those too were the product of stress?’
She shook her head. ‘Don’t think on it. This is a thing of the past now. If I am really going to be happy from here on out, I need to start convincing myself that will really be the case.’

11.588.To See the Future–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 588
“To See the Future–Part 3”

“Hey sis, is something wrong?”
“What’s up, sis? Why do you look so sad?”
“Hey sis, are you in heat?”
Lirako’s face clenched and she smacked Aeisho’s ear with her tail. “Ow! You didn’t need to hit me!”
“Lirako, don’t hit your brothers. But boys, maybe I should talk to Lirako instead. You can go and play with your toys, okay?”
“We’re just worried about big sis,” Haekshi said.
“I know you are, but I don’t think you’re helping.”
“Aw, mom,” Jiushi whined. Their mother flashed them a sympathetic look, and the boys left the room, most looking dejected–though Lirako noticed that Baekihg seemed ready to play and skipped alongside his brothers.
“What’s wrong, Lirako?”
“…I don’t know if I wanna tell you.”
“Come on, Lirako. Would you rather talk to Aekvi about it?”
“I feel the same way about telling Dad that I do about telling you.”
Her mother sighed. “What’s wrong?”
Lirako lowered her head. ‘She isn’t gonna stop badgering me, is she? Might as well humor her.’ “Well…I was thinking, I’m gonna graduate next year. And I really don’t have any plans for what I’m gonna do when I graduate. I don’t have a job, I have no idea what my goal is, and I just…I don’t know. I keep worrying about the fact that I haven’t kept in touch with some of my friends from school who graduated this year and last year. And I don’t think that would happen with Deki-Tyunri, but what about everyone else? Will I just lose touch with them?”
“Graduation can be a confusing time, Lirako. It’s one of the big changes in your life and pretty much the last one before you become an adult. It’s not something you should feel like you should keep a secret. I’m sure most of the other students who are close to graduating don’t have much of a plan either.”
“I know.” She flattened her ears. “I don’t think I’d be so upset if it wasn’t for the fact that I really like my life the way it is right now. I can’t imagine some major change happening.”
“Well, I’m not going to tell you that you have to have a whole bunch of ideas right away. But you should at least start to plan for things a little. Why don’t you focus on what you think you should do first? You have to get ready to live on your own and start your adult life. Do you want a family? Is there some sort of career you want to pursue? How much time are you going to devote to the things you want to do?”
Lirako held her head. “I don’t know, Mom…”
Her mother sighed. “You don’t need to have all the ideas for your future right away. But don’t just run into it without a single one. I’m afraid that’s all the advice I can give you, though.”
“Thanks, Mom. I guess it’s at least something.”
Lirako sat there for a moment longer, her ears still flattened to her head, when they suddenly shot right up and a look of surprise crossed her face. “Hey Mom, do you mind if I go somewhere for a little bit? I just got an idea.”
“Sure, where are you going?”
“I’m gonna stop by school. I think our teachers have a little bit of work to do over the Summer. Maybe I’ll be lucky and one of them will be there!”
“You can go to school, sure, but why do you–”
Before she could finish asking the question, Lirako dashed out the room. “Lirako sure is a girl who runs on the spur of the moment…”

Lirako dashed to Malicerie, hoping she was right–that and that the school’s doors weren’t locked. Luckily enough, the second one was at least right, and so Lirako opened them and wandered inside and began to take a look around.
Malicerie seemed empty at first glance, but up ahead she could hear the sound of voices. Cautiously, she slunk ahead and listened in to hear the conversation.
“You do realize the Malicerie budget would be shot if we did such a thing, Mr. Sharai?”
“I know it would be. That’s why we need to do a fundraiser! C’mon, other schools do it, don’t they!?”
“Your ideas are impossible, Mr. Sharai.”
“Says you! You’ve thought some of them were pretty good in the past!”
“That doesn’t change the majority of them being duds.”
“While you two discuss that, I’ll go get us something to eat.”
Just as she was beginning to get comfortable, the door opened and sent her reeling backwards. She met the eyes of Theasis, whose eyes widened in turn when she saw her.
“Miss Sanyaow?”
“Shh,” Lirako folded her ears back, hoping it would help garner her sympathy. Theasis closed the door behind her. “What are you doing at Malicerie? You know as well as most of the other students that Summer is school break.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you here for a Weekend class? You do realize it’s Tuesday, right?”
“No, I don’t go to the Weekend classes.” She lowered her head. “I wanted someone to talk to. And since you’re here, I think you’d be perfect…but if you can’t, can you please promise me you won’t tell the rest of the faculty I was here? I don’t want to get in trouble because of something like this.”
Theasis sighed. “Come with me, Miss Sanyaow.” She took her paw and led her to one of the empty Weekend classrooms. Lirako took a seat and Theasis took her seat nearby her.
“What is it you wanted to talk about? By the way you worded what you wanted to say, I’m assuming that means anyone would go, so that must mean it isn’t about math.”
“No, it’s not. Y’see, I’m just having a bit of trouble deciding what to do after school. I wanted some advice, and maybe a little bit of perspective.”
Theasis gave another sigh. “There are plenty of things you’ll have to focus on first before you get down to what you want to do. Like where will you go for college? Most Vaelis people go to college, so there are plenty of options. What are you going to do to sustain yourself? Those sorts of things. Sometimes you can incorporate your goals too. I went to college to study mathematics and also took on a part-time job that dealt with math. I was trying to become a mathematics professor, but where I ended up isn’t too bad, I guess.”
Lirako’s eyes widened. “Miss Sanyaow? What is it?”
“What I want, huh…”

***

“Principal Sharai, I’ve got the greatest idea ever! You know how the students have seemed pretty lazy nowadays? Well I thought, remember back when we did the 28th Running Event?”
“Oh yeah, we haven’t done that in five years!”
“I was thinking, why don’t we make it a monthly thing!? No, maybe even biweekly! Although we’d have to change its name…oh! And it can count for extra credit! The students will get more exercise and they’ll have more fun doing it, especially if we offer prizes!”
Sharai slammed his hands down on the table. “You’re a genius, Sanyaow! Ah, it’s so nice to have someone working under me who understands my ideas. Your old Principal, bless her soul, just didn’t get it.”
“Well, I’m sure she’s somewhere watching us and silently disapproving. But hey, Malicerie’s never been better, if you ask me! Class A’s even become slightly less radical, though I still question what some of the teachers are teaching them.”
Sharai sighed. “Yeah, I should probably fire Neowang. Her name’s just so funny though!”
A bang sounded against the door. “Hey, careful, Deks. Don’t just slam your head against the door like that.”
“Come in!”
The door opened, and Deki-Tyunri peeked his head in. “Am I intruding?”
“Nope, Mr. Elyshen, you’re fine! But what are you here for? Weren’t you sent home for the day?”
“I was, but I wanted to see Lirako–er, Miss Sanyaow.”
“Hopefully someday Mrs.,” Lirako said with an empty laugh. “It’s beyond me how you ended up married before me, Deki-Tyunri.”
“Loopholes,” he said cheerfully. “I really am sorry to intrude, I just wanted to see you. We don’t see each other as often as we used to.”
“Are you kidding me? You’re Malicerie’s flight instructor and I’m its vice principal! You call that not seeing each other often?”
“Sanyaow has a point, you do see each other a lot,” Sharai said.
“I guess so. But usually only during work, when we can’t really talk…Shu-Taka is taking up a lot of my home time.”
“He’s a baby, what’d you expect?” Lirako’s face became blank. “I’ll never forget the day my little brothers were born. The days they were babies…I don’t think my parents have gotten over that trauma even years later.”
“How are they now, by the way?”
“They plan on buying a multi-family house so they and their girlfriends can all live in the same place! Most of their girlfriends are Pureblood Catori, so I’m kind of scared to see how many grandchildren our Mom and Dad end up with…” Lirako shook her head. “Ooh, that’s not the point here! It’s nice to see you, Deki-Tyunri. We should meet up more outside of school. But I have a little bit of work to do right now.”
“I understand. Maybe we’ll meet up this Saturday?”
“Sounds like a plan!”
“I’ll discuss it with Cea-Va, then.” He smiled. “I’ll see you soon, Lirako.”
“Me too! See ya soon!”
Lirako turned back to Sharai.
“A lot of your old friends came back to work at Malicerie, huh? Or were they all your old friends?”
“You’re right, most of the people who used to come here are my old friends. Though Miss Murana was Deki-Tyunri’s–I mean, Mr. Elyshen’s.”
Sharai giggled. “It’s okay. Back when I was the vice principal, it took my all not to call your old Principal Miss Priya or Miss Maa-Gu. I even sometimes just wanted to call her Maa-Gu without the miss…anyway, I don’t mind so long as you do it around me and not around the students.”
“I try not to.”
“Still, it’s been nice to have you around again. You’ve definitely mellowed out over the years.”
“That’s because I have a purpose now. I realized something while I was in school, Mr. Sharai. I really like going to school. And maybe I’m not here for the same reason I used to be, but I just…I like things staying the same as much as possible.” The insides of her ears turned bright red. “Of course I still wanted to grow up, of course I did! But I mean, um…you know what I mean?”
“I think I do! And I’m glad to have you here. Most of the students like you too.”
“Yeah, except for Dslellular’s little brat. He always tells me his dad says I harassed him so he doesn’t like me either. But that’s not the point here.”
“I wonder if you’d like it so much if your old friends didn’t work here, though?”
“I think I would have. You wanna know why? Because I’ve gotten to make new friends here too. I don’t mind making new friends at all. You used to be more of a weirdo who I sort of had to respect, but now you’re like my boss, so…” She chuckled.
“Yeah. Well, anyway, we should get back to ideas.”
“Yeah, we should. Hey, have you ever considered a multi-class competition of some sort?”
Sharai’s eyes widened. “Ooh, elaborate!”

—–
“Miss Sanyaow!”
Lirako flinched.
“Miss Sanyaow, please, don’t space out on me like that.”
“Sorry, Miss Theasis. But thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Huh?”
“I think I have a little bit of an idea of what I want to do now. I know I need to think about college, but you can’t really go to college unless you know what you want to study, can you?”
“Um…I suppose not.”
“Well, now I think I have a bit of an idea. And you know what? I think talking to you helped me a lot.” She hugged her. “Thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Er, you’re welcome!”
Lirako dashed out the Weekend classroom. When she stopped by the faculty room, she spotted Sharai talking with the Principal.
“I look forward to maybe working with you in the future, Mr. Sharai!”
“Huh?” Lirako dashed off. “Was that Miss Sanyaow? What’s she doing here, and what was she talking about?”
The Principal sighed. Theasis returned to the room. “What took you so long?”
“Didn’t you say you were bringing snacks?” Yukhoe said, sounding dejected.
“I was going to, but I guess I forgot. Sorry.”
“Did you see Miss Sanyaow just now?” Sharai asked.
“I did, actually.”
“What was she doing here?”
Theasis smiled. “Oh, just trying to figure some things out. There are a lot of things to contemplate when you’re a teenager, after all…”

10.587.Lucid Dreaming

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 587
“Lucid Dreaming”

“Hm…”
“What’s up with you? Your face looks strangely expressive right now. Though that doesn’t mean much.”
“I’ve just had…things on my mind.”
“Things?”
“Yes. Many things. And I’m having a hard time sorting them all out.” She fluffed her pillow and laid down. “For now, I can get some sleep and keep planning in the morning. But I’m having a conflict about what way I want to take my ideals.”
“And why would that be? You’re not becoming a goody-goody, are you!?”
“No! Bes-Isa, you’re smarter than that, so don’t let me hear you say something that stupid ever again. I’ve just been wondering if this plan is any good for going forth with. I have a lot to think about: Ei-Tio’s potential evil, betrayal, the fact that a few of my key players are goody-goodies, and the applications of my blood powers. Being evil is too hard sometimes. But it’s way more worth it than taking the easy way out. Goody-goodies are lazy.”
“And they tend to be massive hypocrites, too.”
La-Iin smirked. “They really do….night, Bes-Isa…”
“Yeah, bad night.”
La-Iin’s smirk persisted until she fell asleep. When Mit-Sun passed by her bedroom, she peeked in on her.

***

When La-Iin opened her eyes, immediately she was blinded by a bright orange flash. Curious, she peeked out the window. Two things immediately caught her eye–the disheveled state of the familiar Bledger streets, along with people running and screaming across them, and the building she was in. It looked more like the castle from her fantasies than her house.
“Do you like it, La-Iin?” La-Iin flinched. Behind her stood Mit-Sun, Asul-Zenza, Fer-Shi and San-Kyung. Dosa-Mina was sitting nearby, but his attention was focused on Choungetsu, who was licking his face so much La-Iin wondered if it might corrode.
“Like what? Where are we, Mama?”
“In our new house, of course!” Asul-Zenza said cheerfully. “When Mit-Sun and I decided to get back together, we thought the perfect present to celebrate wouldn’t be one for us, but instead one for you. So we gave you Bledger, Vaelyn!”
“They said me and my parents could stay here too so that we’re safe from all the wreck!” Fer-Shi said, sounding far more cheerful than she would expect her to in such a situation. La-Iin could feel her eyes widening at her father’s statement.
“What? But why–”
“Why is San-Kyung here?” Mit-Sun asked. “I think he can explain that one himself. Oh, I almost forgot. Catch!”
Mit-Sun tossed Bes-Isa in La-Iin’s direction, and she flew up to catch her. She glanced wildly between all the people there, desperate for more of an answer than what Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza had given her.
“I’m here because you’re my friend, duh,” San-Kyung said. “I had to barter with vuyong in order for your parents to let me bring Dosa-Mina along too, though.”
“That’s not the reason you told me you came here!” Dosa-Mina said cheerfully. San-Kyung’s face turned bright pink and he shook a fist in Dosa-Mina’s direction. Dosa-Mina was seemingly oblivious to this display of violence, and instead went back to giggling as Choungetsu resumed licking his face.
“This has to be a dream,” La-Iin mumbled to herself. It all seemed too surreal. Looking down at herself, and noticing how much she had to look up to meet the eyes of everyone save for Fer-Shi, she could tell she was still physically seven years old. If that was the case, not much time could have passed. Why would Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza want to be together again? What was San-Kyung getting so flustered about?
When she realized that, everything began to feel a bit surreal.
“La-Iin?”
“I wonder…” La-Iin walked away from the group of her loved ones and stared outside. She felt she had heard of this phenomena before. She tried to imagine the destruction outside as a happy field full of Buneties. It was incredibly difficult, but eventually she managed a scene much like what she imagined, and behind her she heard gasping.
She grinned to herself. ‘This is too strange, though.’ So instead she tried to imagine that Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza were not in the room. Suddenly, both of them got up and walked away. La-Iin smiled.
“San-Kyung, I know the reason you wanted to come here!”
“No you don’t!”
“Yes I do~” She walked up to him. “Finally, you reciprocate my feelings, but of course it’s in a f@%king dream! But at least if that’s the case, I can have a good dream and wake feeling refrustrated!”
“Refrustrated?” Fer-Shi asked. La-Iin felt her face flush. “You know what I mean.”
La-Iin flew up close to San-Kyung’s face. “I know what you want, San-Kyung. And that’s a good thing. Because I want it too.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, reverse pedo.”
“Yes you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be blushing like that. If one good thing has come from this dream, it’s you!”
La-Iin pulled San-Kyung’s face close and kissed him. She wasn’t quite sure how, but she could see behind her Fer-Shi vomiting. In front of her, Choungetsu had stopped licking Dosa-Mina’s face and was instead staring at her wide-eyed; Dosa-Mina had nearly the same expression on his face, though he seemed even more shocked than Choungetsu did.
The sight caused a sudden click in La-Iin’s mind. She pulled away from San-Kyung and stared at him.
“What the hell did you do that for!?”
“I don’t have time for you to play hot and cold with me, San-Kyung!” She flew away from him and stared out the window. The sight of the Buneties in the field had been replaced with the burning streets of Bledger once more. San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina ran up behind her; Fer-Shi was still vomiting, and Choungetsu ran to lick it up. La-Iin decided to imagine that Choungetsu chose to run away, and that Fer-Shi was in maid clothes and with cleaning supplies. She gave a sigh of relief and turned back to outside the window.
Something about that sight was stirring a strange feeling in her.
“San-Kyung, come here,” she said, pulling him close. San-Kyung seemed defiant, but obliged regardless. She wiggled free from San-Kyung’s grasp, then motioned to Dosa-Mina to stare in San-Kyung’s direction. He did not react save for staring at San-Kyung. La-Iin could imagine all the times he had started to hang all over San-Kyung; at those imaginations, Dosa-Mina did likewise.
“Hey, cut that out!”
“At least I’m not a little kid smooching you on the lips!”
San-Kyung’s face turned a darker pink. La-Iin barely noticed it. Instead she smirked, then pushed San-Kyung away from Dosa-Mina and hissed. “He’s mine, rival-boy! Don’t dare to try and recover what you used to have with him, because you have it no more!”
Both boys just stared at her in confusion.
“Um, La-Iin? Whose vomit is this?”
“Be quiet, Fer-Shi. I think I have an idea.” She stared out the window and smiled. “A big idea…”

—–
When La-Iin woke up, the memory of the dream was still fresh in her mind. She balled a hand into a fist.
“I was right. I am refrustrated!”
“Good morning, La-Iin. Is what I’d say if I wasn’t so mad at you! Must you roll over so much in your sleep? And what the hell did you just say? Seriously, I–WHOA!”
La-Iin jerked Bes-Isa out of bed and flew downstairs. She didn’t care if Mit-Sun saw, though her mother didn’t appear to notice. She had prepared breakfast, and La-Iin scarfed it down quickly. She sat at the table, waiting for Mit-Sun to leave, then left the house and walked over to Sale-Dessu’s.
“What are we going here for?”
“Be quiet. You’ll see soon enough.”
Sale-Dessu didn’t take long to open the door. With a quick greeting, he soon let La-Iin inside, and she took a deep breath once she was sitting down.
“Sale-Dessu, what do you know about lucid dreaming!?”
“Lucid dreaming?” Sale-Dessu seemed slightly confused. “I’ve never had a lucid dream myself…but when I think on it, it does somewhat remind me of an unfinished spell that Warlocks aren’t often told about.”
“Are you talking about what I think you are?” Eul-Bok said as he passed by the trio. “But you can’t go into your own dreams, can you? So it’s not–”
Sale-Dessu shushed him. “It’s not exactly the same thing, and the spell’s unfinished, so we don’t know of its applications anyway,” he whispered.
“There’s something else I want from you, Sale-Dessu. Are you willing to do some research for me?”
“Oh no, I’m not gonna let you make Father your little research guinea pig again!” Eul-Bok protested.
“I’m fine with doing that,” he said, motioning to Eul-Bok to calm down. “What do you need?”
“You know about the Vampire blood power? I want you to look into that for me. I want to research it myself, but I’m having a lot of difficulty. I figured you might be able to look into it for me.”
Sale-Dessu looked uncertain. “I’m not sure the results of research on that would be as good as what you asked for in the past…oh! I almost forgot!”
He handed her a bag. “I never did give you the books you asked for, but here they are. Take care of them, please. I’d have a lot of difficulty replacing them…”
“Yes, everyone knows this already.” La-Iin looked up at him. “I hate to say this. I really hate to say this, because I don’t like thanking anybody. But thank you, Sale-Dessu. You being my ally has led to many good things. And if my little hypothetical theory is correct…”
The smirk that started on La-Iin’s face sent a shiver down Sale-Dessu’s spine. “Oh–well–I’m happy to help. And I’ll see what I can do.”

9.586.Fightercise

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 586
“Fightercise”

“I bet you want the toy, don’t you?”
Choungetsu stared up at La-Iin, sitting patiently and eyes on the toy. La-Iin glanced at his tail. It was twitching slightly.
“Well, that’s too bad! You didn’t get the toy first, and now I have it, so you’ll never get it–”
Choungetsu jumped up and ran off with the toy. “Hey!” La-Iin chased after him, but by the time she caught up with him, he was hiding in an area too crowded for her and him to be in it at the same time.
“Damn you, Choungetsu! You’ll taste my revenge soon enough!”
“La-Iin, what are you doing on the floor? And don’t think I didn’t hear you curse.” Mit-Sun walked past, holding a basket of laundry.
“You act like you enforce punishments for me cursing, when the reality is that you don’t,” La-Iin sighed, standing up. “And I was trying to play keep-away with Choungetsu, but he took advantage of my momentary distraction.”
“Hm.”
“At least it’s more than you’ve been doing!”
“Actually, I’ve been doing a lot, but since you’ve been off in your own world lately, you probably haven’t noticed. I’ll admit that most of the stuff I’ve been doing lately is things I used to do, but so what? At least it’s something. Besides, it’s been nice to pick sewing back up again.”
“Ooh.”
“Of course you’d ‘ooh’ at that. Anyway, speaking of that, let me ask you a question, La-Iin. I’ve been taking up exercising lately, what about you?”
“You don’t even need to ask that question. I take Choungetsu on walks! I fly almost everywhere, and it would be everywhere if you’d let me fly in the house. And most of the time, when I go places, I have to walk a long way to get there. One of my favorite places to go is almost two hours away, and it’s worth the whole walk. Or flight. I guess flying makes it take less than almost two hours.”
“Uh huh.” La-Iin sounded confident. “I guess you do get a lot of exercise, more than I do, anyway. Still, your methods are…questionable. And have you done any of those things lately?”
La-Iin stared blankly at Mit-Sun. “I took Choungetsu on a walk recently.”
“I guess so,” she sighed. “And I can’t exactly call you out on not doing much. You might spend a lot of time in your head, but you’ve been drawing, dancing, playing with Choungetsu and Bes-Isa…everything short of doing any chores.”
La-Iin scoffed. “Oh, poor, poor Mama. Getting competitive with her daughter, how sad.”
“I wasn’t getting competitive!”
La-Iin smirked. Mit-Sun sighed. “Obviously you aren’t going to believe me no matter how many times I deny it, so I’m ending this here.”
“So you admit defeat, and the fact that you were getting competitive!”
“Now look who’s getting competitive! Besides, I know it’s impossible to manage you. If I had continued going on, you only would have said that because I kept going on, that meant that I was denying becoming competitive!” Mit-Sun sighed and slammed her face into the laundry; her words slightly muffled, she said, “Some days I don’t understand myself how I deal with you every day…”
“Cahongyuns don’t admit defeat! And even if you will, I shall continue on that legacy! For someday the Cahongyun family will be my name!”
Mit-Sun lifted her face out of the laundry and stared at La-Iin. “What the hell are you talking about? Oops!”
La-Iin’s smirk only widened. “It doesn’t matter, Mama. If you want me to exercise, for once I’ll actually listen to you. Because you’ve given me a great idea.”
She spread her wings and flew for the door. “Hey, where are you going!?”
“To go and meet with Fer-Shi! If you don’t believe me, call her in an hour.” Before Mit-Sun could say any more, La-Iin flew out the door and slammed it shut.

***

“You want to do what!?
La-Iin punched the air and twitched her wings as she explained her idea to Fer-Shi. “Mama tried to tell me that I don’t exercise, and I proved her wrong spectacularly. But when she said that, she gave me a burning desire to fight someone!”
La-Iin stopped the motions and faced Fer-Shi. “It’s been a while since I had a good fight, and for as much as I like to pull out over someone more powerful than me, right now I feel like taking down a weakling!”
“Hey, who says I’m a weakling! And um…what do you mean by a while since you had a good fight?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“I actually would,” Fer-Shi said.
“Some people are more accommodating of my desires than others,” she said. “Certain people who have powers even I struggle dealing with. Though, this last fight happened before I developed my blood powers. So I suppose that now, it doesn’t matter. I can go and meet up with a certain someone and we’ll be on even ground. Somewhat.”
Fer-Shi had a feeling she knew who La-Iin was referring to right away. She could see it now–San-Kyung raising vines from the ground and wrapping them around La-Iin’s arms and legs, walking towards her with his hands lit with flames. It was a horrifying sight, and though La-Iin looked ready enough to take off, Fer-Shi couldn’t stand the idea.
“Okay, okay, I’ll fight you!”
“Really?” La-Iin smiled, though it quickly dropped. “Oh no. You’re not becoming a major doormat like Granddami, are you!?”
“No, I’m not becoming a doormat. I’ve actually gotten better at not being that than I used to be.”
“Fair enough.”
“I just don’t want you to get killed. And I feel like there’s a better chance of avoiding that if I’m the one who fights you…”
“I won’t get killed. Not before fulfilling my purpose, anyway.” La-Iin looked around. “We should probably do this somewhere where your Mama and Dami can’t see. I don’t want them interrupting our fight!”
When La-Iin mentioned Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu, Fer-Shi felt a sudden wave of remorse. ‘I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. But this is the better, safer option, right? It’s better than just sending her to her death…’
The two walked away from her house and across the street. Fer-Shi wanted to avoid Hei-Maj’s cove, and so walked a short distance further before they went into the forestry.
“Bushes near your house are too prickly,” La-Iin complained.
“Bushes are always prickly,” Fer-Shi told her. The two stretched and stood in the middle of a small clearing.
“Okay, since I agreed to this, I just want to say a few things. Please don’t suck my blood as part of the fight, and let’s not do anything too dangerous, oka–”
La-Iin flew at Fer-Shi before she could finish, then flew above her and dove for her once more. Fer-Shi tried to run away, but La-Iin was faster, caught her, and pinned her to the ground.
“Too easy.”
Terrified, Fer-Shi scooped up some dirt and tossed it in La-Iin’s face. La-Iin staggered off of her, trying to pick the dirt out of her eyes. The sight made Fer-Shi feel terrible. She didn’t dare try and take advantage of the situation, which was why just moments later, she ended up in a much similar situation.
“Take that!” La-Iin yelled. Fer-Shi backed into a tree and La-Iin pinned her against it. She blinked dirt out of her eyes and met La-Iin’s–they were alight with the thrill of the fight. The sight made her shudder.
She wiggled free from La-Iin’s grasp and tried to run. La-Iin flew up behind her and tried to carry her off into the sky, only to drop her soon after. Fer-Shi was stunned by the fall, and so didn’t retaliate. When La-Iin came flying for her once more, she grabbed her arms and the two became locked in a tussle.
“Let’s just stop this before it gets too violent!” Fer-Shi yelled.
“Never! I’m enjoying this thrill!”
The two rolled around in the upturned dirt. Fer-Shi only managed to keep La-Iin below her for a few minutes more, as after that La-Iin turned them over, pinned Fer-Shi’s dress down with a rock, and stood on her legs.
She gave a cackle of delight.
“STOOOOOP!”
La-Iin flinched and backed off of Fer-Shi, who sat up, shook her hair out, and stared La-Iin down.
“Look, I’m only going to say this once. I get it, you like violent stuff and fighting and things like that, but if we keep going this way I’m going to end up furious with you! There has to be a limit to these sorts of things. You’re too competitive!”
“I am not,” she said.
“You are so!”
“I am–actually, you have a good point. I’m very competitive.” La-Iin shook her head. “You’re right. Fighting isn’t for us two. And besides, against you I barely got any exercise.”
“Hey!”
La-Iin smirked. “I’ll stick to fighting teenage boys from now on. How’s that sound?”
Fer-Shi gasped. “No! You’ll get killed!”
“But maybe not right now.”
“Not ever again if I have anything to say about it!”
“But will you, Fer-Shi? Will you?”

—–
The two girls head back to Fer-Shi’s home to tidy themselves up. La-Iin managed to make it to the bathroom before being spotted, but Tei-Sheu quickly caught sight of her daughter’s disheveled state.
“What the–! Fer-Shi, how did you get so dirty?”
“Um, there’s a good explanation for it, Mom! You see–”
“Really, Fer-Shi, you need to be less rambunctious,” La-Iin said. “Look at you. All dirty.”
“You frikkin’ hypocrite! You were dirty just a moment before!”
Tei-Sheu sighed. She decided to call Mit-Sun; just as she did, the phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Tei-Sheu. Is La-Iin over there?”
“Yes. Yes she is.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Oh shit.”

7.584.That First Friend

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 584
“That First Friend”

The central of the neighborhood was abuzz with noise that afternoon as children played together. Their raucous noise was infectious to their nearby parents, who instead of chatting mundanely like they normally did, had begun to play with each other, running around and giving hearty laughs.
Despite the cheerful mood of most other people there, Dosa-Mina couldn’t find it in him to share in it. He had believed that once he and his parents had moved to Bledger, the knowledge of him being a Werewolf-Siren would disappear. Everyone except his parents would see him as a Normal from then on.
Those hopes had been quickly dashed. Once they saw his parents nearly everyone knew, and those who didn’t were quickly corrected in that Dosa-Mina was their biological son and not adopted. He did want to play with the other children, but a pervasive fear that someone would question him on his species kept him from doing so. More than not wanting his species to be known, he didn’t want the other children to know that he was half and half.
“Hi, Dslellular!”
Dosa-Mina looked up. The girl who had approached him was called Xarta Sirlie-Baecho–Dosa-Mina had met her soon after moving to the neighborhood along with the rest of her family. She seemed nice enough, but he was still reluctant to approach anyone.
“Hi, Xarta.”
“Why’re you so down? Everyone else is playing. Why, nobody want to play with you? I can play with you. The tag kids were getting bored of me anyway. It’s not my fault I’m so great at tag!”
“I’m just…never mind, it’s not important.”
“Yeah it is. You’re sad and you’re leaving yourself out. What’s wrong?”
“…” Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure how to respond. Something gave him the feeling that Sirlie-Baecho wasn’t going to leave him alone unless she got a response. “I’m just kind of sad. I didn’t want anyone in the neighborhood to know about my species.”
“Why not?”
“Just…’cause.”
Sirlie-Baecho sighed. “It is pretty weird that you always look like a Normal, but why should that keep you from playing with everyone else?”
“I thought the other kids would just ask me about it, so I didn’t want to risk it.”
“Most of us will play with you anyway. We live in Vaelyn, Dslellular! Remember, we care more about if you came from overseas than if you’re a Werewolf-Siren! Besides, that’s a fun combination!”
“…”
“But I don’t care if you want to be a Werewolf-Siren or a Normal. I just want you to smile. You’re breaking the mood here! So let’s play! I still feel like playing tag, after all!”
“…” Dosa-Mina sighed. “I guess we can play for a little bit.”
“Okay! But I’ll show you, I really am a tag master!”
Sirlie-Baecho clapped her hands, and wings sprouted from her back. Dosa-Mina felt slightly at ease. Perhaps he was letting his worry get to him a bit too much. Even if the people in the neighborhood knew his species, that was still just the people in the neighborhood. And so long as people didn’t see him in his true form, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.
After all, it wasn’t as if there was anything he could do about it now that it was common knowledge.

***

Dosa-Mina head out to the neighborhood central. It had been a while since he had been out there, and today the central was fairly empty–most of the time children or teenagers would be hanging out around there, but today only one person was there ahead of him, and that was Sirlie-Baecho.
Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure why his old friend had summoned him so suddenly, but with nothing better to do he figured it wouldn’t hurt to meet with her. He sat down on the bench next to her.
“Hi, Sirlie,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Hey. I’m glad you actually came. I really thought you were gonna ditch.”
“Why would I do that? You’re my longtime friend.”
“Yeah, but we haven’t really been getting together much lately, have we? After all, you’re with that San-Kyung boy a lot now. I’ve seen he makes you happy. That makes me happy.”
“Yeah, we are pretty close. But you’re still a good friend of mine too.”
“I know that. And I wouldn’t have called you out here if I wasn’t a little concerned.”
Now that was unexpected. “What about?”
“Well, you haven’t been coming outside often, but I’ve seen the looks on your face when you do. You don’t seem as happy lately. What’s up? You know I’m gonna be the first to question you when you’re sad. ….okay, maybe more like the fourth, but I’d be the first if I had my way.”
“Oh….well, it’s nothing really. Just a couple of minor things. San-Kyung’s a little down, and before Summer break, there were two girls who were bothering us.”
“Like at Deatrou?”
“No, not like that. I can handle that. It’s a lot different…they’re suspicious about my true species.”
“Oh man. Geez, Dosa-Mina, I don’t think that’s gonna stay a secret forever. You do pull it off pretty flawlessly, but it isn’t even completely a secret now.”
“I’ll keep trying to keep it hidden anyway. Hopefully they’ll guess wrong and I can prove otherwise. But they kept asking me to sing, so I’m really worried…you can’t just pass that one off with incompetence, after all. I can’t sing badly, and even if I could it wouldn’t change the effects.”
“Yeah…well, you know you’re always welcome to come to me with your problems, right? I’ll lend an ear. I actually wish you would rely on me more when it comes to your problems. I feel kind of overshadowed by San-Kyung sometimes.”
“Sorry.”
Sirlie-Baecho shook her head. “‘s fine, I know you two are close. And it’s not like you’re the only one with other friends. I’ve got a few friends at my school. I just can’t help but remember playing with you when we were younger. We’d come up with games that lasted us so long they’d go into a week before we were done! Remember the pirate adventure game?”
Dosa-Mina giggled. “Yeah, I remember that one. I think that took us longer than a week, though!”
“Maybe, but point stands, it took a long time for us to finish that one!”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “I’m really sorry we haven’t gotten together much lately, Sirlie. Things have been weird ever since I became a teenager.”
“What doesn’t become weird after you hit the big one-three? But quit apologizing. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay, that’s all. Seeing you happy is my top priority. And hey, we haven’t talked for months, and this conversation wasn’t awkward at all.”
Dosa-Mina smiled, and Sirlie-Baecho pulled him into a hug. “Geez, Dosa-Mina, you’re such a cutie now! No wonder that San-Kyung boy likes you so much. Sometimes I feel less like your best friend and more like yer doting big sister!”
“You’re younger than me though, aren’t you?”
“Hey!” She ruffled his hair and let him go. “But seriously. If there’s one thing I have over this San-Kyung boy, it’s that I get to see the shy and awkward side of you. That in and of itself makes me happy. And there’s one thing I can do for you that he can’t.”
“What’s that?”
Sirlie-Baecho clapped her hands and grabbed him from the waist. “Show you what it’s like to fly!” She took off into the sky, only struggling slightly with Dosa-Mina’s weight–it was his height that she was having a harder time of managing.
“Geez, why are you so tall now!?”
‘I guess now would be a bad time to tell her about the levitation,’ he thought. ‘Oh well, I can enjoy this for now…’

—–
When Dosa-Mina returned home, Sirlie-Baecho accompanied him. Elai-Riya greeted the two, and she smiled when she spotted Sirlie-Baecho.
“Hello there, Sirlie-Baecho,” Elai-Riya said. “It sure has been a while since you’ve come by here.”
“Yeah. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of the pumpkin boy, though. I ain’t gonna stay long. Just reconnecting with Dosa-Mina.”
She hugged him again. “You come to me if anything’s wrong, a’ight? Even if we spend three years apart, we’ll still be friends. I ain’t gonna judge you.”
“Thanks, Sirlie.” He hugged back. “Not sure I’ll take you up on that, though. You know I don’t like talking about myself.”
“I know, I know. Well then, come over if you need someone to cheer you up, then?”
“Sounds good. I think I’ll take you up on that offer.”
Sirlie-Baecho let him go and waved to Elai-Riya. “Bye bye, Dslellulars! And see you soon or later, doesn’t matter–I look forward to our next meeting anyway, Dosa-Mina.”
She clapped her hands and flew off. Dosa-Mina closed the door.
“It’s nice to see that you still get along with her after all these years,” Elai-Riya said. “Especially considering she’s a lot nicer than San-Kyung is.”
“Well, San-Kyung is San-Kyung and Sirlie is Sirlie. And they’re both very important to me, just for different reasons.”
‘I never consider her when I think about my and San-Kyung’s plan,’ he realized. ‘Demons are long-lived, but maybe, just maybe…maybe he and I can wait for her. I’ll have to look into something to help extend the lifespans of Animated Pumpkins along with Operation Reboot, just in case.’