10.648.Confronted Once More

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 648
“Confronted Once More”

La-Iin had had a thought, Friday after classes.
As she watched the students head out the classroom, some chatting with friends before and as they left, her eyes were focused on Ai-Reia, who waved to Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima as they departed.
La-Iin sighed to herself. After her disastrous encounters with Ai-Reia earlier in the year, she had given up on the girl. It seemed her plan to ignite evil feelings in her had backfired, and that if she had any such feelings they were now directed towards her instead of working in her favor. Still, as she thought on her plans for Hypotheory, she found Ai-Reia popping into her head more than once.
‘She almost seems a little goody-goody now. That wouldn’t be surprising. Fyuori and Kokohara are goody-goodies, I think. I wonder if I can do something with that…’
Ai-Reia’s smarts were always one of the things La-Iin figured would be most helpful on her side. Now that it seemed quite likely she was permanently against her, it seemed more like a significant problem.
So La-Iin had made a decision. She was going to approach Ai-Reia for the first time in a while. She watched Ai-Reia closely as she waved to Kim-Koou, then stalked over to her.
“Where’re you going, La-Iin?”
La-Iin turned around and glared. Fer-Shi had been the one to speak up.
“Ahead of you,” she said coolly. “See you Monday, Fer-Shi. At the latest.”
“Um, okay? See you Monday, I guess?”
La-Iin shook her head. She walked up behind Ai-Reia and tapped her on the back.
“Eek!” Ai-Reia turned around, her eyes wide.
“A student told me he wanted to talk to you before you go,” La-Iin said. “I know you don’t like me, but he seemed shy about speaking up and turned to me for help.”
Ai-Reia glared. “What the…are you serious…” She scoffed. “La-Iin, you seem only smart enough to remember I don’t like you, La-Iin. Why should I believe you? You wouldn’t do this, I can guarantee it. You don’t care enough about others to do so.”
“How do you know? I have friends in school. But okay. You don’t want to do it. I guess I could always tell him about you trying to kill me, then.”
Ai-Reia’s eyes widened. “What–! I–”
La-Iin smirked. “Come with me, Ai-Reia. I’m sure he’s getting impatient.”
“Ho–how do I know this mystery boy even exists?”
“Oh, he does, but if you want me to raise the stakes I could tell the entire class as well as him. Oh Class D~–”
“Fine, fine, I’ll come with you! Geez, who even said that the class would believe you…”
Her common sense was telling her that even if La-Iin told the class she wouldn’t be believed, but on the inside she was terrified. La-Iin’s words only reminded her of the dark time in her life, and she didn’t want to think on that even if other students chalked La-Iin’s words up to a silly rumor.
As far as she was concerned, all that could stay in the past.
La-Iin led her outside and a short distance away from the crowd leaving Malicerie. She faced Ai-Reia with her usual expression.
“So? Where’s this boy?”
“He doesn’t exist.”
Ai-Reia scoffed. “I should have known! I shouldn’t have let your threat get the better of me. Forget you! I have to head home.” She turned away from La-Iin.
“I’ll still tell Class D, you know.”
Ai-Reia froze.
“Why are you so concerned? Who even says they’ll believe me?”
“Exactly. The problem is…I’ll remember.” Ai-Reia turned around. “Fine, you win, La-Iin. What do you want?”
“Oh, to talk. It’s been so long.”
Ai-Reia huffed. “Let me guess. This is about me ‘assisting’ you. That’s not happening.”
“I thought you would say that. You’ve gone soft, Ai-Reia.”
“Are you serious? This is the way I prefer to live life. Admittedly having friends wasn’t in my initial plan, but I’d prefer this than being miserable.”
“I see.”
“If you’re done here, then I’m heading home.”
“But the thing is, it’s not about you assisting me, Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia turned around.
“It’s about earlier this year. I gave up on you assisting me. But it certainly seems like you don’t want to oppose me anymore. I was curious about that.”
“You must be deluded. I don’t want to, I just will if it’s necessary. But the police would likely do a better job of that than I could.”
La-Iin snickered. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I’m sure. In case you don’t remember, they have power suppressants on their side. Suppressants for powers which are basically all that is keeping you from being the weakling you really are.”
“Oh, it sounds like I heard the real Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia huffed. “Don’t talk to me, La-Iin. I want nothing to do with you. I will fight you if necessary but our rivalry, if you could call it something as simple as that, is a thing of the past. I am happier without you bothering me and I’m certain you’ve found other people to use. I almost feel sorry for that poor Sara girl–I’ve seen you talk to her a few times.”
“…how?”
Ai-Reia only answered with another huff. She turned away from La-Iin once again.
“Fine then, Ai-Reia, I understand. You just want to do your goody-goody stuff now. Then you can do that. I don’t need you. But remember to stay consistent.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t slip up,” she said. “Those with evil hearts are always evil at heart.”
“I think you’ve forgotten I don’t prescribe to the morality scale?”
“I know. I’m just telling you, if you want to keep your life the way it is, then work for it. Otherwise everyone will know how you really are.”
La-Iin spread her wings and flew off. Ai-Reia watched her.
“What was that all about?”
As she joined the other students on the path out of Malicerie, it nagged at her.
‘She’s just trying to get to me, saying I have an evil heart. But still…why did she say that? Is she going to tell the school what I tried to do anyway? Did she notice I had a monster in me? Just why did she say that?’
Ai-Reia sighed. ‘Oh, what’s the point in thinking on what that idiot says! Calm down, Ai-Reia. You’re fine.’

—–
‘I hope that worked.’
As La-Iin flew back home, she felt both confident and uncertain.
‘Ai-Reia was thrown off by my behavior once before. Maybe now she’ll get thrown off again. I hope so…’
She shook her head. ‘There’s always plenty of time to plan.’ She picked up her pace.

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7.615.Once More to School

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 615
“Once More to School”

The path to Malicerie was filled with students, greeting each other and chatting on their ways to school.
“And they say we’re supposed to get a new teacher!” A student from Class A said. “How will we cope if this new teacher tries to change the doctrine?”
“Shh! You’ll give the other classes the wrong idea!”
“Same old Class A,” Lirako sighed. “This Summer doesn’t seem to have changed them either.”
“I, like, don’t get what’s Class A’s problem.”
“I dunno either. They were pretty much weirdos when I first came to Malicerie, though.”
But though the mood around the students of Classes A, B, and C was similar to what it had been when they left, the Class D students felt a significantly different mood–something seemed to have changed for some of the students.
“I can only imagine what kind of hell Hyungdarou will put us through,” La-Iin said.
“You really don’t like Hyungdarou’s class, do you?”
“As if that wasn’t obvious. But maybe I don’t need to worry. After all, someday she won’t be a concern anymore.”
“Um, are you okay, La-Iin?”
“Y’know, Llanni, I still haven’t figured out what to do with that ‘information’,” Lirako whispered.
“We’ll figure something out,” Airy-Aekok whispered back. “But for now, can’t we just, like, enjoy watching him, completely oblivious to what we know?”
“I guess. Hey, maybe we can keep it that way, if it’s fun enough!”
“Hello, Ai-Reia!” Im-Dei greeted. “How was Summer?”
“Oh, Im-Dei, you already have an idea of what my Summer was like. You don’t need to ask!”
“You certainly look happy, Ai-Reia!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“And I am. I think this school year might be my best one yet. …well, this part of it, anyway.”

***

“Hello hello, Malicerie students! How goes all of you? Hope you had great Summers, and thanks kiddos for doing your Summer homework. Most of you anyway.”
“Why…why is he in drag?” Dosa-Mina said.
“I don’t even want to know…”
“Mr. Sharai, please refrain from taking the microphone while you’re dressed like that. That wouldn’t look good on you even if you were a female.”
“You’re mean, Principal. I think it looks fine on me.” He walked away from the microphone and sat with the teachers. A few students chuckled at the exchange.
“Welcome back, students of Malicerie. There aren’t really any announcements to make this year, except to welcome you all back. We’ve been working hard to improve Malicerie so that all of you can have an enjoyable school experience. We hope you’ll all continue to study hard, especially those of you who are in Grade 12.”
Lirako folded her ears to her head. “I always forget that includes me now…”
“Well, you remembered this time. That’s a start?” Deki-Tyunri said, uncertainty in his tone.
“So welcome back, dear students, and here’s to the rest of our year in Malicerie.”

“It’s good to see you again, Cahongyun,” Shuu-Kena said. “We should find some way to contact each other aside from school.”
“Maybe.”
“Me and La-Iin are able to call each other. Maybe you two can do that?” Fer-Shi suggested. Shuu-Kena began to look uneasy. “I’m not sure my family really likes it when people call them. I think our phone lines might be bugged.”
“…”
“…”
“Interesting,” La-Iin said.
“Are you tired, La-Iin? You seem kind of dreamy.”
“I’m thinking. If you want to talk to me more, it would probably be better to do at the recess area.”
“Alright,” Shuu-Kena said with a nod. “I’ll do that then!”
She took off back to her seat.
“Thinking about anything in particular? Does this have to do with San-Kyung again?”
“No. …well maybe a little…”
Fer-Shi’s comments had her focus her sights on San-Kyung. As usual, he was talking with Dosa-Mina. ‘Even as friends you never smile that way for me…’
“La-Iin?”
“What now?”
“You seem kind of angry now. Did I say something wrong?”
“No. I’m just thinking.”
‘It won’t matter much forever. Rival-boy has nothing to do with taking over the world. But San-Kyung is a different story. Soon enough things will start going my way…’
When she smirked to herself, a few nearby students found themselves unnerved.

Lirako and Airy-Aekok caught a glance of Dosa-Mina and began to giggle.
“There’s something that’s just, like, so fun about the secret itself!” Airy-Aekok said. “It was, like, pretty funny when we weren’t going to school, but it’s, like, even better now!”
“Yeah, you kind of have a point,” Lirako giggled. “Just seeing him there, all cheerful and oblivious to what we know…”
“What are you two talking about?” Deki-Tyunri asked. Both flinched.
“Nothing!” They said in unison. Deki-Tyunri gave them a suspicious glance before turning back to his notebook.
“But, like, also at the same time, it kind of feels like a shame not to tell anyone, you know?”
“Yeah. It’s so conflicting…”
“Sometimes I wonder if we should have even looked into it,” Airy-Aekok sighed.
“Hey, it was our little extra Summer homework. And you and I both know how much he hates us. We have a little something to use against him just in case.”
“I guess, but…”
Lirako glanced over her shoulder at Dosa-Mina. “But what?”
She had expected Airy-Aekok to answer, but Dosa-Mina instead looked away from San-Kyung and snapped, “Stop eavesdropping!”
“I wasn’t eavesdropping! I was talking to Llanni!”
Dosa-Mina narrowed his eyes. “Stop eavesdropping.” He turned back to San-Kyung.
“He makes it really hard not to just blurt it out right in the middle of class.”
“Yeah, he isn’t really all that nice to you, is he?”
“Now what are you two talking about?” Deki-Tyunri asked.
“Nothing! Nothing at all!”
“Yeah, like, stop eavesdropping!”

“You sure seem a lot happier, Vampiris,” Xhen-Bei said.
“Yeah. You were seeming pretty down recently,” Mi-Kou said.
“And then there was that incident…I’m glad to see you look a lot better,” Kim-Koou said. “But are you really okay?”
“I’m more than okay. After that incident I knew I had to resolve to prevent something like that from happening ever again. So I have. There were just some things going on at the time, and I let my stress get the better of me. But now I am definitely better. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank us!” Xhen-Bei said. “We were just worried. That incident…sorry to bring it up again, but it was scary,” he said, folding his ears to his head.
“Don’t worry at all. I’m okay now. I promise.”
“Alright,” Mi-Kou said. “Well, we should get back to our seats.”
Once the trio had left, Ai-Reia sighed. “That’s the third group who bothered me today…”
“They’re just worried about you, Ai-Reia,” Shuera-Kaizima said. Ai-Reia nearly jumped out of her seat.
“Please don’t sneak up on me like that!”
“S-sorry. But yeah, people were just worried about you. Me and In-Dei were too.”
“I know. I just didn’t think it had attracted that much attention.”
“Well, it was pretty scary! But you really do seem a lot better, Ai-Reia, and that is most important.”
“Well, I feel a lot better, too.” She glanced behind her at La-Iin, who was staring at the wall with an absent look on her face. “Not even the face of my enemy is enough to bring me down…”
“Hm?”
“Ah, it’s nothing important. You should get back to your seat. The last class is about to start.”
“Oh, okay!”

“Hey, La-Iin, class is over!” Fer-Shi said. She snapped her fingers in front of La-Iin’s face, and she flinched.
“I really have figured out how to do this!” Fer-Shi said, staring at her fingers.
“Snapping your fingers is easy.”
“You only say that because you have Bes-Isa.”
“Maybe, but I think that stands for something. Non-Normals, who can use V-Puppetry, can snap perfectly well, while the Normal who was never able to is so excited to learn how.”
“…” Fer-Shi glared at her.
“Making Normal jokes is no fun with you anymore.”
“I’ve grown up, La-Iin. I kind of think you need to as well…”
La-Iin hissed. “I’ll still be making Normal jokes even at nine-hundred-and-fifty. I’ll be making them to your ghost! ….if there are ghosts…”
“Oh La-Iin…”
“It doesn’t matter. I have a good feeling about this school term…”
“Hm? Why?”
La-Iin smirked. “I just think something great is going to happen during it…”
“Ooo-kay? Well, I hope it does! I’m kinda looking forward to it to.”
The two girls continued to chat as they left the school building.

—–
“Did something seem….different to you about Class D’s atmosphere?”
“What do you mean, Milge?”
“I don’t know…something seemed odd to me. Maybe I’m overthinking it.”
“Yeah, you probably are, knowing you!”
“Hey!”

29.606.To See the Future–Part 8

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 606
“To See the Future–Part 8”

Age 8:2nd Grade
Age 9:3rd Grade
Age 10:4th Grade
Age 11:5th Grade
Age 12:6th Grade
Age 13:7th Grade
Age 14:8th Grade
Age 15:9th Grade
Age 16:10th Grade
Age 17:11th Grade
Age 18:12th Grade & Graduation
Age 19:??
Age 20:???
Age 21:????

Ai-Reia heaved a sigh.
“At the rate I’m going, I really am going to graduate at age eighteen…I won’t even be going through puberty by then, unless I end up precocious in that field too. I suppose there’s college, and here in Vaelyn, I will be a legal adult in a few months from then, won’t I? But, hm…”
“You talkin’ to yourself, sis?” Reuf-Bu asked. He smirked. “If you don’t want us to think that you’re crazy, then you shouldn’t do that with the door open! Whoa!” Reuf-Bu flinched. “Don’t threaten me like that!”
Ai-Reia was tempted to throw the cup in her hand, but she kept from doing it. “Don’t ever say something like that to me again. You make things harder for me than they need to be.”
“Sorry…well, uh, if you need me, I’ll be in the playroom, doing a puzzle…”
“I’m not interested, if that’s what you’re getting at.”
Reuf-Bu sighed. Ai-Reia turned back to her diagram. ‘My future’s a long one. There’s no telling what could happen over the span of hundreds of years. The world will change, people close to me will die, I’ll grow older…I have plenty of time to think, but I’m only eight and already in the second grade. It may be plenty of time to think, but I’m already doing something most Vampires don’t do until they’re older!’
Ai-Reia sighed. ‘Still, there’s so much to learn about the world, and with my knowledge I’m sure there’s some field I could pursue that would take up a good portion of my life. The question is, what am I going to do for a potential nine-hundred years if I’m likely to graduate high school at eighteen? I suppose there’s always the off-chance I’ll be held back a grade…’
Ai-Reia’s stare hardened. ‘But then there’s also my recovery plans. Those are an integral part of my future too. The way I handle myself as I’m growing up could be key to how my future plays out…’

***

“Hey, look over there. Isn’t that Vampiris Ai-Reia?”
“Vaelyn’s one and true prodigy! She’s only fifty years old and the discoveries she’s made so far are amazing! Did you hear that her first major discovery was at nineteen!? She wasn’t even going through puberty yet!”
“Yeah, I’m pretty proud of her. She’s something Vaelyn has that other countries don’t! Take that, Manemica! Take that, Wiencei! You other countries have nothin’ on our Vampiris!”
Even sitting far away from the group of people, their volume made it easy for Ai-Reia to hear what they had said. “A lot of people certainly think positively of you, Miss Vampiris.”
“Yes, well, I really don’t understand all the hype. Personally, I find it much more amazing when people work to be able to understand these things. I just happened to be blessed. I find that a lot less interesting.”
“Are you kiddin’ me!? Have you seen yourself!? With all your discoveries and inventions, how could you say that you haven’t put in a lot of work! Pat yourself on the back every once in a while, Miss Vampiris! You deserve it!”
Ai-Reia chuckled. “Well…no, maybe not.”
Since graduating from Malicerie back in 2026, Ai-Reia had focused a great deal of her time on studying and learning more. It seemed like an average enough schedule. She spent time doing what she wanted to, such as being with her family or with Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima, and spent the other half of her time studying.
When she was nineteen, however, she had discovered a medicine that could potentially regenerate parts of the body, to be used in keeping people alive longer. A test found that she was correct, and since then the medicine had been used for several people–including her brother Reuf-Bu, who had suffered a near-fatal car accident years later but was now as spry as he was in his thirties.
Since then she had discovered a wide variety of medicines, artifacts and had once helped turn around a guilty sentence for an innocent a few months before her execution. She was considered an inventor for the amount of new discoveries she had made. Ai-Reia loved being able to make vuyong off of studying, especially since it seemed there was still so much left for her to learn. The attention wasn’t always great, but it was just one caveat to getting to do what she wanted to.
And yet, despite her successes and her happiness, there was always a pervasive feeling nagging at her–a small part that kept her happiness from being complete even despite the fact that she had so much to be happy about.
‘I’m successful and I’m doing something I love! My family’s in good health and I’m considered the best aunt by Reuf-Bu’s children…’ That thought often tugged at her, but Ai-Reia already knew what was making her so unhappy.
“Ai-Reia!”
A familiar voice hit her ears, and she caught sight of a Catori and Birdmix walking towards her.
“It’s been a little bit since we last saw each other, hasn’t it?” Ai-Reia said.
“Yes, but that’s alright. I’ve been busy with the family business.”
“And you know how Catoris work. I have so many grandkids now it’s hard to keep an eye on them all…”
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima still looked as happy as always, and in them she could still see how they looked when they were teenagers. But it was obvious they were aging. Shuera-Kaizima’s fur was flecked with grey and Im-Dei had visible wrinkles. The two’s slow walking didn’t go unnoticed by her either. It was quite evident that her friends weren’t as young as they had once been.
“I can imagine. How many grandchildren do you have by the way?”
“Nineteen. And it sounds like five more are on the way…”
“I only have one, but I would love to have more. You know, Ai-Reia, when you’re old enough to consider it, I think you’ll really like being a mother.”
“Well, I’m still a little pubescent, so I think it should wait for now.”
“You’re definitely mature enough for it. I could never imagine doing all the amazing things you’ve done!”
“Yes, we should get together again soon, maybe for tea?” Im-Dei said.
“Yes…yes, that sounds nice.”
“I’d love to do it now, but you’re busy working on a little AI project, aren’t you?”
“Erm, y-yes, that’s right.”
“And I have to work with the family business,” Im-Dei said. “But we should definitely get together soon. It was nice to see you, though!”
“Yes, it was nice.”
“Here!” Shuera-Kaizima handed her a small container. “I made a little something for you to eat! A Kokohara family recipe!”
“Take care, Ai-Reia. We’ll see you soon.”
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima walked off. Ai-Reia stared down at the meal. It seemed to be made from a mixture of grilled tofu and beef. Her eyes started to tear up.
‘They’re so good to me, even now. But whereas I’m finishing up puberty, they’re elderly now…in the grand scheme of things, it won’t be that many years before they’re buried. And I’ll be there. I’ll be there when their children are buried. I’ll be there when their children’s children are buried. And how many more generations, how many more Kokoharas and Fyuoris will I see go before I finally look like they do? Will I see any more go after that point?’
It was a recurring thought in her mind now. She knew Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei weren’t likely to just suddenly pass away anytime soon, but that day was approaching fast. And then it didn’t matter how much success she had–her dear friends, her support, once they were gone things wouldn’t be the same again.
And she would have to live that way for centuries past that.

***

“Look, it’s Vampiris Ai-Reia.”
“Isn’t she the child prodigy?”
Was is really a lot more accurate. Just look at her picture nowadays! She was doing so great. I heard in college she really excelled! But when that Cahongyun lady became vice president, geez, she just lost it.”
“Kinda sad, really. I’m sure she could have done great things if she hadn’t gone so crazy…”
Ai-Reia grit her teeth and covered her ears. She couldn’t bear to hear what other people were saying about her. It only reminded her that much worse had been said about her–and that had come from her own friends and family.
“Ai-Reia, why’d you let this happen to you?”
“I can’t believe you’ve gone so crazy!”
Nowadays she spent most of her time on the streets. Staying in her apartment for anything aside from eating or sleeping was painful. It felt like she could hear the rumors flying around the other rooms. Now she missed the notoriety she had had as a child. She would have killed to go back to that old reputation–namely La-Iin, if she had the choice.
Of course, if she did something like that, it would gain her a completely different kind of notoriety.
It didn’t matter anyway, because the mere idea of La-Iin being in such a high position of power would have made her unhappy even if everything else in her life was going fine. But at least then she would have her family by her side; now she had nothing.
‘Maybe I should just leave Vaelyn. Then I might be happy, somewhat…start a new life somewhere else. Maybe in Wiencei or Nyappon…’
“Well, look who it is.”
Ai-Reia looked up. She met La-Iin’s icy glare. “It certainly has been a while, Ai-Reia. I’ve heard some interesting things about you since then.”
“You…!” Ai-Reia grit her teeth. She grabbed La-Iin by her collar, but to her surprise, La-Iin did not react. “Damn you! Do you understand how much grief you’ve caused me!? I thought a stupid little stalker girl could never be so dangerous, but I suppose I was mistaken!”
“Don’t blame your problems on me.” La-Iin pushed her away. “From what I’ve heard, you ended up in this position because you couldn’t stand the idea of me becoming vice president.”
“You know why. If you were any other person, it wouldn’t matter. But I know you, La-Iin. This is just part of your plan to rule the world!”
La-Iin smirked. “Smart girl.”
“You realize I can tell people what you’ve said now, right!?”
“Who will believe you? Nobody takes you seriously anymore, Ai-Reia. And that is your own fault. Your paranoia was your undoing. And you want to blame that on me? What a joke. Be willing to admit when you’ve failed, otherwise it just looks awfully pathetic.”
“You–!”
“You have hundreds of years left, anyway. If you’re so desperate to fix your life, take the chance you have now before I end up taking all of the world under my command. Well, I don’t have time to be talking to you. I have stupid stuff to do, and plans to formulate.”
She spread her wings and flew off.
Ai-Reia watched her go. She could still remember when La-Iin had been little–back then she had thought she had been harmless. Later, she had grown to think that she would do harm, but never could she imagine that her worst fears had a chance of coming true.
In despair, Ai-Reia trudged back to her apartment early, tossing around in her head the idea of ending her own suffering. ‘It’s not like anyone would care anyway. They all think I’m crazy now. Best do that instead of kill that over-pompous bitch…’

—–
‘The future has several possibilities depending on what path I take. I can’t make a plan for nine-hundred-and-something years down to the seconds, but I can try to prevent myself from ending up in a bad situation. My future is half entrusted to me, after all. I must try my best to avoid anything as bad as that other scenario happening!’
She sighed. ‘Of course, a part of the first one is inevitable…but if I can handle myself, then even that might not end up as bad as I imagine it to be.’

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.’

8.585.To Repair the Prior Year

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 585
“To Repair the Prior Year”

Memories flashed in Ai-Reia’s mind.
“GYAAAAH! CA-MIELA!”
“How what goes!? You could’ve killed Ca-Miela!”

As the minutes passed before her birthday, all she could remember was the prior year and how horrible it had been. She had a slight concern that her eighth birthday would be every bit as bad as her seventh, but for a different reason: her family either becoming concerned that she would harm Ca-Miela again, or becoming concerned about keeping her happy to the point that it was stifling.
It was hard for her to look forward to her birthday under those conditions, but the idea of having a day that miserable made her sick. So instead, she formulated a plan.
‘As long as I pretend to be happy, they won’t have any reason to believe that they need to coddle me or that I’m going to harm Ca-Miela again. And who knows, perhaps if I pretend to be happy, I actually will become happy. I feel it–that is the only way I will have any sort of true happiness tomorrow…’

***

Reuf-Bu’s bedroom door opened with a loud creak. Ai-Reia flinched, but her brother showed no signs of waking up. Cautiously, she walked over to him and began to shake him lightly.
“Reuf-Bu. Reuf-Bu.”
“Mmngh…no, no, I don’t wanna tell my parents about Cais-Elle yet, heh heh…”
‘Cais-Elle? Wasn’t that girl a classmate of his?’ The detail wasn’t all that important, so she went back to gently shaking Reuf-Bu. He groaned again and opened his eyes.
“Cais-Elle? Wait…you aren’t Cais-Elle…”
“Honestly, Reuf-Bu! You can’t tell the difference between me and some school fancy?”
Reuf-Bu sat up abruptly, his eyes wide as if he had just drunk a large pot of coffee. “I–I don’t have a school fancy with Cais-Elle!”
“Hm.”
Reuf-Bu stiffened. “Ergh–I mean–yeeees, what do you need, birthday girl?”
“Oh, so you remembered?” Ai-Reia tried to make her face light up. Reuf-Bu’s expression gave her no indication of whether or not she had succeeded. “I was lonely because nobody else had woken up yet, so I figured of everyone in the house you would be the most likely to pay attention to me if I woke you up. I would like to do a puzzle with you!”
“Of course you would. It feels like with you and me, it’s nothing but puzzles…”
“Is a thousand and eighty pieces too much?”
“A thousand and eighty–!” Reuf-Bu gasped. “Ai-Reia, what is this!? Is this some sort of portrait of a major historical figure or something!?”
“It’s a large picture of cartoon depictions of the countries in the world.”
“Ah…ahaha, I guess you are still a little kid….but geez…a thousand and eighty pieces!? Seriously, what the hell!?”
Ai-Reia covered her mouth. Reuf-Bu sighed. “Sorry.”
“No, it’s fine. I curse myself from time to time, but I keep most of those locked away inside my head instead of letting them cross my lips.”
“Acting high and mighty, aren’t we?”
“I’d usually take offense to what you said, but I can’t find it in myself to care right now. Really, I do want to do a puzzle with you, Reuf-Bu. After all, you mistook me for Cais-Elle…I might have to ask Mother and Father just who she is for you to have mistaken me for her…”
Reuf-Bu flinched. “Now you’re just being a sadist!”
“What’s a sadist?”
“Don’t play dumb with me, Ai-Reia. I know you know what a sadist is.” He stretched, yawned, and hopped out of bed. “Fine, I’ll do the puzzle with you, but you have to wait for me to get ready first.”
“I can wait. I’ll be in the living room scrambling the pieces!”
Ai-Reia dashed out the room. ‘Geez, she’s energetic today. Why does something feel a little off about that?’

When Reuf-Bu had come out to do the puzzle, he had a larger reaction to the number of pieces, and Ai-Reia couldn’t suppress a giggle. Nevertheless, they ended up putting together most of the pieces in a shorter amount of time than both of them expected–mostly thanks to Ai-Reia, though Reuf-Bu placed quite a few pieces.
“I think you’re getting the hang of going against me in a puzzle battle, Reuf-Bu,” she said.
“Puzzle battle!? Since when was this anything like that?”
“Since today. Eight is an age of change, you know.”
“What I know is that most eight-year-old Vampires I’ve known are still using the potty, contrary to what you’re doing.”
“It just proves that with an advanced brain, you can overcome any physical shortcoming.”
“Okay, you’re really being obnoxious today. This isn’t indicative of how you’re going to be throughout all of eight, is it?”
Ai-Reia chuckled. “Of course not. Don’t worry about it, brother. I’m only forcing you because today is my birthday.” She cracked a smile at him; when she opened her eyes, she spotted a yawning Zih-Amo walking past them.
“Hello, Zih-Amo! Good morning!”
“Oh….good morning, Ai-Reia,” she said. “Happy birthday.”
“Thank you. Oh, oh, Zih-Amo! I wanted to ask you if we could do something.”
“Hm?”
“Me and Reuf-Bu are doing a puzzle right now, but I thought maybe after that, you and I might do a little flying around? I would really like that.”
“Usually you don’t,” Zih-Amo said. “What changed?”
“She’s claiming eight means everything is changing for her,” Reuf-Bu said.
“Well, it sounds fun right now. You can wake up a bit more first, though. Me and Reuf-Bu still have to finish this puzzle.”
“Oh, okay. Still, that is pretty strange.”
“No, no, Reuf-Bu, that piece goes here! What are you, colorblind?”
“Yep, something tells me your terrible twos were moved up to eight.”

“Woohoo!”
Ai-Reia gave shrieks of delight as Zih-Amo, holding her tight to her chest, flew above their house in arcs and swirls. Zih-Amo was becoming dizzy spinning around so much, and it astounded her that Ai-Reia didn’t seem dizzy in the slightest. She was happy to see her sister with a smile on her face, but something about it unsettled her.
‘I guess I just can’t forget what her diary said…’
“Zih-Amo, you’re slowing down!” Ai-Reia snapped.
“S-sorry, Ai-Reia! Ohh, now you’re gonna pay! We’re gonna do a mega loop-de-loop now!” She began to do a backwards cascading loop. Ai-Reia shrieked in delight, while for Zih-Amo it took all her fortitude to keep herself from vomiting.
“Playing with Ai-Reia, Zih-Amo?”
Their parents voices distracting her, Zih-Amo only narrowly finished her backwards cascading loop before landing slowly on the ground and falling over, the world spinning around her. Ai-Reia ran up to her parents with a smile.
“Mother, Father! Do you two have free time right now?”
“Well, nobody else is asking for our attention, and your father has the day off, so I suppose we do,” her mother said. “Why?”
“I’d like to make some birthday treats for everyone in the house. My birthday is of course mostly for my enjoyment, but I think all the rest of you should enjoy it too!”
Her parents glanced at each other and smiled. “Sure, Ai-Reia. We’d be glad to help you with that.”
“Especially considering we don’t want you to hurt yourself…”
Ai-Reia’s expression fell briefly before she broke out into another wide smile. “Thank you!”
Though they were pleased with their daughter’s sudden cheerfulness, that brief moment where she had shown them a frown made them feel slightly uneasy, and that feeling continued as they followed Ai-Reia into the house.

Ai-Reia hummed a tune as she cut dough into shapes and mixed together a filling made of blood, marshmallows and frosting. She seemed cheerful as she stuffed the dough with the filling, some even to the point where the filling leaked slightly out the opening in the dough. She seemed to want to make each shape unique, and so did things such as etch in a small crack in one heart-shaped piece and create a striped pattern on one star-shaped one.
She almost seemed genuinely happy, and yet there was something that unsettled her parents about the sight, as if there was something artificial about her motions.
“You two trust me more than I thought,” Ai-Reia said. “I basically got to do this whole thing by myself!”
“Oh, well, yes, we do,” her father said. “Of course we do. You are fairly mature for a Vampire who’s just eight. Cooking is the least of our concerns.”
“Um–! Though I am a little concerned about the sweetness of that filling…”
Ai-Reia smiled and sighed. “It’s just because it’s my birthday. Besides, the blood should cut the sweetness some, don’t you think?”
“I guess that’s true,” her mother sighed.
Ai-Reia stuck the pastries into the oven. “Well, I think I should go and do something else. Would you mind keeping an eye on these for me?”
“We wouldn’t mind, I guess,” her father said. Ai-Reia flashed him a wide smile, then took off.
“Something’s definitely wrong,” her father said.
“I feel that way too. But I just don’t know what to do about it…”

***

Ai-Reia head into her parent’s room. It was the same as normal, though Ai-Reia still found the sight of Ca-Miela’s temporary playroom jarring. Her parents had turned a small corner of the room into a place where Ca-Miela could play, and that was where she was now, though she seemed tired as if she might fall asleep at any moment.
“Ca-Miela,” Ai-Reia said. “Look at you. So innocent. If anyone could really brighten up my day, it would be you…strange considering how last year went between you and me.”
She flinched when she heard the door creak. In a moment she had flashes of the previous year, the looks on her parents’ faces, the looks on her siblings’ faces, the sound of Ca-Miela’s crying. But when she looked up, she didn’t spot her parents or siblings–instead standing there was Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei, holding presents.
“…Fyuori? Kokohara?”
“Hello, Ai-Reia, and happiest of birthdays!” Shuera-Kaizima said cheerfully. Ai-Reia looked up past her, at Im-Dei, and noticed that standing behind the two was her family, who watched her with a strangely serious expression.
“We wanted to see you today. We had to go through several hoops to figure out where to find you.”
“But we finally did, and without resorting to illegal tactics, too.”
“Oh…” She broke out into smiles. “Well, it’s so nice to see you two!”
“Actually, Ai-Reia, there is something we want to discuss,” Shuera-Kaizima said, her voice becoming strangely serious. Ai-Reia blinked at her. “What would that be?”
“Do you remember what we told you a while back, Ai-Reia?”
“Huh?”
“You can show your true self to your family too,” Shuera-Kaizima told her. “Not just a fake self.”
“What…?”
And then, it clicked. The same attitude she had put upon to keep her family from worrying about her had only served to worry them still. Ai-Reia’s face twitched. At first, she wasn’t sure what to say.
“I just wanted to be happy myself, you know,” she whispered. “I figured if I acted this way, I’d be able to have a genuinely happy birthday. But now I know, all I did was worry you, just as I always do…”
“You know, showing your true self to your family doesn’t mean being always miserable, Ai-Reia. It just means show them how you feel. So right now, how do you feel?”
Ai-Reia looked up at them, her eyes tearing up but her mouth turned up in a smile. “Well, I guess I would have to say…I’m actually a little happy.”
Her family and friends began to smile. Not a single one seemed forced to Ai-Reia, and that made her heart feel lighter. Even Ca-Miela gave her a gummy smile.

—–
“These pastries are good!” Shuera-Kaizima exclaimed.
“Thank you.”
“They have a strange kick to them. Is there a secret ingredient?”
“Perhaps for you two,” Ai-Reia said, her smile innocent. “There’s blood in there.”
Im-Dei paled, and Shuera-Kaizima put her ears back. They looked to Ai-Reia, waiting for her to break out into laughter or say she was lying, but not once did she do either of those things.

16.562.A Ca-Miela Conflict

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 562
“A Ca-Miela Conflict”

Ai-Reia stared down at the small shape lying on her bed and crying. As opposed to her normal shrieks, right now Ca-Miela was only letting out a small, thin wail, as if she lacked the energy to cry harder. Just the sight of her contorted face was making her angrier.
“They love you best, don’t they?” Ai-Reia said. “Well then, I might be doing them a favor by taking you out before you’ll be too missed.”
Ai-Reia reached for the closest thing to her that could be a weapon, and found a pen. She jabbed the pen into Ca-Miela’s chest. Ca-Miela began to wail loudly, but Ai-Reia didn’t hear anyone running to see her, so she continued on.
Soon enough despite the blood flowing from her chest it became evident to her that Ca-Miela would not die by that pen alone. Desperate to finish her off, she reached for the next closest thing, a broom. She began to whack Ca-Miela with the broom. Ca-Miela gave several shrill shrieks before the volume of her voice died down until she was no longer making any noise. Taking a quick breath, Ai-Reia brought the broom down one last time to check for any reaction.
Ca-Miela lay on the bed bloodied and beaten, her eyes wide open and cloudy. Her wings had been crushed into her back. Ai-Reia chuckled to herself and continued to stare down at what used to be her sister as everything around her went pitch black.

Ai-Reia woke with a start, gasping for breath. She checked her bed. There was no sign of blood. The broom was not in her room. The events of the dream had not taken place.
‘I haven’t had violent thoughts about Ca-Miela in a long time. Dammit, I thought I moved past that this April! But maybe I’ve just been repressing it for my own good.’
The thought brought back to her memories of her seventh birthday. ‘What’s wrong with me? Why do I have these violent thoughts and dreams? I understand my resentment towards her, but there’s no reason for this level of vitriol.’
It was still dark outside. Feeling uncertain, Ai-Reia got out of bed and head for her parent’s bedroom. Her mother and father were fast asleep, but Ca-Miela was not, sitting up in her crib and glancing around wildly as if looking for something. When she laid eyes on Ai-Reia, she gave a small smile.
Ai-Reia breathed a sigh of relief, then reached into the crib and pulled her out. She checked her parents for any sign that they were waking up, then she fled the bedroom with her sister, who giggled as she ran.
‘What are you doing? How can you trust yourself alone with her?’ The dream flashed back in her mind, and for a moment she nearly dropped Ca-Miela in fear. Ca-Miela was still giggling and cooing with a smile on her face, pulling at Ai-Reia’s hair. ‘No. This has nothing to do with recreating the dream. I know what I plan on doing. My life cannot go on with me thinking such violent thoughts about Ca-Miela. I have the power to sway her onto the right path, the path of innocence. There is no reason for me to hate her unless she ends up like La-Iin, which is highly unlikely even if she does end up spoiled…I will not harm her regardless. Not in that way.’
She set her down on the bed and handed her one of her old baby toys.
“Ca-Miela, you trust your big sister, right? You don’t think I would do anything to you, do you?”
Ca-Miela reached for the toy and stuck it in her mouth. She smiled. ‘Right. Look at her eyes. She trusts me. She probably doesn’t even remember the jump rope incident. But that won’t last forever. That’s why I need to move past this. Ca-Miela hasn’t even been failed yet, after all.’
“Want to play with more?” She pulled out a box of her old toys. Ca-Miela gave a delighted shriek, which Ai-Reia tried to shush, but didn’t quiet her down in the end. Instead she looked at the toys, seeming to be overwhelmed by the variety, and stuck a few in her mouth.
“Goodness, Ca-Miela,” Ai-Reia scoffed, pulling the toy out her mouth. “In what year will you learn that those aren’t for going in your mouth?”
Ca-Miela cooed innocently. Ai-Reia focused on her. Still she could see the sight of the dream in her mind. “Play with them like this.”
Ca-Miela slammed a toy onto the bed. Ai-Reia sighed. “And I worry about being the violent one….no, she’s just a baby, she doesn’t know any better. Okay, Ca-Miela! Maybe toys aren’t the best thing for you so late at night.”
Ca-Miela’s expression dropped when she took the toys away, and for a moment Ai-Reia worried that she might cry. But instead she just stared at her anxiously, as if waiting for her to return the toys.
“Here, if you’d like a toy how about Bunety-Man? Reuf-Bu got this for me, but you can hold him if it will calm you down.”
‘What am I doing? It’s too late at night for this. What if mother and father wake up? Then they’ll be upset. There’s no way they’d believe that I was trying to calm myself down. What am I supposed to tell them? Oh, I had a dream about murdering Ca-Miela so I decided to bring her into my room to calm myself down? Only an idiot would believe something that sounds so excuse-worthy!’
Ca-Miela babbled. ‘And then there’s also the possibility that she might cry and give my position away to my parents and siblings…’
Ca-Miela stared at Ai-Reia, her eyes widening. She began to gently cry, holding tight to Bunety-Man.
“What’s wrong now?” Ai-Reia asked. “Was I making a scary expression?”
Ca-Miela just sobbed quietly. “I’ll get no response from a baby. Oh, please don’t cry, Ca-Miela…”
The beginning of the dream flashed back into her mind as she reached for Ca-Miela, and she flinched, knocking her over. Ca-Miela continued to cry, still holding tight to Bunety-Man. Ai-Reia felt as though she were slipping back into the dream–save for Bunety-Man and the lack of a broom, the situation was exactly the same as it was in the dream, and for a moment she panicked, hiding her face from Ca-Miela.
‘What do I think I’m doing? No matter how hard I try, I’m only a danger to Ca-Miela. Much as I want to avoid her developing a spoiled princess attitude, that’s definitely preferable to her suffering early trauma or growing up to hate me. I can’t trust myself, not like this. I can’t even keep a hold on my own mentality. Why did I ever try to trust myself alone with her!? What’s wrong with me!?’
Through her frenzied thoughts she could still hear Ca-Miela crying, and though the thought of being alone with Ca-Miela terrified her, the thought of being caught by her parents with her in this state terrified her more. She reached out to Ca-Miela and picked her up, gently rocking her.
“Please don’t cry,” she said, her voice wavering. She was beginning to feel on the verge of tears herself. “Don’t worry. If I ever become a danger to you, I won’t let myself hurt you. I promise. I’m going to do my best so that you end up as my ideal younger sister. I don’t want to hurt you…”
Ai-Reia felt uncertain of her own words. Ca-Miela stared up at her, face stained with tears but no longer gently sobbing. She reached for Ai-Reia’s hand and stuck it in her mouth, then closed her eyes and curled up next to her.
Ai-Reia remained silent, trying to get her thoughts into order. “You’re different from La-Iin, Ca-Miela. I only ever held a grudge against you for taking the time of my siblings. But in the process I discovered how much of a monster I can be…and I’m sorry. You never deserved this. I shouldn’t hold grudges against you. You did nothing wrong. You’re just a baby, after all…”
Ca-Miela gave no response, and by her gentle breathing Ai-Reia assumed she had fallen asleep. She sat there with Ca-Miela in her arms for a short while longer, finding her presence calming. She was not dead or beaten. She was not crying or scared. She was comforted and asleep, and alive. Ai-Reia rocked her back and forth gently as she tried to get her emotions into order. She looked down at her. The dream no longer flashed in her mind at the sight. She set her down on her bed. The dream flashed only briefly.
‘Maybe there’s a way to tame this beast, somewhere in me.’
Ai-Reia was tempted to leave Ca-Miela there and go back to sleep, but she knew how her parents would feel if they were unable to find her. Picking her up, she waddled back to their bedroom and gently set her down inside her crib. Then she head back to her own bedroom and curled up in her bed.
‘Perhaps all along I’ve been mistaken. I shouldn’t be having violent dreams about Ca-Miela. Even if the rest of my family turns against me, I’m certain she’ll trust me.’
Ai-Reia fell back to sleep fairly quickly, feeling emotionally fatigued.

—–
“Ai-Reia, is something the matter?” Her mother asked that morning at breakfast. “You seem tired. Did you stay up too late reading?”
“I saw her lights out, Mom,” Zih-Amo said. “What’s got you so tired, sis?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. I think I just haven’t woken up all the way yet, that’s all….”
Ca-Miela was sitting in a high chair next to her. When her family looked away, she briefly squeezed Ca-Miela’s hand. “Last night is our secret. Promise?”
Ca-Miela squealed. “Someone seems happy. I guess she likes drinking out of a bottle better!” Reuf-Bu said.
“I do too. It’s far less painful.”
Ai-Reia cracked a smile. ‘Maybe, just maybe, I can trust you.’

15.531.Mental Breakdown

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 531
“Mental Breakdown”

Ai-Reia felt as though she was once again on the path to despair.
She desperately wanted to write down her thoughts in her notebook, but she felt that Zih-Amo would get her hands on it again and read it and tell the whole family of its contents. She felt she could fix Ca-Miela, but for the effects to show it would take a while–and she had no idea if her influence on her baby sister would be vastly outweighed by the influence of her family.
Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei had also reached out to her as friends, but a constant reminder of their limited lifespan was always on her mind whenever she talked to them. It made ,any conversations she had with them unenjoyable, and in the end only served to depress her further when she arrived home from school.
There was no out. No matter how hard she tried, it would always find her. This was how it was even before she had encountered La-Iin. Nothing would ever go her way the way she wanted it to. Her family would never think of her in the same way they thought of her siblings. It was an endless loop that would never cease.
The idea of continuing on the way she was for hundreds of years was maddening. Living was becoming a chore, and she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted anymore.
If Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei somehow extended their lifespans, would that fix the problem?
If La-Iin died, would that fix the problem?
Would she recover once Ca-Miela grew up and proved her wrong?
Was it something with her family? Was she waiting for them to reach out to her?
Or was the only option her own death? Perhaps all along it had nothing to do with the fault of the world and it was just her, herself. Whatever monsters lie inside of her manifested themselves in the form of a violent dream, and if that and daydreams of La-Iin’s murder were capable of nagging at her, perhaps the truth was all along that there was no fix for her. It wasn’t as if
Maybe she really was insane, just as she was certain her family thought she was.
Whatever the case, Ai-Reia desperately wanted the night to be over. In the darkness she was left alone with her thoughts which had begun to barrage her with ideas that all along there was no cure to her sadness.

***

“Ai-Reia, aren’t you going to have breakfast?” Her mother asked.
“Hey, Ai-Reia, you don’t look so good. Get enough sleep last night?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“Ai-Reia, you okay? Your clothes are on backwards.” Zih-Amo asked.
Ai-Reia responded to none of them and head outside and on the path to Malicerie. The door opened behind her.
“Ai-Reia! You’re not ready for school yet! Come back inside!”
Her mother’s voice barely registered, but the angered tone hurt Ai-Reia. She continued on in a run, hoping to outrun the voice and make it to school.
Though her mother started to fly after her, she soon noticed that Ai-Reia was in a desperate run, going much faster than she had ever seen her daughter go. She was certain she could catch up with her, but she was momentarily stunned.
What could have happened to Ai-Reia to make her break out in that sort of run?
Ai-Reia continued on the path, her eyes bleary. She couldn’t tell with what, but either way, she continued on, occasionally tripping on the path there. She felt she could hear the sound of wings flapping behind her, but couldn’t tell if there was actually someone flying behind her or if she was just imagining it.
Something told her it was both. Ai-Reia continued on running.
The path to school was filled with students from all four classes as Ai-Reia dashed into the crowd.
“Is that girl okay?” A Class B student asked.
“She seems upset. Maybe we should do something.” Said one from Class C.
“Probably nervous that some boy’s gonna do something to her!” Said a student from Class A.
“Vampiris!” Shuera-Kaizima called. “Vampiris, are you okay?”
“Is everything alright?” Im-Dei asked.
When Ai-Reia closed in on them, the two noticed that her clothes were put on improperly; her shirt was on backwards and so her wings were underneath the fabric, and her skirt was not properly fastened and was slipping down. Her hair didn’t seem to be brushed and her normal wing hair clip was gone. Most notably to them, her face was streaked with tears and she seemed desperate to reach the school as if being pursued. While Shuera-Kaizima chased after her, Im-Dei checked the crowd to see if anyone was pursuing her, and noticed a Vampire woman flying above the crowd.
The woman spotted him and landed next to him.
“Excuse me,” she panted, “have you…did you see a Vampire girl running by?”
“I did.”
“Where did she go?”
“Into the school?”
“Thank you.”
Now on ground, she ran past the crowd. Im-Dei was confused, and hoped that the woman was Ai-Reia’s mother.
Ai-Reia scrambled into the classroom and into a random seat.
“What are you doing?” La-Iin asked as she walked by.
“Are you okay, Vampiris?”
Ai-Reia shrieked. She ducked under the seat.
“…okay…”
“I don’t think Vampiris is okay,” Fer-Shi said. “Did you notice she had her shirt on backwards? The wing-slots were in the front!”
La-Iin peeked under the desk. Ai-Reia was holding her head and shaking slightly.
‘This has nothing to do with her. It’s all because I’m a monster. There’s no escape. I wish I hadn’t been born with this stupid brain!’
“She seems messed up.”
“We should tell one of the faculty members!”
“Who? I don’t think the school faculty has anyone who deals with crazy people.”
“Well, I think anyone on the faculty would call her family to deal with this!” Fer-Shi dashed out the classroom, nearly crashing into other students who were heading in.
Ai-Reia’s strange behavior soon caught the attention of most of the Class D students, who peeked at her under the desk or watched from a distance. Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei remained at a distance, both looking horrified at the sight of their friend shaking under the desk.
“…go away…”
“No. This is too amusing.”
Ai-Reia’s eyes widened. She crawled out from under the desk and grabbed onto La-Iin’s shirt. She said nothing further, and La-Iin wondered if she should break from her grip before she reacted any further. The other students watched on in fear and curiosity, wondering what she might do to La-Iin next.
“You really are crazy,” La-Iin sighed. ‘It’s a shame. I could have used this to my advantage.’
Ai-Reia’s grip on her shirt became stronger, and La-Iin flinched, ready to break away, when a Vampire woman walked into the classroom, heading for Ai-Reia. She seemed oblivious to what she was doing and scooped her up, hugging her close.
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?” She asked. Ai-Reia didn’t respond. The woman blinked and looked at La-Iin. “Are you okay?”
La-Iin stared curiously at the Vampire woman, who seemed to lose interest in La-Iin’s response in favor of comforting Ai-Reia, who had started to sob.
While the students were distracted, Xhuzsha walked into the classroom and over to Ai-Reia’s mother. The two conversed for a short while before leaving the classroom. Fer-Shi ran over to La-Iin’s side.
“Did you get Xhuzsha?”
“Mm-hm. He sounded pretty worried when I told him about how she was acting. I hope she’s okay…”
La-Iin felt conflicted about Ai-Reia’s behavior. She chose not to dwell on it and head for her seat.

***

“I hesitate to say whether or not she had a mental breakdown, but it could be possible. Has Ai-Reia been under any particular stress lately, Mrs. Vampiris?”
“I don’t know…” She sighed. “She hasn’t been talking to us much lately…”
“Hm.” Xhuzsha glanced at Ai-Reia, who laid silent on the office’s bed. “We’ll let you take her home for today. I don’t think she’s in any condition to stay at school. I can’t claim to know her stressors and I am not a mental health professional, Mrs. Vampiris, but I did dabble in the subject before focusing on physical health. And even had I not I would recommend finding out if there is something wrong with her. With young children, especially Vampires, it can be hard to tell if it’s an actual mental illness or some other cause, but you should get her checked out regardless.”
Ai-Reia’s mother gave an absent nod. “We will, Mr. Xhuzsha.”
‘Just as I thought. It’s all a problem with me. They think I’m crazy.’
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?”
“Take her home, Mrs. Vampiris. She’ll be better off home than at school forcing herself to manage this.”
Her mother picked her up, waved to Xhuzsha, and left the room.
Ai-Reia couldn’t help but feel deeply embarrassed, and more depressed than she had been feeling just moments before.
‘Everyone witnessed that, didn’t they? Now there is no secret. Everyone knows I’m a monster. There’s no out. But no matter how much I prepared myself, I still wasn’t ready…’

—–
“Oh, the Principal wanted me to relay a message to the students of Class D–Miss Vampiris won’t be joining us for classes for a little while she recovers. We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, but she will be staying home for a short while.”
“If Ai-Reia needs to recover from being crazy, then why don’t I get to?” La-Iin grumbled.
“You’re not crazy. And I don’t think Ai-Reia is either, but there’s definitely something wrong with her.”
“Huh. Say whatever you want, Fer-Shi. This is all overblown.”
“You should be more considerate, La-Iin. You wanted Ai-Reia to be your friend.”
“She proved to me that she doesn’t want that in a violent way. I don’t owe her my concern.”
La-Iin still felt conflicted as she left the classroom. Although she genuinely felt no sympathy for Ai-Reia, she did find herself slightly concerned about what had happened.

2.518.Conspirational

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 518
“Conspirational”

“Have you heard of what Cahongyun did to Morushei, Vampiris?” Shuera-Kaizima asked her. “It sounded horrible! Almost all of Class D is terrified of her now. I am a little too…”
“Of course I have. It sounds exactly like something she would do, and I’m not surprised she did it to Molshei either,” Ai-Reia said. “In fact, I was walking out the classroom when it happened, although at the very end of what she did.”
Shuera-Kaizima’s ears twitched. “You don’t seem to like Cahongyun much, Vampiris. Even before this you didn’t like her much.”
“We didn’t talk back when we first came to Malicerie, Kokohara, and I’m not sure if you noticed the way she treated me when I first came here. But there’s no recovering from what she did back then.”
Shuera-Kaizima looked startled, but said nothing further; she scrambled back to her desk shortly before Theasis walked into the room and started Math class.
Since the Tuesday Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima had talked to her, both of them had been approaching her more often in between classes. She was grateful for their company while the break times were going on; they never talked about her family or her smarts, and focused on simple subjects or rumors and events going around the school. It never changed for her the fact that whenever she would head home for the day, she was reminded that their friendship, if there was one, would never last.
‘Outliving them is an inevitable fate. Eventually they’ll leave you behind, Ai-Reia. They have their own things to focus on. You are not a part of it.’
Yet she still longed for the times they would talk together between break times. They gave her a welcome break from her family and thoughts of La-Iin.
Ai-Reia quickly became distracted once again when she realized the first Math lesson that day was one she knew quite well. Her eyes drifted over to San-Kyung, who still looked depressed. San-Kyung was known for being on his own, save for talking to or interacting with Dosa-Mina, but it was unusual to see him as drained as he had been looking recently. Ai-Reia could only come to the conclusion that he looked that way as a result of La-Iin.
‘Hm. La-Iin and Molshei consider each other friends, but I haven’t seen them talk to each other since the bloodsucking incident. And I know Molshei is far from the most pure-hearted student in this class. Perhaps there’s something about this I could use to my advantage.’
For it wasn’t just the opening she saw from the incident that made her consider such a thing–recently, La-Iin had been on her mind frequently, as she could recall that it was around the point that La-Iin began to constantly bother her and that her life seemed to head in a downward spiral. Even dealing with all the annoying things that had come before that such as her fame and her family’s suppression of her smarts prior to that paled in comparison to La-Iin’s stalking and all that came after it.
If she could give San-Kyung an extra nudge so that he would do something about La-Iin, she could harm her enemy without doing it herself, thereby avoiding getting in trouble and also being able to watch the look of horror on La-Iin’s face as someone she considered a friend turned against her.
‘It would only be what she deserved. She hasn’t treated him well, either. And it would be so, so satisfying…’
Lost in those thoughts, Ai-Reia nearly missed a math lesson she hadn’t yet learned. She began to focus on it and allow the information to soak in.

***

Throughout her classes, Ai-Reia had already decided not to approach San-Kyung during any of La-Iin’s classes. Even being unaware of her intentions for going up to him, she felt certain that La-Iin would bother her solely on the basis of her approaching San-Kyung in the first place.
But after that she wasn’t quite sure what would be the proper time to do so. If she was overheard by the students she was certain they would be confused, and she wasn’t sure about approaching San-Kyung in the middle of class. A part of her hoped he would leave the classroom for whatever reason and give her an opening there, but as Science class started Ai-Reia realized she would have to take things into her own hands regardless of whether she wanted to or not.
After that class, she approached San-Kyung.
“Molshei, may I ask you about something?”
Ai-Reia expected San-Kyung to glare, but instead he stared at her, looking unamused. “Aren’t you a child prodigy? Figure it out yourself.”
“My child prodigy status is not important to my time at school.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “You’d think it would be.”
“I don’t understand everything about how the world works just because I’m smart, Molshei. Besides, if I’m not mistaken on average your grades are better than mine, so that should show for something.”
“I don’t help people.”
“You help me,” Dosa-Mina said.
“You’re not helping.”
“Actually, though, it’s not anything to do with grades I want to talk about,” she said, dropping her voice to a whisper. “It’s actually about La-Iin. Like many other students I was present for when she sucked your blood, and I’ve seen the state you’ve been in in days since.”
“Why does this matter to you?” Ai-Reia felt slightly startled. San-Kyung looked agitated, but his voice was devoid of most of its emotion. ‘I expected him to be more angry. I wonder if this will make things easier or harder.’
“La-Iin treated me poorly as well in the past. And while I think she’s moved past that phase in her life for both of us…I would also say to that ‘for the most part’. If she was truly through treating you badly, why would she suck your blood?”
Footsteps echoed through the hallway. “I’ll get back to you.” Ai-Reia dashed to her seat before the next teacher arrived.

***

“Ahem.”
“Leave me alone, Vampiris. My grades aren’t better than yours because I talked to people I shouldn’t have.”
“You’ve lost some of that fire you had before, Molshei,” she said. San-Kyung glared, and she smirked. “I think La-Iin truly did a number on you. This is why I offer my help. Look, I don’t particularly want to spend any time with you either–”
“Then don’t.”
“Let me finish, please. But when it comes to La-Iin, anyone willing to help me teach her a lesson is someone I’m willing to ally myself with even if for only a moment. I’ve heard you consider her a friend, but I also know the two of you didn’t always get along. Even still seeing her as a friend, perhaps there’s a way you can get back at her for what she did.”
“I don’t care.”
“About what, getting back at her? Would you rather do it in the privacy outside of school? Or are you just saying this because the two of you are friends?”
Footsteps echoed through the hallway once again, and Ai-Reia slapped her forehead. “This isn’t over yet, Molshei.”

“You know, for someone who hates La-Iin so much, you’re acting a lot like her.”
“Never, ever compare me to that demon,” Ai-Reia hissed. “Look, San-Kyung, I’m not trying to do anything other than help you, that and get a little satisfaction of my own in the end. You are notorious for how angry you are all the time. What’s stopping you from getting back at her!? Have you done it already?”
“Look, it’s none of your business, alright? I don’t care about you at all, Vampiris. If you have some stupid vendetta with La-Iin, you take it up with her yourself and stop asking me for help. I am pissed she sucked my blood. But guess what? If I had to pick to ally with her or you, I’d pick her first. After all, she is my…” He shuddered. “Friend.”
“What?”
“So cut it out. If you think I look like I’m not in a good mood, what made you think you approaching me would make that any better?”
“Oh, San-Kyung!”
Both San-Kyung and Ai-Reia flinched as La-Iin came flying at San-Kyung, latching on to his face.
“You sure do like me, don’t you, San-Kyung,” La-Iin said, her tone coy. She slid her hand into his hair. San-Kyung pulled her off of him.
“You heard that!?”
“Vampires can have pretty good hearing sometimes,” La-Iin said. “Has Ai-Reia been bothering you? Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her.”
“I don’t need you bothering me too. I was just trying to make her go away.”
“You always say things that make you sound more on the tough side than you actually are, San-Kyung. I like that, but your expressions give you away. That’s one advantage I have over you.” With those words, La-Iin head off towards the back of the classroom. Ai-Reia shot one last glance in San-Kyung’s direction. He looked flustered.
‘Hmph. One shot and it turns out he’s not what I expected at all. Perhaps those pedophile rumors really are true.’

—–
“Hey, Vampiris?”
“Yes, Kokohara? What is it?”
“I saw you going up to Molshei earlier, and, um, wanted to ask a question…”
“Yes?”
Shuera-Kaizima grimaced. “Ohh, I can’t do it!”
“Shuera-Kaizima wanted to ask if…well, if you went up to him because you had a crush on him,” Im-Dei said.
“What!? Not at all! And even if I had, I wouldn’t anymore after today. Molshei might come off as a tough loner, but when I went up to him I found out the truth: he’s an utter loser!”
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima’s eyes widened in surprise, but they soon gave a chuckle and waved good-bye to Ai-Reia.
‘It doesn’t matter if Molshei isn’t on my side. I can handle La-Iin myself. My issue lies in if he is on her side. But still, I might be able to overcome that as well.’

12.497.Striving for Normalcy

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 497
“Striving for Normalcy”

“I’m…going to school, family,” Ai-Reia called.
“Have a good day,” her mother said.
“Be safe,” Reuf-Bu said.
“Don’t do anything dangerous,” her father said. Ai-Reia glared.
“I won’t, Father,” she scoffed. “Not like you’d believe that. You always choose to believe the worst in me.”
Her family gave each other concerned glances as she head out the door, her mind a whirlwind of thoughts.
‘Now it’s back to the way it was. The family that has absolutely zero trust in me. Why do I even bother? I have no support from anybody. I am a token to the world, a burden on my family, the target of my enemy. I have no usefulness save for the novelty of being one of the youngest child prodigies. And if Ca-Miela takes that from me as well, nobody will care about my novelty. Nobody loves me genuinely.’
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima came to mind. ‘But they aren’t what I need. I need friends who will live by my side, not die before my hundreth year and live on as memories. I don’t need that pain, and if they knew my inner thoughts, they wouldn’t want the burden of dealing with me either. I have nobody to support me. And the person out there who might…’
Her eyes began to tear up. She dabbed at her eyes. ‘They probably live in Dasdoria. In which case I truly have nobody else…’

***

“Vampiris?”
Ai-Reia looked up from her notebook. “Yes, Kokohara? Did you need something?”
“Mn. I wanted a rittle….er, little, bit of help with this puroblem…problem. Excuse me.”
“Oh, don’t worry. Your Vaelis has improved in one year far more than I thought it would. To be honest, I thought you’d still be calling me Vanpurisu into 2015!”
Shuera-Kaizima smiled, though Ai-Reia noticed the insides of her ears turn red. “Th-thank you, Vampiris. You and In-Dei always compliment me so much…my family too.”
“Your improvement is amazing! The compliments are well deserved.”
“You’re the amazing one. You’re so smart and you’re only seven, and you’re a Pureblood Vampire too. It really is amazing.”
“Please, Kokohara. My status as a child prodigy has nothing to do with my school life, so let’s leave it aside, alright?”
“O-okay. I understand. I just think it’s really cool.”
“Thank you, Kokohara. But in truth, there’s a part of me now that wishes that I wasn’t a child prodigy. I sort of wish I was still in diapers, being taken care of by my parents instead of being out here, at school. If things had been that way I would never have had to deal with La-Iin.”
Ai-Reia startled. “But that’s just a musing! I don’t mean to bother you with my problems, Kokohara. I’m sorry I even brought them up.”
“You talked with me and In-Dei before in the past. I wouldn’t mind if you wanted to talk to me about things again, and I think In-Dei would feel similarly.”
“No, it’s nothing, really! And just like I’d like to leave behind my child prodigy status, I’d also like to leave behind my problems when I’m at school. So if there’s nothing else you want, you should get back to your seat. Math class will likely start soon.”
Shuera-Kaizima’s ears folded to her head. “O…alright, if you say so…” Looking dejected, she walked back to her seat.
‘Kokohara might be hurt right now, but it’s for her own good. Or maybe, it’s just for my own good. How I wish I were normal. Why can’t I be a seven-year-old of a shorter-lived species? Why can’t I be a normal seven-year-old Vampire? If I could be one of those, I would never have learned of this kind of pain. But that isn’t the case. I’m not lucky like any of my fellow students. Instead, I have to deal with all this pain.’
Just before the teacher arrived, tears rolled down her cheeks. Once Theasis made it into the classroom, she bowed her head so her tears wouldn’t show.

When class came to an end, Ai-Reia felt thoroughly miserable. Nothing she could think of made her happy–no idea, no thought. When she remembered that she no longer had the privacy of her notebook to write down her sadness, it worsened significantly.
‘Worthless. Everything I’m doing is worthless. There is no payoff. Without the acceptance of another person I will go nowhere. I have no goal that I’m dead-set on achieving, save for destroying La-Iin. And there’s no guarantee I can do that. Perhaps I should provoke her so that she takes me out herself. Then I can get two things out of the way–my pain and La-Iin…’
“Vampiris!”
Ai-Reia looked up. The voice was Im-Dei’s, though it sounded strange in the midst of puberty. “Hello, Fyuori. Was there something you needed?”
“Yes, something both of us needed,” Shuera-Kaizima said. She peeked her head out from behind Im-Dei. “We want to talk to you about something.”
“Is there a subject you’re having trouble with?” She asked. “I may know a lot, but I’m certain you’re smarter than I am, Fyuori.”
“I don’t know about that,” Im-Dei said, nervously wringing his hands. “Um, why don’t we talk about this away from the crowds? The Weekend classrooms are empty today, aren’t they?”
“Yes?” ‘I wonder what these two want. Perhaps they want me to help them with a subject they’re struggling with? No, I doubt it. And they’re not cheaters, either. So what could it be?’
She snapped herself out of those thoughts as Shuera-Kaizima closed the door behind them.
“What did you want me for?”
“Just to talk,” Im-Dei said. “Go ahead and sit down, Vampiris.”
“I’m fine standing. What did you want?”
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima glanced at each other, as if they were unsure of who should speak next. “This was my idea, Vampiris. After talking to you earlier, I thought you needed a helpful ear to listen to what you had to say.”
“We know there’s always your parents, but we wanted to help. After all, you’re our friend!”
Ai-Reia’s mind drew a blank, though only for a moment. ‘Friend. They called me their friend. But they don’t know what they’re getting into. No, maybe they do. This is a ploy. It’s the natural interest people have within them to learn about the problems of their peers. They want to know for their own curiosity. And then when they know, they’ll turn me away–as everyone else has.’
“N-no.”
“Would you rather talk to your parents?” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“We’re not trying to pressure you, Ai-Reia! But we want to be there for you.”
“No, it isn’t that I’d rather talk to my parents…I’d rather not talk to those traitors at all today if I can manage it…it has nothing to do with that.”
“Traitors?” Shuera-Kaizima questioned.
“What’s wrong, Vampiris?”
“We aren’t friends, not by a long shot. You two are a teenager and an almost-teenager. There’s no business you should have with me. I’m not your peer.”
“So what?” Shuera-Kaizima said. “Aren’t Cahongyun and Moru…Molshei friends, and they’re seven and…sixteen, right?”
“I think Molshei had his birthday already.”
“You don’t understand. It’s not just that.” Ai-Reia bit her lip. “We Vampires don’t have any business befriending those who will die so long before we do. And that is what you two will do. You will die on me before my hundreth year and be nothing but a distant memory for most of my life. Had I been a little older, or another species, it would be another thing, but the point stands that that’s not the way things have gone, so I have no business befriending you two.”
Both Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima fell silent. ‘Now they’ve finally realized their mistake. They’ll never want to talk to me again. But now it’s certain. I truly have nobody else in this world.’
“I know the lifespan thing might be making you upset, but what’s wrong with being friends anyway despite all that?”
“Didn’t you hear what I said!? If we became friends now, I wouldn’t have you two for most of my life!”
“Sometimes that happens,” Im-Dei said. “There are people out there who had great friends in school, who they loved spending time with and had fantastic memories of, but they don’t talk to each other now. And the students in Class D should show you that lifespan doesn’t get in the way of friendship. Even putting aside Cahongyun and Molshei, remember Xhephe…Xhephekuda? He’s a Groundiser and he was friends with Yuuldang.”
“It’s in the opinion of other people whether they want to expose themselves to that pain or not,” Ai-Reia said, looking away from the duo. “I don’t.”
“Well, even if you don’t want to be friends, we can still lend you an ear,” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“And if you ever change your mind, we’ll still be here…well, until we graduate,” Im-Dei said.
‘All the people who care about me in this world are people who will die on me.’ Ai-Reia was once again reminded of that thought, but only moments later she found she could completely ignore it. She walked over to the both of them and reached out her arms, and they returned the gesture with a hug.
‘Oh, screw the stupid lifespan for now. Just knowing that Kokohara and Fyuori care is more than I could ask for…’

—–
“It’s pretty late,” Im-Dei said, looking up at the sky. “I guess we spent longer talking than I thought.”
“But if it helped you any, it wasn’t a waste of time!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“Um…yes.”
“If you ever need to talk more, we’re still here. You just need to make sure to catch us at a good time.”
Ai-Reia nodded.
“Are you going to be okay, Vampiris?”
“More than okay, actually,” she said with a smile. “That hug was incredibly appreciated, thank you two. And I’m sorry if I upset you. The lifespan friendship deal is just something I see as common sense. But I’m grateful for you two, really I am. You two are some of the only people I feel I can truly rely on.”
Shuera-Kaizima opened her mouth, but quickly shut it. “Well, whenever you need to talk again, just come to us.”
“I…might, I suppose,” Ai-Reia said. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Kokohara, Fyuori.”
“See you tomorrow!” They called.
Ai-Reia walked off of Malicerie grounds with a skip in her step. ‘I need to stop getting so happy. I’m only setting myself up for tragedy.’ Yet despite those thoughts, she couldn’t contain that happiness.

4.489.Ai Horror

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 489
“Ai Horror”

“I’m home!” Zih-Amo announced.
“Welcome home, Zih-Amo,” her mother said. “Did you have a good day at school…?”
“Mm-hm, it was good enough. But I think my classmates take school way too seriously. I know we need to take it seriously, but there should be some sort of cap for just how serious that seriousness is!”
Her mother chuckled. “Well, go ahead and get comfortable now, Zih-Amo. And again, welcome back…”
Zih-Amo head off to her room to unpack her school supplies when out the corner of her eye she caught sight of Ca-Miela, playing with something in Ai-Reia’s room.
“Hey, Ca-Miela!” She called, running into the room and swiftly picking her up. Ca-Miela looked up at her, her expression one of confusion.
“You can’t play around in Ai-Reia’s room. She’s already mad at you enough. You don’t want to make her angrier, do you?”
Ca-Miela still looked confused. Zih-Amo sighed. “You should go and play with your own toys. Ai-Reia’s toys wouldn’t even be safe for you!”
Before she put down Ca-Miela, Zih-Amo noticed that a notebook was sitting open on Ai-Reia’s bed. After she put down her sister, her curiosity got the better of her and she peeked at the page the book was open to.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2015

“It’s dated today?” She said aloud. ‘I wonder what this is. Is it a diary?’ She gasped. ‘If it’s a diary, I really shouldn’t look. But, hm, I wonder what kind of stuff Ai-Reia would write in her diary?’
Though she knew of her sister’s stresses, she couldn’t imagine her diary being filled with anything but a summary of the day and perhaps a few tidbits of information. The curiosity was overwhelming.
‘Ah, it can’t be anything big. Just a peek and Ai-Reia won’t even know I looked.’
She felt guilty, but her curiosity got the better of her and she opened the diary to the first page.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

The dilemma that I, Vampiris Ai-Reia am facing right now has gotten to the point where I don’t know how to handle myself better. For the purposes of figuring that out I am going to write the following problems I have had since I entered Malicerie almost one year ago.
-A student at my new school, named Cahongyun La-Iin, became my stalker almost immediately after I entered. She would follow me about silently and mock me. It still confuses me to this day why she decided on ME particularly, aside from her explanation as to her needing another Vampire to help her rule the world in order to stave off loneliness. As if that isn’t the biggest load of bullshit! We have fought since then and it is her stalking of me, and continued mistreatment and vaguery around me, that has led to me having violent thoughts and various issues. Once recently I had a dream in which she destroyed Bledger; in response I murdered her in a brutal way. This will be the focus of a subject I will get to later.
-The birth of my younger sister Ca-Miela. That little brat has potential, but my family utterly spoils her as opposed to how they treated me. For a comparison, my smarts they attempted to hide out of fear of what response the public would have, seeing as I set a new world record for the youngest known Pureblood Vampire child prodigy–an astounding accomplishment for a Vampire in single digits. Meanwhile, Ca-Miela gets all that she needs and more. I have no doubt that if she showed smarts tomorrow, it would be encouraged by family. Perhaps because they’ve dealt with me before? Maybe they love her more? I wouldn’t know the answer because I don’t think it’s likely to happen, though I have doubted my own certainties before….in any event, my negative opinion and half-attempts to show Ca-Miela life isn’t all good have been failures and have strained my relationship with my family somewhat, all close members of it. To this day even though we get along much as we used to, I feel things are not the same as they were before any of these Ca-Miela events happened.
-The nightmare I mentioned above–the nightmare in which I brutally murdered my hated enemy La-Iin. That night made me feel like a monster, and I realized something from it. There is some part inside of me, though I’m unaware of what, that truly embodies that monstrous personality. I don’t know if it’s a manifestation of my hatred for La-Iin, a manifestation of my frustration, some sort of hurdle…or perhaps, who I really am? I struggle with that thought and this is one of my strongest reasonings for creating this diary.
I’m hoping to figure out potential solutions for my problems in life or at least explanations for what is going on. Perhaps I really can change Ca-Miela, divert her away from the spoiled persona I’m almost certain she’ll develop at this point. Perhaps I will be free of La-Iin someday, whether by her death, her or my transferring schools or some other means, or she will change and will no longer be one of my problems. Perhaps this ‘monster’ is something imagined. But I will not rest until I find out the truth. As a note to myself on how effective I believe this treatment will be–I feel already more positive just writing down my issues for myself to see.

Zih-Amo was stunned by the diary entry. ‘I had no idea Ai-Reia felt like this.’ Her reluctance to search her diary abandoned, she began to flip through further pages.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Today I’ve only been reminded how much I despise the month of April. I can’t wait until this month passes. All the strongest memories I have from this month are bad ones. Just it being this month is making me furious, and it’s giving me more reason to feel there is some credence to my theory of that monster being part of my personality. Who else would get so irrationally angry at it being a certain month? And yet, still, I don’t want to believe that…

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Today I had a talk with my enemy’s close friend, Sanhuun Fer-Shi. Their friendship completely and utterly baffles me. I give no credence to that sham of a morality scale that people choose to prescribe themselves by, but if you truly do wish to believe in it, then why befriend people whose morals do not align with yours? If you believe in the goodness of people, and want the world to improve, why would you call someone who wishes to take it over and destroy it your best friend? She is a young child as I am, though, so perhaps that explains some of it. She’s smart enough and perhaps she will realize later on that she shouldn’t be friends with such a monster.
That talk made me think on something else as well. I fear my inner monster, but perhaps it’s a manifestation of my unstable powers. I’ve learned in school that some major powers can cause changes in one’s mind for the duration of its use that can be unhealthy for the user’s mental health. Perhaps my early development of my bat transformation power is the reason I believe in that monster. It’s a comforting thought to me–both because it means it’s something I could get a hold on, and because it completely absolves me of anything I might do to La-Iin while in that mindset…I truly mean that except in cases of self-defense or the defense of the people around me I would not harm La-Iin while within my right mind. But I cannot vouch for my wrong mind, and in such a case nobody can blame me. I would hold SOME regret over doing such a thing…but if I’m telling the truth, it really wouldn’t be much.

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

An encounter with a man who used to go to my school has me thinking. There’s another problem I have in life. I feel alienated and alone at times because my family will jump to Ca-Miela’s defense–their excuse being that ‘she’s just a baby’ while they ignore their damaging smothering of her–and do not understand me. They believe I am truly and genuinely insane at all moments and capable of snapping, or at least that’s the impression they give off to me, while meanwhile the truth is I only know I am really losing myself when I transform into a bat. I have people in my life who would understand me. That man and his friend–although I am convinced they are actually boyfriend and girlfriend, despite his claims–and two dear students of mine, Fyuori Im-Dei and Kokohara Shuera-Kaizima. Those four would hear me out and care about me, especially Fyuori and Kokohara. If I told them of my problems they would try to help me back on the right track. And that leaves me wondering, ‘why don’t I ask them for help with my problems?’
That man is a Normal. His friend and Fyuori are Birdmixes. Kokohara is a Catori. I am a Vampire. The differences in our lifespans are vast. Even putting that aside, I am seven years old. That man and his friend are most likely grown adults, though they can’t be that old. Fyuori is a teenager and Kokohara is very nearly at that point herself. Even if I put aside our lifespan differences, the fact remains that we have a large age gap already. I desperately WANT to reach out to these people. I know they would understand, and I can easily talk to Fyuori and Kokohara. We go to school together. We get along. But that is one place where I can understand La-Iin. She wanted me to help her rule the world because we are Vampires of similar age and thus would live for about the same time, with her perhaps exceeding me by only a hundred years–nothing to a Vampire who got to spend nearly a thousand with a cohort. For as much as I want to reach out to them, they will not be there with me for all my life. I will lose them early on and they will be only memories for the majority of my life excepting the possibility that something happens to me. The closer I become to them, the more painful that would be.
And yet people such as my untrusting family, that spoiled brat Ca-Miela, that malice La-Iin–they all will be around with me for a long time. It simply isn’t fair. Why can’t those four be of long-lived species like I am? Why can’t I be a short-lived species? Why can’t La-Iin at the very least be a Pureblood Normal so I won’t have to deal with her all my life? It simply isn’t fair. Writing this down has only just nearly prevented me from falling into a depression, but I’m sad enough just thinking back on it.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

The violent imaginations are getting stronger. I’m getting a little distracted in class imagining disembowling La-Iin. And the frightening part is, such thoughts used to be things that would disturb me despite my hatred of La-Iin. Now I don’t really care all that much. I’ve finally started to believe that this monster isn’t who I truly am, and now I have to face this question–is it possible that I could lose to the monster in the battle for domination over my personality?

Zih-Amo gasped.
“Ugh, it smells like Ca-Miela soiled her diaper in here.”
Zih-Amo flinched. Ai-Reia had walked into her room. There was no time to put down the notebook, and already she could see a smoldering anger starting in her eyes.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing in my room!?” She shrieked, taking the notebook from her. “How much did you read? What page were you on!?”
“I–I didn’t read much, I swear! Just a little bit about…um…how you were scared to get close to your classmates.”
Ai-Reia’s expression softened somewhat, but her glare remained. “You had no reason to be in my room, nor to be looking through a personal notebook. Regardless of how little you saw, I–I don’t want to talk to you right now. This is a private journal, Zih-Amo. I’d think you could get that through your head!”
Zih-Amo bowed her head and head for the door, but she couldn’t resist a glance back at Ai-Reia before she left.
“If you need to talk to anyone, you can talk to me, okay? Ai-Reia, I’m really worried about you. And I don’t think you’re insane.”
“Evidently you read more than you let on,” Ai-Reia said through grit teeth. “Leave, Zih-Amo! If I had ever considered talking to you about this before, I’m abandoning that thought now.”
Zih-Amo’s vision blurred over as she left the room, almost running away from it.

—–
Monday, May 4th, 2015

I don’t know how safe it is to keep writing in here anymore. I don’t know how much Zih-Amo knows. She’s very close to our whole family, particularly our father; I have no guarantees she won’t tell anyone of the violent thoughts I’ve had and that they won’t just ship me off to therapy in the hopes that I’ll ‘reform’, thus leaving me alone with my thoughts and them alone to continuously ruin Ca-Miela.
I may need to take a break from writing in here. This may have helped my sanity in the past, but the reason I put you down now–that is also for the sake of my sanity.