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.

24.479.Wondrous Ca-Miela

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 479
“Wondrous Ca-Miela”

Ai-Reia woke later than usual that morning, and though she knew she would have to rush to school at her sluggish pace, she found it hard to care at first. She stumbled into the dining room just as her mother was placing breakfast in front of each chair. Ai-Reia glanced around at her family, quickly noticing something strange–aside from Ca-Miela, who wore her normal expression, everyone at the table seemed unusually happy.
“Did something good happen before I woke up?” She asked them.
“You don’t know what today is?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“Of course she doesn’t! This time last year she was on her school trip, remember?”
“Oh yeah, I remember.”
“What are you talking about?” Ai-Reia asked. Her question had been useless, for before anyone could respond she remembered what today was.
Her mother spoke anyway despite her gasp. “Ca-Miela turns one today,” she said. “She still feels so new, so it’s hard to think that she’s one now…”
“You got used to Ai-Reia’s growth pace, I suppose,” her father said. “But Ca-Miela isn’t aging at her pace. She’ll feel new for a few more years to come.”
“Ca-Miela will always feel fresh to me!” Zih-Amo said cheerfully.
Ai-Reia stared past the rest of her family and at Ca-Miela, who pat the desk of her high chair. Her feelings were conflicted–she could remember the sadness she had felt when she had received the call telling her that Ca-Miela had been born while she was gone, yet at the same time she remembered the rage she felt towards her behavior, and also the concern at the thought that she might grow to become a smarter prodigy than her.
One thought stuck out among all the rest.
‘Baby Vampires are supposed to grow slowly, but I’ve let a year pass and let my family spoil her that entire time. What if she does end up smart like I have? She’ll grow fast enough if that ends up being the case. I owe it to her to change her path so that she can end up a respectable member of the Vampiris family. I need to do something today!’

***

While during school Ai-Reia focused on the lessons, on her way to and back from it she thought on how she could help out Ca-Miela.
“She’s still a young Vampire, so there’s no saying how all this could affect her. But if she ends up a prodigy, she could also end up unconsciously retaining a bunch of information. At her pace she might end up a spoiled princess type. I should mold her into more of a respectable Vampire. But what sort of personality should I try and push her toward?”
“What are you talking about, Vanpiris?”
Ai-Reia startled. She hadn’t noticed Shuera-Kaizima was walking close by. “Oh, just going over a lesson by myself. I still struggle with some of the higher-grade lessons.”
“You do better than I do, still,” she said. “Well, at least in most things. I do good in science. What about you?”
“I struggle a bit with that one sometimes. I think math is one of my strongest suits.”
“I guess I’m okay at math,” she mused. “I should get home now. Until Monday, Vanpiris!”
“See you Monday, Kokohara!” She called. “Oh, Kokohara, how I wish you were a Vampire like I am. Or at least a Groundiser…” She shook her head. “No point in dwelling on these subjects now. I have to focus on Ca-Miela.”
Past that short conversation with Shuera-Kaizima, Ai-Reia kept her ideas to herself. She struggled with thoughts of what personality she should try and push her younger sister towards, but always reminded herself that what she was doing was for her sister’s good.
As soon as she got home, she head for her parent’s bedroom and to Ca-Miela’s crib. Ca-Miela cooed and reached out a tiny hand.
“Don’t do that,” she snapped. “You’re coming with me. And not for anything bad this time.” She pushed down the crib’s side and picked up Ca-Miela, struggling a bit with her weight but nonetheless making her way with her to her bedroom. Ca-Miela never once seemed upset by the turn of events, cooing happily the entire time.
Once she arrived in her bedroom, she placed her on her bed and reached for a book.
“Ca-Miela, you and I have had problems in the past. Yes, I know you can’t understand this yet, but perhaps it will have an effect on you nonetheless. You are my sister, and I don’t want to believe that there is no hope for change in your future. I know of a certain irredeemable half-Vampire whose name shall not be mentioned here. For your sake, I will turn you away from her path and onto a path I can truly respect.”
Ca-Miela seemed confused, but Ai-Reia paid it no mind. Instead she pulled out a small box of her old baby toys and laid some in front of Ca-Miela, who instantly stuffed one into her mouth. “You can’t do that. That’s not food.” She pulled the toy out of her mouth gently.
“I need to make you understand, but the teaching a baby seems nigh impossible,” she sighed. “There has to be something I can do, though. If I only knew what personality would be ideal for you…”
Ca-Miela ignored her and played with her toys, mostly by sucking on them or smashing them with more strength than Ai-Reia would have expected from a baby.
“Let me read you a book while you make a fool of yourself. A-hem. ‘Once upon a time, in a kingdom far detached from the rest of the lands, there lived a Skeletaltype Princess named Ua-Re. Ua-Re was a notorious Princess for reasons both good and bad. She wanted to believe that all of her subjects were kind people with the potential to do great things with her life. She wanted to encourage her subjects to mold the kingdom more to their liking than to the likings of her and her father.
“‘Some of her subjects admired her kindness, optimism and innocence, while others mocked her for it, believing her to be a fool. Despite the varying opinions, Ua-Re held steadfast to her beliefs. She thought that if it wasn’t true that people were all kind people with potential, then she would make it so that they all had that potential. So she….'”
Ai-Reia found herself trailing off. ‘Ca-Miela’s such an innocent baby, she can’t possibly understand how spoiled she’s been. If I keep her innocent in that way, perhaps she’ll never develop that spoiled Princess attitude. She could be strong, innocent and optimistic, just like Ua-Re. She’d be a sister I could grow to love.’
Ai-Reia smiled. “You know, you’re not supposed to play with toys like that. I suppose that’s something you can learn later, though.”
Ca-Miela continued to smash the toys. Ai-Reia picked her up and hugged her close. Ca-Miela ignored her affection, instead sucking on the toy still in her hand.
“You do have potential, my sister,” she said. “And though I may resent you at times for who you are now, once you can understand better the path you must take, I’ll hold your hand the whole way through. Happy birthday, little sister.”
Wrinkling her nose, she put her down. “Oh, that sounded so ridiculously sappy, I’m glad she won’t remember this…”
Ai-Reia reached for the book again, ready to read the rest of the story, when she heard a shriek. Putting down the book, she opened her door only to come face-to-face with her mother.
“What’s wrong, mother!?”
“Ca-Miela is–” Her mother didn’t finish the sentence, for her eyes drifted in Ca-Miela’s direction before she could.
“What’s Ca-Miela doing in your room, Ai-Reia?” She asked. She sounded calm, though Ai-Reia could tell it was put-upon.
‘She thinks I was doing something wrong again, I can tell. If she only knew the truth.’
“I was reading to her, Mother. See? It’s a shame she can’t really understand it yet, though.”
“O-oh?” Her mother breathed. “Oh…oh, I guess that’s fine. But were you the one who took her out of her crib?”
“I did. Sorry for not telling you first.”
“It’s fine, though you had us all really worried,” she said. “Please tell us next time you do that.”
“I will, mother.”
Her mother smiled. “It’s a little surprising to see you trying to bond with Ca-Miela, Ai-Reia….but I am really glad to see it.”
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s very frustrating to read to a baby who understands none of it. But perhaps Ca-Miela and I won’t be as distant in the future as I thought we would be.”
Her mother gave her a quizzical look, but Ai-Reia didn’t notice it–she had turned to see Ca-Miela instead, who was still smashing her old toys against each other with that same unusual force.

—–
At dinner that night, all her family was celebrating for Ca-Miela. Ca-Miela played with her own toys while sitting in her high chair as her family chattered and ate a special dinner, their moods cheerful.
Had the day been different, Ai-Reia was sure she would have felt bitter at that moment, watching her family coo over Ca-Miela. But after the conclusion she had come to today, she was happy to join in the festivities with her family, even talking herself about her younger sister whom she now saw so much potential in.

9.464.Ai-Reia’s Encounter

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 464
“Ai-Reia’s Encounter”

‘This is so boring.’
Ai-Reia was sitting on a park bench, watching the few children who were at the park play on the equipment. Zih-Amo had taken her to the park at the request of their parents.
“They said they think you need to clear your head,” she had told her. “You’ve been locked up in your room a lot lately and you’ve been saying some pretty dark things when you’re not in there. We’re all worried about you, Ai-Reia. Even little Ca-Miela is!”
Once they had arrived, Ai-Reia sat down on a park bench and hadn’t moved since. Zih-Amo quickly became bored by this, and ran over to join the other children playing at the park, leaving Ai-Reia by herself, watching her sister and other children play together.
‘There’s nothing about this that’s helping to clear my head,’ she thought. ‘I suppose she expected me to play with the other children, didn’t she? Well, I doubt that’s happening anytime soon. Though maybe I can still find something to do…’
“‘We’ve created the ultimate Multibreed, the…the Ultimatum of Species…but there’s something missing from it. I know! We’re missing the various mixed types within this Multibreed! We only have specific varieties of Birdmix, Minomix, Vegemix, et cetera–we need all the varieties to make this the true Ultimatum of Species!’
“‘B-but, don’t you think that’s going a little….'” Ai-Reia trailed off. “Damn it.”
While trying to think of something else to do, Ai-Reia heard something that sounded like a stroller. ‘Oh, please don’t let that be Ca-Miela’s stroller, please…’ She turned in the direction of the sound and was relieved to see that the baby inside the stroller was a Birdmix, though she was startled when she noticed the two people who were strolling with the baby.
‘Didn’t I meet that boy last year?’ She thought. ‘I’m almost sure of it…’
“Hey, I recognize that girl,” she heard him say.
“Really? From what?”
“I think she goes to Malicerie now. Also I heard about her on the news once.”
Ai-Reia’s temptation to call out to him was strong, especially when she glanced back-and-forth at the Birdmix baby and woman he was with.
“Hello!”
The man glanced up. “Hey!”
Ai-Reia smiled.
“What are you doing here at the park all by yourself?” He asked as he sat down on the bench next to her’s. “Aren’t you a little young for that?”
“I’m actually here with my older sister,” she said meekly. “Though she went off to play with the other children, so I’m on my own now. But she’s right over there, see?”
“I see.”
“What about you? Who are those people with you? Your wife and child?”
He blinked in surprise. “No, no! Cou-Riette’s just a friend, and that’s her baby.”
“Hello there,” Cou-Riette said, waving. Her baby cooed.
“Oh, I see. Though are you sure–”
“I’m sure,” he said. “Look at my hand. There’s no wedding ring on there. Not on the other one, either. Anyway, it’s nice to see you again, kid. How’s life been treating you?”
Ai-Reia’s expression grew dark. ‘Of course of all questions, he would ask that one. I should have predicted this.’
“Ooh,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Sorry I asked.”
“No, it’s fine. You didn’t know any better. But I don’t want to talk about it.”
“You don’t have to, then. I hope things start looking up for you, though.”
“Me too,” Cou-Riette said. “Sorry to butt into your conversation. The last year was rough on me because of the birth of my son. I know it’s not the same thing, but whatever happened to you, I hope things start looking up regardless.”
“Thank you,” she said. ‘All the people who ever wish me well are people I can’t even begin to get close to,’ she thought with a sigh. ‘Always…’
“Things do get better, you know,” he said. “Unless you die from what you’re going through, things will start to look up sooner or later. And you’re a Vampire, so you’ve got plenty of time for things to start looking up. So try and keep positive, alright?”
“I am trying,” she said quietly, her voice wavering. “But it doesn’t seem like things want to go my way in any way. It’s all against me. It probably was from the moment I was born. Because I don’t know how long this problem has been dormant inside me, waiting for the perfect moment to come out and cause problems for all those around me. Hell, who knows? If it hadn’t been for La-Iin, it might never have come out, forever remaining dormant. But as it stands now I can’t turn back the clock. I’m stuck dealing with this for now and possibly forever.”
Ai-Reia bowed her head. “Hey, instead of thinking about what’s going on, why don’t you go over there and play with your sister? Try taking your mind off of things.”
“It won’t work,” she sighed. “Ignoring the problem only makes dealing with it worse. And who knows? Perhaps it’s a problem with no solution. I am a child prodigy. I know many things that other children my age do not, even children who are not Vampires. Yet I cannot figure this out, no matter how hard I try.”
“Perhaps you’re putting too much strain on yourself,” Cou-Riette said. She lifted her baby out of his stroller. “Ignoring the problem does not make it go away, that’s true. But there are some problems out there that can be put to the side for a little while so you can clear your head. Sometimes clouding your mind with what’s going on also clouds you judgment. And child prodigy or not, you are still a young child. You’re not necessarily going to understand everything, especially when it comes to yourself.”
“If it makes you feel better, I don’t understand everything about myself either, and I’m practically an adult. Like, for example, I don’t understand how romantic feelings work.”
“And I don’t understand everything about child rearing,” Cou-Riette said, sitting down next to her.
“Thank you two, but I really do think I’m stuck in a rut. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Well, we’re here to if you want us to try. And you have your family too, and I’m sure you have some friends who can try and help you, too.”
Im-Dei and Shuera-Kaizima came to mind. “Maybe, but I don’t know.” ‘After all, to rely on those two when they won’t live nearly as long as I will…’
“For now, I think you should cut loose,” Cou-Riette said. Her baby reached out for Ai-Reia’s hairclip. Ai-Reia backed away.
“Sorry about that. An-Tois can be a little grabby.”
“How old is he?”
Cou-Riette smiled. “One year next month.”
“You know, I have a baby sister,” Ai-Reia said. “I want to know, is…is An-Tois as annoying as she is? Does he constantly cry and always try to cause trouble?”
“An-Tois is just a baby. He does baby things. I’m sure your sister is similar.”
“Well, she’s fairly spoiled for a baby.” Ai-Reia stared at An-Tois. “You’re better, I’m sure.”
“Kinda mean to call another baby better than your sister, don’t you think?”
“For now, that’s what I believe. But I also believe in my sister’s ability to change, unlike other people in my life.” Ai-Reia blinked. “Sorry about this. I didn’t mean to keep going on about my life like that.”
“Ah, it’s fine. Sometimes an outside ear is what you need!”
“Hm.” Ai-Reia stared at An-Tois intently. An-Tois began to babble and fly above her. “What the–! He can fly at this age?”
“Birdmix can fly fairly early on,” Cou-Riette said.
“Well, I knew that, but…” Ai-Reia grimaced. She began to flap her wings. She only managed to get a short distance off the ground before falling back down.
“Ooh, that looked like it hurt.”
“It did,” Ai-Reia said bitterly.
“Well, no matter what’s going on with you, I hope things start looking up for you. And if we run into each other on the street again, you’re welcome to talk to me.”
“And I know how it feels to be stuck in a rut. I’ll gladly hear you out too, if we encounter each other again.”
“Thank you two,” she said. “Really. If only you two would be there for me in the future…”
The two gave each other puzzled glances.
“Hey, Ai-Reia!” Zih-Amo called. Ai-Reia turned to see her. “Aren’tcha gonna come and play? Or do you wanna go home? Ooh, how’d you get all bruised like that? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Ai-Reia said. “And I don’t care. You can keep playing if you want to. But do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Yeah, lay it on me.”
“Do you think it’s worthless to befriend people who will live for only a small portion of your life? I believe that, and yet, all the people who are that close to me, they’re all–”
“Yeah, no,” Zih-Amo interrupted. “So what if they only live a small portion of your life? There’s no guarantees that the Vampires or Groundisers in your life will live a long time either. They can die too. It is sad to think about, but why let it bog you down?”
“Well, that’s what you believe,” Ai-Reia said. “…still, I wonder if those people value life more because their time is so limited.”
“I dunno. Why’d you bring this up, Ai-Reia?”
“You didn’t–oh, never mind. No reason. I was simply curious.”
‘If only all the people I cared about could switch species with La-Iin,’ she thought. ‘That would be the greatest bliss….’

—–
Ai-Reia scribbled down her thoughts in her diary later on that night, her mind in a whirl. Still, compared to other days, she found that she felt a little bit better tonight than she had other nights.
‘Species are so complicated and annoying,’ she thought. ‘Sirens only live a little bit longer than most other species. Why can’t Vampires be the same…’

6.461.Ai Need to See Fer-Shi

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 461
“Ai Need to See Fer-Shi”

“I don’t think Ai-Reia and I are ever going to get along, Fer-Shi,” La-Iin whispered.
“You don’t know that for sure.”
“I don’t know, Fer-Shi. I think I understand pretty well what the meaning of ‘I hate you’ is. She wants me dead. And if that’s the case, then I want her out of my way.”
“La-Iin, I’m sorry, but Vampiris seems a little more mature than you. Why would she want you dead for what you did to her? You haven’t treated her that badly.”
“Ai-Reia and I might not be friends, companions or even acquaintances, but my many encounters with her have taught me a lot,” La-Iin hissed. “She wants me dead by any costs. She despises me. If it meant getting me out of the way, she’d kill you, too!”
“She wouldn’t!”
“She would. You underestimate her fire, Fer-Shi. Although her powers leave a lot to be determined, there’s no telling what sort of underhanded ways she might use to take me out. Unless she gives up on me, she’s going to be a pain in my side. And that’s unfortunate. I thought she had potential.”
Fer-Shi caught a flicker of sadness in La-Iin’s eyes. “But it doesn’t matter. I’ll just stick with who I have. I was looking for more of a confidant in her, anyway. You and San-Kyung will still be plenty useful.”
“Um, thanks,” Fer-Shi said.
Not long after their conversation ended, biology began, but Fer-Shi had a hard time beginning to focus.
‘Ai-Reia probably doesn’t want her dead. She must have misunderstood something. And anyway, even if she did, it couldn’t possibly be that bad, right?’
Whatever the case, it was evident that La-Iin and Ai-Reia simply did not get along, so Fer-Shi decided it would be best to avoid the subject in her conversations with La-Iin.

***

La-Iin had gone ahead of Fer-Shi, and so she was left behind after class, wading through the crowd of students. She waved to Shan-Zetsu and Shuu-Kena, and waved back to a few students who did the same to her. On her way out she spotted Airy-Aekok bothering Tenha-Gumo about something she couldn’t hear over the noise of the crowd.
‘Maybe if I move fast enough, I can still catch up with La-Iin.’ Fer-Shi tried to maneuver her way through the crowd quickly, but it wasn’t an easy task. She eventually made her way ahead of the crowd and on the path out of Malicerie.
‘I guess La-Iin’s too far ahead,’ she thought. She didn’t see her friend anywhere in the crowd. Sighing, she decided to press on by herself, only to spot La-Iin out the corner of her eye within the crowd.
“Hey, La–”
La-Iin and Ai-Reia were facing each other, both glaring intensely. From her distance Fer-Shi couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the sight gave her a bad feeling. She ran up to the duo, and the closer she got the more she could make out.
“–it would be a bad idea to go against me, Ai-Reia. You’re just willing to become evil if it means you can kill me. Meanwhile, I am already evil! Nothing stops me from fighting someone. I even fight the people I love. And I’m far more powerful than you are.”
“Ha! Just because you have power and malice on your side doesn’t mean you have the smarts to wield them. Brute strength may be a reliable force–that is, if it hits. Someone with a more strategical mind always has the upper hand. And never underestimate the extent of my hatred for you. It runs far and deep.”
“La-Iin!” Fer-Shi called out. “You didn’t go home?”
La-Iin turned to face her. “Someone decided she needed to bother me.”
“Says the girl who started this whole mess in the first place. Go on, go home. I’m wasting valuable breath talking to you.”
La-Iin glared at her. “Fine then, I’ll go. I have better things to do too. Do you still want to go home together, Fer-Shi?”
“Oh, uh…y-you can go ahead. I have to take a little detour on my way back, heh heh…”
La-Iin gave her a quizzical look before walking ahead. Ai-Reia gave a huff and began to continue on, but Fer-Shi reached out to her.
“What do you want?”
“Just to talk,” she said. After witnessing her and La-Iin’s confrontation, she couldn’t help but think back on their earlier conversation. ‘I need to know for sure how she feels about her. If it’s really that bad, then I need to tell someone.’
“About what? Look, I’m not in a good mood right now, Sanhuun. Your friend happens to have just picked a fight with me. So just go on ahead, alright? This can wait.”
“I’m not sure if I’ll remember tomorrow,” she said hurriedly. “Please, let me talk to you right now. I won’t keep you long, and I won’t be mean, I promise.”
Ai-Reia sighed. “Fine. What do you want? Let me guess, there’s some sort of knowledge you want me to impart.”
“No, it’s not that. I was wondering, how come you and La-Iin get along so badly? And do you really…well, do you really hate her?”
Ai-Reia glared. “If you’re supposedly so close to her, you should know the answer to this. You know how she stalked me and otherwise harassed me. And yes, I do hate her. It might seem strong, but I know her true nature. I’d suspect you would too, which makes you immediately suspect in my eyes.”
“I know La-Iin isn’t always the nicest, and I know she’s pretty evil, but don’t you think hating her is a little strong? I know she wronged you, but she’s done much worse in the past.”
“I don’t doubt that,” Ai-Reia scoffed. “It makes me wonder if your friendship with her isn’t a case of SS.”
“Huh?”
“Look it up.”
“I’m friends with her because I want to be. Actually, I’m the one who reached out to her. La-Iin does have a lot of bad parts, but I choose to see her for the good parts. She can be a pretty good friend when you really get to know her.”
“Are you trying to force me into a friendship with her?” Disgust was evident in Ai-Reia’s tone. “Because I will not stand for that. There is no way you can get me to like that girl in any sort of capacity. Even if tomorrow she became the nicest person on the face of this planet, and truly felt sorry for her misdeeds, I would remember them. I would remember the malice that was in her heart at one point. And I might not hate her, that’s true. But I would never forget the way she wronged me. The intentions she had for me. I will never forgive her. Besides, I wouldn’t believe it was true. Nobody would change their morals in the span of one night.”
Fer-Shi grimaced. ‘She really doesn’t like La-Iin, does she…’
“Now, if you’re about done, I have to get home.”
“Just a second, Vampiris! I wanted to ask you one more question. No, it has nothing to do with why you hate La-Iin. I understand that now. I just want to hear something else from your perspective, ’cause I’ve heard it from La-Iin’s.”
“…I’ll give you this, Sanhuun, you may have terrible taste in friends, but your heart seems to be pure,” she said.
“I’m not sure I’d agree with that, but anyway…La-Iin told me that you wanted her dead. That to you, it didn’t matter what you had to do, who you had to kill, what got in your way–you’d do anything or hurt anyone just as long as you could kill her. And I told her she was crazy. So now I want to hear what you have to say about that. Is La-Iin making you sound bad?”
Ai-Reia’s expression became blank. She stared at Fer-Shi, but was silent for a few moments.
‘Why’s she taking so long to think this over? Don’t tell me she really feels that way!?’
Ai-Reia made a sound that to Fer-Shi, sounded as though it could be either a huff or a chuckle. “You know, that’s a difficult question to answer, Sanhuun. I’m certainly not as crazy as La-Iin makes me out to be. But my hatred for her does run deep. And there is a part of me I can’t control. Not because I don’t want to control it, but simply because I cannot. And I cannot be held responsible for what this side of me does.”
“What do you mean?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I’m sure you know enough about transformation to know that it’s not always perfect,” she said. “And that people sometimes lose themselves when the power is in its early stages. For all I know, there are some things I simply cannot prevent. That is one of them. In my right mind, no, I am nowhere near that crazy. …but then, I have to wonder when nowadays I am in my right mind…”
“Huh?”
“Forget what I said. It was ridiculous. Anyway, I gained my transformation power early. I’ve apparently tried to hurt La-Iin with it before because I cannot control my mental state when I’m like that. No, I would not murder La-Iin, or kill other people so that I could kill her as well, or turn against the people I love for the sole purpose of being able to kill her. But I don’t know if I can keep myself from hurting her when I’m like that. That’s all. Someday I will gain control, and you will be certain in her safety. But for now, if that power activates, there is nothing I can do. And that’s what I meant. I’m sorry it was so drawn-out. But I have to go home now, regardless of whether you wish to talk more or not. Well, be seeing you, Sanhuun. And one bit of advice–you people who believe in the alignment scale should honestly take it to heart when it comes to your friends. Morals are far different than opinions. They truly can make or break a friendship.”
Ai-Reia walked off. Fer-Shi couldn’t help but be put-off by their conversation. She decided to head home as well, but Ai-Reia’s words repeated in her mind, and she felt incredibly confused by their meaning.

—–
“Fer-Shi? Are you alright?”
“Huh? I’m fine, Dad. Just kind of sleepy.”
“You seem down. Remember, if you need to talk, your mother and I are here to talk with you, alright?”
“Alright,” she said. Den-Matsu nodded and left her room.
‘I know I told myself I should tell someone about this, but how am I supposed to tell anyone? They’d never believe me…’

2.457.Discovery of the Child Prodigy

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 457
“Discovery of the Child Prodigy”

In recent years, things had become slightly strange within the Vampiris family.
Not many years ago, the family had welcomed their third child, Ai-Reia. All the family had been excited to meet her, and her birth had been a celebrated event. But as she got older, she began to display a curious ability.
“When can I go to school, Mommy?” She would ask. “I wanna see what it’s like.”
“Ai-Reia, you’re a very young Vampire,” she would tell her. “You’re not old enough for any kind of school.”
She began to pout. “Why can Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo go to school, then?”
“They’re old enough for it. They were born many years before you, so they are a lot older than you in years.”
Ai-Reia glared. “You’ll be able to go to school soon enough, so don’t rush things, alright?”
At around age two, Ai-Reia had begun to display smarts neither of their other children had. And though she talked in simple words, she communicated quite well with the rest of her family. She would try to read books and sneak glances at her siblings’ homework. To her parents, it was incredibly peculiar behavior.
And it was slightly worrisome. When around family or in public, they tried to suppress it to the best of their ability, but that always led to Ai-Reia becoming frustrated with them later on.
As she got older, her smarts only increased, and she had begun to communicate better. Her mother noticed she was getting quite good at reading as well–she had started out only able to read a few words, but she could now read children’s books and some simple novels without much assistance.
Although everyone in her family was proud of her, they were also very worried.
“I don’t doubt that Ai-Reia is a child prodigy,” her father said to her mother one day. “But why are the signs showing so early? No, forget that. Why can she read at four? Why can she talk so well at four? Don’t the most obvious signs usually show up later in life?”
“It’s really amazing. But I’m scared of what the media might make of it if they find out somehow…”
“I feel the same way. The truth is, I don’t want to ask Ai-Reia to suppress her smarts this way. I want her to show them off with pride if that’s what she wants, send her to school, let her walk around and talk and read. If we lived in a perfect world, I’d let her do just that, but we don’t. She’s incredibly young to be showing such strong signs of being a child prodigy. She might even be the youngest one.”
“Really!?”
“The youngest Vampire child prodigy I had heard of was nineteen years old. Ai-Reia is just four, and she was showing strong signs at two. And anyway, well…even though I want her to be able to show her smarts, I also don’t want her growing up too fast. She’s learning a lot just by observing or reading. I don’t want her to become a mini-adult at ten or something like that. That’d just be ridiculous.”
“I agree. But we can’t keep it a secret forever, either. Someday, someone is going to notice that Ai-Reia is smarter than most other Vampires her age.”
“I know they will. I just hope that the day that happens, Ai-Reia’s a little bit older.”
Elsewhere in the house, Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo were playing with Ai-Reia.
“Now, find the missing marble under one of these buckets! Were you paying close enough attention to see which one it was in!?” Zih-Amo exclaimed.
“It’s in the middle one,” Ai-Reia said simply. “This game is boring, Zih-Amo. Can’t we do something more fun?”
“You don’t think this is fun, Ai-Reia?” Reuf-Bu asked. “Well, what do you want to do?”
“I think a puzzle would be fun.” Zih-Amo’s face lit up, but Ai-Reia soon followed it with, “But not one of those ones with the chunky pieces. I want the ones with the tiny pieces.”
“But those ones are too hard,” Zih-Amo whined.
“Why do you want to do something like that anyway?” Reuf-Bu asked. “I know you’re really smart, but that doesn’t mean you should think you have to do “smart” things.”
“I want to do smarter things because nobody ever lets me,” she said. “Mommy and Daddy always tell me I have to pretend like I’m a normal baby Vampire, and I don’t think it’s fair. You can act like you want to, Zih-Amo can act like she wants to, but no, I’m supposed to act practically stupid just ’cause it’s weird for me to know so much when I’m only four.”
Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo glanced at each other. “So I want to do smart things because Mommy and Daddy never let me. All I want to do is learn more. But no, I’m supposed to act stupid!”
“They’re just worried about you, Ai-Reia,” Reuf-Bu said. “Even if you don’t like it, it is really weird for a four-year-old to be so smart. And that’s not just because you’re a Vampire either, you know?”
“Although being a Vampire makes it worse,” Zih-Amo added. Reuf-Bu glared at her.
“Well, someday I’ll show them. Someday, I’m gonna be so smart that they’ll have no choice but to let me talk normally in public or send me to school. I know how to read. Mostly. I know how the times table works. I’m learning a lot about Vampire’s bodies. If they would just let me near the potty more often, I’d probably already know how to use the toilet!”
“Well, that would be one benefit,” Reuf-Bu laughed. “Maybe someday I should train you. That might make them take you more seriously.”
“I’d like it if you did that,” she said. “But I know you wouldn’t. You’re just like Mommy and Daddy.”
“I actually think your smarts are really cool, Ai-Reia,” Reuf-Bu said. “But since I’m the oldest, Mom and Dad tell me the most things. And I know they’re worried about you because of how weird your smarts are. I don’t want to discourage you, but they’re our Mom and Dad. We have to listen to them. And they do have your best interests in mind.”
“It doesn’t feel like that sometimes,” she huffed.
“Someday they’ll let you be all smart out in public, Ai-Reia,” Zih-Amo said. “Just be patient and give it a little time and then bam! You’ll be talking out in public! Remember, we’re Vampires! We’re supposed to be the most patient of all the species!”
“Just because we’re supposed to doesn’t mean I have to be,” she scoffed. Reuf-Bu and Zih-Amo sighed.
Nobody in the family was quite sure what to do about Ai-Reia’s smarts. And so long as they kept up the method they currently used to deal with it, Ai-Reia would just keep getting frustrated with them. It was a given by now, but they learned to deal with it.
For now, that was how things had to be, for Ai-Reia’s sake if not for the whole family’s.

***

“This restaurant is so nice,” Ai-Reia’s mother said. “How did you manage to find it?”
“I took a look around with Zih-Amo. This place is normally filled to the brim, apparently. But they’re pretty empty on Saturdays because people usually go to other restaurants. At least, that’s what we heard.”
“I see,” Reuf-Bu said. He checked the menu. “Whoa! This stuff is expensive!”
“Don’t worry about the price so much, Reuf-Bu,” his father said. “Unless it’s 3000.000 vuyong, I don’t think it will be a problem. Me and your mother have been making quite a nest egg for a special occasion, and what could be a more special occasion than your graduation?”
Reuf-Bu gave a nervous chuckle. “Thanks, Dad. Alright then, I think I’ve made my decision.”
“Me too!” Zih-Amo said, waving her arm.
“Same here, dear.”
“I have as well,” Ai-Reia said. The rest of her family gave her a curious stare.
“Am I not allowed to pick for myself?” She whispered. “What, were you going to get me something super childish and pretend that’s what I wanted? I didn’t pick anything expensive. My meal isn’t even 2000.000 vuyong. I can’t eat much, you know.”
“Um, that’s fine, I suppose…” Her mother said. “But–wait a second, what did you pick?”
Ai-Reia brought the menu over to her mother and pointed to her choice. She noticed her mother’s eyes widen and sighed.
“Don’t you think the waiter might think it’s weird for us to be ordering something like that for you? Even if you’re not picking something really filling, it still seems big for a four-year-old…”
Ai-Reia began to glare. Reuf-Bu opened his mouth to speak with her just as the waiter arrived.
As her family ordered, Ai-Reia decided what she was going to do. She was sick of being treated differently just because she was younger. She was tired of being forced to suppress her smarts just because they were unusual for her age. She didn’t care what her parents said, she was going to order the meal she wanted. She doubted they would order it for her after what her mother said.
“Ai-Reia will be having–” Her mother started.
“I’d like the berrymeat soup, please,” Ai-Reia said. The waiter blinked at her in surprise. Ai-Reia quickly noticed that her family was staring at her wide-eyed, save for Reuf-Bu, who was smacking his forehead.
“What?”
“O-oh, it’s nothing,” the waiter stammered. “Right away, ma’am.”
Once he walked away, her mother whispered, “Ai-Reia, why did you do that?”
“Because otherwise I’m sure you would have ordered something I didn’t even want!” She complained. “I don’t wanna be treated like other kids my age. I know what I want. And I don’t want to be given some kiddy meal to eat.”
The family glanced among each other, looking concerned. They sat in silence as they waited for their meals to arrive.
“Excuse me?”
All five of them looked up. A Birdmix-Bunety stood at their table, a curious look on his face.
“I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation,” he said. “Did your daughter say she was four years old?”
“You must have heard the conversation wrong,” her mother said.
“I did,” Ai-Reia said. Her family’s expressions became concerned.
“There must be some sort of joke here. Can she count?”
“Um, not very well,” her mother said.
“Not very well,” she scoffed. Ai-Reia felt a little sorry for concerning her family so much, but she couldn’t see what was the issue with the situation through her anger.
“I’m sorry to eavesdrop, but if your daughter really is four, you realize that makes her the youngest Vampire child prodigy ever to walk this planet?”
“Please, sir, you have this mistaken,” her mother said. Ai-Reia opted to keep her mouth shut this time, but she figured the desperation in her mother’s tone was going to give her away.
‘Maybe I was a little too harsh,’ she thought. ‘Maybe they have a good reason for not wanting people to know. Still, that doesn’t mean they should just order me kiddy meals and treat me like I’m stupid. That’s inexcusable.’
“This is amazing,” he chuckled. “Absolutely amazing! I mean, look at her! There’s no way she could be much older than six, at best! But I heard the way she talked. This girl has got quite a brain!”
“Can you leave us alone?” Reuf-Bu said.
“I suppose I should introduce myself,” the man said, ignoring Reuf-Bu. “My name is Morrissie Shuu-Bii. I’m a reporter! And I would love to do a story on the world’s youngest child prodigy.”
By now, other people in the restaurant were staring eagerly in the direction of the Vampiris family. All of them had begun to look nervous, as if they were backed into a corner. Ai-Reia couldn’t help but feel guilty, and a little overwhelmed by the sudden attention.
She wasn’t quite sure what to do.
“Can you leave us alone?” She asked. “It’s not that big a deal.”
“I guess a prodigy doesn’t know everything,” he sighed. “But you’ve confirmed what I wanted to know. This girl is the youngest Vampire child prodigy to grace this planet!”
Ai-Reia stared at the man as excitement blossomed on his face. “What’s your name, little girl?”
The rest of the family at first startled, and began to give Ai-Reia pleading looks, but eventually they began to look dejected. Ai-Reia had an idea, but she knew her family wouldn’t like it.
“If I tell you, will you leave us alone so we can eat in peace?” She asked.
“Oh, certainly! Though I’d love a review later!”
“Vampiris Ai-Reia,” she mumbled. “Now leave us alone.”
The man nodded and bounded off, a skip in his step. Her family continued to look nervous as their meals arrived, and altogether it was an uncomfortable dinner with all the eyes focused on them.
‘Is this what they meant by being weird?’ She thought. ‘I don’t like this…’

—–
“What’re you lookin’ at the calendar for, Ai-Reia?”
“Oh, just remembering this day a few years ago,” she sighed. “I’ve been smart my whole life, but I was so na├»ve back then. Had I only known what sort of attention it would attract me. Well, I’m glad to have that sort of attention off my back.”
“For the most part, anyway.”
“Yes, I know, I still get attention, but not anything like Mr. Morrissie gave me,” she said. “Although, perhaps that was better than what I was getting in April of last year.”
Reuf-Bu cocked his head.
“April will always be remembered as a horrid month for me,” she spat.
“But there’s been a lot of good that’s happened in it. Ca-Miela’s birth, for one.”
“Which I missed,” she said, venom still in her voice. “I can remember only the bad I experienced in this month, Reuf-Bu. And now that I’m thinking on it, I’m not looking forward to what it gives me this year.”
“Well, maybe things will be better this time around,” he said. Ai-Reia shook her head.
“I doubt it. April will be the same as it has been every year. Utterly and absolutely annoying.”
Ai-Reia’s expression contorted in rage. Reuf-Bu couldn’t help but feel put-off and worried by it.

23.447.Final Opportunity

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 447
“Final Opportunity”

Ever since entering the second grade, La-Iin’s patience for school had significantly decreased.
Sitting through both Math and Biology back-to-back felt like a slog to her, especially with Hyungdarou’s way of teaching. Oftentimes she found herself slipping into a daydream, either out of sheer boredom, rebellion or inspiration.
“Look at it all….my world is beautiful. Now if only San-Kyung would reciprocate my feelings. But I don’t think it’ll be too long before he does that, hee hee.”
“Is that so, La-Iin?”
La-Iin turned around to see behind her. Her eyes widened when she noticed Ai-Reia, flying a short distance behind her with a sly expression on her face.
“Don’t eavesdrop, you traitor!” La-Iin yelled.
“Traitor? Why, whatever do you mean?”
“You were supposed to be one of my ultimate allies. You were going to become one of the great henchmen, someone with a high-ranking position only overtaken by that of mine and my future family! But you’re stupid and went and f@%ked it up for yourself!”
Ai-Reia began to giggle. “No, La-Iin, you’re mistaken! You are the traitor, the traitor to the world.” Her expression contorted into one of rage. “Just look what you’ve done to it! My family cannot live peacefully in a world like yours. I cannot stand to live in such a world myself. There was no hope of me ever joining your side, La-Iin. Remember, first impressions mean a lot.”
“But I wasn’t trying anything with you the first time we met. I only started trying to make you evil afterwards, and I failed!”
“No, you succeeded, La-Iin. I might as well be evil. But my evil is completely and utterly opposed to yours!”
Ai-Reia came speeding at La-Iin, but before she could react,
she was thrust out of the daydream by Fer-Shi tapping her on the shoulder.
“What do you want?” She snapped.
“Um, biology class is over. A-and you’re crying.”
La-Iin touched her face. “Why?”
“How am I supposed to know? Are you alright?”
“Better than alright. There have been a few good things happening for me lately.” She wiped away the tears.
“Is it allergies?”
“I don’t think I have allergies.”
“Then why were you crying?”
“I don’t know, all right!?” She snapped. Fer-Shi flinched. “I’m going to the recess area. See you after your classes.”
“Um, okay. …see you, La-Iin?”
La-Iin felt a little sorry for snapping at Fer-Shi, but she moved on without glancing back. The only time she caught the eye of another student was when she passed by Ai-Reia’s desk.
The look in Ai-Reia’s eyes startled her.
‘Where did I go wrong? Okay, maybe Ai-Reia hates me because of what I did to her at first. But that doesn’t explain why she hates me this much. I did much worse to San-Kyung and we ended up friends!’
Though she had already left the classroom, she glanced back at Ai-Reia, who was now focused on a notebook. ‘She has great malice inside of her. If only she would let me use that. So few people I deem as worthy to me. Why is she the only one who rebels so much against that?’

***

“Fer-Shi, I want to ask your advice on something.”
“Really? Um, okay, what is it?”
“As you know, Ai-Reia hates me. I want to try and repair her impression of me.”
“Do you want to be friends with her?”
“To a degree. But she really hates me, Fer-Shi. I think she hates me even more than San-Kyung used to. San-Kyung used to humor me sometimes when I would talk to him randomly. Ai-Reia doesn’t do even that. She’s always cold and mean to me. I know she probably got a bad first impression, but I don’t understand why she hates me as much as she does.”
“Well, that’s a hard one, but Ai-Reia seems like a nice girl. She seems nicer than San-Kyung, anyway. So I’m sure there’s a way to get through to her. Maybe show her some of your more endearing sides, or try to apologize. I know you don’t like it, but it can help a lot. I don’t really know all that much about Ai-Reia, so I’m not sure how you should go about it completely. But I think if you’re nice, she’ll probably at least think of you a little bit better. Obviously she doesn’t like it when you act like you normally do.”
“Then what’s the point? She’ll just hate me again later.”
“Not necessarily. If you endear yourself to her first, and then start acting like yourself after that, she might feel a little bit better about how you really are. At least, that’s what I think. In any event, how do you plan on talking to Ai-Reia? She goes to every class.”
“I’ll catch her after class. And I guess I can try what you suggested.” La-Iin shuddered. “I don’t really want to, but I don’t like the way she hates me.”
“I wonder if you would have said the same thing about San-Kyung if you weren’t in love with him,” Fer-Shi sighed.
“Well, at least San-Kyung has the capability to care about me,” she said. “But Ai-Reia, I don’t know if she does.”

La-Iin followed after Ai-Reia, keeping as much to the crowd and in the shadows as possible. She stuck close by Fer-Shi until the girl strayed too far from her target, then tried to catch up with Ai-Reia. A few other students head home the way Ai-Reia did, and to her misfortune they noticed her.
“Hey, Cahongyun, what are you doing going this way? Don’t you live the other way?” Xhen-Bei asked.
“I know she most definitely does,” Dosa-Mina said. “What’s the deal?”
La-Iin froze. Ai-Reia had turned around up ahead, her expression cold.
“I–I made a mistake,” she said. “And don’t talk to me, rival-boy!”
“Sorry, sorry,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Ai-Reia stood in place on the sidewalk, glaring at La-Iin. The other students dispersed quickly enough that La-Iin felt safe to talk, but it was Ai-Reia who managed to speak first.
“You’re after me, aren’t you?”
“I wanted to talk.”
“Talk is pointless with you, La-Iin. Leave for your own good.”
“No. If by my own good you mean you’re going to attack me, don’t bother. I’m more powerful than you.”
Ai-Reia’s gaze became colder.
“…I wanted to…apologize,” La-Iin sighed. “For what I did. You probably remember why I told you I did it. But I think we’d be better off as friends. Fer-Shi is my friend and she would never help me with what I want to do. Our morals are too different. If you’re like that too, I can take it.”
“I don’t believe you for one second, La-Iin,” Ai-Reia said. “This is a ploy. A ploy to try and appeal to my emotions so you can turn around and use me when I actually care about you. There is no part of me that cares about you in any way, so don’t bother. This conversation is worthless.”
“You won’t even give me the benefit of the doubt.”
“I’m surprised you know of the concept at all, what with how stupid you seem to be on a normal basis.”
La-Iin’s wings gave an agitated flap. “Isn’t there anything I can do to get through to you?”
“Why ask me, when I am the very person you are trying to get through to? All I have to say to you is that I have no care for you, no regard for what happens to you. So leave now before I lose my patience.”
La-Iin felt conflicted. Part of her wanted to keep appealing to Ai-Reia in the hopes that doing so would eventually make her cave in one way or another. But the other part was infuriated that nothing seemed to be working, and by Ai-Reia’s cold demeanor. Her wings began to flap in agitation.
Ai-Reia began to walk off, and finally one of those sides won out.
“You’ll regret this when I rule the world, then!” La-Iin said. “That’s it, I’m tired of dealing with you! I’m tired of giving you second chances when you don’t take them! I tried so hard to spare you. I tried so hard to make friends with you. I really thought you had potential, Ai-Reia. But now I know that you’re an ungrateful bitch who doesn’t care that her life could be better!”
“Resorting to name-calling? How immature. But I’m glad to hear it, La-Iin. Because if you’ll finally hate me as I do you, I’ll have the excuse I need to carry through with what I want to do.”
La-Iin noticed that Ai-Reia’s features had begun to change slightly. She took a step backwards, trying to prepare herself for any attack she might suddenly launch. “I can’t, though. I won’t forgive you, Ai-Reia, but when I think someone is useful, that doesn’t go away unless they become useless.”
“Is that so?” She said. “You want someone who so blatantly opposes you!?”
As La-Iin had expected, Ai-Reia ran up to her, looking ready to attack. La-Iin held her back, but was startled by her feet skidding against the sidewalk.
“Know this, La-Iin. I am willing to rule the world first if it means stopping you. That is the extent to which I hate you. If you still want me on your side, you are more idiotic than I thought.”
Ai-Reia backed away from La-Iin after that, turned away and head back on the path to home, walking erratically. La-Iin rubbed the palms of her hands and watched her off.
‘Now what do I do? I never planned for something this bad. But there’s no point in trying to recruit her in any way now, or trying to repair what we have. I need to keep her from getting in my way first and foremost. But I have more on my side than she does! I think I’ll be completely fine.’

—–
The conflict that had been bothering Ai-Reia continued to bother her after she got home. She felt worse than she normally had been the past few days.
‘I’m losing myself,’ she thought. ‘And I don’t know what I can do to prevent it!’
Glancing at her backpack, she noticed a stray notebook hanging out. She reached for it and opened it. All the pages were blank.
“Maybe if I record what’s happening, I’ll find a way. There has to be some way I can. No matter how many years it takes. I’m a prodigy. I’ll figure something out if I get my thoughts in order.”
She reached for the first pen she could find and began to write down everything about what had been happening that she could remember, and everything that she thought was a potential solution for the situation she was in. Already she was feeling better just by writing it all down, and for the first time in days Ai-Reia felt almost positive.
She continued to write furiously even as night fell and cloaked her room in darkness.

22.446.Multiplicity Scenario

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 446
“Multiplicity Scenario”

“I can’t believe I let you strong-arm me into coming to the park,” San-Kyung groaned.
“I can’t believe you were gullible enough to go along with it. But this is perfect. I was right, nobody’s here today!” La-Iin said.
San-Kyung glared. “You know, I just came by to talk.”
“Talk about what, harling~?”
“Call me harling and this will be your final resting place.”
“Oh, come on. The h stands for horrible.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes.
“Actually, there’s something I wanted from you too, San-Kyung.”
“What now?”
“I was just thinking I feel pretty powerful in my other form,” she said as innocently as she could manage. “And I was wondering when was the last time we fought.”
“That was a while ago,” he said. “And it’d be a bad idea to challenge, La-Iin. It might be March, but I can still easily best you.”
“Can you?” She asked, biting into her arm.
“Of course I can. I’ve always had the upper hand. Not just in powers, but in height, too.”
“You do for now,” she said. “But with my power, I think we’re on even terms.”
La-Iin’s transformation begun and ended fairly quickly, or at least it felt that way to San-Kyung. She came flying at him immediately, to which he responded with vines. La-Iin began to fly past his vines at a fast speed.
‘Geez, she is getting good,’ he thought. ‘But that’s a good sign.’
He continued to try and ensnare her with the vines, but La-Iin was always slightly ahead of them. She dove down and head for his neck, but he moved out the way before she could get close and lit as strong a hand fire as he could manage to dissuade her from coming closer. La-Iin began to look agitated, but she continued to fly around him as if waiting for him to put out the hand-fire.
‘Got her.’
He rose vines from the ground from underneath her. She flew above him, almost completely missing the vines except for one that snared around her ankle. She hissed and tried to break free, but San-Kyung was able to maneuver the vines in his direction and bring her down closer to him.
To his surprise, La-Iin broke free before she was close enough to him and began to circle around him again, faster this time. San-Kyung held his hand-fire up as high as possible, but she seemed unfazed and flew higher. San-Kyung’s frustration was growing, and it took his all to focus on the fight at hand instead of randomly attacking her.
He frantically searched for an opening, but was unable to find one. She dove down close to him and knocked him down. San-Kyung gasped.
‘She might be a little too good!’ He thought. ‘Damn it, I’m not losing to a little girl!’
He looked up, this time checking for her next move, but noticed that she seemed to be tiring. He took that as his opening and rose vines underneath her again. This time he succeeded and ensnared her too tightly for her to escape.
“Surprised your transformation didn’t run out,” he said, walking up to her.
“Are you really surprised? Rival-boy said it seems to activate because of fear. And I’ll admit, I’m a little scared.”
“I guess if we’re being honest, I was a little surprised by your ability,” he said. “I guess you’ve learned how to handle that power well.”
“You were so going to say you were scared,” La-Iin said.
“No, I wasn’t.”
“You were too! Now let me down!”

***

Fer-Shi sighed.
“What’s wrong, Fer-Shi? You sound down.” Tei-Sheu asked.
“It’s nothing, Mom. Well, nothing much. I was just really wishing I could have a dream in life. I want something that I know I want to do, something that I know is my calling. I want to be as certain about what I’m going to do as La-Iin is. Except, you know, without the evil.”
“Well, you’re only eight years old, Fer-Shi. You still have plenty of time to figure it all out.”
“I know I do…but I can’t help but be jealous of La-Iin. And for more reasons than one. I always thought she was going to be just a little bit behind me since she’s half-Vampire, you know? But it seems like she has so much more figured out about herself than I do. And I really thought I at least knew what sort of field I wanted to work in when I grew up, I just didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do there. Now I’m not sure at all.”
“I may not understand your jealousy myself, but I can certainly see where it comes from. And people have had much worse feelings throughout all of time. I can imagine it’s tough to see someone younger than you having something you wish you did too or being someone you wish you were.”
“She’s just so confident. It kinda gets to me sometimes. It also makes me worry she’s going to want to leave me for a more evil friend.”
“That you two have been friends this long while being good and evil is a feat in and of itself, I think,” Tei-Sheu said. “I’m sure your friendship wouldn’t go down that easily.”
“Well, that’s not what I’m most worried about, anyway. I’m just jealous because she’s so certain about herself. But I feel so lost. What if I find something that I really really want to do, but I can’t because I’m just no good at it? What if I find something I’m good at but I don’t want to devote my life to?”
“Not all dreams are ones you need to devote your life to, Fer-Shi,” Tei-Sheu said. “And if you’re no good at something you really want to do, you keep practicing until you become good at it.”
“I just feel stuck.”
“Your problem is that you’re trying to rush things. You need to take this easy. You can start worrying about it if you get to be my age and you’re going nowhere in life because of this.”
“I know I shouldn’t rush things, but I just can’t help it! I’m more confused than I ever was before and I just want to have this all figured out. It’s upsetting me.”
“Then you definitely need to take a break from all this. Why not try doing things that you should know for the future, like cooking? You should know how to cook for yourself. I can teach you a few snack recipes at first and then you can help with bigger meals, and I’m sure Den-Matsu has a lot he can teach you too. And you could focus on school subjects you’re falling behind in or your friendship with La-Iin. Just don’t go and bring up dreams.”
“But if I do that, then when I start thinking about it again, I’ll just feel the same way,” Fer-Shi said bitterly.
“And if you don’t do it, you won’t do anything,” Tei-Sheu huffed. “Come on, Fer-Shi. I can teach you how to make cornpop or Fairydevil cake. And next year you’ll be in the fifth grade. It might be a good thing to get a head start, don’t you think? Take things easy is what I’m saying, Fer-Shi. Focus the majority of your attention on something else, and put the whole figuring out a dream thing as a secondary task for now. Then you won’t be using so much energy up on figuring it out.”
“All right,” Fer-Shi sighed.
“Come on, Fer-Shi. Look up. You’ll figure it out someday.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she sighed. ‘I just hope that someday is soon.’

***

“I know you want to get to talking right away, Mit-Sun, but I was wondering, where is La-Iin today? Is she not home?”
“She’s out with a friend,” Mit-Sun said.
“Fer-Shi?”
“No, San-Kyung,” she said. “He said he was taking her to the park. Apparently he passed by the house and she muscled him into it.”
“That makes me feel uncomfortable…”
“It makes me feel uncomfortable too, but I bet our reasons are different,” Mit-Sun said. “Now, back on topic.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Look, I’m not comfortable with the idea of letting you take La-Iin for any designated day. I’m used to having her here and I still don’t like you, no matter how many privileges I’ve been giving you.”
“That’s a shame. I’ve really been thinking we could go back to being friends lately.” When Mit-Sun glared at him, he fumbled a bit before saying, “Of course, I knew you wouldn’t want to be.”
“Huh! Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, you can take her out on days I have something important to do or if she’s being a pain or she’s desperate to see you. Maybe I’ll even let you take her someplace on your birthday. If I do that, then you’re happy, she’s happy, I don’t have to see you, it’s a winning situation for everyone.”
“It certainly sounds like fun,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my birthday now.”
“La-Iin will stay with me most days, and you still need to call before coming over under any circumstances. And leaving a message saying ‘I’m coming’ doesn’t count. This is still my house before anything else. Forget La-Iin for a second, I don’t always want you on my property.”
“You say that as if I wasn’t already aware of that.”
“It certainly feels like you conveniently forget things at the perfect times,” Mit-Sun sneered. “Anyway, that’s my terms. Sorry if they seem complicated to you, but I don’t necessarily want the man I hate most hanging around my daughter all that often.”
“She’s still my daughter as well, and she can evidently make her own choices.”
“She can, but she’s also seven years old and still dependent on me. I’m still the one who’s taking care of her most of the time. Besides, now that statement’s more because I don’t want to see you than because I think you’ll be a bad influence. I still think you will be. But I’m sure there are other, much worse influences she can have. Her doll for one,” Mit-Sun muttered.
“Bes-Isa’s quite a nice doll…well, maybe nice is not the way to put it, but she’s polite at least.”
“At least,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “Honestly, with the way she talks I was convinced La-Iin was faking it for the longest time. Anyway, that’s it. That’s all I have to say to you. Now you know. I’ll try and keep consistent with what I said to you today, but don’t always expect for me to remember.”
“Oh, I’m certainly not expecting it,” Asul-Zenza said, a chuckle to his tone. “You seem to have an awfully convenient memory as well, Mit-Sun, at least when it comes to me and La-Iin. Honestly, you’re so contradictory I have to wonder if you retain any information from any of our talks ever.”
“If I don’t it’s because I can’t stand the sound of your voice,” she snapped.
“Well, sometimes I don’t like hearing that dry tone in yours either. I heard much more casual tones from you before, but now you constantly sound miffed. It’s not a good voice for you.”
“Oh shut up,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “And get out before I lose my patience, because after those comments you should be glad I didn’t lose it all just then.”
“Most definitely. I don’t want to be kicked anyplace important again, after all,” he said. “See you, Mit-Sun! Until the day we speak again!”
With that, Asul-Zenza went speeding out the door, wings spread before he had left the house.
“Moron. If it were up to me we’d never speak again…”

***

Choungetsu felt so confused nowadays. It seemed like so much was going on around him yet he could barely understand any of it.
Asul-Zenza had been coming by a lot lately and he wasn’t sure why. Mit-Sun still seemed angry with him a lot and he didn’t seem to be coming over for him. And even though he had come over for La-Iin last time, this time he had just gone into the kitchen with Mit-Sun and talked too fast for him to understand.
Choungetsu didn’t usually try to focus his attention on these sorts of things, but he couldn’t help his feelings of confusion and being left out. He wished that La-Iin and Mit-Sun would talk to him more often to help him understand, and he wished he could understand them better in the first place. Already he thought they didn’t understand each other well enough.
La-Iin had been acting a little strange lately too, he thought, and she didn’t take him on long walks that much anymore. In fact, some days Mit-Sun took him on walks and La-Iin barely paid him any attention. The thought made him a little angry. If only La-Iin would bring down that tasty doll again. It may have made her angry when he tried to play with her, but at least he could catch her attention!
Right now, however, instead of feel confused, he couldn’t help but feel lonely for Asul-Zenza as he dashed out the door. He felt a special bond with him and wished he would take him on a walk. He always seemed to be the most understanding out of everyone he met more than once. He was sure that if Asul-Zenza sat down to talk to him, he would be able to understand what he was talking about, and maybe, just maybe, Asul-Zenza would understand him, too.
More than anything, Choungetsu just wished he was more involved.

***

‘My worst fears are all coming true. Lirako’s suspicious about my being a Normal. La-Iin knows all about my dream about her. San-Kyung seems to think there’s something wrong with me more than he used to nowadays. What next, everyone at school’s going to find out about Kkumneok?’
He sighed. ‘I used to do such a good job of keeping up my demeanor. I liked things that way. The nightmares are horrible, but at least I felt like I was doing a good job of keeping what happens in them stuck in the dream. Now I’m just constantly miserable.
‘There has to be some way to make this work again….’
He tried to imagine what he might do if San-Kyung were here just then.
“San-Kyung, I know Spring just started, but you wanna wear my scarf? It’s still pretty cold outside, after all! ….no, that’s stupid. Hey, San-Kyung, I found out something interesting about Lizardfeet! Well, only a specific type of Lizardfeet, but hey, maybe if you run into one, you’ll know how to deal with them! Oh, would he even care about my studies anymore? Aww, San-Kyung, you look so adorable like that! Hm…”
“Dosa-Mina, are you talking to yourself?” Elai-Riya asked from behind the door.
“No, Mom! I’m just reading aloud!” He said hurriedly. It seemed to have worked, for Elai-Riya said nothing more.
‘I just want to focus on stopping my nightmares, not all this other shit. It’s like the world wants to punish me for something.’
He glanced out his window. ‘Maybe it does. But what did I do wrong?’

***

Lately Ai-Reia had been stuck in a perpetual state of melancholy. She would go to school, study for a short while, occasionally talk to her siblings or parents at dinner time, and then head off into her bedroom, lay on her bed, and think. On Weekends like today, it was even worse–she would stay in her bedroom for hours on end until summoned by a family member or natural function.
‘This isn’t right.’ She thought to herself. ‘La-Iin is an absolutely abhorrent person. This world would probably be better off if she died or disappeared from the face of the planet. But there is no reason I should be letting just the mere sight of her turn me into an animal.’
She clutched her pillow. ‘But I can’t control that if there’s some sort of monster inside of me. No, I have to find a way to tame her if that’s the case. But in what way? Do I do in La-Iin? I’m young enough so that I can’t really be arrested. But I’m also a prodigy. I’m sure they consider me smart enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. And that is true, I do understand it…
‘But then, what do I do? I don’t want to do something that horrible, at least I don’t think I do! Oh, I can only imagine how my family might feel if I killed someone with my own two hands. But if I got rid of La-Iin, finally this monster inside of me will be quieted.
‘….or I hope it will be. What if it doesn’t stop even after her death? Do I need the satisfaction of murder, or would her dying of other causes be enough? Would her leaving Malicerie be enough? What is it I need?’
Ai-Reia groaned. ‘I don’t understand what that monster wants! And the worst part is…I’ll never understand. Not until whatever it wants is satisfied. I know that who I think I am wishes La-Iin were dead, but I no longer wish to dirty my hands with her blood. But that’s only what I think. That’s only my reasoning to stray me away from killing her in the first place.
‘Damn it! Why did she need to come into my life!? Everything would be that much better if she had never come to Malicerie! If I had never come to Malicerie! All I want is some peace! I can’t deal with this monster nagging me for hundreds of years! I’ll go mad long before then!’
Ai-Reia stared down at her hands. ‘Do I sate her, or do I resist her? Which one will make me feel better? Which will be better for me? I’ve attempted to kill La-Iin before. I’m not all that scared of the idea, more of my family’s reaction to it. But that might not be what she wants at all. Who knows. Maybe she wants Ca-Miela dead. The idea wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But so long as I don’t know, all I can do is try or resist. And I don’t know which one is right.’
She buried her face into her knees. ‘I wish someone would help me…I wish there would be someone who could try and pull me out of this pit…and I wish I could ask my family. But I no longer have the faith I need to do that.’
Again her thoughts swirled in circles, and she flopped backwards onto her bed, confused and upset. Eventually her thoughts stopped going in any direction at all and she grew drowsy from resting on her bed, and fell asleep, a sleep she would be in until she was summoned at dinner time by her mother.

***

“I’m a little surprised La-Iin left you here, Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu said. “Wouldn’t she just normally leave you at home in her bedroom?”
“She probably did it to piss us off,” Eul-Bok said bitterly. Sale-Dessu glared at him.
“I’m not the most thrilled about this arrangement either, but at least it gives me a little more to do than just think.”
“Well, is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about?”
“Plenty. Namely, I want to ask a little bit about Eul-Bok’s inner workings.”
“Don’t tell her, Father!” Eul-Bok said.
“Sure, what do you want to know? Come on, Eul-Bok, it’s not going to change anything if she knows or not. At most she’ll tell La-Iin. What can she do about this information?”
“Yeah, you idiot. Anyway, I wanted to know, does Eul-Bok go to the bathroom? Does he eat? I’m sure he sleeps, but does he sleep like a V-Puppet or more normally?”
“What are you talking about?” Eul-Bok said. “I sleep the same way I always did!”
“He just goes to sleep, Bes-Isa. Were you asking if I still need to snap my fingers for him to rest? Because the answer is no.”
“I figured that. Though I see the two of you still have some sort of connection. That makes me wonder what would happen if you kicked the bucket, Sale-Dessu. Would he be left to the same horrible fate we non-autonomous V-Puppets are, or would he be able to walk around like he is now?”
“I’d like to think I did a good enough job that he wouldn’t be stuck like that,” Sale-Dessu said. “But there’s no way of knowing. He’s the first V-Puppet to end up this way….and as for your other questions, he doesn’t go to the bathroom. He doesn’t accumulate waste like I do.”
“Ew, Father!” Eul-Bok exclaimed. Sale-Dessu’s face flushed. “I was only trying to explain it to her.”
“Honestly, the idea of you pooping is kind of disturbing.”
“That’s not what this is about!” Sale-Dessu yelled. “Anyway, he doesn’t have to eat, although he can.”
“I tried to eat once. I could only taste it a little bit. And that might have just been me mistaking the texture. But I’m pretty sure I got some of its flavor.”
“I think you did too,” Sale-Dessu said. “Anything else you wanted to know, Bes-Isa?”
“Yeah. Were you nasty enough to put genitalia on him?”
“I didn’t put anything like that on him!”
“Yeah, I’ve got nothing down there,” Eul-Bok said. “Makes me wonder sometimes. Feels a little like something’s missing. It’s kinda weird.”
“I wonder if my chest would feel that way if I was autonomous.”
“Probably not,” Eul-Bok scoffed under his breath.
“Can we not talk about this right now?” Sale-Dessu said. “I didn’t have to put something like that on him. He’d have no use for it. I was just weighing options.”
“So you considered it.”
“What’s wrong with that!? It’s part of a man’s biology. But he has no use for it. So please stop talking about this.”
“If you say so. Honestly, I don’t care one way or the other. I was just curious if you were nasty enough to do it.”
Sale-Dessu glared.
“Ah, I still hope I can become autonomous someday. But, you know, putting that aside, I think I should thank La-Iin for leaving me here. If I can at least have a little bit more to do, life like this should be more tolerable. Hey, one more question.”
“I’m not answering if it’s anything indecent.”
“It’s not, and the question’s not really for you. Hey, Eulie, have you been let out at all yet, or have you been rotting away in here for almost two months?”
“I’m not rotting away in here,” Eul-Bok said. “And I can’t leave just yet. So I’ve stayed in here.”
“Yeah, things definitely need to be improved before I can even consider becoming autonomous.”
“Well, maybe someday,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “La-Iin should live for a thousand years or so. I’m sure something will happen in that time.”
“Normally I’d say otherwise, given that other Vampires have lived and died without getting anywhere, but if you figured it out, maybe there’s a little bit of hope for me.”

—–
“San-Kyung, you never told me what you wanted to talk about!”
“It’s not actually all that important, you know.”
“You made the effort to come over to my house, follow me to the park and then fight me. I think I deserve to know what you wanted to say!”
“I already got my answer,” he said.
“How!?”
“Figure it out yourself,” he called, then walked off. La-Iin’s wings began flapping involuntarily.
“Well, I guess I at least got to see him…”