30.546.The Adventure in Bledger–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 546
“The Adventure in Bledger–Part 2”

“Bledger Police Department. Uh-huh. Two missing females…ages nine and seven….long brown hair, fair complexion, Normal…oh, sorry, I tend to repeat a lot. I got all that, don’t worry.”
‘Wonder who he’s talking to?’ Wondered Cheu-Sheam. The man nodded and set down the phone. “Hey, what’s going on, Aheni?”
“We’ve got a missing child case. Apparently two young girls went down to the local park and haven’t been back to their parents in hours.”
“Ooh.”
“Don’t ‘ooh’ at this!” He snapped. “Friggin’ rookie.”
“Well, sor-ree that they sent me to Bledger as part of my training! I don’t even want to work here. I’d rather do all my stuff in Yeongsham.”
“Yeah, well, while you’re complaining about all that there are two little girls who are missing for any number of reasons. And we at the Bledger Police Department have to deal with it, meanwhile you just have to stick behind here.”
“Grr….I swear, one of these days I’m gonna help with a big case.”
“Don’t be so immature.”
“I’m not. I just want to help. And I can’t stand you, Aheni.” She sighed. ‘I miss my friends…I hope their training is going well, too.’

“Students, today Miss Cahongyun and Miss Sanhuun won’t be attending classes. I think you all have noticed their absence already, but it seems the reason could be far worse than initially thought. Those two girls have been missing since yesterday, last spotted at the park.”
The students began to murmur.
“What happened to Fer-Shi?” Shan-Zetsu asked.
“Sanhuun…” Sighed Cae-Bougen.
“I wonder what happened?” Dosa-Mina said.
“We’ll have to go on with classes as usual, but if any of you students spot the girls, remember to report your sighting to the Bledger Police Department. …and don’t tell them I asked you this, but if you spot them and you have the strength for it, try and bring them back with you, too.”
“Got it, teach,” Yefu-Shenhao said. Hyungdarou sighed and went on with biology class; the students soon noticed she was teaching far more than she usually did when in a brighter mood.

“Hm…”
“Something wrong, Sara?” A student from Class B asked.
“Don’t ask that, Weishen! Sara’s best friend went missing!”
“It’s alright,” Shuu-Kena said. “I was just wondering. Yesterday, when they were outside, I overheard them talking about something…”
“What?”
Shuu-Kena lowered her head. “I think…I think they were talking about…going on an adventure,” she said. “I want to tell the police, but I’m scared to…”
“Don’t be scared! If you really heard that you should tell them! The police aren’t scary!”
“I know…I’m not scared of the police, actually…I’m scared of something else…”
“If you want, we can help you,” Weishen offered. Shuu-Kena glanced up. “Well…I’ll see.”

***

When La-Iin and Fer-Shi had woken up, it was bright outside, so the two girls immediately set out on the continuation of their adventure.
“I hope Mom and Dad aren’t too worried,” Fer-Shi sighed. “Maybe they think I’m staying over at your house.”
“They won’t. When Mama thinks I’m up to something she tends to call your Mama and Dami. They’ll find out.”
“Mm…well, I hope they aren’t too worried…”
“Instead of focusing on our parents, why don’t we focus on the adventure? We’ll have more fun that way.”
“Um, alright!”
La-Iin kept a steady lead over Fer-Shi as the two traversed a neighborhood that appeared to not be in the greatest condition, but still in better condition than many of the others La-Iin had seen. People played outside with their children and friends and though the houses looked to be in bad shape, the people there seemed fairly happy and healthy.
“Bledger sure has a lot of shoddy houses.”
“Huh? Oh, I guess they do. It’s a surprise that we ended up with as nice houses as we have, I guess.”
“That’s because we’re lucky enough to have parents who know what the word ‘quality’ means.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “It’s kind of surprising to hear you say that.”
“I don’t think all negatively about certain people, you know.”
The two girls head out the neighborhood and onto a clearing of street. La-Iin dashed across the street to a patch of grass up ahead. Fer-Shi soon joined her, and they waited for a car to pass before heading forward to a large stretch of grassy plain. Ahead of the grassy plain sat a park on their left, and to their right, another set of houses.
“I think I know what’s the obvious choice here.” La-Iin switched to flight and zipped off towards the park. Fer-Shi chased after her.
The park was filled with many young children–younger than La-Iin and Fer-Shi. Their parents mostly watched from afar as the children climbed over all the equipment, and the park was spattered with sand, snow, fur and feathers.
“Why would Snowlivs take their baby out in this heat?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Look closely.” La-Iin pointed towards the young Snowliv boy who was climbing his way up the slide. He was covered with a full-body plastic shield, though there was a small hole near the foot of the shield.
“Oh.”
“His parents are too.”
Fer-Shi nodded. “This park seems like it’s for really little kids, La-Iin. Even younger than you. Do you wanna stay here?”
“Oh, just for a little bit and then we can move on.” La-Iin walked towards the children, some of which stared in her direction and smiled. A mischievous grin spread across La-Iin’s face, and she turned around, spread her wings, and yelled at the children, who began to cry. The parents rushed to their children’s side, all except one pair who head for La-Iin.
“Run!” La-Iin shrieked, though Fer-Shi could hear excitement in her tone. She took off ahead of Fer-Shi by flying, and Fer-Shi only kept pace behind her out of sheer fear of what might happened if the angered parents reached her and La-Iin.
Eventually, the parents fell out of sight, and La-Iin and Fer-Shi came to a halt, taking deep breaths. La-Iin took off her backpack and reached for a snack.
“Geez….never do something like that again, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi yelled.
“I ake o haranees!” La-Iin said through a mouthful of food.

***

“We’ve gotten in a report from a young lady who says the two girls were planning to adventure across Bledger,” a police officer told Den-Matsu.
“Why would they do that!?” He exclaimed.
“Even if they were planning something like that, there’s no reason they should have been gone this long! They’ve been off on adventures together before and they’ve never been gone this long…”
“It’s possible they could have met with trouble on their way. But don’t worry. We’re sending out the majority of our force to scour all around Bledger. It’s only really a problem downtown anyway.”
“Would that really be so smart?” Asked a Llamaki officer. “Bledger’s been so dangerous lately–”
“And that’s exactly why we need to work fast, Officer Llanni! With how dangerous Bledger has been lately these girls could be in a lot of trouble, if they aren’t dead already!”
Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu gasped and began to tear up.
“Err, not that they are, of course! We’ll keep searching for your daughter and her friend, Mr. and Mrs. Sanhuun. You have my word that we will not rest until they are found!”
“I understand your concern, Mr. and Mrs. I have a daughter too, and if something happened to her I would want the entire might of the police force out there looking for her. I just hope this focus on your daughter’s disappearance doesn’t distract us from other important matters at hand…”

After the two girls had left the playground, they entered dense forestry and thus far had not found their way back out. On their way they stumbled upon a few signs of civilization, but none of them had led them back to the main path of Bledger. The further on they walked, the darker the forestry became.
“Where are we, La-Iin?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I have no idea.”
“What are we gonna do if we can’t find our way back out?”
“We camped out yesterday night, we can do it again. And if you’re worried about eating we have plenty of snacks to sustain ourselves. Even if we run out we should be able to get more food anyway, and I have your blood.”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “You sound like you’re preparing us for living like this forever…”
“Not forever. But I can’t fly high enough to check where we are and I don’t know all of Bledger. I just want to be prepared. I definitely don’t intend on staying out here forever. If I did I wouldn’t have much chance of seeing San-Kyung again. But this is a good experience for the future.”
“I just wanna go home…”
“I do too. But let’s keep going otherwise we’ll never find it.”
As the sky grew darker, Fer-Shi found herself feeling more hopeless. ‘What if we never do find our way back home? It’s starting to get dark again. We probably missed school and Mom and Dad are probably super-worried…geez, I’m the older one here and yet La-Iin’s the one who’s keeping a cool head. Maybe she really doesn’t care, or maybe she’s just trying to save face around me. I still can’t believe she can do this even in this scary situation…’
Fer-Shi smiled to herself as she kept behind La-Iin.
The two girls continued to walk on, with both keeping an eye out for any sign of civilization. To her left, La-Iin spotted what appeared to be a streetlight and head towards it. Soon after heading that way, something began to rustle up ahead.
“What is it!?” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“We ran into plenty of animals yesterday. Don’t get so worried.”
Fer-Shi swallowed hard. La-Iin bit into her arm and took a few steps forward. The rustling grew louder until a black-furred Catori peeked her head through and stared directly at La-Iin. She glanced past her at Fer-Shi.
“Hey, I think I found them, Officer Llanni!”
“You did?” A Llamaki man followed the Catori and stared at the girl. “This matches their description. Oh, thank you, Bhengai! I’m sorry we had to ask for your help.”
“Not at all! This is what I’m training for! You girls okay?”
Fer-Shi began to cry. La-Iin took a step backwards and hissed.
“I think they’ll be fine, right?” Llanni sighed. “Come on, girls, let’s get you home. Your parents are incredibly worried.”
“Come on, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi said, her voice wavering. La-Iin didn’t budge. “If we don’t leave with the officers, we’ll be lost and you won’t get to see San-Kyung again.”
La-Iin grimaced and sighed. She followed behind the officers and Fer-Shi as the three left the forest.

—–
“We were so worried!” Tei-Sheu cried. “Please be extra careful from now on, alright!?”
“I will be!” Fer-Shi said.
“I’m glad you’re alright…I was really worried that something bad happened…”
“You didn’t need to worry, Mama. That’s just annoying. Besides, I always kept my cool.” She struggled out of Mit-Sun’s grasp and tapped Fer-Shi on the shoulder. Fer-Shi turned away from her parents and leaned in close to La-Iin when she noticed her in position to whisper.
“That adventure was pretty fun. Maybe we should do it again when certain people aren’t so worried that they call the police.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “Maybe. But that won’t be for many more years, that’s for sure!”

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29.545.The Adventure in Bledger–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 545
“The Adventure in Bledger–Part 1”

“Hey, La-Iin. Whatcha up to? Not hanging out with Sara for once?”
La-Iin and Fer-Shi’s longest period of break time had arrived, and La-Iin had soon found she had nothing to do. She wasn’t unhappy, however. The memory of her mother’s rejection of Uil-Cur kept her from becoming unhappy, though she was immensely bored as she observed students utilizing their weak powers in the recess area. When Fer-Shi approached her, she felt as though she had been snapped out of something.
“Huh?”
“I said, not hanging out with Sara for once? In fact, you look pretty bored, so I asked, what’s up?”
“Does it look like anything’s up? Nothing’s up. I’m just happy about something that happened recently.”
“Really? What?”
“You wouldn’t understand. There’s too much background I’d have to give you so you don’t get the wrong idea.”
Fer-Shi sighed. “It feels like you say that a ton recently.”
“Getting jealous again?”
“No, just sad. You see, well, maybe this will sound petty to you, but I remember the times we always hung out together. Not only that, but we are a friendship between good and evil, and you have other friends who understand you better now. I guess I just feel inadequate compared to back then.”
“Do you think our friendship is so weak that it will break because we haven’t talked as much recently? I still talk to you every week. When was the last week I didn’t?”
“I know, I know,” Fer-Shi sighed. “It’s just me being petty. You used to be concerned about our friendship. Now it’s my turn.”
“Well, don’t be. Lately I’ve been concerned with my goals and other people are helping me discover more about my goals than you are. If I had nobody I would be talking to nobody. It’s just a matter of that. So stop feeling inadequate.”
“Easier said than done,” she siad, then gasped. “Hey, wait a second, I’ve got an idea.”
“What?”
“Didn’t we talk about going on an adventure earlier this year? Like an adventure throughout all of Bledger!”
“Maybe that came up once. We talk about a lot of things, Fer-Shi.”
“Well, do you have anything to do with your time?”
“No, not particularly. Though you never know when something will come up. Why? Did you want to go on an adventure now? Fer-Shi, you’re a goody-goody. Aren’t you worried about missing school?”
Fer-Shi shook her head. “School ends on Wednesday, and anyway if we just stay within Bledger we should be alright. Maybe we should test ourselves to see how much ground we can cover in one day! We’ve been lots of places in Bledger, but I want to see if we can find a new place all by ourselves! So what do you say?”
“It sounds like a good idea. Although I’m not going unless blood and snacks are part of the deal.”
“Ooh, all right…but if you have to suck my blood, can you do it in my arm or something like that and not my shoulder? It hurts there…”
“I didn’t mean your blood, I meant like blood packs, and I can get those from home. Though I’ll accept your blood too,” she said with a wink.
“Why do I never try and predict what you’re going to say…” Fer-Shi sighed. “Well, whatever. Alright, I’ll get some snacks from home and you can get some snacks from home, bring whatever else you might need for a day, and we’ll go on an adventure! Boy, I sure hope I don’t worry my Mom and Dad too much.”
“They know what to expect from me.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right!”

***

“What are you packing for, La-Iin?”
“Me and Fer-Shi are going to walk around…the park area near Bledger because there’s something she wanted to show me. I don’t know how far it is so I wanted snacks.”
“Do I get to go on this little escapade of yours?”
“Maybe. I’m still tossing the idea around.”
“I see. Well, don’t stay out too late because I’m making a dinner you like. Also it worries me when you’re out too late.”
“It should.”
“It doesn’t worry me because of how you act, you know. A lot of the times you’ve been out too late something happened to you. Granted, some of the time it has been just that you’ve been acting up, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to play it safe.”
“If you say so, Mama.”
Choungetsu stood on his hind legs and sniffed at La-Iin’s backpack. She snatched the backpack away from him.
“I hope you’re not still thinking about Haner.”
“I wasn’t, not right now anyway. Just about you. Maybe sometime soon you and I should go somewhere. It’s hard to feel close to you when you’re so antagonistic.”
“Antagonism is in my nature. But don’t worry, Mama. Now that you turned down Haner, a lot of my anger towards you has dissipated. I need to get over the rest and then you can read me silly books again if you want.” She fastened her backpack. “I’m going to go now.”
“Be safe. See you soon.”
La-Iin gave no response. She head out the door and began to fly almost as soon as she was outside, heading for the meeting place she and Fer-Shi had decided on–the park area she had told Mit-Sun about.
Once she reached the park area, she spotted Fer-Shi sitting on a bench. She waved to La-Iin, and La-Iin landed next to her.
“Hi there, La-Iin.”
“Hello.”
Fer-Shi glanced around the park. A few families were out playing with their children. “Let’s go over to the bushes,” she whispered. La-Iin nodded and followed her.
“Which direction should we head in first?”
“The most foresty, the better. The most foresty areas I’ve been to is the one nearby the school and a few other places I don’t remember as well.”
“Well, that works! We’re already in a foresty area!” Fer-Shi giggled. “Come on, let’s go!”
Fer-Shi led the way through the bushes and the trees. La-Iin followed behind her and found herself becoming quickly bored by the same repetitive sight of trees and bushes. Soon enough, however, Fer-Shi pushed her way through a tall bush and the two found themselves in a dilapidated area that seemed almost abandoned. Fer-Shi gave a squeal and walked closer to La-Iin’s side.
“This kind of reminds me of the place we meet up with Imagination at,” La-Iin said.
“Yeah, it kinda does…still, it seems different somehow…”
“Maybe it’s the same place and just the main part.”
Fer-Shi swallowed hard. “Well, wherever we are, we should try and find our way out soon! Who knew going through the park could lead you here….maybe we should go back the way we came.”
“No way. We might find something interesting here. I’ve explored nearby that park, but I’ve never gone too far in this neighborhood. And that’s if this is even the same neighborhood with the graveyard!”
Fer-Shi took a deep breath. “Guess you’re right,” she said. “I can’t always be such a scaredy-catori, especially when I’ve got a friend who’s way too overconfident. But I’m sure you’re scared of something!”
“False bravery.”
“See!? I got–” Fer-Shi blinked. “Hey!”
La-Iin took the lead as they walked through the area. Though the blue sky shone above them, the area itself seemed relatively dark. Houses around them were in bad condition and some were boarded up, but none seemed to be inhabited except by a few animals.
“Wow, look at all the Vampire animals.”
“I’ve never seen this many in one area,” Fer-Shi said. “I guess with all the people gone, the animals must have taken control of this area.”
“I wonder if they like sucking people blood. Animals are so lucky. If they’re evil other animals don’t get on their case for it unless they’re trying to eat them. It’s people who end up hurting the evil animals in the end.”
“I guess you like animals, huh, La-Iin?”
“Not anymore than I like people, but I have more respect for the goody-goody animals than I do for goody-goody people.”
Fer-Shi chuckled, though she sounded nervous. La-Iin smirked. She ran ahead of Fer-Shi.
“Hey, wait! Don’t leave me behind!”
“Don’t worry! Look up ahead!”
Fer-Shi tilted her head to see past La-Iin. Up ahead was a field of dead grass intermixed with living grass. Curious, she picked up speed and stopped by La-Iin’s side to examine the grass.
“Wow.”
“This place is amazing,” La-Iin squealed, sitting down on the ground. “Nobody’s here to bother you, and it’s got a perfect feeling. It makes me happy!”
“I guess it is pretty nice once you get past the scary part.”
“I’ve been to other dirty neighborhoods before, but they always have evil failures lurking about. Like that stupid druggy neighborhood!”
“Um, maybe we shouldn’t talk about things like that right now.”
“Speaking of, I wonder where we would end up if we traveled past there?”
“Er–”
“I’m hungry.” La-Iin opened up her backpack and took out a package of beondegi. Nearby, Fer-Shi spotted a Vampire ferret watching her from afar.
“Looks like someone’s curious about your food,” Fer-Shi giggled.
“It’s like the predecessor of the Vampire-Ferreniao. I wonder if Vampire ferrets live as long as Vampire-anyings live.”
“I heard Vampire animals do live longer, but most of them rely on blood unlike Vampires.”
“What are you talking about? We people Vampires need blood to retain our sanity.”
“In your case that sounds about accurate…”
Once La-Iin had her fill of beondegi, the two pushed on and head into a dark forest. Fer-Shi held tight to La-Iin’s sleeve, glancing around for some other source of light aside from the small amounts of sunlight that made their ways through the trees.
“Scared?”
“Y-yes.”
“Hm.”
“Animals are nice, but who knows when one will want to eat you…”
“If you wouldn’t be scared of a Bearperson you shouldn’t be scared of a bear.”
“Mmn…what about Siren animals?”
“I thought I heard they only paralyze people. But with their voices instead of song!”
“Eep! Don’t use that kind of tone here!”
“You screeching is more dangerous than me growling!”
Throughout the forest the girls could hear many chirping noises. La-Iin felt slightly off-put, but she could tell Fer-Shi was in a worse position–her friend’s hands were shaking as she held tight to La-Iin’s sleeve. In response, La-Iin picked up the pace to make it quickly through the forest.
The further the girls made it through the forest, the more light they could spot up ahead. They entered a brighter area with a few small huts all around. Fer-Shi glanced around the area curiously.
“Where are we now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ooh, precious snake,” a woman cooed. The two girls glanced in her direction. “You are so gorgeous with your scales. No Lizardfoot could compare.”
“Are we in a species society?”
La-Iin walked ahead of Fer-Shi and peered into the huts. Fer-Shi froze. Inside the huts La-Iin could spot a Lizardfoot, in another a Bunety, and in yet another a Warlock. La-Iin felt as though she recognized the Warlock from somewhere. ‘Was he the one at–‘
“Who are you?” La-Iin nearly jumped up in surprise, until she realized that the woman was speaking to Fer-Shi.
“Um, I’m just passing by with my friend…we wanted to know where we were.”
“The nature society is where you would be. We believe in returning to our roots. Look around you at the diversity of animals! We evolved from such beings. Lizardfeet from lizards, Catori from cats, it’s beautiful. So we intend on returning to that period of time by living in harmony with our animal friends.”
“Yet you set up people tents,” La-Iin said. The woman’s eyes widened. “Come on, Fer-Shi, let’s go.”
“Um, okay. Good luck with your society!” Fer-Shi called as La-Iin dragged her away.
“…I can’t believe we’ve been such hypocrites. People, there needs to be a change made to our means of operation!”

Since leaving the nature society, La-Iin and Fer-Shi had mostly trudged through abandoned neighborhoods and forests. La-Iin couldn’t help but feel that the part of Bledger they were currently in was badly-cared for–that and that it would be a perfect place to set up a base if she ever felt inclined to. Fer-Shi, meanwhile, was enjoying the sights and spending time with La-Iin, but she felt nervous almost every step, and as the sky grew darker she began to miss her family.
At one point the sky grew too dark for the two to navigate well enough, and though La-Iin didn’t see it as an impediment she stopped for Fer-Shi’s sake inside a house. The two girls began to eat snacks.
“How do you think we can head home from here?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I don’t think we can. But don’t worry. I have experience with this type of situation.”
“What!?”
“We’re going to have to stay here,” La-Iin said simply. “You can’t navigate in the dark like I can, and without two people navigating in the dark we will get lost. Would you rather camp our or never see your Mama and Dami again?”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “Are you sure that’s the case, La-Iin? I’m sure we can make it back…”
“I don’t have as much trouble navigating in the dark as some other people and I have no idea where we are. So take my advice for once. We’ll be safer this way. And isn’t that what you want?”
“I guess…”
“Can I ask a favor before we sleep?”
Fer-Shi blinked. “I’m surprised you would…but go ahead.”
“I’d like a drink of your blood now.”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “Can you see well enough?”
“I can see you just fine.”
“Your night eyesight must be really good…okay, La-Iin, I’ll let you…”
Fer-Shi outstretched her arm. La-Iin pulled it toward her and took a drink of blood, letting go before she got carried away. She dabbed at Fer-Shi’s arm with her dress.
“That was good. Your blood has a nice taste.”
“Mm…”
Both girls laid down.
“Do you think we’ll make it back to our parents tomorrow, La-Iin?”
“Maybe. But don’t you see what a perfect advantage this is? Maybe we’re close to Malicerie, but if we aren’t we aren’t going to change anything by looking for it. We can take more of this time to adventure.”
“What about heading home!?”
“Oh, we can look for a way home, too, but we can also adventure. That’s my point. It’s been a lot of fun adventuring with you, Fer-Shi. A nice break for me. So the longer this goes on, the better.”
“…yeah, I guess it has been pretty fun even though it’s been scary,” Fer-Shi said. “Let’s do it, then.”
“Alright…but once we get some sleep,” La-Iin yawned.
“That’s for sure…good night, La-Iin…”
“Bad night,” La-Iin giggled. Noticing Fer-Shi’s glare, she said, “Oh, whatever. Good night.”

—–
Mit-Sun and the Sanhuuns were concerned.
“Our daughters aren’t back yet, and it’s almost time for school. They’ve been gone since the afternoon. They said they were just going down to the park!”
“As much as I don’t trust La-Iin, I don’t think she would keep Fer-Shi out this late…”
“Do you think something’s happened?” Tei-Sheu asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m worried that’s the case. Why else would they be gone for so long when they were just going to the park? I think we need to take actions into our own hands!”
“You want to look for our daughters ourselves? But they could be anywhere in Bledger!”
“I do want to do that, but I actually meant contact the authorities.”
“Oh. Right.”
Den-Matsu sighed. ‘Fer-Shi, I hope you’re alright, wherever you are…’ A worst-case scenario crossed his mind, but he pushed it away as he dialed the number for the police.

28.544.My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 544
“My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 2”

Mit-Sun sighed. Ever since Uil-Cur had confessed his feelings for her, his confession had been replaying on repeat in her head.
“I knew this from almost the start, Mama. I figured Haner either wanted to kill you or was in love with you. Why do you think I hated him so much?”
“I guess it makes sense now,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Now that you know, I hope you plan on telling him no soon.”
Mit-Sun didn’t respond. La-Iin began to glare.
“Well!?”
“I don’t know, La-Iin. Besides, this isn’t any of your business.”
“It is my business! If you say yes to Haner, you might marry him! If you marry him and he becomes my step-Dami…”
La-Iin’s wings were flapping wildly. Mit-Sun was startled. She wasn’t used to seeing such emotion on La-Iin’s face. ‘If even her face is giving away how she feels, she must be pretty angry…’
“I’m sorry, La-Iin. There’s nothing I can tell you.”
La-Iin gave no further response after that; instead, she stormed off.
Mit-Sun was in shock at the idea that Uil-Cur had feelings for her, but also felt as though she should have seen it coming. Each time she thought back on his flirtatious nature she felt stupid for not realizing it.
‘But that’s not the issue here! Uil-Cur feels that way towards me, but what do I feel towards him?’
Mit-Sun realized that in truth, she had never exactly figured that one out. She knew she liked Uil-Cur and found him to be fun to hang around, but were those feelings potentially romantic or completely platonic? Was she trying to deny her feelings for him for La-Iin’s sake, or was it possible she was trying to contemplate having feelings for him for his sake?
Mit-Sun heaved a sigh. Whatever her answer was, it still flustered her to think that Uil-Cur loved her.

***

Since confessing his feelings to Mit-Sun, Uil-Cur had felt anxious. Each moment that passed by his feelings seemed to change within a second. At one moment he felt that Mit-Sun was trying to prolong the time before her answer to spare his feelings, while another he wondered if she was simply feeling shy about the idea of him sharing her feelings.
“Brother, you can’t keep shaking like that. If you do that there won’t be many girls who like you.”
“What?”
“There are a lot of girls in Bledger who like guys whose personality is consistent. Although there are some who go for the whole hidden-side thing. Anyway, normally you exude an air of confidence. Don’t stop that or you might turn some girls away.”
“Oh, come on, I’m only around you. I’m better at controlling myself in public. I just feel very comfortable with my sister, is all.”
“That’s good. Just givin’ you advice.”
As his sister turned to leave, the phone began to ring. Groaning, she went to pick it up. “Yeah? Hello? ….hey bro, I think it’s for you!”
She didn’t need to say anything further–Uil-Cur rushed to the phone and snatched it out of her hand. She sneered at him before walking away.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Uil-Cur? This is you, right?”
“Yes, it is. I’m surprised you called.”
“How else was I supposed to reach you? Listen, I want to talk with you. Let’s go down by the park to do this. It’ll feel tacky over the phone.”
“Er, alright.”
‘Good luck, big brother,’ his sister thought.

***

Uil-Cur took several deep breaths on his way to the park. By the time he arrived there, Mit-Sun was already standing there and waiting for him, a distant expression on her face. She waved to him as he landed.
“I suppose this is it,” Uil-Cur sighed. “I’m ready for whatever response you give me, Mit-Sun. So say what you will.”
“Since when did I say this had anything to do with your confession?” Mit-Sun asked. Uil-Cur’s eyes widened, but he let out a sigh when he noticed Mit-Sun start to giggle. “Just kidding. It’s a little humor before my answer.”
“Sorry, Mit-Sun, I’m just so anxious to hear your response…”
“I’m sure you are,” she sighed. “Well…I had to give it a lot of thought. I realized I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about your confession. Well, aside from obviously being flustered…that’s why I left you yesterday instead of giving you an answer right on the spot. Also, I haven’t been sure about how to feel about the idea of getting into another relationship. After La-Iin’s father and having to raise her, I’ve been reluctant about the idea of dating anyone else, so I had to think over a lot of things relating to both of those. I’m sure if I had been more certain, you would have gotten an answer right then and there.”
“I see,” Uil-Cur said. “…not to be a bother, but could you give me your answer already? Waiting to hear all you have to say is just making me more nervous…”
Mit-Sun glanced down at her feet. “I really do like you, Uil-Cur. You’re one of my best friends, and goodness knows I don’t have enough of those lately…but…I’m going to have to say that I don’t feel the same. I can’t envision going out with you and getting married or any of that stuff. All the things that made me know I liked La-Iin’s father–back when I liked him, anyway–I just don’t have them with you.”
Uil-Cur’s head dropped. “I don’t want this to be the end of our friendship, though! Even though I’m not in love with you, you still mean a lot to me. Without you I’d be in a much worse place right now. And I might have other people in my life who’ll stand by me but I think you’re definitely the most loyal. I know this isn’t the response you wanted to hear, but please, can you stay by me anyway?”
“…I wasn’t going to leave even if you did say no. I never intended on it. I’ll take any chances I can to spend time with you.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “And it’s not the answer I wanted to hear, but, well, I expected it. The closer we got, the more hopeful I was that you might like me back. And I know nothing of how you act while in love. I just assumed it was similar to my own behavior, which led me to believe you didn’t feel the same way. But now that I know, I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
“I’m sorry. I’m sure someday you’ll meet someone who’s good for you.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “Niceties like that aren’t going to work at this point, Mit-Sun. Still, if you’ll allow me to be optimistic…do you think your feelings will ever change? Do you think it could be possible this is just for now? No, that’s being too hopeful…”
“I don’t know, Uil-Cur. The future is the future. If I ever start feeling differently about you, I’ll let you know. Hopefully if that day ever comes you’ll still feel the same way about me.”
“I bet I will.”
“But for now, this is my answer. Still, let’s stay friends, alright?”
Mit-Sun grabbed Uil-Cur’s hand. Uil-Cur sighed.
“I didn’t intend that to be any other way.”

***

“So, bro, how’d it go? …yo?”
Uil-Cur didn’t respond.
“…ouch. Sorry, bro.”
Uil-Cur began to tear up.
“Whoa, you don’t need to get teary-eyed on me! Hey, please don’t cry! I’m not good with crying people!”
His sister sighed. ‘He isn’t going to stop…geez, who’s the adult here?’ She reached up and pat him on the back. No words came to her to say to him, so she kept silent and let her brother cry.

When Mit-Sun arrived home, La-Iin was sitting on the couch with Choungetsu, a glare on her face.
“Oh, stop being antagonistic. I told him I didn’t feel the same way. Don’t you think if I said otherwise, he’d be here with me right now?”
“You made the right decision, Mama.”
“I know I did. Still, I felt bad for him. I’ve never actually been in the turning-down situation…I’ve never been in a situation like that before at all. I’m sure it hurt.”
“He can take the pain. He was an idiot to think you’d say yes. Besides, it’s not all that painful to hear a no. I hear them all the time.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Don’t get any ideas!”
“Yeah, like I would.” Mit-Sun sighed. “I hope he cheers up soon. And I hope we can really stay friends even after all of this…”

—–
“To what to do I owe the phone call?”
“I wanted to tell you that she said no, Dami. You don’t have to worry about some other man becoming my step-Dami.”
“He confessed? Oh, well, I’m pleased! Still, I have to feel bad for him. I understand how painful it can be if someone tells you they don’t feel the same way. Especially if they’re someone with Mit-Sun’s bluntly harsh way of going about things.”
“…Dami, I have a question. You won’t get in a relationship with anyone else, will you?”
“I don’t plan on it, no. But a lot of things can happen in nine-hundred years, that’s for certain. Why do you ask? …you don’t want Mit-Sun and I to get back together, do you?”
“No!”
“Well good, because that is not happening.”
“Hm…”
“Something the matter, La-Iin?”
“It’s nothing. That’s all. Goodbye, Dami.” She hung up the phone.
‘I hope neither Mama or Dami ever gets in another relationship,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Maybe they’re annoying, but nobody else gets to pretend to be my Mama or Dami.’

27.543.My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 543
“My Darling, Mit-Sun–Part 1”

‘What do I do if Mit-Sun accepts that man’s feelings?’
Since his phone call with La-Iin, Asul-Zenza had been lost in the thought of what might happen if Mit-Sun reciprocated Uil-Cur’s feelings. Even days later the idea still upset him. He could imagine him marrying Mit-Sun and getting to play an active part in her upbringing–even the reminder of La-Iin’s hatred towards the man barely made him feel better.
‘Even with Mit-Sun’s leniency, if a new man could play the role of La-Iin’s father, would she let him? Might she want to keep La-Iin around if she gave her a younger sibling? What will I do if she accepts his feelings and allows him to help raise La-Iin?’
He felt hopeless about the situation, yet he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He awaited eagerly for La-Iin’s next phone call, in which he hoped she would say that nothing had happened and that Mit-Sun was not getting married.

***

“Mit-Sun, I feel blessed this month. Why, earlier this year I never thought that just months later the two of us would be such good friends that we could hang out so many days in a month! It’s amazing to me. Long gone are the days where I admired you from afar–now, we spend lots of time together.”
“It’s been fun. Before I started spending more time with you I never even knew there were so many places to go in Bledger. Though I already knew about Sunday Daily.”
“Of course you did. When you live near this part of town, who doesn’t?”
“It’s also been nice to have someone who understands how I feel about Mrs. Eteibreit. I swear, I think she gets some sort of sick kick off of torturing us. You seem to handle her a little better, Uil-Cur. That’s something I kind of admire about you. Your personality, the way you act…it’s very fun. It’s kind of weird when you start acting more meek.”
“Aha ha, well, it happens sometimes. I get slightly embarrassed by the way I act sometimes. I’ve been called conceited a lot throughout my lifetime, but as I said, there’s nothing conceited about loving yourself. And it’s not like I’m putting myself on a pedestal above all others.”
“Yeah.” Mit-Sun sighed. “I wish La-Iin wouldn’t be so harsh towards you. She’s turning some of her anger towards you onto me. And that’s not the only reason I’m upset, not by a long shot, it’s just, I don’t know what made her hate you so much! And I know what you said about it seeming like you reminded her of someone she didn’t like, but that’s no excuse. I wouldn’t start mouthing off at a Catori-Demon on the street just because she’s the same species as Mrs. Eteibreit.”
“Well, she’s young. Young children can be irrational a lot of the time.”
“Yeah, I suppose so. I guess I should be more understanding of that–since the year I turned nineteen I haven’t really dealt with many young children, and she’s the only one I deal with on a daily basis. Still, it’s hard to deal with her. I know young children aren’t always as badly-behaved as she is. I met her best friend when she was younger than this and she’s one of the sweetest little girls I know. What happened with La-Iin? I treated her with kindness and what happened between me and her father happened when she was little.” Mit-Sun sighed. “Sorry to pile this on you, Uil-Cur…”
“It’s fine, Mit-Sun. It isn’t something I haven’t heard before. La-Iin is her own person. She might be at odds with you, but I don’t think she’ll ever hate you.”
“I must not be as confident as you are, then.”
“Like I said, she’s a young child. I may not have any experience when it comes to parenting, but I’ve dealt with my younger siblings for many years. They’ve stopped talking to me because I ate something they wanted to eat, or fought with me because I did something wrong that they never told me what it was. It happens. Don’t get down on yourself. You try your best and that is what matters. So have more confidence in your mothering–you don’t want a lack of confidence to bog you down, do you?”
“I suppose not,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Thank you, Uil-Cur. You know, I think you’ll be a great father if you ever decide to become one. I’m sure I’ll still be taking care of La-Iin for years to come–maybe you can give me some tips if you have a kid who ends up better behaved than her.”
Uil-Cur scratched the back of his neck. Seeing Mit-Sun’s innocent smile, hearing what she had to say, he was only reminded of his most recent visit to her house. ‘Should I try? Should I say something to her? I think I might have a chance. I suppose the worst is that she could say no…that or she could cut me off as a friend…’ Uil-Cur shook his head. ‘No. Mit-Sun is a kind woman. She would never do such a thing. I have to take my chances. After all, things don’t look so hopeless anymore. Maybe she likes me back…’
Uil-Cur glanced around him and took a deep breath. There were no people around him or Mit-Sun. He let out the breath.
“Mit-Sun, actually, there’s something I’ve been meaning to speak with you about.”
“Hm?”
“It was something your comment about me as a father reminded me of. And this is something I’ve wanted to bring up for a while, but I didn’t think there would be any benefit to either of us if I did so before. Now I feel confident that no matter what, the outcome will be fine, even if it’s not what I wanted.”
“What are you talking about, Uil-Cur? Can you get to the point?”
Uil-Cur sighed. “Well, I’ve wanted to be your friend for a long while, Mit-Sun, but there’s something else I’ve wanted for almost as long. After I got to know you better, I started to really like you. I had a high opinion of you since before we officially met, but once I really got to know you I knew that opinion was more well-founded than I expected. You’re a wonderful woman, Mit-Sun. Even when there are things you aren’t perfect at, you keep working hard at them anyway. It makes me sad when you say you have no confidence in some aspect of your mothering because I think it’s not a matter of you being a bad mother, it’s a matter of you don’t have it down perfect yet. And really, who ever would?”
“What are you trying to get at, Uil-Cur?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Well…as I got to know you and see how wonderful you are first-hand, I felt a little…differently about you…I was shy to admit it, but recently I thought to myself, with how kind you are I have nothing to worry about no matter what the outcome is. And, that is…I….I’m in love with you, Mit-Sun!”
Mit-Sun gave no response. She simply stared at Uil-Cur with wide eyes.
“I have been for a while. Perhaps even before I officially met you. You always sounded like the type of woman I would like, but the more I got to know you the more I knew that was true. I won’t ask you to give a specific answer, and you don’t have to answer now. I will still be your friend if you say no. And I would be glad to stay by you if you say yes. Well, I will either way, but you understand, right?”
Mit-Sun still didn’t respond. “Mit-Sun? I won’t be upset no matter what answer you give me, so please don’t just stand there. At least tell me if you don’t have an answer yet.”
“I…I…” Mit-Sun’s face flushed red. “I don’t know what to say, Uil-Cur. I can’t believe that flew over my head, how you felt…I always got this feeling you were flirting with me, but I thought it was just in your nature…”
“It is just in my nature. I’m as outgoing as they come and I still whimper like an introvert when I like a woman. I’d only be flirting with you if we were together, and that isn’t the case…right now,” he whispered to himself.
“You’re going to have to wait for me to think on this more, Uil-Cur. I–I just…”
Uil-Cur smiled. “I’ll wait as long as it takes, Mit-Sun. But don’t keep me waiting too long. I’ll get my hopes up and down and basically on a roller-coaster until you give me an answer. Oh, I feel much better having said all that!”
Mit-Sun shook her head. “I–I think I should go home!” She took off ahead of Uil-Cur.
“Be seeing you, Mit-Sun. I look forward to whatever response you give me.”

—–
“Hey, bro, you look kinda melancholy. Did something happen?”
“Ah, not really,” Uil-Cur sighed. “I’ve just been having hopeless fantasies about getting married and staring a family…”
“Who says they’re hopeless? You are pretty nice, bro. Some lady will like you someday, I bet.”
“You think so?”
“Mm-hm.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “I’m actually wondering if there’s some lady who likes me now…”
“Hm?”
“If she does, I think I’ll be a very happy man. Happier than I’ve ever been in my life.”
“Well, I hope she likes you back. But as payment for having this conversation, if she likes you and she marries you and you have kids I want to name your first one!”
“Aha ha, we’ll see about that one.”
His sister’s words sent Uil-Cur into a daydream about a life with Mit-Sun. Already he could imagine the two taking care of La-Iin and a further two children and living a happy life within the Cahongyun house. This time, he was so lost within the fantasy that he never chided himself for how ridiculous it might sound.
‘Perhaps this will come true soon…oh, Mit-Sun, I hope you feel the same as I do.’

26.542.Leader of the Trio

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 542
“Leader of the Trio”

“Boys, I have called you out here after classes today not to deliver a speech of confidence, but instead to confront a matter I’ve been wondering about for a while now.
“Do we spend time together because I get to be with San-Kyung, and you get to be with San-Kyung, and because you get to be with both of us, or do we have a specific purpose?”
Both San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina gave La-Iin no immediate response.
After school that day she had summoned both boys and walked a short distance from Malicerie, and almost instantly went into the topic she had just brought up.
La-Iin herself had summoned the two boys with different intentions–she had wanted to spend time with San-Kyung to take her mind off the current situation between Mit-Sun and Uil-Cur. When Dosa-Mina had tagged along, La-Iin searched for a different topic, not wanting to involve Dosa-Mina in something she meant to be private between her and San-Kyung.
“I thought we just spent time together because we’re friends with San-Kyung and because we both wanted to help him find his true form.”
La-Iin noticed San-Kyung flinch. “Yes, well, that’s good and all, but the trio of us together is not one where everyone likes each other.”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes. “I’m well aware of that.”
“What’s the point of this again? If there’s something specific you want to do, then just say something instead of beating around the bush.”
“What I wanted to do was foiled by rival-boy,” La-Iin growled under her breath. Dosa-Mina gave her a curious glance. “But anyway, this all came up from a lot of thoughts I’ve had lately. If not all of us like each other, then when we spend time together it’s just me and Dosa-Mina endlessly fighting for a chance to spend time with you. I’m sure that pisses you off.”
“I’m surprised you said something smart for once.”
“I might seem stupid to you but that’s just because of your intellect. I’m actually very smart for a seven-year-old half-Vampire.”
“I suppose she’s got you there,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Anyway, I think that’s a bad way to operate. It’s one thing if you and me are alone together, or if me and rival-boy are alone together, or if….ugh…you and rival-boy are alone together, but if we’re all together doing nothing, then it’s just going to be me and rival-boy fighting or monopolizing your attention while the other fumes silently.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “So I propose we make a purpose for ourselves when it is the three of us. The pursuit of San-Kyung’s true form is a noble goal, but I think it needs to be put on hold for now.”
You think, but I plan on continuing to help him. I have to.”
“Stop acting like it’s your destiny to help him,” La-Iin snapped. “And I want to help him too. But if we don’t have a purpose as a trio, all that will happen is what I said was gonna happen!”
“What makes you think that will?” San-Kyung asked.
“Because I know myself. And I know how much I hate rival-boy.”
“Well, if you want our trio to have a purpose so badly, then how about this: we’re together to help each other.”
San-Kyung grimaced. “That would probably mostly entail helping you, San-Kyung, seeing as you’re the only one who’s consistently liked in this group. Anyhoo, it could work. We’d put our efforts together for the goal of helping each other with our goal. For me that wouldn’t be so hard. I already know lots about Animated Pumpkins, I’m just mostly curious about some of your strange powers. Not all the Vampire powers are well-documented, especially not that one that makes you transform into a Pureblood rather than a bat.”
La-Iin smiled.
“Meanwhile, we could help San-Kyung find his true form and help him with things like his other goals and his…car, and I suppose we could help you do whatever it is you want to do that won’t get us killed or result in San-Kyung being considered a pedophile.”
“What kind of things do you think I’d ask help for!?”
“I might not be completely sure, but I’ve known you for a year and so. I have a pretty good idea of the things you’re into because you’re not exactly subtle about them.”
“I could say the same about you,” San-Kyung said.
“I’m proudly not subtle about my interests! And are you defending her against me!?”
“This only proves I’m more on the right path than you are, rival-boy,” La-Iin said. “But a group dedicated to fulfilling our individual interests does sound as if it could work out. I have my curiosities about my powers as well, and much as I hate to admit it you do know a lot about species study.”
“Why thank you!”
“I’m always happy to help San-Kyung, and of course I’d love to see my own interests fulfilled as well. I already have an idea, in fact, heh heh heh…”
“Now look what you’ve done,” San-Kyung sighed. “And I notice neither of you asked for my input on this trio of ours…”
“Well, what do you think, San-Kyung?”
“I think the idea of helping La-Iin with something she wants makes me sick. But I’ll give it a shot since I’m outnumbered.”
“You’re being awfully placating lately, San-Kyung. Show me more of your fire!”
San-Kyung struck his hand.
“I don’t think she meant it like that.”
“I know she didn’t.” He put out the fire. “I’m accepting of my own volition. If I didn’t agree with this idea I wouldn’t go along with it. I’m reluctant to help you because I know how you can be.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be. Not all my requests are going to inconvenience you. Besides, I’d prefer certain requests be done outside the prying eye of a certain Weresiren…”
“Don’t call me that in public.”
“And I think I’d prefer not to be around you when you act like that. Or alone with you at all.”
“But now that that’s settled, I have another problem. When in groups like these, it’s usually good to have a leader to decide most of our actions. You could say it should be San-Kyung, since he’s the one we both like. Or it could be rival-boy, because he suggested the idea of us all helping out. By that process of elimination, I think I should be the leader.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” San-Kyung said.
“Yeah, you just said we have more viable reasons to be the leader.”
“Exactly! I’m the only one who hasn’t contributed much yet. So I’m going to be the leader. We’ll do well under my guidance.”
“I’m not going along with that.”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap rapidly. “I bet if I said rival-boy should be the leader you would!”
“Even if you did I wouldn’t agree with that. I’d rather not be bossed around by someone. If the point of this stupid organization is to help each other with our goals then why does there need to be a leader? If there’s going to be a leader, I’m out of it. You and Dosa-Mina can enjoy your little duo from then on.”
“If you leave there won’t be any sort of organization. La-Iin can barely stand to be two seconds alone with me unless it has to do with you in some way.”
“He has a point, San-Kyung.” La-Iin sighed. “Fine, if it keeps you around then there will be no leader. Now that’s what I like to see from you, San-Kyung. We could use more of your suggestions!”
“I’m already not a big fan of this idea.”
“I know, but it’ll work out. Probably. At least you won’t have to worry about me and rival-boy arguing all the time.”
“I don’t believe for one second that you’ll stop arguing with Dosa-Mina. You take any chance you can get.”
La-IIn remained silent on that subject. “Should we give this trio a name?”
“Why are you putting so much thought into this, La-Iin? You know, we could just leave it at being a trio who works together to help each other achieve our own ends.”
“You wouldn’t understand, rival-boy.”
“Aw, come on, La-Iin, you’re so simple I doubt I couldn’t understand.”
La-Iin glared at him. “Er, well, of course, not like I’d want to.”
“You know, you and San-Kyung took a chance to be upset about his true form and whatever you’re upset about. I have my own problems that I don’t know if they’re going to end up going well or not, and I don’t want to act upset. My future is on the line. I’m the one who makes or breaks how this all goes.”
“Huh?”
“I just needed a distraction,” she said simply. “We don’t have to do this stupid trio. I don’t want to be in any sort of alliance with you anyway.”
“So you’re just going to turn your back on a chance to do something with me. That’s surprising.”
“Don’t put it like that, San-Kyung. I’m not turning my back on that chance. If you two still want to do the trio, that’s fine. But I’m saying we don’t have to.”
“I think it sounds fine,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I don’t care.”
La-Iin huffed. “Well, we’ll see what happens. But if this trio does happen, I propose we call ourselves “Dark Queen, Husband and Servant”. I’m going home now. See you soon.”
La-Iin walked off. Once she was out of earshot, the two began to speak again.
“If this trio really does happen, we’re not calling ourselves that.”
“That’s for certain.”

—–
“I almost forgot about San-Kyung’s car, now that I think about it,” La-Iin mused to herself.
“San-Kyung’s….what, now?”
“If this trio really does happen that should be one of the first things we do. See his car again. I’d love to ride in it…”

25.541.A New Light to the Situation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 541
“A New Light to the Situation”

“So, we’re actually visiting Sale-Dessu for once? Color me surprised.”
“We just visited him the other day,” La-Iin reminded her.
“Yeah, but we stayed for like two seconds. You sound as if you have something you actually want to talk to him about this time.”
“I do. All this romance around me has had me wondering about something.”
“So you figured the best person to go to would be the reclusive Warlock whose friends are a little girl and a doll. And who considers a glorified doll to be his son.”
“Sale-Dessu is pathetic, but the reason I’m visiting him for this has nothing to do with his patheticness. Besides, he’s my ally.”
“I suppose he’s mine as well. What do you plan on saying to him, exactly?”
“You’ll see.”
La-Iin knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door. It wasn’t long before the door opened and out peeked Sale-Dessu, his hair still maroon and his face still bespectacled.
“Really, what experiment are you doing that makes you look like that?”
“I’ll explain later,” Sale-Dessu said. “Hello, La-Iin. Is that all you came here to say?”
“No. I have another reason for being here, too.” She walked in, Bes-Isa in tow.
“Hey, Father, do you want me to clean out your test tu–” Eul-Bok glanced in La-Iin and Bes-Isa’s direction and sighed. “Oh, it’s you two.”
“They’re guests, Eul-Bok. Besides, we haven’t been getting many visits from them this year.”
“That’s been fairly pleasant. You two are nothing but nuisances and wastes of Father’s time.”
Sale-Dessu glared at Eul-Bok, who cowered away from him. “I’m sorry, Father, but they have caused you a lot of trouble!”
“I’m sure you’ve caused him even more trouble before and after you got your autonomy, you little dickhead.”
“Can we not have any fighting?” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Um, La-Iin, what did you need?”
“I’ve been having some strange situations lately, and it made me want to ask you about something. You have and can make a lot of potions for all sorts of things, right, Sale-Dessu?”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “Though I can’t always guarantee they come out right. I also know a good place to buy potions, but I don’t really like going there…”
“Well, you’ve got me now if you need someone to fetch it, but do we have the vuyong?”
“That’s a subject for another time. Why do you ask? Is there a specific type of potion you wanted to know about?”
“Yes. I wanted to know if you can make love potions.”
Sale-Dessu blinked.
“What?”
“Why would you want a love potion at your age, La-Iin?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Morbid curiosity. And I don’t exactly want it. What I want would be better off happening naturally, eh heh heh…but I was curious as to whether or not it actually existed.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “Not in the flowery way you might see in some books, no. It’s not a potion that makes you fall in love, but it can simulate the feelings. You’ll know consciously it’s a lie, and a lot of the time it can cause other problems as well. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never had any use for a love potion nor has anyone I’ve known, so I’ve never made one. But in my potion books, they say that’s what it’s supposed to do, is simulate the feelings of being in love.”
“Hm.”
“Also, I’ve heard that the feeling of being in love is dubious as to who it’s towards. Sometimes it happens to the potion-maker. Sometimes it happens to the first person they see. But most of the time it isn’t contained and the effects are present constantly, or at least towards every person the person affected lays eyes on.”
“That would not be helpful,” La-Iin said dryly.
“I heard of attempts to make a love potion that actually makes the drinker fall in love, but I heard the person used for the experiment suffered a degree of brain damage not long after drinking it. Since that is unethical in most places, it probably won’t happen any time soon.” Sale-Dessu blinked. “Err, was there anything else you wanted to know?”
“You know an awful lot about love potions, Father.”
“Well, I got curious about them after my Mamun told me they’re nothing like in the books…”
“I doubt it’s anything suspicious with someone who’s as much of a shut-in as Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “Was there something else?”
“Yes. This was the most important part. Negative potions exist too, don’t they?”
“Certainly. Potions that give you diarrhea or destroy your organs…there are probably more than these than there are of ones that work properly because negative effects often happen when a potion isn’t made properly. Although destroying your organs is a fairly rare side-effect.”
“Luckily that never happened to you, Father!”
“Well, I hardly ever drink my potions, so–”
“But are there potions with effects that are negative of the normal effect?”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “What do you mean by that?”
“I think she means like an anti-potion.”
“Exactly. Love potions are fine and all and I might be tempted to use one if they worked, but they don’t and I don’t care. What I really came here for was an anti-love potion. I need one desperately, so tell me they exist!”
“Anti-love potion? I don’t think anything like that exists!”
“Well, what about a hate potion!?”
“Hate potion!?” Sale-Dessu sighed. “La-Iin, I wouldn’t know for sure, but I’m certain that if an anti-love potion exists out there it has the same kind of effect as the love potion. It’s either the potion maker, the first person they see, or everyone. Besides, potions usually wash out of a person’s system after some hours. That’s what they’re designed to do. So even if there was an anti-love potion, it wouldn’t last forever.”
La-Iin glared at Sale-Dessu, biting her lip. Sale-Dessu was surprised to see tears building in her eyes.
“Why do you feel so strongly about this!?”
“I suppose her rival in love must be getting their feelings reciprocated.”
“It’s not that. It’s nothing like that. It’s just a bad and stupid situation and…” La-Iin dug her fingers into her hair.
“She’s frustrated because there’s a man who most likely is in love with her mother.”
“Is that all? Why would that be so bad, La-Iin?”
“That man is not my Dami, and if Mama falls in love with him I won’t acknowledge him! My Dami is my Dami and no other man is!” She took a breath. “Fine then. If there’s no anti-love potion, then if Mama falls in love with Haner I want to live with you from now on.”
“What!?”
“Didn’t you just say your, er, “Dami is your Dami”? Why not stay with him?”
“It would be so hard with Mama watching me. Although maybe I could through a loophole in staying with you.” La-Iin’s shoulders slumped. “But if she was with Haner, she might not care anyway. She might just have a new daughter with Haner and replace me.”
Seeing La-Iin so dejected, Sale-Dessu felt conflicted. He had never seen La-Iin in such a state.
“It’s alright, La-Iin. I’ve seen you and your mother before. I don’t think she’d want to replace you.”
“Maybe not, but even if she didn’t that doesn’t change the Haner problem. Maybe he wouldn’t pretend to be my Dami. Maybe it would all be fine, but I would still have to live with that horrible man!”
“Whatever did he do wrong to you?”
“I pick my enemies as much as I pick my allies! And anyone who’s a threat to any of my plans is automatically my enemy!”
“She feels quite strongly about this.”
“I can tell,” Sale-Dessu mused.
“I don’t know what to do. Maybe everything would work out, but if there’s one interference in my plans, who’s to say the rest won’t go toppling down with it? I already have enough stupid romantic problems as it is.”
“At seven?” Eul-Bok questioned.
“Well, I don’t know how to help, La-Iin. But maybe this will make you feel better. Just because one plan doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean they’ll all go toppling down. I know that from personal experience. All too well, in fact… But you do have both of your parents, and I don’t think they would stop loving you. Especially not your Mamun–I mean, mother.”
“Dami is more especially than she is. She already gets annoyed with me all the time.”
“I get annoyed with Father too,” Eul-Bok said.
“I also get pretty annoyed by you. Not that we have a mother-daughter relationship, anyway.”
“And there’s something else as well. When plans don’t go right, that’s when you learn to adapt. Sometimes your life plans will have to change. Things might work out for you and maybe your mother won’t feel the same way. But if she does, then you just adapt.”
“I have changed my plans before.”
“And you have alternative options for others.”
“I never expected a big change like this, though. I was prepared for other things.”
“Just try your best to prepare yourself for whatever happens. It might work out. And if it doesn’t, you have a backup plan.”
“That won’t keep me from hating Haner,” La-Iin growled. “Even if I went to live with Dami, what would I do about that? Mama would be with Haner if I wanted to see her.”
“Well, maybe you could find something to like–” Noticing the glare La-Iin was giving him, Sale-Dessu backpedaled. “Err, well, maybe you could learn to tolerate him. Maybe you and your mother could agree to keep him out of the scene. I don’t know what to do about that, La-Iin.”
“Geez, you said you’re evil, didn’t you? Just plan to give him an extra layer of torture.”
La-Iin’s expression became blank, but soon a wicked grin spread across her lips.
“Great, now look what you’ve done.”
“That is true,” La-Iin said. “I hate thanking people, but I’ll have to thank you two anyway. You’ve given me a fairly obvious perspective on this situation. I’ll try and prevent it at all costs, but there has to be another way to manage it. If I dwell on something stupid like this all my other plans will be worthless.”
“It’s good to view things in a positive light,” Sale-Dessu told her.
“Still, I don’t want to be around Mama right now, so…”
“You’d stay whether or not I told you to leave,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “So go ahead and stay.”
“Good. Because now that you’ve told me all about those potions and the negative potions, I want to hear a lot more!”

—–
“It’s getting fairly late. You should head home now, La-Iin.”
“I guess.”
As La-Iin stood up to leave, Sale-Dessu slid a small item towards her.
“What’s this?”
“Consider it a Warlock charm. We use these for good luck over in Witch and Warlock societies.” He smiled. “Best of luck to you, La-Iin.”
La-Iin grabbed the charm. “You make for a good ally, Sale-Dessu. You’ll be very useful in the future.”
Sale-Dessu breathed. “I’ll be seeing you, La-Iin. Best of luck to you always.”

Baal-Mist smirked to himself.
“I don’t think this plan is completely down the drain just yet. Hopefully next time he’ll move closer to that room. That yelling was pretty curious….”

24.540.The Ability to Reach Out

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 540
“The Ability to Reach Out”

“In this case, you’d have to multiply this problem by three,” Ai-Reia told her. “And that’s the hardest I can help you with in this aspect of math. Anything harder and you’ll have to ask one of the twelfth-graders.”
“You’re so smart, Ai-Reia. I don’t think anyone could help me much as you.”
“That would be a lie. While I’m dubious on how smart Sanyaow is, I know for sure that Sherry’s grades are about my equal, and I have to do easier homework than she does. I think Molshei and Dslellular are fairly high up there as well, and they aren’t even in the twelfth grade yet.”
“Well, you’re the smartest one who is my friend,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “In-Dei is smart too but I don’t think even he could get this!”
“The average grade for this level of math is about tenth to eleventh,” she said. “Not to show off…now, is there something else you want to say? Break time should be just about over soon and I don’t want to chance getting in trouble. Sharing tips might not be against the rules but being out of your seat at class time certainly is!”
“Hm, I know.” Shuera-Kaizima blinked. “Actually, there is one more thing I wish to say to you, Ai-Reia.”
“What’s that?”
“Well, um…or, maybe I shouldn’t say it…”
“You’re welcome to say whatever you wish. Don’t hold back. If you’re worried it will upset me, don’t. I’m actually in a fairly good mood today and I think only La-Iin could bring it down. That or one of Ca-Miela’s massive diaper mishaps…”
“If you say so,” Shuera-Kaizima said, though she seemed uncertain about continuing on. “Well, even though you said you are okay, and everything that happened on the school trip was fine, it was pretty scary when you freaked out last Monday. And I am still worried you will do it again…maybe it sounds…irrational, but I do not want you to be upset like that again.”
Ai-Reia smiled. “Wanting that is not irrational. We’re friends, Kokohara. But trust me, I am a lot better now that I have you and Fyuori. I might have underlying problems but that’s a source of great healing for me.”
“Still…” Shuera-Kaizima’s ears shot up. From the hallway she could hear footsteps. “Er, we’ll have to go over this later, Ai-Reia.”
Ai-Reia shook her head. “Do not worry about me, Kokohara. I promise, I am fine.”

***

“Do you think we should try to talk with Ai-Reia again, In-Dei?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I’m really worried about her. She seems happy right now, but there are times I will be happy and then end up upset soon after. With Ai-Reia, when she gets upset, it can be much worse than just sad.”
“I’m worried about that too, but maybe she means it. Remember, when we talked to her last month, she was worried about befriending us because we won’t live as long as her, but she seems to have gotten over it by now. Maybe she does feel a bit better.”
“Or she could be hiding it…and isn’t it better to handle things before they get too bad? Do we just wait until she is upset again, or should we handle it while she is not? Would that simply upset her?” Shuera-Kaizima groaned. “I just want her to be okay…”
“I know you do, Shuera-Kaizima. I guess we could try. She might be more open to talking about these kinds of things while she’s not upset. But don’t keep pestering her about it. That might just make her more upset.”
“Do you want to ask her then, In-Dei? I worry I’ll just get desperate.”
Im-Dei shrugged. “I guess I can. But we should focus. I hear the science teacher.”

“Ai-Reia!”
Ai-Reia smiled. Im-Dei was walking up to her desk. “It isn’t often you and I talk between break times. Hello there, Fyuori.”
“Hello.”
“It’s strange to me. When I first came to Malicerie I got the impression that you were shy. But you barely seem it around me and Kokohara.”
“I am actually pretty shy,” he admitted. “But you see Elyshen talking just fine with Sanyaow. It’s like that. Also, I’m a lot more shy around girls than I am around boys…”
“Kokohara and I are girls, though. And I might be young, but Kokohara’s around your age.”
“I know she is, but it’s still the same kind of situation.” He shook his head. “Anyway, I wanted to ask you something. I know you’re happy right now and I like that you are. But I was wondering if you’d be willing to talk with me and Shuera-Kaizima now. We figured that maybe you’d do better getting your problems off your chest while you’re in a good mood than you would while you’re in a bad mood. But if you don’t want to, you don’t have to!”
Ai-Reia stared at him blankly, and Im-Dei felt certain she would refuse. “I don’t really want to talk about these sorts of things. I’ve been trying to put them out of my mind so they don’t come up. But I realize, my outlet for my feelings was destroyed recently. So I suppose you and Kokohara could be worth a shot as a new one. I just don’t want to upset you or her, nor do I want to think about these sorts of things. I’m in a happy period right now. I want to keep it that way for as long as possible.”
“Well, you do what you think is best. I’m sure you’ll come to the right conclusion.” Im-Dei lightly ruffled her hair. “If you want to talk to us you can come see us after class. But do what you think is right.”
As Im-Dei walked away, Ai-Reia was left with his words: “Do what you think is right.”
‘What would be right? Should I really unload all my concerns onto those two? They’ve been nothing but nice to me while I’ve been fighting them and showing them my darkest moments. But I have no outlet. They’re my only relief most of the time. They’re understanding–they might have a solution. But should I really do that to people who have treated me with so much kindness?’
Ai-Reia shuddered. ‘Not all my problems are so dark that I’d want to keep them from those two. Maybe telling them a little bit wouldn’t be too bad…’

***

After classes that day Ai-Reia had made her decision. She approached Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei and, by their expressions, she could tell they already knew what she had come there for. They walked out the classroom alongside the crowd but soon broke off from them and head into a weekend classroom.
Both of them stayed silent and sat down, staring at her with neutral expressions. Ai-Reia felt nervous, but she took a deep breath and began to speak.
“Well…this is sort of silly, but I’ve told you two about my situation with my family before. It feels as though things soured around the time my younger sister was born, that and around the time La-Iin would follow me around the school. Since then I’ve had some on-and-off troubles. Some months I’ll be on fine terms with my family. I’ve even started bonding with my younger sister, it’s just, I have difficulty dealing with babies, I suppose. Other times we barely talk to each other at all. As for La-Iin, I suppose she hasn’t been in my way much recently, but the times I’ve been at odds with her has only made those problems worse…
“In any event, I had hoped things would stabilize this year, but they haven’t really gotten better yet. I had started keeping a diary so that I could write down my problems, but my older sister found it and basically told the whole family about its contents. Now I think that they think I’m a ticking time bomb waiting for another one of those nervous breakdowns, and the fact that I had one at all probably just adds fuel to the fire.”
Ai-Reia began to tear up. ‘Damn it, I promised myself I wouldn’t do this…’ “I know these problems are silly, I just want to go back to being normal again. I half-wish I wasn’t a prodigy so none of this would have ever happened. I’d still be at home in diapers with Ca-Miela. Or if I hadn’t insisted to go to school, I might still be at home as well. I’m glad I met you two, really I am, and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. But all the other things that have happened since I came to Malicerie, if I could, I would wish them away. …sorry to bother you two with these stupid problems.”
“You aren’t bothering us, Ai-Reia,” Shuera-Kaizima said. Im-Dei nodded. “Not at all.”
“Thank you.”
“I think you should try and show your family that you’ll be alright. If you keep hiding away from them and avoiding them, that might only make them think that you’re getting worse. Talk to them and show them you’re fine.”
“It’s okay to show when you’re not fine as well, though,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “They won’t think you are unstable if you cry because something bad happened. Well, they shouldn’t, at least!”
“Of course they’ll think you’re still upset if you avoid them as much as you can. And sometimes, you have to take matters into your own hands. So try your best to set things right. …well, that’s all the advice I can offer.”
“I suppose it’s worth a shot. It can’t make things worse, in any event.” Ai-Reia hugged Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei. “Thank you two. I am so very grateful for your friendship.”
“We’re happy to have you as a friend, too!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
Ai-Reia let go of them and turned around. “See you tomorrow,” she said, then head out the Weekend classroom and went to join the sparse crowd heading home.

—–
“Reuf-Bu?”
Reuf-Bu glanced at Ai-Reia. “Yeah, sis? What’s up?”
“I know you’re a fairly grown Vampire and all, but would you mind doing some finger-painting with me?” Ai-Reia felt embarrassed just to suggest the idea. “I heard some of the other children around my grade talking about it, so I was curious–”
“Sure, why not? Are you sure you wouldn’t rather do a puzzle, though? That seems more your style.”
“A puzzle does sound nice. Maybe we could do that afterward.”
“You’ve got it, Ai-Reia.” He smiled. “Glad to see you asking to play with your big brother again.”
“I’m glad to ask,” she sighed. “Now let’s hurry before Ca-Miela starts screaming her head off!”
Just as they arrived in the playroom, they heard loud crying. “Too late.”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got it!” Their mother called. The two gave a sigh of relief and went back to setting up their craft.

23.539.Dami’s Advice

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 539
“Dami’s Advice”

As soon as she arrived home from school on Tuesday, La-Iin set her mind to calling Asul-Zenza. After both the delivery of the mincemeat buns and the strange person she had seen before heading off to Neigghed, she felt as though a talk with him was both necessary and long overdue.
Before heading to the phone, she checked around the house to make sure that Mit-Sun was still inside. She spotted her reading a book in the kitchen, and she glanced up and waved at La-Iin before turning back to the book.
“Mama?”
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“Do we still have any more mincemeat buns?”
“I think we might have one left over. You can have it with dinner if you want.”
La-Iin nodded. “Wouldn’t it be easier to read that book in your bedroom?”
“Hm? Why? I figured you were going to go upstairs and talk to Bes-Isa, and I’m not sure how well I could focus if I overheard you two talking.”
La-Iin gave a quiet growl. “Well, I’m not going to go upstairs. I actually planned on playing out here. And you being out here ruins that.”
“Then I’m going to counteract: why can’t you play in your room?”
“You won’t win, Mama. Even I get bored of playing in my room all the time.”
“I have another counteract as well: since when do you care about disturbing me while I’m reading?”
La-Iin froze. She wracked her brain for an excuse. “Since I get in trouble a lot when I annoy you.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “If you ask me, you haven’t been getting enough punishments for all the trouble you’ve been getting into.”
“Why don’t you just go and read in your room!?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “There’s no reason to get so angry at me for reading out here, La-Iin. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Besides, with the way you’re acting it makes me think you’re up to something suspicious. That only gives me more reason to stay out here.”
La-Iin stared at her blankly. ‘How do I get her out of the room? If I call Dami she’ll just stay so she can listen in on our conversation. And with what I want to talk about, that could be bad…’
A third reason nagged at La-Iin and pressed her to try harder. She began to try and think of something that would convince Mit-Sun to relocate to her room.
“You think it’s suspicious, but not everything I talk about is. I wanted to call Fer-Shi and discuss a secret with her. And you know Fer-Shi–she’s a goody-goody. But I just couldn’t get rid of you even for that.”
“A secret? Are you sure it’s nothing nefarious?”
“You know Fer-Shi, Mama. If it was really bad, it wouldn’t be a secret.”
“I won’t tell.”
La-Iin growled. “Fer-Shi really wants it to be kept a secret…even if you say you can keep a secret, what do you think I’ll do if Fer-Shi finds out that you found out anyway!? Haven’t you ever really wanted to keep a secret for a friend!?”
Mit-Sun blinked. “Maybe?”
“So you should understand where I’m coming from, Mama.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Fine, I’ll go upstairs. But the moment I hear something crashing or burning down here, I’m coming down.”
“You obviously don’t think very highly of me.”
“You haven’t exactly given me much reason to. Look, I know you aren’t as bad as you could be, but that doesn’t stop me from worrying about what you’re going to do next. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and go upstairs.”
Holding the page of her book, she stood up and head out the kitchen. Once La-Iin heard a door upstairs close, she dialed Asul-Zenza’s number and hoped for him to pick up.
“Hello? Might this be La-Iin or Mit-Sun?”
“Hello, Dami.”
“Oh, hello, La-Iin! How nice to talk to you! I’m glad you called, actually. There has been a lot for me to go over. Oh, but maybe I should keep some of it a secret.”
“You can tell me if you want to, Dami, but I have a few things I want to talk to you about first.”
“Oh, I’m sure you do. Go ahead and we’ll talk. I have plenty of time. I just got back from my only commitment for today.”
“Well, the first thing I want to say is, did you make those mincemeat buns yourself?”
“You got the mincemeat buns? Did you like them?”
“What do you think?”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Glad to hear it, La-Iin. Yes, I did make them myself. They’re based on a recipe I tried on one of my travels. And I know it likely would have been a smarter idea to come over and personally deliver the buns myself, but I figured Mit-Sun wouldn’t allow me to come over just to give you a small snack. I hope they were all in good condition.”
“They were fine and delicious, Dami. They have me craving mincemeat once again when I had been focusing on blood…but I also wanted to ask, were you there when I was going to Neigghed?”
“Hm? Oh, did you see me? I arrived a little late because I head out later than expected, but I saw you off when you head on the bus. By the time I caught sight of you you were already heading on to the bus, and I didn’t want to call out to you and interrupt all that was going on. I’m sorry we missed each other.”
“I just wanted to make sure. I wish I had seen you before I got on the bus.”
“I do too, but well, it’s happened already. Did you have fun in Neigghed?”
“It was fine, but what was more fun was what happened afterward, heh heh…but that’s not what I wanted to talk about!”
“A shame. I’m curious about what happened afterwards now.”
“Well, I’ll have to tell you later. Because I have a…situation.”
“Hm?”
‘Do I tell him it’s Mama or should I pretend it’s a stranger?’ La-Iin felt conflicted as to whether or not she should face the situation head-on; she wasn’t sure what kind of reaction Asul-Zenza might have if she broached her darker suspicions about Uil-Cur’s motives. ‘Would Dami confront him himself? Maybe not, but I shouldn’t take the chances.’
“I know someone who’s in a stupid situation. A really stupid one. They have a friend who’s obviously suspicious. I think he either wants to kill her or he’s in love with her!”
“…huh?”
“It’s complicated, Dami. But this person I know is really stupid and doesn’t notice either one. And I’m worried about both options. If that other person wants to kill her then that’s bad for me, but it’s also bad for me if he’s just in love with her because what if she falls in love back?”
“I can understand where it might seem like a problem if he wanted to kill your friend, but how is it a problem if he is in love with her?”
“It’s an interference in my life!”
“Is this Fer-Shi you’re talking about, La-Iin?”
“I’m bound to confidentiality for now, Dami, since I don’t know all the situation. But either option seems feasible. He’s super-suspicious so I think he might want to kill her. But when I talked to him the other day he started blushing like he was in love.”
“People can also act suspicious when they are in love. I’ve seen this first-hand. It could be he is just in love with her.”
La-Iin sighed. “That’s still bad for me. So what do I do?”
“Why not let things take their course? I see how it could be an interference in your life but there is no guarantee that she would like him back. And after all, maybe he doesn’t want to kill her or is in love with her. Perhaps he’s just shy.”
“I really seriously doubt that, Dami.” La-Iin sniffled. “I just don’t know what to do. I really hate this guy!”
“La-Iin, that’s all the advice I can give you for now. I don’t know what else to say. I’m sorry you’re upset about the situation, but it might work out, and really, there isn’t anything you can do.”
“There has to be! Dami, this man is staking out Mama! Do you see how this could be a problem!?”
“What? Someone is attracted to Mit-Sun?”
“Probably!”
Asul-Zenza was silent for a short while. “I…I don’t know what to say, La-Iin. I wouldn’t know what to do in that situation either…really, Mit-Sun can do what she wishes, but I can certainly see your concern.”
“If he kills her or marries her it’s still a problem for me either way! So what do I do!?”
“Um…well…”
“La-Iin, I hear yelling. What’s going on?”
La-Iin gasped. “I’ll have to talk to you later, Dami. Mama will overhear us if I keep talking!”
“What? Wait a second, La-Ii–“
La-Iin slammed the phone down.
“None of your business, Mama.”
Mit-Sun huffed. “I just want to know why you started yelling. Were you fighting with Fer-Shi?”
La-Iin shook her head. “No. It was just an intense debate. But now I know more than ever that…”
She stopped herself from continuing on. “Read out here if you want to. I’m going to plan in my bedroom.”
As La-Iin walked off, her wings flapping in anger, Mit-Sun couldn’t help but wonder what had gotten her so riled up. She tried to sit down and concentrate on the book, but all that kept coming back to her mind was the memory of La-Iin in such a bad mood.

—–
“Dami? Mama took Choungetsu out, so I have one more chance to talk to you about earlier.”
“La-Iin, I really don’t know what to say. If he shows signs of wanting to kill her, you’ll have to put aside your pride and call the police on him. But if he’s merely in love with her, I’m not sure what you can do about her reciprocating or not.”
“Mmnh…”
“I’m as unhappy as you are.”
“Why?”
“If Mit-Sun did reciprocate this man’s feelings, they could potentially get married. You would become his step-daughter. The idea of another man playing a part in your upbringing makes me furious. But I really don’t see what either of us can do about the situation. For now, you will have to watch from the shadows.”
“…I don’t want to stand by idly though, Dami. If I can, I’m going to find a way to stop either outcome from happening. I’m in control of my own future. And I’m with you–I’m not going to let another man pretend to be my Dami!”

22.538.Asul-Zenza’s Travel Journal

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 538
“Asul-Zenza’s Travel Journal”

“Hey, Asul-Zenza, you ever considered keeping a travel journal?”
“No, not at all. Why?”
“Well, you travel to a lot of places pretty often, right? If you keep a travel journal just think of what it could add to the after experience. You’d know what places you went to, what kind of things you saw, and you’d have your own writings to back up what you tell your friends and family. Plus, it’s not like a camera where you’d be taking pictures all the time. All you’d have to do is write down what happened during the trip during your down-time.”
“Hm…well, it does sound like a good idea.”
“Not only that, but if you ever wanted to make a book of your travels, you totally could. Or you could make a little book for your daughter!”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “It sounds like a great idea, Niser-Zanta. Next time I travel I’ll have to remember to bring a notebook with me!”
“Here.” Niser-Zanta tossed Asul-Zenza a blank notebook. “When you’re in a book club there’s a good chance you’ve got a blank notebook on hand. Or at least one with a lot of blank pages.”
“Thank you, Niser-Zanta. You have my word that you’ll be the first person who gets to read my travel journal.”
“Thanks, Asul-Zenza. Break that promise, though, and you owe me Llamaki blood.”
“Llamaki blood costs an awful lot of vuyong in these parts…”
“Exactly!”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Oh, Niser-Zanta. Well, I’ll just have to make sure I really keep to that promise.”

***

Ever since learning he could use the in-progress device for his own means as well, Asul-Zenza had been feeling that he had freedom than ever before. His fears of being lost forever to his family and friends had mostly disappeared, save for some concerns that something might happen to him before the device reached the general public. Since then he had been traveling almost non-stop, but mostly to close-by locations. Recently he had decided to stop by someplace further away.
“They say you have to make sure to visit the right part of Aena if you want to travel here,” he mused to himself. “I hope I’m over the right part and not the restrictive one.”
Asul-Zenza searched the cities underneath him. They seemed to be mostly devoid of people who were not clad in uniform. Close by he could spot a large prison.
‘Ah ha…this must be the wrong part.’ He continued on flying, checking around for a spot he could land. ‘I hope they don’t spot me. This part of Aena couldn’t possibly be as bad as Dasdoria, but still, I don’t want to take that chances!’

Asul-Zenza spent much of his time flying before he found the part of Aena that was more densely populated. Around him he saw happier faces in a multitude of species, most wearing traditional Aeness clothing. It was quite an interesting sight.
‘Amazing…’
“Excuse me, sir. Do you have the right to be here?”
Asul-Zenza flinched. Behind him stood a bespectacled Lizardfoot woman who stood slightly taller than him. More intimidating than her looks was the tone in her voice–that and the fact that he could barely understand a word of what she said.
“My…apolo…gies…Aeness is….not my strong…lengig.”
“Huh?”
“I might be able to handle this,” a Vampire man nearby her said. “Hello there, sir. What my colleague wanted to ask you was if you are visiting Aena legally. Flying directly into Aena is prohibited, I hope you know. It’s safety reasons, nothing personal.”
“Um…” ‘Oh shit, I was so desperate to get away from that other part of Aena, I forgot one of the most important parts of traveling…Vaelyn has really spoiled me.’
“Certainly!” He said cheerfully, hoping the man didn’t notice his nervousness. The Lizardfoot woman gave him a look, but the Vampire man seemed to believe him.
“Well, then, welcome to Aena! And try to brush up on your Aeness–lengig isn’t going to earn anyone’s approval here.”
Asul-Zenza breathed a sigh of relief, which set the woman glancing over her shoulder at him one more time. ‘I should really go back and enter Aena the proper way…’

Asul-Zenza glanced around Aena. All around him there seemed to be people and buildings. ‘Really a technologically advanced place they have here, isn’t it? It’s nothing compared to Vaelyn, though.’ He dwelled back on memories of a trip to Silcoulle and the amount of technology he had spotted there.
‘I wonder what species societies might be attached to this part of Aena?’ His curiosity about the fact was overwhelming, so he took to the skies and began to fly around the more rural parts of Aena. In a patch of trees he spotted a society of Lizardfeet–and from his distance he felt he could see the bespectacled Lizardfoot from earlier among the group.
Along his flight he spotted a Siren society and a Goathoof society. The Goathoof society in particular interested him–they seemed to be holding a strange ceremony that entailed holding their meat up to the sky, chanting and watching as a Goathoof who stood in the center of them all raised a strange stick to the sky. ‘I wonder what it all means? Species societies can certainly be strange places. Not that I’m one to talk about such things.’
As he flew away from the rural areas, he began to wonder: ‘Would La-Iin like to participate in Vampire society traditions? Maybe someday I should ask her about it. I doubt Mit-Sun would participate in such celebrations with her. Maybe one day I should invite her, Ei-Tio, Shi-Bara and her husband to my house and we can all celebrate together! I could even invite my parents.’
The idea excited him. He reached for the travel journal and jot down the note. ‘Oh, I almost forgot, this is for keeping record of my travel, not for silly notes.’

Asul-Zenza was overwhelmed. Three days into his trip to Aena, he had decided to visit a restaurant for something to eat–by now he had grown sick of the food he had brought with him from home, and he was ready to try some Aena cuisine.
Unable to read any of the signs, he had ended up at a place that sold a variety of different buns. Although he couldn’t read what they were, the images made it clear that there were buns filled with vegetables, meat, blood, a mixture of the three along with various other fillings, including one containing what appeared to be mincemeat and one containing another bun.
The buns were fairly small and inexpensive, so Asul-Zenza decided to order many and try a few flavors. When he bit into the mincemeat bun, he immediately thought of La-Iin. ‘She would love this. I wonder if I could find a recipe for it.’ His personal favorite, however, was the blood and meat bun–it satisfied a craving he wasn’t even aware that he had.
Once he had finished the buns, he relaxed and sighed. ‘I need to find something better to eat next time I go out.’ Still, he felt quite satiated and reminded himself that even though he had only eaten buns, he had still gotten his fill of vegetables and meat.

Navigating Aena without a full understanding of the language had proven to be harder than he expected. He had figured he would at least be able to understand what the natives were saying, but except in the rare occasions he met a Vampire who also spoke the Vampire language, he was almost entirely lost. Everything sounded like a half-sentence to him.
“I should have asked Xelshy-Mitter to come with me. Then I’d have an Aeness translator…”
“Sir, you seem lost. Do you need directions?”
A Cicadin man had approached him, a concerned expression on his face.
“My Aeness is no good.” ‘At least I have that down…’
The Cicadin man nodded. He beckoned to Asul-Zenza and pointed him in the direction of a shop. ‘Is he trying to sell me something?’
The man led the way into the shop, which Asul-Zenza quickly realized was a bookstore. He flittered across the bookstore, retrieved a book and went to purchase it, then handed it to Asul-Zenza. Upon opening it, he could see it was a translation book from the Vampire language to Aeness.
He checked for a phrase within the book. “Thank you!”
The Cicadin man nodded, then flittered off. ‘How nice! This will definitely make my travels a lot easier!’

With the help of the Cicadin man, Asul-Zenza had been able to translate a few things by using the book. He still struggled greatly, but the slight relief the book provided him was more than enough. Through it he was able to understand what some of the buildings he was entering were, and he was able to go to an Aeness play–though he barely understood what was going on once the play actually started.
One other thing Asul-Zenza had been able to participate in thanks to the translator was a flying competition held in a more modern part of Aena. Most of his opposition in the comptetion were Birdmixes, and Asul-Zenza felt almost certain that he wouldn’t be able to out-fly them–but in the end, he had ended up in second place and had received a strange Aeness trinket as a prize.
When he stopped at the hotel for the night, he checked the date on the calendar. ‘I suppose I should be heading home soon. This is a little long for me to be visiting some place I can’t understand the language…maybe I should stop by Silcoulle again, or Neigghed, maybe. Didn’t Mit-Sun say that La-Iin would be going to Neigghed soon? Hm…’
As he prepared for the night, the travel journal caught his eye. He picked it up and read through it–it only contained a note about an Aeness translation and the mincemeat bun note. Remembering Niser-Zanta’s words, Asul-Zenza prepared for bed, then relaxed and began to write down all that had gone on during his travels.
‘This is much easier to understand than the whole trip,’ he joked to himself.

***

“Geez, Asul-Zenza,” Niser-Zanta chuckled. “You shouldn’t have gone there if you can barely understand the language!”
“Yes, and you were taking a risk not knowing which parts of Aena are safe to go to. New laws may have been passed in the past few years but there are still several restrictive parts,” Lise-Mara reminded him.
“You should’ve taken me! I can speak Aeness!”
“I know. I was regretting not taking you, actually.”
“Still, it sounds like you had a lot of fun over there. And those buns sound delicious. Hey, maybe someday all four of us should stop by Aena for some buns.”
“I think there might be a bun place over in Vaelyn, but I don’t actually know. Either way, that Cicadin man sure was nice to you!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“He certainly was. Without his generosity I would not have done a few of the things I did in my later days. As fun as that travel was, however, I think I’m going to keep myself contained to Vampire societies and Vaelyn for the time being. i might be able to understand some other languages, but I’d rather just stay close.”
“Not all the Vampire societies are close. The Manemican Vampire Society certainly isn’t.”
“You know what I’m talking about, Niser-Zanta.”
“I know.”
“I agree with Niser-Zanta that the idea of making your travels into a little book for your daughter sounds sweet. You should continue keeping track of your travels.” Lise-Mara said, handing the book back to Asul-Zenza.
“That I will. After all, it combines two of my favorite things in the world–traveling and making La-Iin happy. And speaking of making La-Iin happy, that reminds me of something else I wanted to do for her…”

—–
“Something came for you in the mail, La-Iin.”
“Really?”
“Yes, really. It’s from Asul-Zenza. Who else would it be for?”
“Choungetsu, maybe,” La-Iin said. “It smells good. What is it?”
“Open it. Geez, I sure hope he didn’t send food through the mail…”
La-Iin held up a bun. “What is this? It smells like mincemeat!” She crammed it into her mouth and smiled. “It is mincemeat!”
“A mincemeat bun?”
“Try one, Mama!”
Mit-Sun took a nibble. “It tastes homemade…”
La-Iin’s smile became wider. “Dami’s goodness is one of the few good blessings out there in the world.”
“That sounds pretty uncharacteristic for you to say.”
“Hm?”
“Never mind.”

21.537.Evil and Logic

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 537
“Evil and Logic”

“Someone seems pretty happy. Was the school trip better than you thought it would be?”
“It has nothing to do with the school trip. That was fine enough, but it has to do with what happened after the school trip. That was truly amazing!”
“What happened after it? All I know is that woman was really pissed with you when you got back and now you’re in trouble.”
“I don’t care that Mama’s pissed with me because I’m even more pissed with her. And anyway it doesn’t matter. I’m just happy because San-Kyung has been in such a bad mood lately I almost forgot how fun it could be to spend time with him!”
“I’m surprised you thought, for a moment, that spending time with San-Kyung wasn’t worth it. You’ve certainly thought a lot about spending time with him in the future, down to spending so much time with him you end up with FOUR children…and I’ve never asked, what would you do if, say, you ended up with two sets of triplets?”
“I would jump that hurdle if it happened,” La-Iin said confidently. “But anyway, Bes-Isa, do you want to know about what happened or not?”
“Sure, why not? It isn’t as if I have anything better to do anyway. Even if I DID, you being grounded puts several dents into that hypothetical plan.”
“Well, then, I’ll tell you all about it. As you know we were on a school trip and we came back in the afternoon. And…”

***

As soon as the bus stopped in front of Malicerie Public School, the teachers set to work on waking all the students who had fallen asleep on the way back. It was a difficult task, for not every student took so kindly to being woken up. When Mr. Chensu tapped San-Kyung awake, he was shoved away in response.
La-Iin was woken by the sound of Fer-Shi being woken, and she got out her seat immediately. The students started to crowd out of the bus and made it nearly impossible for La-Iin to get out. Once the path was more clear, she hopped out the bus and nearly landed on her face.
“That was idiotic,” San-Kyung said.
“I can fly, you know. If I was really going to hurt myself, I would have just flown.”
“You could’ve, but I know you, La-Iin. You’re not exactly known for having the best laid plans.”
La-Iin’s wings flapped rapidly. “At least I plan out how to rule the world! You never do!”
La-Iin’s shriek caught the attention of nearby students, who looked on curiously all except for Fer-Shi and Dosa-Mina, who seemed slightly embarrassed by her outburst.
“What are you two talking about?” Questioned Mr. Chensu.
“None of your business!” Snapped San-Kyung. La-Iin smirked. “Ooh, look who’s getting in trouble now.”
San-Kyung turned around, dropped to his knees and whispered in La-Iin’s ear, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but your ideas don’t tend to be on the logical side. You could have fallen from the bus so fast you didn’t have time to start flying. I might not be able to fly but I’ve read up a lot on it.”
“Well, like you said, you aren’t able to fly, so you don’t know that for sure. And my plans are just fine.”
“Says you.”
“Do you want to prove me wrong?”
San-Kyung seemed ready to say no. “Unless you don’t think you can.”
“Challenge accepted!”
“Pff. You’re so easy sometimes.”
Never call me easy. Our friendship doesn’t mean I don’t still find you annoying, La-Iin. Let’s get our stuff off the bus before we do this.”
La-Iin nodded. The two head over to Hyungdarou to retrieve what they had brought on the trip.
“Arguing with La-Iin?”
“What did it look like?”
“Arguing. You know, maybe this fake friendship will end up falling apart on its own as opposed to you admitting it was fake.”
“Don’t say that so loudly!”
“I can’t believe you were arguing with San-Kyung.”
“Our relationship isn’t peachy-keen all the time, Fer-Shi. But that’s what makes it interesting. Besides, that argument gave way to something I’ve been wanting for a long time now, heh heh heh…”
Fer-Shi backed away. “…oookay. Well, I think I’m just gonna head home immediately after I get my stuff.”
“You do that. I, on the other hand, have a mission to complete!”

La-Iin and San-Kyung head off Malicerie school grounds and to the closest place they could find that was devoid of people. La-Iin noticed that San-Kyung checked behind himself several times.
“Why do you keep doing that?”
“I was checking to see if anyone’s following us. It does help to check behind yourself sometimes.”
“I have good hearing on my side, San-Kyung.”
San-Kyung huffed. “You know, for a little girl, you can be pretty arrogant.”
“You can be arrogant too! It’s a sign of our compatibility.”
“We’re not here so you can be disgusting. The second you say anything more about the two of us together we’re quitting this little experiment and I’m heading home.”
“My mouth is shut.”
San-Kyung came to a stop underneath a roofed clearing.
“You know, San-Kyung, if there’s anyone I trust with my plans for world domination, it’s you. After all, in the future, we’ll–err, never mind…”
“Hmph. Well, your plans don’t matter if they’re not going to work. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, I can’t tell you all the most intimate details just yet because they’re not completely planned out. But tell me how this sounds. For a little while I’ve been tossing around the idea of creating an army of V-Puppets to assist me in taking over the world!”
“…you want to take over the world with an army of dolls.”
“V-Puppets can be more than just dolls! I made a clay doll into a V-Puppet once. I wonder what happened to her?”
“Tell me, La-Iin, does this sound smart to you: a whole bunch of soft or easily breakable items flying at a group of people with powers on their side and potentially armed. Sure, you’d stay safe, you probably wouldn’t be hurt from the venture but what makes you think that’s a smart idea?”
“…”
“I thought so.”
“Good call, San-Kyung. But I have more ideas than that babyish one I came up with when I was a toddler.”
“A lot of your ideas sound like they lack an army that isn’t comprised of yourself and I’m guessing me as well.”
La-Iin looked away. “That’s where you’re wrong, San-Kyung. I have ideas for armies of people. I would trap the people first of Bledger, and then of all of Vaelyn in cages and when it came the time to take over more of the world, I would use them as my army! They’re expendable anyway, so it wouldn’t matter if they died. Everyone who needed to live would stay at home or next to me on the front lines.”
“An army of people who are probably weakened from disease and lack of food? And if too many of them die you don’t have an army anymore.”
La-Iin’s wings flapped rapidly. “Since when do you plan world domination that doesn’t involve the only perpetrator being you!?”
“My plans are a little different than yours, La-Iin. I’m not interested in discussing them right now, but it’s not the kind of world domination you’re looking for. In your case you might need an army. I strive for different things because I’d rather handle it all myself.”
“It’s the same here. I want to cause suffering by my own hands!”
“And you want me there too.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“People who rule entire portions of the world usually have some sort of army to handle most of the violent and bloody battles for them. You, on your own, would face a massive opposition.”
“That is again where you’re wrong. I have the most overpowered ability any species could ever have. If I drink the blood of another species, I can use their powers for a short amount of time. And I can increase that time by drinking even more blood! And it might even make the powers stronger! With enough blood I could probably handle them all on my own.”
“Where would you get enough blood to make it last long enough to take over the world, or at least a portion of it? What species’ powers would most benefit you for a given area? Would the powers be strong enough to handle the opposition? Would you take into account which species most populates the area you’re going to so you can expect which powers will be used against you? And can you fly high enough to avoid anything they might fire at you? Your plan could work, but it requires a lot of thought that judging by your expression, you didn’t put into it.”
“I put lots of thought into my plans,” La-Iin said, her tone emotionless. San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “Apparently that wasn’t one of them. Look, that sounds like it could work better than using an army of weaklings or V-Puppets, but you still need to put into account also where you would get the blood and you’d need to know how much you need in order to handle the situation. If you make one misstep, then it could cost you.”
“That is good advice. Luckily for you I was putting plenty of thought into it. I just haven’t been able to test it out so much. Maybe you’d be willing to loan me some blood–”
“No.”
“Damn it.”
“Your goal of world domination is large-scale, La-Iin. It does require a lot of thought. Have you ever considered that historical and modern-day dictators put a lot of thought into what they were doing?”
“No, I never considered that. And you know why? Because they failed badly. They stopped at one area of the world!”
“Not all of them did. Just the ones that didn’t often died, at least in the modern day.”
“You know, I have been looking for holes in my plans, San-Kyung. You act like I don’t think, but I’m thinking about these things almost each time I get free time.”
“Yeah, well it’s not my fault you didn’t realize they would fall apart before they started.”
“Even you have to admit the blood one is pretty good.”
“I wouldn’t know. I don’t have an unfair ability like that. Wish I did.”
La-Iin sighed. “I wish Vampires could transfer their Vampirism like the Normals of the olden days thought. Then I would do that for you.”
“What good would that do me?”
“Well…I’d have to put more thought into that.”
San-Kyung sighed.
“Alright, then, San-Kyung, one more thing. What do you think about the plan of keeping it contained to Vaelyn until another country shows a sign of weakness?”
“It could be a false flag. You might live a thousand years but it might not happen. There could be a mutiny within Vaelyn–ever consider that? Would you really have enough power suppressant to keep so many people sedated long enough to prevent them from fighting back?”
“I would suck their blood too!”
“That doesn’t mean it would work. And some of the stuff I’ve heard about power suppressants leads me to believe that wouldn’t do you any good. In fact, it’d be the reverse. And have you ever considered what would happen if multiple countries or hell, even one country invaded your Vaelyn? Populated by weaklings in cages with only one person at the fighting helm? You’d be overtaken. Especially since your plan doesn’t involve any weaponry whatsoever.”
“Does yours!?”
“That’s none of your business. Also, one other thing: you’d probably have to use power suppressants to keep the people of Bledger from rising against you, but what would you do if you needed them as an army or to suck their blood like I said before? That would only mess you up. It’s the biggest flaw I’ve found.”
La-Iin’s wings flapped rapidly. San-Kyung was both confusing her and frustrating her. “Well, nobody’s really gone over to North Vaelyn!” La-Iin gasped. “I know. I’ll use nuclear weaponry! Along with my powers it would mean that nobody could stop me! There has to be something! North Vaelyn is full of weaklings! Come on, San-Kyung! It’s worked before! What about Dasdoria?”
“You’re just scrambling now. But you have a point about Dasdoria. The issue is, who really knows what’s going on in their government? First go and find out if it’s run by only one person. Oh wait. There are powerful guards who keep people from escaping. They might not always succeed but I heard their success rate is pretty high. Besides, those are still only contained to one area…”
San-Kyung began to walk off. “You do have a point about it being hard, San-Kyung. But I have a long lifespan! I have been putting thought into it and studying evil history. And with your tips I think I’ll have an even better chance. But you told me how stupid all my plans are–how come you never told me yours? What makes you think your plans will work?”
“I told you, my plans are a little different than your ideal of total and complete rule over the world all by yourself. But I’m not interested in discussing them with you. I’m not going to have you stealing my ideas.”
La-Iin giggled. “You think I would steal your ideas.”
“I wouldn’t put it past you.”
“Even though you berated me a lot, this was fun, San-Kyung. But I’ll show you that my plans can work.”
“Not that V-Puppetry plan, though. Never that V-Puppetry plan.”
“I know that one was stupid.”
“Yeah, well, you do your worst. I plan on one-upping you, but I’m not going to be alive forever. If you keep messing up the world past my death then good on you. The world doesn’t deserve to be treated well.”
La-Iin blushed. “Ooh. Every time I wonder how I could be such an idiot to think about sharing part of the world with you you remind me why I like you.”
San-Kyung grimaced and took off at a high speed. “See you tomorrow, San-Kyung!”

—–
“It sounds like a lot of it was San-Kyung telling you you’re an idiot. And I kind of have to agree, your little world domination plan has a lot of holes.”
“Hearing it from you makes it sound bad. But I don’t care. He gave me a little inspiration and I like spending time with him. Mama yelling at me felt like nothing compared to that joy.”
“You’re sickening.”
“You can say whatever you want, but at least I’m not stupid.”
“So you say…”
“And I have matured. When I was five you heard how I talked about San-Kyung. Now I realize I went about it a little wrong. Though even I can’t resist a good chase every now and then.”
Bes-Isa sighed. “I guess that is one thing I’ll have to give you…you do seem more genuinely in love with him than you did when you were five.”
“I’m glad to hear you say so, Bes-Isa!”