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.”

18.534.Animosity from Suspicion

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 534
“Animosity from Suspicion”

“Mit-Sun, you look awfully happy today. What’s the occasion? Or, are you just happy because you are?”
Mit-Sun giggled. “It’s nothing, really. Just, I forgot how much fun going out could be. Having to take care of La-Iin, I haven’t been able to do much for myself lately. When we hang out together I get to go places La-Iin probably would never agree to go. Keeping her under wraps is hard.”
Uil-Cur scratched the back of his neck. “Always happy to be of assistance, Mit-Sun. My siblings told me I could be refreshing, but I never thought that would extend to another adult!”
“You can be pretty fun, Haner. So I want to ask: would you like to come over for dinner again tonight? I know La-Iin will hate it, but she’s been resisting all my attempts to bond with her lately. I really don’t think inviting you over again is going to make things any worse.”
“A-are you sure about that, Mit-Sun? She was pretty harsh towards me last time I came over.”
“La-Iin’s like that, but damn it, she can’t control who I make friends with as much as I can’t control who she makes friends with. I seriously don’t know what she has against you. She said something about male Sirens once, but I doubt she’s met another. I know you guys can be pretty rare.”
“It’s hard to think I’m technically somewhat rare. But I suppose that also comes from being an individual!”
“So, what do you say? Want to come over again? I could use a break from all her animosity and there’s not been much to do around the house lately.”
Uil-Cur gave a small smile. “Almost anything you ask me I would accept, Mit-Sun. I enjoy my time with you. I think you are…well, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“That’s sweet, Haner. Thanks. You’re a pretty great friend too.”
Uil-Cur began to flap his wings rapidly to calm him down. ‘Just because she smiles at you so much, it doesn’t mean anything! Quit getting your hopes up!’ Still, he couldn’t help but feel slightly excited at the sight of Mit-Sun’s casual smile.

***

“You seem pretty steamed up, La-Iin.”
“I am steamed up! I can’t stand it when Mama goes to spend time with Haner! Either she’s stupid or slowly she’s falling for his wiles. Well, either way she must be stupid, because if she’s falling for his wiles she’s delusional! If his wiles were so great I would be in love with him!”
“That’s….disturbing, to say the least. And that begs the question: if another man had really good wiles, would you like him better than San-Kyung?”
“No way, Bes-Isa. San-Kyung is my one and only. Mama is a fool. If she’s looking for what true love looks like, she should be looking in my direction.”
“Nobody who was in their right mind would take love tips from a stalkerish little kid…don’t look at me like that, La-Iin! I’m not saying your little thing for San-Kyung is little kiddy, I’m just saying you’re creepy.”
“I’ve heard what you’ve said about keeping girl slaves before. If anyone is creepy, it’s you!”
“Well, doesn’t that make me more evil!? I want girl slaves for my own use…heh heh….but you want San-Kyung to reciprocate your feelings and work equally by your side! What the hell’s with that!?”
“You should understand by now if you know me any, Bes-Isa. Besides, I would be in a higher position of power over San-Kyung anyway. But this wasn’t about him! I haven’t been able to make any progress with that depressio lately anyways. I’m getting burned up about Haner! Someday I’ll suck that guy’s blood and sing his own song back to him!”
“Tell me, do you think that would work?”
“It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
Before Bes-Isa could speak again, the door opened. La-Iin narrowed her eyes at Mit-Sun, then gasped when she noticed that Uil-Cur was right behind her.
“No!”
Mit-Sun scoffed. “Please, La-Iin.”
“H-hello there, La-Iin,” Uil-Cur said, sounding uncertain.
“No. Don’t even talk to me. Mama, you said you wanted to repair our bond. You’re on the wrong path. Continue to show me your stupidity and I’ll lock you in a high-security cage when the time comes, if there’s even any of you left to lock in a cage!”
She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow. She could hear a faint conversation between Mit-Sun and Uil-Cur, but she couldn’t be bothered to listen in to hear what it was. She was infuriated that Mit-Sun would even bring Uil-Cur over in the first place.

“I had a feeling this would happen,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Sorry about that, Haner.”
“No, there’s no trouble, Mit-Sun. Just as you had that feeling, so did I. She didn’t take well to me last time I was over either.”
“Well, she can go off and do her own thing if she wants to. Is there something you’d like to do?”
“Much as I’d like to spend time with you right at this moment, I want to try something, Mit-Sun. I’m going to see if I can get through to La-Iin.”
“Why?”
“The two of us are friends! I know it’s not all that important, but I don’t want to strain your relationship with your daughter just because she doesn’t like me. We can spend time together after this–after all, we do have plenty of time!”
“I suppose so,” Mit-Sun said. “Just don’t take too long, alright?”
‘She really does want to spend time with me,’ Uil-Cur thought. ‘Now I really do have to do this. With how she’s acting perhaps La-Iin may someday really be my step-daught…no, don’t think that, Uil-Cur! Stop it!’
He pushed the idea away as he fluttered after La-Iin.
“No flying in my house, Haner,” Mit-Sun said. Uil-Cur landed. “Sorry about that, Mit-Sun.”
“Just don’t do it again.”

“Haner won’t get to Mama first, I’ll show her, if anyone’s going to harm her bodily, it’ll be me, just wait and see….”
“I get that you’re angry, but do you have to pull on me like this!? I can feel pain, you know!”
“Heh heh heh…” The dark look in La-Iin’s eyes told Bes-Isa she wasn’t likely to be released soon.
From behind her La-Iin could hear footsteps. She glared over her shoulder. “Don’t bother reasoning with me, Mama. I will always and forever hate Haner. I–”
La-Iin’s eyes widened when she caught sight of Uil-Cur. “I know you’re not all that fond of me, La-Iin, and I respect that. But I don’t think you should get all so mad at Mit-Sun because of this.”
“Don’t you even dare talk to me, fool!” La-Iin hissed. Uil-Cur sighed. “Please, La-Iin, make this easy on me. If it makes you feel better, this friendship started because of me.”
“Take advantage of my Mama’s stupidity, will you!? Well, I’m not as stupid as she is!”
“Mit-Sun is not stupid! You shouldn’t say such things about your own mother.”
“Why should I listen to you!? You don’t matter to me. You’re just trash.”
Uil-Cur flinched. “I don’t know what I did to earn your ire, La-Iin, but I don’t want this to be how it is. I don’t want you to hate Mit-Sun because you hate me.”
“Quit referring to me by name. You don’t have the permission to do so.” La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly. “I know your aim, Haner. I know what plans you have for my Mama. I can see them from a mile away. For you see, I’m an expert when it comes to planning things.”
Uil-Cur blinked at her. “What do you mean? I don’t have any plans for Mit-Sun.”
“Do you think I’m stupid!? I know wiles better than most others! You can only have two possible plans for Mama. Either way I won’t accept you!”
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You won’t fool me, Haner! Until the moment she proves otherwise, I’ll hope that Mama’s not so stupid to let her emotions fall victim to your plans!”
Uil-Cur blinked. ‘What is she talking about?’ As La-Iin bared her fangs, it clicked in his mind, and his face turned a dark red.
“I–it isn’t–it’s not–look, I think you have the wrong idea, La-Iin…”
“Your reaction only proves to me I have the right idea! Stop it, Haner! Or I’ll give you a reason to regret it!”
Uil-Cur felt completely embarrassed. “I…it’s…there’s nothing to worry about on that front, La-Iin. And if that’s making you angry at Mit-Sun, then you’re being irrational. Be angry at me all you want, but this has nothing to do with her…”
La-Iin’s nose wrinkled.
“Haner? La-Iin?”
Mit-Sun’s voice broke into the argument. “Haner, I heard arguing. If you can’t get through to her, there’s no reason to argue with her.”
“All the arguing was coming from her side, though.”
“La-Iin, cut Haner some slack. I get it–you don’t like him. You’ve made that painfully clear.”
“Apparently not clear enough to get through your thick skull!” La-Iin yelled. She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow.
“I swear, one of these days you’re going to kill me.”
“I’m sorry, Mit-Sun. I didn’t mean to fight with her. She hates me more than I’d expect a seven-year-old to…and now I think I understand why.”
“Why?”
Uil-Cur’s face flushed. “I–I think I just remind her of someone she doesn’t like at her school.”
“Huh?”
“That’s the impression I got, anyway,” he sighed. “So, um, Mit-Sun–about that hanging out?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, there’s plenty I can show you around the house. We have time until dinner to just look around, so tell me where you want to go. Although obviously La-Iin’s room is off-limits.”
“I figured. Well, anywhere you want to show me is fine.”
“Well then, we might as well stop by the miscellaneous room, then,” Mit-Sun said. “Come on!”
From her bedroom La-Iin could hear their conversation. She grit her teeth.
‘What can I do now? Maybe I should turn to Dami for advice on this…’

—–
Dinner came and went, and no matter how hard she tried Mit-Sun simply could not manage to get La-Iin to sit at the table while Uil-Cur was there. Even sending him away didn’t seem to work–La-Iin still refused to sit anywhere near him and instead took her food away and into her room. Mit-Sun lacked the energy to fight with her over it, and so opted against it.
“Thank you for the dinner, Mit-Sun. You are an excellent cook.”
“Not a problem. It was nice to have you over, even though La-Iin was acting up. Maybe next time, we should hang out at your house.”
“Maybe. I hope you can make up with her.”
“Me too. Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Uil-Cur. Good night.”
Uil-Cur froze and blinked at Mit-Sun. “What? Did I say something wrong?”
“Er, um, no, not at all!” He flustered. “Did I give you a weird look? I’m sorry, I’m just used to you saying Haner…”
“Oh…well, you keep telling me I can call you Uil-Cur, so I suppose it just came out.”
“Well, I am okay with you calling me that,” he said. “Er, I have to go now. See you, Mit-Sun.”
“See you, Haner. Er, Uil-Cur.”
As Uil-Cur walked out the house, he smiled to himself. ‘I wonder if I might just have a chance after all…maybe, just maybe.’
Remembering Leirhyn’s words, he began to feel confident as he fluttered off towards home.

26.511.From One Friend to Another

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 511
“From One Friend to Another”

As Uil-Cur finished up his work for the day, his anticipation grew and he began to work faster. Recently, most days after his shift, Mit-Sun would approach him and talk with him for a short while. Even on the days she wouldn’t, she would usually say good-bye before taking off.
Uil-Cur always looked forward to her stops by his department. He was enjoying the time they spent together and the friendship they had built. Even though he still felt nervous around her at times, he was happy.
Lost in though, he almost missed Mit-Sun pass by.
“Hello, Haner,” Mit-Sun called.
“Hello there, Mit-Sun. And you know, you’re allowed to call me Uil-Cur.”
“I know I am, but I’m not used to that at all,” she said. “Anyway, what’s up? How have you been?”
“My Weekend was pretty eventful I guess. I spent a lot of time going out with my younger siblings. It’s a lot of fun to see how much they still rely on me. Apparently I have enough of an age difference with them to be mistaken for their father, though.”
“Sounds weird. Anyway, I can’t talk long. I promised La-Iin we would do something today. If my first plan falls through, I want to make sure we can get out early enough so I can go on with my second.”
“I’m not keeping you here, you know,” he chuckled.
“I know you aren’t. I just wanted to say, see you tomorrow, Haner.”
“See you tomorrow, Mit-Sun!” He said with a wave. Mit-Sun waved back before taking off.
His talk with Mit-Sun today, even though it was brief, reminded him of his earliest days at Eteibreit Data Storage, hearing tales of the woman whom people couldn’t tell if she meant what she said about her daughter’s inconveniences or if she was making up excuses. Back then he had been enamored by the tales of her, and had wanted to meet her desperately, but he hadn’t expected what came after that–not the friendship or his own feelings.
Either way, it didn’t matter much to him. He was happy with where things were. With his shift over for the day, he readied himself to head home, thinking now instead of his siblings and what he might do with them today to stave off boredom.
“Haner!”
Uil-Cur stopped in place. The voice calling out to him wasn’t Eteibreit’s or Mit-Sun’s, nor did it sound like someone in his department. Curious, he took a look around the area for the source of the voice.
“Hey, Haner!”
A distance away from him sat a Normal woman, who waved towards him. He was confused, but Uil-Cur opted to walk up to her.
“Yes?”
“Hello, Haner!”
“Um, hello. To what do I owe the sudden summoning?”
“I guess you wouldn’t know me all that well, so I’ll give you a bit of background. My name is Leirhyn. Leirhyn Mit-Sun, actually.”
Uil-Cur blinked.
“I’m friends with your friend, Mit-Sun. Or Cahongyun, like I call her. And I’ve noticed you two talking quite a bit lately. Trying to talk to Cahongyun hasn’t gotten me many answers and I don’t think she intends on telling me much about your friendship. So, I wanted to talk to you about it!”
“Huh?”
“Wanna have a chat?”
“Um, I don’t know…”
“Why not start the chat then? I don’t see Cahongyun around anywhere, so you don’t have to worry about her overhearing. And I’m not gonna ask you the super intimate details. Just a few things, from a friend of Cahongyun’s to another friend of Cahongyun’s. I could probably tell you things about her you don’t know yet,” Leirhyn said with a wink.
“Er, alright. What did you want to talk about?”
“So, how’d you two meet?”
“We met here. It was just an accidental meeting, but I had heard of her before and I wanted to be her friend. We were just acquaintances for a bit, but we’ve really been getting close lately.”
“I see. I’m sure you two hang out a lot together.”
“Not really,” he said, glancing away. ‘Why’s Leirhyn so curious about this, I wonder? Is she jealous?’
“Cahongyun’s a pretty nice girl though, isn’t she? She’s got this kind of humble attitude around her. She says these things that’d make you think she’s a lot more feisty than she actually seems to be. But you kind of want to pick on her with how she acts, right?”
“I might agree with you, except for the picking on part. …to a degree.”
Leirhyn smirked. “She’s a sweet gal. I’m surprised she hasn’t gone crazy raising her daughter, from what I’ve heard and seen. She seems crazy.”
“She does,” Uil-Cur chuckled.
“I can understand why you wanted to be friends with her. We pretty much met by accident too, well, sort of. Mrs. Eteibreit was talkin’ to me about a worker with my same name, so I just had to see if she really worked here. Sounds a bit like you were curious about things you heard about her too, huh?”
“Well, she sounded like the type of girl I could really get along with. I didn’t go looking to meet her like you did, though.”
“Maybe I’m just more outgoing.”
“I’m pretty outgoing myself.”
“You seem pretty outgoing, although it also seems like you clam up when it comes to talking about Cahongyun. You know what, I just want to get to the point. Cahongyun isn’t telling me anything and I don’t think she even knows what I’m talking about when I ask her about this, but I’m just going to be blunt with you. Is there anything going on between you and Cahongyun?”
Uil-Cur’s face flushed. “Why would you–of course there isn’t! Me and her are just friends.”
Leirhyn’s expression became curious. “Okay, so I wanna ask another question, then. So you two aren’t together, but do you like her?”
“Of course I like her. She’s my friend.”
“Don’t dodge the subject, Haner. Either you do, or you don’t.” Leirhyn blinked and slumped in her seat. “Sorry, that sounded a little jerky. But I was just curious. I can’t get any answers out of Cahongyun, and, well, I don’t think I’m ever going to have a boyfriend myself. She already had someone, and now it seems like you and her have something going on, but maybe I’m just reading too much into it.”
“Why are you so curious about your friend’s love life, anyway?” Uil-Cur tried to keep his tone steady.
“I’m always curious about people’s love lives. It’s one of those things that interests me, you know? Lots of people are curious about that kind of romantic stuff, especially someone like me who can’t even bother to get a boyfriend. Even if I did, I never would. But unlike some other people, I’m interested in seeing things go good. So I was wondering if she might have some luck after what happened with her kid’s dad.”
“I see.”
“I’m not gonna press you anymore, though. It is kinda rude.”
Uil-Cur looked down at his knees. “Can you keep a secret?”
Leirhyn smirked. “Sure I can. What’s up?”
“…I don’t know about her, but if you noticed anything about me, you were right. I was interested in her since before I met her, but I didn’t think it would actually end up that way. I just expected it to be one of those things where someone sounds like your type of person, you know?”
“Do I ever.”
“I wouldn’t know what to tell you about how things would work out between her and me. We have a large age gap, she has her daughter to worry about, and Sirens have an age edge over Normals, even if it isn’t too ridiculous like Vampires…but I’m worried she’s not interested. I don’t want to bother wasting her time or ruining this friendship. I’m happy enough with things the way they are.”
“That sounds reasonable. And I can’t tell you what to do or what not to do. All I can tell you is, from the time we’ve been friends, I got the impression she probably isn’t the type to ditch you because you said ‘I love you’. That’s jackasses who do that. Might be a bit awkward, but I think if you weren’t forcing yourself down her throat she’d probably be fine going back to normal. Of course, that’s up to you. I don’t have much experience with romance but I’ve heard things can get awkward on that front.”
“And then there’s her daughter…even if she did like me back, I don’t think her daughter does.”
“That’s where warming up to people comes into play.” Leirhyn sighed. “The choice is yours, Haner. I was just curious to know if there was anything going on. But let me tell you, if you decide to say anything, I’m definitely on your team. I think you and Cahongyun would be good together.”
“You do?”
“Mm-hm! So just stay friends or try and take things to the next level, you’ve got one supporter. We might not be friends, but we’ve got a common friend, and I like to see my friends happy. I’ll be watching to see what sort of juicy developments happen, though.”
“Please don’t.”
Leirhyn giggled. “In all honesty, though, I wish you the best, Haner. Here’s hoping you and her have something on the horizon.”
Uil-Cur smiled. “Here’s hoping.”

—–
“I wonder about Haner sometimes. Somedays he seems so outgoing, and other times he seems really shy.”
“Haner?” La-Iin’s tone was dark.
“You shouldn’t be so hostile when I bring him up, La-Iin. He’s one of my friends. I don’t get on your case about San-Kyung anymore, do I?”
“Y–you comparing San-Kyung and Haner is one of the worst evils I’ve ever heard of! And I normally like evil!”
“What?”
“Someday soon, you’ll see the error of your ways, Mama. I just want that to be before it’s too late!”
La-Iin stomped out of the living room, her wings flapping wildly.
“Why is she so hostile about Haner?” Mit-Sun sighed. “Well, it’s par for the course with La-Iin, I suppose…”

24.509.A Better Mother

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 509
“A Better Mother”

“Mit-Sun, let me just preface what I’m about to say with I love talking to you about this. It is a lot of fun to actually do something in the day aside from stay at home and work, even if it’s just walking and talking. But there’s something I’m a little concerned about.”
“I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say, Haner. But tell me. What is it?”
Uil-Cur’s wings twitched. “You’ve been talking to me a lot about La-Iin, and all the worries you have about her hating you, or fighting or harming you, or growing distant or power-hungry….you’ve basically told me everything that’s on your mind, or at least, it feels that way. And I’m glad you’ve felt comfortable enough with me to tell me all these things. But what concerns me is that you haven’t told me about any progress you’ve made with her. Didn’t I tell you that you should be trying to open up to her? I know I’m no authority on parenting and I barely know her, but it doesn’t seem like you’re trying at all.” He flinched. “Sorry if that sounded harsh.”
“No, something like that is exactly what I needed to hear. I haven’t been trying at all. Each time I have an idea, I take a backseat to someone else. It always feels like whenever something pops into my head, someone else comes along who wants to spend time with her and I end up passing her off onto them. I’m just worried.”
“What about now?”
“How La-Iin feels about me. I know we’ve had our close moments. But…I’m just worried about what she might say if I ask her. She’ll probably get pissed off or say I’m a bad mother just to spite me. I’m trying my hardest, but it feels like it isn’t enough.”
“You aren’t trying your hardest until you talk to her about this,” Uil-Cur said. “A-at least, that’s what I think. Well, you definitely have to try something!”
“I will. I’ll find it in me to talk to her, or at least do something with her. I have to try and better myself.”
Uil-Cur pat her on the back. “Just make sure to do it, Mit-Sun. Things won’t get a chance to work out if you don’t put in the effort.”
“I suppose you’re right, Haner.”

***

“Playing with your toys for the first time since when? This is a surprise.”
“Even someone like me needs a break from the everyday. Sometimes evil gets monotonous when you’re constantly thinking of fiery cities and people crying and screaming. But it’s still better than good. Everything good people like is the same and it’s so boring. Meanwhile, I’m just bored because I can’t do it yet and because I need a more creative suffering method.”
“…I just asked you a simple question.”
“I’m not always aware of when your questions have other questions behind them. Alright then, yes I am. I’m bored out of my mind and Mama went out with probably that stupid Haner. Someday I’ll show her. Maybe, just maybe, I could use him in my blood power tests.”
“Hoo boy, here we go again…”
“You shut up, Bes-Is–”
La-Iin flinched when her bedroom door opened. “Hello, La-Iin, I’m back.”
“Oh.” La-Iin glared at Choungetsu. “Keep him out of my bedroom!”
“Back away, Choungetsu. She doesn’t want you in her bedroom, and I don’t either.”
Choungetsu’s ears flattened to his head, but for once he seemed to listen, and walked away from the bedroom door with his tail drooping. Mit-Sun walked in.
“What do you mean, you don’t want him in here either? What are you planning, Mama!?”
“I’m coming in to talk to you.” She closed the door. “I’ve been meaning to talk with you about this for some time, but I kept putting it off because, well…I didn’t know how you’d feel about it.”
“If you have to say that, it’s probably bad. Leave me alone, Mama! I’m already bored enough to resort to these baby toys. Although they are pretty fun to act out things with. Maybe I should use them more.”
“You have a ton of time to keep playing with your toys, so hear me out this once, okay?” She sat down next to La-Iin’s table.
“Watch out, La-Iin! She has a serious look in her eyes! Here comes the dissuading of your evil!”
“No way, Mama! If you dare try to do that, I’ll show you my true might!”
“La-Iin, calm down! I’m not here to do anything like that. And what I want to talk about doesn’t have much to do with you. It has to do with me.”
“You?” La-Iin questioned. “What do you want?”
“You’re going to humor her?”
“I’m curious,” she whispered to her. “What?”
“I’ve been thinking about how I’ve done as a mother lately. I don’t think I do the best job I can sometimes, and–”
“That’s an understatement,” La-Iin scoffed.
“La-Iin! Could you be quiet and hear me out? I want to try and become a better mother, but I’m well aware there are people you like better. Why would you want to walk downtown with me when you have Asul-Zenza to fly you anywhere your heart desires? Why would you want to species study with me when you could go over to the Sanhuuns’ house and have fun with Fer-Shi? What’s so fun about window-shopping for dresses when you can do whatever it is you did with San-Kyung and Dslellular? I keep being passive like that, and I feel like that’s damaging our relationship. But at the same time, would you really be grateful to spend time with me when it took time out of the day that you could spend with somebody else?”
She glanced down at her knees. “I want to know how you feel, La-Iin. How do you think I’m doing as a mother? Do you think it was right of me to do what I did and take a backseat? If there’s something you want to tell me, please do. To be honest, when I had you, and I think you know this, but I wasn’t ready yet, and I was in the middle of a breakup with Asul-Zenza. I was panicking because I couldn’t take a job because I needed to take care of you, I didn’t want Asul-Zenza in your life, and my Father lives too far away. I didn’t know Leirhyn or Haner back then. And, well, at least in Haner’s case, back then it barely would have mattered…
“But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. You’re opinionated and smarter than I’d expect for a seven-year-old half-Vampire, or a seven-year-old at all. So tell me, what do you think? How do you think I can improve? And what would you like to do?”
La-Iin’s stare was blank, though Mit-Sun couldn’t tell if it was her natural expression or if there was something else on your mind.
“It’s pretty stupid to come to me for advice on this, Mama. You’re the Mama in this situation so you shouldn’t be asking me.”
“I know I shouldn’t. But if there’s something I’m doing wrong, I want to know what it is. And I figure the best person to hear that from is you.”
“Hmph. You say you try to be a good Mama, but I disagree. It’s not just because you’re a goody-goody and I’m evil. I think everyone messes up with that stupid combination. No, you didn’t hear me out early enough. You sent me to stupid Desutrap. And it’s a good thing because I met Fer-Shi, but other than that, it was horrible. And I don’t think you know how much time you spend doing work around the house or stupid at-home work-work instead of actually talking to me.”
Mit-Sun glanced away from her. “I think it’s a good thing that you don’t always intrude. But when you do, it’s in the most annoying ways possible. I don’t care about going to the store. You trust me enough to send me off with just Choungetsu and to leave me home alone to go out with Haner, but the store is different for some reason. And I’m a good flier now, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t be able to fly in the house.”
“I don’t think even avian families let their children fly in the house,” Mit-Sun said. La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Go on.”
“You say you’re trying your best, but I don’t see it that way.” La-Iin’s shoulders slumped. “If you’re upset that we’re not close, take a good look at yourself. For a long time, all I had was you, Bes-Isa, Choungetsu, and for some of that time I had Fer-Shi, too. I didn’t have many friends when I was littler. But now I have more friends, better friends, friends who are evil just like me. I have people who are helping me strive towards my goal. And when I had to rely on you, you wasted those chances, and only now you’re starting to warm up to Dami. You have to face facts, Mama. You messed up early.”
Hearing La-Iin’s words felt like a sting to Mit-Sun’s heart, and she tried her hardest to keep from crying and to stop her voice from wavering.
“I’m sorry you feel that way, La-Iin,” she said quietly.
“Instead of saying sorry, fix it, then. You’re the one who has limited time to do that, not me. I don’t hate you, Mama. But I’m not going to be the one to give you a chance. Do that yourself.”
“I will, then,” she said. “Thank you for talking to me. I’m going to put what you said into mind. With that being said, is there any place you’d like to go?”
“For now it will be better if you just leave me to play with my toys,” La-Iin said.
“I will. But I’m going to try harder from now on, La-Iin. You’ll see it soon enough.”
“Huh.”
Mit-Sun stood up and walked out her room, closing the door behind her. “I wonder if she’ll actually keep up with that, or if she’s just lying.”
“Do you trust her to?”
“No. But there’s a stupid part of me that wants her to.”

—–
“So, how did it go?”
“It was painful, like I thought. La-Iin really doesn’t have the most positive opinion of me. But instead of let it get me down, I figured I just have to try. There are people she loves that are more good than I am. If they can manage that, then I can, too. I just have to put in the extra effort.”
“That’s the spirit, Mit-Sun. I’m glad you finally made a move forward.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Me too.”

Mit-Sun’s words were still on La-Iin’s mind even later in the day.
“So, about that stupid part of you that wants to trust her…”
“Be quiet, Bes-Isa.”
“No, really, I’m curious. Why?”
“It would be nice to have another ally, you know. And I have to live with Mama. It might be better to do that if I liked her better.”
“Sure that isn’t your half-Normal side talking?”
“I knew you were going to say something like that,” La-Iin hissed. “Be quiet, Bes-Isa!” She snapped her fingers, and Bes-Isa fell to the ground.
‘I’ll give Mama a chance. We’ll see if she can redeem herself.’

22.507.Witness to Darkness

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 507
“Witness to Darkness”

“My new power is amazing, Dami. When you tried to use it the other day, it didn’t really look strong. But even if I haven’t mastered it yet, I have a ton of time to master it. It already seems really strong already. I have a good feeling about this power.”
“You just can’t shut up about your new power for two seconds, can you?” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Shut up, Mama!” La-Iin hissed. “Anyway, I’ve been thinking of ways to…incorporate it. No, Dami, I’m not gonna tell you how.”
Mit-Sun felt slightly concerned as she listened to La-Iin talk to Asul-Zenza over the phone. Ever since her blood power had developed, she had been talking about it nonstop, pestering Mit-Sun to go out and buy blood and attempting to use what remained of the effects San-Kyung’s blood had had on her. And though she was excited and happy for her, she felt concerned about its effects.
‘She’s developed her powers so early now. Are there even any other major powers she needs to develop? She had V-Puppetry before she was one year old! Okay, so it’s possible some of these are developing earlier because she’s half-Normal. I get that. So why are they still so early? Should she really have this power at seven even if she is progressing quickly?’
“I’ll talk to you again soon, Dami. And next time you see me, I’ll show you something really amazing!” She hung up the phone. “Mama, why’d you have to butt your way into the conversation? Nobody told you you could be a part of it!”
“I wasn’t trying to make myself a part of it,” she said. “I didn’t even say that to you.”
“Well, why were you watching me the whole time!?”
“I’m just out here.”
“Mama, you can be really annoying sometimes,” she hissed. “And besides, this is my biggest power yet. Flying is amazing, and so is bloodsucking, and I was too young to care about V-Puppetry. Think about what I can do with this power! Just by drinking the blood of another species I can wield their powers! Werewolves and Bearpeople are known for being strong, and I just love the powers of an Animated Pumpkin, it’s so thrilling to be able to use those powers. And that’s not to mention that there’s always the blood of a Witch I could drink.”
Mit-Sun flinched at the dark look in La-Iin’s eyes. “Sale-Dessu has shown me some amazing things while I’ve been over at his house. Witches can do a lot. With those powers, who knows what I might be able to do? I might be able to make some of these temporary powers permanent! But even if I can’t, the abilities that Witches have are so massive and so immensive that my plans for the future are going to have to be totally reworked.”
She grinned. “I knew this power was coming and I knew of its ability. I figured it would find its way into my future some way or another, and I would plan for it when it came. But I never imagined that I might need to totally rework my plans for the future just to accommodate this power. I need to plan my intakes carefully and what I do with the limited time. And I also need to check how long it takes the powers to wear off. But this might be just thing I was missing. The thing that fills in all those holes in my plans!”
‘She’s really determined to use this.’ Mit-Sun was startled. The tone in La-Iin’s voice, the look in her eyes–they all seemed much more serious and confident than usual. She was used to the confidence with which La-Iin would speak of her plans for the future, but the chill her certainty sent up her spine was new.
“You really are excited about this, aren’t you,” Mit-Sun said.
“If you hadn’t noticed that until now, you must be blind. I’m more than excited. And I’ll look for every last bit of vuyong so I can buy my own blood! Better yet, I’ll threaten them with my transformation and steal the blood! Although, San-Kyung trusts me. I’m sure he would get me blood if I begged enough. Or if not him, I could find someone else. Agh, why even bother about thinking things over in a goody-goody way? I have this power now! I’m unstoppable!”
“La-Iin, you’re letting this get to your head,” Mit-Sun snapped. “Even with that power, you’re not unstoppable. If you do something risky with that power, or if you use it on someone dangerous and it wears off, what are you going to do? Didn’t you mention something once about wanting to put thought into your plans? This isn’t thought–this is rushing into things.”
La-Iin’s eyes narrowed. “While you make a good point, Mama, my excitement comes from more than just the fact that I got this power, I hope you know. There’s also the fact that with this power, a lot of my limits have been removed. I may need blood to activate it, but after that it activates pretty much immediately. Lately what’s been on my mind is the fact that I have these limitations. It gets in my way! But now I have something to help me. And that excites me.”
“I understand that, but don’t you think you’re going a little overboard? That power’s only temporary, and you seem to need a lot of blood to actually get a good effect! There may be a lot of blood in the world, but it would cost a lot of vuyong to get it. Not to mention, if you really did steal it, you would be in a lot of trouble. You’re not all-powerful because of this, La-Iin.”
“You just want to find any reason to bring me down from my high. I know you don’t like the fact that I’m evil, but you’ll have to live with it. If it bothers you so much, I’ll go on about it to someone who will actually listen! But mark my words, Mama. I will show you once and for all that this power isn’t to be underestimated! If there’s something you doubt, tell me and I will show you this is the reason I’m proud I’m a Vampire!”
La-IIn flew off. Mit-Sun felt no need to call after her. “You mean half-Vampire,” she muttered.
‘This will all wear off though, right? Maybe I am being unfair. It would be pretty exciting to develop a power you thought you’d get later early, or at least I’d figure it would be. So I guess I can understand her excitement there. But then, what if that’s the wrong way to think about it? She’s still so young, and with the way her morals are skewed, what if she really does let this power go to her head? All I can think of is that it would be a bad thing for her, or a bad thing for other people!’
She held onto her head. ‘All the other problems I’ve had with La-Iin are ones I could talk to other people about. But would anyone understand the worries I have with this one?’

***

“Mama may not think this power is anything special, but I know it might just patch up the holes in some of my plans. Already I’m having to work on a brand-new one just to think of what I could do with these powers. After all, with what I can do with it, why wait to use it until after I’ve ruled the world?”
“Don’t you think if you applied this new power to your old plans, it might do a better job of patching up holes?”
“Like I said, why leave it alone that long? Besides, with all the changes I could envision, coming up with a brand-new plan was just the simpler idea. Now here’s the question I want to ask you–do you think Sale-Dessu would give me a can of his blood if I asked?”
“With the way he acts, I doubt it, and not just because you have nefarious plans in mind.”
“Damn it.”
“This power does sound pretty amazing, though. I’ve got to hand it to Vampires, they’ve got a really overpowered ability.”
“It’s the greatest power I can think of. Witches and Warlocks might think they’re great, but we can copy their powers too. The only thing is, it lasts for such a short time, and I drank a lot of San-Kyung’s blood yesterday. I can’t really come up with these plans until I know how long it lasts for, and how much blood I need. I need to start building a blood stock, but doing that sounds like it would be difficult.”
“Blood DOES sour after time…”
“And with Mama being the way she is right now, I can’t rely on her. I can’t rely on Fer-Shi ’cause she doesn’t have any powers. And as much as I’d like to suck San-Kyung again, I don’t want to suck him dry. He’s too delicious for me to want to stop at a little, but I’m not going to be his killer. Nobody is on my watch. Hm. I wonder if I could get rival-boy to help me, then? His powers sound pretty okay. Actually pretty good, but that stays between you and me.”
“How exactly could it get out?”
“And he does like species study. He considers me useless right now, but I could give him a good reason to use me for research. Only, I’m not sure how conscious he would be after how much I would suck from him, and it might be difficult to get him to agree. He’s really tall and powerful. He could push me off easily. And if San-Kyung got all light-headed like that when I sucked him, how much could I do to rival-boy before he becomes totally useless? He’s smaller than San-Kyung.”
“Just height-wise, or weight-wise too?”
“I’m not paying attention to his weight.”
“I suppose you wouldn’t. Just one little tip I wanted to give you, after listening to all this.”
“What’s that?”
“Plan carefully. Like you said, this power could very well be the thing that enables you to take over the world like you planned, but you have to plan for its shortcomings, and you sound ready to rush into things. If you handle things like that, then you’ll end up failing. I’m not telling you this to try and dissuade you, if that’s what you think. I would honestly rather see you succeed. Your world might be an interesting one and besides, with you so busy with your family life, maybe you’d finally let me become autonomous–after all, nobody would be able to care about the fact that a V-Puppet’s walking the streets.”
“We’ll see about that, Bes-Isa. After all, you can be pretty pushy about these sorts of things. But you are right. It will take time to figure out all the things I need to know about my blood power. I have to take it slowly and figure out these sorts of things one at a time. …it really sounds annoying to wait, though.”
“It will pay off. And I know you hate hearing this, but you DO have a ton of time to figure it all out. You’re just seven. If you take it one day at a time, hell, maybe even one week, you’d probably have it by the time you’re eight if not before that.”
“You’re right,” she sighed. “But now I need to plan what to figure out first.”
“The way you plan makes me wonder if you have OCD.”
‘Still….what Bes-Isa said, that was a lot like what Mama said, wasn’t it?’

—–
“I’m sorry to break into your day for this, Haner. I just needed to get it off my chest. I thought about talking to my Father or Leirhyn, but they don’t get how La-Iin is sometimes…I couldn’t even bring myself to tell you all of what’s going on, so I wouldn’t be able to tell them anything. I’m sure this is an inconvenience…”
“You’re never an inconvenience to me, Mit-Sun! You are my dearest friend, at least in my eyes. You could tell me anything and I’d listen to it all the way through. So never say that again.”
“I’ll try,” she sighed. “Haner, you really are a good person to talk to. I’m glad you were so pushy about becoming friends. I think your friendship has been a good thing for me this year.”
Uil-Cur looked away from her. “I’m glad to hear that. If I can do even the littlest thing for you, that makes me more happy than…well, it just makes me happy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks.”

17.502.Device of Choice

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 502
“Device of Choice”

Mit-Sun sat in the living room, stroking Choungetsu, who rolled over and made contented grunts. She stared at the door curiously. Above the house she heard the sound of wings flapping.
Just yesterday Asul-Zenza had contacted Mit-Sun about something he wanted to show her. Since she was in a good mood, she had decided to let him come over. That hadn’t been her only reason for accepting, however–since Friday, she had noticed that La-Iin had seemed incredibly sad.
‘She never told me what happened with those boys, but they looked pretty upset too. Maybe after Asul-Zenza shows me whatever it is he wants to show me, I’ll let him take her out. That might make her happier.’
Mit-Sun sighed. ‘What am I thinking? I should be able to make her happier, not rely on Asul-Zenza to do that. But he can make her happier. I should still contribute in my own way, though! I know, I’ll make a dinner she likes tonight, and then I’ll do an activity with her. I wonder what she might be in the mood for. Well, there are plenty of things I can do with her, and if she doesn’t like one, I’ll just try another!’
A knock sounded at the door. “Come in!”
Asul-Zenza walked in, a small box in his hands and a smile on his face. “Hello there, Mit-Sun. How have you been today?”
“Fine. Alright, Asul-Zenza, let’s see what you have there.”
Asul-Zenza nodded. He set the box down in front of her and opened it up.
“What is that clunky thing?”
“This is a prototype of that device I told you about all the way last year, remember?” Asul-Zenza said. “I’ve been keeping close tabs on it, as you know. San-Kyung seems like a good boy, so I’m not as worried about him anymore, but don’t think I haven’t heard the reports that Bledger is becoming a more dangerous place to live. I mostly have faith in La-Iin, but I’m not sure I trust the world.”
“You’re sure keeping up with current events.”
“It’s something to do when you’re bored. And if it has to do with my daughter, I want to know about it.” He handed her a round device. “This is where you set the settings for when you want the alarm to go off. As you can see, some of the settings are obviously designed for overprotective parents.”
“Geez, I worry about what La-Iin does sometimes, but this is ridiculous,” she said as she looked through the settings. After checking them, she pointed to the other items in the box. “Now, what about those other things?”
“Those are for alerting you. So when you have La-Iin wear it, if something happens that is counted as dangerous by your settings, it should alert you. Of course, since it’s a prototype, it will just give an alert sound that varies depending on the type of danger she’s in, and won’t actually give you an idea of where she might be. This device isn’t designed for tracking so they’re still working out that sort of situation. But who knows, this could save a lot of young lives….or lead to mass surveillance depending on the country it’s used in. I have some hope for this product, anyway.”
“You don’t have to keep running your mouth about it, I get it. So what’s the reason for giving me a prototype?”
“They’re releasing prototypes to some devoted followers of the product so that it can be tested out. Of course, since you’re La-Iin’s primary caretaker, I figured you would be the best person to test it out. You’d have to tell me how it works so I could tell the company what I thought of it. At least, they’ll think it’s what I thought of it.”
“I see.” She examined the device. “What do you say we take it for a test run now?”
“Hm?”
“You could take La-Iin out and put her in simulation dangerous situations. Like….high power usage. I think this one’s a little overprotective, but who knows? People have killed with powers before. Still, how exactly can they track this?”
“I suppose if I transformed into a bat and used my blood power, that might count.”
“Then we can test it out and La-Iin gets to spend time with you. When was the last time she did, anyway?”
“I think it was last month,” he said. “She did invite me over to meet San-Kyung. But definitely, I’ve been neglecting my chances. Ironic given you’re finally being more forgiving.”
“That’s not my fault,” she said. “Anyway, in order for us to test this out, we need La-Iin. HEY, LA-IIN! COME DOWNSTAIRS, I NEED YOU TO DO SOMETHING!”
Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza waited for La-Iin; once she came downstairs, Mit-Sun was surprised to see how depressed she looked.
“What do you want?” She said, then glanced at Asul-Zenza. “Dami?”
“Hello there, La-Iin! Are you feeling alright? You look a little sleep-deprived.”
“I just made a stupid mistake recently, that’s all,” La-Iin said. “I thought you were gonna ask me to do something annoying, but if Dami’s here, it can’t be all that bad. So what is it?”
“Your father got a prototype product he wants you and me to try out, but I figured since he’s the one who got it, all three of us could try it out.”
“What is it? It looks clunky.”
“It’s for tracking danger.”
“Tracking danger?” La-Iin’s eyes widened. “I don’t like the sound of that.”
“You probably don’t, knowing you. But we’re just testing it out.”
“This product is still in the prototype stages, although we repeated that enough already for you to figure that out,” Asul-Zenza said.
“He has to report back to the company his opinion on it. So what I want you to do is put this on–” She handed the round part of the device to La-Iin. “Then, I want you to go out with Asul-Zenza and try and set off all the security warnings. That includes the overprotective ones I’d never use.”
“Are you sure you’d never use overprotective settings? You don’t trust me.”
“I don’t trust you in some cases, but I trust you enough to go out so long as you’re with someone, and that someone has even been Choungetsu before. If I didn’t trust you at all, I would take you to school and I wouldn’t let you go outside without me. Interacting with San-Kyung outside of school, which I’m sure you’ve done before, wouldn’t even be possible. So say what you want, but I trust you more than you think.”
La-Iin looked down at the device. Mit-Sun noticed that she was starting to smile a bit. “So we have to make the alarm go off for all the dangers?”
“If we do that, then we can examine whether or not it works at all. It would be helpful to report back to the company if only some dangers are setting off alarms.”
“This could be fun.”
“Take the instruction manual. It lists all the dangers. You’re only going to simulate these dangers. Oh, and take this too.” Mit-Sun tossed Asul-Zenza the backup alarm.
“You know, I don’t want this to break.” Asul-Zenza said.
“I know. I figured you would catch it. It’ll also help if you find out if some work in closer proximity than others.”
“Proximity?” La-Iin questioned.
“She means if only the close alarm sets off and not her’s,” she said.
“So you’re not coming with us, Mama?”
“Why, did you want me to? I figured you’d want to spend one-on-one time with Asul-Zenza.”
“I do, I just thought you wanted to come.”
Mit-Sun shook her head and smiled. “No, I’m fine. This is the best way we’re going to get a report for Asul-Zenza, and anyway he’s the one with powers. Tipping off power-related signals would be easier with him.”
“Of course.” La-Iin affixed the device. “Come on, Dami! Let’s get in trouble!”
“It will be simulated danger, alright?”
“So you say.”
As Mit-Sun wrote down the signals on a piece of paper, La-Iin and Asul-Zenza checked the various ways to tip off the alarm. Once Mit-Sun had them all written down, they left the house, flying high into the sky.
“So what should we try first!?” La-Iin exclaimed.
“First we should head far away, for that’s one of the ways to tip off the signal–heading far off.”
The two flew over downtown and a forest, looking for an area neither of them recognized. Before they made it there, La-Iin became tired and Asul-Zenza held tight to her. They landed, and Asul-Zenza checked his signal.
“Well, I suppose it wouldn’t be giving off a signal if it’s so close by the main device,” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I’ll ask them about it, though. In the meantime, let’s try something else. Are there any blood vendors nearby?”
“I don’t know where blood vendors are.”
“Well, we can look for some. One of the things that tips this alarm off is injury, but I’m not sure how to simulate that…”
La-Iin bit into her arm. “La-Iin!?”
“Don’t worry Dami, I’m used to this by now. In case you hadn’t noticed–” La-Iin shut her eyes tight as the transformation completed. “–I’ve found a use for doing this.
The two heard a rapid beeping noise. Asul-Zenza checked his device. “Seems to go off for that,” he said. “Are you sure you’re alright?”
“With the power I gain through this ability, I always feel one hundred percent,” she said with a smile. “What do we try next?”
Asul-Zenza checked the manual. “Apparently, the lack of presence of other people is also something that can tip off the alarm. Will you be alright by yourself for a little bit?”
“Dami, is this stupid alarm making you overprotective? I’ve been fine in the past. I will be fine now.”
“I just wasn’t sure if you felt like being alone right now is all,” he said with a smirk. “I’ll be right back, La-Iin!”
La-Iin nodded and watched as Asul-Zenza soared into the sky. ‘Dami not only can fly a lot higher than me, but he has a lot of stamina. I should try flying even more than I already do. If only Mama didn’t call on me for flying in the house, I could practice all the time!’
As she waited for Asul-Zenza to return, her transformation wore off. She checked the device. ‘This thing is really clunky. Do Mama and Dami really want me to use something like this? Does Dami want it for something else? He does live on his own.’
Asul-Zenza returned a moment later. “That was a great fly. I feel refreshed.” He stretched. “So, what shall we tip off next? Want to look for a blood stand?”
“Okay. They also sell blood at the store.”
“Good idea. I hope there’s a store nearby.”
“Dami, can I ask a question?”
“Hm?”
“Do you want this for me, or do you want this for yourself? Since you live on your own, I mean. Did you want us to know if you’re okay?”
Asul-Zenza’s eyes widened. “I didn’t even think of that being a possible usage. But that’s a great idea!” He started to smile. “You know, La-Iin, something I always worried about in the past was the possibility of something happening to me and nobody knowing. When I heard about this device, I thought it could come in handy for keeping tabs on you since you had just become friends with San-Kyung.”
“San-Kyung’s fine, you know.”
“But you saying that has lightened some of my fears. I could give one of those to you, and to Mit-Sun and my parents and my friends at the book club! Then I wouldn’t have to worry if something happened to me. If the people developing this product can make it work, then you all will know if something happened. I won’t have to worry about dying alone.”
“…”
“Oh look, there’s a blood stand over there!”
“Are you gonna use your blood power, Dami!?”
“I’ll try. Remember, I’ve only used this once in the past before. I don’t know what will happen now. Say, what power would you like me to try?”
“Animated Pumpkin!”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I should have known you’d suggest that. Two cartons of Animated Pumpkin, please.”
The man happily handed Asul-Zenza the cartons, and Asul-Zenza gave him his vuyong. “Now, let’s see if we can get this to work.”
Excitement coursed through La-Iin as Asul-Zenza began to down the blood.

—–
Mit-Sun relaxed at home, waiting for Asul-Zenza and La-Iin to come back. ‘They’ve been gone a long time, and dinner’s almost done. This is ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s taking advantage!’
As if on cue, both entered the house.
“Hello, Mit-Sun! How were your results? Mine went off a few times, but not for everything. I wonder if it had to do with proximity.”
Mit-Sun huffed when she noticed La-Iin was holding a carton of blood. “Terrible. It barely went off for anything, and it only went off for one thing I’d be worried about with her. Everything else it went off for is something I’d never set it for.”
“I’m sorry, Mit-Sun. But the product is still in development. I’ll contact the company tomorrow.” He sniffed the air. “What smells so good?”
“Dinner, doofus.”
“Hey, there’s no need to resort to insults. You and I have been on more amicable terms lately.” Asul-Zenza sighed. “Mit-Sun, if I bought one of those devices for myself, would you hold on to one of the alarms?”
“Huh?”
“Er, never mind, I’ll talk with you about it later,” he said. “I suppose I should be going now. I’ll see you, La-Iin.”
“See you, Dami.”
Asul-Zenza collected the pieces of the device, waved, then opened the door and flew off.
“If only you two had arrived earlier. I planned on taking you for a walk downtown.”
“You suck, Mama! Why don’t you tell me about this stuff earlier!?”
Mit-Sun chuckled. “I didn’t want to break into your time with Asul-Zenza. Even I have my better days. Especially now that I’ve got a person who’ll lend an ear for me at work.”
‘Haner!?’ La-Iin kept the sentiment to herself.
“What do you say we have dinner? It’s got to be done by now.”
“What did you make? Something nasty?”
“Actually, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
‘Well, whatever that device did, La-Iin certainly seems a lot happier.’ Mit-Sun felt light as she walked into the kitchen with La-Iin.

7.492.Wishing Upon a Star

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 492
“Wishing Upon a Star”

Mit-Sun found herself incredibly distracted that day at work. Though she felt that Eteibreit would likely call her out on her sloppy job, she couldn’t find it in her to care all that much.
‘La-Iin feels so distant recently. Is it because of me? I haven’t been taking her anywhere. I did treat her to a little something on Children’s Day, and she seemed fine with me, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t distant…’
She sighed. ‘Maybe I should talk to Papa about this. I wonder if he’s ever felt I’m growing distant from him?’
“Cahongyun, something wrong?”
Mit-Sun glanced behind her; Leirhyn was standing there. “You look kind of down. I’m on a break right now, so I figured I’d ask.”
“Oh, it’s nothing really,” she sighed. “Just, thinking about my daughter is all.”
“I see. Is everything alright? We haven’t really talked much outside of work lately.”
“Everything’s fine. Perfect. Almost,” she sighed. “Anyway, I should probably get back to work.”
“Yeah, I guess so. But before you do, remember what I said: the two of us have got to get together sometime soon and talk about you and a certain someone.”
“Who?”
“You know who~”
“I really don’t.”
“You’ll figure it out, then. See you, Cahongyun!” Leirhyn walked off, a skip in her step.
“I wish I could share in that cheerfulness,” Mit-Sun sighed.

***

After work that day, Mit-Sun said good-bye to Leirhyn and reported in to Eteibreit.
“Your job’s sloppy today,” Eteibreit had said.
“I know.”
“…you know, I consider stronger punishments for my workers when they do a sloppy job and they know they’ve done a sloppy job.”
“That’s actually you being fair, for once.”
Eteibreit huffed. “I’ll let you off easy today and tell you just to do a better job tomorrow. But listen closely, Cahongyun. There will be consequences if this consciously sloppy work continues.”
“I understand, Mrs. Eteibreit,” Mit-Sun sighed. “I’ll do my best tomorrow.”
“Make sure that you do.”
Mit-Sun turned to leave the room; as she closed the door she heard Eteibreit giggling to herself and shuddered.
“Oh, there’s someone else I should say good-bye to, too…”
She head off to Uil-Cur’s division. Uil-Cur was setting down a stack of papers, but he soon noticed her and ran to greet her.
“Why, hello, Mit-Sun! How are you today?”
“Fine, I guess,” she sighed. “And it’s not hello. I just came to say bye.”
“Oh, alright.” Uil-Cur squinted. “Are you sure nothing’s wrong, Cahongyun?”
“Why? Do I look upset?”
“Yes, you do.” Uil-Cur’s brow furrowed with concern. “Is there anything I can do to help you?”
“Well, not really…I was actually thinking of talking to my Pap–I mean, Father–about it. It’s nothing.”
“I don’t mind hearing you out too,” he said.
“You can be really forceful sometimes, can’t you?” Uil-Cur drew away. “Anyway, I don’t even think you’d understand it all that well anyway. I don’t want to bother you with it.”
“Mit-Sun, you could never bother me. You’re my dearest friend. Go ahead and tell me. Well, if you want to.”
Mit-Sun was about to decline when a thought came to mind. ‘Uil-Cur is a good friend of mine. And he might not have experience with raising children of his own, but maybe it would be good to talk to someone who doesn’t…I might get an answer from him that’s not ‘this is something that happens’.’
“Mit-Sun?”
“I’m sorry, I was just throwing something around in my head,” she said. “…are you sure you’d be okay with hearing me out? It’s not really a problem that matters anything to you…”
“Mit-Sun, I would hear out any problem you had, even if it was with me!” Uil-Cur said. “But do you mind if I finish work first? I’d really rather not get on Mrs. Eteibreit’s bad side.”
Mit-Sun gave a chuckle. “I can hear you there. Hey, I have to get home to La-Iin, though. Would you mind coming by for just a bit so I can at least tell her dinner might be late?”
Uil-Cur’s expression went blank. “Uh–um, certainly, Mit-Sun.”
“Alright. I’ll be waiting for you in front of the building.”

Mit-Sun had planned on staying silent until she and Uil-Cur reached their home, but halfway through the walk back she couldn’t hold herself back.
“I feel like me and my daughter are growing distant,” she said.
“O-oh? How so?”
“We haven’t been talking as much as we used to. La-Iin’s always treated me like she thinks I’m a bad parent, but she’s never really been distant like this. She talks to me at dinner. We have been spending time together. It just feels like she’s heading away from me, you know? If she was a teenager, I might be able to understand and pass it off as something that would pass with time. But she’s only seven. Have I been doing something wrong? Maybe I’m really not doing as good a job as I thought I was.”
“I’m sure that’s not the case.”
“I don’t know for sure. Maybe it’s just because of the way she is. Our opinions are pretty different. But I don’t want to think that way. She has a friend and they don’t agree on a lot of things, but they still get along. It might not be that.” She sighed. “She and her father also don’t agree on a lot of things. But she loves him unconditionally. I get treated a lot differently than he does. And that makes me wonder even more if I’m doing something wrong.”
“Does she get to see her father often? Maybe she treats him so well because they don’t see each other often. And her friend is around her age, so it could always be that. Maybe she’s going through an early rebellious phase.”
“Maybe. I’m just worried. I really don’t want to grow distant from her. I’ve been trying my hardest ever since she was born! I had to survive off the vuyong I made from my old job and what my ex brought in when she was a baby before he left the house. I think she resents me for sending her to the preschool I sent her to, but I had to get a job! There was no way we could keep going with the vuyong I had left. We wouldn’t have made it.”
“Explain that to her, then! Little kids don’t always understand these sorts of things.”
“La-Iin wouldn’t believe me. She’s a very opinionated seven-year-old. She believes what she wants to.”
“Mit-Sun, you shouldn’t let yourself get discouraged. If you do that you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Maybe you’re just at a rough patch. You could always try and bond with her. What sorts of things did you do in the past that you haven’t done recently? What sort of things do you think she would want to do, or would like if you let her do them?”
“I don’t even want to begin to get into that last one,” Mit-Sun groaned. “….but we did go for walks downtown sometimes, and we haven’t done that in a while. And I used to teach her about species history and species study after school sometimes. And I haven’t been talking to her myself much lately. Maybe it’s not La-Iin’s fault. Maybe it’s because of me.”
“You just have to make an effort, Mit-Sun. I made an effort to get closer to you. You jumped to the worst conclusions, but maybe it’s nothing all as bad as that. Maybe she just needs a little space. And maybe both of you aren’t making the effort. Just try, Mit-Sun.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks, Haner. Talking to you really helped. I’m going to try now. You know, I was worried about whether I was being a good mother or not, and I was overlooking the fact that maybe I haven’t been putting enough effort towards interacting with her lately. I spend a lot of time on the ‘homework’ Mrs. Eteibreit gives me. So maybe it is my fault.”
“I’m glad to have helped any, Mit-Sun. It just didn’t do to see you so upset.”
Mit-Sun continued to smile. Uil-Cur began to feel immensely flustered and looked away. “So, um…shall I head home now that I helped you, or do you still want me to…?”
“Why not come by for dinner tonight?”
“D–don’t you want to try and build up your relationship with your daughter? I’d only get in the way of that!”
“I don’t think you coming over for dinner one night is going to sour our relationship. Besides, we have the whole weekend ahead of us. But I can’t force you to come over if you don’t want to. The offer’s there anyway.”
“…what time do you usually have dinner?”
“Six to seven, depending on what I make and how late I make it. Why?”
“Oh, just wondering…I think I will take you up on that offer, Mit-Sun. Though really, how would your daughter feel about it?”
Mit-Sun pondered his question. “She probably wouldn’t like it. But I said so already, Haner. It’s not going to make us enemies if you come over one night.”
“If you say so.”
Although Uil-Cur felt quite timid, he also had to hold himself back from screaming out in joy. ‘Mit-Sun invited me to dinner! I can’t believe this!’

—–
“Who is this?”
“Don’t act so hostile, La-Iin. This is my coworker, Haner. He helped me out with something earlier today, so I invited him over for dinner.”
“I’ve heard a bit about you, La-Iin.” He waved. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“Haner!?” La-Iin jumped back. “And he’s a Siren!? Male Sirens are bad news, Mama.”
“Oh, don’t be like that. If you can put up with him for one night, we’ll do something special tomorrow. How about that?”
La-Iin gave her an uncertain glance. “Mama, you could never understand the reason why I object this so strongly, and you wouldn’t listen if I told you anyway!” She stomped out of the living room.
“Are….are you sure she’s seven years old? She acts like a rebellious teenager…”
“That’s La-Iin for you,” Mit-Sun sighed.

‘Haner. Haner! Mama may be oblivious to what you want, but I can see it from a mile away!’
Throughout the night La-Iin kept a close eye on Haner, and the longer she focused the more she felt her suspicions had proven true. ‘If this guy is in love with Mama….then that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever heard!’
Barely a moment went by that night in which La-Iin’s wings weren’t flapping wildly in anger.

28.452.Ghneckdo Life Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Ghneckdo

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 452
“Ghneckdo Life Part 3: Mr. and Mrs. Ghneckdo”

“What a lovely day for a day off. Wouldn’t you say so, Anil-Kosha?”
“Better than if it was raining, that’s for certain,” she replied. “Otherwise this little flying trip would be near impossible.”
“I was under the impression that it was a flying date,” Verde-Nenda said with a wink.
“To make me consider an outing a date requires a lot more flair. You should know that after so many years of marriage.”
“I’m well aware that you have some of the most expensive taste of any Vampire lady I have ever taken a fancy to.”
Anil-Kosha huffed. “It’s hard not to when you have the means to own some of those expensive things. Besides, I may have expensive taste, but tell me, would any of those other Vampire ladies you apparently took a fancy to have made you buy those things for them?”
“Perhaps. But this was when I was an adolescent. Who knows, maybe they’ve changed over the years. Ah, enough about this, Anil-Kosha! Let’s enjoy our date, and our day off!”
“I’m with you all the way there,” she said. The two flew across the sky at a high speed, the both of them feeling light-hearted and relaxed.

“It’s almost surprising just how much the demand for SATs has gone up,” Anil-Kosha said. “I suppose someday in the future, Purebloods like you and I might be more of a minority. It does make me wonder, what will the future be like in three-hundred more years? Already there have been a lot of changes in only two-hundred. Younger Vampires call me old-fashioned, but damn it, the glory days I remember were only a hundred years ago!”
“Some Vampires like to change with the tide of time,” Verde-Nenda shrugged. “I had a longtime friend who was as ‘old-fashioned’ as you could come back in the 1800s, yet come the nineties he was as modern as you can get. I figure he’s probably no different now. …say, Anil-Kosha, is this how you want to spend the entire date? Simply talking about mundane things? I was hoping we could do something, you know…”
“No, I don’t know. And it frustrates me when you don’t tell me what it is.”
“Something more exciting! We’ll still be in our truly glorious days for many years to come, Anil-Kosha. And since Asul-Zenza decided to become independent at such a young age, we have so much time to do more of these exciting things. Don’t you recall the days our dates would be spent dancing and drinking the night away!?”
“I remember the hangovers,” she groaned.
“Try not to!” Verde-Nenda grabbed her hands and twirled her. “We too are young Vampires. The times may have changed quite a bit since we were young, but that fact has not. So let’s enjoy today!”
The two began to dance in the center of the plaza. Anil-Kosha quickly took hold of the situation and also the lead in the dance, dancing so quickly that Verde-Nenda almost tripped over his feet. Their display attracted the attention of other Vampires nearby, who began to watch them curiously.
“I think we have spectators, Anil-Kosha!” Verde-Nenda whispered.
“Do you think it’s our style of dance?”
“No, I think it’s the fact that we are dancing in the first place. But keep going, I say! I’m having too much fun to be bothered by their eyes.”
The two continued to dance in front of the crowd, dancing more freely as more spectators arrived. Verde-Nenda was able to wrestle the lead in the dance from Anil-Kosha and changed to another one, which had Anil-Kosha nearly falling over. The spectators seemed amused, laughing among each other.
Finally, when the dance came to an end, Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha took off as fast as possible.
“Thank goodness you decided to end it,” Anil-Kosha said. “I’m not sure what I think of having all those people watch us dance!”
“Well, think about it this way, my dear. There’s much worse they could have been watching us doing, and at least they weren’t jeering!”

“So, what do we do now, Verde-Nenda?”
“I want to continue to be productive. It doesn’t do to let a date slow down. It’s never been my style to spend the night cuddling under stars and whispering or some such. I’m as romantic a man as any, but I need excitement!”
“If that’s the case, I believe I have the perfect idea!”
“What’s that?”
Anil-Kosha pointed ahead to a park in the distance. Verde-Nenda squinted his eyes. “Surely you don’t mean that park?”
“I do mean it. Come now, Verde-Nenda, it’s not like the parks we would take Asul-Zenza to. It looks to be a more refined one. And at least we’ll be doing more than talking about pleasantries.”
“I know, it just seems so childish to do such a thing. But I suppose it’s better than shopping.”
“For that comment I ought to take you to a store next!”
The two landed at the park and took a look around. “How about the swings? I used to love those things when I was young.”
“We’ll see if that still holds true!” Verde-Nenda said. “Get on, Anil-Kosha, and I’ll push you.”
Anil-Kosha’s expression became playful as she sat on the swing seat, kicking her legs back and forth. Verde-Nenda stood behind her and pushed her as hard as he could manage.
“Whee!” She cried out. Verde-Nenda stood back as the swing came flying in his direction. Anil-Kosha giggled as she went back-and-forth.
“Ooh, I knew this would be childish,” he muttered under his breath. “Is that really so fun?”
“Come and try it! I can push you this time!”
Anil-Kosha leaped off the swing, flying into the air and landing in front of it.
“I must admit, that was impressive,” he said as he sat on the swing seat.
“Thank you, Verde-Nenda. Now, remember to kick your legs back-and-forth to keep momentum. I’m not going to keep pushing you.”
“I’ll remember that. Now, do it quickly! The sooner this is over with, the be–”
Before he could finish, Anil-Kosha gave him a strong push. Verde-Nenda began to swing back-and-forth, much to both his surprise and horror. He began to kick his legs as Anil-Kosha had directed him too, and while that helped him control his momentum, it still didn’t stop him. Ultimately he dug his heels into the ground to stop himself.
“Well? What did you think?” Anil-Kosha asked.
“I think I’ve never been so suddenly terrified in all my life,” Verde-Nenda breathed. “Still, I can at least understand why you enjoy those things so much now.”
Anil-Kosha smiled.
“Say, do you want to continue on in the park, or did you want to do something else? I’m fine with either, so long as you have an idea for the latter if that’s what you wish to do.”
“It looks like the day still has plenty of time. Why not do both?”
“That’s fine with me! ….that is, as long as you do have an idea for what happens next.”

***

Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha spent a good amount of time at the park, playing together in ways they hadn’t for years. Once they tired of that, Anil-Kosha suggested doing some window shopping. Verde-Nenda dreaded the suggestion as soon as she made it, but to his surprise–and relief–she bought only one item, and they were only out a short time.
“It’s starting to get fairly late,” Verde-Nenda said. “Perhaps we could end this date with something I would like to do?”
“Why not? What did you want to do?”
“Follow me!”
Verde-Nenda led the way as he and his wife maneuvered the night sky. From their distance, Verde-Nenda had spotted an area that was mildly lit. As they neared the area, Verde-Nenda found his suspicions were proven true–a small restaurant was one of the buildings in the area.
“What is this place, Verde-Nenda?”
“Consider it dinner, Anil-Kosha,” Verde-Nenda said. “And don’t ask me–I’ve never been!”
The restaurant was as small on the inside as it was outside, and only two other Vampires were in the building beside them and the staff, both on their own. The waiter noticed them almost as soon as they walked in and led them to a table near a window.
“What a beautiful sight,” Anil-Kosha said. “Night is so beautiful. So wonderful…you must wonder how so many species decide to sleep through it.”
“Many people don’t, my dear,” he said. “Besides, it’s almost hypocritical to say that considering we’re among such people, don’t you think?”
Anil-Kosha didn’t respond, just continuing to stare out the window as if she were trapped in a daze. The waiter arrived during this moment of silence, asking what they might like to drink.
“Wingyrm blood for me,” Anil-Kosha said.
“I’ll be having Wineblood,” Verde-Nenda said. “Surprise me on the wine, but I think I’ll have the same sort of blood.”
The waiter nodded, jotting down their drinks and head off. Anil-Kosha looked at him with surprise.
“Why not cut loose? I won’t drink much. Besides, drinking and flying isn’t against the law.”
“Oh, it’s not that. I was just sort of surprised, is all.”
“Why? You know I like Wineblood.”
“I suppose I do.” Anil-Kosha smiled. “Thank you for today, Verde-Nenda. I have had a great time.”
“I should be thanking you as well, Anil-Kosha! I’m not the one who’s been running this date. That’s been handled by the both of us.”
“I suppose it has!”
The waiter arrived with their drinks.
“Your orders?”
“I’ll be having an oregano steak,” Anil-Kosha said.
“Barije for me.”
The waiter nodded, jotted down their meals and walked off. Verde-Nenda raised his glass of Wineblood, and Anil-Kosha clinked her drink to it.
“To us!” Verde-Nenda said.

—–
Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha head home late enough that the day had crossed over into the next. Both were exhausted by the time they arrived home, but felt pleased by the day. They cleaned off, brushed their teeth and dressed in pajamas, then flopped into their bed and fell asleep almost instantly.

27.451.Ghneckdo Life Part 2: Life as Asul-Zenza

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 451
“Ghneckdo Life Part 2: Life as Asul-Zenza”

As soon as Asul-Zenza woke up that day, he sat up, stretched, and checked the time through bleary eyes. Early sunlight was filtering into his bedroom and he could still see faint traces of dew on his window. After taking a few moments to wake up, he got out of bed, dressed and went to make himself something to eat.
“Hm, I suppose I used all of the Goathoof blood,” he sighed. “A shame. I was really craving some today, too.”
Asul-Zenza made himself a quick salad drizzled with Siren blood instead, then packed some bloodboxes of various different flavors into a bag. After checking a few things around the house and putting on his cloak, he stepped outside, locked his door and took to the skies.
He flew through the sky aimlessly for a while, watching the clouds, other Vampires and relishing the feel of the early morning sun, before deciding to stop in the first familiar area he spotted.
The place was fairly empty, and Asul-Zenza realized again how early it was. “Oh, going to bed earlier was a mistake,” he sighed. “My extra luck doesn’t mean anything if it’s not even every day. I’m wasting valuable time I could be spending doing better traveling.”
“Hey, Asul-Zenza!”
Asul-Zenza turned to see who had called out to him. “Hello, Perule-Cheuse! How nice to see a familiar face. But it’s rather early in the morning to be out, isn’t it?”
“You try askin’ yerself that,” he chuckled. “Besides, I’ve got other things to do. Adult Vampire things to do.”
Asul-Zenza glared. “I am an adult by Vaelyn standards.”
“You don’t live in Vaelyn.”
“I live close enough, and I have been completely independent for years now. I have finished puberty, and I have a daughter. How is that not adult?”
“The sixties doesn’t fall into my definition of adult,” he said. “But if you’re so adamant, kiddo…”
“So, what are these ‘adult Vampire things’ you need to do anyway?”
“The missus is having cravings. That and being pregnant has kept her up all night. I’m scared to see what’ll happen when the baby’s born…”
“For someone who was just calling me a child Vampire, you’re awfully old to be having your first child, don’t you think?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Can it, Asul-Zenza. Anyhoo, when she can’t get any sleep, I can’t get any sleep. And it’s only gonna get worse from here. The baby’s due this Spring. God knows when, though.”
“I see.”
“What are you doing up so early? Traveling?”
“Yes. I’ve been going to sleep earlier recently in the hopes of seeing my own child. Of course, this puts a crimp into some of my plans, but I will take the chances I have.”
“But today’s just aimless, ain’t it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Well, good luck with that. Don’t let your whole day go to waste, a’ight?”
“I won’t!” Asul-Zenza spread his wings.
“Oh, before you go!”
“Hm?”
“You happen to know where I could find some high quality female Birdmix blood? That’s what the missus demands. ‘pparently she can tell the difference between male and female blood.”
“Can she tell the difference between Birdmix varieties?”
“She didn’t specify a variety, just asked for high quality female Birdmix blood”
“Well…it’s not exactly what I would call high-quality, and I don’t know if it’s from a female, but here.” He handed Perule-Cheuse a bloodbox full of Birdmix blood. “If it doesn’t soothe her, it might soothe you. I understand that dealing with a pregnant woman can be quite an undertaking. Although I assume you’re luckier than I was in that regard.”
“Well, thanks either way, Asul-Zenza.”
“You’re quite welcome. Be seeing you, Perule-Cheuse! All the best!”
Asul-Zenza once again took off into the sky, going into a loop. At the end of the loop, he ended up nearly crashing into another Vampire flying through the sky.
“Watch it!” The Vampire snapped.
“So sorry!” Asul-Zenza said before taking off faster. ‘I wonder if being up for the early hours is something of my generation. That man did look about my age, perhaps a little older.’
Asul-Zenza took off once again, glancing below him to see if any place piqued his fancy. The sun rose higher in the sky, and as it did a few more Vampires took to the sky, though still few enough that Asul-Zenza was able to navigate clearly.
After a while of flying, however, his wings grew tired and he became thirsty. Upon spotting a bench, he decided to land, and once he had he sat on the bench and began to drink a bloodbox.
“It’s getting a little warm for comfort,” he said to himself. “Didn’t Spring only just start?”
He glanced at the streets, checking to see if he remembered the area, when he met eyes with a familiar face. Unsure of what to say, he remained silent.
“Do I have to be the first one to say something?” The other Vampire said. “Hello, Asul-Zenza.”
“Hello, Xelshy-Mitter. Sorry, I was unsure of whether you were busy or not. You look fairly busy. What brings you to these parts?”
“I’d ask the same question if I didn’t already know better. I’m just here to do a little extra shopping. I’ve been spending so much money on books and hobby stuffs that I’ve forgotten I still need to take care of myself.”
“I understand that feeling. I used to have a lot of trouble with it when I first moved out.”
Xelshy-Mitter sighed. “I haven’t just moved out, though.”
“I’m aware. Having the vuyong to spend on yourself and only yourself can make frivolities. I’ve been through it all before.”
“Hey, you’re talking down to me, aren’t you? You know, I’m older than you are, Asul-Zenza.”
“I know. Isn’t everyone in the book club? What you said just made me think back on my earliest days after moving out my parent’s house. Those were hard and terrifying days…”
“Speaking of everyday life, how’s work been?”
“Doing odd jobs brings in varying revenues, but I think I’m doing well enough vuyong-wise not to have to worry about it much. How about you?”
“It’s all fine. I’ve been doing odd jobs too because my part-time job pays garbage. But I don’t make those my entire career.”
“You can bring in a lot from odd jobs sometimes. And I make quite a living off of them. Never mind that, anyway. It’s good to see you, Xelshy-Mitter. I feel as if we talk the least of anyone in the book club.”
“Maybe. But that’s just because we don’t know each other as well. Hey, speaking of, are you going anywhere soon or do you have a little time on your hands?”
“Well, I planned on traveling about wherever I could today, but my wings are far too tired to fly myself much of anywhere right now. I suppose I have time. What do you need?”
“There’s someplace I want to go today because one of my favorite authors is doing a book signing. Problem is, it’s at a Shock Festival, and I don’t do too well with those…”
“A Shock Festival is in town? That sounds like fun. I’ll definitely go with you.”
“You did hear the part where I said I’m scared of Shock Festivals, right?”
“I did, but I didn’t hear you say scared, necessarily,” Asul-Zenza said with a smirk.
“How mean!”
“So when is this Shock Festival?”
“It’s all day. We could go now, if you wanted. But it’s quite a walk. Are you sure you’ll be able to take traveling somewhere on foot?”
“I’ve done it plenty of times before in the past, Xelshy-Mitter. I’ll be fine.”

It didn’t take long for the duo to reach the Shock Festival. Asul-Zenza was amused as soon as they entered the festival grounds by the cheesy effects for the shocks, but Xelshy-Mitter felt differently, latching on to Asul-Zenza’s arm.
“Give me a moment a-and I’ll l-let go,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“You’re really that scared of all this? Please.”
“Just because you’re not scared of it doesn’t mean I can’t be!”
“I know, I know. I’m just surprised. These effects aren’t the best I’ve seen. Say, where’s the book signing event? I’m sure you’d like to get this over with as soon as possible.”
“As if that wasn’t obvious! And I think there’d be a sign for it.” Letting go of Asul-Zenza’s arm, Xelshy-Mitter began to search the area. “Oh, over there! I think that’s it.”
“Let’s go then!”
“Alri–”
Something burst nearby Xelshy-Mitter before laughing and spraying glitter. Xelshy-Mitter began to cower once again.
“Oh, come on,” Asul-Zenza said, feeling amused. He grabbed Xelshy-Mitter’s hand and led the way to the signing event. To his surprise, there was no line. Xelshy-Mitter ran ahead of him and over to the author, pulling out a book right away.
“Hello there,” the author said, before whistling. “You don’t look too good.”
“I don’t do well with Shock Festivals. But I dealt with it anyway to come here.”
“Looks like you still needed a little help, though.” The author glanced at Asul-Zenza.
“Well, I made it here anyway!” Xelshy-Mitter thrust the book into the author’s face. He quickly signed the cover–and, at Xelshy-Mitter’s request, the inside of the cover–smiled, and sent them on their way.
“That seemed simple enough,” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, it was. And the Shock Festival wasn’t too bad this time. Maybe because it’s broad daylight. Anyway, thanks for coming with me, Asul-Zenza. Are you going on your way now?”
“Well, I suppose I could. My wings feel a lot better now that I’ve rested them. But before I go, would you like to share a bloodbox? I managed to find an Echidian one in with the others.”
“Ooh, Echidian. Wait a second, how old is that?”
“It can’t possibly be all that old. I clear out my blood on a regular enough basis. So, would you like to share?”
“Sure, why not?”
The two stopped at the bench they had met up at and shared the bloodbox. After that, Asul-Zenza was on his way, waving to Xelshy-Mitter as he took to the skies.

The rest of the day managed to be fairly unimpressive in Asul-Zenza’s eyes, though he ended up stopping at the Shock Festival again after leaving Xelshy-Mitter. It didn’t matter to him, however. He was happy enough to fly through the sky and travel around.
‘I haven’t traveled far in a long while,’ he thought late that night. ‘Perhaps I should plan a trip. But maybe after I do a few more odd jobs. It’s always important to have the vuyong for these sorts of things.’
As he flew through the night sky, making a note to head back home soon, he found himself planning a trip and becoming excited by the idea.

—–
After arriving home that night, Asul-Zenza took off his cloak, drank his last remaining bloodbox, took a shower and made a quick dinner. He stayed up a while longer to read a book, then head off to bed, thinking of La-Iin, traveling, and the book club as he drifted off.