24.540.The Ability to Reach Out

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

17.533.The Future of Bledger

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 533
“The Future of Bledger”

“Miss Ukyon, I need to talk with you about an important matter.”
“What?” She sighed. “If this is anything about my approval rating going down again, I don’t want to hear it. I already know the people of Vaelyn don’t like me much. To which I say: would you rather have me, or live in North Vaelyn!?”
“It has nothing to do with that right now. We’re receiving word from authorities over in Bledger, Vaelyn. They wanted me to tell you about the state of affairs over there.”
“Hm?”
“In case you haven’t heard, lately there’s been an increase in crime over in Bledger. Apparently nothing on the level of many mass murders, but there was a recent event in which one Sara Nim-Ghini attempted to set off a bomb near the district of Hledshess. It was the most major of all the crimes attempted so far. Authorities say that if the bomb had not been stopped, it would have caused serious property damage and resulted in a few casualties.”
Sae-Kyu’s eyes widened. “Really?”
Her assistant nodded. “I’ve been keeping a close eye on the happenings of Vaelyn for you, since you seem to often let them go by ignored.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“I’ve checked on the rest of Vaelyn in my spare time. Places like Silcoulle and Plucehon have reported relative peace. Certainly crimes go on there, but police have been telling me about how they’ve discovered entire crime districts over in Bledger. It certainly seems like there’s a lot going on.”
“Well, what am I supposed to do about it? I’m not exactly stationed over in Bledger, and I do have my own things to do. Do you want me to head over there for morale or something?”
“No, nothing of the sort, Miss Ukyon. Really, nobody knows why the sudden spike in attempted and committed crimes. The police are speculating that these crime districts have always existed and are only just branching out now. Although there have been some suspect incidents…namely, Halloween of 2014, there was massive destruction to parts of Bledger. There were no casualties and barely any injuries, but there’s a lot of confusion as to who the perpetrator was. Some claimed they saw a weakened teenage boy while others claimed they did not see the perpetrator at all. Some further went on to claim that the boy was half-Siren.”
“Huh.”
“And a public school experienced a hostage situation just a little over a year ago. I think you heard of that one–the Malicerie Incident?”
“Yes, I did.”
“So perhaps all along, it wasn’t just something that came out of nowhere because criminals became bold. Perhaps it was always waiting and festering…either way, while I know I can’t exactly go to you and ask you to fix it all, you might want to speak with the authorities of Bledger. Perhaps you could give them some helpful advice.”
“I suppose I could,” she sighed. “Set up communications with them, then.”
“Right at once, Miss Ukyon.”
As her assistant set to work, Sae-Kyu relaxed in her seat and sighed. ‘Being the leader of Vaelyn is a lot harder than I initially expected…how did the people who came before me manage it? It’s simple enough to want to go into politics, but this is pushing it. Now I have people who hate me. I guess at least I don’t live in Bledger right now…’
“Miss Ukyon?”
Sae-Kyu startled. “Y-yes?”
“This is Kaenir Wih-Shin of the Bledger Police Force. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with me.”
“Not at all. What’s up?”
Wih-Shin blinked in surprise. “Err, I’m sure you’ve been informed already of the increasing crime rates over here in Bledger. We’ve found alleyways full of criminal happenings, neighborhoods hiding the active evil and had to deal with a bomb incident just yesterday. Thankfully it was disarmed before any harm came to civilians.”
“I’m sorry things are rough over there, but like I told my assistant, what exactly can I do? Silcoulle’s not exactly close to Bledger, and I have no police experience.”
“I would only ask if you have any tips for dealing with these crime happenings, Miss Ukyon. I don’t expect much of your help. You have bigger things to worry about and I am an experienced officer. If you have nothing to offer then it doesn’t really matter.”
“I can help!” She said indignantly. Wih-Shin gave her a curious look. “So most of these crimes have been committed by the evil, correct?”
“Who else really commits crimes? None of these crimes have been crimes of desperation as far as I’ve seen, Miss Ukyon. It more seems as if the evil have just become more bold. Although the man behind the bomb incident in Hledshess yesterday is a bit infamous for his criminal doings. None of us were really surprised it was him, just that he would go to such lengths.”
“Hm, I guess you’re right. Well, is anything going on over in Bledger that might make impoverished evils turn to crime to take care of themselves?”
“As I said, none of the recent crimes have been crimes of desperation.”
Sae-Kyu sighed. “Well, maybe it’s evil crime-committing season…I have no idea anymore. I don’t even know why I’m trying to understand how an evil person thinks.”
“I understand, Miss Ukyon. Don’t worry about it. We of the Bledger Police Force will make sure to protect the citizens of Bledger and prevent any casualties from occurring.”
Sae-Kyu gasped. “Wait a second, what if…what if you started a program over there that lets the evil people express their evil creatively? Do you think that might work?”
“That honestly depends, Miss Ukyon. I don’t think the idea would gain much traction, and anyway it might not stop these people from committing crimes. I suppose we could give it a try, though.”
“I’m happy to have been of help.”
Sae-Kyu briefly noticed an uncertain expression flash on Wih-Shin’s face. “Er, thank you for the tip, Miss Ukyon. Really. That the leader of Vaelyn would take time out of her day to do this is amazing, to me. We will try that idea of letting the evil of Bledger express their evil creatively, but we’ll also keep an eye out on them so that they don’t commit any more crimes. Your idea is certainly a stepping-stone, and I’m sure it will lead to at least a little relief for Bledger.”
“Well, contact me again if things start getting nasty over there. I might not have total control over the workings of Vaelyn but I can send you quite a bit of help.”
“I know you can, Miss Ukyon.” Wih-Shin bowed. “Well, I thank you for the assistance!”
The contact ended and Sae-Kyu relaxed in her seat.
“Far be it from me to criticize one of your better decisions, but did you notice Mr. Kaenir’s expression?”
“Yeah, I noticed. He doesn’t think the idea’s going to work. He might have a sense of respect for me because I’m the leader of Vaelyn, but that doesn’t change the fact that my idea made him wary. But what am I supposed to do? We can’t exactly ban the evil of Vaelyn. The worldwide recognition that there are people who hold evil ideals was supposed to keep the people who would act on those ideals at bay. I can’t change a long-standing worldwide decision, it would make things worse. I really don’t understand evil people…”
“A lot of good don’t, Miss Ukyon. I feel more neutrally about some subjects and even I don’t understand how someone could so proudly declare their evil. But all people are different, and while recognition of their ideals might have curbed the actions of some it possibly hasn’t worked for all of them. Evil communities seem alive and well in Bledger, unfortunately.”
“Hopefully all works out there. If I can’t even help curb the problem in Bledger that’ll only decrease people’s opinions of me. I kind of can’t wait to get out of office.”
Her assistant sighed. “Miss Ukyon, you need to take this all more seriously! I trust the Bledger Police Force, and if they need your help they will likely contact you again. But you’re in a high position of power. Don’t just handwave things because people don’t care for you. Do you think that will increase the public’s opinion of you?”
“No, I suppose not.”
Her assistant huffed. “I’m as worried about Bledger as Mr. Kaenir seems to be, but there’s nothing much we can do right now. We’ll just have to hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and do our best to keep this influx of evil limited to Bledger alone. If it spills into any other part of Vaelyn people will turn their frustrations on you.”
Sae-Kyu sighed. “I really did think the whole thing about letting evil people express their evil creatively was a good idea. After all, acknowledging evil people worked for some time. Now it’s 2015 and we need to work with more ideas for the young generation of evil.”
“Well, if you say so. But there’s other work for you to do today, Miss Ukyon. I’ll keep an eye on the status of Bledger.”
“Alright. Come to me immediately if you hear of a mass shooting or anything like that.”
“Do you really think that’s going to happen?”
Sae-Kyu shrugged. “It’s just a concern I had.”
“Really, Miss Ukyon…”

—–
“Did you hear the radio broadcast, La-Iin? They say there are plans to start a new movement for evil people to express their evil creatively. It sounds perfect for you.”
“Why would I need to join some sort of movement? I already have drawing to express my evil creatively.”
“I know you do, I just figured I’d bring it up.”
‘Yeah right, Mama. You and they probably think that will stop me! Well, the best creative expression of evil is evil actions themselves! Though nothing like what the Saras do….”

8.524.Inspiration of Confidence

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 524
“Inspiration of Confidence”

La-Iin head out for school that day feeling as though there was something she had to do. She strode onto the path with confidence in her gait.
“Hi there, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi called. “Wow, you look confident today! Something good happen over the weekend?”
“Good has been happening for longer than that, Fer-Shi. But it’s not the goody-goody kind of good. It’s more of…a wonderfulness.”
“I figured that,” she chuckled.
“It’s not only that. I have something I know I need to do today. I’ve been stewing over it for a short while now, but I finally know how to do it.”
“Really? What is it?”
“You wouldn’t care, Fer-Shi, so I’m not going to tell you.”
“Oh, come on! You’ve told me plenty of things I don’t care about before, so why is this one different?”
La-Iin opened her mouth to respond when out the corner of her eye she caught sight of both San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina walking to school, their heads bowed slightly and their expressions somber as they had recently been. That sight only increased her determination further.
“It just is,” she said. Fer-Shi narrowed her eyes, but she didn’t push any further, and the two soon got into a conversation about a recent shopping trip Fer-Shi had been on, which La-Iin found immensely dull.

***

“Gee, La-Iin, you seemed pretty lost in thought all throughout class,” Fer-Shi said as the last class came to an end. “Taking studying seriously, or are you just thinking about that thing I’m not supposed to know about?”
La-Iin had still been lost in thought when Fer-Shi spoke, and she flinched slightly when she realized she was talking to her. “What do you think?”
“It’s that thing I’m not supposed to know about,” Fer-Shi sighed. “I wish you would tell me what it is, La-Iin. I might not be interested, but I’m your best friend! I tell you lots of things.”
“Best friends may trust each other quite a bit, but would best friends tell each other about their secret of pooping their pants if that happened? Would you tell me all about how you pooped in your panties?”
Fer-Shi gaped. “No!”
“So best friends don’t have to tell each other everything.”
Fer-Shi lowered her head. “I suppose not…”
“But since I can be a sap sometimes, I’ll make you a deal. If it succeeds, I’ll tell you all about my success. I prefer to dwell on success rather than failure anyway!”
La-Iin spread her wings. “You’re not supposed to fly in class,” Fei-Zhust said.
“Quiet, peon! I wasn’t going to.” Folding her wings to her back, La-Iin jumped off her desk, bit into her arm, then head over to the desks of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina, who were just starting to stand up and head out the door. Before they could, La-Iin grabbed their hands and dragged them out the school as her transformation completed.
“What the hell!?”
“What’s all this about, La-Iin?”
“You’ll see.” She continued to drag the two boys across the school hallway, garnering the looks of mostly students from other classes–though she noticed that Deki-Tyunri and Airy-Aekok were both staring wide-eyed in her direction. She dragged them around until they were out of view of the crowd and the sound of students chattering was nothing more than a background din.
“Nobody told you you could do that!” San-Kyung spat.
“I don’t listen to what people tell me to or not to do, and neither should you,” she said, pointing at San-Kyung. “I have a very specific reason for dragging you boys out here today. Namely, the two of you lately have been utterly pathetic!
“What!?”
“What did you say!?”
La-Iin smirked. “That’s more like it, San-Kyung! You’re on the right track. Look, San-Kyung, you’re determined to get your true form back and rule the world with me at any cost. You have much more experience under your belt than me because of Hledshess and also, you’re sixteen and I’m just seven. So instead of wasting it moping around, instead of just sitting here wishing you could eat me so you could get your true form back–”
“You seriously have a lot of that messed up,” San-Kyung said, sounding disgusted.
“But you understand what I want to say, right? You should have a fire, a determination to do evil! If you’re evil but you mope around, you’re just a failure at evil as far as I’m concerned! When it comes to being evil, unlike with goody-goodies there’s more to it than just thinking certain people should die and wishing for the apocalypse. It’s actively taking steps towards making the world worse! You used to be doing that, yet you aren’t anymore! As the person who messed you up, I seek to fix you!”
Her gaze fell on Dosa-Mina. “And as for you. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, and I really don’t care.”
“Then why bother bringing me out here in the first place?”
“Look, whether I like it or not you’re San-Kyung’s best friend. And if you’re sad while he’s sad then what do you think is going to happen to him? You’re really annoying when you’re being a smart-ass, rival-boy, but I’ll take that over whatever this is any day. You’re just dragging San-Kyung further down with you into some….pit of sadness or something!”
“Um…”
“In short terms, the both of you need to shape up because you’re pissing me off!”
Silence reigned.
“…what.”
“That is one of the silliest things I’ve heard all day. What, it’s not ‘I love you, San-Kyung, so cheer up’ and ‘Cheer up for San-Kyung’? It’s ‘you’re pissing me off’?”
“It’s what you said too, rival-boy, but it’s also that you’re pissing me off.”
“…”
“You are possibly even more annoying than usual when you’re sad like this, and everyone else in class can see it. As for San-Kyung, it’s just not right. San-Kyung should be striking his hand and tangling vines, not sitting there looking depressed! San-Kyung, let me tell you this–if I can wield the power to possess any other species’ powers, then you can have your true form at all times!”
La-Iin was about to start her next sentence when vines sprout up from below her and quickly tied her up. She stared wide-eyed at San-Kyung.
“Is that what you meant by more confidence? Around you, La-Iin, it’s difficult to be depressed.”
La-Iin smiled. “That’s a good thing, then. Maybe we should spend more time together. I mean, after all, we are friends, and if you hang out with that depressio all the time you’ll only get even more depressed.”
“Depressio?” Dosa-Mina questioned.
“I might spend more time with you if you didn’t act the way you did.”
“At least I’m honest!” She huffed. “But if I could make you even a bit more happy or confident, that’s a good thing. The San-Kyung I truly love is always striving, never stopping! Take this from someone who had her own depressed moment–it will pass and soon once again you and I will be on the path to ruling the world!”
“Yeah right,” San-Kyung scoffed. “Come on, Dosa-Mina. She isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”
“Don’t you think you should let her down?”
San-Kyung didn’t respond. La-Iin began to struggle against the vines, hoping they would loosen. She was surprised to see that in the middle of these struggles, San-Kyung had returned and was standing in front of her.
“One question. Were you in my house the other day?”
La-Iin’s smirk widened. “What makes you think I was?”
“Were you!?”
“That’s my secret. If rival-boy can have his, I can too.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. The vines around her tightened, and La-Iin began to feel lightheaded, but they just as suddenly unraveled and she fell to the ground.
“There’s no point to harming you. Useless or not, you’re still a….friend.” San-Kyung turned away from her. “Though, I think I might have just found a new use for you…”
“As a lover!?”
“In your dreams!” He yelled, before taking off. La-Iin smiled.
“I think I can chalk this mission up to a success!”

—–
“So La-Iin, do I get to know about your secret yet?”
“The mission was a success, so I guess so. I think I finally made it through to my future husband…he won’t be looking so sullen in class now, that’s for sure!”
Fer-Shi looked confused for a moment before her eyes widened and she cringed. “Suddenly I don’t really want to know what happened…”
La-Iin huffed. “I knew it.”

“Hey, sorry to have eavesdropped, but I overheard you say something about a new use for La-Iin. So that leaves me with two questions–one, what is it, and two, you didn’t already have a use? You were keeping her around why?”
“Second one first, I was too down to actually tell her to back off. That and I figured she would have a new use sooner or later. And now I think she does.”
“What?”
“La-Iin is an inspiration.”
Dosa-Mina shook his head. “I don’t mean it in some corny way like her little motivational speech. I mean how stupid she is. Her own stupid brand of evil gives me inspiration for how I could do similar but worse. Although I doubt she’s going to be much more use than that.”
“You know, you’d probably get the same effect not being friends with her too.”
“Well for now, it’s more convenient to leave things as they are.”
“If you say so.”

6.522.Life in Solitude and Silence

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 522
“Life in Solitude and Silence”

“Father, is all this really necessary? Is there something wrong with me you’re not telling me about?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with you that I see, Eul-Bok. But it pays to be extra diligent. Remember, as far as I know you’re the only V-Puppet on the whole planet to achieve autonomy. Something going wrong is very likely. And we’ve done this several times before.”
Sale-Dessu set down his gear. “But, I’m done for the day.”
Eul-Bok sighed and let himself slump to the ground.
“So, what do you want to do today, Eul-Bok? Are you going to be practicing alone, or should we continue working on those mini engines that run off of so many random sources of power?”
“Ah…”
“Is something the matter, Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. ‘Would it upset Father if I told him about this? It could, couldn’t it? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try…’
“Well, it’s just, I always saw autonomy as a good thing–and it is, don’t get me wrong! I’ll take these last few months over my first year any day. I love being able to wander around and use my powers and all, but being the first one to become autonomous has so many disadvantages.”
“I’m sorry, Eul-Bok.”
“Don’t be sorry, Father! It’s not even your fault! Before it didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t go outside or anything like that, because this was basically all I knew. I saw other places around Bledger and they were cool and all, but nothing’s quite as amazing as your house and all the stuff you have in it. And even then, we visit Grepeta sometimes, and I’m able to see more than just these walls, but…”
“But?”
“Ever since those Witches and Warlocks came by our neighborhood, I’ve been realizing just how little freedom I have. And even if I could walk down the sidewalk without fearing that someone would realize something’s wrong with me, I couldn’t now all because of those jerks. And being like this almost makes me miss La-Iin. She used to come by so often, but now it’s almost like she knows we’re trying to hide ourselves…hey, did you ever call the Cahongyuns, Father?”
“No, I never worked up the nerve to. But I can understand where you’re coming from, Eul-Bok. It’s easy to feel trapped when you know people out there dislike you for something you can’t control…but perhaps I can try and make it a little better, for now. Our situation isn’t perfect, but it’s a new month and we still haven’t met with those assailants again. I think our new identities might really work to throw them off. I hope so, in any event!”
“Do you really think they’ll work that well?”
“I want to think that they will.” Sale-Dessu rose to his feet. “I’m going to go and prepare something special for the two of us. You can practice on your own while I work on it!”
“If you say so,” Eul-Bok said half-heartedly. In truth, after saying all that was on his mind, he hardly felt like practicing his powers–nowadays it felt as if that was all he did, and though he didn’t mind it, he had to wonder how Sale-Dessu had survived all those years on his own only studying his powers.
‘WELL, there’s something else I could do.’ Curious, Eul-Bok took some books from Sale-Dessu’s bookshelves and began to read them. Sale-Dessu had numerous books on many subjects, it seemed: he had books covering sources of power, transformation in people, the various documented powers Witches and Warlocks possessed and even one on the mysteries of V-Puppetry, though Eul-Bok could tell it was clearly outdated.
‘I wonder how Father got all these books being as shy as he is? No matter how skilled he is, you can’t reproduce the exact text of a book you’ve never read. In fact, can you even reproduce the exact text of a book you have read? I’ll have to ask Father about that…I wonder if they’re hand-me-downs from Grepeta and his Mother? Hm, but this one says it’s from 2006…’
For the next few hours Eul-Bok spent his time reading the various books that Sale-Dessu owned. ‘I guess I can kind of understand how Father was okay with this. If he felt like he was always in danger, then having a lot of things to focus on even if they feel pretty samey was probably good. Maybe it’s because I’m so young that I’m getting restless like this. Hm, I wonder if Father has any fiction in here?’
Just as Eul-Bok had made it halfway through a book about a connection between potions, drugs and the powers some species possessed, he heard Sale-Dessu come up behind him.
“Reading?”
“Uh, yeah. Wow, you have a lot of books, Father. Where’d you get them all?”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Hand-me-downs and the occasional venture outside.”
“Were you still going outside in 2006?”
“I’m pretty sure I was,” Sale-Dessu said, sounding a bit irritated. “Anyway, you can read any of these books anytime. A lot of them are pretty interesting. But are you absorbed in that book, or would you mind if I showed you a something?”
“Well, it’s not the most interesting book,” Eul-Bok said. “I don’t get all of this stuff about potions and drugs yet anyway. What is it?”
“Close your eyes. And focus on yourself.”
“Huh?”
Sale-Dessu looked uncertain as he placed a hand on top of Eul-Bok’s head, and for a moment Eul-Bok feared that he was about to perform some horrifying spell on him. His eyes were squeezed shut for only a moment before Sale-Dessu asked him to open them.
“I feel so off-balance,” Eul-Bok groaned.
“Sorry, I’m not so good at reality-warping, as you know,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Whoa, this is a reality warp?”
“Yes. It’s to make the entire inside of this house look as if it were outside. I can do things more large-scale than this, but I don’t want to risk it. I’m not sure if I should take it as a sign that I’m getting better or worse that you’re able to recognize you’re in one, but that was my intention anyway.”
“Whoa!”
“I know it’s nothing like actually being outside, but I thought you might like it?”
“Wow! How did you create this place!? If it weren’t for this weird wall right here I wouldn’t even be able to tell we were inside! This is amazing, Father! Your powers truly deserve to be reckoned with if you can do something like this!”
Sale-Dessu’s cheeks flushed. “Please, Eul-Bok, all the praise is unnecessary…”
“But to create a space like this and limit it!? Wow, if you can do this, I might be able to do this someday too!”
“For someone who didn’t seem so interested in studying his powers another day, you certainly seem interested in the way reality-warping works.”
“How could I not be!?” Eul-Bok shrieked. “But, ah, eheh…if you went to the trouble of making this space so we could have fun, I guess that’s what we should be doing, huh?”
Giving a mischievous smirk, Eul-Bok took off across the created landscape. Sale-Dessu chased after him. Eul-Bok picked flowers along the way, marveling at how realistic they seemed, before reminding himself he was here to have fun. He began to move around wildly, only to crash into something strange along the way.
“Uh, what was that?”
Sale-Dessu cringed. “I’ve never really tried making a reality-warp that’s only confined to my house, actually.”
“What!? You’d think with all your years of practice, you would have!”
“I was a bit worried about pulling it off, mostly because of what just happened to you. And I don’t do reality warps much in the first place…”
Sale-Dessu heaved a sigh, and soon after the outside around him began to crumble. Eul-Bok looked behind him to notice an overturned table.
“Father, it’s alright. That was still really amazing that you’re able to do that in the first place!”
“It’s no substitute for really being outside, though,” he said. “I might like to stay inside most of the time, but there are some benefits to being outside that I feel like I miss nowadays. And I feel sorry that those extend to you.”
“Father…” Eul-Bok shook his head. “They don’t extend to me in the way you’re thinking of, though. I can’t go outside because I’m noticably a V-Puppet. You just don’t do it because you’re too shy to!”
Sale-Dessu began to toy with his mats. “Do you have to bring that up…?”
“But you know what I realized? I do really want to go outside, but while I can’t, I have all sorts of things I can do inside! With all the books and all the powers we can use, the possibilities are almost endless. So I can have plenty of fun inside while we’re hanging out, waiting for all this to pass and also for there to be more autonomous V-Puppets!”
He smiled. “If nothing else you’re definitely the master of making the best of your time in solitude and silence. If you could survive for years all on your own doing nothing but testing out your powers, then I’m sure that I can too.”
“Are you sure? We don’t exactly have the same personality.”
“I know that, but I’m your son! Why wouldn’t I be able to?”
Sale-Dessu gave him a curious look, then broke out in a smile. “Well, if you’re looking for something to do right now, I could show you a lot of projects I haven’t worked on in years. And there are even more books upstairs, though some of those are in the Warlock language.”
“I can read some of that!”
“Maybe today instead of testing your powers, we should be testing your knowledge of the language?”
“No way!”

—–
Next door to the Astineths, La-Iin shuddered.
“I feel like something important was disrupted.”
“Same here. I wonder if Sale-Dessu was just up to some reality-warping.”
“Huh!” She stared out the window at the Astineth house. “You know, it has been a while since I stopped by. Maybe I should go over there again soon. But definitely not until I’ve helped make San-Kyung get back to his old self!”
“You’re really serious about that, huh?”
“The San-Kyung I love best is the one with all that confidence. So of course I’m serious about this. I have to help him return to how he’s supposed to act. Evidently it won’t happen otherwise.”

2.518.Conspirational

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 518
“Conspirational”

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

***

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

***

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

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

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

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.’

23.508.The Despair Surrounding You

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 508
“The Despair Surrounding You”

“I’m so sick of Mama hanging out with Haner!” La-Iin complained. “I don’t think she notices that stupid guy has ulterior motives. Well, I do, and I don’t like them!”
“What exactly are you talking about? What’s a ‘Haner’?”
“He’s a stupid Siren guy who works at the same place Mama does,” La-Iin grumbled. “I’ve seen the way he talks to her and interacts with her. Either he’s in love with her, or he’s trying to kill her so he can eat her. Either one is bad for me, so it doesn’t matter even if Haner is evil, I can’t stand him!”
“A Pureblood male Siren? Aren’t those kind of rare?”
“Focus on that more than the important part, why don’t you.”
“I don’t care about things that have to do with that woman all that much, in case you hadn’t noticed. And I couldn’t care less if she ends up with some other guy or gets eaten by him, although I question this guy’s taste either way. Why would this affect you anyway?”
“Nobody lays hands on Mama except me. I haven’t gotten my payback for the things she did to me yet. But that’s only if he wants to eat her. If he’s in love with her, the last thing I need is for him to try and take Dami’s place. I hate him already. If he’s evil, he’s good at hiding it, and he’s super-annoying just live rival-boy.”
“Didn’t you say that boy was a half-Siren? Geez, you don’t have any luck with male Sirens, do you?”
“I’m gradually becoming convinced that male Sirens are as bad as Normals. Or maybe it’s just all Sirens. Their whole species is built off of being petty evil or acting like victims because they can’t sing. They’re so overdramatic. Either way, I–”
“La-Iin?” Mit-Sun called. La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Fer-Shi’s here to see you!”
“Fer-Shi? Why’s she here? She usually tells me if she’s coming over.”
“Maybe for a friendly weekend get-together. Maybe she’ll cool your head after your rantings about Haner.”
La-Iin head downstairs, flying part the way, until she had reached the door. Fer-Shi was standing there with a smiel on her face.
“Hi, La-Iin,” she said.
“Hello, Fer-Shi. Why did you come here?”
“I wanted to talk to you, but I thought this was important and I should say it to you in person instead of over the phone. So I asked my parents for permission to come over! Sorry for dropping by uninvited.”
“You’re good, Fer-Shi. At least you called me.”
“I know, but I should have called La-Iin, too.”
“You knew about this? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“You seemed busy upstairs yelling at Bes-Isa and I didn’t want to interrupt.”
“Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t.” La-Iin beckoned to Fer-Shi. “Fine, you can come inside. But I’m starving. Letting out your anger can be pretty exhausting.”
“What are you so angry about?”
“I’ll tell you later.” She stared at Mit-Sun. “Make us a snack, wench!”
“Try talking to me nicer and maybe I will.”
“Never!”
“Then no deal.”
“May we please have a snack, Miss Cahongyun?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I know you probably want that snack, Fer-Shi, but it’s not going to mean anything unless I hear it from La-Iin.”
“What, ‘May we please have a snack, Miss Cahongyun?'” She said in a mocking tone. Fer-Shi glared at her.
“…no. But that might be the best I’m getting out of you.”
“It is now that you’ve said that.”
Mit-Sun groaned and rolled her eyes. “Fine, I’ll make the stupid snack. But you have to quit treating me like garbage.”
“I’ll do that when you quit letting yourself be treated like food!”
Both Mit-Sun and Fer-Shi looked entirely confused, but La-Iin was too furious about the thought of Haner to care.

***

La-Iin led the way upstairs, a bowl of cut bananas in her arms. Fer-Shi followed close behind her.
“Fer-Shi, I’ve been meaning to ask you something about food.”
“What’s that?”
“Do you like druggy mushrooms too?”
“What!?”
“Mushrooms are your favorite, right? Do you like druggy mushrooms?”
“Would you like a mincemeat pie with dog poop in it? Of course not!”
“Druggy mushrooms and pooped-in mincemeat pie are two different beasts.”
She opened the door to her bedroom and set down the bowl of bananas, popping a chunk in her mouth. Fer-Shi did likewise.
“Fer-Shi, while it’s nice to see you, I don’t have any blood to drink to show off my new power if that’s what you wanted to see. And anyway, I have to make plans with that power first, so I wouldn’t have anything to show you anyway.”
“Plans with…your power?” Fer-Shi looked genuinely confused. “Um, anyway, that’s not why I wanted to come by today. It has nothing to do with your new power. It just has to do with talking.”
La-Iin blinked. “What’s so important that you had to come over here for it?”
“Well, I’ve been worried about you. Did I tell you that when you were over at my house? You focus a lot of time on the same few things, La-Iin. And I’ve seen how San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina act sometimes.”
“What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, you focus a lot of time on ruling the world and evil, and on San-Kyung and getting him to love you, and you spend a lot of time with him and Dosa-Mina.”
“Not as much time as you think.”
“It’s still a lot of time. You spend time around them and around Ai-Reia. Are you gonna be okay? Or are you gonna let all this negative stuff destroy you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You focus on ruling the world and making it like hell and keeping slaves. You spend time around a boy who’s very angry, a boy who seems sad, and a girl who can’t stand you. Sometimes, anyway. And I’m worried that you’re gonna end up getting depressed. That’s why I wanted to talk to you today, because I’m worried about that happening to you.”
“It’s fine that you’re worried, Fer-Shi, but I’m okay,” La-Iin said. “These are the things that sustain me. If I couldn’t strive towards ruling the world, or towards getting San-Kyung’s love, what else would I strive for? You know how many years I’m going to live. I’m evil and I need a goal that will last me all that time, and what’s better than ruling the world?”
“I don’t know, something a little less…large-scale?”
“You’re not going to live as long as me and you’re not evil, so maybe you don’t see it that way. But I’ve wanted to rule the world for a long time. Not only that, but it’s something I can keep doing for a long time. I can encompass every aspect of the evil I want to unleash on this world by ruling it. So why wouldn’t I take this chance?”
“Um…”
“I could keep up everything without wanting to rule the world or without San-Kyung, or without you and Bes-Isa and even this new power. But the more important things you take away from me, the less happy I am. So it’s not that I’m going to become negative because I spend a lot of time around these people or I focus on my powers. It’s the opposite. This power has made me happier than a lot of things recently, and anyway everyone has days where they’re upset for no reason. I had a bad one, once…but this keeps me going past those. I like striving for this, because it makes the victory sweeter.”
“…”
“What about you? Don’t you want to strive for something?”
“…I do, I really do, I just don’t know what I should,” she said. “I came here wanting to help you from getting too negative about all the things that were going on around you, but all it did was remind me that you have all this conviction about your dreams, and I don’t…I don’t know what I should do or what I would have the talent to do. And I know you could never help me with this, but it just reminded me of how I feel. I’m really jealous of you when it comes to that, La-Iin.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be unless you want to rule the world.”
“It’s how certain you are about it, not your actual goal.”
“I’m certain because I know it’s what I want to do. And maybe some people say it’s unrealistic, but I’m going to be alive in a hundred years and further on than that, even longer than most Vampires since I’m half-Normal. I have the time, and with this new power and my transformation, I know I can do it. Maybe think about that instead of worrying about me getting upset.”
“I don’t know if I can…”
“But all I can tell you is, I’m not going to be upset. If I get San-Kyung to reciprocate, that’s all the better for me. When I finally rule the world, I’ll be on top of it. And this new power, once I figure out the ins and outs of it, will be one of my best assets.”
La-Iin popped another banana into her mouth.
“If you say so, La-Iin. I’m glad to hear that I didn’t really need to worry. But the moment you prove me wrong, I’m going to do everything I can to help you, okay?”
“You only need to worry about that if San-Kyung starts dating Dosa-Mina. If you can keep that from happening, I will be okay.”

—–
“You know, I suppose I should have figured another driving reason behind your wanting to rule the world was because of your lifespan, but I never really consciously figured it.”
“Well, you should have. I thought it was obvious.”
“It is, now that I think about it. When you’ve lost most of the people you love, you have something to focus on. Keep making the world suck more. You have big aspirations, La-Iin. And whatever you say, they are pretty unrealistic. You sound like you plan to either go one-woman against the world or with San-Kyung in tow. It sounds doomed to fail. Don’t you think you’ll need more people on your side?”
“I’ll get more people on my side if I need them or if I seek them out. Ai-Reia was actually supposed to be one of them, before she ended up the way that she did. But right now, while I figure out my new power, I don’t have an actual plan. So only time will tell.”
“Just make sure you don’t try to rule the world in this plan-less state of yours.”
“Do you think I’m stupid?”
“Yeah, well, sometimes.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes before sticking Bes-Isa into what remained of the banana chunks.

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.”

18.503.What a Wonderful World

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 503
“What a Wonderful World”

“Alright, that’s the end of history class for today. Oh! I almost forgot. Students, there’s a little something extra for you all to do.”
Some of the students groaned.
“Now what stupid thing do we have to do?” La-Iin complained.
“Shh. Let’s see what it is.”
“Considering current events in Bledger lately, the Principal requested each of you students write a report on what you think is good in the world. This isn’t just for Class D either–Classes A, B, and C also have to write these reports. You’re to have them here by tomorrow or the day after, or even today if you find the time to write it during class. Even if it’s just one thing, so long as there’s something you find good in the world, write it down. Alright, that’s it. See you tomorrow!”
“That sounds like a fun activity. And easy!”
“For you, maybe. You see lots of good things in the world. But for me, it’s very complicated.”
“Why?”
“I see a lot of bad in the world. But I like the bad in the world, so to me, the bad stuff is good stuff. But when they say the good in the world, they probably mean a goody-goody’s definition of good. It’s too confusing.”
“Didn’t Mr. Chensu say we have to write down what we think is good in the world? So doesn’t that mean you could write down bad things? I guess if you saw it as good, it counts…”
“I could,” she said. “You’ve given me a perfect idea. Thanks, Fer-Shi.”
“Um, you’re welcome?”

***

“Principal, look at all these reports! The students sure got to work between yesterday and today, huh?” Sharai said as he set down a box of reports on the table.
“They most certainly did, although I’ve already seen all of Class A’s and they basically amount to the same thing. The Class C students were a lot more creative. Artistic students, those.”
“What do you expect from Class A? Everything’s samey with them. Someday you need to nuke that class.”
“Er, no. So that box of reports–which class is that coming from? B?”
“No, they seem to be having a lot of trouble with their reports. A lot of them were asking for extra time, or at least, that’s what Mrs. Yunkok told me. Although…” He picked up Ai-Reia’s report. “The, uh, Class D students have a pretty creative definition of good in the world, heh.”
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe you’d like to see for yourself.” He slid the box over to the Principal, who began to read the reports.

Vampiris Ai-Reia, Grade 2, Class D
“Good in the world” is a fairly arbitrary concept born from that bogus scale of good and evil most likely. It’s a definition that changes between people and has no real defined meaning. Is good in the world people being at peace with each other? Is it people getting enough to eat? Is it an abundance of people who consider themselves “good”? I recall that the purpose of this report was to write down what we thought was good in the world, and though I find the concept to be dubious at best, I will tell you what I think: there is no good in the world that is genuine and will last. No matter what I could write down here of something that I like and see as a “good” thing in this world, it will always come to an end. That is inevitable and likely the same with the bad in the world. So therefore, I cannot give you a proper report.

“Miss Vampiris seems to have a pretty unique definition, huh?”
“Is she alright?” The Principal asked.
“I think she’s fine. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason.” She picked up the report that was under Ai-Reia’s.

Sanhuun Fer-Shi, Grade 4, Class D
What do I think is good in the world? Friendship and family and people caring about each other, I think those are all very good things but there’s a lot more. If you take a good look around you you could probbably find good ina lot of places. Sometimes there are a lot of bad things in the world, but so long as people care about each other and take care of each other there’s always a little bit of good. You just have to keep looking if you can’t find it right away!

“Miss Sanhuun’s isn’t all that bad,” the Principal said. “You acted as if all the Class D students had given reports like Miss Vampiris.”
“Miss Sanhuun’s a sweetheart, so I’m not surprised hers is nice and flowery. But you haven’t seen some of the other students….remember, Class D does have some troublemaker students.”
The Principal reached for the next reports.

Llanni Airy-Aekok, Grade 9, Class D
It’s easy to say what kind of stuff is good in the world if you haven’t seen the stuff my Dad has seen! I can tell you a lot of good in the world comes from the police, and that’s for sure! Police deal with people who kill and rape and steal and sometimes all three at once! Of course, there are police officers who do the same thing. But when you meet a police officer like my Dad, that’s when you find out for sure that everything’s not as bad as it seems. That’s what I think, but with all the stuff my Dad’s seen, I’m not sure he’d feel the same way! Anyway, whenever there’s bad in the world, good police officers are there to save the day and replace it with good! And that is what I think is good in the world!

Melongie Zae-Mia, Grade 7, Class D
What’s good in the world? I think one of the greatest things in the world is individuality. Because even though there are bad people that result from individuality, without it we would not have good people. We wouldn’t have these creative societies full of so many interesting things to do. Without individuality the world would be a very boring place. I think it’s good to start at the bases and move on from there, and that is why I think individuality is one of the best things in the world.

“These two don’t seem so bad. Although I do wonder what Miss Llanni has had to see because of her father’s job.”
“You haven’t seen Mr. Molshei’s, apparently,” Sharai said. The Principal began to sort through the reports until she found San-Kyung’s.

Molshei San-Kyung, Grade 11, Class D
What was the point of doing this report? If you want my honest opinion I don’t think there’s ANY good in the world. And this is me looking at the world through as neutral lens as I can manage. All the good in the world is destroyed as it should be. There’s nothing that can be done to prevent this. The people of the world don’t try to stop it, and the world certainly doesn’t either.

“What?”
“I’m wondering if he’s more of a pessimist than evil,” Sharai said. “After all, if you look at Miss Cahongyun’s, it’s a lot different.”

Cahongyun La-Iin, Grade 2 Class D
We were SUPPOSED to put the good in the world as goodie-goodie stuff but I don’t think that stuff is good. What I like is destruction and fire! i like the beauty of watching the world be destoryed! There’s something very comforting about the idea of watching the world burn from a tower. If you were me you’d understand. I don’t like the goodie-goodie stuff in the world and I don’t like all the bad. But I like the bad in the world for the most part! (Also the powers)

“What?”
“What else do you expect from her?”
The Principal sighed. “I’ll give the Class D students kudos at least for being more creative than Class A, but their morals are fairly skewed.”
“That’s for sure. But don’t give up hope yet. You’ve seen the worst they have to offer, so now look at some of the others.”

Sanyaow Lirako, Grade 12, Class D
There’s good in the world because the world is interesting, funny, sometimes embarrassing. There’s good in the world because people can meet strangers just by going to the same place and trust these people with all sorts of details about each other! There’s good in the world because we can all be ourselves(in most places) and because the world has come past the points where the species were segregated. Bad people exist to take advantage of the good. Some people might say that means we should get rid of the good. But without the bad, the good wouldn’t exist. I think it makes for an interesting existence, don’t you think?

Yuuldang Xhen-Bei, Grade 11, Class D
I’d have to say some of the best stuff in life is two things: simple pleasures, and repair. Simple pleasures because they’re just tiny things that can make you happy. But you can build them up and make them massive! (Can you tell I love these things?) Why do I think repair is a good thing? Think about it, if there wasn’t any repair, what would have happened to the world after the first World War? Without repair, we’d never progress past those horrible points in history! We learn from our mistakes, repair and move on. I do that all the time!

Dslellular Dosa-Mina, Grade 11, Class D
There are plenty of things other people would see as good in the world, but I like the fact that there are so many species. Someone else might have said so already, but it makes life so interesting that we’re all so different. We can come together and we can make things even more interesting. Building on from that point, the fact that the unknown exists. There are so many things left for us to discover in the world, and I’m glad we have that. If we lived in a world where we knew everything for certain I think I’d absolutely hate it!

Sara Shuu-Kena, Grade 3, Class D
When people change it’s a really good thing. Bad people learn from their mistakes and become good people. They realize what they did wrong, and they usually end up being very nice people. When you give people a chance you might find some very good things.

Elyshen Deki-Tyunri, Grade 10. Class D
I think it’s great that there is so much creativity in the world. Creativity inspires and changes minds. It moves people and helps them learn and grow. There are plenty of new ways to be creative. It’s great because there are so many things it can do at once for so many different people, and it gives people a way to express themselves and let out emotions that needed to be released. I love creativity.

“Hm…”
“They are good kids, Principal. Their moral compasses might not always be in the right places, but they are good kids. At least give them that they’re interesting.”
“I agree with that sentiment, Mr. Sharai,” the Principal said, relaxing in her chair. “But while we’re speaking on that, do you think you could get Mr. Molshei and Miss Vampiris to give more hopeful reports?”

—–
“Hey, Principal, here you go.”
“What is this?”
“You asked Mr. Molshei and Miss Vampiris to give more hopeful reports. Miss Vampiris wouldn’t budge and said hers is fine as it is, but Mr. Molshei made an addendum after Mr. Dslellular suggested he might lose points in his grade. Here’s the addendum.”

The only thing I will give to the world is that if it’s because of this world that I met my best friend, then I am immensely grateful.

“Even someone like him has a little hope in him, don’t you think?”

14.499.The Power in Your Hand–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 499
“The Power in Your Hand–Part 1”

Dosa-Mina watched San-Kyung closely as he spun in a circle, his hand lit with a flame. Moving quickly enough that Dosa-Mina was startled by his speed, he killed the flames, rose vines and began to weave them in a creative pattern. Once he was finished, he climbed onto the vines and stared down at Dosa-Mina.
“So?”
“Sorry, San-Kyung. I missed a little bit of note-taking watching you. It’s pretty incredible to see how you move.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “So you got that down–what do you think?”
“I’m going to have to apologize again. I don’t even know why I thought watching your powers would give me an idea for what you could do. Honestly, when it comes to you being able to use La-Iin’s transformation power, I’m stumped. I’ve looked at a ton of species study books, but the most I can find on a power similar to La-Iin’s is still being investigated, and it wasn’t found on a Vampire-Normal, it was found on a Werewolf-Catori. So even then, it might not even be anything near what she can do.”
“Damn it, I’m getting impatient! October’s still a long ways away, but it feels like it’s closing in rapidly. I’d really rather skip the whole November weakness thing if I can. Isn’t there anything I can do? What about those power drugs–”
“Absolutely not, San-Kyung! Would you take your true form for a day if it meant you would die the next one? Do the rest of your aspirations mean so little in the face of being able to keep that form?”
San-Kyung seemed put-off. “I wouldn’t do that if it meant I was going to die. And I have other things that matter to me as well. But this is one of the big ones. It makes ruling the world and you and my parents seem easier.”
“How am I and your parents aspirations?”
“You’re not. I’m talking about how important you are and keeping you that way.”
“Aw, thanks, San-Kyung. You’ll never get rid of me no matter how hard you try. Well, I don’t know about ruling the world being easier than obtaining your true form–that might be the case if obtaining your true form permanently the way you want to is impossible, though.”
“Don’t say that!”
“Sorry. I doubt it is, San-Kyung, I was just saying.”
“Yeah, well, if it ends up being impossible I’m going to feel like I wasted my time.”
“So am I. Not only that, but I’m…” He shook his head. “There’s got to be something out there. We live in a world where Witches and Warlocks can do amazing things with their powers, where species like Catori-Sirens, who used to die because of their unknown dietary requirements, live out their entire lifespan, and where people are working on making that possible for Wingyrm-Lizardfeet too, and they’ll probably succeed. So many things are possible, so why would an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin turning normal appearance be impossible?”
“It’s hard not to feel pessimistic when everything’s been a failure so far. If I didn’t trust in your species study knowledge, I’d call you a hack after the silly things you’ve tried. But the fact that you know that much in that field and still haven’t been able to find some method for me is what worries me.”
“I’ll keep looking, I promise. I’m not just going to give up on this because I can’t find something right now!” He grabbed onto San-Kyung’s shoulders. “So don’t you go seeking out drugs to help you with that, okay?”
“If you say so.”
“Besides,” he said, letting go of his shoulders, “even if drugs enhanced your power, it’s still possible they wouldn’t transform you. I’m not aware of how the drugs work entirely. That might bear some looking into, just for the knowledge. Animated Pumpkins transform when the power is too much for a Normalesque body to handle. So there has to be something I can work on from that, yet I haven’t found anything. Maybe the problem has been looking at La-Iin for information. Who knows?”
“If that’s the case, befriending that little shit was worthless.”
“I wouldn’t say that entirely. Thanks to her, I’ve learned some interesting things!”
“Thanks to who?
Both boys flinched. San-Kyung turned around first, and spotted La-Iin right behind him, Choungetsu close by and sniffing at plants.
“I didn’t expect to see you on my little walk, San-Kyung,” she said, a wide smile starting on her face. “Hello there.”
San-Kyung sighed and shut his eyes tight, trying to keep himself from yelling at her. “What did you come over here for? Can’t you see we’re busy?”
“San-Kyung, I’d drop everything to see you, so you should do the same for me.”
“You might be my friend, but I don’t drop everything for Dosa-Mina’s sake either. Besides, I know the only reason you say that is because of your stupid crush.”
“Call it stupid now, but when in the future that crush leads to our shared destruction of the world, you’ll cherish it.” She turned to Dosa-Mina. “Were you talking about me, or is there some other girl you happen to know?”
“You act like I don’t know any girls aside from you, but I know Sanhuun, and those bitch girls at school, not to mention a lot of my early childhood friends are girls.”
La-Iin snorted. “Surprising. I thought you preferred the company of boys.”
“I prefer the company of anyone worth my time, thank you very much. Ooh, that sounds a bit conceited, but it’s true. And yes, I was talking about you, but that doesn’t mean you need to butt in on our conversation. This is a private experiment between me and San-Kyung.”
“If there weren’t vines there you’d be dead right now, rival-boy,” La-Iin spat. “And anyway it can be my business, because I thought I was helping San-Kyung with some of these experiments.”
“Not everything involves you,” he said.
“And besides, we’re only now discovering that the case might be that you aren’t any help anyway. The powers that a Vampire-Normal can use are vastly different than what an Animated Pumpkin can use. Not to mention, your transformation seems to be triggered a lot like the bat transformation Purebloods have. Animated Pumpkin transformations are different. Thinking on it that way, all my experiments were pretty stupid.”
“You’re pretty stupid, so I’m not surprised,” La-Iin snorted.
“Hey, I know more about species study than you do, so can it! I probably know more about Vampire-Normal Dualbreeds than you, too.”
“Yeah, right! How much do you know about your own species?”
“I know enough. More than you, anyway. And besides, just because I’m not a certain species doesn’t mean I automatically know nothing about them. I’ve studied long and hard on certain species, just ask San-Kyung–I bet he’d tell you I know almost as much about Animated Pumpkins as he does!”
“Would you say that, San-Kyung?” La-Iin asked, turning away from Dosa-Mina to face him. San-Kyung gave another sigh. “I’m not even going to bother answering that. You two are getting on my nerves.”
“Sorry, San-Kyung. Sometimes La-Iin’s immaturity rubs off on me.”
“Hey!”
“It really does, you know.”
“What does that say about you if my rare immaturity rubs off on you!? A lot I think!” La-Iin took a deep breath. “Actually, when I heard you two were experimenting, I didn’t want to fight with rival-boy. I just can’t help myself.”
“Then you have some issues you need to work out,” Dosa-Mina said.
“What did you want? Shouldn’t you get back to walking your dog?” Choungetsu was sniffing San-Kyung, who resisted the urge to kick at him and instead climbed back onto his vines.
“I asked someone who knows a lot about a lot of things, including species study, to research transformations, and Animated Pumpkins, and those affecty things rival-boy had you and me try.”
“Affective Energies?” He asked. La-Iin nodded. “He gave me a long, boring paper telling all sorts of stuff about those three things, and I thought if anyone could make sense of it, it would be you, San-Kyung. …and I guess rival-boy. Even my own Mama was stumped by it, not that I’m surprised.”
“You should be nicer to your Mom, you know,” Dosa-Mina said. “But that sounds interesting. If she really has something legit, maybe that could provide the answers we’re looking for.”
“I have it over at my house,” La-Iin said. “You can come by after school if you want. You too, rival-boy, but you have to stay five feet away from San-Kyung.”
“Why?”
“Should we really even bother? How do we know this is legitimate?”
“How do we know it isn’t?” Dosa-Mina said. “We should take our chances, San-Kyung. If she really talked to an expert, this could have a lot of helpful information. We could be risking it all for nothing, but what are we losing by going? If it’s legit and we don’t go, we’re losing out on that information!”
“It’s disgusting that you would defend me, rival-boy. But that’s up to you, San-Kyung. If you want to see it, you can come over tomorrow and bring rival-boy if you think he would understand it better. Though I doubt he would.”
“You underestimate his skill at species study, then,” San-Kyung said. “We’ll consider it.”
“Good.” Choungetsu began to tug on his leash. “I should go now and make sure I have all the papers in order. See you soon, San-Kyung~”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “Just go.”
With a smile on her face, La-Iin walked off, Choungetsu a short distance ahead of her.
“If La-Iin has something legitimate, this could be the break we’re looking for,” Dosa-Mina said. “Don’t get your hopes up, but the day you’re in your true form all the time might be closer than we thought.”
“If it weren’t for La-Iin being the one with these papers, I’d kick you for getting my hopes up already.”

—–
“Mama, San-Kyung’s coming over tomorrow,” La-Iin said proudly at dinner. “And also his stupid best friend, but you can just ignore him.”
“Why’s he coming over?”
“I have something he wants to see. Sale-Dessu put together a little research for me and he wants to look into it. It concerns something he’s interested in.”
“Hm.”
“Oh, come on! You brought over Haner the other day, and I hate him!”
“Hey, Haner’s a nice man!”
“If you saw through him the way I do, you wouldn’t think the same way, and I know that, Mama.” La-Iin huffed. “Anyway, he’s coming over, so don’t get in the way.”
“Whatever. Are you sure you’re not tricking him into come over?”
La-Iin chewed a mouthful of food. “San-Kyung can see right through me, so it wouldn’t have worked.”
“Huh.”
‘This is exciting,’ she thought. ‘I’m going to be more help to his cause than stupid rival-boy ever could be!’