2.640.History Lesson for Evil

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 640
“History Lesson for Evil”

“La-Iin!”
La-Iin sat in silence on her bed. Plans were running through her head, and she had achieved perfect concentration on the image in her mind.
Even when her door was opened, she barely noticed the sound. Still she focused on the image in her mind.
At least, until that person let a dog in.
“Arf!”
“Choungetsu, what are you doing on my bed!?” La-Iin hissed. “Get off!” She pushed him off the bed. Choungetsu landed hard on the floor and whimpered, cowering away from La-Iin who glared down at him as if he were an enemy.
“Mama, what’s wrong with you!? I was concentrating!”
“Well, sorry,” Mit-Sun said. She sounded agitated.
“What do you want?”
“I was figuring, since you seemed to be so interested in studying whatever was in Sale-Dessu’s files, maybe I could help you study something else too.”
“Your studies becomes boring the moment you’re the one doing it.”
Mit-Sun’s face twitched. “Uh huh. Anyway, if there’s anything you’re curious about learning, I can help you with it. Well, almost anything. I was thinking of leading you through a history of dictators, but I wasn’t sure about that.”
‘Wait a second.’ Mit-Sun’s words brought new plans to La-Iin’s mind. ‘I’ve always looked into the history of evil people to help my own ideas. But it’s been a while. Maybe now’s the time to brush up on it. I do have that new information and Hypotheory, after all.’
Mit-Sun had turned to leave the room. La-Iin flew up behind her and tapped her back. “Maybe I’ll let you help me study after all.”
“What a sudden change of mind.”
“I never said no, did I?” La-Iin hissed. To her surprise, Mit-Sun smiled in response.
“No, I guess you didn’t. Alright then, what would you like me to teach you about?”
“I want to know about the history of evil. As much of it as you can tell me without it getting too long.”
“I guess I should have expected that. But geez, that’s gonna be a lot even if I do cut it short.”
“I’d also like you to tell me some history of the world. Like what the world was like when that evil thing happened.”
“You’re making high demands for someone who apparently doesn’t like my study style,” Mit-Sun said. “But that’s fine with me, though it might take a while. Let me get the books I need and then we’ll get started.”
“Alright. And anyway, I have something to finish concentrating on and a certain dog to deal with.”
When Choungetsu noticed her gaze was on him, he gave a loud whimper and ran past Mit-Sun and down the stairs. La-Iin chuckled to herself and returned to her bed to concentrate as she waited for Mit-Sun.

***

“You should count yourself lucky, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said. She had called La-Iin downstairs and was waiting for her in the kitchen, surrounded by several books. “What you asked for is a high order, and even though I have lots of books I didn’t know if I’d be able to cover it all for you. But I should have just enough to give you a good outline. I’ve read through these books and even though I think I might need them for reference, I think I can give you what you want.”
“Alright. It was a surprise, you having a good idea for once. But I can use anything people will give me. I’m that thorough, after all.”
Mit-Sun gave La-Iin a questioning look. “Anyway–hey, what’s the crayon and paper for?”
“Writing down notes. You never know when research might give you ideas.”
“Turn into a dictator and I’m disowning you.”
“We might have to put that to the test.” La-Iin straightened herself out. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“As you know, evil has of course existed for as long as our planet’s been around. Before there were proper languages, even. People have always been capable of evil deeds. Back then people were still learning about the world and there wasn’t a defined morality system like there is nowadays. It was only as time went on that the world evil came to be associated with the horrible deeds and mindset it is today.”
La-Iin fake-wrote onto the paper. She did actually want to keep notes, but nothing she had said yet felt noteworthy. Still, she wanted to show Mit-Sun she was listening, if for nothing else so that she wouldn’t call her out on not doing so.
‘After all, it’s not like I’m not listening!’
“Evil was considered a detriment back then too. Of course, many notable “good” people did evil things back in the day. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say most historical figures you come across in positions of power, and even some who weren’t, did something evil no matter how noble they tried to come off as. I’m not talking about killing to survive a war, mind you. I mean things like torture.”
“I see.”
“For an example, you could look into the royalty of ancient Grougyp and Shitosh’s royalty. Royalty in particular is a good place to look, as royalty often tried to establish complete dominion over its people, and kings and queens could be vicious people. They had people executed for silly things sometimes. Once in Shitosh’s history, they had someone executed because it was not immediately obvious that the person executed was a Dualbreed. When they found out the other species was Vampire, well, that was that.”
La-Iin nodded.
“But even though there are those historical evil actions, most people tried to present themselves as neutral and eventually, good. Evil was seen as, well, evil. Even those who committed heinous actions usually cared at least about their family and didn’t want them hurt, and evil often hurts other people, as I’m sure you know. The first world war only further established this standpoint because while most people fought for what they believed in evil people sought to take advantage of what was going on for their own gains. They say evil Sirens often tried to provide “comfort” to those fighting in the war…I can’t tell you all about it as it’s a mature subject, but you know how historical Sirens operated.”
“Hm.”
“Things did change in due time. There are a lot of heinous actions that happened all over history. Several mass and serial murders, crimes against the people, several wars…evil people are involved in the majority of those. Even those who didn’t call themselves evil often actually were. There are very few heinous incidents in history which were genuinely done by someone who believed they were doing the right thing through and through, or even by people who have a neutral view on things. For that you might want to look into the Dementia Cult. But as time passed, the world leaders such as the presidents and heads of the countries came together to prevent more world wars by talking among each other–though this happened after World War III, I think, and as you know, World War IV did end up happening. Though it might have happened after World War II…I’m not completely sure. But I can tell you not every place in the world participates. I know Dasdoria doesn’t. In fact, they’re another case of good intentions gone wrong, although nowadays the country’s run by evil people.”
La-Iin nodded.
“One of the things they were thinking about was how to combat evil. Places like Dasdoria and North Vaelyn exist, not to mention even your developed country like Manemica has high crime rates in some areas. Usually, no matter where you go, at least one area does. When a good amount of the population is capable of evil acts, and the majority of said population possesses powers, what do you do? This is how things such as power suppressants came to be, as a consideration of these things. But suppressing powers won’t stop Normals, and it won’t stop someone with powers who’s determined. They say power suppressants make you weak, but I’ve heard that on species with not many powers it doesn’t make them quite as weak as it would if you, for example, used them on Sale-Dessu.”
‘Sale-Dessu without powers would be a weird Sale-Dessu,’ La-Iin thought.
“None of their solutions worked in the long run, but one of their solutions was to recognize evil people. This happened after they looked into the instigator of World War II and after a man, along with his cult, killed thousands of people. Both of those people had started off with artistic pursuits, and so the leaders wondered if they recognized evil people, penalizing evil actions still but allowing them to express their viewpoints–if just possibly, that might work. Because before evil was not tolerated, at least not among civilians, anyway.”
“Hm.”
“Well, it hasn’t worked overall, but they left it intact because it didn’t harm their intentions either. It has prevented some evil people from acting on their desires most likely. And that’s why you’re welcome to say you want to rule the world. In the past that would have gotten you in more trouble, probably me and Asul-Zenza too. But yes, our history is filled with heinous deeds. Because it is detrimental and negatively affects people, we search for ways to reduce these evil actions. But in a world like this, I don’t think it’s possible. Witches and Warlocks have so many abilities the total number is higher than one-hundred and we have species like Sirens who can kill people by singing and Vampires who need blood for physical and mental stability. And people tend to be selfish. Even people who mean well probably don’t want evil in the world because it could harm them, or someone important to them. And of course evil people are almost unanimously motivated by selfish desires. So…”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Well, if you’re curious about all sorts of evil events that have gone on over history, here are some books on them. These are books about all four World Wars, about serial and mass killings, about crime in general and civil wars…all sorts of things that have happened over history. As much as I would have loved to go over them with you right now, there’s just so much to cover and more often than not there’s a lot to read related to it. So for now you can read up on it on your own. By the way, here are some books which talk more about the incidents I mentioned to you.”
“Okay.” La-Iin tried to take some of the books, but struggled under their weight. Mit-Sun gave an amused huff and helped her carry the books to her room.

—–
“You’ve certainly been reading a lot lately.”
“Hm.”
“It’s kind of annoying. But I seriously wonder how a seven-year-old could be such a voracious reader, especially of such complicated-looking books. I understand you read well because you were taught on Makeshire plays, but I don’t understand it. Especially considering you can barely write Vaelis from what I’ve heard.”
“Shut up, Bes-Isa. And besides, I’ve been struggling plenty. By the way.”
“What?”
“Do you know what this word is?”
“…I guess I have no place to speak. After all, even though your reading isn’t great, it might be better than mine.”
“Just admit you can’t read,” La-Iin hissed. “Fine then. I’ll ask Mama.”

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26.634.Changes

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 634
“Changes”

“Your Granddad is in the hospital!?”
“Yes. Mama told me. Apparently he had surgery too.”
“Wow…I mean, not wow that he had to have surgery, I just don’t understand how you’re so calm about it. I’d be really scared.”
“Mama and I visited him recently and he seemed just fine.”
“Oh, okay.”
La-Iin relaxed against her bed. The now-and-then visits she had with Fer-Shi were nice, but this time she found herself without much to say. They had been talking about several things when she first arrived, but the morning was almost over and she now had no more ideas for what to talk about.
Except for one.
“Did you ever find a dream?”
“Huh?”
“You were going on about it a lot earlier this year. How you were jealous because I want to rule the world and I have big plans for it…heh heh….and you were upset because you don’t have something like that.”
Fer-Shi began to look slightly upset. “Um, no. I actually haven’t been thinking about it much, or I’m trying not to. I have other things to focus on right now, and besides I want to try and be more mature about this. You didn’t figure out you wanted to rule the world just by thinking about it, did you?”
“I do a lot of thinking about ruling the world, but that idea to actually do it in the first place is as old as I am.”
“I’m not sure it’s that old…”
“You’re acting weird, Fer-Shi. Your maturity is strange. You were playful and you got offended by my Normal jokes and whined about dreams. Now you get flustered because an evil failure said he likes you.”
“Why does everyone keep bringing up the Dereni incident? Is he really that notable? Although he does seem kind of lonely…um! I do still want to have fun, La-Iin. I’m not even ten yet, so of course I do. But what’s wrong with becoming a little mature?”
“It’s because of your precocious puberty, isn’t it.”
Fer-Shi blushed. “He–hey! Besides, I’m not the only one who’s changed a little! You’re basically the same as you always were, but the way you talk about your plans for ruling the world now…I don’t know, they seem a little different.”
“Hm?”
“Like you talk about it a little less now, but when you do it always seems super unsettling.”
“You might be right about my changes there, Fer-Shi. My plans are far more developed and amazing nowadays, heh heh heh…”
“It’s kind of scary,” she said.
“Why? You never seemed to believe I’d actually be able to rule the world. If you believe that, then why are you scared?”
“No, it’s not that. I don’t know if you can or can’t, and I guess you’d be a better ruler than what I’ve heard about North Vaelyn, it’s just your attitude about it.”
“Hm?”
“It’s like you care less about the consequences.”
“I make my plans thorough, Fer-Shi. I know the consequences and accept them. …unless they’re detrimental, then I replan. Besides, you’re complaining about this, but wanting to rule the world has always been a part of me. Your maturity has not.”
“Isn’t maturity a good thing?” Fer-Shi asked.
“If it is then I’m never going to be mature.”
“Um, that’s not what that means.”
“I miss the Fer-Shi who would cry at Normal jokes. And I certainly hope you keep being grossed out by romance after seeing how you acted about stupid Dereni.”
“La-Iin…if I change you’re not going to stop liking me, are you?”
“Hm.”
Fer-Shi winced, then she glared. “You can’t even give me an answer! Well, I could say the same! If you really get to rule the world and you become a dictator, who says I’ll like you anymore!?”
“Hm!?”
“Yeah! Dictators tend to be some of the biggest jerks around! It’s one thing to be evil and want to rule the world, it’s a whole nother to actually do it!”
“Well who says I want a stereotypical goody-goody as my best friend!? We’re friends because you have a good personality aside the goody-goody goop! If that changes it could become a problem.”
“And I have to say the same about your evil! If you become so evil that it messes more with your personality and you don’t even care about the people you liked before, how could I ever like you!?”
The two stared each other down.
“…”
“…”
“Do you think a friendship between good and evil can keep working at this rate, Fer-Shi?”
Fer-Shi’s eyes widened.
“Why would you say that?”
“Because of what just happened.”
“But we’ve been friends for a long time…I don’t want to think we’d stop being friends because of something like this.”
“Hm.” La-Iin tapped her fingers on her table. “What do you like about me?”
“Well, you’re really fun to be around, and even though you’re evil it’s in this way that’s kind of tolerable. Like you don’t want to kill anyone, you just want to torture them. Which is maybe worse, actually…but despite that you can be really nice sometimes anyway. What about you?”
“You are a goody-goody, but you have a personality that works with me. I really do like your personality, Fer-Shi.”
Fer-Shi smiled. “Thank you.”
La-Iin sighed. “I don’t want to stop being friends.”
“I don’t either!”
“But, if you do become stereotypically goody-goody, I might have to torture you into going back to how you were before.”
“Why!? Well, then, if you become an evil dictator, I’ll take you down! W-without killing anyone, of course.”
La-Iin smirked.
“Well, I think it can work anyway. After all, I find some things about San-Kyung annoying.”
“Really!?”
“Yes. And I still care about him. So there.”
“I guess so. And, well, we also don’t know if we’ll actually change. So I guess we should just see what the future’s like instead of fighting. After all, plenty of people have stayed friends after their friends have changed, so I’m sure there will be some way for us to stay friends even if we do change in annoying ways.”
“We’ll see. But don’t change in an annoying way.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “By the way, what do you find annoying about San-Kyung?”
“Rival-boy.”
“But that isn’t something about him…”

—–
Later that night, La-Iin was thinking on what she might do if Fer-Shi changed in a way that she did not like, or if Fer-Shi turned away from her because of how she changed.
“I guess I don’t have everything about this planned just yet,” she said. “But that’s okay, I can start at any time.”

21.629.Betrayal and Desire

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 629
“Betrayal and Desire”

“I’m glad that it’s getting cooler. Summer is always too hot!”
“I agree, but Winter is still waiting,” La-Iin said. “In Summer the sun beats down on me and in Winter my wings freeze down to the bone. Extreme weather is not my ally…”
“Is it anyone’s?”
“Snowlivs, maybe.” A Snowliv child from Class A looked up at her words.
“Yeah, but even they don’t do very well with extremely hot weather.”
“Yes. I’ve always wondered how Snowlivs survived to this day with the way their species works.”
The two girls sat there in silence after that, both trying to think up a game they could play.
‘We’ve done so many things at the recess area!’ Fer-Shi thought. ‘How can we do something new?’
‘I wonder if that would even be a good idea for a game…’
After a while of thinking, longer than it normally took for the two to start playing, Fer-Shi finally had an idea. But before she could voice it, a group of small children walked up to her.
“Hello!” The child at the front said.
“Hi!”
La-Iin stared at the children indignantly.
“Um, are you Sanhuun from Class D? The one who Dereni tried to eat?”
Fer-Shi looked slightly disturbed. “Y-yes, that’s me. Although he didn’t really try to eat me.”
“He was tryna basically tenderize you! That’s eaty enough!”
“Can you tell us about what happened? The grown-ups and the more grown-up kids won’t tell us because Dereni keeps glaring at them.”
La-Iin noticed Daal-Dan sitting a short distance away, glaring. ‘If he’s so mad, why doesn’t he just sing and knock out the whole school?’
“Weren’t you there?”
“Dereni is scary!” One of them said.
“Besides, we’re not as brave as most of the boys were.”
“So we mostly tried to hide from him.”
“Can you pleeease tell us?”
Fer-Shi sighed.
“You really want me to, don’t you?”
The children nodded.
“What about our recess area game?”
“It can wait. What happened with Dereni isn’t a long story. Besides, I’ve got the perfect idea for a game we can play! So once I tell them, we can start right away!”
La-Iin was astounded. She watched Fer-Shi go off with the children and start to tell them the story of what had happened with her and Daal-Dan. She gave a huff of anger.
“Jealous?”
La-Iin hadn’t noticed that Shuu-Kena was sitting nearby. She startled, but quickly recovered.
“What does it seem like?”
“Don’t worry. While she talks to the littler kids, you can always talk to me.”
“Those kids are probably my age,” she grumbled.
“You’re probably even younger since you’re half-Vampire.”
“I am the age I am. If I concede defeat to my species, then a certain….situation could become more of a problem for me.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s not important.”
“Hm.” Shuu-Kena looked away from her briefly; then she turned back to her. “So, how was your Summer?”
La-Iin thought back on all that had happened. “I suppose it was okay,” she said. When she recalled one particular event, however, she began to smirk. “No, more than that. I almost forgot that something amazing happened last month.”
“I see. Well, um, my Summer wasn’t the greatest. My family’s been a little more active lately. Once they all went out together on a raid. It was my little sisters’ first raid. But they left me home. I guess that’s a good thing, but I just feel so confused about it.”
“Raid? Raid for what?”
Shuu-Kena shook her head. “I have no idea.”
“Whatever the raid was for, it sounds idiotic.”
“Would you do a raid if you could, La-Iin? I know you and my family do things differently, but I was curious.”
“There are better things to be doing than a raid. If I could, I’d do one of those instead!” La-Iin said. “Sara, your family is all evil failures in my eyes. They have potential, but they fail to use it. Also they have the notable handicap of being Pureblood Normals. And I’m sure they plan almost nothing through before they carry it out. Not like I do, heh heh heh…”
La-Iin balled a hand into a fist. Shuu-Kena gave her an uncertain glance. “You do seem to be thinking a lot.”
“Always. My plans require a lot of thought, after all. Without it they would fall apart. And I’m no fool.”
“I guess it is good to plan things in advance. So, um, what’s the good thing that happened over the Summer?”
“It isn’t your business, Sara, though I suppose I could give you a hint. We were just talking about something related to it, after all. …you know, Sara, I truly think my plans will succeed. Unlike those of your family. I have the power and the means; I just need some things to bring it all to fruition…”
When La-Iin snapped out of her mini daydream, she noticed that Shuu-Kena’s expression was uncertain. “Why are you making that face?” ‘I shouldn’t go into too much detail. Sara shouldn’t know about this.’
Shuu-Kena sighed. “No reason, really. Well, I don’t know. What you said just there though, the way you said it reminded me a lot of my family…sorry, I guess sometimes I forget you’re evil because you act so differently from them. They try to ingrain it into every aspect of their life.”
“I might do that too. Unfortunately I have other things to focus on right now.”
La-Iin focused on Shuu-Kena’s expression as she spoke. It only became more uncertain, and somewhat upset. It seemed obvious to her now–she was upset by her behavior.
‘Damn it. It’s too obvious.’ Shuu-Kena seemed to be a somewhat helpful ally–she would rather have her on her side than against her. There had to be something she could say to wipe the uncertain expression off her face.
‘Got it.’
“But those other things are important. I am evil, and it is a big part of me. But I’m not going to be doing evil sitting because that sounds silly.”
In actuality it brought to La-Iin’s mind images of sitting atop a stack of people, but she kept the imagination to herself. Shuu-Kena’s expression seemed to ease a bit.
“Oh, I wasn’t trying to say anything about your evil, Cahongyun.”
“I didn’t say that because of what you said.”
“Hehe, I guess I read too much into it, then.”
“I was just saying it randomly. Your family astounds me with how stupid their evilness seems. Evil people don’t often agree, after all. They seem to not plan and to do the most petty things. And they’re ignoring one important thing.”
“Are they?”
“You can have bonds with non-evil people and still be evil. In fact, people say friendships are good, but they’re actually a helpful evil asset and for a different reason than you might think.”
“Really?”
La-Iin was reminded of San-Kyung’s words. “Yes. Your family may be close to the rest of each other, but there’s something that seems off. I don’t know, they annoy me.”
Shuu-Kena smiled. “You know, La-Iin, I’m really glad you actually became friends with me.”
La-Iin was going to respond, but just then Fer-Shi walked up to her. “Sorry, they kept me a little long. But now I can tell you about that perfect idea!” Her eyes dritfted to Shuu-Kena. “Well, if you still want to play…”
“I do.” La-Iin stood up. “Tell me what it is. But Sara.”
“Hm?”
“Even by the most petty evil standard, your family is made up of idiots.”
Shuu-Kena giggled. “They really are, aren’t they?”
She almost sounded sad, but the smile on her face seemed to be one of genuine happiness. After that, La-Iin turned back to Fer-Shi, who began to explain her game of Witches and their powers. As she listened to her describe it, only one more thought about Shuu-Kena crossed her mind.
‘How could I be betrayed when I know the perfect way to prevent it?’

—–
That night, as the Saras ate dinner, Shuu-Kena was reminded of La-Iin’s earlier words.
“Even by the most petty evil standard, your family is made up of idiots.”
Against her better judgment she began to laugh wildly.
“Why are you laughing?” Ther-Aoughin asked.
“Perhaps she’s finally gone off the deep end,” Kyu-Aseri said.
“Come, sister, come join the dark side!” Kyu-Nhogo said.
“I have an inkling it’s not as great as all that,” Hei-Yhunni sighed.

16.624.Down Grade

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 624
“Down Grade”

Dosa-Mina stared down at his fingers.
“Hey. Dosa-Mina.”
‘How much longer until people ask to see a paw? How much longer until someone looks higher than that? Maybe I should thank Lirako if she reveals my true species.’
“Dosa-Minaaa.”
‘After all, isn’t it worse if people know that I’m cutting? If I go into my true form, I’ll only have to worry about covering one side. And maybe I can grow fur on that side. Or can half-and-halves do that…dang it, I’m half-and-half and I don’t even know how it works.’
“Dosa-Mina?”
‘And after all, my species is more well-known. It’s a fact of my biology. People might question why I hid it, but nobody really knows why I do, so I can just pass it off with an excuse. No excuse I could make for cuts would keep the reaction from being the same. Nothing would…’
Dosa-Mina felt someone tap the side of his head.
“Ah, San-Kyung? Did you need something?”
“Biology just ended. You seemed spaced out throughout all of biology. One of your favorite subjects. I’m not blind, Dosa-Mina. …I may be scared of the police, but I don’t care about getting in trouble if you need one of those bitches murdered…”
“That’s going too far, San-Kyung.”
“Fine, I’ll singe their fur off. Cold weather’s coming soon anyway. Might be funny to see them walk around furless.”
“They’ll just wear heavy clothes,” he sighed. “Anyway, school isn’t the place to talk about this. I don’t need her overhearing you and deciding to tell the entire class…I have enough problems right now.”
“Need to blow off steam? You always offered that for me.”
Dosa-Mina shook his head. “Blowing off steam is easy for you. Not so much for me. I don’t even feel like being affectionate, and that at least usually comforts me. I’m just kind of stuck in a rut. Tell me, San-Kyung, am I getting more obvious?”
“I don’t know. I already know, so I can’t think about it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t. Or didn’t,” he said, glaring at Lirako.
“I’m glad you’re offering to help me, San-Kyung. But it’s okay. I have periods like this and I get past them. Besides, you have more to worry about than I do. Your problems aren’t your fault. Mine are. Whereas someone accidentally dug a grave for you and spilled water near it, I dug my own grave, spilled water on the ground myself and then tried to run away from it.”
“…”
“It’s what I can say to make me feel better,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Don’t worry, this will pass. As long as I have Operation Reboot to focus on, it should…”

***

The classes drew to an end for the day, and though Dosa-Mina usually started getting ready to leave immediately, this time, as he had the past few days, he kept an eye on Lirako. But Lirako only talked to Deki-Tyunri, and then Xhen-Bei when he approached her. She didn’t get up to go and talk to Airy-Aekok.
San-Kyung was also watching Lirako closely, with a glare that made him slightly concerned. “Make sure you keep any murder fantasies inside your head.”
“Oh, it’s not murder fantasies. If there’s one thing I can give La-Iin, she might be right about torture being preferable over murder.”
“Talking about me?” La-Iin said. San-Kyung flinched. “That makes me happy. Maybe you and I should go somewhere soon, without rival-boy. It’s been a while hasn’t it?”
“Yeah right, La-Iin. I’ve never wanted to go somewhere alone with you, not even now that we’re closer.”
“That’s a lie, and you know it. But I really am glad, San-Kyung. You bringing me up to rival-boy, it almost feels like you’ve noticed…” She giggled to herself. “Well, see you tomorrow.”
San-Kyung waved absently.
“I guess we should go now,” Dosa-Mina whispered. “It doesn’t look like she or Airy-Aekok is going to say anything. I guess she’s kept her promise for now.”
“I don’t trust her to keep it. There has to be something we can do to keep her from saying anything. I wonder…maybe you should keep looking into potions. They seem like they could be helpful.”
“Who knows.”
“Mr. Dslellular?”
Dosa-Mina sat up straight. Hyungdarou was standing at the entrance to the primary classroom.
“Yes, Miss Hyungdarou?”
“The Principal wants to see you. She said it’s a bit of a concerning matter.”
“Huh?”
San-Kyung’s expression became dark, but Dosa-Mina didn’t notice. He nodded and walked after Hyungdarou.
‘What could the Principal want me for? Did I do something wrong?’
Thoughts of his school files, the species written as N/A, raced through his mind. ‘Oh, come on. I thought I heard some of the Class A students did that. …I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel if I’m justifying my actions by Class A’s doing the same…’
He sat down in the faculty room. Hyungdarou also took a seat. The Principal and Hyungdarou weren’t the only ones in there either–as usual, Sharai sat next to the Principal, though he was distracted with papers.
“Mr. Dslellular. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk with us. This matter may not seem urgent in your eyes, but we were incredibly concerned. Especially Miss Hyungdarou. It was her idea that we talk to you.”
“It was?”
Hyungdarou nodded.
“Mr. Dslellular, you are one of the best students in Class D. Your grades consistently rank up there with students such as Mr. Molshei, Miss Vampiris and Miss Sherry. You even stack up quite well against the smartest students of Class C, the class with the most consistently high grades. In short, you are one of our model students.”
“Um, thank you.”
“But there’s a problem.”
“What?”
“Recently there was a bit of homework that needed to be turned in. Even with your high grades, you have never done perfect and so we wouldn’t expect you to, but it was noticed that your grades in that bit of homework were abysmal. Miss Hyungdarou also noticed that you haven’t been concentrating at all in biology, especially yesterday and today. She said that she called for you both days and you didn’t respond so she moved on to another student.”
“You did? Why didn’t San-Kyung tell me?”
“I called on him next in one of those cases,” Hyungdarou said.
“It’s jarring, and I understand that sometimes we have our bad days. Perhaps it’s nothing to worry about at all, but even if it’s a one-off it’s a very startling drop. The grade on your homework was on par with Class A grades.”
Dosa-Mina shuddered.
“Mr. Dslellular, is something wrong at home? If it’s nothing, you needn’t tell us, but if there is anything we can do, we would like to help you.”
‘It’s obvious,’ he thought. ‘If I keep going at this rate, my grades won’t be the only things suffering. I won’t need Lirako or Airy-Aekok to reveal my species, I’ll just slip up myself. Ha ha…this is just great.’
The looks on the faces of the Principal, Sharai and Hyungdarou became more concerned, but Dosa-Mina didn’t pay them mind.
“It has to be nothing,” he said quietly. “Nothing bad has happened to me, except I got sick right before school started. I must have been distracted when I was doing my homework. There’s a specific subject I’ve been studying a ton, like really specific. Like what you do in your classes, Miss Hyungdarou.”
Hyungdarou began to look embarrassed.
“So it must have just sent everything I knew flying right out the window! I was so distracted learning about that subject, I didn’t think while doing my homework.”
“…” The trio looked among each other.
“Fair enough, Mr. Dslellular,” the Principal said. “I’ll believe your story for now. Try to pay more attention while doing your homework, and in class.”
“You are welcome to talk to the school about anything concerning you,” Hyungdarou said. “The faculty will not leak your personal secrets nor judge you.”
“Yeah right. That’ll only make me the one who does that.”
Dosa-Mina hadn’t noticed he had spoken the world aloud. He waved to the trio and left the room. San-Kyung was waiting right outside.
“What got you called to the Principal?”
“Apparently I did really shitty with my last homework, and they were wondering if my brain was turning to Class A mush. But I think it’s just because I’ve been focused on Operation Reboot?”
“…that’s not it, is it.”
“We can talk about this later, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said. “But once you’ve gotten out everything you want to say I don’t want to hear about it any more. I’m tired of all this…”

—–
“I don’t think Mr. Dslellular was telling the truth.”
“I don’t either, Miss Hyungdarou, but what are we supposed to do? We cannot peer into the private lives of our students.”
“We could always call his parents,” Sharai suggested.
“But it is not our business to pry. Let us keep an eye on him for now and see if his grades continue to suffer first. I don’t believe his story, but let us give him the benefit of the doubt for now. If he’s telling the truth, the proof will show itself to us soon enough.”
“Yeah, maybe we should give him more homework.”
“Perhaps…”

1.609.Plans to Capture a Young Man

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 609
“Plans to Capture a Young Man”

“…”
“Why do you keep staring at the calendar? Thinking about school? I doubt you’re thinking about my birthday.”
“No, I’m…just thinking about a plan.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Is that all you do nowadays?”
“Mama, if you realized the extent of my plans, you’d understand why I think so much about them.”
“…no, I don’t think I’d get it.”
“Simple-minded peons such as yourself don’t often understand these sorts of things.”
Mit-Sun glared.
“Be quiet, Bes-Isa. I haven’t let you in on my plan just yet either.”
“You almost never do, so why do I care?”
“Because this one I plan on carrying through.”
“Huh?” Mit-Sun gave her a quizzical look. “What is this plan that’s got you so dazed?”
“I’m still planning it, that’s why I’m dazed.” She said. “Also, I’m thinking about San-Kyung…”
“…”
“Never mind. This plan is probably something stupid.”
‘So you think. If you only knew!’ La-Iin kept that thought to herself.

***

While Mit-Sun was at work, La-Iin was engrossed in drawing a picture.
“That’s an awful lot of scratching for a crayon.”
“Mind your own business.”
“Hey, I AM minding my own business! It’s not my fault I can’t hear my thoughts over your chicken scratching.”
La-Iin glared at Bes-Isa. She stuffed her into a tight area before continuing on the drawing.
“You realize you’ve been awfully mean to me lately, right?”
“I don’t care. You might be my friend, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy with you all the time. Besides, you were created to be my toy.”
“Hey, that might be so, but I’m a living being! You can’t treat me that way!”
“Evil has no rules, Bes-Isa.”
Bes-Isa sighed. “Touche. …hey, whatcha drawing?”
“Do you really want to know?”
“You’re actually going to let me know?”
“Sure. After all, it doesn’t matter if you know. I doubt you’d oppose it and there’s nothing anyone can do now. I plan on carrying this plan through at midnight.”
“Whoa, midnight? You sure you can stay up that late?”
La-Iin glared at Bes-Isa. “Positive. This plan is no necessity to my overall plan, but it will definitely be a benefit if I can carry it through!”
La-Iin finished the drawing, organized it with other drawings, then held them in front of Bes-Isa.
“Watch closely, because if you miss my explanation, you’ll need to see the pictures.”
“Sure.”
La-Iin flipped a paper. Bes-Isa spotted two crudely-drawn boys, one of which looked like his existence was encroaching upon the other’s. “You know how I’ve complained about rival-boy before? How he gets in my way around San-Kyung!?”
“I’ve heard so many complaints about ‘Dslellu-whatever Rival-boy’ that I could never count them.”
La-Iin flipped the page. Next was a picture of herself, drawing. “Well, I got the perfect idea just recently.” She flipped to the next page, which was a picture of her breaking into a house through the window. One of the crudely-drawn boys from earlier was cowering in the picture, clutching his bed sheets.
“Rival-boy is always in my way because he has freedom. One of my plans for the future is to cage up several people except a select few so they cannot use that freedom to oppose me.”
“Yeah?”
“So I figured, why not start early?” She flipped the page. The next picture was one of her carrying off a misshapen bag. “I plan on capturing rival-boy, imprisoning him and taking him out of the picture!”
“Wait a second! La-Iin, are you sure you’ve thought this one through? This sounds like it has so many holes I just–“
“What holes do you think there are then, Bes-Isa?” La-Iin asked. Her expression was surprisingly cocky. “Tell me, because I can guarantee to you that any ‘holes’ you think there might be are probably patched. Go ahead. Lay them all on me.”
“Well, what about his powers?”
“Accommodated for. I plan on dosing up on blood before I leave and putting in earbuds in case he sings.”
“….ooo-kay, what about the fact that he lives with his parents?”
“His parents are of no concern to me; I’ve dealt with them in other hole-patching ventures.”
“Well, what about school!? He goes to school with you–I’m sure some people would find it strange if he up and disappeared! And what about San-Kyung? Aren’t those two close friends? You might be able to keep a secret with your facial expression but aside from that you’re not the best at it. How do you plan to carry him here? Where are you going to put him? What are you going to do to take care of him, assuming you’re planning that? How are you going to make Mit-Sun not see him? Are you sure you thought any of this through!?”
La-Iin cleared her throat. “He’ll still be allowed to go to school, just under my terms. Wherein he’ll meet with San-Kyung and I’ll blackmail him into saying he ran away from home for some reason. That’s one hurdle I’m currently crossing, I’ll tell you that. And remember what I said about dosing up on blood–a good dose of Minomix and Werewolf should give me enough power to carry him here, and even if it doesn’t I have other avenues…I know his weaknesses, after all.”
“How!?”
“I’ll explain later. But you should know some of them too! Anyway, I plan on keeping him in a place Mama will never look–a little compartment in the miscellaneous room you could say is made up of garbage. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll pretend I filled my closet with garbage and stuff him in there.”
“What!?”
“And as for taking care of him, I don’t want him complaining or stinking so bad that Mama notices his smell. I plan on ‘taking care’ of my future slaves too. I’ll feed him covertly and in small portions so Mama doesn’t notice, have him clean himself while Mama’s at work or out with a friend, although when it comes to the bathroom I haven’t figured out a not-gross alternative yet.”
“Um, ew. And anyway! What about when the house is left alone? You do have to go to school!”
La-Iin tapped Bes-Isa’s head. “Don’t forget that I don’t intend on leaving him home when I go to school. Most of my plan is perfect, Bes-Isa. It just revolves around timing, being able to stay awake, upkeeping and watching him like a hawk! But I can do it. He will be my training, because someday I will have several slaves just like him.”
“…except your idea for those several slaves was that nobody would be able to do anything because EVERYONE was a slave! This is just one boy who has the strength to overpower you by himself! I don’t understand how you can possibly think it will work!”
“I’ve been planning this for longer than you might think, Bes-Isa. It will work–it has to! After yesterday I know this might be one of my only avenues to getting more time with San-Kyung!”
“Wha? But you’re bringing him to school! If you leave him home without you, he might start crying for that woman!”
“Oh, you’ll see. Besides, we have thick tape in the miscellaneous room. I can use that to silence any opposition, heh heh heh…”
“Seriously, do you plan on hiding him, torturing him, or killing him!?”
“Just the first two. I prefer keeping people alive to suffer rather than giving them temporary suffering. Why not extend it all!? They’ll suffer in death anyway!”
“…you’re not making any sense today.”
“Maybe you don’t understand, Bes-Isa.” When La-Iin turned around, Bes-Isa was a bit surprised by the expression of malice on her face. “I believe in my newfound strength. And I don’t think this plan will fail, not at all. I know what I have to do. The future I envision will become a reality with the assistance of my powers–you have my word!”
‘Ah, she’s gone completely off the deep end…I admire her passion, but I probably shouldn’t tell her that she sounds about insane right now.’
La-Iin cackled. “Soon, Dosa-Mina, you’ll be a prisoner in my closet!”

—–
When Mit-Sun arrived home, she was quick to notice that La-Iin was acting strangely as she had been that morning. But something seemed different now, as if instead of being distracted La-Iin was now energetic and ready to commit mischief.
It made her keep an eye on her for the entire day, but despite her strange behavior, La-Iin did not act out. Mit-Sun couldn’t help but feel perturbed by it all.
‘Is something going on with her? Maybe I should ask before I go to work tomorrow…’
But now was the time for bed, and so Mit-Sun put aside the thought for now. She checked in on La-Iin, then head off to bed herself.

When La-Iin woke up, her clock read 12:10. She pulled herself out of bed, stuffed the still-sleeping Bes-Isa into her dress, then head downstairs and checked the supply of blood.
‘Good.’ She had been concerned about running out of Werewolf and Minomix blood, and was thrilled to see that there was still some waiting for her in the fridge. She downed both blood boxes, then head upstairs, opened her window, flew out, closed it, then head off towards Dosa-Mina’s neighborhood with an unusual strength and confidence.

29.606.To See the Future–Part 8

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

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

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

***

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

***

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

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

24.601.Manifestation of V-Puppetry

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 601
“Manifestation of V-Puppetry”

“Hey Father, I wanted to ask you about something.”
“What is it, Eul-Bok?”
“You said you couldn’t use V-Puppetry when you were younger, right?”
“Yes…when I was little, I did try, but I could never pull it off. So I gave up.”
“Yeah, that made me curious.” Eul-Bok sat down. “You said things like you think your V-Puppetry manifested out of sheer willpower. But there’s something I don’t understand. If you thought you couldn’t use V-Puppetry at all, why try and bring me to life? I really don’t get that.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “Well, if you’re willing to listen to me ramble for a little bit, I might be able to explain why I brought you to life.”
“Really?”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “I never really talked about the early phases of my plan with you because I didn’t think I would need to. But if you want to know about it, then I’ll tell you all you need to know.”

***

Sale-Dessu pointed his wand at a pot of water. He concentrated and tried to make the water boil. A few bubbles rose, but only after a long while, and the water never boiled–when Sale-Dessu stuck his finger into it, he realized it wasn’t even warm.
‘Damn it…I really am distracted.’
Since his prior reality-warping experiment, Sale-Dessu had found that the feelings he thought he’d buried long ago were resurfacing. He always tried his hardest to deny any loneliness he felt, but it seemed like now all the loneliness he had pushed away was coming back to him in a flood, and he was miserable.
‘La-Iin has her mother, and she has her V-Puppet. She has people who love her…argh, this is stupid. I told myself that I don’t need anyone else, and that’s the way it’s been for many years now. I can’t change that so suddenly. Besides, even if I wanted someone to alleviate my loneliness, who would I have? I certainly can’t just go and ask La-Iin if she would like to come over…’
He thought back on Bes-Isa. ‘If I had the power of V-Puppetry, I could bring to life a child. But that’s selfish. I know I would follow what Apeta told me, I would take as much care of them as possible, but to bring one to life just to alleviate my loneliness? They wouldn’t even be able to move around without my assistance.’
He shook his head. ‘I can’t do that anyway. For now I should focus on my concentration issues…’

But as the days passed, concentration became harder for Sale-Dessu. He couldn’t seem to get any of his spells to work. Frustrated, he retreated into his book room to study. ‘Maybe if I brush up on the basics, I’ll be able to focus again. I’ve never had trouble keeping myself embroiled in a book.’ He chuckled at an old memory of Maie-Jussa telling him that dinner had been done for twenty minutes already.
He started from the top and went from there. It worked, to a degree. He was able to keep himself focusing on the book, and even managed to clear a few within a day.
The next day, however, one of the books he pulled was on the subject of V-Puppetry, and he sighed. ‘I might as well read it…’
The book dealt with all sorts of facts about V-Puppetry, its manifestation, and whether or not there were differences in the way certain species could use them. It had pictures of all sorts of V-Puppets, from cloth to clay to even metal V-Puppets. Sale-Dessu cringed at pages about V-Puppet abuse and was disturbed by pages on the morality of a person becoming romantically involved with a V-Puppet.
As he read through the book, he managed to put aside his sadness at the fact that he couldn’t use V-Puppetry. At least he was for most of the book, until a particular section of it caught his attention.
‘Autonomy in V-Puppets…’ It was a subject he had never really looked much into, considering his lack of power in that field. But its theories sounded appealing to him. A V-Puppet being able to move on their own like any person could and being able to do things of their own volition. The idea was wonderful, but he noticed that it was still incomplete. The book stated it could even be impossible.
But he could already imagine: someone bringing their doll to life and instead of them being confined to that person’s side, they were able to walk around with that person. It was such a fascinating idea, such a wonderful idea that Sale-Dessu couldn’t resist the urge to want to try it.
‘But I can’t use V-Puppetry. How would I be able to do something like that if I can’t even bring to life the person I need?’
Sale-Dessu narrowed his eyes at the book. ‘There has to be something in here that has the answer I need. I would love to try this…’

Even despite the apparent futility of doing so, Sale-Dessu found himself hours later sewing a doll. He had made the fabrics and materials from stray objects lying around the house. His handiwork wasn’t all that good, but as far as he was concerned the doll only needed to be able to hold together.
‘This is all pointless! I can’t even use V-Puppetry, and V-Puppet autonomy might be impossible.’ Yet he couldn’t stop himself from hoping, couldn’t stop himself from putting together the doll. V-Puppetry was always one power he wanted to be able to use. He wanted to bring his own ‘child’ to life. And most who brought a child into the world, he knew, would want that child to have their autonomy.
If that was possible, Sale-Dessu wanted it. Badly. He was jealous of La-Iin’s family. He missed his own family. If there was any remnant, any last shred of the power of V-Puppetry inside of him, then he wanted to activate it and bring to life his child.
Once the doll was finished, however, he began to feel nervous.
‘What if it really doesn’t work? Have I wasted my time?’
All these uncertain thoughts were swirling around in his head, and yet, Sale-Dessu found himself more focused on what he was about to do. Among the uncertain thoughts were imaginations and daydreams of what life would be like if he actually succeeded in bringing the doll to life. If he succeeded in bringing them autonomy. He could see the little doll he had just finished running around the house and asking him questions about his experiments.
He could see this child quite clearly in his mind’s eye. ‘Eul-Bok….’
Sale-Dessu concentrated his all into making the hand motions, and no amount of uncertain thoughts stopped him there. He continued on, hoping to hear a voice at any time. After a while, he opened his eyes. He sighed in disappointment. The V-Puppet was not responding.
‘Wait a second…’
But even though it was not responding, it was quite clear that it was levitating.
‘Did–did I do something wrong!?’
“Um…hello there,” he said cautiously. ‘I’ll feel so stupid if I’ve failed at this point!’ “Can you hear me? Can you say “yes”? If you can hear me, say “yes”, please.”
No response.
“Um–” Suddenly the uncertainty was swamping him. “I–I am your father, Astineth Sale-Dessu. If you heard that, please say yes…”
“Fa…ther?”
Sale-Dessu gasped in surprise. “You are alive….!”
He pulled the doll close. “Oh, I’m so happy! I–I didn’t think you would make it! My precious Eul-Bok…”
Eul-Bok began to make choking noises, so Sale-Dessu let go of him. “I need to give you some knowledge so we can talk more! After all, I have big plans for your future, but I’m going to need to be able to communicate with you if we’re going to carry them through.”
“Communi….cate?”
“Yes. You’re getting the hang of it, slowly,” he said with a smile. “I…I can’t believe this. I brought a child to life…”
He was so overjoyed and stunned, he felt ready to overload, but taking the cues from how he had felt just moments earlier, he ran off with Eul-Bok to his book room.

—–
“So that’s what happened?”
“Yes.”
“So you really did get it out of sheer willpower!?”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “No, probably not. It’s possible the power was dormant inside of me all along, but I like to think that what happened was that it just came along later for me.”
“Huh?”
“Remember, some people get their powers really young, like La-Iin did. So who’s to say that I just didn’t get my power later? After all, when I was trying to make a V-Puppet when I was little, I was younger than La-Iin is now. It’s possible it hadn’t developed yet!”
“Really?”
“I’m pretty sure. But yes, it was a selfish reason I brought you to life, Eul-Bok. I hope you’re not upset…”
“I don’t care. I’m happy to be alive! It doesn’t bother me one bit. Besides, don’t normal people bring babies into the world for selfish reasons sometimes?”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “I suppose you’re right.”
“So I don’t mind at all. But wow, that’s pretty cool that you could bring me to life at all! Hey, do you think you’ll ever make me a sibling?”
Sale-Dessu paled. “Well…we’ll see about that one, okay? I’d definitely have to plan more for a sibling than I did for you!”

21.598.To See the Future–Part 6

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 598
“To See the Future–Part 6”

“Imagine what a person cooking in a stew must smell like!” Kyu-Aseri said.
“In the case of an Animated Pumpkin, that would most likely be like cooked pumpkins,” Kyu-Nhogo said.
“Oh, how uninteresting. But they’re an outlier, as are Vegemixes. The rest would be interesting enough to smell, I’m sure.”
“That will have to wait for now,” Hei-Yhunni told them. “In the meantime, perhaps you two can convince Ther-Aoughin to hunt down some of the “ancestors” of our species. I’m sure Vampire Bats and ferrets give off similar smells to Vampires and Ferreniaos…”
“Ferreniaos–and I’d assume ferrets as well–are stinky creatures,” Ther-Aoughin said. “But I’d be happy to see a little violence, especially since we’ve been staying a little down-low recently.”
“Ooh!” Kyu-Aseri cooed.
“It will be nothing like the meat from an actual person, though,” Kyu-Nhogo huffed.
Shuu-Kena sat at the table, listening to her family and feeling as though she wasn’t actually there. ‘My family is happier without me,’ she thought, ‘and I’m better off without them. So my idea of leaving them isn’t a bad one at all. It’s actually beneficial to us both.’
For a moment she felt as though someone would ask for her soon, but nobody did. ‘Wishful thinking. They don’t like me anymore. It should be easy to plan on leaving them in the future.’
She glanced at the faces of her siblings and that of her mother. ‘Why does it hurt to think of that future if I know it’s what’s best for all of us?’

***

“Watch as we, the Saras, take these lands of Bledger for our own!”
Hei-Yhunni’s voice rang out loud above the din of voices in opposition. In response, several voices threatened the opposing crowd.
“That’s right, fools. Finally, Bledger, Vaelyn is the home of the evil, enemy of the good! Say your prayers and leave now if you will, because this is your last chance!”
Nim-Ghini snapped his fingers. “And that was the moment.”
Rapid gunfire sounded, drowning out all other noises. No matter how hard Shuu-Kena tried to block it out, she could still hear it–the reality was behind her. But there was nothing she could do now, so she instead focused on running away. She had to survive, if not for herself, for her children and the last promise she had made to her husband.

“Mommy, is it true that Neigghed used to be a place full of evil?”
Shuu-Kena startled. She dropped the whole hemsquirt she was holding into the pot of soup. “You stupid idiot! Now you’ve gone and made Mommy cry!”
“Hey, it wasn’t my fault!”
“Uh–uhm–i-it’s a part of history, so I don’t mind talking about it,” she chuckled. “A long time ago, even before I was born, they say that Neigghed used to be the evil hub of Vaelyn. Nowadays that’s Bledger, and maybe Plucehon soon. But it’s in the past, and we don’t need to worry about it now.”
“Really?”
Shuu-Kena smiled. “Really. I promise. And even if we did, I would protect you.”
The memories of the past decade were vivid in Shuu-Kena’s mind. She could remember clearly her family’s rise to power. Under those circumstances they had shunned her; they made no effort to kill her, but they pretended she didn’t exist. It was a time of loss for her. She lost contact with La-Iin at around that time and her husband joined the masses of people in opposition to her family and their army.
While Shuu-Kena had no proof that her husband had perished at the moment she heard the gunfire, she saw no reason as to why she should consider him still alive. The memory of those two who had been so close to her was always painful. In their children she could still see his features, and could see the lack of his features in the one child she had adopted after arriving in Neigghed.
Her husband’s fate she could imagine–but what happened to La-Iin? Her friend had never voiced opposition nor support for her parents’ methods, at least not in recent years. It was one of her biggest questions. But it was all in the past. There was no way for her to know, and for now she needed to focus on her children.
“I think you made Mommy think about Dad again.”
“That’s your fault, not mine!”
“P–please, it’s nothing,” Shuu-Kena sighed. “Why don’t we do something else instead of focusing on this silly stuff? After dinner, who wants to paint with me?”
All the children rose their hands. Shuu-Kena smiled. “Let’s do that instead, alright?”

“Dinner tasted too much like hemsquirt. I’m not blaming you, Mommy, I’m blaming Var-Bougen.”
“You’re blaming me, but you were yelling right around the time she dropped it!”
“Don’t worry, Mommy. I like hemsquirt a lot, so I didn’t care that it tasted like that, unlike they do.”
“Please don’t fight,” Shuu-Kena sighed. “I don’t have the energy to deal with this…”
Shuu-Kena led her children to the ‘Painting Room’, a room she had designated for herself to paint in once she had found a house in Neigghed. She had decorated the room with all sorts of paintings she had made–and in recent years, paintings her children had made.
“I don’t really like painting much,” one of her children sighed.
“Do you want to do something else?”
“No, I’m fine. But when I grow up, I don’t think I want to be a painter like you, Mommy.”
“That’s fine.”
She set up small canvases for each of her children and for herself, and they set to work. Shuu-Kena had already decided to paint a happier painting than her normal ones, and so her progress was already going much faster than that of her children.
“Mommy, can I ask you something?”
“Arrgh, you made me mix my paint!”
“No, I didn’t!”
“Um, what did you want to ask, Ii-Ching?”
“You’ve told us stories about Daddy before, but I wanted to know if we had any other family. At school there’s this girl called Vampiris, and she’s always talking about having an amazing auntie. Do we have any aunties?”
“Or uncles? Uncles are cool too,” Var-Bougen said.
“Ah–uh…”
“Maybe Mommy doesn’t want to talk about this.”
“Aw, please, Mommy?”
Shuu-Kena bit her lip. ‘You knew this was going to come up eventually…’ “Not anymore. They’re not here anymore just like Daddy. So please don’t ask about them ever again.”
“H-huh?”
“I think we should probably leave Mommy alone for now. She looks kind of angry…”
Shuu-Kena was finding that her happy picture was soon ending up to be anything but–she was now painting red streaks onto the sky, and already that made it look much more malicious than her original intentions. She sighed. ‘I guess I’m just not any good at painting happy pictures…’
The painting was finished either way, and she waited for her children to finish before turning her canvas around.
“That’s scary!”
“Why do you always make sad pictures, Mommy?” Ii-Ching asked.
“This one isn’t sad. Even when the world’s messed up, people can pull through. That’s what it’s supposed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t even be here today, if people weren’t capable of that.”
“I guess not.”
Her children turned their canvases around, and Shuu-Kena smiled. “You’re all getting a lot better. Hu-Ade, your painting is very unique.”
“Is that mean?” Hu-Ade asked.
“No, it’s a compliment. You use a nice range of colors.”
Hu-Ade smiled. “Thanks, Mommy.”
“What about mine, Mommy!?”
“Well, Ii-Ching, I think this part is a little–”
Before Shuu-Kena could finish, a loud siren wailed and drowned out her words. She could see that her children speaking, but couldn’t hear them over the siren. Concerned, she peeked out a window to see what was going on.
A large group of people were entering the neighborhood, many of them avians, though Shuu-Kena noticed a lot of Normals. What caught her sight immediately was their guns and the lack of any sort of authority gear. A shiver went up her spine at the sight.
Her children ran up behind her. Shuu-Kena pulled them close and kept an eye on the group, covering her face slightly with the curtains. ‘Maybe they’re an emergency group? Has something happened?’
While scanning the group to see if any other affiliation indicators were on them, she gasped. Near the front were two faces she remembered.
Ther-Aoughin and Kyu-Nhogo.
Shuu-Kena backed away from the window. Not long after, a gunshot fired through it and into a wall. Shuu-Kena beckoned to her children to follow her, and they took the back door out of the house. The siren was even louder outside, and mixed with the sound of gunfire. She wondered if she would be able to hear after the whole ordeal was over.
Shuu-Kena wasn’t sure of what to do. Evidently someone had seen her position already and was likely to come after her soon. Yet she couldn’t make her legs move, and the sound of the siren and the gunfire was too loud for her to discuss something with her children. They looked every bit as nervous as she felt, and she had to wonder if she would be able to get them moving.
‘How did they reach us here? Why would they come here?’ The answer was obvious to her: Neigghed’s peace would be their downfall. Shuu-Kena began to despair. ‘If they can take Bledger, and are on their way with Plucehon and Neigghed, where are we supposed to go?’
In the midst of her thoughts, she noticed Ii-Ching point at something. An army of people was heading their way, consisting of both grounded species and avians. Shuu-Kena pushed her children to run, but slowed herself when she noticed yet another familiar face.
La-Iin’s.
‘No…’
Shuu-Kena was in shock, but she knew what she had to do regardless. She continued running, keeping her children ahead of her, ignoring the army’s speed for her own sanity. But the avians obviously had the advantage, and the grounded species were not far behind: gunshots sounded behind her and avians closed in on her. At one point, when she nearly tripped, one descended upon her, and though Shuu-Kena kept her feet moving, she was already prepared for the worst.
She was carried into the air, her children grabbing on to her. Shuu-Kena tried to keep them off of her, but she was soon high above the ground. She knew what was the likely fate of her and her children, but she still couldn’t bear to be the cause of their death.
To Shuu-Kena’s surprise, however, she and her children weren’t shot or dropped. The avian carrying them landed, and it was then she caught sight of La-Iin’s face once more.
“La-Iin!”
“I should have known you’d come to live in Neigghed,” she said. Shuu-Kena flinched. Her friend’s tone sounded antagonistic.
“Um…”
“Before you ask any questions, yes, I did save you. So go off and go someplace else aside from Neigghed.”
“Aren’t you going to get in trouble!? It looked like you were working with my family!”
La-Iin scoffed. “I’m only looking for my own opening. But what I’m doing is too major to get you involved in. So run with those kids of yours and keep going. I wouldn’t let you get killed by that stupid group.”
La-Iin flew off before Shuu-Kena could say any more.
“Mommy? Who was that nice lady?”
Shuu-Kena stood up. “I’ll tell you later. For now, we have to keep running. Don’t worry, I have an idea of what we can do, but I can’t tell you anything until we’re safe. So just follow me.”
Her children looked uncertain, but they nodded and followed after her.

—–
‘La-Iin…’
Shuu-Kena stared at a painting she had made of her dear friend.
‘I wonder, if something like that really happened in the future, would you save me?’

20.597.To See the Future–Part 5

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 597
“To See the Future–Part 5”

“I think the most annoying part about life is having ideas that you can’t do anything about because you can’t move on your own.”
La-Iin put down her crayon and glared. “If I agree with those ideas and you’d tell me what they were, I might help you with them.”
“I seriously doubt you would help me build a harem of women.”
“And you would be right.”
“When it comes to the subject of my autonomy, you have a fickleness that you obviously got from that woman.” La-Iin’s glare became more intense. “In the past it seemed like the idea of me becoming autonomous was a little appealing to you, and now you obviously hate it. I suppose I can at least give you that you’re more consistent than the woman who gave you that trait…”
“Hm…well, you wouldn’t understand, Bes-Isa. I’m thinking over my plans every single day so I don’t know what would be best for me. Maybe someday I’ll find out it really will be better for me if you are autonomous. But for now there’s one big problem.”
“What? Your half-Normal side dominating your brain?”
La-Iin hissed. “You realize I live with Mama, right!? Someone who doesn’t know about what Sale-Dessu found out!? You didn’t like the idea of not being able to go outside, but what you didn’t think about is that it goes a step further than that. If you became autonomous right now, not only would you not be able to go outside, you’d be stuck in my bedroom and Mama would always be asking ‘Where’s Bes-Isa? Where’s Bes-Isa!?’ and I’d have to come up with some dumbass excuse just to cover for you!”
La-Iin began to pant. “Wow, you really thought this over.”
“I needed an excu–err, rebuttal for you next time you brought this up.”
“Ah huh.”
“The future is a work in progress, Bes-Isa. We’ll see how things turn out. For now I need to keep on planning. …though Mama helping me with my blood studies has certainly paid off a little bit, heh heh heh…”
‘A work in progress, huh. Ah, it would be so nice if I could become autonomous. My future won’t be much if I can’t. But if I can…’

***

Bes-Isa cackled as she brought her whip down on Mit-Sun and Eul-Bok.
“Scream, scream! Oh, how I’ve waited for this day!”
“P-P-Please, stop…” Eul-Bok begged. Mit-Sun didn’t say anything–she was cowering a short distance behind Eul-Bok, her hands on her head.
“What would it say about me if I gave you mercy when La-Iin doesn’t?” She brought the whip down again and gave another cackle.
“This feels so good….”
“Bes-Isa.”
Bes-Isa turned around. La-Iin landed behind her, San-Kyung right behind. Bes-Isa grinned.
“Hello there, La-Iin, pumpkin boy.”
“I have a name.”
“What are you here for? Want to take over whipping that woman and the brat?”
“Actually, no. I was going to ask if you could stop for now. I need Mama–err–Mit-Sun for something. Also, Sale-Dessu wants to see you. Something about a check-up.”
“Aw, damn. Well, I’d love to go and all, but ah, how am I going to get there?”
“Mind giving her a little assistance, San-Kyung?”
“Yes, I do.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “If you do this for me, I’ll let you see rival-boy outside of his cage for a little bit. He can even….ugh…come to dinner. I wouldn’t make you do this, but I don’t want Bes-Isa falling apart. Ever since she gained her autonomy, she has been a useful fixture in my army, especially ever since some of my planned people fell through.”
Bes-Isa grinned. Before she could say anything in response, however, she was lifted into the air. San-Kyung levitated off at a speed that surprised her. ‘You’d think without wings moving through the sky would be a lot slower…’
They landed at the castle. “You know where Sale-Dessu is. I don’t need to be your guide.”
“I wouldn’t want you to be. To be honest, I don’t know what La-Iin sees in you.”
San-Kyung did not respond; as Bes-Isa walked inside, she could have sworn she heard him mumble “Dosa-Mina”, but the rest of what he said was incomprehensible.
Bes-Isa navigated her way through the castle, meeting up with Fer-Shi on the way.
“It’s so boring in here sometimes,” she had said. “Although I guess I shouldn’t say that. Some people have it really bad in La-Iin’s world. I’m one of the lucky ones…”
When she reached Sale-Dessu’s room, she was surprised to see bags under his visible eye. He looked incredibly stressed. He beckoned for her to stand on a small metal circle, then set to work.
“So, uh, hello, Sale-Dessu.”
“Hello.”
“I hear you’re the one who summoned me here.”
“Yes, I-I checked the schedules a-a-and you are scheduled for a…for an experiment. I mean examination.”
“Geez, have you been getting any sleep?”
“Not much, no.”
“La-Iin working you that hard? She really is a sadist.”
“No, it’s my own stresses…” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Everything looks fine to me…have you been feeling strange?”
“Nope, better than ever.”
“Okay.” Sale-Dessu sighed. “I guess you are an improvement over Eul-Bok. I…I mean physically…”
“Heh.”
“How is….how is Eul-Bok?”
“Oh, well, he’s surviving. Still a blabbermouth. But lately I’ve been appreciating the way he blabbers when I show up…”
Bes-Isa couldn’t tell if the look on Sale-Dessu’s face was one of anger or one of sadness. “I was worried you might over-exert yourself, but I guess you’re fine…”
“Yeah, that’s good. Hey, um, Sale-Dessu?”
“Yes?”
“Try not to lose so much sleep, alright?”
“I’ve always been an insomniac, though…” He yawned.
“If it makes you feel better, I’ll make sure things are a little more lenient on Eul-Bok. Maybe I’ll even barter with La-Iin to let you see him again if you do something in return for me.”
“Really…?” A smile crossed Sale-Dessu’s lips.
“Yeah, sure. Anyway, I should get going!”
She ran out the room. ‘I wonder…should I use that as sadistic torture, or a way to get something I want? Still, it is pretty weird to see him so sleep-deprived. Maybe he deserves a little leniency. It’ll be less uncomfortable that way!’

“Done with all your tasks today, Bes-Isa?”
The voice was all too familiar. “Koko-Reni!”
Koko-Reni smiled. Their meeting felt all too fresh in Bes-Isa’s mind–Koko-Reni had been one of the many slaves La-Iin had kept, and one of the first to be locked up at the start of her conquest. Bes-Isa quickly took a shine to her, and had since managed to barter with La-Iin to keep her out of her cage.
“If you’re going to keep that girl out of the cage, you had better find a use for her. If I don’t see any use, she’s going back in with extra punishment.” La-Iin had told her that, and since then Bes-Isa did her best to involve Koko-Reni in her activities whenever possible.
“Yeah, I’m done. But I could’ve been finished whenever.”
“Good. I’d say I’d like to hang out with you, but there’s really no place to outside, and I’m not allowed inside the castle, am I?”
“Unfortunately not. La-Iin calls me a pervert every time I ask if you’re allowed to come in.”
Koko-Reni giggled. “I wonder how true that is…anyway, Bes-Isa, I wanted to ask, are you really happy living in this world? I mean, I’m happy that I have you, but aside from that it’s pretty shitty here, don’t you think?”
“It is pretty shitty, but when you’re guaranteed benefits in return for helping out you come to like it. Also I’m evil, so all the chaos delights me. I’ve gotten a lot of what I wanted, except for a harem, anyway. But that’s alright, because you make up for having seven girls at my side.”
Koko-Reni laughed. “Bes-Isa, you sap. But anyway, doesn’t it get boring sometimes?”
“Boring? I like this. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you, but I was a V-Puppet before I met you. So getting to do things like this, it’s nothing at all like it was for me for around thirty years. I’m happy because I can move and do what I want.”
“I guess.”
“Well, I am pretty good at bartering with La-Iin, you know,” she said. “We’re longtime friends and all. Maybe I can barter to have her set up a little something you’d like more.”
“Like ice cream?”
“I’ll see, but it might be blood ice cream.”
“Ah, that’s fine.”
“If there’s one good thing about being a former V-Puppet, it’s that the moment you get what you want, it’s so satisfying you become simple. …well, that’s what stupid Euly said to me before I locked him up, anyway. And a benefit to this world is that I can go wherever I want! I’m free!”
Bes-Isa gave a wild laugh. Koko-Reni joined in. “Well, if you’re happy, then I’m happy too.”
“And I am happy. This is the best future I could have asked for. I’m sure I could have made something out of the other ones, but hey, I got what I wanted, so who cares about what might have happened!?”
Bes-Isa pulled Koko-Reni close and kissed her. ‘Oh yeah, this is the good stuff.’

—–
“Ahahahaha…..”
“What’s with the creepy giggle? And you call me creepy…”
“I was just thinking about how nice freedom is.”
“Hm. Not like you have any.”
“Yeah, I guess not. …you know, La-Iin, while I like your slave idea, I can see why goody-goodies wouldn’t. Everyone likes to be free to do what they want. Well, except maybe weirdos. I know I would be happy if I was free…”
“What?”
“I hope your future gives me the freedom I want. And I damn well hope that Koko-Reni actually exists, or at least someone like her…”
“Start making sense or I’m not waking you up again until school starts!”

18.595.The One Who Brings my Enjoyment

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The One Who Brings my Enjoyment”

“So did you hear the rumors about Mrs. Eteibreit and her husband? Like how they’re in an open relationship!?”
“I think I already knew that was the case…”
“Guess you’re not much of a gossip type, huh, Cahongyun?”
“Not really. I guess I’m curious about a few people, but when it comes to Mrs. Eteibreit, I’d rather not hear about her.”
Leirhyn chuckled. “Yeah, I guess you’d rather not. Ooh! Ooh! But did you hear that apparently they have threesomes?”
“Not surprised.”
“How about if I told you they did things way more extreme than that?”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed and her mouth hung wide open.
“Certain people shouldn’t be gossiping about their employers if they want to keep their job.”
“Eek! M-M-Mrs. Eteibreit! Ahaha! Sorry if it seemed gossipy! I just wanted to bring it up! I totally support your decision to be in an open relationship and all that weird shit!”
Eteibreit smacked Leirhyn with her tail. “I can tell when someone’s being genuine and when they’re being disingenuous. You have to learn it when you’re a Succubi, after all…anyway! I don’t appreciate that kind of talk!”
Eteibreit clapped her hands and flew off. Leirhyn rubbed the back of her head. “Damn it…why do you look so surprised, Cahongyun?”
Nearby the two women, Uil-Cur sighed. ‘Oh, just some time ago that would have been us talking together after work about their strange relationship. Why did I have to go and mess it up? But maybe this is for the better. After all, this pain will subside, in due time…’
“Having love troubles, are we?”
Uil-Cur flinched. “Uh–uhm–y-you misunderstand, Mrs. Eteibreit! Ha ha, I was just going to work overtime…”
“God, my employees are such liars!” Eteibreit yelled. Uil-Cur flinched. “Be honest with yourselves for once, will you!?”
“Um, Mrs. Eteibreit? Are you in a worse mood than usual?”
“If I am it’s due to the incompetence of my workers!” She smacked him on the head with her tail. Uil-Cur groaned. “Please, Haner. Your desperation is painfully obvious. I’ll cut you some slack and tell you this: I certainly don’t speak for all women, however…I do know that there are quite a few women who don’t go for men who act the way you are right now. There is a niche for it, I’ll give you…but Cahongyun can be painfully average at times, so I’d doubt she’s like that.”
Uil-Cur lowered his head. “I already know she doesn’t feel the same way I do.”
“That’s true. And maybe it’ll stay that way. Perhaps things are worthless. But if you’re wanting to try again with her, instead of acting like a wimp do something about it. Cahongyun might not feel the same way as you do romantically, but I would be incredibly surprised if that applied likewise for how she feels towards you platonically. If you were willing to throw caution to the wind to confess, why can’t you do the same for trying to rekindle a friendship?”
“…”
“You have no experience.” Eteibreit walked up to him and placed her tail on his chin. “Mask that fact by acting like you do.”
Eteibreit flew off, her tail and ears twitching as if she were angry. Uil-Cur turned his attention back to Mit-Sun and Leirhyn, who were now talking about a much more mundane topic.
‘It’s been over a month. That’s not that much time. Maybe I should try again, but what if it ends out that she doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore? After the way I treated her last time we spoke, I wouldn’t blame her…’
Watching Mit-Sun was almost too painful for him to bear. ‘What do I do…’

***

Mit-Sun stretched. “It was nice talking to you again, Leirhyn. You and I have a really sporadic meet-up schedule.”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter if we do! We’re that kind of friend where we can not meet up for ages and still have something to talk about!”
“Yeah, you did say something like that before, didn’t you?” She stretched again. “I’ve been feeling good lately, though. Meeting up with you just adds to that.”
“I’m glad!”
“I should probably get home now, though. It’s still August after all, and I’m always wary about leaving La-Iin home alone. Well, I’ll see you tomorrow, Leirhyn.”
“See ya, Cahongyun!”
‘It sure was nice to talk to Leirhyn again,’ she thought. ‘She definitely has a more active life than I do. But that’s not a bad thing! I do plenty in life!’
When she passed by Eteibreit’s office, Mit-Sun picked up her pace. As soon as she was almost out the building, someone landed in front of her.
“Eek!”
“I’m sorry!” Uil-Cur said, evidently flustered. “I didn’t mean to scare you!”
“Uil-Cur?” Mit-Sun took a deep breath. “You almost scared my soul out of me…”
“I’m really sorry, Mit-Sun. I just had to catch you before you left.”
“Why? You didn’t want to talk to me last time I approached you.”
Uil-Cur’s face twitched. “Yes, that’s true. And I know I probably hurt your feelings with that behavior….but I had to approach you now, because, well….I want to be friends again, Mit-Sun!” He grabbed her shoulders.
“What? I thought we were still friends.”
“I…I wasn’t sure if you felt that way or not,” he said. With a nervous chuckle, he let go of her shoulders. “I saw you talking with Leirhyn and I just remembered all those fun times we used to have together…it’s my fault we’ve been distant lately. I should have taken your words to heart and not let it affect me, your rejection I mean, but I did, and we missed time together because of that. I’m sorry. But I do still want to be friends with you.”
“Uil-Cur…” Mit-Sun sighed. “It’s fine. I was a little upset at the time, but it’s kind of unreasonable to expect you to go back to normal after I told you I didn’t feel the same way. So it’s no big deal. If you want to go back to the way we used to be, I’d be glad to do that. I’ve missed you lately, anyway.”
Mit-Sun smiled wide. Uil-Cur almost couldn’t bear to face it. ‘Mrs. Eteibreit is right on one thing, I really have no experience here…’ “W-well, with that settled, what would you say to going out someplace sometime soon? A theater nearby is going to be performing Vampire’s Stabmist. I can get us tickets to see it.”
“Sure, why not? Although if it falls through, La-Iin and her friend Fer-Shi probably wouldn’t mind putting it on for us.”
“I think La-Iin would definitely mind putting it on for me…” He cleared his throat. “Well then, see you tomorrow?”
“See you tomorrow, Uil-Cur! And thank you! I’m looking forward to hanging out together again!”
As soon as Mit-Sun ran out the building, Uil-Cur clutched his chest tight. ‘No, don’t start regretting it now, Uil-Cur. The pain of seeing her smile is a lot less than the pain from being apart from her….’
“What are you doing, Haner?” Eteibreit asked. Uil-Cur spread his wings.
“Heading home!” He flew out the building. Eteibreit shook her head and sighed.

—–
When Mit-Sun came home from work, La-Iin was sitting on the couch, Choungetsu next to her and lying on his back. Her glare was evident right away.
“Don’t look so angry.” Mit-Sun smiled. “Hey, La-Iin, what’s something you’d like to do?”
“Huh? World domination.”
“That’s not world domination.”
“Play a brand new video game.”
“…anything that wouldn’t be impossible right now?”
La-Iin pouted. “Continue my blood tests…”
“Want to go out and get some blood boxes, then?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Has something snapped in your brain, Mama?”
“No, I’m just happy.” She smiled. “I realize there’s a lot in life for me to be grateful for. I’m just trying to look on the positive side, and it seems to be working for me.”
“Okay?”
“Let’s go get some blood boxes, then. Get dressed first.”
La-Iin flew off the couch and into the kitchen. Mit-Sun was too happy to call her out on it.