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….”

12.528.The Days of Makeshire–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 528
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 3”

La-Iin opened the door cautiously and quietly, and closed it just the same.
‘It’s just the end of Makeshire’s story. I heard all about his success and a lot about his plays. I know more things now, and what I really want to know I’ll never know. Today has to be the day I conduct my blood tests, it has to! Of course Mama would never understand that, so…’
She tip-toed through the house, hiding and trying to keep her breathing, footsteps and occasional wing-flaps as quiet as possible. Once she made it to the kitchen, she immediately noticed Mit-Sun sitting there, the book open to a late page. Cautiously she began to sneak through the kitchen, thus far going unnoticed by Mit-Sun.
But this time, someone else noticed her.
Choungetsu began to bark happily and ran up to her, wagging his tail and pressing against her. “Damn it, Choungetsu!”
“La-Iin? What are you doing under the table?”
La-Iin stood next to Mit-Sun. “Mama, I like Makeshire. I really do. But this is the end of the book. He’s an old man who’s almost dead. I want to do something else! Don’t make me listen to your droll reading another day!”
“Droll?” Mit-Sun questioned. “Come on, La-Iin. Look at how few pages there are! You’ll definitely have time to do whatever it is you want to do.” She narrowed her eyes. “And if it’s nefarious I don’t want you doing it in the first place.”
“You’ll never stop me! And I don’t believe you! You took too long two days in a row! There’s a definite trend here, Mama.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Let’s just finish it, alright?”
Choungetsu whimpered. La-Iin glared at her, then shook her head. “Fine, but Mama, if I don’t have any time to do what I want, there’ll be hell to pay!”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes further. “Well, at least you’re listening, for once. Aaaaanyway, as you said, this is near the end of Makeshire’s life. He had his big burst of success, he’s still popular, but the man is an elderly Vampire, and his prime is long past, though still more present than some other notable people…”

***

Centuries had passed since the beginning of Makeshire’s career, even moreso since the beginning of his delve into stage plays. His parents, as well as his siblings Nillion and Aletta, had been dead for so many years living without them felt normal now. And Makeshire had written several plays which had been produced several times and translated into many different languages.
He had lived through nearly all of the 1000s, and soon the 2000s would begin. Still he went to showings of his plays. He could remember much from his career, both good and bad–and even today he was still working, writing what he suspected would be his final play: The Angels and a Conundrum.
The play had been inspired by thoughts of his siblings Nillion and Aletta, and the two main characters shared many personality traits with them. Even after so many years he could still remember clearly Nillion’s strict yet fair behavior, the kindness he had shown him when he was having trouble making his way in the world. He could remember Aletta’s gentleness–his sister had continued working and making treats for him even as she deteriorated in health. Thinking on Aletta was particularly painful–she had never even known that he had begun to write stage plays in the first place.
Still, Makeshire was determined to see through his final work. And he had already written a dedication to his family as the first page. ‘Writing has certainly improved over these years,’ he thought. ‘Before I was stuck using just paper, but now I can use a typewriter, and computers are on the horizon…’
Makeshire was happy for his success. He was happy that he was able to spend so much time doing what he loved, to the point he could make a living off of it. But he was done. He was ready to join his siblings and be nothing more than part of the world’s history.

“Mr. Makeshire? Is it true that The Angels and a Conundrum is going to be your last play?”
“Yes, it is true,” Makeshire sighed. “I’m an old Vampire. Even with the means of writing having improved–and not a moment too soon, those hand cramps of the past were a pain! But I am an old Vampire. It’s time the young people of the world took the helm from me and made their own stage plays that everyone will remember.”
“Nobody can make the kind of stage plays you do, Mr. Makeshire. You have a talent no other will share.”
“True. But so do those young people. And if I were to write a stage play that is similar to one of theirs, they would be accused of copying me when in truth neither of us would be copying, most likely. And I am not as well-inclined with the new happenings of the world as I was with the old. You must realize I have outlived much of my family. Vampires do not often do so by such a large margin of centuries.”
“I suppose I understand in a way, Mr. Makeshire. It has been a long career.”
“Indeed. But, I do not regret a single moment of it.” Makeshire smiled. “I know this is what I was meant to do–this was my purpose in life. I contributed to the world. I will be considered a part of history. And even moreso I have made people happy. I never expected this sort of outcome when I was a young man. I’ve done what I love for so many years. But death no longer scares me. I’m ready to embrace it whenever it comes. But be it tomorrow or in fifty years, this shall most likely be my last play. So I do hope you all enjoy it.”
“I’m sure all of us are hoping that as well, Mr. Makeshire. Thank you for the hundreds of years of plays. We hope that the rest of your life is filled with peace and relaxation.”
“I do too. I’d hate to be witness to the fifth World War when I don’t have the means to fight.”
“We’re looking forward to your last play.”
Makeshire gave another smile. This time, he said nothing further.

The seasons of that year passed. Halloween came and went, and Animated Pumpkins everywhere celebrated. Makeshire visited Manemica during Thanksgiving. Christmas came and went and Makeshire was showered with gifts. The Angels and a Conundrum opened to wildly positive reviews, with some saying it was Makeshire’s saddest play but also one of his best.
Makeshire completely retreated from the public eye after that. Many more people wondered about him after his last play, but Makeshire opted to spend his days in silence and peace, reading the works of others and his older plays. He felt lonely. All these years he had spent his time writing plays, watching as he garnered fame–and all of it had helped to bury the sadness he felt.
He missed his parents. He missed his siblings. He missed his niece and nephew. He longed for the simpler days of his youth. He was ready to die. But passing the time reading the various writings of the world and of his own wasn’t too bad.
‘Soon enough, my family, I will join you.’
His career had been an exciting one. He had never expected it to happen.
A few days into the new year, Makeshire checked into the hospital. The doctors warned him that if he wasn’t cautious, he could easily die–his organs had grown fragile over the years and could shut down at any moment. They warned him to come by if anything at all felt strange.
He was glad he had gotten to write all that he did. He wished Nillion and Aletta could have read the works and come to the showings. They would have had such fun, and would have been so proud. He could imagine Aletta, a kindly mother raising her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and further on. He could imagine Nillion, a successful businessman. They should have been able to pursue their goals as well. It wasn’t fair.
Makeshire was dismissed from the hospital, though he could tell the nurses were still concerned about him. They gave him medication. Makeshire put it on a shelf someplace in his house and forgot about it immediately after arriving home. Not two days later, one of the nurses called him and asked how he was doing, and if he wanted to be moved to senior care.
All those people he had touched over the years, many of them were gone too. Perhaps he would have more confidence, be more social when he met them in the afterlife. He had always wondered if writing so many plays had made him a bit of a recluse.
Pain wracked his body to the point where he couldn’t stand. It was laboring to breathe, and even an involuntary twitch felt like agony.
He hoped that even after he was gone, his plays still made people happy.
Makeshire opened his eyes. The pain was subsiding. At the edges of his vision, he felt he could see Nillion and Aletta. They looked at him with smiles, the perfect picture of health. They seemed all dressed up for a fancy event, and Makeshire wondered where they might be going.
“I think he can see us,” Nillion said to Aletta. “Hello, Makeshire.”
“Would you like to come to a special showing of your play? We helped direct it!” Aletta said cheerfully.
“My children will be there as well,” Nillion said. “It’ll be like a family reunion. Come on. Let’s go.”
“You helped with one of my plays?” Makeshire rasped. His siblings nodded. Makeshire smiled.
“Certainly. I’d love to go…”
Makeshire closed his eyes, yet the vision of Nillion and Aletta did not seem to disappear. No matter how much darkness flooded his vision, they were always standing right there at the corner of his vision, reaching out their hands and waiting for him to join them.

Not more than ten hours later, the headlines sent shock through several people around the world.
FAMOUS PLAYWRIGHT MAKESHIRE FOUND DEAD INSIDE HOME

—–
“And that’s the end of the book.” Mit-Sun slammed it shut. “…La-Iin, are you crying?”
“…”
“It was a big surprise when Makeshire died. I didn’t know much about him, but seeing those headlines was so weird…”
La-Iin shook her head. She checked the time.
“Mama, you took too long. Again.”
“I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Is that why you’re upset? Because you didn’t get to do what you wanted to? It’s earlier than yesterday! You have more time!”
La-Iin ignored her. She was lost in thought.
‘Now I know why Dami wanted to get that thing. It all makes sense now. And now I know for sure. I need San-Kyung at my side.’
Hearing of Makeshire’s death had made her sad, but she had known the man was dead since she first saw a Makeshire play. The thought of being found like him, dead alone inside her house, was unbearable.
She was even more determined than before to finish her blood tests as soon as possible.

11.527.The Days of Makeshire–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 527
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 2”

“Today is certainly the day,” La-Iin announced to herself as she opened the door. “Today of all days I will begin my blood experiments! And I know just where I could get some blood from, eh heh heh…”
‘Yesterday may have been interrupted by Mama, but no longer will I wait! Today I discover the truth about this new power!’
She strode into the kitchen with a confident gait, and once again failed to notice Mit-Sun sitting there with a book.
“La-Iin?”
La-Iin stopped in place, grimaced, and sighed.
“Yes, Mama.”
“There’s still more to Makeshire’s story.”
“Mama, I learn enough stuff at school. Can’t I do my own thing today!?”
“Didn’t you enjoy hearing about him yesterday?”
“I did, but then you took so long it was dinner time when you finished and you still weren’t done! If Makeshire hid so much about himself then why is there all this information on him!?”
“He wrote a lot of plays. That’s what a lot of this information is on. And you noticed some of it is speculation, right? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll reach the end of the book today. Why don’t we finish?”
“It looks like you aren’t even halfway through the book,” grumbled La-Iin.
“Oh, come on. At least you like Makeshire.”
“I know you’re just gonna take so long that I have to go to bed after you’re done. If you take that long, heed my warning Mama, I will follow through with my task whether you like it or not!”
“Hm.” Mit-Sun looked down at the book. “Don’t worry, La-Iin. Most of Makeshire’s notability comes from the time where he started garnering success. And that’s exactly where we’re at right now…”

***

After the success of his play The King of Marmotts, Makeshire found himself writing more plays than expected for the small performance group. He enjoyed taking the time out of his day to write, and even when he had no inspiration, the sheer number of scripts he had written meant that he could quickly revise any problems he had with one before getting the script out to the group. So far, only one of his scripts had been rejected, and each night he came to a showing, it seemed as if there were a fair few people who enjoyed his work.
“You have a true talent for words, Makeshire. Your work is the kind of which payment would be well deserved.”
“I am fine working for free.”
“Nonsense! Say such things and people will take advantage of you. Here.” He handed Makeshire payment, and though he felt reluctant to accept it, he did so without another word.
Makeshire had barely expected this performance group to like his writings so much, but he was quite pleased. Watching the performances, seeing people who enjoyed his writing and even getting paid for it–it was all a surreal experience. Back when he had been living with his brother Nillion, he had certainly never expected that his cathartic hobby would take off in such a way.
Needless to say, he was incredibly happy.

What would surprise him even more than the performance group’s acceptance of his scripts was an event that happened months after the last performance of his play June in the Meadows. He had recently delivered another script to the performance group and was working on another one he had recently come up with based upon a local story he had heard of a woman who jumped out a window and was currently recovering in a nearby hospital.
A knock sounded at the door, and though Makeshire tried to return his concentration to his work, he failed to do so when the knock sounded a second time. He stood up and head for the door, and was greeted by a tall Vampire man in fancy clothing.
“You must be Makeshire.”
“I am Makeshire,” he said, quieter than he had expected. “To what do I owe the visit?”
“Makeshire as in the writer of the stage plays performed by the Blood Aerial Troupe?”
“I have written stage plays for the Blood Aerial Troupe, yes.”
For a moment, Makeshire worried that the man would begin to yell at him, criticizing his works for overtaking the prior works the Blood Aerial Troupe had performed, but instead the man smiled. “Wonderful, just wonderful! I was hoping I would find you soon. Many a Vampire’s house I stopped by was confused by my mention of Makeshire. You could consider me intrigued by your works, especially your focus on half-breeds. What sparks such interest?”
Makeshire gaped. He tried to regain his composure as quickly as possible. “I find them fascinating,” he said. “particularly because in my childhood, it was thought impossible for two of separate species to birth a child…”
“Ah, many Vampires remember those days, but those of other species don’t tend to, hm?” He said, his smile turning to more of a grin. “Ahem. In this day and age stage plays have taken on some fame as a medium for those who are rich. Troupes such as the Blood Aerial perform in the streets, but I am a man who owns a theatre.”
“A theatre?” Makeshire was stunned. He had heard of how prestigious theatres could be–to find he was meeting someone who owned his own was even more surprising.
“Yes, indeed! And we have been fairly dry on ideas for performances–a rule of ours is never to repeat the same show except on special occasions. So I was wondering, perhaps you would loan a script we at my theatre could use for one of our productions? Naturally, you would be paid handsomely for your assistance, moreso if the show were to end up a success–though most proceeds would, of course, go to the theatre.”
Keeping his composure seemed to be getting harder with each word out of the man’s mouth. “Sir, I am but a humble playwright. Certainly there are other scripts out there ‘twould be more deserving than mine…”
“Nonsense! Makeshire, if you do not wish to turn over a script, that is your call. But my offer stands long as I stand at your door. I have read many a stage play script. I know quality when I see it. Should you be so concerned merely turn over June in the Meadows! I might say that is one of exceptional quality.”
“You would truly wish to perform a script of mine?”
The man nodded. “Your humbleness is endearing, Makeshire, but you must step out of your boundaries. You could achieve great success with your talent!”
‘Great success….’ Makeshire felt as though he could almost hear Nillion goading him on, telling him it was his chance to finally give all his play writing a meaning. After that, his deliberation on the matter was only a moment of seconds.
He extended his hand. “A deal it is, sir. My gratefulness is more than you could know.”
“Fantastic!” He chuckled. “I assure you, Makeshire, you will see: you are bound for success!”

Makeshire had been incredibly nervous about the idea of a theatre performing his works, but the performers of the Blood Aerial Troupe were supportive of his decision and a few even told him they would agree with what the man had said–his talents made him seem bound for success.
Makeshire couldn’t believe their words, but if he could do something with all the writings he produced on his spare time, it would be worth it. He continued writing as the theatre practiced his play, and the owner even invited him to a showing free of charge.
Makeshire had never been in a theatre before, and he was awestruck. He sat near the back and watched as the actors performed his play.
“‘Do you believe that someday we may all live in peace, Caeri? That someday all strife in this world will end and finally we will be left with nothing to pursue aside our dreams?'”
“‘Such words are nonsense. No, I do not believe that someday we may all live in peace. That is why we must keep stable what little peace we have, for the reverse may someday be possible. Our world did not make it here on peace. As we learn from mistakes as children, so do all people who bear witness to events of discord. That is what we must do to preserve this peace, is learn.'”
When the play came to an end, Makeshire readied himself to leave. He was surprised by the sheer number of people who gave applause at the end. Never had he seen so many at any of the Blood Aerial Troupe’s performances.
Normally, he was sure he would be nervous. But today he was just happy. He was reaching out to these people and giving them enjoyment. And to him, that was more wonderful than receiving payment for his works.

As it would turn out years later, the man’s prediction was right.
That theatre’s performance of June in the Meadows had sparked a sudden rush of demand for Makeshire’s scripts. As time went on more troupes performed his works, the theatre performed more of his plays, and a second theatre went on to produce both June in the Meadows and his early work The King of Marmotts.
Makeshire was dumbstruck, but he continued to work as hard as he could. He still had plenty of ideas for plays, after all, and as long as he did he would keep writing, but now he did so not only for himself. Not all of his plays received glowing admiration–he could remember one called Greenery Jubilee that many had not cared for–but the vast amount people were thrilled to see his works. They loved his take especially on the subject of intermixed societies and half-breeds, and after some time it wasn’t only other Vampires who watched his plays.
Makeshire’s popularity was spreading.
“Mr. Makeshire, what is your next play going to be about?” Some would ask him.
“I don’t know.”
“Mr. Makeshire, do you have a wife? Is she an inspiration?”
“No, I do not have a wife.”
“Mr. Makeshire, do you want to have children?”
Makeshire was unable to respond. His popularity had naturally given way to people who wanted to learn more about him. When he would go out in public and be recognized it was overwhelming, and hiding his identity didn’t seem to be working–people would recognize him anyway and it would cause the same trouble.
Makeshire was happy, but he was also overwhelmed. All this caused him to stay inside his house the majority of the time writing play scripts or going about his day–that and the fact that he didn’t much care for being out in the daylight in the first place, anyway. He was better off staying inside as far as he was concerned, though at times he would still grant the wishes of the people who wanted to talk to him.
“Thank you for agreeing to this, Mr. Makeshire. We know you don’t come outside much anymore.”
“I figured it was long overdue. Many have wanted to know more about me, so I decided to give in.”
“Alright then, a question some want to know, have you written anything that is not a stage play script?”
“I initially dabbled in novels, but my interest lies in stage plays first and foremost. I have adapted some of those old novels into stage plays.”
“I see. Have an example?”
“Vampire’s Stabmist…”
“Ah, okay. Here’s another question, then: what is your family like?”
“I would prefer not to go much into it, but I did have siblings. They are both passed on, but they are an inspiration to me.”
“I see. Mr. Makeshire, you have written several play scripts over your career, and as a Vampire though you are now fairly middle-aged, you still have hundreds of years left to go. Just how do you do it? How do you produce so much writing within this amount of time and never lose your ideas? How do you keep yourself interested in it?”
Makeshire had to ponder over the question for a long while; it hadn’t been something he had exactly given much thought to. He mostly enjoyed sitting down to write a play script and didn’t think about why he got so much enjoyment from it.
But that question had made him think, and now he believed he had a response.
“Well…as you know, we Vampires lead long lives, so to find something that keeps us enraptured for a long time can be quite difficult. However, I was lucky enough to be one who is interested in many things in this world, the way they work and why they happen, the bad and the good…when my interest in something is high I develop a desire to make a stage play based around said interest. Therefore, so long as the world keeps turning, I think my inspiration will continue.”
“I see. Quite interesting!” The man scrawled down his words. “Now, mind telling us a little bit more?”
“Certainly. I figured you had more questions to ask, anyway.”
Makeshire found his popularity quite overwhelming, but in the end, when he thought on it, he was doing something that made him happy that in turn, made other people happy and entertained. He had no regrets for following this path, none at all.

—–
“Ohh…”
“What’s wrong, La-Iin? We’re getting closer to the end.”
“I’m starving….again. Mama, you failed me!”
“I’m sorry!” Mit-Sun closed the book. “Come on, we’re not on a time limit. We can finish this book anytime we like. Maybe tomorrow.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. She wanted to protest, but no words would come. All she knew was that it was very likely that Mit-Sun was going to put her through the same thing tomorrow, and despite her interest in Makeshire La-Iin was desperate for the book to be over with and for her to have the freedom to finally conduct her blood tests.

10.526.The Days of Makeshire–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 526
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 1”

After arriving home from school that day, La-Iin strode into her house with confidence. ‘Today is certainly the day! Now I know what way would be the best to determine the true extent of my blood powers. I’ll head out today and finally begin the true work on my plan towards world domination!’
She walked past the kitchen, failing to notice Mit-Sun beckoning to her. When she realized she wasn’t getting her attention, she called, “La-Iin, come over here.”
La-Iin turned around. “I’m busy, Mama.”
“You don’t look very busy to me. And if you’re going to get busy, maybe it can wait? There’s something I want to tell you about.”
The look in La-Iin’s eyes grew dark. “I certainly hope it has nothing to do with a Siren named Haner…
“Why would Haner be a part of this? Although, he did–never mind, you don’t need to hear that.”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap rapidly in agitation. She turned to leave the kitchen.
“Wait, La-Iin! Don’t you remember when I would teach you details about species study after school?”
“I learn lots about species study now at school! Though not as much as I would if Hyungdarou wasn’t such a hack. So what could you possibly want to tell me that I don’t already know?”
“For starters, there’s always lots to learn about the species. For instance, I barely know anything about Seahorsemen or Groundisers, and they’re not the only ones. Skeletaltypes don’t make much sense to me either, but aside from that, it also has nothing to do with species study. It has to do with the history of a Vampire I know you’re quite interested in.”
“Dami?”
“No, not Asul-Zenza. I don’t know nor care enough about him to give you a history lesson, and besides it probably wouldn’t be all that interesting. No, I was going to talk to you about Makeshire. Not only is he notable, he lived for over nine-hundred years, you like him, and you did tell me once your school doesn’t often talk about him.”
“More like they get interrupted if they try.”
“Huh.” Mit-Sun opened a book. “Well, his story is a long one, and like you know there isn’t a lot known about him since he wasn’t all that social. But I thought I’d tell you some about his plays, and perhaps both of us can gleam some details from there.”
“How could we? His plays don’t always make sense.”
“This is a history book on Makeshire, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said, pressing her hand down on the book in front of her. “Makeshire’s notoriety began hundreds of years ago, back when he was still a fairly young Vampire. Though he wasn’t too young a Vampire–I really doubt he could have done everything he did back in the 1100s…”

***

“What might ye be writing, fair brother?”
When his brother’s voice broke into his silence, Makeshire felt as though he had lost some of his concentration. He heaved a sigh and attempted to return to his work, writing slowly and carefully and trying to achieve the concentration he had before.
His brother seemed to have other ideas. “Makeshire, in times where parchment is scarce, ‘twould be courteous to speak of your reason for its usage.”
Makeshire was reluctant to answer. His brother sighed. “This silence leads me to believe the reason is nefarious or otherwise frivolous.”
“…I will replenish our store of parchment,” Makeshire responded quietly.
“And so we learn the reason truly is frivolous. Makeshire, you will not be able to escape to the realm of parchment forever. War looms constantly on the horizon and ye are an adult Vampyre. Understand, my reasons for my judgment.”
“That I do,” sighed Makeshire. “My sincerest apologies, Nillion.”
Nillion gave no further response, and Makeshire could only assume that he had left the room. He breathed a sigh of relief and went back to work on his play.
‘Whatever Nillion might say,’ Makeshire thought, ‘these writings of mine are a cathartic exercise.’

“Makeshire, the count of these writings is fantastic, though my meaning is nowhere near the positive sense.”
“I could imagine, Nillion…” sighed Makeshire.
“How much free time must a Vampire have in order to accumulate such a large number of writings? What all are they about? How could you manage it all? Does your hand not cramp?”
“Nillion, are ye upset, or intrigued?”
“The combination of both, be there a word for it! How does one make all these? A waste of parchment, but the tales told upon them are lost otherwise. A conundrum of the highest order you have created.”
“I do enjoy writing stage plays,” admitted Makeshire. “I have writings of other types, but the stage play format fascinates me.”
“Stage plays?” Questioned Nillion. “Why Makeshire, you’ve barely seen any! Why would your fascination lie with them?”
“I…I am not sure.”
“This is all not meant to judge ye, Makeshire. But the paper excess is astounding. To utilize more of this parchment in my care, ye must earn it first. I will then support your pursuits in such a case.”
“Truly, Nillion? Your judgments seemed stronger in the beforehand.”
“Who am I not to support my younger brother? Though I still question your choices, if it has you doing something, then pursue it. But use less parchment, and focus on other aspects of life. Taking a spouse is uncommon within our family. You would do well to join the ranks of those who have. Young though you may be, no longer are you in a Vampire’s prime, so do not wait it out forever.”
“…” Makeshire could give no respond, but when he noticed Nillion was smiling, he felt slightly more confident about his works.

Years of living had left Makeshire feeling as though he was wasting his many years. While the few people of other species he met worked as hard as possible and made the most of their life, Makeshire felt he barely contributed anything to the world. Always he was anxious, the world always feeling like it was on the precipice of war–and what felt like constant deaths in his family only heightened that anxiety.
So much went wrong in this world that was still learning to stand–Makeshire had heard tales of great conflicts that he was grateful to have never been alive for. In hindsight he had many things to be grateful for, but as he stood at Nillion’s grave that day, he hardly felt as though the world had anything in it that was worth forgiving.
All except his writings. All there was in the world gave him many ideas. When he made something horrible into a story, it felt as though it was slightly less horrible, because he could sense the hope that his characters had, could give them a happy ending as opposed to one filled with mass death. Perhaps Nillion would not have found the idea comforting, but aside from his brother his plays were all he had to think about.
‘Perhaps I shall do something about them,’ thought Makeshire. ‘Stage play performances have been going on in the nearby city. Would a submission from an unknown be accepted?’
His tales were filled with so many grim events up until their ends, and sometimes, he realized, even past their ends if he felt the tale he was telling could not, under any circumstances, reach a happier conclusion. The people who performed stage plays nearby often performed them for the rich and more well-off. Makeshire was nowhere in their league. Would anyone really want to perform his plays if he suggested them?
The idea itself made him feel anxious. But what did he have to lose from trying?

“You say that this writing was produced by ye alone?”
“Written,” Makeshire said.
“Ah, understandable. The writings of outsiders we had not considered, but perhaps we will review this and see if it fits within our guidelines. May we hold it for this time? It shall be returned in pristine condition, God as our witness.”
“I have faith it will be,” Makeshire said, spreading his wings. “So be a good day to ye all, and gracious thanks for your acknowledgement of my work.”
“Gracious thanks for your assistance!” Called back the man. “Return to this area in two morning’s eves and we shall deliver a final opinion!”

And he did return, his curiosity too strong to stay away for long. To his surprise, the performers had graciously accepted his writings, and invited him to a showing of the performance. Makeshire had felt a mixture of anxious and timid at their acceptance. He tried to imagine how Nillion might react to this news, though the thought only made him feel sad.
The performance, held for five nights, was of his play The King of Marmotts, a play about a king presiding over a kingdom of “Marmotts”, mixed-breed people who were outcast and shunned by all societies. Few people had shown up to the performance on the night he had come, and he was slightly distracted throughout the showing both of thoughts on his family and of the opinions of the other people, especially as he knew “Marmotts” were often thought of negatively, contrary to his script.
But as well as his concerns he was also entranced by the performance of something he had written. Reading it had been one thing, but to see actors performing his roles and speaking lines he had written amazed him.
After the end of the play, one Vampire woman approached him.
“I heard from an actor that you are the author behind this script,” she began. Makeshire tried to remain collected.
“Your perspective intrigues me. I look forward to seeing further works out of you.”
Makeshire was stunned. The last thing he had expected was to hear that someone had liked his work. It gave him a thrill.
If he could interest this woman, perhaps he could put a foot in the world that way–by giving people some entertainment.
After all was said and done, he approached the man behind the performers once more.
“I do not mean to be imposing myself upon you. But in any time you may need a script to perform, I am willing to provide.”
“How strange you would bring this up! I was wishing to talk with you about your scripts as well. Why don’t we speak over tea?”
Makeshire nodded. “I would like that.
It felt like the start of something big–though Makeshire didn’t dare get his hopes up.

—–
“Mama, all this about Makeshire is fine, but I’m staaarving.”
Mit-Sun checked the time. “Oh, it is getting pretty late. I suppose we could leave the rest for tomorrow.”
La-Iin sighed. “How long is that book?”
“Pretty long. Why?”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “Never mind.”

7.523.Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 523
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7”

“Yong-Hin, take a look at this. I managed to recover some details about this ‘Startimatum’. I even nabbed a picture. Take a look at this face. I have no doubt in my mind that this is Mr. Hyusen. Our science teacher is a part-time pornographer.”
Yong-Hin giggled. “How devastating it would be if such information was leaked to the world!”
Yul-Hiis relaxed in his seat. “‘Twould be, but I think it will be all the more satisfying to watch him out himself. It’s not like we’re kids, exactly. I wouldn’t call adolescents children. We’ll understand what he’s done.”
“We’re only barely adolescents, though.”
“We’re adolescents nonetheless,” Yul-Hiis said. “Whatever the occasion, I look forward to seeing the look on his face when they all learn that Startimatum and Mr. Hyusen are the same person. Heh!”
Yong-Hin giggled. “My oh my do people love to hide the parts of themselves they’re ashamed of.”
“That can be said without a doubt!”

***

Yong-Hin had found herself with an insatiable curiosity for all things in the world ever since she was young. Her parents interchangeably described her as a treasure hunter, investigator and just a nosy young girl. In her early life, many of the facts she sought after were subjects that would help her in school or taught her tidbits she personally found quite interesting.
However, as she grew older and after having met the equally-curious Yul-Hiis, Yong-Hin’s curiosity extended past that and she focused most of her energy on finding out far darker things about the world–and the tidbit she and Yul-Hiis had found on their science teacher being a pornographer made her want to laugh each time she remembered it during class.
“Ah, I hope the discovery of information becomes even easier in the future,” Yong-Hin said. “Already you almost had to pay for a bimbo in order to find out that tidbit about ‘Startimatum’.”
“What did you say?” Mr. Hyusen asked. Yong-Hin and Yul-Hiis giggled. “Absolutely nothing, Mr. Hyusen!”
Mr. Hyusen gaved them a concerned expression. He pushed his glasses up and stared down at a book.
“Oh, he’s so blatant it can’t be long now.”
“The risk was far higher than paying for a bimbo, fair Yong-Hin,” Yul-Hiis sighed. “Had I gone any farther it would have been more of a man-bo I was paying for. That district is truly curious. I might have to visit it again someday.”
“The idea of you getting with a man-bo isn’t all that unappealing,” Yong-Hin giggled. Yul-Hiis gave her a wry look. “Your idea of entertainment confuses me, Yong-Hin. Now, what say we go looking for another piece of information today?” Yul-Hiis blinked. “Damn it!”
“What’s wrong?”
“I’d love to go searching the murky depths of downtown with you today, but I just remembered I and my parents have an obligation to some stupid butcher Narwhaltae family. We promised them we would go fishing and talk on something or another. My parents truly want me to befriend their young son, but he is simply so boring!”
“Oh, what a shame,” Yong-Hin sighed. “Well, I have plenty of time, so I’ll make sure to go and look for plenty of juicy tidbits to share with you when you come back from your boring obligations.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“You always find the best ones,” Yul-Hiis sighed.
“Well then, tomorrow we’ll meet again?”
Yul-Hiis squeezed her hand. “Tomorrow for certain, Yong-Hin. Find something delicious, alright?”
“I’ll never find anything half as delicious as your Startimatum,” Yong-Hin giggled. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed that Hyusen was staring in their direction, again looking perturbed as if he had overheard what she had said.

Downtown was fairly sparse that day, but to Yong-Hin it felt as though people were everywhere. She spotted a man rustling through garbage. A woman handing out pastries, dark circles under her eyes. A Normal walking by wearing a bulky shirt through which she could see the bulge of wings. Everywhere she looked seemed to be a treasure-trove of people with new stories for her to learn, but she had no idea where to start, nor knew which people she could approach and successfully learn the stories of.
‘Yul-Hiis has a better way of going about this. He actually goes to the place these sorts of people inhabit. Meanwhile I have no idea how I might learn about these people in any way, nor any guarantee that they are actually anyone interesting.’
She strained to listen for any sort of conversation that might be going on nearby her. Only a minute passed before she heard a voice off to her left.
“…and they act like, ‘Oh, because you’re a celebrity, you must be infallible!’ but the truth is, most celebrities have a dark secret to hide. It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with being a celebrity, having some dark disgusting part of you that you want to lock away.”
“Do you have one, then?”
“No way! I’m open about myself because this kind of behavior pisses me off! But you wanna know what? Don’t go blabbing it to the public just yet, but I found out that Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And they say that Bes-Kaal beats on her family behind the scenes for dragging down her fame!”
“Whoa!”
“No duh. You might hear a lot of things as fans, but we hear even more within the industry–dark secrets they want to be kept secret…”
Yong-Hin smirked. The story interested her, not just because of the tidbits being exchanged but the mere fact of the celebrities gossiping about each other to fans. She jot down the notes, then sighed.
‘But this isn’t enough. Maybe Yul-Hiis would think it’s a tasty tidbit, but he always lets me off easy because he likes me. This isn’t enough. After Startimatum, I need to outdo him. And in order to outdo him, I’ll have to head off to a darker side of the world and do some serious investigation.’
She stood behind to listen to the rest of the conversation, then clapped her hands and flew off in search of a story.
‘One of these places has got to be less bright than the others.’ She checked around for any sign of someone familiar or someone interesting for her to watch. Flying over an alleyway, she caught scent of a strange smell that made her retch, and at the same time enticed her. Curious, she landed and folded her wings, taking a check around.
The alleyway was filled with dumpsters and strange powders lying on the ground, but the scent got stronger the more she walked on. Yong-Hin took her chances and walked out of the alleyway, only to be greeted by the sight of many more. She wanted to remark aloud, but reminded herself she had no idea what was awaiting her in this strange place.
She checked down each of the alleyways, and each one held a surprise–down one was a group of people who appeared to be doing drugs, while down another a Vampire man chewed from an Animated Pumpkin’s arm. Down one even further along, she spotted two people in what appeared to be just prior to intercourse–and it took a lot of resistance for her to look away.
Each alleyway held a curious secret and seemed to have its own tale, and the people down one seemed to be oblivious to what went down the other, even when a group of children chatting casually was right across from a Goathoof man being beaten by a furious Minomix yelling curses. Yong-Hin made sure to jot down a note on each alleyway, though even she felt a little off-put by the strange place and made sure not to stay close to one for two long.
The alleyway strip seemed to come to its end, a small stone path leading into a slightly forested area. Yong-Hin followed the path and found herself in a small neighborhood, the houses fairly symmetrical yet all showing some significant sign of damage that differentiated each one from the other.
Yelling sounded from one of the houses, and Yong-Hin peeked in through a murky window. A Minomix man was yelling at his wife and children, looking just as furious as the one she had spotted earlier. In another house she could hear faint sounds of nervous mumbling, but in yet another despite the poor condition of their house a small family was eating dinner and laughing.
The sight of it all was fascinating to Yong-Hin, who made sure to write down every bit of what she saw. ‘Anyone who says this world doesn’t have more to offer is lying. This neighborhood is proof of it!’

***

When Yong-Hin arrived home, she was surprised to see Yul-Hiis sitting on her bed.
“Hello there, Yongie,” he said. “You look even fairer now than at school.”
“What are you doing here, Yul-Hiis? I thought you had obligations. And who said you could come into my room?”
“That is something you’ll have to take up with your mother,” he sighed. “But the obligations ended faster than expected because my father decided to pick a bit of a….fight would sound better, admittedly, but it was more of a disagreement. So I figured I’d come here and wait for you.” He laid down on his stomach. “So, do you have juicy tidbits for me to hear? I’m curious about what’s in that notebook of yours.”
Yong-Hin hopped onto her bed. “I did find quite a bit. I felt adventurous today. I think I worried my parents a bit with how late I came home. But, not much. Now, take a look.” She opened the notebook.
“Celebrities are apparently gossiping about how one or the other has a dark secret they prefer to keep from the world. Apparently Banta Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And when I went a little further into a dark area near downtown, I found a whole little alleyway strip that held all sorts of nefarious doings. Go past that alleyway strip, and you find a small neighborhood. In this neighborhood you’ll find the occasional nuclear family, but most of the families here are abusive drug-addicts. My curiosity made me wonder if that was a connection to the fact that most there were Dualbreeds, but, being one myself and my best friend being one I should be the last to judge. Either way, it’s a true showing of the dark underbelly of the world, don’t you think?”
“The dark underbelly of the world has existed for a long time, Yong-Hin, long as good and neutral have been around. We on the more neutral side of the spectrum are lucky. We benefit from the good and avoid arrest in this good-dominated society, and yet we are open to the evil and are able to see it without becoming disgusted or sick. Merely, curious. But what prompted you to head off to such a dangerous part of town anyway? Weren’t you scared?”
“Not at all. A Demon’s powers, even a half-Demon’s, are made for combat, for the most part. And I’m a succubus-type Demon–I could always use my virginity to my advantage.”
“I suppose you could,” chuckled Yul-Hiis.
“Seeing all this made me wonder. Do you think someday when I’m older, I should open a business dedicated to collecting information?”
“They have something like that already. It’s called the government.”
“I don’t mean like that. I mean for my personal use, and there would be nothing the government could do about it.”
“Sounds like a fairly far-fetched dream, my dear Yong-Hin. But if anyone could do it, it would be you. Just make sure you have your head screwed on straight if you do pursue it.”
“You should know better by now that it just doesn’t do to underestimate me, Yul-Hiis,” Yong-Hin said with a wink.

—–
Eteibreit relaxed in her chair at her office, dwelling back on her earliest discoveries. Her business had flourished since its opening and now she had access to several bits of information. She couldn’t suppress her smirk at the memory of the small investigations she had used to do.
‘Now I have far more power,’ she thought. ‘The old me would have been overwhelmed if she knew her musing had become a reality!’

27.512.Baby-Voiced Over the Phone

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 512
“Baby-Voiced Over the Phone”

“Choungetsu, you are so stupid. I bet you’d eat anything.”
Choungetsu stared up wide-eyed at La-Iin, his tail wagging wildly across the floor.
“You’d probably eat some of the nastiest stuff out there. I bet you’d eat poison, or fire, or even chocolate malt balls!” She said with a shudder. “And that’s why you’re stupid.”
Choungetsu tipped his head to one side. La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “That and you don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?”
“La-Iin, stop berating Choungetsu.”
“I’m not berating him. I’m just trying to see if I can get through that thick skull of his. So far, all of my attempts have ended in failure.” She stared closely at Choungetsu, who licked her face.
“He’s too friendly, Mama. One day he’s gonna get himself killed.”
“You say that, but if something happened to Choungetsu you’d be devastated.”
“All I said was he was gonna get himself killed. Why’d you even bother answering with–”
Before La-Iin could finish her sentence, the phone began to ring.
“I wonder who’s calling?” Mit-Sun said as she head for the phone. La-Iin turned her attention back to Choungetsu, staring him down. Choungetsu stared at her, his expression still one of confusion, but he soon gave a soft yap, his nose wrinkling.
“You’re being really stupid. If I wanted to, I could suck all your blood and there would be nothing you could do about it. Biting me wouldn’t stop your inevitable fate.”
Choungetsu stared at her wide-eyed, backing away from her and folding his ears to his head. La-Iin stroked his head, but it did nothing to change the look of shock and hurt on Choungetsu’s face.
“It’s for you, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said.
“Is it Dami!?”
“No, it’s not Asul-Zenza. But it’s someone you’ll want to talk to anyway.”
Mit-Sun handed the phone to La-Iin. She put it up to her ear, curious as to who was on the other side.
“Big sister!”
“Ei-Tio?”
“Hi, big sister! It’s been a really long time!”
“It has,” La-Iin said.
“I wanned to call you to talk about some stuff! I’m four now! How old are you now?”
“Seven.”
“Wow, isn’t it just…um…five and six, then? I’m closer to you, big sister!”
“You are.” La-Iin couldn’t stop her smile. “What did you want to talk about, Ei-Tio?”
“Do you have something cool happening in Bledger? Dami and Floma said Bledger’s getting scary, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Bledger isn’t going to harm me. Oh! Ei-Tio, you want to hear something that happened to me?”
“What, what!?”
“I got a brand-new power. When I drink someone’s blood now, I can use their powers, too.”
“Wow! If you did that with me could you turn into a bat too?”
“Probably not,” La-Iin sighed, “but I’m trying to find out just how strong this power is. When I do, I can tell you all about it, if you like.”
“Okay!”
“What about you? Why did you want to call? Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Uh-huh! Something really cool happened to me recently too and I thought you would wanna hear about it! I don’t remember all of it, but I’m gonna tell you everything of what I remember!”

***

It was a bright, sunny day out, and Ei-Tio buried her face into her father’s chest. The bright sunlight stung her eyes more than she could bear, and even though she was excited about where they were going, she wished it didn’t have to be quite as sunny as it was.
“It’s alright, Ei-Tio. The carnival itself has a huge tent over it to block out the sun, so you won’t have to deal with it for much longer.”
“It hurts…”
“Do you think she has an allergy to sun rays, Jul-Ense?”
“No, she’s been fine out in the sunlight other days. It’s just particularly strong today. Even I’m feeling it strong. You Ghneckdos sure are hardy, Shi-Bara.”
“You and Ei-Tio are Ghneckdos too, you know.”
“I know, I know.”
As the trio passed under the tent, Ei-Tio felt as though her pain had been relieved somewhat. Curious, she glanced around, and soon broke out into smiles.
The carnival looked amazing. All around her there were various games, small rides and all sorts of confectionery all around. Several Vampires were there at the event, many of them families–she even spotted a few non-Vampires along with them.
“Wow!”
“Wow indeed,” Jul-Ense said. “It’s amazing. Makes me wonder what we should do first!”
The trio looked around the area, searching for what to do first, when Shi-Bara asked, “Hey, isn’t that Asul-Zenza over there?”
“Who’s Mr. Asool-Zenzah?”
“That’s La-Iin’s Dami,” Jul-Ense said. “Hey, Asul-Zenza! Good to see you here!”
“Hm?” Ei-Tio felt as though she didn’t recognize the man at all, though a few of his features reminded her of La-Iin. “Oh, hello there, Shi-Bara, Jul-Ense! And you too, Ei-Tio,” he said, reaching out to pinch her cheek. Ei-Tio giggled when he did.
“What brings you to the carnival? Aren’t you usually traveling the world?”
“This does count as travel, you know. It may still be in Vampire society boundaries, but I don’t live here. All that said, it’s good to see you. I’ve been in a good mood recently, so I wanted to do something fun! I do wish I could have La-Iin here with me, though.”
“I wish you had big sister too,” Ei-Tio whimpered. “Floma, Dami, can we play with Mr. Asool-Zenzah?”
“Well, bringing him along does still count as a family outing,” Jul-Ense said. “What do you say, Asul-Zenza? Want to join us?”
“Certainly!”
Asul-Zenza’s mention of La-Iin had made her miss her relative, but as she, her parents and Asul-Zenza went to get a small treat and played on one of the small rides–which, by the looks on her family’s faces, she was certain that she was the only one who had enjoyed it–the thought was put out of her mind for now as she was thoroughly enjoying this time spent with her family.
“What do you say we try the hall of mirrors? I never got to try those things when I was a young Vampire.”
“What are you talking about, Jul-Ense? You’re still a young Vampire.”
“Says the Vampire who’s still in his sixties. I think you forget that sometimes, Asul-Zenza.”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “I believe I do forget it.”
“Can I walk again, Dami?”
“Sure, Ei-Tio.” He put her down, and Ei-Tio ran ahead clumsily into the hall of mirrors. All around her were distorted visions of herself, and for a moment she was scared enough to cry, until she saw that her family looked much the same when they entered.
“You look so funny, Mr. Asool-Zenzah! Look, Floma, your head is really swelly!”
Shi-Bara chuckled. “It is pretty funny to see yourself all stretched out, isn’t it?”
“Mm-hm! Wow, if you got a pumpkiny-person, would they look really weird? Aren’t they super-tall?”
“They can be,” Jul-Ense said.
“I can only imagine how silly one of them would look,” Shi-Bara chuckled. “Their round little heads all swelling and their arms and legs and their tail all stretched…”
“Hee hee! It’d look so funny!”
Ei-Tio walked closer to the mirror, curious to see how that would distort the reflection of herself, when the light from outside began to quickly dim.
“Huh?”
“I wonder if clouds are passing over the sun?” Asul-Zenza suggested.
“Muahahaha!”
Ei-Tio flinched. She ran over to Shi-Bara’s side and buried herself in her leg. All of them remained frozen in place until Jul-Ense grit his teeth.
“All of you, stay back. I’m going to check what’s going on.”
“Jul-Ense, what if something’s happening out there?”
“That’s exactly why I’m going to do it! I have seniority over all of you, so if anyone should check, it should be me!”
Jul-Ense’s defensive anger did nothing to calm down Ei-Tio. As he walked out the hall of mirrors, Ei-Tio was too worried not to follow him.
“Ei-Tio!” Asul-Zenza and Shi-Bara hissed. They followed after her and out of the hall of mirrors, directly into the crowd of Vampires who were staring up at a masked figure with large bat wings.
“All you Vampires came here for a good time, didn’t you? Well, I’m no different from all of you! But my idea of a good time is a lot different. I…”
“What are you three doing out here!?” Jul-Ense hissed.
“Damiiii….”
“Ei-Tio, I told you and them to stay behind! Why’d you follow me?”
“I think you scared her when you got angry like that, Jul-Ense,” Asul-Zenza said. “What’s going on, anyway?”
“Now, brace yourselves all ye who have entered, for the overload of your senses I am about to dish out!”
Loud noises and bright lights flooded the area, and the crowd began to groan and shriek at the sudden burst of color and noise. Ei-Tio felt like dropping to the ground, but she couldn’t bring herself to.
All around the Vampires in the crowd began to change appearance. Their faces became fuzzy, their ears wider and larger, and their noses flatter. By the time the noise died down and the color faded away, nearly every Vampire in the crowd had turned into their bat form, and the man who gave the announcement broke out into laughter.
“You should see the lot of you!” He chuckled. He pulled out a camera and began to take many photos of the crowd. “Not to worry, though, I’ll make sure to send you all these pictures of what’s happened to you. But for now, Eclipsian is out!”
He flew off with the camera in tow. Some of the crowd members tried to chase after him, but none were able to catch him.
Ei-Tio still felt dazed by the noise and colors, but she couldn’t keep herself from laughing. All the Vampires around her looked ridiculous transformed into bats. Shi-Bara, Jul-Ense, and Asul-Zenza soon began to join in, giving soft chuckles at the situation.

***

“I can’t believe you ran into Dami!”
“Your Dami is really nice, big sister. But wasn’t it funny? Everyone transformed!”
“It sounds painful.”
“It was! But did you think it was funny, big sister? Even your Dami transformed!”
“I guess,” La-Iin sighed.
“I should probably get off soon. Floma and Dami are gonna take me to the park, and we’re gonna have a pickynick dinner there! I wish you could come over, big sister! I want to see you soon!”
“Me too. And next time we do, I’ll show you my newest power. Someday you’ll be able to use it too. Maybe I should train you early!”
Ei-Tio giggled. “Maybe! Bye-bye, big sister! Talk again soon!”
“Alright.”
La-Iin hung up the phone.

—–
“Damn it! Eclipsian is heading for the park! What do we do?”
“Brace yourself!”
Eclipsian flew up into a tree and cackled.
“Glad to see all you happy peppy little Vampires! I feel happy and peppy tonight as well! But I know something that will make me feel even more happy and peppy! Now, brace yourselves, all ye who have entered, for the overload of your senses I am about to dish out!”

26.511.From One Friend to Another

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

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

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

1.486.Happy First Birthday, An-Tois

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 486
“Happy First Birthday, An-Tois”

“When are your friends coming, Cou-Riette?”
“They should be here any moment now. At least, I hope so. I certainly hope nothing happened to them on the way here.”
“I’m sure that’s not the case. Though you must admit our residence is fairly out of the way.”
An-Tois babbled. “I do admit that.”
“Your son certainly has come a long way in the past year, hasn’t he?”
“Oh yes, he has! Last year he was a newborn, and now he can talk a few words–though he prefers to babble–he can walk, slightly, and he can fly quite well for an infant. It’s rather amazing, being here to watch him grow up like this.”
“I can imagine. I grew up around siblings, but I’ve never watched anyone grow from infancy. At least, not that I know of. I think little An-Tois might be the first, and I’m not even watching him from the beginning!”
Cou-Riette smiled. “Well, you might be here to see him grow for a long while onwar–”
A knock sounded at the door, followed by several more. “That must be them!” Holding An-Tois, she head for the door and nearly flung it open. Lishe-Ashyo, Mali-Ana, Gen-Reiya and Xhen-Wu stood together at the entrance, a few of them holding small gifts.
“Hey there, Cou-Riette, birthday boy!” Lishe-Ashyo exclaimed. “Really, happy birthday, An-Tois.”
“Li!” An-Tois called out, reaching for Lishe-Ashyo. Lishe-Ashyo smiled.
“How have you been, Cou-Riette?” Mali-Ana asked.
“Just fine. Although I’m still in shock at the fact that it’s been a year since An-Tois hatched!”
“Didja keep track of the day he was laid, too?”
Cou-Riette glanced away. “I’d rather forget that day…anyway, why don’t you all come in? We can celebrate An-Tois’ birthday together.”
“Sure!”
“I see some of you have presents.”
“Ma!” An-Tois said, pointing at Mali-Ana. “Ge!” He pointed at Gen-Reiya.
“I’m surprised he can talk any words at all,” Gen-Reiya said.
“So am I. But he’s got to grow up, and this is one of the first steps. So, what are the presents?”
“Geez, can’t you be patient?” Mali-Ana said.
“It’s been a while since I got presents on my birthday, so I want to see what you all got for him.”
“If you’re hoping it’s stuff for you to help you out with him, you’ve got another thing coming,” Xhen-Wu said playfully.
“I didn’t think it was anything like that!”
“Sure you didn’t.” Xhen-Wu winked. “But go ahead, let him open them now.”
“Should I really let him open them?”
“Why not? I’m sure he likes tearing into things.” Gen-Reiya blinked. “Right?”
“Well…we’ll see….” She sat Xhen-Wu’s present down in front of An-Tois. “Go ahead, An-Tois. This is a present for you.”
An-Tois looked up at Cou-Riette curiously, then began to slowly open the present. He gave a squeal of delight when he opened up the plush Bearperson.
“I know it’s generic, but hey, don’t Wiench children like teddy Bearpeople?”
“I’m not sure. I may be Wiench, but I’ve spent my whole life here in Vaelyn.” Cou-Riette gave her friend a wry smile. “But thank you regardless, Xhen-Wu. I’m very grateful, and it looks like An-Tois is too.”
An-Tois was holding tight to the plush, looking completely content.
“Can he do mine next?” Gen-Reiya asked. Cou-Riette nodded and set down in front of An-Tois Gen-Reiya’s present. An-Tois gave it a curious look, then still holding tight to his plush, gently opened it up.
“Those Birdmix claws probably help a lot with tearing off wrapping paper,” Xhen-Wu said. Cou-Riette nodded. “I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Gen-Reiya’s present was a can of powdered milk. An-Tois stared back at Cou-Riette, looking confused.
“Oookay, so mine is kinda something to help you raise him, but hey, he’s the one who gets the beneficial stuff from it, isn’t he?”
“He certainly is. Thank you for this, Gen-Reiya.”
“Have him do mine next!” Lishe-Ashyo complained.
“Wait, Lishe-Ashyo. He should see mine next.” Mali-Ana held out a small rattle. “I wasn’t able to get wrapping paper in time. Sorry.”
“No need to apologize.”
“I saw his rattle broke last time I visited, so I thought this’d be a suitable replacement.”
An-Tois took the rattle from Mali-Ana and shook it, smiling wide.
“Well, it’s certainly made him happy enough, and so long as he’s happy, I am too,” Cou-Riette said. “I suppose that leaves your present for last, Lishe-Ashyo. I hope it’s not a deluge of items like that ultimate mommy pack you got me once.”
“Nah, it’s something exclusively for An-Tois.” He handed An-Tois the present. An-Tois tore it open. Inside the wrapping paper was a blanket. An-Tois held it close along with the rattle and plush.
“Aw, he looks so sweet like that,” Cou-Riette said. “Uncle, where do you keep your camera? I think I finally have an excuse to take a picture of An-Tois!”
“I’m starting to wonder who’s more happy about today–An-Tois or Cou-Riette,” Gen-Reiya said.
“I don’t know if An-Tois even gets that it’s his birthday,” Mali-Ana said.
“Who cares? Whether he gets it or not, it’s still his birthday, and birthdays are a time to celebrate!”

***

An-Tois was fast asleep, cuddling his plush and wrapped in his new blanket. Cou-Riette and her friends watched him sleep, completely at a loss of what to do.
“So, uh…birthday boy’s asleep, and it’s still light outside.” Lishe-Ashyo said.
“My Dad isn’t expecting me back until a lot later,” Mali-Ana said.
“Did you have a back-up plan in case he fell asleep, Cou-Riette?” Xhen-Wu asked.
“No, I didn’t, but something has come to mind in these minutes we’ve been watching him. Think about it, all of us are practically adults, right?”
“We’re eighteen. I don’t think that counts as adult, depending on what you plan on doing.” Gen-Reiya said.
“Well, we’re close enough, and there’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a while. When my parents would host large parties, late in the night they would drink wine. I only had a few tastes of wine when in the most ceremonial situations–and around family members whom my parents wanted me to think I was an adult, thanks to An-Tois–but I’m sure none of you have.”
“Is that even legal?”
Cou-Riette shrugged. “If we only drink a little bit, I don’t think it will be a problem. And my uncle most certainly does have wine in the house, before you ask. Most Fasoucies do. It’s almost one of our staples.”
“What makes it not one?” Lishe-Ashyo asked.
“The fact that most Fasoucies have children. Some even large families where there are multiple small children in the house at once. I always planned on being one of them, but whether I end up that way or I don’t, for now all I have is An-Tois, and he is fast asleep. So let’s take this time while uncle’s at work!”
Cou-Riette flew out of the room; as soon as she was out of earshot, her friends huddled together.
“Who else thinks this is gonna be a bad idea?” Lishe-Ashyo asked.
“Of all the people here, I honestly thought you’d be the last one to say that,” Mali-Ana said.
“Cou-Riette seems like she really wants to try it, though. Maybe we should indulge her. I mean, all of us are here. We’ve all got common sense. What’s the worst that could happen?”
“Gen-Reiya, when people say something stupid like that, they’re usually setting themselves up for something bad to happen.”
“What are you four talking about?”
The foursome broke from their huddle to face Cou-Riette, who was carrying a bottle of wine and a few glasses.
“Er, nothing!” Lishe-Ashyo chuckled. “Hey, Cou-Riette, I’ll drink some of that wine, but what do you say we keep it to small portions?”
“That’s as I intended it, anyway,” Cou-Riette said. She poured a small amount of wine into each of the glasses, then handed a glass to each of her friends. “Did you think I would do something as silly as let us all get drunk? I do have common sense.”
“Like I said.” Mali-Ana said as she lifted up her glass.
“No you didn’t.”
“Yes, I did!”
“Now, now. Don’t wake An-Tois. It’s his birthday, and if he wants to spend it sleeping, I’d rather let him do that. Let’s just enjoy our little celebration, okay?”
“Alright.”
“Before we go on, though,” Cou-Riette said.
“What?”
“I actually have been thinking about trying this wine for a while. I always feared that with all my stress, I would end up over-indulging like you four feared. The reason why I suggested we try this now is just so I wouldn’t do that. So don’t worry, I’ve put a lot of thought into right now.”
She lifted her glass. “To our friendship, and to An-Tois’ birthday.”
Her friends nodded and clinked their glasses against hers. Then all five of them quickly downed their samples of wine.

—–
The five friends had taken the time An-Tois was asleep to talk and play together as they had when they were younger. Cou-Riette in particular enjoyed the time they spent together. She felt as though it was something that had been missing from her life lately.
Now, late into the night, she had fallen asleep on them as they talked. Although they were tempted to wake her up, they decided against it. They helped her into her bed, tucked her in, then left the house, keeping silent the whole time until they made it outside.

28.483.Return to Dasdoria

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 483
“Return to Dasdoria”

“It’s so frustrating, looking for holes in my plans,” La-Iin grumbled. “There’s always at least one.”
“I think there’s a hole in every plan to rule the world.”
“So you say, but when you put as much thought into it as I do, eventually you’ll find a way to patch those holes. Or at least come up with an idea that has no holes! But I haven’t done that yet!”
“And who knows how long it’ll take you?”
“You called me lazy yesterday because I spend so much time planning, but the more I plan, the more devestating the destruction will be. The more widespread the chaos will be! The more–”
La-Iin cleared her throat. “Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. I just realized how stupid it would be to tell you my plans. That’s one of the biggest holes. Once people know what your plans are, they start planning how to take you down. If they don’t know them, there’s no way they can plan a counterattack.”
“Or their counterattack could be the fact that they know you’re going to try and take over the world and they’ll plan multiple ways of getting you out of the way?”
“In that case, all I have to do is move those people out of my way.”
Mit-Sun shook her head. “You’re so ridiculous sometimes. But hey, I guess at least if it’s helping you think outside the box, that could be a good skill for if you fail to rule the world and have to start working a normal job.”
“Oh, don’t worry Mama. That will never happen.”
“So you say. And also, about those counterattacks–you do know some people plan resistances before and after something bad has happened, right?”
“They don’t do it for everything.”
“Maybe not, but they’ll do it for some things. Something as large-scale as ruling the world or heck, even just ruling Vaelyn, could easily build up a resistance dedicated to opposing or even killing you.”
“Yes, well then all I have to do is make things like North Vaelyn first. I’ve never heard of them having any resistance troubles.”
“I wonder about you sometimes, La-Iin…”

***

“Mama, you look like you’re feeling better today.”
“I am,” she said, sounding cheerful for once.
“What happened? You’re always sick usually.”
“I met this Warlock who gave me a potion,” she said. “I was skeptic at first, but he said he had tried it out before on himself and his family. So I decided to take my chances and now I feel better than I have in, well, however long it’s been.”
“Warlock?”
Mit-Sun nodded. “In any event, is there something you’d like to do today? Otherwise I’m going to go on a walk.”
“Not really. A walk might be nice.”
“Well then, let’s go!”
La-Iin couldn’t hide her happiness at the fact that Mit-Sun was feeling better, but another part of her wondered if the Warlock man had been the same one who had made the bread for her. He stuck out in her mind even though their meeting had been so long ago.
‘He must be one of the true goody-goodies out there,’ she thought. ‘Like Fer-Shi. Those people are useful.’
Mit-Sun had a confident stride as they walked across Dasdoria’s muddy lands. La-Iin, meanwhile, kept an eye out for anything interesting that was going on, but the scenery was much of the same–tired, exhausted and deceased people lying around in the mud, some surrounded by family and others by flies. The only break from this sight was when she spotted Fer-Shi and her family, who waved when they spotted them.
“Hello, Sanhuuns!” Mit-Sun called out.
“Hello there, Cahongyuns!” Tei-Sheu called back. Fer-Shi and Den-Matsu waved. La-Iin couldn’t help but notice how skinny the three of them were. ‘Am I that skinny, too?’
“Mit-Sun, you look a lot better than you have been recently.”
“I feel a lot better than I have been recently,” she told her. “I owe it all to a kind Warlock. He gave me a potion that I guess works like medicine.”
“That sounds nice,” Tei-Sheu said.
“Hi, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi croaked as she walked toward her. “How are you? Your Mom looks a lot better.”
“I’m okay. Are you?”
Fer-Shi nodded. “I got sick recently. But don’t worry, I got over it. Mostly. Anyway, it’s good to see your Mom walking around like that again.”
“It is good, isn’t it…” La-Iin mumbled.
“By the way, I hate to ask, but do you have any food on you? I’m really starving and I haven’t been able to keep anything down lately…”
“If I find something, I’ll bring it to you,” she said. Fer-Shi smiled. “Thank you, La-Iin. You’re the best.”
Fer-Shi wobbled on her feet. “Come on, Fer-Shi. You need a little more rest to kick that sickness.” Den-Matsu came and retrieved her.
“Aren’t you worried about letting her sleep?” La-Iin froze as she listened to Mit-Sun talk.
“Isn’t everyone? But she’s recovering. I’m just worried about what to do when it comes to food, that’s all.” Tei-Sheu sighed. “Well, go ahead and be on your way, Cahongyuns! Hopefully we’ll see you again sometime soon!”
“I hope so too! Take care!”
As Mit-Sun walked on, La-Iin joined her. “Nothing bad will happen to Fer-Shi, will it?”
“There are no guarantees in life,” Mit-Sun said, her tone almost emotionless.
The idea of losing Fer-Shi instilled in La-Iin a feeling of immense sadness she couldn’t remember feeling before. Just the memory of seeing her friend in her current condition made her feel miserable.
‘If she doesn’t get any food, I might not be able to see her again.’
“Mama, I’m going to go and do my business,” she said.
“Uh, okay. Well, be quick, alright? I don’t want to lose you.”
La-Iin walked a distance from Mit-Sun until she was sure she was out of her line of sight, then glanced around, looking for the familiar Warlock. While taking a look her eyes fell instead on two familiar boys–San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina.
‘They’re never in the same place, are they?’ While the both of them looked far healthier than they had in the Winter, La-Iin noticed that San-Kyung looked more stressed out than she had ever seen him, and she had to wonder why.
Curious, she decided to listen in and hear if they had anything interesting to say.
“You need to calm down a bit, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said. “I know better than anyone else how strongly you feel about this, but if you react rashly, you’ll end up in more trouble than where you started.”
“If you were like me, you’d understand my impatience, Dosa-Mina,” he said through grit teeth. “Every single day the world gives me more of a reason to hate it. What happened to my mother was a tipping point.”
Dosa-Mina lowered his head in response.
“I’m going to fight this place. All the people who put me in this situation by benefiting off the world. This world that doesn’t give a crap about people like me. I’m going to break free of this place, and then I’ll show them the extent of the mistake they made!”
“You need to plan things out first though,” Dosa-Mina said. “I’m all for a rebellion, but not one that involves blindly charging against the guards.”
‘A rebellion?’ La-Iin’s curiosity only grew. ‘I wonder what he’s planning. Maybe I should ask him about it.’
She began to creep closer to the two boys as their conversation continued.
“I know we need to plan. And I’m going to, don’t get me wrong. But let me just tell you how glad I am you’re here. Otherwise I’d probably be dead from the stupid moves I tried to make.”
“What are you doing on the ground?”
A third voice broke into her concentration and La-Iin startled, running away from the two boys. They glanced in her direction, but hadn’t seemed to notice her. La-Iin turned to see who the newcomer was.
“It’s you!”
“Have I met you before?” The Warlock asked.
“You turned mud into bread for me. It still tasted like mud, too.”
“…oh. I’m sorry…”
“I was hoping I’d find you!”
He blinked. “Why?”
“Because I heard you helped my Mama. And I really need some food for my friend.”
“Is your Mamun the woman I gave the potion to?”
La-Iin nodded.
“I see.”
“Can you turn mud into bread again?” She asked, picking up two handful’s worth. ‘This feels awful. But I’d rather do this than lose Fer-Shi.’
Though she felt disgusted by her attitude, the memory of Fer-Shi heightened her desperation. “Please.”
“You don’t need to beg. I don’t mind. Helping people is all I use my powers for nowadays. Although I usually prefer to do it from the shadows.”
He said nothing after that and began to concentrate on changing the mud into food. La-Iin watched closely as the mud changed into a few slices of bread and an apple. After he had finished, he nearly collapsed, his breathing ragged.
“There you go,” he panted. “You don’t need any more, do you?”
“I think this will be good,” she said. “You know, I think you’ll be very reliable to me.”
“I’m happy to be of assistance,” he said with a smile. “Anything I can do to make this worthless life of mine mean something.”
“Well, you’re not worthless to me. I could use someone like you. But I should get this back to her.”
“You do that,” he said. “And thank you for that, girl. It’s been so long since I’ve heard something like that.”
La-Iin gave him one last glance before running off with the food. She head for the last place she had seen Fer-Shi, but came to a halt when she noticed Mit-Sun.
“Mama?”
“I thought I’d lost you!” Mit-Sun gasped. “Where did you go?”
“…to do my business,” she said. “But I have a new goal now. Move, Mama!”
“Is that food?” She asked. “Why does it look so pristine?”
“I’ll tell you later.”
“What!?”
La-Iin ignored Mit-Sun and ran ahead. Imaginations of arriving and seeing Fer-Shi lying there deceased flashed through her mind, but she tried to ignore them.
Once she made it, she was happy to see that Fer-Shi was sitting up.
“This is for you,” she said, thrusting the apple in her direction.
“Where’d you find such a nice apple? I can’t take this, La-Iin!”
“You will take it, or I’ll kill you,” she said.
“But I–”
“No. If you die because of Dasdoria, I’ll mutilate your corpse. Eat it or you’ll die at my hands.”
La-Iin hadn’t wanted to be so rough on Fer-Shi, but she didn’t want her to have any reason to be reluctant. Fer-Shi nodded and bit into the apple, scarfing it down.
“La-Iin?”
“Here, Mama. Here’s the rest of the food.” She handed the bread slices to Mit-Sun. “My work here is done.”
“Thank you so much!” Den-Matsu said. “That was very kind of you, La-Iin.”
“Don’t say that. I did it for my own sake. Come on, Mama. Let’s go.”
She glanced back at Fer-Shi. “And you stay alive.”
Fer-Shi nodded. “I will!”
“Can you please explain to me what just went on?”
“In a moment, Mama. I’m hungry.” She took one of the slices of bread for herself and bit into it.
‘There’s a lot more going on in Dasdoria than I thought. Maybe I can find something to do in this worthless place. If I can find out about Molshei’s rebellion and if I have that Warlock on my side, maybe there is a way for me to achieve my ultimate goal!’

—–
As Sale-Dessu tried to sleep that night, he couldn’t help but think back on the little girl who had said to him the words that meant so much.
“You’re not worthless to me.”
Even though he was exhausted, those words kept him awake. He felt happier than he had in a while, and that happiness instilled in him an excitement that kept him alert.

22.477.Rainbow Fantasies

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 477
“Rainbow Fantasies”

At the back of Malicerie Public School, Deki-Tyunri stood a short distance away from San-Kyung. Nervousness had frozen his whole body, and though the situation was obvious he found himself wondering why exactly he was here.
“Elyshen, we need to talk,” San-Kyung said. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed how you act around me. Even if it had gone completely over my head, Dosa-Mina knew. He would have told me sooner or later.”
“I–I’m sorry,” Deki-Tyunri mumbled. “I know it’s ridiculous. I’ll leave you alone and we can pretend none of this ever happened, okay?”
“That’s not what I want, though.” Deki-Tyunri stiffened. ‘He’s going to kill me. I should fly away before he can reach me! Fly away as fast as I can!’
Yet he couldn’t bring himself to spread his wings. And now it was too late–he was face-to-face with San-Kyung.
“P-please don’t hurt me.”
“I’m not going to. Elyshen, I think you’ve got the wrong idea about what I want. All along you’ve been fearing what sort of response I might have if I found out about how you feel, but the truth is, now that I know I can safely say I….”

Before he could finish the sentence, Deki-Tyunri woke up.
“Deki-Tyunri, is everything all right?”
He was so nervous it took him a short while to realize that his grandmother was in his bedroom. He took a few deep gulps of air. “I’m fine, grandmother,” he said. “I just had a…strange dream.”
“Oh, well, I suppose that happens to boys your age sometimes,” she sighed. “Just clean yourself off and get ready for school.”
‘Clean myself off?’ Once he realized what his grandmother was implying, he almost threw himself back into bed in his embarrassment.

***

“Deki-Tyunri, you seem pretty jittery today. Something happen?”
“No,” he sighed. “I wish it was that. Then at least it would make more sense.”
“Upset about nothing?”
“No, not exactly that. I just had a…dream.”
“Ooh. Uh, I’m not gonna ask then.”
Deki-Tyunri pressed his lips together. ‘Lirako’s lucky she doesn’t have to deal with this. Or maybe she does and I just haven’t noticed. No, I’m sure she would have told me by now if that was the case.’
Deki-Tyunri’s memory of the dream was still fairly vivid, as if he had just woken up from it. When he spotted San-Kyung on the path to school, unconsciously he moved away from him, the dream replaying in his mind.
‘I know I promised I wouldn’t ask, but I’m so curious,’ Lirako thought.

San-Kyung watched as Deki-Tyunri walked over to Lirako’s left, shooting a quick, nervous glance in his direction before walking on, staring down at his feet. San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“What are you so angry about?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Nothing,” he said. “I’m just thinking.”
“About what? Is it serious?”
“No. It’s stupid.” He said, shaking his head. “So, do you think the lessons today are going to be anything new, or more of the same?”
“More of the same. They tend to do this a lot when new students arrive. Sure makes things easy for us though, doesn’t it?”

***

‘I can’t get it out of my head. The dream’s passed already! All the others fade away, so why is this one staying?’
Though it only made his nervousness worse, throughout that day Deki-Tyunri couldn’t help but glance San-Kyung’s way. Each time it reminded him of the dream and made him feel immensely uncomfortable, yet he couldn’t resist the urge.
“Deki-Tyunri, are you alright?”
“I’m fine,” he sighed. “Just…lovesick as always, I guess.”
“Ah.”
A few desks away from him, San-Kyung tapped Dosa-Mina’s shoulder.
“Huh? What is it, San-Kyung?”
“I’ve been wondering about something,” he whispered. “Why the heck does that guy keep looking my way? None of the other students do that.”
“La-Iin does that,” he said.
“She’s at the back of the class. And I expect that of her. Why’s he doing it?”
“I’m pretty sure I know why. But that’s for him to tell you. You’ll have to ask him if you want the truth.”
“No.”
“Then don’t get huffy about it.”
“I’m not!”
“Yes, you are.”
‘I wonder what they’re talking about,’ Deki-Tyunri wondered. ‘Oh, Dslellular’s so lucky. He gets to talk to him all the time. One day I should try asking him about how they got so close in the first place. Maybe…’
He shook his head. ‘No, that would never happen! I need to stop getting my hopes up. I wish today would be over already…’

San-Kyung wasn’t sure of why Deki-Tyunri kept glancing in his direction, but he found himself quickly becoming agitated by it. An idea of why he might be doing so had wormed its way into his mind, and he couldn’t stand it.
He was caught between a reluctance to talk to the boy and a desire to confront him about his suspicions, and throughout his classes he was unable to decide which one he should follow through with. But his agitation only grew each time he spotted him glancing in his direction, and by his second-to-last class he had finally reached a decision.
“Lirako, I need something to distract me. Do you have any ideas?”
“My little brothers are the perfect distraction. You wanna come over after school?”
“I guess that would be okay.”
“If that doesn’t work, then you still need to do something that commands full attention of your senses. If you sit down with a book, you’re just going to keep thinking about the same thing over and over. At least, that’s how it is for me.”
“You’re right,” he sighed. “I think I’ll accept your offer to come over, Lirako. I hope your parents won’t mind.”
“They like you, Deki-Tyunri. They’ll be cool with it.”
“Alright. …you know, I wish this stupid crush would just go away.”
“This has been going on for over a year, Deki-Tyunri. It’s pretty serious. I don’t know what you can do about it really, save for get a crush on some other guy.”
“Which could help,” he said. “Or it could leave me as a wishy-washy idiot with crushes on two boys. This is pointless, Lirako. I just don’t want to think about it anymore.”
“Well, try not to. You kinda have to focus during school. Don’t want your grades to slip any, do ya?”
“No, I suppose not.” As they walked into the classroom, Deki-Tyunri couldn’t help another glance in San-Kyung’s direction. ‘This is so pathetic,’ he thought.
The last class started and ended, and both San-Kyung and Deki-Tyunri failed to give their full attention to the lesson. Almost as soon as the teacher had left the room, San-Kyung stood up from his seat.
“Hey, you forgot to pack your notebooks,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I’ll get them in a little. I have something I need to do first.”
Deki-Tyunri helped Lirako as she packed away her school supplies, picking up one of her notebooks in his mouth. He dropped the notebook when he noticed San-Kyung standing in front of his desk, his gaze focused on him.
Lirako looked as surprised as Deki-Tyunri felt.
“Quit glancing in my direction. You’re a distraction.”
“I–I’m sorry,” Deki-Tyunri choked out.
“And are you–” San-Kyung shook his head. “Never mind. Just quit glancing in my direction.”
“Hey, it’s your fault you’re getting distracted. Stop blaming him.”
“You know, if he’s glancing in my direction, he’s obviously pretty distracted himself. So stop it.”
Before San-Kyung walked away, his expression changed to one Deki-Tyunri couldn’t quite read. He watched on in confusion as San-Kyung left the classroom, Dosa-Mina chasing after him.
“I wonder what he was going to ask me?” Deki-Tyunri mumbled.
“Deki-Tyunri, he may be an idiot when it comes to relationships, but he’s still one of the smartest students in Class D. He’s gonna pick up on how you feel eventually.”
“Is he…?”
“I think so. You should be careful. I don’t wanna know how he’d react to knowing that. Maybe he’ll cut you some slack, though. He’s not as mean to Cahongyun as he used to be.”
La-Iin glared at Lirako before leaving the classroom.
“He is right, though. I’m just getting distracted.” Deki-Tyunri stood up from his desk. “I think the sooner I get to see your brothers, the better.”
“If that’s the case, let’s get going, then!”

—–
“What were you talking to Elyshen about?”
“I just told him to stop staring my way. It’s annoying.”
“I didn’t think you were so easily distracted by stuff like that.”
“I’m not usually. He just had me wondering…”
“About what?”
“Nothing important.”
San-Kyung grimaced. ‘That had better not be the case. Yukkini was bad enough, and La-Iin’s annoying. He may be out of the way, but I’m not dealing with a third of them!’
San-Kyung tried to put his speculation out of mind as he head home with Dosa-Mina, who began to complain about Hyungdarou’s lesson from that day.