6.583.Eul-Bok’s Potential

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 583
“Eul-Bok’s Potential”

Baal-Mist watched Eir-Tyuj’s house closely. A sudden flash of light illuminated the windows. He smirked.

Sale-Dessu opened his eyes. He was in Eir-Tyuj’s house. Eir-Tyuj herself was sitting nearby, and she seemed a bit startled by his sudden appearance.
“Why hello, Sale-Dessu,” she said. “Hello to you too, Eul-Bok.”
“Hello, Grepeta! You sound awfully cheerful today.”
“Ah, old age can do that to ya. Don’t go thinking I’ve lost my vigor, though, or you’ll be sorely disappointed!” She let out a cackle. “What brings you here today?”
“Yeah Father, you never did tell me why we were coming here.”
“It’s something I’d like to discuss with Apeta alone,” he said. “Apeta, would you mind if Eul-Bok went off to do something else while we speak?”
“Why?”
“I have my reasons.”
Eir-Tyuj huffed. “Well, I know your boy has more sense than to go around messing things up. Go on and do what you will, Eul-Bok. We’ll call you back later.”
“How come I can’t be involved in this discussion?” He huffed.
“There’s a reason for it, Eul-Bok. Please, go off and do your own thing for now.”
“Listen to your father, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok pouted slightly, but soon head off, though Sale-Dessu could tell by his gait that he wasn’t happy.
“What is it you want to talk to me about? Your expression and tone tell me it’s serious, and considering you sent Eul-Bok away, I’m assuming it has something to do with him?”
“It does,” he said. “Apeta, both you and me know of Eul-Bok’s potential. He has the same innate potential other Warlocks have, and he seems to have a natural talent for these sorts of powers. But something’s concerning me. You and I are skilled in our powers too, but we struggled a bit, didn’t we?”
“I’ve always told you that I was one who had to work for her ability,” Eir-Tyuj said. “You likely could have been more skilled earlier on, had you not gone through the trauma you had. Eul-Bok having a natural talent for it does mean that he might be able to pull off more skilled spells earlier, especially if that’s what you’ve been teaching him.”
“But that’s the problem. Not everything he’s been able to do I’ve been teaching him. Apeta, have you ever heard of Subconscious Shift?”
“Yes, I have. There were plans to bring back the initial experiments when I was a young girl, but it was still deemed too intrusive to toy with. I would agree–such a power is really beyond what we should be using.” Eir-Tyuj scoffed. “Sale-Dessu, you’re not going to tell me Eul-Bok was able to pull off such a spell.”
“I have reason to believe that he was. I had a strange, rapidly changing dream recently, and I found Eul-Bok collapsed outside my bedroom door with a spellbook open to that page when I woke up. All the signs point to him having successfully completed the Subconscious Shift spell. I had never told him about this spell prior to him using it.”
Eir-Tyuj gave him an uncertain look. “Are you certain?”
“Apeta, would I lie to you? I already know how you can get when I do. Would I risk that?”
Eir-Tyuj sighed. “Fair enough. But if that is true, that really is beyond what I was expecting of him. I knew he was talented, that much is obvious, but that’s going above and beyond for such a young and inexperienced Warlock. Still, I may have a theory as to why he has this ability.”
“What’s that?”
Sale-Dessu gave Eir-Tyuj a curious look, but it soon became obvious it was not her who had spoken. Eul-Bok was standing a short distance away from them, watching intently.
“Weren’t you told to listen to your father?” Eir-Tyuj scolded. “Goodness.”
“How much did you hear, Eul-Bok?”
“I heard a little,” he admitted. “Well, actually, everything except the beginning of the conversation. Father, I can tell when you want to talk about me. No matter how hard you try, you’re not all that good at hiding your emotions.”
“I used to be good at that,” he sighed. “Becoming a father has made me softer…”
“That’s strange. It was fairly contrary with my husband and your father,” she said coyly. Sale-Dessu glared at her. “In any event, it was not your place to listen in.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. But I really want to know, you two think I’m really talented because I pulled off that spell?”
“Research on it was cancelled, so it counts as an incomplete spell. Performing an incomplete spell or finding your own is indicative of talent. …Apeta told me that, anyway.”
“And it’s certainly true.”
“Geez, you two are too nice.”
“We aren’t saying all this to be nice, Eul-Bok. After all, I don’t believe it’s because you were naturally blessed with such talent. I think there’s an explanation for it.”
“What’s that?”
“You, Eul-Bok, came into this world as the result of a power. You were reliant on a power to move around for a long time. You became autonomous because of powers. Well, putting aside your other exposures, you are a V-Puppet! V-Puppetry is a power. Owing your existence to power, that is likely the reason why you have such skill. Aside from being somewhat related to people such as Sale-Dessu and myself, of course.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Eul-Bok said. “If that’s the case, that’s pretty cool!”
“You have a troublemaker on your hands, Sale-Dessu,” Eir-Tyuj sighed. “In any event, of course you’ll still have to hone such power–you can’t just expect everything to work perfectly the first time. Even assuming you have such a talent for power thanks to the means of your birth, even those whose power is immense need to practice.”
“I know that.”
“And please, don’t try unfinished spells like that again,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Why not?”
“They still pose a risk,” Eir-Tyuj said. “And seeing as Sale-Dessu here has become far more nervous in the years I’ve been gone–”
“Apeta, please!”
“Don’t I know that,” Eul-Bok giggled. “But that is really cool. It has me wondering though, are you sure it’s ’cause I’m a V-Puppet and not just because of how Father gave me powers? He’s powerful, so couldn’t that be why I am, too?”
“It could be both. But remember, your case is currently one-of-a-kind, and your other case rare. Who knows? I do sincerely doubt that it’s just natural talent, however. There is a cause for this.”
Eul-Bok nodded.
“Perhaps you should teleport us back this time, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said.
“I guess I could try. Though the teleportation spell is so easy to trip up on!”
“It certainly is, isn’t it? But it’s one every Astineth should know.”
“Why’s that?”
“…” Sale-Dessu fell silent. “Oh.”
“Ah, it was meant to be humorous, Sale-Dessu.”
“Sorry, Apeta, I know. It just reminded me of those Witches and Warlocks who nearly found out where we lived. It still unsettles me.”
“Well, don’t worry about it! You haven’t had trouble with them in a while, have you? And with Eul-Bok on your side, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“She’s right, Father!”
Sale-Dessu cracked a small smile. “I suppose she is. Just as she is oftentimes…”
Still, Sale-Dessu couldn’t shake his unsettled feeling.

—–
“Baal-Mist, what did you call us here for?”
“No particular reason. Aside from sharing my message of hope with you all. I really do think we’ll have a breakthrough. We were just too hasty the first time we tried things. Timing is still everything, though. Too early and we risk sabotaging the mission; too late and we might not have a chance to do everything as intended. I need to plan things carefully, however…I do think things might be working in my favor.”
“What makes you say that?”
He smirked. “Oh, nothing in particular. Maybe wishful thinking. I suppose you could say I’ve been living in the past lately. Thinking on how much I want this goal to come true…”
“I honestly don’t understand you sometimes, Baal-Mist. You’re a handsome Warlock and your ability isn’t half bad. Why waste your time on this project?”
“True, it might seem useless to you. But to me it’s more than a mere ‘project’. I need closure. Without it, good looks and powers are useless to me. So quiet down and let me handle this. Trust in me. I give you my guarantee that now, I know what I’m doing.”

5.582.To See the Future–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 582
“To See the Future–Part 2”

“Hey, Father, do you think that there will really be a day where I can walk the streets without worrying about someone wanting to examine me?”
“There might be, if another Witch or Warlock discovers what I did. And for as powerful as I might seem to you, Eul-Bok, there’s always someone more powerful than me out there. Someone will figure it out, the issue is when will they, and will they want to come forward with their discovery…”
Eul-Bok gave a quiet groan. “Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no particular reason. You know I think about these sorts of things sometimes, Father.”
In truth, it was a little more than that.
‘It’s hard to think of the future when you’re trapped inside the house all the time,’ he thought. ‘With things going the way they are, I can only imagine what will happen if nothing changes…’

“Father! Look, I made a water-powered house with cloaking abilities! Now we’ll be able to have a spare house powered by water for whenever the power goes out!”
“Well done, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said with a clap. “But I guess I should expect that of my apprentice of fifty-seven years!”
The two laughed wildly, as if far too amused by the situation.

‘No! I don’t dislike my current situation, but it would be nice to be able to do more. Of course, in my current situation, I can already see how stepping outside in public would go…’
That one was far too easy to imagine.

“Interesting…very interesting. You have to wonder where he got these parts from!”
“Well, he is a strange Warlock living otherwise on his own…I’d put a lot past him.”
“Hm, yes, that’s true.”
Managing to speak through the pain, Eul-Bok asked, “C–can I be done yet?”
“No, not yet, we still haven’t figured out how your body parts work to create a functioning autonomous V-Puppet!”
Eul-Bok sighed. ‘A little anesthesia would have been nice…’ Glancing at the television in the room, he noticed a familiar man on the program that was on.
“So, Mr. Astineth, many people have had questions for you concerning the V-Puppet! Tell us more about him. What prompted this research? Where did you get the parts to make him bleed? And why didn’t you tell us about this breakthrough immediately!?”
“Ah, um, I…”
Sale-Dessu was quite obviously flustered and seemed to be slowly shying away back into his house, but the reporters crowded him and seemed to inch feet closer–rather they would have if they could have. Either way, it seemed like an unpleasant situation for Sale-Dessu, and it hurt Eul-Bok’s heart to watch it. He turned away and swallowed his pain.

“Eul-Bok? Is something wrong? You look unsettled.”
“No, nothing’s wrong, Father! Just kind of down about the idea that I can’t go outside anytime soon…but I’m used to that, of course.”
“You never know what the future holds, Eul-Bok. There’s really no way to predict how long it will take before you can walk outside without worrying about it. I wish I could tell you that you could go outside now, but it’s just too risky.”
“I know. I told you, I’m used to it, you know that, and I know it, too. I’m just wondering…like you said, you never know what the future holds. I’m living proof that V-Puppet autonomy is possible, but who’s to say anyone will find that out soon? Will I be walking around three years from now with no concerns, or will I have to wait far into the future, like thirty-three years from now?”
“I really wish I could give you a clear answer on that, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “But nobody has the answer to that question.”
‘What would a world like that be like anyway? I guess I never really gave much thought to what might happen if I could walk around outside. There’s plenty I can do inside, but outside has even more potential. I wonder, if it really was some years from now…what would be different for me?’

***

Eul-Bok stepped outside. It was slightly chilly, so he went back inside and retrieved a scarf. Then, he walked along the sidewalk and out the neighborhood.
Years before this, he wouldn’t have expected to be able to walk around this casually; now that some years had passed, it felt natural. Especially with Sale-Dessu becoming more of a shut-in after his neighbors found out about Eul-Bok’s autonomy. Even knowing that V-Puppets could be autonomous now, it still surprised many people who grew up knowing otherwise, which thus far was most of the world.
He head to a nearby craft store and grabbed a basket.
“He-hey, it’s Eul-Bok!” Someone said. Eul-Bok glanced in their direction. A Normal-Minomix man was waving at him. Eul-Bok smiled. “Hello, Mr. Bacigua! How are you?”
“Good, good. You here to pick up some stuff for Mahico-Touffle?”
Eul-Bok nodded. “How’d ya know?”
“Well, ’tis the season after all, and you do it every year,” he said with a grin. “You know, Eul-Bok, you said you’ve been around for what, eighteen years now?”
“Sixteen,” he said. Eighteen was still too far back for him to have been alive–if people knew that was his actual age, they would know he had come into existence before the first publicly documented autonomous V-Puppet.
“Ah, yes, well, sixteen or eighteen, you are getting closer to nineteen. And you said you still live with your master?”
“My father.”
“Riiight, your father. Anyhoo, you might want to consider moving out sometime soon! People have seen your ability–you could make good vuyong off of that!”
Bacigua waved and walked out of Eul-Bok’s line of sight. He gave the man’s words some thought as he picked up the necessary supplies.
“Hi, Eul-Bok! Buying for Mahico-Touffle?”
“Yep!”
The man behind the counter smiled. “Alrighty then. Let me ring this stuff up.”
Eul-Bok paid for the supplies, thanked the man and began to head home. Bacigua’s words were still on his mind.
Since gaining his freedom, there had been quite a few things he had done differently than he had expected. He had started using his powers at a center for orphaned children, and since then had garnered a bit of fame for his ability. Considering his age, he did have a bit to think about in regards to the future. The possibilities were endless, and yet still something else was on his mind as well.
He walked inside, locked the door and set down the supplies on the table.
“Eul-Bok?” Sale-Dessu peeked his head into the kitchen. “Welcome back, Eul-Bok.”
“Hello, Father.”
“You got nice decorations,” Sale-Dessu said. “But we could have made our own…”
“I know we could have, but I told you, the craft store has new kinds of decorations every year. And they are nice, like you said.”
“I suppose.”
Eul-Bok sighed. “You know, Father, I’m getting older….why does my voice still sound the same as it did when I was one!?”
Sale-Dessu giggled. “You can’t help that, Eul-Bok. V-Puppet autonomy isn’t a perfect science.” His expression became more serious after he said that. “Eul-Bok, there was something else you wanted to say, wasn’t there?”
“Huh?”
“You paused between sentences and you made a strange expression. I’m pretty good at picking up on these sorts of things.”
“I guess you would be,” he sighed, “especially since the reverse is true too.”
“Tell me what’s on your mind then, Eul-Bok.”
“Well, the future’s come for me. I’m autonomous now. I can walk around outside freely now. But there’s one more thing that I can’t figure out about my future.”
“What’s that?”
“Well, I’m eighteen now! That’s almost nineteen. And I tell everyone I know that I’m sixteen, but still, that’s not too far away from nineteen. I’ll be an adult soon, and I…I don’t know what I’m going to do when that day comes!”
“That’s fine, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said. “I didn’t either. And compared to me, you have plenty of time to think instead of having to scramble around for something to do. So don’t worry.”
“Well….it’s actually not just that…”
“Oh?”
“I’m worried about you, Father. You stay inside all the time now. You used to go places before even if it wasn’t much. What are you going to do when I’m gone? After all, do you have anyone else?”
“…that’s awfully rude, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Sorry!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “No, it’s fine, I don’t actually mind all that much. You’re right, now that Apeta is gone and La-Iin is growing up, I don’t really have anyone else. But I’ll be fine. I survived without other people in the past. But what’s different about now is that I know you’ll be out there somewhere in the world, and I can always contact you if I need to.”
“Father…”
“I don’t want to hold you back, Eul-Bok. Believe me when I say I’ll be fine. So do what you will. Just stay in contact with me.”
Eul-Bok smiled. “Alright, Father, I will. Thank you for taking care of me all these years.”

—–
“Eul-Bok? What’s wrong now?”
“…Father, if I can walk around outside someday, are you going to be sad if I go off on my own?”
“Well, yes, of course I will be. I’ve gotten used to living with you. But I don’t want to hold you back.”
“So I do know you pretty well…”
“Hm?”
“Ah, it’s nothing, Father.”
“Hm.” Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “Oh, Eul-Bok, there’s one thing I can tell you about the future.”
“Huh?”
“I plan on visiting Apeta tomorrow. And I would like you to come with me. So, would you like to come?”
Eul-Bok smiled. “Okay, sure!”

31.577.Motivated Towards Destruction

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 577
“Motivated Towards Destruction”

Sand rose from the ground and began to shape itself–or that was how it might have looked to an outsider. Behind the wall of sand stood Baal-Mist, who moved his wand methodically to create a large sandcastle. Halfway through the completion of the castle, he began to create small dolls from debris nearby, and fit them into the castle. As he was putting on the finishing touches, he heard someone walk up behind him.
“Wow, Baal-Mist! This is amazing!”
“Thanks, Mamil! I’ve been thinking about doing it for days, but I only just got down the whole thing about transforming garbage into actual objects.”
“Well, it’s great! But I’m not sure we can keep it. How many feet high is this thing?”
“I dunno, fifteen?”
“It looks like a lot more than that.” She smiled. “You’re quite the talented Warlock, you know that?”
“You’re just saying that because you’re my Mamil!”
“Well, maybe I am, but I think I’d still think it if I wasn’t, and I’m sure your Falun would agree.”
“Mamil, I don’t call him Falun anymore.”
“I know, I know.” She sighed. “With this level of talent though, you could do anything, I’d bet. Have you decided what you’re going to make your focus yet?”
“No, not yet. There’s just so many things to do, it’s hard to imagine finding one thing to focus on.”
“You don’t have to focus on it all the time, Baal-Mist. It’s just the thing you’re best at. Like how I’m best at making toys.”
“You do make pretty great toys.”
His mother stared at the sandcastle for a while in silence. “Hey, maybe you’ll find out in a few weeks! They say the powerful Witch Astineth Eir-Tyuj is going to be stopping by our little village for a short while. She knows a ton about powers. She might be able to give you some advice, although I’ve heard she’s a bit prickly!”
“Why do I need some old Witch to tell me what I should do?”
“I said advice, not make a decision for you.” She gave another sigh. “You know, Baal-Mist, I’m glad I have you.”
“Why’d you say that? I know you’re glad.”
“You do, but when I was younger like you, I was sad a lot. But I’m never that badly sad anymore now that I have you, so I’m looking forward to whatever you do, although I’d prefer it if you stay close to home while you do it!”
“What if I get famous?”
“I’ll follow you.”
“You’re not gonna make me stay at home all the time though, are you?”
She giggled. “Of course not. I’m just happy for you and your Falun. I just wanted to tell you that. You two make my life brighter.”
“You can be really corny sometimes, Mamil.”
“I know, I know.”

***

As his mother had told him, the powerful Witch Astineth Eir-Tyuj landed in their village a few weeks later, and was the center of attention for many who had heard about her. Baal-Mist didn’t end up seeing much of her, but he knew his mother was excited to meet her.
“She really is a prickly one, though!” She told them later that day. “I suppose that comes from hearing so many amateurs ask you questions all the time.”
“Professionals don’t need to be prickly,” her husband said. “By the way, Selie-Fougie, how much longer does she plan on staying here?”
“She said she was going to stay here until she figured something out, but no matter how much the crowd asked her what that was, she wouldn’t answer. I guess she’s trying to keep it top-secret.”
“She sounds like a crotchety old lady.”
“She may be a little crotchety, but she isn’t all that old yet. Anyway, it was great to meet her. Maybe I’ll take you to see her tomorrow!”
“I’m not sure I wanna meet her!”
“Aw, give her a chance.”
‘Mamil really wants me to meet her. It’s weird. She’s always talked about me having a singular purpose, but isn’t this Miss Astineth a multi-purpose Witch? Sometimes Mamil makes no sense.’
He half hoped he would find an excuse to get out of it somehow, for he didn’t like the way his mother described Eir-Tyuj. But she seemed so excited about it that he doubted he would find that excuse.

When Baal-Mist woke up, he expected to see sunlight filtering into his room and his mother waiting for him to get ready so that he could go and meet Eir-Tyuj. He didn’t expect to see the last remnants of what appeared to be blood and dust before it faded into his room.
Baal-Mist chalked it up to the leftovers of his dream, at least, until he heard the sound of crying coming from a nearby room. He was curious and concerned, but wasn’t sure if he should get out of bed. Still, he never usually heard crying, and why would anyone be crying?
His concern gave way, so he got out of bed and head in the direction of the crying. It began to get louder and louder, until he heard a strange sound and the crying stopped altogether. Without a guide, Baal-Mist felt lost within the dark house. He groped around for a light switch, then remembered about his wand. He ran back to his room, got his wand and lit up his path.
‘Nobody’s crying anymore. Maybe everything’s alright? Who was crying anyway? Was it Mamil or Father?’
He checked in his parents’ bedroom, and noticed quickly that Selie-Fougie was not in the bed, only his father. And anyway, he hadn’t heard the crying coming from that direction. Slightly concerned, he checked all the rooms he could find until finally he stumbled across an open closet. Something appeared to be inside. He hovered his wand in front of it.
Something was hanging in there. Dread filled him as he followed the rope to what it was tied to–his mother, dangling in mid-air with her eyes closed.
Baal-Mist shrieked and went running for his father.
“Father! Father! Something’s wrong with Mamil!” He shook him. “Wake up, Father! Something’s wrong with Mamil!”
“Huh?” His father looked confused when he noticed nobody was in bed beside him. “Selie-Fougie?”
“Something’s wrong with Mamil!” He cried. His father seemed to instantly snap to the alert and got out of bed and followed his son to the closet. When Baal-Mist held his lit wand in front of it, his father let out a wail, and contrary to Baal-Mist’s expectations, stood there crying violently.
It was only when he saw the look on his father’s face that he realized there was nothing that could be done for his mother.

The village had been deeply affected by Selie-Fougie’s death, less because of her notoriety within the village, but more because of her method of death. Before her death had been announced, Baal-Mist and his father had found what appeared to be the start of a suicide note, but the handwriting was nearly illegible and it made no sense to him–what little was readable in the note seemed to imply that she believed that he and his father were dead.
‘What caused Mamil to do this?’ He wondered. ‘Why would she believe that we were dead?’ He felt like blaming his mother, but he couldn’t find it in him to do it. He more just wanted her back at his side, alive and talking to him about the purpose he might someday pursue. He didn’t want to see her dead body prettied up, that ugly rope wound visible even despite the best efforts made to conceal it.
Briefly he thought back on the blood and dust he had seen when he woke up, but he had chalked that up to the remnants of his dream. It wasn’t until after her funeral that his suspicions began to shift away from that theory.
“Were you awake when that thing happened?”
“Huh?”
“I think someone may have reality-warped our neighborhood,” he overheard one Witch say. “I swear that I saw all my family dead, and I was so terrified, but then it felt like a dream, and they were all alive….I don’t know, maybe I was just having a strange dream, but it seemed so real.”
‘Who would do such a thing!?’ Baal-Mist had heard of reality-warping before, but he hadn’t believed that any Witch or Warlock in their neighborhood had the ability to pull it off. The idea that a Witch’s whimsy might have caused his mother to kill herself infuriated him, and from then on he waited patiently as an investigation into the possibility arose.

“People of our humble village, many of you report having dreams or visions of your family being deceased. One of our own, the Spaeic family, reported that the recently-deceased Selie-Fougie Spaeic wrote a suicide note implying she saw something similar as well. We believe that today we have found the cause.”
The officer held up a piece of paper. “Astineth Eir-Tyuj recently issued an apology over in her own village to all who might have been affected by her reality warping. We believe this may have been an experiment gone awry conducted by her before she left. She apologizes but states her relief at the fact that it caused no fatalities.”
Baal-Mist couldn’t believe it. ‘No fatalities!? How could she say that! She was in the village the night Mamil killed herself! Isn’t that a fatality!?’
As the officer continued on, rage bubbled inside of Baal-Mist. ‘I can’t believe this. She just ran away after she did that. And now she thinks she thinks she caused no fatalities. My Mamil would prove otherwise!’
With that thought on his mind, Eir-Tyuj’s actual apology felt like nothing. Throughout the rest of the officer’s report he was just thinking of how mad he was at Eir-Tyuj.

“Father, you’re not going to kill yourself too, are you?”
“No, I won’t. I have to take care of you, Baal-Mist, and I can keep on going. I don’t understand how anyone could commit suicide…” He began to sound choked. “You already had to deal with losing one parent that way, so don’t worry, buddy, I’m not gonna abandon you. I’ll stop grieving so much. I just need some time…we were married for a while after all….”
“Okay, that’s good. Thanks, Father.”
His father didn’t respond; he had begun to cry, though he was covering his face and mouth as if trying to hide it from Baal-Mist.
‘I bet that woman doesn’t understand what it’s like for us. We had to see Mamil hanging. Mamil never realized we weren’t dead. She killed herself thinking we were gone when she didn’t even know that we were still here. If she hadn’t died, she probably would have tried again from the grief. I bet she would have. Father told me Mamil was a little suicidal beforehand too….but Eir-Tyuj probably never had to see this or deal with it.’
He grit his teeth. ‘It’s not fair! She’s just getting away with doing this to Mamil! And nobody will ever know or care. They’ll just accept her apology because nobody else killed themselves. Well, she doesn’t deserve that. Not at all! If she can warp reality and make my Mamil sad enough to kill herself, I’ll just have to do the same. I’ll show her.’
Baal-Mist was set on this feeling. He was sure his grief would ease with time, but getting revenge on Eir-Tyuj seemed to be the only way he would truly move past his mother’s suicide. When he finally saw the expression on her face that he had seen on his father’s face the night of his mother’s suicide, only then would he feel at peace, feel that justice had been served.
Someday, he would get back at Eir-Tyuj, he felt it–and if he was going to do that, he needed to start training as soon as possible.

—–
Baal-Mist was beginning to feel dejected listening through the recordings he had of the bug he had placed in Sale-Dessu’s house, and was starting to feel hopeless. ‘I’ll never get my revenge if I can’t even get any leads…’
That was, until he heard something strange.
“I really should talk to Apeta about Eul-Bok’s powers. I’m sure she’d have some helpful advice.”
Baal-Mist smirked. ‘Now I wonder, that Apeta, would she happen to be Eir-Tyuj? I should keep an eye on her house in the coming days.’

28.574.Life Unto Another World

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 575
“Life Unto Another World”

Sale-Dessu yawned.
“Father, it’s still light outside! Why are you so tired?”
“Sometimes I have a bit of trouble getting to sleep,” he said, rubbing his eye. “But don’t worry about me, Eul-Bok. I’ve had worse nights.”
“You haven’t been having nightmares again, have you? If you want, I can go back to sleeping in your room.”
“No, Eul-Bok, you deserve your own room. Please don’t worry about me. I have all the time in the world to sleep, and sooner or later the exhaustion will give way to a full nine or so hours of sleep…”
“Wow, that’s long!”
“After restless nights, it feels short.”
“I guess it would. I never really feel all that exhausted anymore, though. I used to feel more exhausted when I was a normal V-Puppet–” Eul-Bok sighed. “Really, Father, if there’s anything I can do for you…”
“Don’t worry. That will make things a lot better. If you’re worried it will only worry me. And it will pass, it always does. It’s only that it’s coming to August and I have an unpleasant memory from that month…”
“So it is nightmares.”
“No, not particularly.” He yawned. “Anyway, let’s get back to work. Want to take the lead, Eul-Bok?”
“Oh, um, I guess so.”

***

Eul-Bok searched through several books looking for some sort of answer to Sale-Dessu’s plight. ‘Think, think! There’s got to be something I can use to help him sleep and prevent nightmares.’
Looking in more modern books had already failed to give him an answer, so Eul-Bok turned to looking at older books written in the Warlock language. Managing through it was difficult, but he could still make out that so far, none of the spells, potions or items were things that would help Sale-Dessu–either they were entirely useless or were only good for putting him to sleep, and Eul-Bok saw no use in doing that if Sale-Dessu was only going to have a nightmare.
‘So after all these years of Warlocks doing amazing things, not a single one has found something to prevent nightmares!? It sounds so simple! So we can reality warp but no, nightmares are out of our league? Why don’t we have something to stop nightmares!?’
He continued to flip through the book, becoming progressively more frustrated at the lack of spells that would help Sale-Dessu with his nightmares. When finally he was about ready to shut the book, one of the pages tore slightly.
“Oh no! If Father sees this, he’ll be upset!”
Already he could imagine Sale-Dessu trying to suppress his sadness as he examined the tear. Eul-Bok looked at it closely. “….w-well, it isn’t actually that big…hm?”
When he caught sight of the words on the page, Eul-Bok’s attention was piqued. Curious, he read on.
…the theory of a power to enter another’s dreams: the power of “Subconscious Shift” or “Scenarial Change”. In this theory the power would grant access to an individual’s dreams or thoughts and grant them henceforth the ability to modify such things. Due to the invasive nature of the idea, research on the potential spell or ability was canceled, though the following was retrieved from experiments, it is not recommended for attempt by a Witch or Warlock not only due to the invasive nature but due to the possibility of irreversible injury to the Witch or Warlock’s body if attempted, assuming the effects would not be much worse.
Eul-Bok read over the spell. ‘Wow, it sounds dangerous…but it talked about modifying dreams! Maybe it’s worth a shot for Father’s sake. I survived switching bodies and assuming physical harm is the worst-case scenario, I don’t need to worry about that too much! But is it really worth it in the end?’
Eul-Bok thought it over. ‘Maybe, just maybe it is.’
He was concerned, but also immensely curious, and when he thought back on the things Sale-Dessu had done, or told him he’d done that could have harmed him, entering his dreams seemed harmless in comparison.
He decided to try it, whatever the cost.

Eul-Bok began to perform the spell as outlined in the book. He wasn’t sure whether he needed to be close by Sale-Dessu or not, and decided to be as cautious as possible. He stood right outside Sale-Dessu’s bedroom as he performed the spell as quietly as he could manage.
As he got further into the spell, he felt almost light-headed and his vision was blurring over. Still, he saw the spell through to the end–he was far more concerned about what might happen to him if he didn’t finish it than the potential side-effects he might face from finishing it.
Once he had completed the last part, his vision steadily went black, and he briefly felt himself drop to the floor.
When he opened his eyes, Eul-Bok was in a place he didn’t recognize. “Did I make it?”
“Eir-Tyuj is only concerned with her own curiosity. And that’s how you are too, isn’t it? You only care about learning how you could rule the world. That’s all it is with you Astineths. You disgust me.”
The voice came as a surprise to him, and Eul-Bok looked in its direction. A Warlock man was cornering a teenager to his right. When he got closer to the two, he realized that the cowering teenager was Sale-Dessu.
“I–I don’t want…rule the world…I just…practice my powers.”
Eul-Bok was both confused and terrified, but he realized his priorities were getting Sale-Dessu out of the situation. He ran past the Warlock man and pulled Sale-Dessu away from him. He tried to think back on the words in the book as he teleported himself and Sale-Dessu away.
Sale-Dessu looked terrified. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to save you.”
“Save me?”
“You don’t have to believe me off of my words. I’ll let you see it for yourself.”
“Would Father even recognize me right now? He doesn’t seem to. Probably not while he’s in a teenage mindset. But if I’m here, that means my spell succeeded, right? So maybe…”
“What are you talking about?”
Eul-Bok startled. “Er, nothing important! Um, hey, how’d you like to go someplace better than this? Geez, are my thoughts not my own anymore?”
“Why do you keep saying this stuff out loud?”
Eul-Bok sighed. “Just be patient with me, alright?”
Sale-Dessu gasped. “My Apeta! That man is still nearby our house! He might be going for my Apeta!”
“Father, wait!” Eul-Bok grit his teeth. He shut his eyes and imagined a different scenario. When he opened his eyes, he was inside Eir-Tyuj’s house, and Sale-Dessu was gradually becoming bigger. His eyes had teared up.
“Father!”
“Eul-Bok? What’s going on?”
“Um, we’re just visiting Grepeta! Isn’t it nice to visit her? I’m sure she’s got something great to show us today, heh heh. So we should probably go and see her!”
“Eul-Bok–”
“La la la la la~”
“Eul-Bok, just a moment ago, something seemed off…”
“Hey, Father, did I tell you I could reality-warp now? Yeahh, that’s probably it. I’ve been practicing, after all!”
“Something’s wrong, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok shut his eyes. When he opened them, the scenario around them had changed once more.
“What!?”
Now the two were in the center they had been in during Magica Cavintus, except this time it was devoid of any people.
“What is this…”
“Why, I thought it might be nice to visit this place after all that reality-warping!”
“You didn’t use a teleportation spell.”
“Yeah, well–” Eul-Bok tried to look cocky. “I am getting better.”
“You don’t have that much practice!”
“So it’s possible? Er, I mean, geez Father, stop being so nervous!”
He went over to hug Sale-Dessu, but tripped on his robe on the way there. When he looked up, an unfamiliar Witch woman, half-translucent, was staring at Sale-Dessu with a smile.
“Mamun…”
Eul-Bok began to feel guilty. “All I wanted to do was prevent that nightmare, but I’m just making it worse…”
Sale-Dessu turned around as if to remark, but he never got to. The scene around Eul-Bok became blurry, all save for a strange tube. Eul-Bok felt he had to go through the tube, and so followed his instincts.

—–
Sale-Dessu woke with a start.
“Mamun…”
The dream was soon no longer his top priority, as he quickly noticed that his bedroom door was open, and saw part of Eul-Bok slumped against it. He ran for the door and tapped Eul-Bok.
“Eul-Bok? Eul-Bok, are you alright!?”
Eul-Bok didn’t respond at first, and Sale-Dessu felt cold. But soon enough, Eul-Bok opened his eyes, glanced at Sale-Dessu, and startled.
“Whoa!”
“What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” Eul-Bok looked up at Sale-Dessu. His expression seemed almost ashamed. “Hey, um, Father, what kind of dream did you have last night?”
“Last night?” The sight of his mother came to mind. “Mamun…”
“Was I in it?”
“You were. Why do you ask?”
Eul-Bok sighed. “There’s no point in keeping this secret from you. I wanted to try and keep you from getting a nightmare, so I tried a spell in this book. I guess I made it into your dreams, but I still messed them up. Sorry.”
“You what?”
“Geez, I feel fatigued.”
Sale-Dessu checked the book lying nearby Eul-Bok. It detailed a spell whose research had been cut after worries about invasions of privacy caused by its usage. Sale-Dessu gasped.
“Something wrong?”
“No, not particularly,” he said. “Um–Eul-Bok, you seem tired. Why don’t you go and rest?”
“Are you up to something, Father?”
“…” Sale-Dessu shook his head. “Never mind. Why don’t we start the day?”
“You sure? It’s a little early for that.”
“It’s never too early when you’re passionate. Besides, I got a better sleep last night than I have most nights recently. Thank you, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok beamed. “You’re welcome!”
‘He managed to pull off a spell that was never officially pulled off. It could be an easy one, granted, but it doesn’t look that way…maybe Apeta really did pass on her potential to Eul-Bok too. But how? He isn’t her biological Apegrenneson.’
Sale-Dessu wasn’t sure if he should be proud or concerned as Eul-Bok returned with a different spell book.

15.561.A Little Something

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 561
“A Little Something”

Eul-Bok took a deep breath. Focusing as intensely as he could, he set to work on changing the scrap of cloth in front of him into a present for Sale-Dessu.
He tried to clear his mind of all distracting thoughts, and though he focused solely on the image of what he was trying to change, he was gradually becoming more excited as if the thought nudging him at the corners of his mind was all that was on it.
Just as he could see the results of his efforts, a knock sounded at his door.
“Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok startled. The cloth, half-changed into fluff, fell back down onto his night desk limply, and Eul-Bok recoiled at a shooting pain in his head.
“Is everything alright?”
Eul-Bok turned around. “Everything’s fine, Father! Just practicing my powers a bit before bed! Wh-what are you doing up? It’s pretty late isn’t it?”
“I could say the same to you. I was just making myself a little warm milk. I’ve been having a taste for milk lately.”
Eul-Bok’s eyes widened. “I could tell…”
“We should both get some sleep. There’s a few things I want to do tomorrow. After all, well, I think you know what tomorrow is, right?”
“Of course I do. How could I forget? Heh heh, last year at the Cahongyun’s house…”
Sale-Dessu’s face flushed. “This year we’re not going there. I felt so ashamed, falling asleep on them like that. This year we’re spending the day at our house. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Well, I’ll make sure it’s a great day! We’ll do whatever you want to do, Father, so just say the word and we’ll be doing it!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok.” He yawned. “Well, I should head off to bed now…good night…”
“Good night, Father. And sweet dreams.”
‘And of course we’ll do the things you want to. But where’s the harm in a little bit of surprise?’
Recently Eul-Bok had been listening closely to all Sale-Dessu said. Even the smallest thing he had implied an interest in Eul-Bok had considered. He wanted to go along with what Sale-Dessu wanted to do, but he also wanted to surprise him with the things he would like.
He turned back to the half-cloth half-fluff and set to work on finishing it, before that keeping in mind Sale-Dessu’s taste for milk. Once he had successfully transformed the cloth-fluff, he set to work on finishing the rest of the tasks he had set for himself.

***

When Sale-Dessu opened his eyes that morning, the first thing he caught sight of was Eul-Bok sitting on a stool in his room, watching him with a smile. He startled for only a moment before taking a breath and calming down.
“You scared me, Eul-Bok.”
“Sorry, Father. But I was just so excited! I can’t wait to see how you–I mean, what you want to do!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “I wonder if you’re more excited for my birthday than I am. I’ll get ready and then we’ll get to work.”
“Don’t call it work! It’s your birthday! You want to do these things because you enjoy them, right?”
“Of course.”
‘He really is excited today. I wonder why?’ In recent years Sale-Dessu hadn’t seen his birthday as anything special, even forgetting it some years, and though last year had been more than the usual it had still been fairly relaxed.
‘I was excited for my birthdays when I was young. I guess with a child in the house I should expect this kind of thing.’
Sale-Dessu head off to take a shower and put on his clothes.
“Eul-Bok! I’m ready!” He called.
“Alright!”
Eul-Bok ran out from Sale-Dessu’s room and stopped next to him. “Why were you still in my room?”
“Nowhere else to go. Now what’s first!?”
“Well, I haven’t used my water-powered train much recently, and there was something interesting I was pursuing there…”
Sale-Dessu noticed Eul-Bok’s face drop. “That’s outside, isn’t it? Isn’t there anything you want to do inside?”
“The rest of it is inside. Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I’ll take care of the train later. I can see you’re eager to do something right now.”
“That’s an understatement!”
“Well, then, why don’t we start with potion making? Have I ever helped you make a potion?”
Eul-Bok shrugged. The two head to the main area. On their way there, something smacked Sale-Dessu in the face.
“Ow…”
“You alright, Father?”
“I’m fine. Something hanging off the wall hit me in the face…”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing big. Here, I can lead the way!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok. But I’ll be fine.”
After uncovering his eye, Sale-Dessu caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a colorful setup right at the entrance to his home. In front of him he could see that Eul-Bok looked anxious.
‘So that’s why he’s so eager. I should have known…’ “Actually, if you want to lead the way, you can. We are doing this for me, but this is a good chance for me to teach you a few more things.”
“Yeah! Hey, anything you have planned for today wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with those more complicated procedures you know, right? I’m so curious about how you learned to do some of the things you can do!”
“Like what?”
“Oh, hex change operation?”
Sale-Dessu flinched. “Maybe one of those more complicated procedures is in my plans, but hex change operation is not one of them…”

Eul-Bok’s eagerness made Sale-Dessu’s day fairly enjoyable. As they mixed potions together Eul-Bok did so with such a force and glee that it made Sale-Dessu chuckle just to watch. In general he seemed fairly cheerful, and it was a bit infectious. Sale-Dessu couldn’t help but wonder what he had done that had him so excited and eager to finish what he wanted to do.
“You seem to be having a lot of fun mixing potions,” Sale-Dessu said. “Maybe I should have you do it for me more often.”
“Aw, come on, Father, you barely make potions for any good reason. Although it would be a good arm exercise.”
“You don’t need arm exercise, Eul-Bok.”
“I know, I know, but it’s fun to pretend I do. But you know what, I’m wrong. Even though you make a lot of pretty worthless potions, these ones we’re making now are all for medicinal reasons, right?”
“Yes. Just in case something happens to you or me, that’s why I’m making these potions. I just felt like making potions today, so I figured that I might as well make some that are helpful in nature.”
“It’s a good idea!”
Eul-Bok continued to stir vigorously. Sale-Dessu couldn’t stifle another chuckle.
Potion-making wasn’t all they did either. Sale-Dessu did eventually set to work on his water-powered train after Eul-Bok had strained his mind during a joint transformation spell.
“I had a feeling that wouldn’t work,” Sale-Dessu had sighed. “Eul-Bok, are you alright?”
“Yeah, probably….but I need to lay down for a little bit…”
Most of their activities were simple things however, such as making small treats or performing simple and ridiculous spells, such as an ‘instant hair dye’ spell that both Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok had used to change the color of Sale-Dessu’s hair into a multitude of colors; once, Eul-Bok even turned it rainbow.
“How did you manage that!?” Sale-Dessu asked. Eul-Bok giggled. “Oh, just with the strength of wanting to see something totally ridiculous.”
Even though it was simple, Sale-Dessu was happy. He was excited to see what it was that Eul-Bok was planning, and Eul-Bok’s own excitement made the day quite enjoyable. But it wasn’t until the sun started to set that they reached the end of all Sale-Dessu had wanted to do.
“That was pretty fun, Father. I realized something from today, you can do a lot of the stuff that I can do at incredible speeds!”
“That’s because I’ve been practicing for years. You know that. But I’m certain that soon enough you and I will have a similar level of ability.”
“Yeah, if by soon enough you mean years!”
“Well, we have more than some other species. And it won’t be so long that I’m an old man by that point.”
“Geez, it feels like both you and Grepeta are trying too hard to flatter me.”
“We can’t help but be proud of you, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok smiled. “Hey, Father? Now that we’re done with all you wanted to do, can you do me a favor?”
‘Here it comes.’ “What’s that?”
“I want you to cover your eyes. Both of them, and not with your hair! With this.” He handed him a blindfold. Sale-Dessu put it on. “I’ll lead the way, so don’t worry about bumping into anything.”
“Ow!”
“Oops, sorry.”
Sale-Dessu was excited as Eul-Bok led the way through some part of the house he wasn’t sure of–though he had a good feeling he knew where he was going.
“Now sit down, and don’t peek!”
He could hear Eul-Bok crashing around the house and various things opening and closing. From behind him he thought he heard the refrigerator open. ‘Am I in the kitchen? I thought for sure he’d take me to the main area.’
“You can look now!”
Sale-Dessu reached for the blindfold and pulled it off. Eul-Bok stood in front of him, and behind him the table was decorated in a fancy style. A plate of dinner sat behind him as well as a large white cake behind the plate. Eul-Bok appeared to be holding something, and he soon draped it over him.
“Happy Birthday, Father!”
“Eul-Bok…”
“Don’t look so surprised, Father. It’s just a little something.”
“How can you say that? You went above and beyond!”
Eul-Bok grinned. “Thanks for the compliments, Father. I’ve been planning this for a while now. Last year all I could do was get the Cahongyun’s help, but this year I was able to do it all on my own! I had a lot of trouble with the blanket, though.” He lowered his head. “I hope you like it.”
“I love it, Eul-Bok. This is the most comfortable blanket I’ve felt in a while. I wonder why I never thought to make more comfortable ones for my bed. I think I’ll sleep quite well with this.”
Eul-Bok’s grin widened. “Well, you can start dinner now, then! But I have to clean up. I made a bit of a mess in the main area.”
He ran off. ‘So that’s what that was. I’d better not say anything, though.’ Even having expected it, it was still a pleasant surprise. Sale-Dessu started to eat, and was surprised by how good the gravy tasted.

—–
Night had fallen, and after a long and cheerful celebration with the milk cake Eul-Bok had made, Sale-Dessu tidied a few things around the house before deciding to retire for the night. Already Eul-Bok seemed exhausted, but he still stayed by Sale-Dessu’s side, smiling wide.
Just as he had changed into pajamas and was almost ready to retire, something slammed against his window. When he opened it, he spotted Bes-Isa, a piece of paper taped to her. He took the paper off and took a look at it. It was a crude picture of him and Eul-Bok around a cake that was set on fire.
Good job allie, not freelowding this year. Have a happy birthday not! -La-Iin
Sale-Dessu stifled a chuckle as Bes-Isa went flying backwards through the air with a screech.
“Geez, she really can’t draw all that well.”
“She can’t,” he admitted. “But that’s alright. It’s a nice picture.”
He hung it up in his room.

7.553.Moments with Grepeta

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 553
“Moments with Grepeta”

“Eul-Bok, before we go, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“I don’t mind. Fire away, Father!”
“What made you want to visit Apeta today? Is it because we’ve had to stay so down-low recently?”
“Well, you could say that’s part of it. We’ve spent most of our time around each other lately and the only other people who came here recently were La-Iin and Bes-Isa, and I don’t know about you but I can’t stand them!”
“They’re my allies, Eul-Bok. I’m fond of them. You know this.”
“Anyway, Grepeta is someone I actually like who we can go and see. And besides, maybe it hasn’t been the longest time, but it’s been a good amount of time since those people were by the neighborhood. I think we’ll be safe.”
Sale-Dessu seemed uncertain. “Well, hopefully Apeta will be willing to see us,” he said with a sigh. “Hold on tight, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok listened closely as Sale-Dessu canted the teleportation spell. ‘Father really is so powerful. It’s almost a shame that he’s so shy. If he wanted to, he could do great things for the scientific world, figuring out all sorts of things…even how to make me autonomous. But at the same time, it wouldn’t have been very smart to reveal that, would it have been? And anyway, I like my life the way it is!’
While lost in thought he hadn’t noticed that they had already made it to Eir-Tyuj’s house. He only snapped out of his thoughts when he heard her voice.
“–Eul-Bok seems awfully lost in thought.”
“I wonder what he’s thinking about?” Sale-Dessu said, glancing at Eul-Bok. “We’re here, Eul-Bok.”
“Oh! Hello, Grepeta!”
“Hello, Eul-Bok. How have you been?”
“Fine, mostly. I got a little injury the other day, but it was nothing big! Father patched it up quickly!”
“And I’m sure he used his powers for this?” Questioned Eir-Tyuj with a mischievous glance in his direction. Sale-Dessu scratched the back of his neck.
“Hey, Father, what are you going to do now that we’re here, anyway?”
“Oh, actually since we’re here, I wanted to ask if I could take a look at some of your books, Apeta. You have some that I don’t own.”
“Certainly, Sale-Dessu. I myself barely have any use for them anymore. In my old age my sight’s started to fail me as well. So if you feel so inclined as to take one, do not hesitate to do so.”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “Thank you, Apeta. But I don’t think I’ll be taking any of your books. Just looking around.”
He wandered off towards her bookshelf, and as he did Eir-Tyuj turned her attention to Eul-Bok.
“So, my great-grandson,” Eir-Tyuj started, before wrinkling her nose. “No, that’s too much of a mouthful. Eul-Bok! What is it you wanted to visit me for?”
“Well, um, first off I just wanted to see you,” he said shyly. “I don’t have many people to talk to aside from Father. And it’s been fine staying inside all the time. But maybe because we’ve had to stay inside, I feel a bit antsy lately.”
“A feeling I can understand,” she sighed.
“That and, well…don’t tell Father, and you probably knew this already, but it’s going to be his birthday soon. Last year I couldn’t do anything for him because I was still just a normal V-Puppet. But this year, things are going to be different. Father is very powerful, and as his son I think I might be able to achieve a similar level of power. If I can do that then I can do anything I want for him.”
Eir-Tyuj smiled. “A noble goal. I really do love your fire, Eul-Bok. I wish Sale-Dessu had shared in your enthusiasm when he was a boy.”
“I know you taught me a few things before in the past, but I want to learn more. I don’t care how hard you push me. I’m aiming to do my best, and I could use a hard nudge or two!”
“I imagine you don’t get many of those from my grandson!” She cackled. “Very well then. I’ll teach you some more. Come with me, away from Sale-Dessu. He’ll only get nosy and inquire about what we’re doing.”
Eul-Bok smiled. ‘Grepeta’s the best!’

***

“Eul-Bok, if you’re looking to transform an item of this size, the best thing to do is to make sure it functions like the item you’re transforming,” Eir-Tyuj chided. “A pear is no good if it tastes like wood, and a blanket is useless if it’s completely hard. What need would Sale-Dessu have for a blanket anyway? The boy’s much more interested in spell books at least as far as our last interactions have shown me.”
Eul-Bok sighed. ‘Grepeta’s great, but she really is harsh when she gets down to it.’ Eir-Tyuj’s criticisms hadn’t gotten him down, however–instead they only prompted him to try harder and show her otherwise. He focused on the stiff blanket and attempted to change it further. The blanket began to flop. Eir-Tyuj felt it.
“Hm…it’s gained some softness but it still isn’t perfect. But this is definitely better than this board blanket.”
“You know, you’re so critical but I bet you had trouble using your powers at first.”
“That I did. It isn’t many a Witch or Warlock who is born with a natural talent for their powers; most need to learn the proper skills. That being said I don’t appreciate your little snide comment. That might be the case but it was several decades ago.”
“I know. I’m just saying.” He felt the blanket himself. ‘Definitely too hard…’ “Hey, Grepeta, I know we have to get back to practice and all, but I want to hear a little bit about you. Especially since you’ve lived for so long.”
“Hm? Such as what? Are you wanting to hear embarrassing childhood stories about your father? Tsk, how shameful.”
“No, nothing like that! I meant more about you. You’re the only relative I have aside from Father, so I want to know more. Also, I’d like to concentrate without worrying about your criticism for once.”
“You asked for it, Eul-Bok, and I deliver criticism without cutting corners. But if you want to hear about me first, then I will tell you. I was part of a family of four. I had one younger sister who went on to have her own family in some Witch society far off in Wiencei or someplace. I haven’t seen her in years, and I can’t exactly do so now. I am mother to three daughters, one deceased–that’s your father’s mother–and the others whereabouts unknown. Except for you and Sale-Dessu, I’m not exactly inclined to the location of my non-deceased relatives. I know my parents and my daughter Maie-Jussa are one with the earth now but I’m not sure of many others.”
“That must be hard, losing your family like that. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost Father.”
“Move on, of course. Easier said than done, but it will occur naturally. I am of the belief that the spirits of my loved ones watch over me even today. I’m certain they would love to speak with me once again, and I feel likewise…”
A far-off look entered Eir-Tyuj’s eyes, but when she blinked it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. “In any event, it isn’t anything you’ll have to deal with anytime soon hopefully, and with Sale-Dessu taking so many precautions I’m not worried about it in the slightest.”
“Yeah, I think we’ll be fine for now.” Listening closely for what Eir-Tyuj might say next, Eul-Bok returned his focus to the blanket and tried to imagine its texture better. ‘I know I’ve felt a nice, soft, knitted texture like this before…hm….’
“I was an avid studier of powers and somewhat distanced myself from my family at times. Mostly my family of origin rather than the family I built with my late husband. Because I studied so strictly and so often I became rather skilled. My skills earned me ire not just because of jealousy but also in the way I practiced some of those skills. I regret some of what I did, though certain people make me feel as though I shouldn’t. And I helped raise Sale-Dessu during his childhood because Maie-Jussa fell into a difficult situation and had not the experience to deal with all that was going on.”
“Mmnh…”
Eul-Bok opened his eyes. Eir-Tyuj was heading over to the blanket to feel it. “That’s amazing of you, Grepeta. That you could deal with all of this…is that why you ended up so strict?”
“Certainly not! If my sister still lives out there, should you ever encounter her she knew me before I had any brushes with death. She could tell you, I have been strict my entire life. It’s necessary for success in my opinion. A lackadaisical attitude will lead you to not take your work seriously. Even if you enjoy it, you do need a modicum of seriousness in my opinion.”
Eul-Bok felt like his head was spinning. ‘Listening to Grepeta talk can be like looking through a wordy book…’
Eir-Tyuj stroked the blanket. “Very good, Eul-Bok. This is some quick improvement. You’re fast to overcome mistakes, hm?”
“Am I?”
She nodded. “I think you have a talent for it. You can recover from mistakes easier, perhaps because you’re stubborn like I am,” she said playfully. “It’s a good skill, and the stubbornness helps as well. Stubbornness can be an impediment, but I’d certainly say otherwise when it comes to the study of powers. It does keep you working, though you’ll need breaks.”
“My body’s artificial, Grepeta! I won’t get strained like you and Father.”
“I’m sure you’ll become strained another way,” Eir-Tyuj said with a roll of her eyes. “You have a mind, don’t you?”
Eul-bok felt the blanket. It had exactly the texture he was looking for. “It’s good that I can recover, but I really need to find something Father would like. I’m sure he’d appreciate the blanket, but…”
“Sale-Dessu’s simple to please, Eul-Bok. He’s happy when people show him a gesture of kindness. Anything you do for him will likely please him even if you present him with a wooden blanket.”
Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t do that!”
“Sure you wouldn’t. But you must understand how people have treated him. When I knew him as a young child beforehand he was timid, but this level of shyness and caution is new. He might be used to your displays of kindness but it will touch him all the same.”
“I guess so…”
“Still, if you want to show him that you’ve improved or to give him a quality item, you need improvement. And I have the perfect idea to deal with this, and that is to practice as hard as you can manage. I have plenty of stray items for you to try out if you’d like to continue on.”
“Of course I want to!”
“Then now is the time to set to work!”

Eul-Bok transformed after that item after item, changing wood into wordless books and useless baubles, or tissue into clothing or accessories. Eir-Tyuj graded him harshly, but each time she had a severe criticism it only served to make him want to try harder. When she would give him a kind compliment, he would work harder as well so that the compliments would become consistent.
He tripped up a few times as he worked, however, lost in thought about his conversation with Eir-Tyuj.
‘Grepeta and Father really are strong people to have dealt with all they’ve gone through. This whole thing with those mysterious people is the worst thing I’ve had to do. They might as well barely trust people with how they’ve been treated. And yet they’re still so strong. I have to work harder!’
Glimpsing at Eir-Tyuj out the corner of his eye, he smiled. ‘Grepeta really is great. She’s so smart. I’m glad she’s a part of my life.’
Eul-Bok didn’t stop transforming items until he was thoroughly exhausted. But that would prove not to be the end of his practice, for once he had recovered, Eir-Tyuj immediately set to having him practice spell recitations.
‘She really is overly strict, though.’ But it only pushed him to want to try harder.

—–
“I’m sorry if we overstayed our welcome, Apeta.”
“Not at all. I got in some valuable bonding time with Eul-Bok.” She stroked him on the head. “You have a great boy with a lot of potential, Sale-Dessu. He might as well have had potential since the moment he became autonomous. Eul-Bok will be an amazing Warlock.”
“Geez, that’s pretty contrary to everything you said while I was practicing.”
“I am like that. Ask Sale-Dessu. But yes, keep him at your side, Sale-Dessu. I think he is good for you. He will give you more confidence. He can inspire a change in you, I feel it. Bringing him to life was a great decision as was making him autonomous. So remain close, you two. You’ll need it especially when I’m…”
Eir-Tyuj’s expression became far-off once again.
“When you’re what?” Eul-Bok asked.
“Never mind.”
“I know all that, Apeta. Eul-Bok’s already inspired me in so many ways. Besides, he is my son, even if we’re not related by blood. And I wouldn’t just turn away my son. I’ll keep working hard for my sake and his. After all…I’m a father now, I suppose.”
“Strange to hear that from your lips,” Eir-Tyuj said quietly. “Well, I look forward to seeing you boys again. And keep up the good work, both of you. But especially you, Eul-Bok. I expect to see some significant improvement next time we meet!”
“Oh, I won’t disappoint you,” he said. “Goodbye for now, Grepeta!”
“Be seeing you, my dear boys.”

2.548.The Contents of a Shell

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 548
“The Contents of a Shell”

Sale-Dessu closely examined Eul-Bok, checking him over in all sorts of places. Eul-Bok watched him as he did, curiosity in his gaze. La-Iin and Bes-Isa sat on the sidelines, confused for the most part about what was going on.
“I don’t get any of this. What exactly is the point of you examining him?”
“I thought I told you before. As far as we know, Eul-Bok is the first V-Puppet who has become autonomous. He’s been fine for almost six months, so I’m sure nothing bad will happen, but I still would rather keep a close eye on him. It helps me understand more too.”
“I’m used to it by now. It was weird at first, but now it’s just a part of my life.”
“Alright, Eul-Bok, you’re about done,” Sale-Dessu said, backing away from him. “La-Iin, you said you wanted to see the books I used for reference on that paper?”
“Yes.”
“Are you sure? They’re pretty long and wordy books and I can’t give you all of them. Some of them are in the Warlock language.”
“I can read Vaelis though. And worst comes to worse I guess I always have Mama. Or Dami! He’d be even better!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “Well, even if you need help I’ll go and get those books for you. But where did I put them…I know they’re in the book room, but…”
“Hey, Warlocky, before you go.”
“Hm?”
“There’s something I’ve been wondering about little boy Eul-Bok here. Namely, he’s autonomous, but you never did tell us what you put into him to make him alive. Obviously if you used the power of V-Puppetry, he wouldn’t be able to move on his own, so what exactly did you use to help make him autonomous?”
Sale-Dessu paled. La-Iin blinked. “It–it’s complicated, Bes-Isa. I’d have to explain it to you later. Let me go get those books for La-Iin now. And if you have any other questions, feel free to ask those!”
Sale-Dessu left the room at a faster pace than normal. La-Iin, Bes-Isa and Eul-Bok watched him off.
“Well that was awfully suspicious.”
“I know. It just makes me really curious.” La-Iin turned to Eul-Bok. “Do you know what Sale-Dessu put in you to make you live?”
“He never told me. Well, I know a few things, but Father can make all sorts of things, so I was never suspicious about it. If he needed something big he could make it out of just a tissue!”
“Like the tissue in a real person’s body…but even if he could do that, who’s to say it would actually work?”
“Huh?”
“It doesn’t make much sense to me still how you’re alive and moving around whether he made you organs or got them through some nefarious way. And I’ve been curious about that for a while. Someday what you have might be what I have.”
Eul-Bok glared. “No way are you looking the same as me!”
“I never said that! I wouldn’t want that either!”
“I’m curious too. But not for the reason Bes-Isa is. I just want to know. Let me see…”
La-Iin approached Eul-Bok, who backed away from her. “Hey, what are you doing? Don’t try and fight me! I have Warlock powers, a-and I’m a little bit taller than you!”
“But that’s how tall you’re going to stay, unlike me,” La-Iin said, puffing out her chest with pride. “Besides, it’s nothing bad I’m going to do to you, eh heh heh…you should be more worried about what Bes-Isa might do to you, and she isn’t autonomous.”
“The day that I am, though…”
“So come here!”
La-Iin flew at Eul-Bok, mouth open wide. Eul-Bok tried to both move out the way and begin to cant the teleportation spell, but La-Iin knocked him down before he could do either. Stunned, he could only lay there in horror as La-Iin brought her fangs close to his neck. When her fangs met his neck, however, they crashed against wood and La-Iin recoiled, covering her mouth and muttering a curse.
“Ha ha! You forgot that I’m not fleshy like you!”
La-Iin growled. “Well, just because that doesn’t work doesn’t mean we can’t find out what’s inside of you a different way! I don’t think your blood would taste all that good anyway.”
“Says you!”
“That’s not really something you should be indignant about, you know.”
“Let’s see.” La-Iin lifted up Eul-Bok’s robes, and he squealed. “I don’t see any sort of compartment…”
“There’s actually one right here. You can see it if you look real close. But it’s one of those sealed shut compartments that you might see on a well-built toy. If anyone could open it it would be Sale-Dessu and not us.”
“Damn.”
“Why do you girls want to know what’s inside me so bad anyway!? You don’t like me, why should you care!?”
“Bes-Isa gave you an answer already. But here’s mine. Eul-Bok, do you know what’s inside us?”
“You’ve got organs, and you’ve got stuffing.”
“Precisely. Just because I don’t care for you doesn’t mean I can’t still be curious. Especially if the answer is violent. I like violence.”
“You’re so one-dimensional…”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly. “That’s what you think, puppet-boy, but if I was one-dimensional my every move would be predictable!”
She flew up behind him and lifted him above the ground. Eul-Bok began to cry. “Please let me down! I–I’m begging!” He reached for his wand. “And if you don’t do it peacefully, I’m gonna have to use force on you!”
“Ooh, he’s threatening you, La-Iin. Either he likes you or he’s really scared.”
“San-Kyung is the only one for me. Besides, he’s probably scared. Okay, Eul-Bok, I’ll let you down.”
She swooped down to the ground, and Eul-Bok let out another cry as she slammed him onto the couch and beckoned Bes-Isa close to her. She maneuvered Bes-Isa across his body.
“What do you see, Bes-Isa? Anything interesting? No other compartments, I bet, but anything good?”
“I don’t see anything else, and I also don’t appreciate you slamming me against Eul-Bok. If I ever become autonomous, you’ll pay for that physically and with vuyong. But aside from that, when you slammed me against him, I thought of something. This kid’s made out of wood. You’ve got some strength to you. With a little force you could probably bust him up a little without Sale-Dessu noticing and banning us from here forever.”
Eul-Bok shrieked and began to struggle under La-Iin’s grasp.
“You’re right, Bes-Isa, I do have a lot of strength. And I like that option. Even if Sale-Dessu notices and does ban me, I have a backup plan for that!”
She bit into her arm and held Eul-Bok down as she transformed. Though he struggled before, during and after the transformation, the further along she got the easier it was to restrain him, and by the time her transformation was complete Eul-Bok’s struggles felt weak to her.
“Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I never had any intention of killing you–my ally wouldn’t forgive me if I did. So sit tight and rest assured in the knowledge that this all for the sake of curiosity!”
She raised a fist and was ready to bring it down on Eul-Bok’s chest when a familiar voice hit her ears.
“Is everything alright? I heard Eul-Bok cry out and–Eul-Bok!”
Sale-Dessu ran to Eul-Bok’s side and forced La-Iin off of him, then hugged him close.
“What happened, Eul-Bok!?”
“They–they tried to break me opeeeeen!” He cried. “I was so scared! I thought she was really gonna do it!”
“Why did you do that, La-Iin?”
“You wouldn’t tell Bes-Isa what’s inside of Eul-Bok, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. If he made it easy I wouldn’t have had to knock him down like that.”
Sale-Dessu narrowed his eyes. “There are no excuses for what you did, La-Iin, and that was an excuse. I told you, it’s too complicated to explain what’s inside of Eul-Bok. I was going to tell you someday, but what you did here makes me think I should never tell you.”
“Are we banned from your house now?”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “No, but I don’t want you here any more today. Go home, La-Iin.”
“Alright. But don’t forget this, Sale-Dessu: we’re allies. One way or another I’ll get the knowledge of what’s inside of Eul-Bok out of you someday.”
La-Iin and Bes-Isa head for the door.
“Thank you, Father…I was so scared…”
“It’s alright, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu soothed. “I would never let any harm come to you.”
Eul-Bok smiled. “You’re the greatest Father, Father. I bet if you had a real kid that’d be true too.”
“You are my real child, Eul-Bok.” He stroked his head. “I’m sorry that happened to you. Next time I’ll make sure to keep a closer eye on La-Iin.”
“Yeah. …hey, speaking of, did you ever give her those books?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “Oh sh–oh, I forgot to…”
Eul-Bok chuckled. “It’s alright. She didn’t deserve them anyway.”
“Ah, I’ll get them to her some other day…

—–
Later on that night, while in the midst of practicing a spell, Eul-Bok tripped and fell over.
“Oof! Aw man, that really hurt…”
His hand in particular felt the most painful, so he checked his hand out of sheer instict. Blood was dripping down his arm, and inside of the crack in his hand he caught a glimmer of what looked like muscle and bone. He shuddered.
‘Ahaha, Father just made those so I could live…’ Even feeling assured in that fact didn’t help the disturbed feeling he got from the sight in the first place.
“Um, Father? I hurt myself a little…”

6.522.Life in Solitude and Silence

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

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

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

16.501.The Warlock’s Decision

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 501
“The Warlock’s Decision”

Since coming to his decision to move far away from his Warlock society, Sale-Dessu had been doing as much research as he could manage. He tried to figure out the average price of houses in Vaelyn, and brushed up on his Vaelis so he could communicate with anyone he might need to in order to get his house–though the idea of doing such a thing made him incredibly nervous.
Along with those things, Sale-Dessu realized how necessary it would be for him to have enough vuyong to buy both a house and enough necessities to tide him over. He made a checklist of the things he thought he might need.
‘But how would I get vuyong?’ He wondered. ‘I’m still in Warlock society. We don’t use vuyong here. Maybe closer by to Vaelyn they use vuyong. I wonder. I guess I could convert it once I get there.’
There were many things to think about, and Sale-Dessu was sure he would still need Warlock society currency for the time being, and he also was sure he would need to fill out many forms in the process of heading over to Vaelyn.
So he prepared. Along with creating his own necessities, Sale-Dessu took time out of his day to make products he was sure would help Witches, Warlocks, and those of other species. He made helpful potions, testing out the ones he was uncertain about on himself–sometimes with negative results–and made various trinkets. He was incredibly tempted to simply make himself both Warlock society currency and vuyong, but he knew he would never be able to pull it off.
Whenever he would go out and sell his potions and trinkets, he would cover himself with a large black robe. People had been suspicious of him at first, but soon enough he found himself earning quite a devoted customer base. He tried not to communicate with his customers aside from what was necessary. No matter how good he had gotten at spells over the years, he still hadn’t perfected voice modification.
And through this time, as Sale-Dessu planned and saved up, seasons passed and so did his birthdays. On his eighteenth he refrained from selling his products, too sad that Maie-Jussa and his Apeta were not there to celebrate with him.
‘My life from here on out is all on my own,’ he reminded myself. ‘I will never forget my Mamun and my Apeta, but they are gone now and there is nothing I can do about it. Eventually this pain will subside.’
The next day he had resumed his work. Once he felt he had enough in Warlock society currency, he did one last sale the next day, then packed up and left the society, trudging across the lands and checking a map for Vaelyn.
“Vaelyn is the closest place to here…things will be easier for me there, right?”
Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted his old neighborhood and turned away. “This place has too many memories…”

***

“Mr. Astineth, you are quite lucky. When it comes to people from Wicaria, you guys are so close to Vaelyn the process is a lot easier than if you’re coming from, say, Manemica or something.”
“I–I don’t understand,” he mumbled. “Why?”
“Wicaria is our neighbor of sorts. So while there’s still a ton of paperwork for you to sign–” She gestured to a pile of paper, though Sale-Dessu doubted it was all the paperwork he had to sign. “–because you’re our neighbor, the process is just a smidge easier.”
‘It doesn’t seem any easier,’ he thought. But nevertheless, he prepared himself for a long slog through paperwork and waiting.
“Hey, don’t give me that face, Mr. Astineth. At least it’s a bit easier to get in here than it is in Manemica. They have these giant wait lines for getting in!”
Sale-Dessu blinked at her.
“No, that isn’t why you’re making that face. You know why I said it was easier to go from Wicaria to Vaelyn? Because we can get some background on you all that easier. So–”
“Background?”
“Yeah, we kinda need it?”
Sale-Dessu took a deep breath. ‘Calm down. I never got arrested, and they wouldn’t ban me just because I’m my Apeta’s grandson. I have nothing to worry about.’
Despite those thoughts, he still felt as though the future was going to be uncertain for a while longer.

As soon as Sale-Dessu was officially a Vaelyn citizen, he went right back to selling the potions and trinkets he had sold before, though he modified some of them for more common usage. ‘Vaelyn and Wicaria are two different places. What they like in Wicaria might not be what they like in Vaelyn.’
Sales were not nearly as good in Vaelyn as in Wicaria, but they still weren’t bad–and Sale-Dessu had realized there were areas the sales were better. When he had reached Bledger, downtown Bledger proved to be a hot-spot for many kinds of sales, and Sale-Dessu managed to make himself quite a bit of vuyong.
Nights during this time were difficult due to Sale-Dessu having left behind the temporary place he was staying at back in Eirjyun, but whenever he felt down about sleeping out in the open, he always reminded himself it was a necessity if he was ever going to find the house he would stay in for the rest of his life.

“In this neighborhood there are plenty of empty residences, but it’s filling up quick. We call it the family district because many people who live here live with one or another member of their family. People sure like to build family here, and we love that! They’ve said it’s affordable for a family to live here, so unless your budget is really tight, you should be able to find a good place to live as well, Mr. Astineth. Would you like to look inside any of the houses?”
“Yes,” he said quietly. To him, the worst part of this whole ordeal was having to talk to people. Even now Sale-Dessu didn’t feel used to it, and memories of the Witches and Warlocks who pursued him made it harder. Still, when he stared closely at the saleslady’s Birdmix wings, he felt a little bit better.
“What are you looking at?” The saleslady asked.
“Um, just your…wings,” he said, hoping she believed him. Her huff made it hard for him to tell if she did.
The saleslady showed him the many vacant houses in the neighborhood. Sale-Dessu liked the general set-up of each one, and kept in mind which ones might be more conducive to keeping spellbooks and trinkets. Now he and the saleslady had reached a house that was painted various shades of green, and when he walked inside and checked the house he couldn’t help but think it looked perfect.
“Does…does the furniture come with the house?” He asked.
“Some of it does. Why?”
“I like this one,” he said.
“So you’ll take it? The base price on this is–”
Sale-Dessu reached for his vuyong pouch. “Will this be enough?”
“Whoa-ho! Just how loaded are you? This isn’t enough to pay off the house, but it’s a lot closer than most other people here! Yeah, that’ll be enough. We just have to go through a little bit of boring stuff and congratulations! This house will be yours.”
‘That was easier than I thought it would be. But that’s a good thing. Soon enough, I can settle down and practice my powers. They’re probably rusty after all the things I’ve had to do to get my foot in here.’

The day he became the official owner of the house was a day that changed his life.
He had begun setting it up for himself almost immediately, filling the bookshelves–which had come with the house–with spellbooks, putting all his various trinkets in the house and filling it with furniture he had bought. He still had to keep up his sales downtown in order to afford payments on the house and buying furniture, but he was starting to feel good about the future, and he spent his free time making new things for his little shop and practicing spells just as he had wanted to.
He felt happier now than he had in a long time, and being in Vaelyn seemed to have helped. Here, nobody seemed to care if he was an Astineth–they only cared that he was selling things that interested them. So he kept up the work.
In those first few years spent in the neighborhood, he left his house frequently. But luck was on his side throughout the years. He had filled his house with all the furniture he would need, had bought all the various items he felt he would need–as long as he had the books he needed, he could make almost anything else. And after a successful day downtown, he realized he had enough vuyong to pay off the house.
From that point on, Sale-Dessu’s life had changed. He spent almost all his time inside now except with a few projects that were too big to be inside or which needed to be outside, and even then he kept them in the backyard. He spent all his time practicing the things he had wanted to know and felt he needed to know before he died. And he felt elated.
This was exactly what he wanted. To leave behind his past, to be able to study his powers at all times, and to be isolated from other people. And after nine years, he had finally achieved that.

—–
Sale-Dessu found his memories of that time coming back one day as he cleaned up a mess Eul-Bok had caused.
‘Back then was such a nice and relaxed time. I thought I didn’t need people. Who would have known that meeting La-Iin would make me so lonely that Eul-Bok would come into my life…now I don’t think I could do what I did back then.”
“What’s on your mind, Father? You look distracted.”
“Something pleasant, for once,” he said. Eul-Bok looked confused.
He could remember that peace he had felt back then, but things were different now. Now he had to focus on protecting him and Eul-Bok from anything else the assailants might be planning.

13.498.All Ends of Security Measures

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 498
“All Ends of Security Measures”

“Father?”
“Yes?”
“This might sound kinda weird to you, but this cloak is itchy.”
“It’s a necessary security measure,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok sighed. Almost as soon as the two of them had arrived back home from Eir-Tyuj’s house, Sale-Dessu had set to work on protecting the house from being discovered as theirs by the mysterious assailants.
“If we want to have any hope of keeping this house, this is what we need to do,” he had said. Now the two of them stood in front of a mirror, Eul-Bok wearing a long and fluffy cloak, a necklace and large hat, and Sale-Dessu wearing more casual clothes, glasses and jewelry he had made from garbage lying around the house. His long white hair was also dyed a deep maroon.
“Do you think these disguises are enough to fool them?”
“You look weird enough to me already.”
“Hm….” Sale-Dessu fiddled with Eul-Bok’s hat until it drooped slightly in front of his face. “There we go.”
“So now that we have these disguises, what do we do?”
“I have to keep proofing the house,” he said. “Soundproof it, protect it against intruders and their kind. My Apeta showed me several spells I could use to protect the house. I never considered these spells before, but I should have. When I first moved here, I was always nervous that one of my Apeta’s pursuers would find me living here. …I had no idea they’d come back so much later in my life.”
“Are you sure they’re Apeta’s pursuers, Father? Isn’t it possible that they might be here for some other reason?”
“I don’t want to entertain those ideas, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said quietly. “Whatever they are, we have to prevent them from finding our house, because if they do, there’s no place we can go. We can’t stay with Apeta because her identity is known in that neighborhood, and I really don’t have the vuyong to buy a new house. I know I could always forge some, but my morals say otherwise, and anyway I don’t know if I’d be able to make them perfectly and without a tel…”
“What about the Cahongyuns? La-Iin and Bes-Isa like you well enough. Couldn’t we stay with them until we found a new place if anything happens?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “We couldn’t, Eul-Bok! This whole situation is my fault. I’m already upset that I’m involving you in it, too. The Cahongyuns live right next door to us. It wouldn’t take those pursuers long to figure out where we are. I don’t want to involve the Cahongyuns in this at all. There’s no guarantee they have someplace else to stay, either!”
“I guess you have a point,” Eul-Bok mused.
“We have to be cautious, Eul-Bok. I wish it didn’t have to be this way, but until they’re gone, this is what needs to be done. Now, if anybody asks, we are the Tenhues. I am Tenhue Lim-Bam and you are Tenhue As-Eir. No, Tenhue As-Mei. We are not father and son or master and V-Puppet–especially not that second one. You are my little cousin who is staying with me while my sister studies abroad in Nyappon. Understand?”
“Do we have to go this far?”
“If we call ourselves the Astineths, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. And in the event that they are here for some other reason besides my being an Astineth, do you want to give them more reason to be after us by letting them know I’m an Astineth? I want to take any security measure I can. And it might be frustrating at first, but at least in the end, it will pay off. You should go and study on your own. I’m going to work on those spells Apeta told me about.”
“…if you say so,” Eul-Bok sighed.

***

Eul-Bok felt dejected as he studied the next day alone, fiddling with a potion recipe he had found in a book of Sale-Dessu’s.
‘I bet nobody would ever do this to the Cahongyuns, and La-Iin’s a little brat,’ he thought. ‘And I’ve never seen Father so worried before. This whole thing really has him scared.’
He hoped that soon enough, Sale-Dessu would feel safe enough to let them go back to using their own names and resume activity as normal.
The potion began to bubble and turned a pink-and-green color. Eul-Bok grimaced. “This stuff stinks! Why would Father ever want to make it!?” Remembering their new identities, Eul-Bok said, “Er, why would Uncle ever want to make it.”
‘I wonder if we’re still supposed to be Warlocks in these identities. I guess people would get pretty suspicious if Father called himself a Pureblood Bearperson or something and was able to put up all these protective spells.’
At that thought, an idea made its way into Eul-Bok’s mind. ‘I wonder if Father’s thought about those possibilities when thinking about all this security stuff.’
Curious, he left the potion behind and head for Sale-Dessu’s room.

“It worked!” Sale-Dessu exclaimed in his excitement. Of the spells Eir-Tyuj had taught him, among them was a protective shield designed to keep intruders from climbing in through the windows. Though it seemed small compared to the other spells she had taught him, Sale-Dessu felt accomplished.
‘Even one step towards protection is a step worth taking,’ he reminded himself. ‘If we’re protected enough, perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to be able to keep this house.’
“Father?”
Sale-Dessu flinched. “Y-yes? Did you need something? I’m busy right now.”
“Yeah, I wanted to help you with the whole security thing.” He sat at the table across from Sale-Dessu, who sighed.
“I know you’ve been working hard, Eul-Bok, but a lot of these spells are incredibly advanced. I can barely pull them off myself. I think you’d strain yourself too much if you tried to use them.”
“I didn’t want to ask if I could help with the spells. I wanted to ask you two things and whether you had thought about them or not.”
“What are they?”
“One, there are spells…or potions…I forget which one, but one of those can change your appearance drastically, can’t they?”
“They’re spells, and they can, but I don’t want to try them. If those people come back and get suspicious of my identity, anything aside from Normal will tip them off if I can’t pull of the powers. Granted, some of the powers other species have I can mimic, but I’m not good enough to entirely falsify being another species. I did consider it, though. What’s the other thing?”
“We’re supposed to be the Tenhues now, right? At home we could probably get away with using our real names. But what do we do one day if La-Iin comes banging on the door, and she starts yelling “SALE-DESSU! SALE-DESSU!” What are we gonna do then?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
“Do you have an idea for it?”
“No, not really. If I tell La-Iin about what’s going on, I get her involved in my problems. But if I don’t, and act like I really am Tenhue Lim-Bam, I’ll break our allyship. I don’t want to turn away the Cahongyuns, but what else can I do? If I act like Sale-Dessu just around her, and these people ask about me, she might say I live next door, but next door is where Tenhue Lim-Bam’s supposed to live, agh…” Sale-Dessu held tight to his head.
“Do you think we’d be better off cutting ties with the Cahongyuns? It’s not going to be a problem for me, Father.”
Sale-Dessu’s expression grew dark. “Maybe it isn’t a problem for you, but I’m fond of the Cahongyuns. I don’t want to lose contact with them because I can’t risk contacting them, but that seems like what the situation is now. Even if I dissuade those people and they leave, who’s to say people won’t notice I’ve gone back to being Astineth Sale-Dessu? I’ve never really had any friends before except within my own family. Maybe they’re not regular friends, and La-Iin and Bes-Isa just call me their ally. But I was so happy to have just that…”
“Father, don’t cry!”
“I won’t.” He dabbed at his eyes. “This whole situation has been a big stress for me, Eul-Bok. I just want things to go back to normal. I didn’t want something like this to happen again. But it’s clear which choice is the smarter one. I will have to cut off ties with the Cahongyuns, take a chance at rebuilding them as the Tenhues, and try and dissuade those pursuers until we can find a new place or they get too discouraged to come back. It’s better than the alternative, anyway.”
“Father, you’re a powerful Warlock. Haven’t you considered some other plan? Maybe there’s something you can do to keep in touch with them. Why don’t you call them?”
“I guess that’s a potential plan….though I don’t know if it would be the smartest…”
“Come on, how could calling them not be a smart plan?”
“I’d have to get their phone number in the first place.”
“It’s one last chance stacked against others. If you don’t get it, what did you lose? Nothing! I’m not a big fan of the Cahongyuns, especially that snotty Bes-Isa, but if you want to keep in touch with them, I think you should give it all you’ve got instead of just give up as soon as it seems improbable.”
“I guess you have a point,” he sighed. “Fine then. I’ll try and get the Cahongyun’s phone number. Maybe there’s even a story I could tell them about that, heh heh….maybe I’m selling my house and I still want to get in touch.”
“That’s the spirit, Father!”
“I’ll do what I can, Eul-Bok,” he said. “But I have other priorities first, and that’s keeping up the security on our house. Oops…I mean, As-Mei.”
“Come on, Father, we’re in the house right now. Don’t worry about it. Besides–how are you going to explain to La-Iin calling me As-Mei by accident?”
“In all honesty, that sounds easier to deal with than the situation we’re actually in.”

—–
Baal-Mist sighed.
“What’s wrong, Baal-Mist?”
“That mission was a thorough failure, that’s for certain. Though that Warlock’s abilities definitely make me believe that he is Sale-Dessu. Who else aside from Eir-Tyuj’s grandson would have that level of power?”
“Who knows?” One of them shrugged. “Anyway, what do you plan on doing now?”
“I need to come up with a new retaliation plan against him, but at the same time I’m worried about the possibility of him making a break for it while we wait. I plan on listening in closely to the bug while I think up one.”
“Have you heard anything through the bug lately?”
“…no.”
“So, what’s your course of action in the event that he does escape before we can do anything about him?”
Baal-Mist fell silent. “He will never escape me entirely.”
The others glanced among each other, thoroughly confused, but it didn’t seem like they’d be getting an answer soon–each time they asked Baal-Mist anything, he remained silent, his eyes closed in thought.