4.642.Warp of Reality

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 642
“Warp of Reality”

“Father, can I make a request?”
“What is it, Eul-Bok?”
“Can we go see Grepeta soon? It’s been a while since we last saw her, and I’ve been wanting to practice spells with her lately.”
“I don’t mind doing that. You’re right, it has been a while. And I’m sure you’d like to go someplace aside from this house.”
“I don’t hate our house! Although it is nice to get out every now-and-then.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “I don’t mind. I’ve managed to get some sleep after doing all that research for La-Iin, and the last few days have been lazy. So why not go someplace? Although can we do your check-up first?”
“Alright! I just hope Grepeta’s willing to see us.”
“I’m sure she will be, Eul-Bok. Even though Apeta can be rough sometimes, I know she’s a good Witch.”
‘Despite what so many other people would say,’ Sale-Dessu thought. He decided it would be better if he left that thought unvoiced.

***

Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok teleported into Eir-Tyuj’s house. They didn’t spot her right away, but were able to find her by the sound of coughing.
“Apeta, are you alright?” Sale-Dessu asked. Eir-Tyuj was sitting at a table, coughing somewhat violently. Eul-Bok was taken aback.
When her coughing died down, Eir-Tyuj took a breath.
“Excuse me, Sale-Dessu. What did you say?”
“Are you alright?”
“Alright enough as you can be after hacking up a lung,” she said. “But truly, I’m fine. Just a cough. The remnants of a sickness I had a few days before you two decided to invade.”
“Sorry, Grepeta. But how else are we supposed to get here?”
“I don’t mean ill by it, Eul-Bok. I’m well-aware of your situation, and of your father’s nervousness.”
“Apeta, please…”
“Anyway, I’m old! This stuff stays with me longer now that I’m of advanced age. For a Witch I’ve lived quite a time, and Witches already live longer than most others! I wonder if they would consider me a super-centenarian. I forget what age qualifies you for that.”
“Well, we’re glad you’re okay, Grepeta!”
“Are you really sure you’re okay? That coughing sounded rough…”
“I’m certain. I could be asking the same to you, Mr. Eyebags.”
Sale-Dessu touched his face. “There’s nothing wrong with me being worried about you, Apeta.” He hadn’t expected his tone to take an edge, but he didn’t notice until after he had already spoken. To his relief, Eir-Tyuj didn’t seem upset.
“Of course there isn’t. Now, you two–why are you here? Simply here to see ol’ Apeta, or, in your case, Grepeta?”
“We came at Eul-Bok’s request,” Sale-Dessu explained.
“I see. What made you want to come and visit me?”
“Remember how you and Father said I have potential?”
“Yes. I don’t forget the potential of my descendants, after all.”
“Well, I’ve been wanting to practice more with you! Practicing with Father is fine, but it’s nice to practice with you, too. I get a different kind of education with you.”
“I’m sure Sale-Dessu is more gentle. But what could you want to learn from me that Sale-Dessu could not teach you? My age has made it harder for me to pull off certain powers, and I’m sure Sale-Dessu knows most of mine.”
“Well, do you think it could be possible for me to try another unfinished spell?”
“Definitely not!” Sale-Dessu exclaimed.
“Absolutely not!” Eir-Tyuj exclaimed. “I understand your faith in your abilities, but such things are dangerous, Eul-Bok.”
Sale-Dessu was half-expecting Eul-Bok to look dejected, but instead he smiled. “I was expecting that response. Don’t worry, I haven’t been thinking about unfinished spells much recently. Although I did see a few interesting ones while Father was doing his research.”
“What research?” Eir-Tyuj asked.
“Research on a supposed Vampire ability,” Sale-Dessu said. “I learned some interesting things. Maybe I’ll tell you about them after you’re done with Eul-Bok.”
“Hm. So what did you really come here to learn?”
“Reality warping!” Sale-Dessu flinched. “Father knows how to reality warp, but I’ve heard you know how to control your warp better than he does.”
“You would have heard right, then. But what brings this on?”
“I was thinking, reality warping could be a good ability to have. Even though it can be dangerous, if you use it in the right way it could be helpful. But since Father isn’t all that good at controlling his, I thought I’d go to the master.”
Eir-Tyuj smiled, though Eul-Bok felt that it was a sad smile. “I’d be more than happy to teach you, but it has been ages since my last warp. Not only am I elderly, but I mostly gave up practicing the power after the retaliation I got from using it. If I had never experimented with that power, I could have avoided some tragedy, and so could have Sale-Dessu…”
Sale-Dessu lowered his head.
“Don’t feel sad, Grepeta! I think your only problem was that since you were still working on it, you didn’t keep it contained. And I know you can keep warps contained. So teach me how to reality warp, and how to keep it contained, too!”
“Are you sure about this, Eul-Bok?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Yes!”
Eir-Tyuj stood up. “There’s one other problem to my teaching you how to reality warp, however.”
“Hm?”
“Yours will be unstable at first, that is almost guaranteed, unless you are more of a prodigy than I believe. Sale-Dessu and I may not be able to detect that reality has been warped. It will be up to you to bring the warp to an end.”
“I understand, Grepeta. But I really think reality warping would be a helpful skill to have!”
“Well, if you’re that certain, than I can’t turn you down! But there’s a lot for you to learn before you try it. So prepare yourself!”
“I’m ready, Grepeta!”
“This all gives me a bad feeling…”
“Ah, don’t be so concerned, Sale-Dessu. I’ll make sure nothing goes out of control.”

Over the next few hours, Eul-Bok learned several things. He learned how much concentration it took to make a proper reality warp, and how to end it too. Eir-Tyuj mostly taught him necessary details, like the focus one needed for a proper warp or warning him about the damage it could cause to his psyche, but she also told him about less important details such as how he could make the reality look cartoonish, or how to create an activator for it as opposed to initiating it himself.
“I could have told him about making an activator,” Sale-Dessu said.
“I’m sure you could have, but I’m the one he asked to explain this,” Eir-Tyuj said playfully. “Well, then, now that we’ve gone over all that, how would you like me to show you how it’s done? Then you may try it for yourself.”
“Okay!”
Eir-Tyuj retrieved her wand and a small book. “For backup,” she told them. “It certainly has been a while since I last used this power…exercise caution, boys. I do know how to keep it from sucking you in, but it has been so long that I make no guarantees.”
“You’ll make an innocent one then, right, Apeta?” Sale-Dessu said.
“If that’s your request. Though I always was better with the more violent ones. Ha!”
She held out her wand, and Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok watched as the world around them began to change. Sale-Dessu was quick to notice that the area around him looked like an etheral version of the house he had initially lived in with his mother and grandmother. A wave of nostalgia washed over him.
“Wow, this looks like an actual location!”
“It is an actual location, in a way,” Eir-Tyuj panted. She seemed worn out. “I inspired it off of someplace I lived once. I was lazy this time.”
“Apeta…this is the house we lived in with Mamun.”
“I see someone noticed the inspiration,” Eir-Tyuj said with a smile. “But I also see another someone is eager to try using this power for himself.”
Eir-Tyuj began to return reality to normal. “Now you may try it. But remember what I told you. And as Sale-Dessu warned me, your reality should most likely be an innocent one. It is likely at least Sale-Dessu will be caught up in the reality.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Well, Father, you did tell me that when La-Iin hit your reality activator you didn’t notice anything changed until later,” Eul-Bok said. Sale-Dessu’s face flushed.
“I suppose you have a point…”
“What is this about some “La-Iin” hitting a reality activator?” Eir-Tyuj asked.
“It’s a long story, Apeta. And I’m sure that Eul-Bok is impatient.”
“I’d let you tell her, but I can’t stand La-Iin myself. Alright, I think I understand now. I’m going to do my best!”
“Don’t be nervous, boy. It can interfere with the reality.”
“Gotcha.”
“And after this is done, you have a story to tell me.”
“Agh…”
Eul-Bok took a deep breath, then began to focus on an image in his head. He grasped his wand and began to try and bring the image to life. With his eyes closed, Eul-Bok couldn’t tell if he was succeeding or not, and even though he had understood Eir-Tyuj’s words he still felt uncertain. Curious, he opened one eye, and gasped.
The scene around him had changed, but it was far from what he had imagined.
Instead, he, Sale-Dessu, and Eir-Tyuj were in a flower field. Sale-Dessu was picking flowers and handing them to Eir-Tyuj, who spoke in a high-pitched voice.
“Why, thank you, my grandson!”
She then burst into coughing. Eul-Bok was dumbfounded. He tried to move, but found he couldn’t. Not a single part of him would move, leaving him stuck in place watching his family play with flowers in the field.
To his relief, after what felt like two hours at the least, the reality wore off. Eir-Tyuj and Sale-Dessu closed their eyes, then opened them and blinked them.
“Wha?”
“Did…did you do a reality warp, Eul-Bok? I feel like I was just holding something.”
“I can remember a flower field, but only vaguely…”
“I didn’t do anything!” Eul-Bok said. “All of a sudden while I was working on my reality warp, everything changed to a flower field and you and Father started picking flowers and talking in high-pitched voices!”
“It sounds like you really went for an innocent reality warp,” Sale-Dessu chuckled.
“But–but Father, you don’t understand! I didn’t warp reality! All of a sudden a reality warp just happened! When it happened I couldn’t move! Aren’t you supposed to be able to move in your own warp?”
“That is true, but it can take a lot out of someone to perform a reality warp,” Eir-Tyuj explained. “And you are a V-Puppet. It’s possible that is why you were not able to move, because it took so much out of you and your species of origin cannot move without a power’s assistance.”
“But I wasn’t even imagining a flower field!”
Eir-Tyuj shook her head. “I know you believe you didn’t warp reality, Eul-Bok, but that is simply not possible. My house is under high defenses right now. No outside reality warp should be able to get in. It was your first reality warp. Perhaps it didn’t go as you expect, but that is to be expected, and at least it sounds like it went better than Maie-Jussa’s first.”
“Mamun warped reality?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Yes, but only once when she was young. It was a bit of a disaster, so she never tried again. But it wasn’t so much of a disaster that it warranted mentioning.”
“Seriously Grepeta, I didn’t do it!”
“He seems pretty convinced,” Sale-Dessu said. Eir-Tyuj shook her head. “Conviction or not, my house is under high security. Even with my sickness, I know that security has not wavered.”
“Grepeta!”
“Um–ah–why don’t we all calm down for now with some stories?” Sale-Dessu suggested. He could hear the desperation in Eul-Bok’s tone, and the agitation starting in Eir-Tyuj’s. ‘I really don’t want them to fight!’
“I’ll tell you an embarrassing one from when I was five. A–and didn’t you want to learn about La-Iin and the reality activator, Apeta?”
“I do.”
“Um…okay, Father,” Eul-Bok sighed. Sale-Dessu bit his lip.
‘Who do I believe? I don’t want to believe that another reality warp penetrated Apeta’s defenses, but at the same time Eul-Bok seems really convinced. And with his ability, I’m sure he would have been able to move around. What really happened just now?’
The whole incident left Sale-Dessu with a sick, uncertain feeling even as he worked to try and calm Eir-Tyuj and Eul-Bok.

—–
“Ciuthia…I’ll admit it, I’m scared.”
“Do not worry, Baal-Mist. I have told you all that you need to know. And if it will reassure you further, I know a way to counteract a reality warp.”
“You do?”
Ire-Salin nodded.
“That will be a helpful ability in the future…alright, then, here goes…”
Baal-Mist took a deep breath. Just pulling off a reality warp of his own sounded like a terrifying concept. But it was something he knew he had to try.
He focused on an image in his mind and set to work creating it in the way described by Ire-Salin, moving his wand around. He didn’t open his eyes until he had finished, and when he did he noticed he was surrounded by a vast flower field instead of a room in Ire-Salin’s house.
Ire-Salin was picking flowers and she handed them to Baal-Mist. “For you, my dearest,” she said.
Baal-Mist accepted the flowers and looked around. “I really did it…but it looks like Ciuthia is lost in the warp.”
“I will go and pick more,” she said cheerfully, then ran off to do just that.
Baal-Mist explored the reality warp for a while, but it seemed that he had pulled it off as simplistically as it had appeared in his mind, a vast flower field that went on for what seemed like eternity. Once he felt he had had enough of that–and of Ire-Salin’s strange behavior–he set to ending the reality warp.
Ire-Salin closed her eyes and dropped a glass sculpture. She gasped when it hit the ground.
“How was it?”
“It seemed to be successful, but it was simplistic. I suppose that’s good enough.”
“I see…” Ire-Salin’s cheeks flushed. “Well, perhaps we have had enough practicing for today. Are you still nervous, Baal-Mist?”
“A little less so, now,” he sighed. “As long as I have you helping me, I think I might be okay. But that reminds me, I would love to see one of your reality warps someday, Ciuthia, just to get a better idea of how to work mine.”
“If that is what you want, then I sheall give it to you at your request. Say the word, Baal-Mist.”
“Well, that can wait. I’m still a little nervous from the warp. Why don’t I fix that glass sculpture of yours for now?”
“It does not matter, but if you wish to do so, then do so, Baal-Mist.”

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27.635.The Extent of His Trauma

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 635
“The Extent of His Trauma”

“You rung, Baal-Mist? It feels like it’s been a while since we all met.”
Baal-Mist didn’t respond.
“He’s been like this ever since we got here. Ciuthia has been trying to get through to him for about an hour now.”
“Seriously, an hour?”
Ciuthia nodded.
“Baal-Mist, everyone would like to know why we were summoned. We cannot help you if we do not know the reason why.”
“Something tells me it isn’t good. Look at the expression on his face.”
“Dude. Baal-Mist always looks angry. It’s how his face–”
Baal-Mist slammed a fist on the table. Everyone flinched.
“I’m sorry, Ciuthia. I was trying to think of the best way to phrase what I want to say.”
“It is no problem, Baal-Mist. I can exercise patience. …and I have told you that Ire-Salin is fine to call me.”
Baal-Mist sighed and shook his head. “I called you all here today for ideas. I haven’t picked up anything of worth on the bug and I have no good ideas for facing off against him. Sale-Dessu is a necessity in my eyes, and his child is a mystery I want to unravel. The problem is what to do. I’ve been stumped for ideas and every time one comes to mind it seems like it won’t work.”
“We’re three more people strong than him and his child. Astineth or not, we should be able to take him on. And you are a powerful Warlock, Baal-Mist.”
“I think you’re underestimating the Astineth’s ability, Haudon.”
“I believe you are underestimating your own ability, Baal-Mist.”
“Don’t try and make me feel better, Ciuthia. It won’t work.”
“I understand you take this seriously, Baal-Mist, but are you sure you don’t want to take a break for a little?”
The others in the room stiffened. The expression on Baal-Mist’s face had become furious. “You can’t just keep focusing on this old lady forever. She’s an old lady, she’ll be dead soon enough. You’re making yourself unhappy by devoting every day of your life to her and her grandson.”
“I don’t think you should have said that…”
“You obviously don’t understand my situation, then,” Baal-Mist said under his breath. It was evident that he was furious. “Do you know how long I’ve been focusing on this? Are you asking me to just drop it because I’ll stress myself out? Do you know how I’ll feel otherwise?”
“Er, sorry I said anything!”
“I do not believe you sheould stop your life goal, Baal-Mist, but perhaps Liunshess has his point.”
“Um, Ciuthia? It’s Liunshe…”
“You will stress yourself out to be thinking on it constantly. Conversely, if you believe that it will only harm your mentality further to stop focusing on it even for a brief period of time, then I will find a way to speed the progress of our operations. Whatever suits you best, Baal-Mist.”
Baal-Mist sighed and his expression eased. “You always were the most loyal to this project, Ciuthia. Thank you.”
“I take great pleasure in assisting you, Baal-Mist,” Ire-Salin said, cracking a smile.
“Ha. I wasn’t asking for people to judge how I live my life. I’m a Warlock. I don’t have less than a hundred years to live, assuming I’m cautious, and moreso than just a hundred and five years in total. Far more than that. I have plenty of time to devote to this cause. I’m asking for ideas to make some significant progress, and if none of you have any that will bring this meeting to an end.”
“Well, um…how about instead of focusing so much on this Sale-Dessu kid, you just go straight for the prize?”
“That won’t work. It’s imperative that Sale-Dessu is involved in this somehow.”
“I honestly don’t understand why. You went years not knowing that any of her relatives were alive.”
“I know. And now that I know otherwise, my plans won’t work without that.”
“Maybe we can pull a surprise attack on them when he next stops by Eir-Tyuj’s house!”
Baal-Mist looked intrigued. “Good idea, Haudon. Although it would be difficult to ascertain when he next visits, and Eir-Tyuj’s house is high security….though I might be able to do something about that.”
“Well, I’m glad you have an idea, but I really don’t think you should obsess so much about it. You’re gonna make yourself go crazy.”
Baal-Mist’s expression contorted again. The others in the room sat still as Baal-Mist stood up from his seat, his eyes wild.
“You don’t understand this, then! The more I think on it, the closer I am to making a breakthrough. The sooner I make a breakthrough, the sooner I can enjoy life. And I’m certain now, I’m certain I can do it. So why don’t you focus on your own life instead of trying to interfere with mine!?”
“…we’re friends, Baal-Mist. I’m just concerned…you weren’t this obsessive before we saw Sale-Dessu…”
“Because with Sale-Dessu and his child in the picture, circumstances have changed.” Baal-Mist sat back down in his chair. “And right now, we are not friends, we are working together in this. But I have a nugget of something to work with now. So you are all dismissed. Go and enjoy your own lives.”
The others in the room gave each other uncertain looks, but they began to leave the room.
“Ciuthia.”
Ire-Salin turned around.
“I need you.”
“Yes, certainly. What is it, Baal-Mist?”
“You have a special talent for reality warping, correct?”
“Yes. I was taught extensively in the subject as a child as a tactic for war. My family is one to believe that World War V is an inevitability.”
“Yes, about that. I was hoping you would help me with that. Reality warping makes me immensely uncomfortable to pull off myself, and hence I have no particular skill for it, but I’m going to need to get used to it sooner or later. I understand that the skill is one that takes a while to master. I’m alright with that. That is, unless, you were willing to pull it off yourself. Even so I’d like to see your skill with it.”
“I am willing to do whatever you ask of me, Baal-Mist, be it carry out a warp on my own or assist you in creating your own. I may do both and you may judge yourself which will work better for you.”
“Thank you. Ciuthia, you truly are an indispensable member of my team.”
“I thank you, Baal-Mist. Truly thank you…”

—–
“Geez, I really think Baal-Mist is gonna drive himself cuckoo before he hits fifty. That’s sure going to be fun…”
“He’s really obsessive about this whole Astineth thing. I know it’s personal and it has to do with his Mom, but I wonder what the exact story is?”
Haudon turned to Ire-Salin. “Do you know, Ciuthia?”
“Baal-Mist has implied to me the story in the past but I may not speak without knowing the truth for myself, which I do not.”
“Yeah, speaking of that…you two are particularly close, Ire-Salin. How come you didn’t ask him to calm down? I’m sure he would listen to you before the rest of us, and I know you get worried about him no matter how stoic you act.”
“I am deeply worried about Baal-Mist. But I understand the meaning of his mission to him. I do not wish to stoke his ire against me, so I sheall help in a less direct way. Already, I am proving of use to him, and so long as I can be that, I am happy.”
“You’d never be able to tell she’s actually worried about him if she didn’t tell you,” Haudon said. “I’ve never seen someone say they’re deeply worried so emotionlessly.”
“Yeah. But that’s Ciuthia for you.”

Baal-Mist took a deep breath that night before bed.
“Calm down. Ciuthia would never reality warp in the harsh, experimental way that Eir-Tyuj does. I’ll be fine. I will be.”

24.601.Manifestation of V-Puppetry

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

19.596.To Where Do You Head?

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 596
“To Where Do You Head?”

Eul-Bok sighed as he tidied around the house. “Father may be good at keeping the house clean, but he really doesn’t pay attention to when things gather dust, does he?”
“…not that a particular color of liquid can tell you whether you have a good potion or a bad potion, but typically people are dubious of black potions…oh, well, I actually meant we Witches and Warlocks are, I wouldn’t know about the general population…”
“Hm?” Curious, Eul-Bok followed Sale-Dessu’s voice. “What’s up, Father? Are you talking to yourself?”
“Why would I do that, Eul-Bok?” When Sale-Dessu turned to face him, he caught sight of the real reason he had heard his voice–La-Iin, sitting across from Sale-Dessu, with Bes-Isa sitting on the table propped up by a book stand.
“You didn’t hear them come in?”
“No.” Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. “Why must you two come here almost every single month!?”
“Because Sale-Dessu is our ally and we exchange information.”
“Do we?”
“I’m not sure I’d call that an exchange, seeing how one-sided it is,” Eul-Bok scoffed.
“Eul-Bok, be nice to them. I wouldn’t have let them in if I wanted them to go away.”
Eul-Bok sighed. “There’s no arguing with you on this subject…” He sat down next to him. “You do realize you haven’t given Father nearly enough time to finish looking into that thing you wanted from him, right?”
“Our trip here today was for different purposes.”
“Yes, she was asking me about potions,” Sale-Dessu said with a smile. “I was telling her about potions, but I somehow got sidetracked onto Warlocks not trusting black-colored potions. But it isn’t just black-colored potions. Grey potions aren’t usually trusted either.”
“Hm.”
“Didn’t you already talk to them about potions?”
“Some things need repeating. Besides, he didn’t tell me everything.”
“Potions do have a lot of unique properties, so there’s a lot to go over. And some aren’t made perfectly. They can backfire even if the Warlock’s intentions were good. La-Iin, do you remember that potion I brought back with me last year?”
“Huh?”
“The one I had to dilute?”
“Certainly you remember near-threatening him for a sip of that potion.”
“Oh. I don’t really remember what happened after that, though…”
“I’m not surprised.”
“Where did you get that potion, anyway?”
A curious expression crossed Sale-Dessu’s face. “…on my way back home…”
“What?”
La-Iin’s forehead wrinkled. “I don’t get it. You don’t seem like you like going outside, but you used to go places. If you don’t like leaving, then why did you?”
“I had…things I needed to do.”
“Things?”
“La-Iin, I know we’re allies, but you don’t tell me everything about what you do, do you?”
“…” La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“Please don’t look at me like that…I don’t want to tell you everything about what I do. I might not have much experience with people, but I know most people don’t go around telling their allies all of what they do every day.”
“But when you got that potion, you made me watch Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok shuddered. “I had almost forgotten those horrible days…”
“Speaking of…! Maybe you can convince her, Eul-Bok. Something tells me she won’t listen to me no matter how much I protest.”
“Why don’t you just threaten her right back, then?”
“I couldn’t do that!”
“I’d love to, Father, but I don’t have any rebuttal. Also, you weren’t all that clear on what you were doing when you talked to me about it, either.”
“That’s strange. I’d at least think that if he didn’t want to tell us, he would tell you. He trusts you so much, after all.”
A cocky smile crossed Eul-Bok’s lips and he puffed his chest out slightly. “It does seem rather suspicious that you want to keep it a secret so badly…from what I’ve seen you’re not good at hiding these sorts of things. After all, me and La-Iin might not know what happened to you when you were a kid, but we have a good idea that it wasn’t pleasant.”
“Please stop…”
“So if you’re hiding this, what sort of dark secret is behind it?”
“Dark secret…” La-Iin grinned. “Sale-Dessu, you don’t need to hide dark secrets from me. Hiding your evil from your ally is stupid. I’m evil, after all. You just need to say the word and I promise I won’t tell anyone you killed anybody. And I don’t like to make promises.”
“What!?”
“You really think poorly of Father, don’t you!?”
“On the contrary, Eul-Bok. I may have mixed feelings about murder, but that’s only because I think keeping people alive to suffer is much worse, and therefore, preferable.”
“And also because she has the sappiness of a half-Normal.”
La-Iin flicked Bes-Isa’s forehead.
“You’re sick, you know that!? Father, why do you associate yourself with someone like her!?”
Sale-Dessu’s head was lowered. Both La-Iin and Eul-Bok stared at him in confusion as he began to mumble to himself.
“What?”
“Father, are you okay?”
“I think he’s officially lost it. Hey, maybe this is the part where we pushed him so much to his breaking point that he’ll come out and spill everything!”
“Really!?”
“If you two did that to him, I…I….I’m not going to be held responsible for what I do to you in return!” Eul-Bok’s tone was thick with rage.
“Please, Eul-Bok, don’t threaten them.” Sale-Dessu sighed and faced them again. “Fine. I’ll tell you where I went off to. It wasn’t anything like what La-Iin said…I would never go away and kill someone. That’s awful.”
“Damn. It would have been excellent blackmail, now that I think about it.”
The look Sale-Dessu gave Bes-Isa in response terrified her. “I just didn’t want to explain it because I feel it will require more explanation than just saying ‘I went here’….”
“What do you mean, Father?”
“La-Iin’s right, I have gone out despite my reluctance to do so. I don’t like doing it–you can ask Eul-Bok, it makes me very uncomfortable…but I’ve done it before. Once I had planned on taking Eul-Bok with me to various places that specialized in V-Puppets to see if I could learn more about them. When I brought Eul-Bok to life, I didn’t know as much as V-Puppets as I should have.”
“But what about when you got the potion? I don’t even think La-Iin remembers what you’re talking about. That all happened so close to Magica Cavintus.”
“Huh?”
“See?”
“I–I know. I was just trying to prepare myself…I was looking for something when I went out that time.”
“And what would that be?”
“Something important to me…a relic from my past, you could say. Some things happened in the area I went to, so I was unable to use my powers and I had to be careful about even navigating that place…but in the end, the trip was worth it, at least for me.”
“That doesn’t explain anything.”
“This is why I didn’t want to tell you about it,” he groaned. “You won’t be happy unless I tell you exactly what it was I was looking for. It’s a part of my past. If I brought it up to you, I would have to go into that, too.”
“For someone who hangs as open as a book you’re sure tight-lipped on the exact details of your past.”
“You’d understand, if you knew…” He shook his head. “Anyway, the place is far away and it wasn’t feasible to just teleport there. That’s why it took me so long, and I went there to see something from my past. That’s all.”
“We’ll never get to hear about your past, will we?”
“It’s best if you don’t. Really. Aside from the fact that I don’t want to tell you, it’s better off if you don’t know…a-anyway, why don’t we get back to talking about potions instead?”
“You two bother Father too much. He’s doing his best to move past all that stuff, and all you two do is dredge up painful memories!”
“Eul-Bok, please.”
“I can’t stand it though, Father! It’s not fair, the way they’re treating you!”
“You might say that, but what wouldn’t be fair is what I would do to you if I had bodily autonomy.”
“Please, Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Let’s just go back to potions…there are actually some black-colored potions that aren’t harmful, but a lot of them were used for “curses” in the past.”
“Why did you say curses like that?”
“There really isn’t anything exactly like the curses you hear about in books. It’s more like an….infection.”
Sale-Dessu began to look dejected after those words. Eul-Bok glared at La-Iin and Bes-Isa. Neither of their expressions made it possible for him to tell what they thought about his reaction, but to him it didn’t matter.
‘Father, somehow I have to get you to realize that having La-Iin and Bes-Isa as your allies is a bad thing. All they do is bring you pain…’

—–
“Um, Father…”
“Yes, what is it, Eul-Bok? Do you want to try eating again today?”
“No, I’d rather not, really. I just wanted to ask you something.”
“What’s that?”
“Well…I feel like kind of a hypocrite asking this, but I don’t really remember what you were going there to see….what was it again?”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “It’s fine. You know already some of what happened, anyway. I went there to see my Mamun. Or if you prefer to hear it this way, your Apeta.”
“O–oh….”
“Unfortunately, me and Apeta couldn’t take her remains with us, but perhaps that’s for the better, considering what happened afterwards. We would have lost her. She’s safer back there, where they don’t allow powers. When I went, they were even going so far as to give everyone power suppressants.”
“Why don’t they allow powers?”
“In part due to my Mamun’s murder. The other part….well, I don’t know the other part. I’m sorry.”
“No, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to make you think about something so painful.”
“I wish I could have brought you with me that time, but they’re very staunch on the rules,” he sighed. “Maybe someday now, if we can disguise you well enough…”
Sale-Dessu turned back to his soup. “Oh, I burned it…”
“I’m really sorry, Father.”
“Don’t be. It’s in the past now. And the past is something I’m still trying to leave behind…but I’m trying, and that’s what important.”

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.”