11.649.The Blood of Your Bloodline

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 649
“The Blood of your Bloodline”

La-Iin spent a good portion of Saturday and Sunday collecting blood boxes.
With her recent confidence, La-Iin’s initial plan had been to steal the blood boxes from the local store Mit-Sun went to. But when circumstances changed, she used vuyong found around the house, and vuyong found on walks with Choungetsu. When she stopped by the graveyard where Imagination lived, the girl wasn’t there, but she noticed that there was a lot of scattered vuyong in the abandoned houses nearby.
She also obtained vuyong from other sources, too.
“Why do you need to borrow vuyong? I don’t have much, and anyway, you can just suck my blood.”
“I feel a blood craving coming on, that’s why. Do you want to siphon…I think it’s siphon….do you want to do that to your blood and give it to me in a blood box!?”
“Eek! N-no!” She gave her a small amount of vuyong. “Fine, La-Iin, but you owe me!”
“Heh heh. Don’t worry, Fer-Shi, soon I’ll be more than able to pay you back! If I feel like it, that is…”
Fer-Shi rolled her eyes. “Hey, that sounds like you’re going to be selling something.”
She had made quite a bit of vuyong from searching around on walks, but she couldn’t help the pull of taking vuyong from others. Had circumstances not changed so drastically, she might have even stolen it. But instead she went around asking at a few places for vuyong, preparing threats in advance.
They didn’t always work.
“Do you honestly think I’d give vuyong to a little girl who hates me? Sorry, La-Iin, but the answer’s no!” Dosa-Mina said.
“Why are you even bothering me about this?” San-Kyung snapped.
“Oh, vuyong? I don’t have much, but here you go.” Shuu-Kena dropped some coins into La-Iin’s hand.
“Hm.”
“Something wrong?”
“No.” She held the vuyong close. “Oh, how are you?”
“Me?” Shuu-Kena smiled. “I’m fine, thank you. I’ve been painting a lot this weekend. And my family stole a lot of chocolate ice cream because my mom started bleeding all over the place. And I got to have some of it too.”
“Chocolate ice cream?” La-Iin was intrigued. “Maybe one of these days I should rip my arm open and see if that works.”
“Her arm wasn’t ripped open, though. But I wonder if that would really work? Maybe I should try it too. Oh, I think she was bleeding from her leg.”
“Good information. …although something seems disgustingly familiar about this information…” She shook her head. “I have a mission to finish! Continue painting, Shuu-Kena.”
“Um, okay?” Shuu-Kena sounded genuinely confused, but she waved to La-Iin as she took off.

After she felt she had enough vuyong, La-Iin had forced Mit-Sun to lead her to the store so she could buy blood boxes.
“Where did you get all that vuyong from?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Off the ground when I was out with Choungetsu. There’s a lot of vuyong to find because people are stupid.”
“…what.”
“You should look closely when you walk Choungetsu next. But I might have gotten all the stray vuyong.” La-Iin giggled as she took several blood boxes from the shelf. She struggled slightly under their weight. Mit-Sun helped balance her, and she also helped her take the many blood boxes to the register.
When the Lizardfoot cashier rung them up, La-Iin gave an empty chuckle. The blood boxes were slightly more than what she had.
She turned around and began to curse under her breath.
“Stupid stupid stupid vuyong, this is what happens when you do things legally, someday I’ll show you, someday you’ll see…”
“Don’t worry about it, La-Iin. I can spot you.” She took the pouch of vuyong La-Iin was carrying, handed it to the cashier, and handed him a little extra from her. The cashier sighed in frustration as he went over La-Iin’s scattered vuyong, but in the end it was enough, and La-Iin and Mit-Sun walked home carrying many blood boxes.
“What are all these blood boxes for anyway?”
“I feel a blood craving coming on. And I don’t want to rely on other people to satiate it.”
“That’s strange. I thought you liked drinking from the source.”
“I do, but some of the tastiest people don’t let me. And I’m under certain circumstances right now.”
“What circumstances?”
La-Iin didn’t answer her and instead said, “Mama, can we invite Dami and Granddami over tomorrow?”
“Why?”
“I want to see both of them. You could say I have a…present for them.”
“Uh, sure. In fact, I could probably get them both to come over at the same time. They might be happy to talk again.”
“Good.”
Even with the weight of the blood boxes in her arms, La-Iin walked with confidence. ‘Though it didn’t matter that you said yes,’ she said to herself, ‘I would have invited them over anyway.’

***

The blood boxes were placed in their own part of the refrigerator, and the next day, as promised, Mit-Sun called Asul-Zenza and Beht-Soh.
When La-Iin heard a knock at the door, she came running. Asul-Zenza arrived first, and she leaped into his arms.
“Hello, La-Iin!” Asul-Zenza cooed. La-Iin hugged him tight, then flew away from him.
“To what do I owe the visit?”
“She said she has–”
“Nothing! You’ll find out later.”
“Oh, Asul-Zenza!”
Asul-Zenza turned around. Beht-Soh was behind him, walking up the path to the Cahongyun house. “Hello, Asul-Zenza.”
“Hello, Mr. Cahongyun! I’m glad to see you’re looking better.”
“I’m feeling better too. Though Mit-Sun’s still worried about me. When she called earlier today she said ‘Papa, if you can’t make it, you don’t have to come, alright?'”
“Papa! I mean–Father! Our conversation was private!” Mit-Sun’s face turned bright red. Beht-Soh and Asul-Zenza chuckled as they entered the house. La-Iin noticed they quickly lapsed into a conversation with each other.
Just as she was about to head upstairs, one thing in their conversation piqued her curiosity.
“Sometimes I forget you’re only a bit younger than me, Asul-Zenza. It’s kind of weird.”
“It does feel weird. Ah, I go between feeling like an old Vampire around La-Iin to feeling like a young one around other people.”
“Well, in terms of Vampire years, you’re still younger than me and Mit-Sun. It really is strange.”
“How much older than Dami are you, Granddami?” La-Iin asked.
“Oh, only one or two years. I forget my age sometimes.”
“Really? I thought it was three.”
“Well, it could be. But I’m not seventy yet, so…” Beht-Soh’s face screwed up as he started to calculate his age. La-Iin quickly lost her patience and head upstairs to prepare.

“Why did La-Iin call us here, I wonder?”
“I don’t know, but she’s taking a long time. I don’t mind making dinner while you’re here, Father, but as for Asul-Zenza…”
Asul-Zenza glared. “Oh, come now, Mit-Sun. Stop denying that the animosity between us has decreased recently.”
“Maybe for you, but I still feel it strongly. I’m just better at repressing it now.”
Asul-Zenza scoffed. “I swear, she flip-flops so often on this!”
“That’s Mit-Sun for you.”
“Papa, don’t goad him on! I mean–damn it! Father!”
Asul-Zenza giggled. Mit-Sun threatened him with a fist, but La-Iin arrived before it made contact. Mit-Sun put it down slowly, but La-Iin noticed and narrowed her eyes. She cleared her throat.
“I have gifts for you.”
“Gifts?”
“Really?”
“…not exactly.”
“Hm? Then what do you have for us?”
“For Granddami, here.” La-Iin handed him a crude paper book. When Beht-Soh opened the book, he saw several pages of crayon-drawn clothing. “You said you were learning how to sew, right? Try sewing these.”
“Oh….um.” Beht-Soh flipped through the book with a troubled expression on his face, but he smiled when he caught La-Iin’s eye. “I’ll certainly try, La-Iin. Thank you.”
“And for Dami!”
“Hm?”
“I used Mama’s computer and–”
“You used my computer?” Mit-Sun asked. La-Iin ignored her.
“In a Manemican Vampire society they’re welcoming Vampires from all over the place to come by and visit. Apparently they’re holding a special Festival of Blood over there.”
“Really? Oh, but I would have to prepare for something that far.”
“You should go with your Mama and Dami, too.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Why not? They’re Vampires.”
Asul-Zenza blinked. “I guess I could always ask them. I only hope they have time off….it would be fun.”
“And go ahead and tell Ei-Tio’s family too, and tell Ei-Tio that I’m preparing something special for her and I won’t be able to see her until later. I don’t want her seeing it before it’s done.”
“Alright, then, I will.”
“How do you know this is even true?”
“I’ll look into it. I actually have a Vaelis-Enlash dictionary in my house, so I think I’ll be fine if any resources happen to be in Enlash.”
“That’s what I have for you.”
“Thank you, La-Iin,” Beht-Soh said, though he still cast a troubled look at the book.
“Yes. If this is true, and my parents have off time, it ! But what about you?”
“I have school,” she grumbled. “But don’t worry. I got several blood boxes yesterday. I don’t think I’ll be able to go to the Festival of Blood in Vaelyn anyway. They’re having it too far away from Bledger.”
“How do you know this?” Mit-Sun asked. She sounded genuinely confused. Again La-Iin ignored her as she talked with Beht-Soh and Asul-Zenza about what she had just given them.
‘Not bad,’ she thought. ‘A lot easier than Ai-Reia, anyway.’

—–
“Oh, Mama.”
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I was thinking about you, too. Have you ever heard of a place called Vibrator?”
“…vibrator? No, and I’m not sure I want to.”
“They have vibrating furniture inside so you can relax. I saw the prices and I asked around.”
“How do you know about this place?” Mit-Sun sounded uncertain.
“Me and Fer-Shi were…considering going to it once, but we didn’t have the vuyong. And I thought you could use a break, so I also thought I’d tell you about it.”
“What’s the catch?”
“Nothing.”
“Why are you telling me about this?”
“So you can relax. You could even invite…ugh…Haner if you wanted to. In fact, he likes Makeshire, doesn’t he? There’s also a Makeshire play.”
“…”
“…so can I sleep over with Fer-Shi sometime soon?”
“That’s it?” Mit-Sun said with a chuckle. “I honestly thought it was something nefarious…geez, you’ve been pretty nice lately, huh? But how much do you want to sleep over with Fer-Shi that you’re even okay with me inviting Uil-Cur?”
“Very. She mentioned something to me at school that I have to see in person.”
“Alright then, La-Iin, just tell me when you want to go. I’ll look into these things you mentioned.”
She turned around, but then asked, “Hey, why did you give that book to Father, and tell Asul-Zenza about that festival anyway?”
“I want more clothes, and I’m hoping Dami will bring me blood. So don’t you worry, Mama. My “kindness” is all out of selfishness.”
Mit-Sun chuckled. “It’s nice all the same. It still feels a little unsettling, though…”
‘Now how to get rid of her unsettled feeling. There has to be something I’m overlooking…’
Throughout Sunday night, La-Iin continued to think on what ways she could make her “kind” deeds seem more selfish.

Advertisements

24.632.Reasoning

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 632
“Reasoning”

Asul-Zenza flew above Vaelyn, enjoying the feel of the wind.
‘It’s cooled down fairly quickly, hasn’t it?’ He always loved the way autumn flights felt. They relaxed him.
While flying, he noticed that he was in Bledger. He even spotted the neighborhood where La-Iin and Mit-Sun lived a short distance away.
‘I wonder…’
September had been somewhat of a strange month. Mit-Sun had invited Asul-Zenza and his parents, along with other members of La-Iin’s family, out to spend time with her, and he had been receiving calls from La-Iin with what felt like more frequency than usual.
‘I suppose we’ve been getting on better terms ever since 2014, but it does seem really strange. I only seem to feel complacent when there’s no reason to be…’
A sudden curiosity overtaking him, he decided to head down and visit the Cahongyun house. Once he spotted it he landed.
He knocked on the door. Mit-Sun answered it fairly quickly.
“I thought I asked you to warn before you visited.”
“Sorry, but this was slightly spur of the moment. I had a sudden curiosity and I figured it would be easier to stop here briefly rather than head home and call you.”
“Call me?” She asked. “Why? You’re here for me?”
Her expression suddenly hardened.
“I am, but as usual whenever I visit you, it isn’t for you, it’s somewhat about La-Iin.”
“Of course. …somewhat?” Mit-Sun stared up at him. “Hurry it up. I’m a little busy right now…”
Asul-Zenza noticed that Mit-Sun was holding tight to one arm. “Is something wrong?”
“Er–that’s none of your business.”
“It could be my business. Does it have to do with La-Iin!?”
Mit-Sun’s face relaxed. “No. She’s upstairs doing…something to Choungetsu. I’m not exactly sure what. If you want I can call her down here.”
“No, that won’t be necessary. If you’re busy it’s best I leave as soon as possible, and if I see her I won’t want to.”
Mit-Sun nodded. “Well?”
“You’ve seemed very kind lately, Mit-Sun.”
“Is this some sort of attempt to butter me up?”
“Not at all! I was just wondering what spurred the sudden kindness? Even as you were becoming more at ease with me being a part of La-Iin’s life you still had your contradictions. You would go between wanting La-Iin to bond with me and wanting me to disappear completely from your life.”
“I still don’t like you, in case you were wondering.”
“I figured…” Asul-Zenza sighed. “A-anyway, but yes, lately you’ve been seeming just completely alright with it. And it’s not just me either it seems, seeing as you invited my parents over to see her as well. So I was wondering, why the change? It seems so sudden to me…or perhaps there’s something I’ve missed?”
“Because–”
Before Mit-Sun finished, her eyes widened and she turned and ran back into her house. Asul-Zenza was tempted to follow her inside, but he was certain she would get mad at him for doing that. Still, the temptation remained, so he peeked his head in, only for Mit-Sun to run right past him seconds later.
“Mit-Sun? Is something the matter?”
“I’ll tell you later, Asul-Zenza,” Mit-Sun said, fixing her jacket. “I need to get to the hospital.”
“The hospital!?”
“Yes! Do me a favor and watch La-Iin for me, alright?”
“Th–the hospital? Mit-Sun, is everything alright?”
“It will be if I make it there in enough time….damn it, when are visiting hours over again?”
“Mit-Sun, you know how much I would love to watch La-Iin, but I think I need to help you here!”
“Help me? How?” Mit-Sun sounded genuinely confused.
“You need to get to a hospital? I can fly you there!”
Mit-Sun looked uncertain.
“It’s faster than going on foot, isn’t it!?”
“I–I suppose,” she sighed. “Fine, then. But at least tell La-Iin where we’re going…”
“You didn’t tell her yourself?” Mit-Sun glared. “Er, yes, certainly!”
Asul-Zenza ran into the house and up the stairs. La-Iin’s door was open, and he could hear Bes-Isa laughing before he saw La-Iin trying to fit a dress onto Choungetsu. When La-Iin looked up, Choungetsu broke free and hid behind Asul-Zenza, the dress still on him.
“Dami!”
“I’m sorry, La-Iin, but there’s a little emergency. Your mother and I are going to the hospital.”
“What? Why?”
“I don’t know, honestly,” he said, “but I’ll call you as soon as we get there! And I’ll be back, I promise. She will be too. But we need to go right now, so please stay here and don’t leave the house.”
“Huh?”
It broke his heart to leave her behind, but Asul-Zenza turned away, flew out the house, closed the door and grabbed hold of Mit-Sun.

***

Mit-Sun was anxious the entire time. As soon as they had arrived at the hospital, she started frantically asking about visiting hours. It reminded Asul-Zenza somewhat of his visits to Blooudine, and he started to feel as anxious as she seemed.
‘What’s going on? And is La-Iin going to be okay at home all by herself…’
“Come on.” Mit-Sun grabbed Asul-Zenza’s hand and dragged him over to a hospital room. She opened the door and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Mr. Cahongyun?”
“Asul-Zenza?”
Beht-Soh looked up from a book. “Mit-Sun I expected, but why is Asul-Zenza here too?”
Mit-Sun’s words came in between pants. “He helped me get here. Oh, Papa, I’m so glad you’re alright…”
“Mit-Sun, I told you, it wasn’t anything all that bad.”
“Seriously!? I heard that you fell and you were going to need surgery! Do you think I’ve been sitting still this entire time just thinking ‘oh, Papa’ll be okay’!? You’re elderly! And surgery can go wrong! I’ve been on edge this entire time waiting for them to say you’re awake so I can visit you!”
Mit-Sun started to cry, but she frantically wiped the tears on her shirt sleeve and took a seat next to Beht-Soh’s bed.
“It’s alright.”
“You don’t even know how scared I was…”
“It’s alright. I understand.”
“I…I thought I was going to lose you too…”
“I’m okay, I promise. They said everything’s going to be alright.”
Mit-Sun wailed.
“In fact, I’ll be out of the hospital soon! Don’t worry, Mit-Sun. It was only as bad as it was because it was a really hard fall. I fell off a ladder and I hit the ground at a speed that would hurt anybody. At least I didn’t break anything!”
“But you needed surgery…are you sure you didn’t break anything?”
“Certain! And I’m okay. So please don’t cry.”
Just watching the two was making Asul-Zenza tear up. He stepped out the room and took a deep breath.

“…thank you for flying me here, Asul-Zenza.”
“Not a problem. I’m glad you made it here safe.”
“Y-yeah…” Mit-Sun’s face screwed up. “Geez, you saw me cry…”
“I’ve seen you cry before,” Asul-Zenza said. Mit-Sun glared.
“I suppose I know the answer to my question now, though.”
“Huh?”
“It’s because of Mr. Cahongyun, isn’t it? He’s elderly now. La-Iin will live a long life. Even if most of her living family is Vampires, he’s still a part of it, and anyway most of her living family is older than she is and she has the extra years from being half-Normal. It’s a concern of mine too. It’s such an obvious answer now that I think on it…”
Mit-Sun shook her head. “That’s not it, Asul-Zenza. Well, I guess maybe a little…but it’s not the reason why I started doing this.”
“Hm?”
“La-Iin’s evil. I don’t want to change her. If she decides to become good or neutral in the future that’s her choice, but I’m not going to change who she is. That being said…I don’t want who she is to be a cold, heartless dictator. So I’m trying to let her bond with her family, just…give her that little nudge in the right direction, you know?”
“Ah, I see.”
“So go ahead and call her as often as you like. Around me she’s the same as always, but around family she always mellows out a bit. And if I can go without hearing that she took over some place like Neigghed or Caucas in the future, I’ll be happy. So…that’s it.”
Asul-Zenza nodded. “Well, that makes sense. Good luck, then.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “You called me kind, but I don’t understand how you could be so nice to someone who dislikes you as much as I do.”
“Because I’ve never disliked you. Is that so hard to grasp? I’m pretty sure I was the only one crying over our breakup.”
“Yeah, you’d be right there.”
Mit-Sun smiled.
“Hey, mind flying me back home too? This hospital is far from our house.”
“I don’t mind at all.”

—–
When the two arrived home, La-Iin was waiting at the door, holding Choungetsu, who was still wearing a dress.
“Why didn’t you take me?”
“I’m sorry, La-Iin. But it’s alright.”
“Who’s in the hospital? If it’s Haner, I guess I understand why I didn’t go.”
“Your Granddami’s in the hospital. But he’s fine.”
“…doormat Granddami, right?”
“Don’t call him that.”
“I’m sorry if we worried you, La-Iin,” Asul-Zenza said.
“I was fine.”
Asul-Zenza noticed that La-Iin’s eyes were slightly red. He smiled.
“Ah, I’d love to stay a little longer, but I was just reminded of something I should probably do. But La-Iin, let’s stay in touch, alright?”
“Okay?”
Asul-Zenza tapped Mit-Sun on the shoulder. “Looks like you’re doing a good job.”
He spread his wings and flew off.
“Are you and Dami getting back together?” La-Iin asked, her tone accusatory.
“If that’s what you think then you need more school.”

13.621.Family Bonding

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 621
“Family Bonding”

Mit-Sun sighed as she hung up the phone.
“You sure have been making a lot of phone calls recently,” La-Iin said. “But your birthday is already over. So what’s the point?”
“I have other reasons to be making phone calls aside from it being my birthday, you know.”
“I know that. But why are you?”
“It’s not your business, La-Iin.”
La-Iin’s eyes narrowed. “…you wouldn’t happen to know Haner’s phone number, would you?”
“I do–” La-Iin hissed at her. “But I haven’t talked to him since my birthday, whether over the phone or in person. So quit being like that.”
“Hmph.”
“Anyway, what these phone calls are for is my business and not yours.”
“You always eavesdrop on my phone calls…”
“I don’t always, so calm down, alright? After all, this’ll be good payoff for…”
“For…?”
“It’s nothing,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Just get out of the kitchen, alright?”
La-Iin huffed. She left the kitchen, but as she did continuously glared over her shoulder at Mit-Sun, up until she crashed into a wall.

***

“What do you need to buy downtown now, Mama?”
“Why do you ask?”
“We mostly go downtown when you need to buy something. You’d better tell me. You woke me up before I was ready.”
“You wouldn’t be tired if you hadn’t stayed up all night singing Usl-Thaehey songs at the top of your lungs,” Mit-Sun said. La-Iin’s eyes widened and her face flushed. “That’s right, I heard you. Now, look up ahead.”
La-Iin bit back her retort for the time being and looked ahead, and the sight she saw made her gasp. Waiting in a group, waving to her, were several people she recognized.
Namely, Asul-Zenza, her grandparents, and Ei-Tio’s family.
“Wha–?”
“While you were so bound and determined to interrupt my phone calls yesterday, I was calling all of them out here,” she said. “It’s mostly Asul-Zenza’s family though. You have more family on my side, but they don’t live in Bledger.”
“Ah….”
“Mit-Sun, I think you broke La-Iin,” Asul-Zenza said. “How are we supposed to have a family outing if she’s in that state?”
“Snap out of it, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Anyway, it’s good to see all of you–er…”
The crowd was all smiles–almost. Asul-Zenza’s parents Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha were obviously glaring at her.
“Uh…”
“What is it, Mit-Sun?” Beht-Soh asked.
“Asul-Zenza, your parents–why are they glaring at me like that?”
“Oh, that, well…”
“We’re only here because of La-Iin, I hope you know,” Anil-Kosha said.
“If it weren’t for her, all the persuasion in the world wouldn’t have brought us out.” Verde-Nenda said. Mit-Sun grit her teeth. ‘Damn, I guess I can’t expect them to like me after I broke up with Asul-Zenza the way I did…’
“You two are amazing,” La-Iin sighed. Almost immediately Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha’s glares turned to warm smiles. Mit-Sun was dumbfounded.
“Let’s just get going, alright?” Mit-Sun said. The group nodded and they set out across downtown.

The size of their group caught the attention of some people downtown, but to Mit-Sun’s relief, it wasn’t enough to prompt people to walk up to them, at least not yet. Mit-Sun’s mind was more focused on another problem, that being that the Ghneckdo side of La-Iin’s family seemed to be taking up all her time.
“How has school been, La-Iin? I hear you’re in it already.” Verde-Nenda asked.
“It’s fine.”
“Seven years old and in school. Seems you have a prodigy on your hands!” Anil-Kosha said. Asul-Zenza smiled.
“Nobody ever calls me that.”
“They must be foolish, then.”
“I don’t want to be called the same thing as Ai-Reia.”
“‘Ai-Reia’?” Shi-Bara asked. “You mean like Vampiris Ai-Reia?”
“Yes. She goes to my school.”
“Vaelyn’s child prodigy!?” All her family suddenly seemed quite excited–even Asul-Zenza’s eyes widened a bit, though La-Iin could have sworn she had already told him. “You go to school with her!?”
“Yes? Who cares? She’s annoying.”
“It’s amazing, that’s all,” Anil-Kosha said. “I knew she had flown under the radar recently, but to think she went to our own granddaughter’s school…”
“Though it sounds like you two don’t get along, huh?” Jul-Ense asked.
“No. Unfortunately.”
‘Does that mean it’s Vampiris’ fault?’ That was the thought on a few of their minds.
Behind the chatter, Mit-Sun sighed.
“Is something wrong, Mit-Sun?”
“No, not really. After all, Ghneckdos make up most of La-Iin’s family, so it’s not really a surprise that they’re taking up all her time. I have to face facts that we Cahongyuns aren’t a big family, although we’re the ones who live closest to her.”
“It’s probably because of that, Mit-Sun. The Ghneckdos don’t live very close to La-Iin so of course they want to monopolize her time. You live with her and it’s not too out of my way to visit her, but it takes them quite a while even with that amazing wingspan.”
“I guess.”
“Though I admit I’m still surprised you invited Asul-Zenza,” he chuckled. “What made you do that?”
“I have a reason,” she sighed, “but I’d rather tell you later, away from this crowd. But don’t go thinking it’s anything like ‘wanting to get back together’. I still don’t like that guy.”
“I didn’t think so.”
“Big sister, you still drawin’?”
“Yes. But if I brought my drawings to downtown, it would have been a mistake. That’ll have to wait for a more personal visit.”
“Okay!”
“No matter how much closer you and I want to be to La-Iin, there is no denying her bias to Asul-Zenza and Ei-Tio,” Verde-Nenda said.
“I suppose there isn’t, but that’s alright. She doesn’t know us as well.”
Anil-Kosha glanced over her shoulder. “And you must be Mr. Cahongyun.”
“M-me? Yes, that’s right. I’m Cahongyun Beht-Soh, Mit-Sun’s father.”
“Nice to meet you, sir. I am Ghneckdo Verde-Nenda.”
“And I am Ghneckdo Anil-Kosha. We’re Asul-Zenza’s parents.”
“I figured. I can kind of see where he got some of his features.”
“You seem much more pleasant than your daughter,” Anil-Kosha said.
“Some people have said that to me before. But my wife used to tell me that I was a doormat, so I always thought people would find me annoying. You just have to give her a chance.”
“Maybe someday, seeing as she was kind enough to plan this outing, but it’ll have to wait for now. La-Iin is here, after all!”
Beht-Soh sighed. “Well, I did my best to put in a good word for you.”
“Thanks, Papa. But I really doubt those two are ever going to forgive me for breaking up with Asul-Zenza the way I did.”

“This is boring! I don’t want to keep walking around downtown like this. I want to do something more!”
La-Iin ran ahead of the crowd. “La-Iin! Does anyone see where she ran off to?”
“She just went up there, Mit-Sun,” Asul-Zenza said, pointing to the musical district. Mit-Sun sighed and chased after her.
“Harsh as she might be sometimes, you have to give her points for caring about her daughter,” Asul-Zenza said. Verde-Nenda and Anil-Kosha huffed.
“Wait, big sister!”
“Careful, Ei-Tio! The ground has straight cracks in it!”
“…straight cracks?” Beht-Soh questioned.
“We’ve learned to speak Ei-Tio,” Shi-Bara explained.
Mit-Sun and Ei-Tio caught up with La-Iin in the musical district, where she was dancing along to an Usl-Thaehey song that was playing.
“I could tell an Usl-Thaehey song from a mile away.”
Mit-Sun covered Ei-Tio’s ears. “Isn’t this song a little…racy?”
“Mama, come on. Ei-Tio won’t understand it. And she will someday, so who cares?”
“Can I dance too, big sister!?”
La-Iin nodded, and Ei-Tio began to do a wild dance next to her. Mit-Sun couldn’t help but chuckle at the odd sight.
Once the song had ended, Mit-Sun said, “Please don’t run ahead of the group like that.”
“I heard you saying you set up this group for me. I’ll do what I want.”
“La-Iin,” Mit-Sun forced through grit teeth, “Please.”
“I don’t accept pleases!” La-Iin screamed, running ahead of her once again–almost. This time she stopped in place before getting too far off.
“But I will accept food.”
“Fine, fine…”

Mit-Sun had quite seriously contemplated leaving downtown to take everyone to Sunday Daily, but she had decided against it after remembering her prior experience there. ‘Nobody is going to take that away from me. The day I go back I’ll be alone…or maybe I’ll take Papa with me.’
So she instead took them to a restaurant that was fairly out of sight.
“This seems slightly shady,” Asul-Zenza said.
“It was advertising international food. Why shouldn’t we give something non-Vaelis a chance?”
“I already have,” La-Iin said proudly.
“Wow! What is it?” Ei-Tio asked.
“It’s mincemeat pie,” Mit-Sun said before La-Iin could open her mouth. La-Iin glared. “And it happens to be her favorite food.”
“A Vaelis girl with the heart of a Shitosh one,” Verde-Nenda said, ruffling her hair. “How strange!”
“My dominion spreads far past Vaelyn and Shitosh,” La-Iin said. Most of the crowd was confused, but Asul-Zenza just sighed, and Mit-Sun groaned.

The restaurant was fairly tiny, and judging from the reactions of the staff, they had never gotten a group nine people strong. But it was soon evident that they were more than a little excited to serve the large group, though at ordering time there was a little trouble.
“What’s that say?” Ei-Tio asked Jul-Ense.
“Depoisonberry Soup.”
“An’ that?”
“Bloodsauce Spaghetti.”
“What about that!?”
“Stotche…you don’t want that, Ei-Tio.”
“Why not?”
The group sighed. Though Ei-Tio wasn’t the only problem.
“No mincemeat pie? And I only see bloodsauce spaghetti.”
“There are plenty of other blood-related meals on the list, La-Iin. Where are you looking?”
“You realize La-Iin’s reading isn’t perfect, right?”
“She’s lying to you!” La-Iin hissed.
“Do you want me to read the menu for you too, La-Iin?” Jul-Ense offered. La-Iin responded with a hiss.
It did take a while, but sooner or later the group had all ordered. Their food took a while, and most of the time spent waiting for it was used for La-Iin’s family to ask her questions.
“So La-Iin, you like to draw?”
“Yes.”
“What are your friends like?”
“They wouldn’t be my friends if they were bad. And I don’t mean evil.”
“Did you talk to the pumpkiny boy?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. Mit-Sun could tell she was getting quickly agitated.
“How about you tell them about wanting to rule the world?” Mit-Sun suggested. La-Iin looked downright offended.
“Those plans are private!”
Mit-Sun sighed. Thankfully enough, the food didn’t take much longer to arrive.
“I’ve always found middle eastern food very interesting,” Asul-Zenza said. “There’s a certain way they season it that makes it delicious. And I love their species-based foods.”
“I heard in the middle east they still cook people!” La-Iin said excitedly.
“Where!?”
“At school. But they only said one place…”
‘Why did she sound so excited about that!?’ Her family wondered.

After eating, the group began to wind down a bit, though it was obvious they still wanted to be out–and Mit-Sun would have agreed, for it felt like they hadn’t done much so far.
‘What can we do to really end this day off on a high note?’ She wondered. ‘Hm…’
“I want to go back to the music district.”
‘I guess that works.’
So Mit-Sun led the way to the music district, though La-Iin several times tried to take the lead from her.
“Why are we going here again?” Asul-Zenza asked.
“La-Iin asked. And anyway, there are some things that can be done there…namely burning all this food off.”
“Hm?”
“I think I know what she wants to do.”
La-Iin smirked. A song by Chehata-Merni had just gone off, and one by Usl-Thaehey had come on.

Day in, day out
Nothing’s ever good enough
Your expectations, set them too high
Keep on trudging, keep on trudging through
It’ll never be good enough for you

New things, old things
Put them all together now
Nothing’s working, better erase it all
And how you put up with yourself
Is something you never ever figured out

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and you wouldn’t give yourself a chance
To just let it go and let yourself f@%k up!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why aren’t you giving it your all!?

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

Day in, day out
Always trying harder
That’s what you tell yourslef
Even if it is a lie

Over, over, over and over again
You never tried doing things your own way!

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and now it’s not the same
The same as failure in your eyes!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why do you always just slap somethin’ together

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

All….

Remove the limiters, remove the feeling
Remove the expectations, remove the result
Thinkin’ in black-and-white
Keepin’ yourself up all night

I realized the errors of my ways
I’m givin’ you a chance to too
But if you choose to stay that way
I’ve only got one thing to say to YOU!

Ah, it’s never good enough!
It’s always never good enough!
You scream about this every night!

What you try, you cannot defy your
Expectations, you set them far too
High, and you wouldn’t give yourself a chance
To just let it go and let yourself f@%k up!

Oh, it needed to be perfect
That’s what you said, that’s what you said
So why aren’t you giving it your all!?

You made your own never ending hell
Your limiters have made you fall
And that’s the inevitable fate of us aaaaaallll!

You live forever, that’s the inevitable fate of us all!

La-Iin started clapping lightly as the song went off. Her family was pleased.
“That was adorable,” Asul-Zenza said.
“You voiced my very same thoughts,” Beht-Soh laughed.
“It was a good exercise, though! That song is intense!” Verde-Nenda said.
“I’m not sure it was the best thing for Ei-Tio to listen to, though,” Jul-Ense said.
“Well, she wanted to. And now she’ll probably want to look around this part of downtown too, if I know my La-Iin.”
“I would be willing to do that. I don’t seem to have given this ‘Usl-Thaehey’ a fair chance. I was always much more intrigued by Sulaet-Defka.”
“Though even we are older than her, hah!”
As expected, La-Iin had taken the lead from her family, but she stopped in place when a new song started.
“Sweet Inevitable Death….” La-Iin smiled.
“She’s going to make us do it again,” Mit-Sun said.
“I’m up for it if she is!” Verde-Nenda said. And the group broke into dancing once more.
“Weirdos!” A Minomix man called out.

—–
After their dance session, La-Iin had introduced everyone in the group–save for her parents, that is–to Usl-Thaehey, to mostly positive but ultimately mixed reception.
“What do some of those words mean?” Ei-Tio had asked.
“La-Iin, I’m not as intense as Jul-Ense is when it comes to….keeping things secret from Ei-Tio, but I’m just not a big fan,” Shi-Bara said.
“Why should I care?”
After eating a large dinner and dancing, however, they were quite exhausted by the time night was high in the sky, and so decided to head back once they reached the front of downtown.
“Did I ever tell you I met Usl-Thaehey once?”
“WHAT!?”
“Actually twice!”
Though that story kept them from leaving when expected.

“Goodbye, La-Iin! We’ll hopefully be seeing you once more soon!” Verde-Nenda said.
“Bye-bye, big sister!” Ei-Tio said.
“Be seeing you, La-Iin. Remember, you’re always welcome to call me!” Asul-Zenza said.
Beht-Soh walked home with Mit-Sun and La-Iin. When La-Iin ran ahead of the two, he took his chance to speak.
“So what brought on the outing?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I’m alright with La-Iin being evil. A non-evil La-Iin is a disturbing idea to me. But I don’t want her to ruin her life because of that. There are plenty of evil people who live respectable lives for the most part. And I doubt I can keep La-Iin out of trouble on my own. But if I can at least keep her caring for people, then I won’t think I did a completely horrible job.”
“I see.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “And so far, I don’t think I’ve done the worst.”

6.614.The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 614
“The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine”

Asul-Zenza flew through the night sky, checking around him for any other fliers and for his destination. He didn’t spot any fellow Vampires, but the light of his destination was soon visible on the horizon, and he picked up speed towards it.
He made his landing and head inside.
The hospital didn’t seem to be all that busy even though it was the time of night most Vampires would usually be out. ‘I suppose that’s a good thing…’ The only Vampires he saw in there was a mother and her child, and the Vampire sitting at the reception desk.
“Hello, sir,” she said.
“Hello. I’m here to see–”
“Mrs. Blooudine Sae-Ah, correct? I’ve seen you around enough lately. Go ahead.”
“Thank you.” He turned away from her and head for Blooudine’s room. He found himself shivering more than once on his way there. “It feels like Winter in here. They could at least take care to adjust the temperature properly…”
“Asul-Zenza?”
It seemed he had been heard before even going in. He opened the door to her room and tried to give her his most reassuring smile.
“H-hello, Mrs. Blooudine.”
Blooudine was facing him, but she looked a lot different than he was used to. Though she wasn’t in any immediate danger from her infection–and indeed the Vampires at the hospital had already mostly eradicated it from her body–it was evident she was feeling the effects, and there was a dark look in her eyes.
That, he felt, was not because of her sickness.
He pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. “I know I’ve been visiting a lot lately, but I can’t help but be concerned.”
“Don’t be,” she muttered.
“You understand why. …has your family been by recently?”
“Asul-Zenza, dear, I understand you have the best of intentions, but don’t talk to me about my family.”
He gave an empty chuckle. “Not in the best of moods, I can tell. Anything I can do to bring your mood up?”
“No.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well–um–damn, I suppose I didn’t do all that many noteworthy things over August–”
“Don’t bother, Asul-Zenza. You don’t have to waste your time in this cold place. Just go home and enjoy the night.”
“Mrs. Blooudine…”
Blooudine didn’t respond.
“Please, Mrs. Blooudine, there has to be something I can do for you. Anything. I can’t leave in good conscience knowing this was the mood I left you in, so if there’s just one thing–”
Blooudine took a deep breath. “That’s right, I did tell you about that, didn’t I…”
“Tell me about what, Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Asul-Zenza, would you be willing to hear an old lady out? For in hindsight, I realize my problem is one that you know about.”
“I’d be more than willing to,” he said. “Please, then, tell me what is wrong.”
Blooudine sniffled. “Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Ever since Rei-Fourse died, I’ve had too much time to think to myself,” she said. The dark look in her eyes only intensified. “And I’ve been thinking about him, him and Vertuo-Nenda…”
“Vertuo-Nenda?”
“Please don’t make me go into more explanation than I need to, Asul-Zenza,” Blooudine sighed. “That Vertuo-Nenda. As in the one I had my affair with…the one I never mustered up the courage to talk to Rei-Fourse about. And now he is dead. And most would tell me to just leave it in my past now that my husband is gone, but there is still a relic remaining.”
Her words clicked in his mind. “Ta-Mane.”
“Yes, her. But do you know how horrid that would be of me!? If I called Ta-Mane just to tell her that the man who died wasn’t really her father? You realize, until I told you about this last year this secret was all mine. Rei-Fourse, Ta-Mane, Vertuo-Nenda, not even an outside party–I never told them any of this. Vertuo-Nenda I left and he believed nothing came out of our time together. In all these years since he’s never contacted me even once. And Rei-Fourse and Ta-Mane have never doubted that they were father and daughter. Even what I can see of him in Ta-Mane’s children, she chalked up to her husband’s side of the family.”
Asul-Zenza felt slightly unsettled. “So if everyone is happy, and they have no reason to doubt me, why, then, should I bother resurrecting this? Because I’m guilty! I never told my husband about what I did! I never told Vertuo-Nenda he had a child! I’ve never told Ta-Mane her father is someone else!”
A passing nurse peeked into Blooudine’s room. Blooudine settled.
“Mrs. Blooudine…sorry to interrupt you, but how do you know for sure that Ta-Mane is not Rei-Fourse’s?”
“Timing, Asul-Zenza. There is no way Ta-Mane could be Rei-Fourse’s. And if you saw Vertuo-Nenda, and compared him to Ta-Mane, you would be able to tell. I only wish Rei-Fourse had been able to. His divorcing me would have been well deserved. I’m sorry to speak with you about all this again, Asul-Zenza. But the guilt has been gnawing away at me.” She relaxed in her bed. “Maybe I’ll get lucky and nature will make the decision for me soon enough…”
Asul-Zenza scoffed.
“Asul-Zenza?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Blooudine, but I’m not going to stand for your attitude.”
“Wha?”
“An affair is a serious matter! When you first told me of it, I didn’t know what to say, but after this discussion my feelings are clear. It’s bad enough already that you did what you did, and that it went as far as it did, but you have a child who is not your husband’s and not from before your marriage. She deserves to know, even if the truth is painful. You already feel guilty enough for not telling Rei-Fourse, and there is no way of knowing if Vertuo-Nenda is even still alive. Besides, with the advances in technology nowadays, there is no guarantee she will not find out herself, and what would be worse for you?”
“Asul-Zenza…it’s a losing situation. Either I let the guilt eat away at me until the day I die, or I risk losing Ta-Mane’s love. Of all our children Ta-Mane was the one I would say was closest to Rei-Fourse. It will hurt her, even moreso now that Rei-Fourse is gone!”
“Mrs. Blooudine, you’re thinking mostly of yourself here. Otherwise I’m certain that Rei-Fourse would have known before he died. Let me give you my take on the situation. I am going to imagine if Mit-Sun and I were in the same situation you were in. If I found out that she had had an affair, I would be upset regardless. But if she came to me right away and was honest, I would find it more in my heart to forgive her than if I found out later on by myself. Especially if she was still continuing it…
“And as for children…if I found out that La-Iin was not my child…” Asul-Zenza shook his head. Just the idea was painful to him. “It’s one thing if you never knew that. It’s completely different if you believed that for years on end only to find out much later….the pain is worse now because you didn’t say anything right away. Mr. Blooudine was a very kind man. If you had told him about your affair, if you were honest, I’m certain he would have tried to work it out with you instead of divorce you. And you would have been lucky considering that an affair is incredibly reasonable grounds for divorce.”
Blooudine’s expression was pained, and for a moment Asul-Zenza wondered if he should have spoken at all. “I…I don’t mean to hurt you with this, Mrs. Blooudine. But you always gave me advice, and I could just imagine how I would feel if I was in Mr. Blooudine’s shoes–”
“No, don’t sound apologetic, Asul-Zenza. You’re right. I’ve made a big mistake. My own guilt is evidence of this…but…I already feel horrible enough that I did not tell Rei-Fourse! Even if I tell Ta-Mane, I don’t think that guilt will go away! And what of Vertuo-Nenda? Is he still alive, unaware of his daughter and grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I’ve caused such a mess…”
“The choice is in your hands as to whether or not you want to speak up, Mrs. Blooudine. But my advice to you is that you do. If you feel this much guilt over never telling Rei-Fourse, then it’s best you remedy the one person you can talk to. And…I can’t be nice about this, I’m sorry. But if she grows to resent you, that is your own fault.”
Blooudine sighed. “I…I’m really sorry, Mrs–”
“Don’t. I understand.” Blooudine smiled. “It’s not easy for me to consider doing this. But your advice is definitely good. You’ve come a long way, Asul-Zenza. I had believed, with your personality, that you would tell me that it would all work out so long as I was gentle about it or something. But I underestimated you. You understand the weight of this situation. …you haven’t been in it yourself, have you?”
“Heavens no. But if I was, I am almost certain I am right on how I would feel. Honestly, the thought of it is enough to put me off dating moreso than I already am…”
“Alright.” Blooudine sighed. “I’ll see if I can at least work up the muster to write Ta-Mane a letter about it. And perhaps, who knows, Rei-Fourse has been watching me the whole time. But I can’t expect everything to turn out happy after what I’ve done.”
“…”
“…”
“…w-well, I should probably get going right about now,” Asul-Zenza said. “I have a job in the afternoon, so I’ll have to get to sleep earlier than normal.”
“Take care, Asul-Zenza. And…thank you.” Blooudine gave him another smile. “Young Vampire or not, you have the maturity of one who is fully grown. And you’ve proven you have more maturity than I do. Continue on this way, and never let your feelings cloud you from telling people the truth.”

—–
Before he went to sleep that night, Asul-Zenza found that his mind was swarming with thoughts.
‘I can only imagine what it would feel like for Mr. Blooudine and Ta-Mane to learn the truth. It would probably hurt…’
Even now he felt as if he shouldn’t have had the conversation he did with Blooudine. But one thought eased those concerns, at least slightly.
‘But it’s for the better. If she tells Ta-Mane now, then she won’t have to learn through some other external source. And I think that would hurt even more than her mother telling her.’
He sighed. ‘Mit-Sun, for all your foibles, I’m glad that you were at least faithful to me.’

10.587.Lucid Dreaming

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 587
“Lucid Dreaming”

“Hm…”
“What’s up with you? Your face looks strangely expressive right now. Though that doesn’t mean much.”
“I’ve just had…things on my mind.”
“Things?”
“Yes. Many things. And I’m having a hard time sorting them all out.” She fluffed her pillow and laid down. “For now, I can get some sleep and keep planning in the morning. But I’m having a conflict about what way I want to take my ideals.”
“And why would that be? You’re not becoming a goody-goody, are you!?”
“No! Bes-Isa, you’re smarter than that, so don’t let me hear you say something that stupid ever again. I’ve just been wondering if this plan is any good for going forth with. I have a lot to think about: Ei-Tio’s potential evil, betrayal, the fact that a few of my key players are goody-goodies, and the applications of my blood powers. Being evil is too hard sometimes. But it’s way more worth it than taking the easy way out. Goody-goodies are lazy.”
“And they tend to be massive hypocrites, too.”
La-Iin smirked. “They really do….night, Bes-Isa…”
“Yeah, bad night.”
La-Iin’s smirk persisted until she fell asleep. When Mit-Sun passed by her bedroom, she peeked in on her.

***

When La-Iin opened her eyes, immediately she was blinded by a bright orange flash. Curious, she peeked out the window. Two things immediately caught her eye–the disheveled state of the familiar Bledger streets, along with people running and screaming across them, and the building she was in. It looked more like the castle from her fantasies than her house.
“Do you like it, La-Iin?” La-Iin flinched. Behind her stood Mit-Sun, Asul-Zenza, Fer-Shi and San-Kyung. Dosa-Mina was sitting nearby, but his attention was focused on Choungetsu, who was licking his face so much La-Iin wondered if it might corrode.
“Like what? Where are we, Mama?”
“In our new house, of course!” Asul-Zenza said cheerfully. “When Mit-Sun and I decided to get back together, we thought the perfect present to celebrate wouldn’t be one for us, but instead one for you. So we gave you Bledger, Vaelyn!”
“They said me and my parents could stay here too so that we’re safe from all the wreck!” Fer-Shi said, sounding far more cheerful than she would expect her to in such a situation. La-Iin could feel her eyes widening at her father’s statement.
“What? But why–”
“Why is San-Kyung here?” Mit-Sun asked. “I think he can explain that one himself. Oh, I almost forgot. Catch!”
Mit-Sun tossed Bes-Isa in La-Iin’s direction, and she flew up to catch her. She glanced wildly between all the people there, desperate for more of an answer than what Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza had given her.
“I’m here because you’re my friend, duh,” San-Kyung said. “I had to barter with vuyong in order for your parents to let me bring Dosa-Mina along too, though.”
“That’s not the reason you told me you came here!” Dosa-Mina said cheerfully. San-Kyung’s face turned bright pink and he shook a fist in Dosa-Mina’s direction. Dosa-Mina was seemingly oblivious to this display of violence, and instead went back to giggling as Choungetsu resumed licking his face.
“This has to be a dream,” La-Iin mumbled to herself. It all seemed too surreal. Looking down at herself, and noticing how much she had to look up to meet the eyes of everyone save for Fer-Shi, she could tell she was still physically seven years old. If that was the case, not much time could have passed. Why would Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza want to be together again? What was San-Kyung getting so flustered about?
When she realized that, everything began to feel a bit surreal.
“La-Iin?”
“I wonder…” La-Iin walked away from the group of her loved ones and stared outside. She felt she had heard of this phenomena before. She tried to imagine the destruction outside as a happy field full of Buneties. It was incredibly difficult, but eventually she managed a scene much like what she imagined, and behind her she heard gasping.
She grinned to herself. ‘This is too strange, though.’ So instead she tried to imagine that Mit-Sun and Asul-Zenza were not in the room. Suddenly, both of them got up and walked away. La-Iin smiled.
“San-Kyung, I know the reason you wanted to come here!”
“No you don’t!”
“Yes I do~” She walked up to him. “Finally, you reciprocate my feelings, but of course it’s in a f@%king dream! But at least if that’s the case, I can have a good dream and wake feeling refrustrated!”
“Refrustrated?” Fer-Shi asked. La-Iin felt her face flush. “You know what I mean.”
La-Iin flew up close to San-Kyung’s face. “I know what you want, San-Kyung. And that’s a good thing. Because I want it too.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, reverse pedo.”
“Yes you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t be blushing like that. If one good thing has come from this dream, it’s you!”
La-Iin pulled San-Kyung’s face close and kissed him. She wasn’t quite sure how, but she could see behind her Fer-Shi vomiting. In front of her, Choungetsu had stopped licking Dosa-Mina’s face and was instead staring at her wide-eyed; Dosa-Mina had nearly the same expression on his face, though he seemed even more shocked than Choungetsu did.
The sight caused a sudden click in La-Iin’s mind. She pulled away from San-Kyung and stared at him.
“What the hell did you do that for!?”
“I don’t have time for you to play hot and cold with me, San-Kyung!” She flew away from him and stared out the window. The sight of the Buneties in the field had been replaced with the burning streets of Bledger once more. San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina ran up behind her; Fer-Shi was still vomiting, and Choungetsu ran to lick it up. La-Iin decided to imagine that Choungetsu chose to run away, and that Fer-Shi was in maid clothes and with cleaning supplies. She gave a sigh of relief and turned back to outside the window.
Something about that sight was stirring a strange feeling in her.
“San-Kyung, come here,” she said, pulling him close. San-Kyung seemed defiant, but obliged regardless. She wiggled free from San-Kyung’s grasp, then motioned to Dosa-Mina to stare in San-Kyung’s direction. He did not react save for staring at San-Kyung. La-Iin could imagine all the times he had started to hang all over San-Kyung; at those imaginations, Dosa-Mina did likewise.
“Hey, cut that out!”
“At least I’m not a little kid smooching you on the lips!”
San-Kyung’s face turned a darker pink. La-Iin barely noticed it. Instead she smirked, then pushed San-Kyung away from Dosa-Mina and hissed. “He’s mine, rival-boy! Don’t dare to try and recover what you used to have with him, because you have it no more!”
Both boys just stared at her in confusion.
“Um, La-Iin? Whose vomit is this?”
“Be quiet, Fer-Shi. I think I have an idea.” She stared out the window and smiled. “A big idea…”

—–
When La-Iin woke up, the memory of the dream was still fresh in her mind. She balled a hand into a fist.
“I was right. I am refrustrated!”
“Good morning, La-Iin. Is what I’d say if I wasn’t so mad at you! Must you roll over so much in your sleep? And what the hell did you just say? Seriously, I–WHOA!”
La-Iin jerked Bes-Isa out of bed and flew downstairs. She didn’t care if Mit-Sun saw, though her mother didn’t appear to notice. She had prepared breakfast, and La-Iin scarfed it down quickly. She sat at the table, waiting for Mit-Sun to leave, then left the house and walked over to Sale-Dessu’s.
“What are we going here for?”
“Be quiet. You’ll see soon enough.”
Sale-Dessu didn’t take long to open the door. With a quick greeting, he soon let La-Iin inside, and she took a deep breath once she was sitting down.
“Sale-Dessu, what do you know about lucid dreaming!?”
“Lucid dreaming?” Sale-Dessu seemed slightly confused. “I’ve never had a lucid dream myself…but when I think on it, it does somewhat remind me of an unfinished spell that Warlocks aren’t often told about.”
“Are you talking about what I think you are?” Eul-Bok said as he passed by the trio. “But you can’t go into your own dreams, can you? So it’s not–”
Sale-Dessu shushed him. “It’s not exactly the same thing, and the spell’s unfinished, so we don’t know of its applications anyway,” he whispered.
“There’s something else I want from you, Sale-Dessu. Are you willing to do some research for me?”
“Oh no, I’m not gonna let you make Father your little research guinea pig again!” Eul-Bok protested.
“I’m fine with doing that,” he said, motioning to Eul-Bok to calm down. “What do you need?”
“You know about the Vampire blood power? I want you to look into that for me. I want to research it myself, but I’m having a lot of difficulty. I figured you might be able to look into it for me.”
Sale-Dessu looked uncertain. “I’m not sure the results of research on that would be as good as what you asked for in the past…oh! I almost forgot!”
He handed her a bag. “I never did give you the books you asked for, but here they are. Take care of them, please. I’d have a lot of difficulty replacing them…”
“Yes, everyone knows this already.” La-Iin looked up at him. “I hate to say this. I really hate to say this, because I don’t like thanking anybody. But thank you, Sale-Dessu. You being my ally has led to many good things. And if my little hypothetical theory is correct…”
The smirk that started on La-Iin’s face sent a shiver down Sale-Dessu’s spine. “Oh–well–I’m happy to help. And I’ll see what I can do.”

3.580.Betrayed

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 580
“Betrayed”

“La-Iin? Are you doing anything right now? I want to head downtown soon so I can get a special spice for dinner tonight.”
La-Iin didn’t respond.
“La-Iin?”
‘Ai-Reia was a failure. That much I know. But I never thought of what would happen if some of my key players became failures, too….I wasn’t expecting her, but at least I got hints early on enough before she became too involved. And my children are speculation–besides, their betrayal probably won’t be all that bad, whatever it is if it happens. But what if I lose someone I really need?’
“La-Iin?”
“Mama?”
“What’s up with you now?”
“Ei-Tio’s visit yesterday has me thinking about something.”
“What’s that?”
La-Iin shook her head. “Nothing important.”
“It certainly sounds important.”
“Even if I wanted to tell you, Mama, I haven’t thought it through all the way yet. But it’s bothering me…”
Mit-Sun looked concerned. “Well, whenever you’re ready to go downtown, just tell me, but make sure to say something before it gets too late, otherwise I’ll come and get you myself.”
‘It’s fully possible. Just as Ei-Tio could potentially change, someone else I need could change too. What would I do if that happened? How could I handle losing some of my key players?’
She bit her lip. ‘I’m going to need to put some thought into this, no matter how painful it is.’

***

“La-Iin, I’ve forgiven a lot of what you’ve done. I’d have to in order to go along with the things you want me to, but I have to draw a line here!”
La-Iin stared down Shuu-Kena, whose eyes were brimming with tears. “I thought you didn’t like your family.”
“We might not get along, but they are my family nonetheless,” she said, standing her ground. “I’m not going to watch you make them into shells of their former selves!”
La-Iin grit her teeth. “So what do you want me to do with them!? You realize they were opposing me, right? I had to get rid of them somehow!”
“You couldn’t have just jailed them, though? Is that beyond the realm of what you can do? Besides, what you said to me, it proves something. You’re no better than my family. I don’t know why I thought you were different. I’m so stupid.”
“Shuu-Kena.”
“Go away, La-Iin. I don’t want to talk to you.”
“This isn’t a matter of wanting to or not wanting to. You realize you are my scout, yes? There are no options for you here. If you want so badly to oppose me, then you are welcome to join your family in the torture chamber.”
Shuu-Kena’s eyes widened in horror. “I–I–”
“You are a selfish person too, Shuu-Kena. Don’t think you’re better than me.”
“You really are no different from my family…”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “I give you one day to prove yourself. If by tomorrow you’re still acting this way, or if you have done anything to deliberately betray me, you’re going to join your family. Consider yourself lucky I’m giving you this leniency at all. And who knows, I might just take it away, good behavior or no…”

“Big sister…no, La-Iin….when we were little kids, I thought you were gonna do things differently.”
“What, did you think they were empty words? Did you think that ruling the world meant that I would make everyone happy? What did you think it was, Ei-Tio?”
“…different than this. I don’t know.” She lowered her head. “You know, big sister, I was flying over the cages yesterday, just stretching my wings. And I saw two familiar people shoved into the same cage.”
“Oh?”
“My Darseen and Floma,” she said bitterly. “I realized something, big sister. You’re different than how I knew you to be. I know you’re evil. I never cared about that, not at all. I knew you wanted to rule the world. And I know, maybe I thought a little more idealistically than I should have, but can you blame me? I’m still technically a kid Vampire! I don’t understand this, La-Iin. I don’t.”
“Then I’ll explain. I’ve wanted to rule the world since I was little. It’s the ultimate power. The best expression of one’s evil. I can do what I want when I’m in charge of the world, like I am now. But ruling the world is a precarious position. Even with San-Kyung and my other allies at my side, we’re a small group compared to the billions of people out there in the world. So I need to be careful as I spread my dominion.”
“What?”
“Does it still not make any sense?”
Ei-Tio shook her head. “No, it doesn’t. I’m sorry, big sister, but I can’t do this anymore. I love helping you, and I don’t hate you. But there’s something different about you. It feels like you care about yourself above everyone else. And I’m sure you always have, but this just isn’t right. It feels like this power has made you hate almost everyone else. You love your Mama, right? Then why is she rotting away in a cage?”
“I have my reasons.”
“And you can never give explanations to me. Not even your “sister” gets to hear it. Does San-Kyung? Or is he censored from this too?”
“Why are you questioning this now, Ei-Tio?”
Ei-Tio spread her wings. “I just needed to know if my decision was the right one. I’m sorry, big sister. I’m not going to oppose you. I’m not going to try and kill you, and I’m not going to hate you. But I can’t stay here like this. I’m going to go someplace else, someplace far away where life is happier and not horrible like this…someplace where even the most evil of people actually care about other people.”
She took off before La-Iin could get a word in edgewise. La-Iin was tempted to fly after her, but after Shuu-Kena’s opposition, she was starting to feel dejected.

“Mit-Sun…”
“She hasn’t been in the best of conditions lately. I’m dubious as to how much longer she’ll survive.”
“Do you even care that your own mother is dying?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Do you know who else is dying? San-Kyung. Maybe not as quickly as Mama, but I’m going to lose him soon too. I’ll be sad if Mama dies, but it isn’t as if we’ve talked much lately anyway.”
Asul-Zenza shook his head. “This is ridiculous. I understand the three of us were never exactly a proper family, but not a one of us hated each other. Not even I and Mit-Sun hated each other. Has this changed in recent years, La-Iin?”
“I was getting back at Mama for what she did to me as a child. That’s all.”
“I saw you lots once you hit your sixth years, La-Iin. If Mit-Sun was doing something so drastic that it warranted years-long torture, I would have known. But as it stands her worst offense is that she was not quite ready for parenting. For someone in that situation, I would say she’s done quite well.”
“You and I think differently then, Dami. What, are you going to start taking her side now? I thought you liked me better than you liked her.”
“I do, that’s true, but…watching her waste away like this, it’s just too painful. And watching you turn into what you’ve become…nobody ever thought otherwise on the subject of your evil, La-Iin. But I don’t think any of us expected this level of coldness.”
“Then you were expecting me to be friendly when I have to rule the world? How deluded are you?”
Asul-Zenza flinched. “That’s it. I’m sorry, La-Iin, but I can’t put up with this. I don’t want to oppose you, but you’re not giving me much of an option.”
La-Iin grit her teeth. “So that’s how it will be, is it?”
“There’s still a chance to make up on this, of course,” he said quickly. “And besides, when I said oppose, I never meant with an army at my side. I simply met fighting you until you would help Mit-Sun–”
“One thing you should have learned from me, Dami–”
She walked over to him and gripped his shoulders tight.
“Don’t reveal your plans. That’s stupid.”
‘Not Dami. You can’t be considering this.’ La-Iin was trying her hardest not to show weakness, but it was difficult when the person opposing her was Asul-Zenza. She felt she couldn’t prepare to deal with his betrayal, but when she saw the look in his eyes, she had no doubt in her mind that he was serious.
“Sorry, Dami. No, I don’t owe you an apology. You’re the betrayar, after all.”
Her reluctance to act was strong, but La-Iin ignored it and bit into her arm. Behind Asul-Zenza, La-Iin caught sight of Mit-Sun, weakly staring up at her. Just from the look on her face, La-Iin felt that she would soon have to deal with Mit-Sun as well.

“Hello, La-Iin. It’s good you woke me up for the first time in I’m not sure how long, because we need to talk.”
“Indeed we do. A lot has happened between the last time we talked and this time…”
“When I said ‘we need to talk’, I more meant that I need to talk to you about a certain subject matter.”
La-Iin levitated Bes-Isa close to her. “What?”
“Well, it HAS been years. I know from what you’ve told me that you’re working Sale-Dessu quite hard. And I know from what you’ve shown me that the majority of the population is inside cages, and those who aren’t are not exactly people I have to worry about.”
“What are you getting at?”
“I want to be made autonomous, La-Iin. I think it’s been long enough. If you’ve really been working Sale-Dessu as hard as you make it sound, and after all those years he took care of Eul-Bok I’m sure that making me autonomous would be no trouble for him. Then I can help you more directly, that and actually have the freedom to walk around. In your world I don’t need to worry about being spotted because nobody can do anything about me.”
“I can’t grant that, Bes-Isa.”
“I should’ve known. I knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I did anyway. Years passing hasn’t changed that certain side of you.”
“It has nothing to do with not changing, Bes-Isa. It has to do with the fact that betrayal has been common in my dominion lately. Thankfully nothing large enough to pose a threat to my rule over the world, but it’s concerning. And especially with what you’ve just said to me, I have no reason to believe that you wouldn’t betray me if I made a move you disliked. You are as evil as I am, after all.”
“I haven’t even done anything to you! Do you just WANT me to betray you?”
“No.” La-Iin tried to imagine a future in which Bes-Isa gained the autonomy she so wanted. She could imagine someone, their suppressants having worn off just the right amount, lashing out at her. She could imagine something going horribly wrong and her turning her back on her.
Especially with how Bes-Isa could be sometimes, it was a risk she couldn’t take.
“La-Iin!? I’ve been by your side nearly your whole life and yet that still isn’t enough to have your trust!?”
“It’s hard to give trust when you’re the ruler of the world, Bes-Isa. You’d understand if you were in my position.” She lifted up her hand. “I can’t take any risks right now, Bes-Isa. I’m sure you understand.”
She levitated Bes-Isa over to a small case and closed it. Bes-Isa had yelled something on her way there, but La-Iin couldn’t understand it, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

La-Iin walked over to Sale-Dessu’s chamber and opened the door.
“Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu didn’t respond.
“Sale-Dessu! To attention!”
Sale-Dessu glared at her.
“Sale-Dessu! Why aren’t you saying anything!?”
“For years now I’ve been at your beck and call. And I didn’t mind, La-Iin.” His voice was barely a whisper; La-Iin could barely hear it even as she walked closer to him. “I always loved studying powers and practicing. And not everything you used of mine was for ruling the world, I appreciated that. But you took Eul-Bok away from me for no reason other than Bes-Isa didn’t like him. And only now I’ve started to realize how stupid I’ve been all these years…”
“What are you talking about?”
Sale-Dessu lifted up his wand and fired off at her. La-Iin dodged. Sale-Dessu’s expression was one of rage. Stuck in a claustrophobic room with an angry Warlock, La-IIn felt that if it wasn’t for one key element, she would be terrifed for her life, and that was the reluctance she sensed in Sale-Dessu’s moves. He was slightly lethargic and did not choose spells that would badly harm her. Still, as it went on his spells became ones intended to trap her. She couldn’t keep doding him forever–and there was no reason she should be scared of him.
She flew behind him, grabbed his wand, and bit into his shoulder. Sale-Dessu gave a pained gasp. La-Iin sucked blood from him until he was seeming lightheaded.
“I was wondering when you might turn on me,” La-Iin sighed. “I figured keeping a Warlock off of power suppressants would end up being dangerous sooner or later. But I did need your powers at the time. Now you’ve proven to me that I don’t.”
Sale-Dessu’s eyelids fluttered and he didn’t respond. La-Iin dragged him off, only struggling slightly.

When La-Iin head to the front of the castle, she was surprised to find Fer-Shi crying.
“What’s wrong?”
Fer-Shi sniffled. “Oh, La-Iin…I just don’t understand what you’re doing anymore. I never did, but turning on people who love you? I really thought that no matter what, you’d never do that…”
“What are you talking about?”
“I heard about what happened with Mr. Ghneckdo. And with Sale-Dessu. And I heard that what happened with Mr. Ghneckdo happened because of the way you were treating your mom…” She sniffled again. “Why are you doing this?”
“I have to show those who betray me that they’ll regret what they’ve done. I already was unable to show this to Ei-Tio, so I have to be extra strict with further offenders.” She glared at Fer-Shi. “Don’t tell me you’re next.”
“La-Iin, it’s just…it’s getting to the point where I don’t see you anymore. I don’t like what you’ve done, not at all, but I’ve put up with it anyway because I could still tell that no matter how horrible what you were doing was, it was still you, you know? But now I don’t see that anymore. I just don’t understand what changed!”
La-Iin sighed. “La-Iin?”
“Ruling the world has never been an easy job…and I realize when I have to make sacrifices. Do you want to join your parents in a cage!?”
Fer-Shi’s expression looked stricken. “La-Iin, please! I know I can’t ask you to change, but please, don’t let this hateful part of you overtake you completely! I don’t want to have to stop you!”
La-Iin sighed. “That’s enough for me.” She bit into her arm. Fer-Shi seemed to notice what she was doing and ran off, but the strength from her ability made it easy for her to catch up. She slammed her to the floor and pinned her down.
“It doesn’t matter if you betray me, Fer-Shi. At the very least, I still have San-Kyung.”

“…what?”
San-Kyung glared at her. “Listen closely this time. Dosa-Mina died. I found him in his cage this morning, rotting away. He looked awful.” San-Kyung’s expression became one of hurt. “I’m going to bet this has nothing to do with sickness and everything to do with neglect. Or rather, a sickness caused by neglect.”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, San-Kyung. Too much has been going on for me to pay attention to all of the slaves.”
“So you couldn’t even pay attention to the one “slave” I always wanted you to keep an eye on. Even being aware of how close we were before all this happened.”
“San-Kyung, you’re not the only one who lost a friend recently.”
San-Kyung growled. “La-Iin, now that the timing seems perfect, there’s something I need to tell you. Do you remember how I approached you and said I loved you, just when the world was on the cusp of being in your grasp?”
“How could I forget?”
“Did you notice anything strange about the timing?”
La-Iin’s confusion only lasted a moment. “No…”
“Exactly. You were only a means to an end for me.” San-Kyung struck his hands. “In your vulnerable state, I don’t see where the problem in taking you down is. You’ve been able to put away everyone else, but I know how you feel towards me. You’re in shock. You weren’t expecting this. So now’s my time to strike.”
He walked closer, and La-Iin could feel the heat from his flames. She felt at a standstill, and still deeply in shock, but she knew what she need to do. She came to her feet and flew at San-Kyung, knocking him to the ground and biting hard into his neck. She sucked his blood, then continued biting, all the while in a red haze and unaware of what was going on around her.
By the time she came to her senses, San-Kyung was unconscious, his breathing shallow. She let out a mournful wail and finally allowed herself to cry.

—–
La-Iin flinched.
“La-Iin! Why are you crying?”
La-Iin wiped at her eyes, but she still couldn’t forget what she had imagined. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t see a way to effectively prepare for betrayal–she could barely imagine how some of her allies would betray her in the first place.
But the thought of San-Kyung’s betrayal….it was something she wouldn’t put past him.
She clung to Mit-Sun and tried to stifle her tears, but instead Mit-Sun stroked her head and kept her crying for far longer than she intended to.

29.575.Day of Business

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 575
“Day of Business”

Asul-Zenza stared at the table. Sitting on it in piles was all the vuyong he had.
Early that day he had gotten the idea to surprise La-Iin with a new dress. ‘She’s starting to get a little bigger. Sooner or later she’ll outgrow her current dresses. And while Mit-Sun sews her new ones, she can wear my dress!’
He was quite surprised to see such a small pile of vuyong.
‘I haven’t been spending that much, have I? So why do I have so little? Wait a moment…’
Asul-Zenza thought back on the last time he had done a job. He recalled hearing someone that day commenting on how they were not looking forward to Summer.
‘Spring…’ He sighed. ‘This is not good. I thought I was good at keeping an eye on my funds. Evidently not…’
He stood up. ‘Well, I won’t get anywhere moping about this sad pile! My only option now is to find a job I can do. And I think I know just where I can go for that.’

***

“You want to help me with the stand?”
“Yes! I figured you don’t get much help, so I thought I might help you.”
Perule-Cheuse scratched the back of his neck. “I don’t mind, but ah, you realize there ain’t much work to be done ’round here? I don’t understand why ya’d want to…” He narrowed his eyes. “Wait a sec, you ain’t lookin’ for vuyong, are ya?”
“What makes you think that?”
“Don’t think I don’t know you, Asul-Zenza.”
Asul-Zenza scoffed. “I guess you do…alright, I’ll help for free, then. After all, it doesn’t look like there’s anyone around here.”
“Hey. If yer gonna do that, just tidy up the stand a little for me. I’m not askin’ ya to actually serve anyone anything.”
Asul-Zenza nodded and began to reorganize the cart and wipe off stains. ‘No wonder he gave me that look. There really isn’t anything to do here. I feel like a jerk. There are other places I could have found something to do.’
“Alright, it’s clean.” He spread his wings. “I’ll go looking somewhere else now.”
“Hey, ‘fore you go.” Perule-Cheuse placed some vuyong into his hand. “Thanks for the help.”
“You’re really giving me this?”
“Yeah, sure, why not? Ain’t much though, so you don’t need to thank me. Hope you find something to do.”
“Me too.” Asul-Zenza took off. “Farewell, Perule-Cheuse!”

‘I think what I need isn’t something like one-day work. I could more do with a temporary job. I wonder where I could find that…it always feels so easy to find work except for when you really need it.’
He flew over an area with many small shops, checking if any needed some kind of temporary work. He was surprised to see Niser-Zanta inside of one of the shops, not sitting at a table but instead wearing the work clothes. Curious, he landed and went inside.
“Welcome!” Niser-Zanta’s eyes widened. “Asul-Zenza!?”
“I could say the same! Er, well, you get what I mean. I didn’t know you worked at a place like this.”
“Are you rubbing it in?” He asked. “It’s nice to see you, Asul-Zenza, but even though I’m not busy right now I have to keep up work!”
“I just want to ask you a question. That won’t waste so much time, will it?”
“Yeah, not really, though I’m devoted to my job and I don’t like to take any moment sitting down! Also I get extra pay if I do extra work.”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Any of these shops in the area, do they accept someone looking to work temporarily?”
“I’m sure some do. Why? You need work? You never seem like you need work, just that you always do work anyway.”
“You could sort of say that.”
“Makes me wonder how much you’ve been spending lately. Hmm, well, you can always find work if you know where to look. I know there’s a place nearby here where people’ll pay you for things like mowing their lawn or watching their kids.”
“I see. …did you say mowing their lawns?”
“Yup. So if none of the shops are looking for a temporary worker you can always try there. The Vampires there have vuyong to spare. They’re the type who save up and feed their kids only on fresh blood.”
“Those types?”
“Yeah. Don’t go judging them. You like fresh blood too.”
“I know, but always, in a Vampire society? It sounds like some of the Normal tales I’ve heard about Vampires.”
“ALDESDRIN! I see you’re enjoying your conversation, but don’t you have a customer to attend to?”
“Eep!” Niser-Zanta startled and his wings spread slightly. “Yes! I’m getting straight back to work, Miss Chaeiou!”
Niser-Zanta took off towards a table. Asul-Zenza left the building and flew off.
“What, he’s not going to eat here?” Chaeiou said with a sigh.

Feeling slightly desperate, Asul-Zenza opted not to look at the shops nearby first and instead head off towards the place that Niser-Zanta had mentioned. Already as he flew over it, he could spot several Vampires playing outside, many with young children. He began to feel intrusive as if he shouldn’t be there.
Still, it was worth a shot if it would make him any vuyong.
“You want a job to do? Wanna mow our lawn? Most Vampires outside of where I live don’t know how to do that, but ah, we do. I can show ya the ropes if you don’t get it.”
“If you could clean the car, that would be nice.”
‘Car!?’ These Vampires truly seemed non-standard. Asul-Zenza couldn’t help but remember Niser-Zanta’s comment of them seeking out nothing but fresh blood. Seeing them now, they seemed very different from most other Vampires he had met, even modern ones.
“I could really use someone to watch Yani-Teri. If you do I’ll pay you a ton!”
When he had started to ask around about jobs he had only felt worse, flying into a neighborhood and asking for something to do, but as Niser-Zanta had said, they seemed quite willing to give him a job. So he mowed one Vampire’s lawn, cleaned the car of another’s, helped repair a few bits of equipment, and as the sun began to set, watched Yani-Teri for her mother, Ila-Eri.
Right now Yani-Teri was playing with blocks. ‘These Vampires are so very strange. But I’ve gotten a bit of vuyong from the work.’ He sighed. ‘I don’t feel right doing this kind of work. I may have earned the vuyong I needed, but I’m more suited to temporary jobs rather than this kind of work.’
“Wanna play?” Yani-Teri asked.
“Um, I’m not as good at this game as I was when I was your age,” he said.
“Game?”
“Ahm, I mean, this construction.”
Yani-Teri beamed. “I’m gonna do construction when I grow up too!”
She turned back to the blocks. ‘Construction…Mit-Sun used to do that.’ The thought of his former fiancĂ©e made him think of La-Iin. ‘That’s right, the whole reason I was doing this today was because I wanted to buy her a dress.’ He checked the vuyong he had already earned. ‘I think I might be able to afford something cheap. Or, hm, I wonder…’
“Mr. Ghneckdo?” Ila-Eri called. “Oh, there you are. Thank you so much. Here you go.”
“Thank you.”
“Mama!”
Asul-Zenza flinched.
“Something wrong, Mr. Ghneckdo?”
“No…she just reminded me of my own daughter.”
Ila-Eri sighed. “I see. Well, thank you.” Dropping her voice to a whisper, she said, “I’ve been trying to work a high-paying job and balance taking care of Yani-Teri. It is so hard. But it’s worth it if I can take care of her and give her all she wants.”
“I understand that. But don’t spoil her too much, okay?”
Ila-Eri nodded. “See you, Mr. Ghneckdo!”

Asul-Zenza head down to the shops to see if any of them were still open–and if any of them were accepting temporary work. On one he noticed a sign that piqued his curiosity.
“Welcome back, amigo,” Niser-Zanta said. “But this is the abandoned time of night.”
“Niser-Zanta? You’re still here?”
“Yeah, I’m workin’ overtime. What are you here for?”
“Are you actually here to eat this time?” Asul-Zenza spotted Chaeiou out the corner of his eye, arms crossed and staring him down.
“No, I’m here to work. I saw outside your sign about needing someone for August to make your special Sunboiled Eggsweet.”
“Actually, we’re thinking of changing the name, but yes. Do you know how to make an Eggsweet?”
“Actually, I do! I only learned fairly recently, admittedly, but I can do it.”
“So you’re only lookin’ to help us during the August, is that right?”
“Yes, that’s my intention.”
Chaeiou nodded. “Come in tomorrow and show me your skills. Then we’ll talk.”
Niser-Zanta gaped. “You’re looking for work here!? Didn’t you go to that neighborhood?”
“I did. And I earned a bit of vuyong. But I realized I have skills that are better suited for other types of jobs. Looks like we may be working together over the Summer, Niser-Zanta.”
“Is that so?” He smiled. “I guess that doesn’t sound too bad. Here’s to working with you, Asul-Zenza!”
“Here’s to it!”

—–
La-Iin:
Sorry I missed you but it seems you and Mit-Sun were out. I know I know nothing about sewing. My skills are nothing compared to your mother’s, but I wanted to try making you a dress. This is for you to wear when you get a little bigger, but feel free to try it on now!
Until we meet again!
~Ghneckdo Asul-Zenza

“It’s itchy.”
“Geez, he really has no idea how to sew. Still, I don’t remember him sewing before, so I suppose this isn’t too bad.”
“You contemplating Dami? Surprising. I think it’s itchy. You really are the better sewer.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks, La-Iin. Ah, but as much as I hate to say it, if this is his first or second or so try, it isn’t that bad. Now if he’s been practicing a lot, that’s a different story…”
“That doesn’t make it not itchy.”
“If you want, I think I know a way I can make it itch less.”
“No. For as itchy as it is, it’s from Dami. And in my situation, Dami is a cherished rarity. So I’ll keep it the way it is.” She shuddered. “I don’t know if I’ll wear it anyway.”

25.571.The Daylight Journey

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 571
“The Daylight Journey”

“We’re rooting for you, Asul-Zenza!”
“Yeah, we’re looking forward to seeing your success!”
“Do your best, Asul-Zenza. Good luck.”
As Asul-Zenza flew through the sky, the words of his book club friends rang in his mind. Their words gave him a renewed determination, and he began to fly faster as his destination came into sight.

“It’s too hot outside,” La-Iin panted.
“It is pretty hot, but you’re acting like it’s a hundred degrees.”
“It feels like much more than that,” she gasped. “Maybe an evil heat ray really would be a good idea…”
“Huh?”
“Nothing.”
“I guess you know what they say, though: Vampires and the sun just aren’t friends.”
“We could be friends if I really can make an evil heat ray…ugh…”
Just as La-Iin was feeling she would pass out from the heat, a sudden gust of wind blew into her face and cooled her down. Sighing in relief, she looked up and was surprised to see Asul-Zenza smiling down at her.
“Dami!?”
“What are you doing here now?” Mit-Sun sighed. “Haven’t you intruded enough this month?”
Asul-Zenza opened his mouth to protest, but Mit-Sun spoke faster. “First you take her out for a Vampire tradition, then you come to chastise me about my treatment of her–and I’m grateful, but still! That’s not even counting the times you’ve called her!”
“There’s no sin in calling my daughter,” he said.
“You know, at least the first time you gave a warning and the second was for advice. What the hell–er, heck, is this for?”
“I know about hell already, Mama. I know how to say f@%k too, so why do you care?”
“La-Iin!!”
“Really, La-Iin, you shouldn’t curse so freely,” he said. “Mit-Sun, I apologize for not warning you in advance. I admit that this is my fault. However, I have a good reason for visiting. Do you know what day today is?”
“July the 25th.” Her eyes widened. “Wait a second, oh no…”
“Precisely! And now you see the reason I am here. My intentions are not to intrude upon you as I did last year, but instead to take La-Iin out with me while I have some fun. However, I only intend on keeping her out during daylight hours. I don’t intend on returning her home at midnight.”
He bowed. “I beg of you, Mit-Sun. I understand I’ve been taking advantage lately. I understand that I did not call you first. I am deeply sorry for this. But please, let me have this today. You’ve been far more amicable to me than you have been all the other years La-Iin’s been alive. So please, grant me this?”
Mit-Sun flinched. ‘I remember that expression from when we were dating. He’s trying to get to me!’ She wasn’t swayed, at least not until she caught the smile on La-Iin’s face. She seemed to be thrilled about the idea of going with Asul-Zenza to celebrate his birthday, and she knew that her and La-Iin’s relationship was already having trouble enough without her denying them something that was so important to them.
“Fine,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Thank you, Mit-Sun!” He hugged her close. Mit-Sun bit his shoulder and he drew back. “Sorry, I got slightly carried away there, heh heh.”
“Do it again and the answer is no.”
“You better be careful, Dami. She might kick you in the penis if she gets too mad!”
Asul-Zenza stared at Mit-Sun. “Just what are you teaching her!?”
“Take my word on this, Asul-Zenza: La-Iin teaches herself and does what she want.”
“You should know that by now, Dami.”
“I know, but–I just–I wasn’t expecting to hear you say that…” His face flushed.
“I’ve know that word for a long time, Dami. It’s nothing new to me.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well, let’s put that aside for now…thank you, Mit-Sun. You won’t be too lonely without La-Iin, will you?”
“Not any more than I already have been lately.”
“Oh, Mit-Sun.” He sighed. “You still have people on your side who aren’t Haner. Don’t you still have your Papa?”
“My father.
“Right, right, father. Anyway, you aren’t alone. I just wanted to say that. And loathe as I am to add this, especially with how much I resented Haner for a time–I hope all works out with him.”
“That’s unusually courteous of you.”
“I think you forget sometimes who played what role in our break-up.” Asul-Zenza spread his wings. “Well, La-Iin, is there anything you need before we go?”
“Only a little something.”
“Get it now, then. I’d like to get a move on as soon as possible.”
La-Iin nodded and ran inside the house.
“She’s so nice to you. I really don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand either. But who knows, maybe something will change soon enough.”
“You’re more hopeful about that than I am.”
When La-Iin came back outside, Asul-Zenza stretched his wings. “Right! Ready to go, La-Iin? Oh, and before we go, do you want me to carry you on the flight? This is another long one, after all.”
“Dami, please.” She spread her wings. “I can go at least most of the way, that I guarantee.”
“We’ll see about that one. Well, we’ll see you again soon, Mit-Sun! And, thank you.”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin took off.
“You’re welcome,” she mumbled to herself.

***

“Dami, where are we going today anyway?”
“We’re going to be in the society I live in.”
“But where are we going?”
“Oh, a few places. Although I warn you, they might not all be interesting to you. And a few of my friends will be there as well.”
“Friends…?”
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! You’re here!”
La-Iin startled and nearly fell out the sky. Asul-Zenza steadied her. Ahead of them were three Vampires.
“And it looks like you managed to bring La-Iin!”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, La-Iin…um…it isn’t Ghneckdo, is it?”
“No?”
“These are the members of my book club, La-Iin, and some of my friends.”
“My name is Haroudi Lise-Mara.”
“And I’m Nierdan Xelshy-MItter!”
“Aldesdrin Niser-Zanta. I’ve heard a lot about you, but judging by your expression, you haven’t heard a lot about me.”
“I don’t bring up my book club often around her,” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I much prefer to focus on what’s happening when I’m with her. But, now that we’re all acquainted, I know what we can do first!”
“So you’re taking the lead?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Of course I am! Whose birthday is it?”
Lise-Mara rolled her eyes. “Just don’t act obnoxious, Asul-Zenza.”
The five Vampires took off, with Asul-Zenza keeping the lead. In the midst of their flight, Lise-Mara moved closer to La-Iin.
“La-Iin, was it? Considering your age and wingspan I’m surprised you’ve been able to keep yourself up this long. Or do you live closer than I thought?”
“Don’t underestimate my wingspan, Haroudi,” La-Iin said. “I am my Dami’s daughter!”
Lise-Mara giggled. “That you are! I guess large wings really are a Ghneckdo thing. Well, I hope you have fun.”
La-Iin was beginning to wonder whether or not she had made a mistake, that and what Asul-Zenza told the members of his book club she was like. The group continued onwards as Asul-Zenza picked up speed and La-Iin began to falter.
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! La-Iin’s falling behind!”
Asul-Zenza turned around and grabbed La-Iin out of the sky. Noticing that the members of his book club were watching her, she felt her face flush.
“You did better than you did last time,” Asul-Zenza said as he head back for the lead.
“Of course I did. All I do is improve…”
‘I’m starting to think this was a mistake.’

“What a nice little blood cafe! Do you come here often, Asul-Zenza?”
“Yeah, have you been holdin’ out on us!?”
“Now, now. Besides, I’ve come here before with Niser-Zanta.”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of creepy coming here with only one other person.”
“Well, I had a taste for blood, I had the vuyong, and I wanted to bring La-Iin here.”
La-Iin looked up. Asul-Zenza’s, and the members of his book club, had their eyes focused on La-Iin. She tried to ignore them and turn her attention back to the Goathoof blood in her cup.
“She’s kinda young for a bloodsucker, isn’t she?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yes, she might be, but you have to remember she’s half-Normal. La-Iin’s aging pace is different than ours.”
“Interesting. I might have to look more into that tonight.”
“Tonight we’ll be busy,” Asul-Zenza said.
“You’re keeping us out that late?”
“I made a promise to Mit-Sun that I wouldn’t keep La-Iin out that late, so not all of us, but as for the rest of you, yes.”
‘There was no point to bringing me here, Dami. You seem perfectly fine with your stupid book club!’ La-Iin kept the retort to herself, but she couldn’t keep her wings from flapping just a bit. She began to suck down the rest of the Goathoof blood.
“Aw, her tiny fangs are so cute,” Lise-Mara sighed. “Maybe I should adopt a child of my own someday.”
“You, as a Floma?” Niser-Zanta said.
“What, do you think I’d be a bad Floma?”
“It’s not that, it just, well…you know what, never mind. If this guy can be a Dami, you can probably be a Floma.”
Lise-Mara beamed. “Thank you very much, Niser-Zanta.”
‘I can’t take this!’ “I want another cup of blood!”
“Certainly, La-Iin. What kind?”
“Vampire–” Asul-Zenza and the book club looked shocked. “I meant, Bearperson!”
“Ooh, a good choice. I’ll go order some!”
“Wow, he accepted that demand pretty easily,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Asul-Zenza’s always struck me as a passive Dami.”
‘I can’t take it!’ La-Iin was glad for her expressionless face at that moment. When Asul-Zenza brought back the cup of Bearperson blood, she sucked it down quickly, then tapped Asul-Zenza on the shoulder. He motioned to the book club, then took La-Iin aside.
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I–um–where else are we going, Dami?”
“Hm? Well, I had some plans to head off on a daylight journey. Just a quick trip around, that and I wanted to stop at a sports center. Why?”
“Just…curious.”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “Thank you so much for coming along, La-Iin. I know it might be strange to adjust to being around me while I’m with friends, but I am so happy for you to be here. I’ve been blessed.”
“Not a problem, Dami,” La-Iin said, nearly hissing. “I–I would go with you any time to get away from Mama at her worst times.”
“Has something happened at home?”
“No, nothing in particular…” La-Iin covered her mouth to stifle the hiss.
“Alright, that’s good. We’re probably going to head off soon, so get ready!”
‘Dammit! If I can’t even stand up to my own Dami, ruling the world’s going to take longer than I expect it to! But then it’s also Dami’s birthday…I’ve become soft since that stupid meth incident!’
La-Iin could imagine several things she would rather be doing, yet still she went along with Asul-Zenza. Her desire to spend time with her father outweighed her frustration, though as the day progressed it wasn’t by much.

After a short journey and a quick trip to the nearby Vampira, Asul-Zenza, La-Iin and the book club had stopped at the sports center and geared up in athletic clothes. Soon after they had, Asul-Zenza began to toss a ball around.
“What game is this?”
“No game in particular. I’m not good with specific sports. I just like tossing balls around!”
“Just like I’d expect,” Niser-Zanta sighed.
La-Iin’s wings began to flap. “As if you know my Dami better than I do.”
“Sorry, La-Iin, but I do have you beat there. I’ve known him since before you were born. I knew him when he was head-over-heels for your mother!”
La-Iin began to look nauseous. “Niser-Zanta, don’t gloat at La-Iin. Both of you know me well for different reasons.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Asul-Zenza flew up closer to the roof of the sports rec. ‘Today has been such a fun day! I see good things on the horizon for sixty-six!’
“Is it strange to live with only one parent, La-Iin?” Lise-Mara asked.
“Why?”
“I was simply curious.”
“…”
“It is more polite to answer, yanno,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“I don’t do polite unless I feel like it.”
“Guys, you’ve gotta remember what Asul-Zenza said, his daughter’s part of the evil side!”
“The more you say only influences my opinions of you.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Uh…”
Asul-Zenza overheard the conversation and caught a glimpse of La-Iin’s back. Her wings were flapping rapidly as if she were agitated. He sighed. ‘Though I guess a birthday can’t be perfect, of course…’
Putting the thought aside, he tossed the ball with his full force. The ball slammed against the floor and hit Niser-Zanta in the face.
“Ow ow!”
“Are you alright, Niser-Zanta!?”
“It looks like he has a bit of a bloody nose,” Lise-Mara said.
“I feel like my teeth broke into my mouth,” he cried.
“Oh goodness, Niser-Zanta, I am so sorry. I did not mean to do that…”
Before Asul-Zenza could approach Niser-Zanta, he noticed La-Iin giggling to herself. It was quiet enough that it seemed none of his friends had heard her, but from his distance it was obvious.
“Now I know for certain that Asul-Zenza is dangerous,” he sighed. “Next time I’ll wear protective gear if we’re going somewhere that’s not the book club…”

***

“The sun’s starting to set,” Niser-Zanta said. “Hey, how far away does La-Iin live? Are you going to be able to get her back home soon enough?”
“I fly fast when I’m determined,” Asul-Zenza said. “Of course, if La-Iin would like to stay out for a little longer, I can always accommodate.”
“No, I don’t mind.” La-Iin broke free of Asul-Zenza’s grasp and flew in the opposite direction of his book club. “In fact, I bet I could fly home on my own with my determination!”
The book club giggled. “You must give her that she is a feisty girl,” Lise-Mara said. La-Iin’s face flushed.
“Well, um, given that, then, I suppose I should take her home now,” he said. “You three can meet me at the border to Vampira. So long as you stay there, I don’t mind where you go. I might be back soon, but it will most certainly be nightfall by that time.”
“Alright.”
“See you soon, Asul-Zenza! Bye, La-Iin!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Yeah, see you two. And it was good to get to know you, La-Iin. You’re definitely Asul-Zenza’s kid, that’s for sure.”
“What does that mean?”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin flew a distance away from his book club.
“So, I can guess by your reactions that you didn’t much care for my friends.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“I suppose that’s fine. I will admit I’m a little disappointed, but I expected this when I invited you out. I’m really sorry if you didn’t have a good time.”
“They see me as a little kid.”
“You are…ah, who am I to speak. I am still very grateful for you coming out in the first place.” He hugged La-Iin close. “Thank you, La-Iin.”
“I did try to hold it in for you, Dami. But they were annoying. …I guess Aldesdrin wasn’t as annoying as the other two, but I really couldn’t stand that Haroudi lady.”
“She can be a bit obnoxious sometimes,” Asul-Zenza giggled. “But thank you again, La-Iin.”
The two head back to Bledger, the setting sun behind them.
“This is the best part so far,” La-Iin said.
“Really? I’ve been having a lot of fun all day.”
“I guess that’s fine. Where are you going after you get rid of me, anyway?”
“Please, La-Iin, when you say it like that it sounds so harsh. That’s not what I’m doing at all. I just don’t want to be kicked by Mit-Sun and she gets angry when I keep you out too late. Also, where I’m going with the book club serves alcohol and they’re a bit rough on young Vampires.”
La-Iin smirked. “That will be hard for you, won’t it, Dami?”
Asul-Zenza gave a small smile. “Of course it won’t be! I’m a fully-grown Vampire, after all!”
“So you say!”

—–
“This place is fancy! How’d you afford it, Asul-Zenza!?”
“By saving up.”
“Really, Asul-Zenza, you shouldn’t be paying on your birthday. Let me foot the bill. I have enough vuyong.”
“Lise-Mara, I couldn’t let you do that!”
“I could.”
“Your blood alcohols.”
A waiter set down glasses of blood in front of the four.
“I heard the alcohol in this is diluted. I sure hope so!”
“Yeah, that’s one sign of how young a Vampire you are: whether or not you can handle your liquor!”
“Well, I’ll show you that I can.”
“Pardon me–” The waiter said. “But may I recommend our special? We have a special blend of blood alcohol today, the “Leukemia Stir”. Would any of you like it? It’s on the house when you buy two or more blood alcohols.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Maybe next time we should go someplace else.”
“Excuse me?” The waiter began to look indignant.

18.564.Plans for the People

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 564
“Plans for the People”

“Hey, La-Iin. I see that you’re busy, but since I can talk right now, I’ve got a question for you that’s been nagging me lately.”
“What’s that? And hurry it up. I think this picture is going to be a masterpiece and I need as few distractions as possible.”
“I’d beg to differ, but whatever. I can’t remember, but did you say whether or not you had plans for all the people you mean to involve in your world-domination plots?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened and she set down her crayon. “Yes. I have big plans for quite a few people.”
“Ah, I see.”
“What, is that it? You don’t want to hear about my plans or anything?”
“As much as I would, I know you won’t give me the full story because it’s supposed to be a secret. As if I could tell anyone anyway.”
“I have no guarantees on that now that Sale-Dessu found out you can make V-Puppets autonomous. And you make a great point, why spoil my plans? But I can tell you who I have plans for. That would be Fer-Shi, Mama and Dami, Choungetsu, but only a little bit, Ai-Reia, sort of, Sara, rival-boy, Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok, and San-Kyung of course, and you.”
“Is that it?”
“Unless you want to count my future children or wanting to see if Imagination is still alive nine-hundred years from now. Then yes. There might be a few people I have smaller plans for, but those are the ones I have major plans for.”
“I have to question some of those choices. Don’t you dislike rival-boy–what was his name, Dosa-Mina?”
“Yes, he’s Dosa-Mina. And I do have plans for someone who’s caused me so much trouble.” La-Iin gripped her crayon tightly. “If you want to hear anything, you’ll have to ask me after I’m done drawing, though. Oh, and I guess I have a little bit of a plan for Ei-Tio, too, but it’s a work in progress.”
“Huh.”
“I have a lot of plans, Bes-Isa. You should have known that plans for the people would be among them.”

***

“La-Iin, you said you wanted Narwhaltae blood, right? Are you planning on giving the slaves a bath?”
“If you want the slaves to be clean, clean them yourself.”
Fer-Shi sighed. “Most of the slaves don’t like me….agh! La-Iin, do you have to breastfeed Chung-Ae in front of me?”
“It wasn’t in front of you before you got here.”
“Things aren’t the same anymore…and I’m even more scared of San-Kyung now that he has a kid with you.”
“Of course things aren’t the same. I succeeded in world domination. I won San-Kyung’s heart. And now I’ve had our child. Things are a lot different than the days we spent at Malicerie.”
“How about the days we spent at Desutrap? Do you still remember those?”
“Desutrap?”
“You really don’t remember, do you?”
“I remember going to a stupid preschool and meeting you, but the name Desutrap doesn’t ring any bells.”
“You should remember it, though! You had it torn down almost as soon as you started ruling the world!”
“Oh. That. I blocked it out, at least until now.”
“Well, if you remember our time at Desutrap, I guess that’s enough for me. I’m glad that you’re happy, La-Iin. I just wish I could be, too.”
“Are you not happy? You might be my slave, but you’re treated much better than the other slaves. And I call on you for some advice.”
“Yeah, I know. But my Mom and Dad, you don’t spare them any leniency. You don’t do it for Shan-Zetsu or Cae-Bougen either…”
“They’re different to me than you are, Fer-Shi. Namely, I don’t care about them.”
“I know…”
La-Iin sighed. “Fer-Shi, of course the world is plenty different nowadays. And I’ve accomplished my dream. Someday my conquest will become worse and more widespread. But I don’t want you to be miserable.”
“It’s hard not to be when this is what you didn’t want to happen…”
La-Iin stroked Fer-Shi’s head. “Maybe I’ll let your Mama and Dami out for a few moments someday.”
“Thanks, La-Iin.”
La-Iin dropped her voice to a whisper. “Tell no one this. But ruling the world has not made me hate you. You are a slave because I worry about your influence if I let you be more. But I will still try to keep you happy.”
Fer-Shi smiled. “Thank you, La-Iin. I had a bit of a feeling, though. You do treat me pretty nicely despite all that’s happened. Would you like me to watch Chung-Ae for you someday in return?”
La-Iin glared. “No.”
“Okay, okay.”

“La-Iin, I wanted to ask you a question,” Mit-Sun rasped.
“What, Mama?”
“How come you let Asul-Zenza out of his cage but not me?”
“It’s payback for all the years you messed up while raising me. Which is a lot.”
“What!? But that isn’t fair! You realize which of your parents has less time to live, right!?”
“I’m aware. And stop yelling. It isn’t doing you any favors.”
Mit-Sun whimpered. “La-Iin, I understand there were a lot of times I messed up. But isn’t this a little excessive? If you keep me in here that long, by the time you show me any leniency it won’t really matter all that much, will it?”
“You’re only bartering with me. I know it doesn’t mean anything, Mama! You’d only set out to raise a rebellion against me the moment I let you out. I can’t trust you. Your treatment is based solely on how you acted towards me in the past.”
“Didn’t I do some things right? Weren’t there some days we enjoyed together? Even if it’s just me making mincemeat pie, weren’t there any times you enjoyed with me? Really, La-Iin, I wouldn’t want to raise a rebellion against you. I know that’s just suicide. But I’ve seen that you show Fer-Shi some leniency, and really, I would love to meet my grandson.”
“Appealing to me that way won’t work, Mama. I can’t focus on what you did right at the moment. The world is in my grasp, but it’s still precarious. The slightest show of favoritism is a potential show of weakness–Fer-Shi knows this. Perhaps the day things change and the world will eternally be within my grasp your situation will change as well. But you should know I still haven’t forgiven you for everything.”
“La-Iin…”
“But I don’t hate you. And…I do make sure you’re taken care of before the other slaves. So–” She grimaced and spread her wings. “So be patient. And don’t die on me. I’ll see to it that your treatment changes someday. But I’m no benevolent ruler. Know that.”
La-Iin grit her teeth. ‘That was too much of a show of weakness…’

“La-Iin, as grateful as I am to be allowed outside of the cages, I truly have some questions for the way you are handling things.”
“Do you have any suggestions, Dami?”
“No, it isn’t like that. Do you not think that someday your slaves will realize that my being free is favoritism and not a case of assisting you? What will you do then?”
“I would figure by then Chung-Ae would be grown up. And at that day I think my hold over the world will be stable enough that I won’t even need to care about something like that. Trust me, Dami, I have plans for the future that extend far past just the next decade.”
“I see. And another thing, was the shock necklace necessary? How did you procure something like this in the first place?”
“That’s confidential, Dami. i trust you, but this is necessary to keep secret. And that’s necessary too, just in case you ever decide to betray me.”
“La-Iin, you know I would never do that.”
“Whether you would or wouldn’t, I’m prepared for it all the same. I’ve been prepared to be betrayed since I was little, so I’m ready to deal with it if it happens. But I trust that you would never betray me, Dami. But this is no sign of weakness.”
“You’ve changed, La-Iin. You weren’t this scared of showing your flaws in the past…”
“San-Kyung has had to handle most of the brunt work now that Chung-Ae has been born, and it’s uncertain just how long he’s going to stay like a baby. Just because I was lucky doesn’t mean Chung-Ae will be. The world isn’t entirely under my grasp yet, and I’m not completely capable of sedating the powers of millions of people. I can’t afford to mess up here. You should understand that.”
“You needn’t act so tough around me, though…I will not betray you. I will say that as many times as it takes for you to believe me. And you needn’t do it around all your other loved ones–speaking of, when do you plan on letting Mit-Sun out of her cage?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Dami, I love you, but you really don’t understand any of how this is supposed to work.”
She flew off, Asul-Zenza watching her with widened eyes.

“Relent.”
“Never!”
La-Iin kicked at the cage. Ai-Reia flinched. “I can do much worse than that.”
“I’m prepared to die before i join your alliance. I know what you’ve done to my loved ones. I should have taken more precautions!”
“It’s not your fault you lack my ability to grow faster,” La-Iin said. “I offered you a good position among my ranks. I’ve trusted you even though you’ve given me so much reason not to. I’ve threatened you constantly, and yet still you don’t relent?”
“I told you, I never will!”
“I’m surprised the child prodigy never considered lying to gain the ability to assassinate me.”
“I’m surprised that this supposedly-smart world ruler never thought that, as a prodigy, I would consider what options are downright suicidal. I know the difference in our power, La-Iin. But I shall prevail all the same!”
“So you say.” La-Iin took off.
“I’m willing to work by your side, La-Iin.”
“I’m glad to hear it, Ai-Reia. Your assistance is just what I need. Your ability to retain information is a handy one. And I’ll admit, it will be beneficial to have someone who shares my lifespan on my team.”

No matter how much she dwelled back on her childhood fantasies of her plans for Ai-Reia, each time she visited her cage it seemed less and less likely that they would come true. Swallowing her frustration, she picked up in speed.

“Hello, Shuu-Kena. How goes everything?”
“Oh, hello, La-Iin,” Shuu-Kena said. “Everything seems fine so far. I don’t see anyone planning a mutiny or anything. And even if they were, none of them are close to your tower, so I don’t think you need to worry about anything happening to Chung-Ae.”
“I’ll never be worried about anything happening to Chung-Ae until the moment something does happen. And I don’t see it happening anytime soon.” La-Iin glanced at her hand. “Is that a bottle of blood?”
“Yeah. Here you go.” She handed the bottle to La-Iin, who quickly downed half of it and sighed in relief. “It’s been too long since I had blood that fresh…”
“It seems like it was recently.”
“There has been a lot going on, Shuu-Kena.”
“Yeah, I guess so. Speaking of Chung-Ae, how is he?”
“He’s fine. I have high hopes for him. …loathe as I am to thank anyone, Shuu-Kena, I have to thank you for your assistance. You’ve been a helpful asset. Neutrals certainly can be sometimes.”
“Thank you back, La-Iin. To be honest, I don’t really care for all the world domination stuff so much, but I think you knew that already. And, well, at least you haven’t murdered anybody yet. You were a saving grace from my family, too. I feel like I owe you. And that you haven’t put me in a cage like the rest of them.”
“I understand.” La-Iin spread her wings. “By the way, I wouldn’t mind a nice and dark picture for Chung-Ae’s bedroom. I feel like it’s missing a little something.”
“Certainly, La-Iin. I’ll make one as soon as I have the time.”
La-Iin nodded and took off. Shuu-Kena glanced out around the landscape, and seeing that there was no activity, sat down with a canvas and began to paint.

“How are you feeling, Dosa-Mina?”
“I’ve had better days…I wish today was one of the days I wasn’t sick.”
“San-Kyung!” La-Iin snapped. “I thought you were home watching Chung-Ae.”
“I thought you were home with him.”
“Evidently not. I have to do my rounds around this time. It’s not safe to leave him on his own, you know.”
“He’s not on his own, though.”
“He’s on his own surrounded by people who are mostly fairly weak.”
Dosa-Mina glanced at both of them. “So even you two fight.”
“Are you really surprised? We fought all the time when we were kids.”
“Quiet, rival-boy.”
“Sorry. …say, San-Kyung, I know you have to head home now, but can you tell me a little bit about Chung-Ae?”
“What can I tell you? He’s a baby. He drools, he soils his diaper, but he’s got quite a grip. I’m thinking he’ll end up more powerful than I am.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“If this conversation is about over, you have your son to attend to,” La-Iin snapped. San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“You spend plenty of time with Fer-Shi. I don’t understand why you don’t grant Dosa-Mina the same privileges you grant her.”
“Because I don’t like him, San-Kyung. Besides, I don’t think you understand what I mean by precarious situation. I don’t think anyone understands except for me, in fact!”
“People might understand better if you clarified what they were,” Dosa-Mina said. La-Iin hissed at him.
“La-Iin, you’re being unreasonable. You realize I have about equal power to you when it comes to what is done with the slaves, right?”
“You agreed with my slave plan!”
“I know. But I’m saying, Dosa-Mina–”
“I really wish I had put his cage someplace you couldn’t find it.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes.
“Maybe you really should head back home…”
“You gave Fer-Shi another purpose!”
“Oh, quit fighting with me over this! You have more important people in your life now. But fine, if you’re really so determined for Dosa-Mina to get special privileges, then once I feel he’s served enough time in there and the situation stabilizes, I’ll let him be a tower slave. Happy?”
“I never believe you when it comes to Dosa-Mina.”
La-Iin huffed. “Just get back to Chung-Ae, San-Kyung! I still have rounds to go, you know!”

Midnight had arrived, and now having retired to the tower, La-Iin went to visit Sale-Dessu, who was examining the corpse of Choungetsu.
“How goes the extended lifespan experiments?”
“I haven’t been able to figure anything out yet,” Sale-Dessu said. “I really don’t understand how this ‘lifespan gene’ works. I’m starting to think the scholars of the past were a little deluded…”
“Maybe that’s something I should ask Dosa-Mina on,” La-Iin mused. “Well, just keep working on it.”
“What if I can’t bring Choungetsu back, La-Iin? You won’t torture me for that, will you?”
La-Iin lowered her head. “No. I won’t. As much as I want Choungetsu back, my top priority is extending San-Kyung’s lifespan so that he will live at a time equal to me. At this rate, no matter how long he lives he will not be part of my and Chung-Ae’s lives for too long. I don’t want that to happen. If there’s any chance that I can have him live as long as I can, then I will take that.”
“Are you looking for immortality, La-Iin?”
La-Iin lifted up her head. “No, not particularly. But tell me if you find out anything in regards to it. I’ll take that if it’s available to me…but there might be one exception.”
“Hm?”
“It’s nothing. Get back to work. I plan on letting Eul-Bok out tomorrow, so you’ll have a companion to help you.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Thank you, La-Iin.”
“You know I don’t listen when you say that.”

“It’s about time you showed up.”
“How’s Chung-Ae?”
“Fine. He hasn’t cried at all since I got back.”
“That’s good.”
San-Kyung glanced at La-Iin. “Now that we’re alone, do you mind telling me what it is you’re so worried about?”
“What do you mean?”
“You seem concerned about nearly everything.”
“Isn’t it obvious? My ruling of the world isn’t perfect yet. I have a child to think of now, so that makes everything much harder, especially since he’s still relying on me for food. And that’s not to mention if we do go through with that plan of having more. You’re not the youngest in the world either, San-Kyung. Our age gap might not be the worst I’ve heard of, but it is concerning.”
“Something you should have realized years ago?”
“I worry that even with all the planning I did beforehand that I’m going to mess up somewhere,” she sighed. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been. The world, or at least a part of it, is mine. I have you as my husband, and we have a child now. The people who are important to me still live and most help me. I have almost all that I want, and yet I can’t just be happy about it. Instead I’m left worrying about the possibility of just the smallest thing going wrong and ruining all I have worked for.”
“Your stress won’t help much either. You must keep a level head about this. And don’t forget, you said it yourself that you are not alone. Your method of ruling the world might not have been my ideal, but I never planned on being entirely alone, either.”
La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. Chung-Ae was fast asleep in his crib, looking content. “With stress or without it I’ll keep working to keep my goal intact, San-Kyung. Now that I’ve tasted this happiness I’m not going to let it go so easily.”

—–
“Hello, Bes-Isa.”
“Hello, La-Iin. It’s been a while.”
“It has been, but I’ve been busy. I felt like tonight I could use your advice. Hence why I came here.”
“You don’t need to talk so formally around me, you know.”
“Oh, I know.”
“Well, whatever advice you need, I’m willing to give. What is it?”
“It’s a lot of things, Bes-Isa. So I hope you’re feeling patient.”
“After being stuck in the dark so long it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s better than that anyday.”
“That’s good enough for me.”

17.563.Nothing But a Child

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 563
“Nothing But a Child”

“Gee, you know, it sure feels like we read a lot of more modern books lately,” Xelshy-Mitter said. “Maybe next time we meet, we should read one of the classics.”
“What’s wrong with modern books?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, they are what’s been coming out recently.”
“The classics were once modern themselves. And there is such a thing as a modern classic, you know.” Lise-Mara said. “The classics are a good place to look. You can find many a good story there, or at least, you can understand how some trope or another became so popularized.”
“You guys haven’t read science fiction until you’ve read classic science fiction. It’s some weird stuff!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“You guys act like I have something against the classics! You know I don’t, right?”
“I’ve read plenty of the classics myself. How can we guarantee it’s not something one of us has already read?”
“We always go over this, Asul-Zenza.”
“Lise-Mara, I’m starting to think there’s a reason they’re more interested in modern books.”
“Oh?”
“They’re the younger Vampires in this book club, remember? They’re not even one-hundred yet!”
“You aren’t either, you know.”
“Yeah, but I’m ninety-nine. Close enough. Still technically an adult Vampire. Here, anyway. Meanwhile they’re still technically kid Vampires!”
“Xelshy-Mitter, you traitor! Now you’re siding with Lise-Mara when it comes to age? She’s still tons older than you, you know!”
Lise-Mara huffed. “No offense, of course.”
“Yeah, I guess all of us can at least get along in the fact that we’re older than Asul-Zenza.”
“Why are you turning against me now!?”
“‘Cause you’re the youngest,” Niser-Zanta said, flashing a grin. Lise-Mara sighed.
“I’m sure it has nothing to do with age in actuality. But it is true that a lot of more modern works tend to be more popular among younger Vampires. After all, you like Killy Shell.”
Niser-Zanta and Xelshy-Mitter shuddered.
“Ironically enough, even though he’s the youngest of us all, he’s still the only one with a kid!”
“I don’t appreciate you all ganging up on me.”
“Aw, don’t be upset, Asul-Zenza. We’re just having a little fun at your expense.”
“How would you like it if I had fun at your expense?”
“Er–”
“Don’t be hypocritical. How many times have you three made fun of my age?”
“Yeah, but we’re making fun of it for the reverse reason,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and besides Niser-Zanta’s basically the only one who calls you old.”
Lise-Mara narrowed her eyes at him, and he flinched.
“I know I’m a young Vampire, but Vampires are young for a long while. And I’ve finished puberty, not to mention I’m technically an adult by Vaelyn’s standards!”
“Vaelyn’s standards are nineteen, Asul-Zenza. And when all four of us were nineteen, we were kind of, you know, kids.”
Asul-Zenza’s face flushed.
“Now, let’s make the decision on what we read next week.”
“Ooh, how about SoPo Wars with Nothing to Do?” Xelshy-Mitter suggested.
“NO!”

***

“Asul-Zenza, I really don’t understand why you don’t visit more often! You do do a lot with your life, but most of it is choice. How come I and your Floma don’t come up often in that choice?”
“Well, I know I can see you and Floma nearly any time I want, Darseen. That and, well, you two are often busy.”
“I understand. And, sorry Anil-Kosha isn’t here to see you.”
“It’s not a problem. I understand. Besides, I didn’t exactly come here for a leisurely visit either.”
“What’s the problem? Still having trouble with the situation with Blooudine? I’m worried about her as well. She seemed to have her heart set on passing alongside him.”
“No, it isn’t that, and you reminding me of that issue makes me think my current problem is worth nothing…”
“It most certainly isn’t worth nothing, Asul-Zenza! Tell me what’s on your mind, son, and I’ll do all I can to help you.”
“…am I really like a child, Darseen?”
“Wha?”
“Earlier today I had a meeting with my book club. Not a book club meeting, just a general meeting, and while we did decide what book to read next….ergh, that’s not the point! The others there started picking fun at the fact that I’m the youngest of them. And I understand that I am still a fairly young Vampire, but damn it, I’m almost sixty-six! They seem to think it’s hilarious that this child-like Vampire already has a child of his own! It frustrates me!”
“That’s all?”
“See, I knew it! You think it’s ridiculous! And I know it is, but–”
Verde-Nenda chuckled. “Asul-Zenza, when you act like that you do seem exactly like a petulant child.”
“What!?”
“Oh, Asul-Zenza, there is a fact you need to face. Vampires and those of other species are different. Even Groundisers are different than us. Do you know why we consider Vampires of, say, twenty-two to be children even though by nearly every other species’ standard that’s adulthood? Even Groundisers who live about as long as us see that as adulthood, and do you know why?”
“Why?”
“Groundisers are typically finished with puberty by twenty-two! Not to mention, it’s also a maturity issue. A Vampire’s maturity isn’t really adult-ready until the hundreds, sometimes not even at the hundreds. While granted this is a debateable issue given nineteen isn’t exactly adult-maturity age for other species but still the legal age of majority in Vaelyn, it still doesn’t change the fact that, really, you are a lot younger than others.”
“…”
“Yes, you have finished puberty, but you’re much shorter out of it than some other people your age–save for other Vampires, of course. And we Vampires do live long. Normals of elderly ages will sometimes call twenty-year-old Normals children, it’s sort of like that.”
“I don’t understand. How come I’m not considered an adult? I have finished puberty, and even if I have immature parts to my personality, doesn’t everyone? I’d consider myself fairly responsible.”
“I would too. And you aren’t really a child anymore. Most Vampires at age sixty-five aren’t running around in diapers still, that perception of us is stupid. But you know what it’s like–just as some of other species consider themselves to be adults at eighteen or twenty or so depending on where they live, Vampires vary as to whether it’s about fifty, sixty or seventy that qualifies as a Normal’s nineteen, for example, if they’re even thinking that young.”
“I see…”
“Don’t get so overworked about it. If you do people will only pick on you more.”
“I understand. I just wish they’d at least call me like an adolescent rather than a child. That’s technically what I am, isn’t it?”
“If you’re going by Vampire standards. But it’s all a matter of maturing. We take longer, so we accommodate in terms of consideration. Besides, at least in my case, it’s hard to see you as an adult when most of my memories are of you as a child.”
“Oh, Darseen, that’s silly.”
“Bah, why should I care? But I can understand your position, Asul-Zenza. I’m practically two-hundred, quite young for a Vampire, and I feel like an old man, heh! It’s easy to feel grown up early when you’re stuck as young for a while. And I’m sure your Floma would agree with me. Now if there’s someone we can actually call old, that would be Blooudine!”
“She’s lived quite the life,” Asul-Zenza sighed.
“Say, since you’re here and this conversation seems just about done, what do you say we go for a quick fly across Vampira? My best time around each part of it is about two hours.”
“Two hours? That sounds ridiculously long. Or are you including stopping?”
“I’d never include stopping!” He said. “So, want to fly?”
Asul-Zenza grinned. “Certainly, Darseen!”

—–
“All of you in the book club might call me young. And I acknowledge that I am fairly young, still. But I will give myself this. La-Iin was not born in the midst of my puberty. I am responsible for myself. I’m more like a Normal who has not reached twenty-five yet. If Normals can be considered adults at nineteen, then I think I should at least be considered a major. But no matter if you all consider me a minor. I know what I am.”
“….um, Asul-Zenza? That was obnoxious,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and totally unnecessary. Nobody made fun of your age today.”
“Although someone already made fun of mine,” Lise-Mara said, glaring at Niser-Zanta.
“I know, I just had to say it to someone. I guess in short terms, I’m not going to get upset when you call me young any longer.”
“Let’s see how long you stick to that,” Niser-Zanta said.
“You’ll see, Niser-Zanta. I shall hold to my word.”

“Dami, what did you call for? You never told me.”
“Oh, just something ridiculous. I thought you might get upset if I said what it was.”
“You aren’t going through a Haner situation, are you!?”
“No, of course not! I think I was too burned by Mit-Sun to do that. No, it’s just one silly little thing, one of those Dami things I never thought I’d say. But since you seem to be maturing at the pace of a Normal, I might as well say it. Grow up at your own pace if you want, but don’t grow up too fast, alright?”
“Huh?”
“It’s alright, La-Iin. It’s nothing important. I’ll talk to you again soon.”