27.635.The Extent of His Trauma

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

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

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

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

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6.583.Eul-Bok’s Potential

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

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

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

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

31.577.Motivated Towards Destruction

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

11.496.Attack on Astineth

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 496
“Attack on Astineth”

“So we enact the plan today, Baal-Mist?”
“I wanted to enact it as soon as possible, and waiting a day to enact a plan isn’t all that long to wait. Today we make our move.”
“Aren’t you at all worried about the possibility of retaliation? Let’s say that he really is Sale-Dessu, and that child is his son, created or naturally born. Astineth Eir-Tyuj is an incredibly powerful Witch. Don’t you think it stands to reason that her grandson and great-grandson would be the same?”
“I understand all of your concerns. But I’ve been thinking about our chances lately. We’re taking things fairly slow. I want to figure out what’s going on as soon as possible, even if it means being a little impulsive.”
“I think you’re getting a bit too rash about this though, Baal-Mist. You started off thinking things through more–what happened?”
“Is it really too rash when something that woman did caused me a personal tragedy? Perhaps I’m not thinking things through, but I need answers. If we break into his house, we may find out what we need to. Is he Astineth Sale-Dessu? Is that his son, a stolen child? Was the child perhaps somehow created? If so, how? We Witches and Warlocks possess the same power of V-Puppetry that other non-Normal species do, and we can create various moving things, but how did he make something than can move on its own, or at least, seems to be able to? Why is he meeting up with Astineth Eir-Tyuj regardless of relation?” Baal-Mist grit his teeth. “What are they planning?”
“Baal-Mist…”
“We will exercise utmost caution on this mission of ours. And even should something happen, we have numbers on our side. In the event that he does lash out at us, that is our advantage!”

***

The temperature outside was fairly neutral that day, though Sale-Dessu felt as though he was sweating all over. He glanced around at his neighbors–none of them seemed to be outside at the moment.
“Do I look like a normal kid to you, Father?”
Sale-Dessu was snapped out of his thoughts by Eul-Bok’s voice. As opposed to his usual lighter garb, today he was wearing one that covered all his ball joints. “Um, yes, covered up like that, you do. But we have to be careful. I don’t want to be out for too long just in case.”
“I know you don’t. But you’re the one who said I could use a little sunning, so don’t blame me!” Eul-Bok stretched. “Hey, did I tell you I turned a pile of rocks into crayons the other day? Actual crayons! It was so exciting!”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Good job, Eul-Bok! You’re improving so fast, it’s startling.”
“Between you, my own practice, and the practice that Grepeta gave me the other day, there’s a lot I understand about using my powers now. I think I really will become better than you someday!”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “I’m glad you have that confidence, Eul-Bok.”
“Well, it’s not because I’m conceited or anything. It’s just, I’m related to two of the greatest powerhouses of the Astineth family! Well, technically, I’m just your V-Puppet, but I forget that sometimes nowadays, you know?”
“Do you remember that you’re only one year old? A one year old Warlock would still be in a crib. You can sleep in your own bed.”
“Yeah, I know. Hey, speaking of, do you think with my powers I could have my very own V-Puppet?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “I don’t know.” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “I suppose hypothetically, but you’re still a V-Puppet even in that form. Would it really be possible? Now that’s something I might like to look into, actually.”
“I don’t think I’d want to even if I could. I’m curious to try, but I don’t want to take the risk. I mean, I remember what it was like before I could move my body on my own. And I definitely like now a lot better. If I had a V-Puppet, I’d want him or her to become just like me, but I don’t know if that would be so convenient for you. Besides, I like having this time with just you and me, Father!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok. I know you said you don’t want to try, but I think you would make a very good–”
Sale-Dessu flinched at the sight of a group of people walking down the street.
“This is inconvenient,” one of them said. “If you hadn’t forgotten the exact location we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“We were rushing that last time, though,” another said. “I was so scared I didn’t have time to think about where we were.”
Sale-Dessu froze in place. The group, two Witches and three Warlocks, were on the same sidewalk he and Eul-Bok were, and heading in the direction of his house. There didn’t seem to be any way he could make it back without being spotted by them.
‘Eul-Bok is covered, though. But they’re Witches and Warlocks too…’
Nervous about the possibility of being spotted, he grabbed Eul-Bok’s hand and walked slowly back towards his house, his eye on the newcomers ahead of him. He was grateful to Eul-Bok for staying silent.
He froze back in place when the group turned around. At the front of the group, a white-garbed Warlock began to smirk.
“Well, what do we have here,” he said quietly. “Be on guard. There’s no guarantees as to what he might do.”
Sale-Dessu’s mind drew a blank before spiraling into fearful imaginations. ‘Do they know me? Are these the same kinds of people who followed Apeta around!? No, they couldn’t be! There’s no way they could know where I live now!’
“What do we do? He’s making no move,” one whispered.
“Wait and see. There isn’t anything we can do right now.”
Beside him, Eul-Bok looked up, his expression one of confusion and concern.
“Father, what’s going on?”
“Quiet, Eul-Bok!” He snapped. Eul-Bok backed away.
“Oh, this seems like it’ll be even more of a lucky day than I thought!”
The assailants each reached for their wands. Sale-Dessu reacted before they could, grabbing his wand and blasting them with a dazzling light. He grabbed Eul-Bok and glanced around wildly, searching for someplace to hide him.
“Father, what’s–”
“Stay as quiet as possible and don’t move at all,” he whispered. “Prepare your wand just in case.”
“Father–”
Sale-Dessu covered his mouth. ‘I need to think calmly. I can’t take him back home or else they’ll know exactly where I live. And if I react wildly, they’ll overpower me. What would my Apeta do!? What did she do in the past? Think, Sale-Dessu!’
“Catch him while his guard’s down!” The white-garbed Warlock yelled, rubbing at his eyes. The other assailants still seemed stunned, but two of them had come to action. Sale-Dessu flashed the beam of light at them again just as an idea came to mind.
‘When that Witch assaulted my Mamun, Apeta put her under mind control. But I don’t have the time to do that! That group won’t stay stunned for long. I need a quicker solution!’
Sale-Dessu swallowed hard. He tried to think back to the offensive spells he had been taught by his grandmother and retaliated against the assailants with rapid beams of light and dizzying spells. Two fell to the ground, holding their heads, while the others staggered on their feet, looking disoriented. Sale-Dessu tried to think on another spell he could use, oblivious to the white-garbed Warlock’s recovery.
“That won’t work forever, Warlock!” The white-garbed Warlock yelled. He fired a stun shot at Sale-Dessu and sent him falling to the ground, his mind whirling and his thoughts in a panicked frenzy as he looked up at his assailant.
“This is perfect. Going better than I thought. But, no need to waste time with wasting breath.” He pointed his wand in Sale-Dessu’s direction, a confident smirk on his face.
Before he could fire his intended spell, Sale-Dessu finished his canting of a spell. The spell wasn’t having exactly his intended effect, but it was working well enough–the white-garbed Warlock had been brought to his knees, cringing in pain. It gave Sale-Dessu enough of a timeframe to recover and hit him with another dizzying spell. The Warlock gasped in pain and held tight to his knees.
Sale-Dessu gasped and began to look for Eul-Bok, fearing the worst, and was surprised to see him standing in front of the other assailants, who had collapsed to the ground and had begun to groan.
“Di–did you do that?”
“I did, Father! I wasn’t going to let you get taken down by these people ’cause you were panicking. Besides, I had to do something.”
Sale-Dessu bit his lip. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more help…”
“Don’t be. The only reason I was able to take care of those others is because I was studying an experiment you did last year. I had no guarantee it would work. I guess that was pretty reckless of me.”
Eul-Bok’s expression became serious. He pulled Sale-Dessu a distance away from the dazed assailants. “Father, this isn’t a permanent solution. Who knows what these people want? If they’re desperate enough and really powerful, they’re going to come back to this neighborhood sooner or later. So you and I need to figure out what to do about them.”
Sale-Dessu noticed the white-garbed Warlock reaching for his wand. “You’re right, Eul-Bok. We need to hurry and come up with a solution. But give me a moment.” Sale-Dessu grabbed the wand away from the white-garbed Warlock, then cast his spell again. The Warlock doubled over in pain, his eyes glazing.
“Is he going to be alright, Father?”
“He’ll be fine…” Sale-Dessu trailed off as he glanced back at the Warlock. Tears began to stream down his face.
“Father!?”
“We’re going to have to leave this place, aren’t we? They probably know we live in this neighborhood now. How much longer will it be until they figure out which house we live in?”
“But where would we live if we leave here? Father, there has to be something we can do!”
Sale-Dessu didn’t respond. Eul-Bok growled. “If you won’t handle the situation, then I will! We are powerful, Father. There has to be a memory loss spell we can use on them.”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “Eul-Bok, something on that scale would wipe someone’s entire memory!”
“Well, there has to be something we can do! You told me about mind control–do you know how to do it? If you do, we can keep them under control until we figure out how to handle this situation.”
“I–I do, but…”
“You have to, Father. It’s our best shot!”
Sale-Dessu nodded. ‘I have the chance to think things through now. If I can keep them under mind control, not only could I deal with them, but I could visit Apeta for help.’
“Hurry!”
Sale-Dessu nodded and walked over to each of the assailants, placing a hand on their heads. Eul-Bok watched on in awe as Sale-Dessu began to chant a spell under his breath for each one. Once the spell was finished, cautiously, he commanded one of the assailants to move.
The white-garbed Warlock moved his arm.
“As soon as we’re done with these five, we need to talk to Apeta,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok nodded.

—–
“I can’t believe this has happened to you, Sale-Dessu,” Eir-Tyuj sighed. “What did you do to get yourself in such a situation?”
“That’s just the issue, Apeta! If they weren’t Witches and Warlocks, I might think there was something else going on, but I can’t help but wonder if these are the same types of people. But I don’t know what to do! You said people know your identity in this neighborhood, didn’t you? I can’t stay here either!”
“It’s simply not feasible. And you are right in your assumption that memory erasure spells erase all of one’s memory. Not even I was able to find a way to perfect them to a point where they discarded of a particular one, partially because you cannot figure out exactly how a given person remembers a memory.”
“What do I do, Apeta? I barely have any vuyong on my person. I paid off my house! I’ve been living there for years! It was all so perfect!”
“There’s got to be something we can do to keep on living there!”
“You two sure are desperate, aren’t you? And I can understand why. But remember, they don’t know which house you live in, do they? I can provide you with a cover plan, but believe me when I say your best plan of action would be to eventually find a new residence if this keeps up.”
“I…I understand, Apeta.”
“There are security spells that exist, those of which that I used on my house. These will protect you from some of their attacks. I’d also advise that you begin living pseudonymously from here on out. If you change your appearance and assume new names, after a period of time they may believe you do not actually live in the neighborhood. But remember, they too are Witches and Warlocks–you will have to exercise utmost caution when it comes to doing this. The plan could fall through. Continue on like that until you dissuade them or you can find a new place to live–a safer place.”
“I…I understand, Apeta.”
“If you need my help, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“That will only prove our relation, Apeta.”
“You have a point. But Sale-Dessu, this is your only shot. Do what you can to avoid provoking these intruders any further. Who knows? Perhaps you will be lucky and your pseudonymous identity will help you keep that house. But never let down your guard.”
Eir-Tyuj went on about further details, but Sale-Dessu barely heard them. ‘This is all my fault. I had to pick today to go out with Eul-Bok, and now we’re in this situation. I had a decade and so of freedom. I thought I was finally free of everything that happened. But every time I think life is going right, something like this happens. There’s no escape for me, is there? So long as I’m an Astineth, they’ll always be after me.’
He glanced at Eul-Bok. ‘And if I keep him an Astineth, they’ll be after him, too.’

2.487.The Spies Advance

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 487
“The Spies Advance”

“Baal-Mist, what’s the sudden meeting for?”
“Yes, I was practicing my water skills when you called. What’s the sudden meeting for?”
Baal-Mist stared at his companions, his expression unreadable. “I have been thinking about our research into the mysterious man who has some relation to Astineth Eir-Tyuj. And I’ve realized I don’t think our current methods will work.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean watching him the way we are. In this way that we’re currently watching him, if he’s got any sense he or that child of his will pick up on us eventually. We’ll be spotted and outed and who knows what he might do to us? We don’t know the extent of his powers, nor how willing he would be to call the police. It’s not safe and it’s not effective–we learn nothing from it aside from a few incidental tidbits.”
“There are ways we can continue to use it that won’t get us caught and will help us learn more, Baal-Mist. There’s several ways for everything.”
“There might be several ways for everything, but I have an idea that I believe will be much more effective. And that’s tapping that man’s house.”
“Huh?”
“There are many devices out there that allow you to listen in on people, and of course we Witches and Warlocks are capable of making our own. If we tap his house and set up a recording program to record all that is heard from his house, we could learn personal and intimate details about him.”
“Isn’t that rather…stalker-like? The way we’re going about things could already get us in trouble. And you’re the one who talked about Warlocks acting on unethical thoughts.”
“This isn’t the most unethical thought I’ve ever gotten. And besides, if this Warlock is doing something truly suspicious, do you want to wait until we’re all trapped in a bad warped reality, or would you rather find out what’s going on by doing something that’s a little questionable?”
“I suppose you have a point there…”
Baal-Mist nodded. “Through this we might learn this man and his child’s names, the truth behind this child of his, the things he might be planning to do to our world. We could learn all this, once we overcome one problem.”
“What’s that, Baal-Mist?”
“In order to get the most effective recordings of his day-to-day life, we would want to plant the tapping device inside his house. To do that would be by far the riskiest thing we have attempted–but the payoff from it would be impressive.”
“I don’t see how you expect us to do this, Baal-Mist. It seems impossible. Certainly the payoff might be incredible, but we don’t know this man, as you said. Who knows what he might try to do to us if he spots us?”
“I understand that. I know I’m the one who voiced concerns about such a situation. But the risk is well-warranted for the payoff, and we might be able to fight him off. And I told you before my reasons for doing this are personal. To be honest, I’m getting a little desperate when it comes to figuring out the truth about this man, that and his relation to Astineth Eir-Tyuj…”

***

“I think I’ve improved a lot when it comes to my powers, Father. Do you think I might rival you someday?”
“Who knows?” Sale-Dessu sighed.
“What’s wrong, Father?”
“Oh, um, it’s nothing.”
“Father, you know I’m really good at picking up on when you’re sad. Don’t bother lying and tell me what’s wrong!”
Sale-Dessu gave another sigh. “It’s petty though, Eul-Bok.”
“Your sadness isn’t petty to me,” Eul-Bok huffed. “Come on, Father!”
“I’m not sad about it though. It’s just…I’ve done all this before, and I’m starting to get a little bored by it…”
“Well, why didn’t you just say so? I don’t mind moving up to the more advanced stuff early.”
“That isn’t what I was going for…”
“Isn’t what you were going for, is what you were going for, doesn’t matter. If you’re up for it, I’m willing to take on the big challenges. Or would you rather I study on my own, Father?”
“No, I’m glad to be helping you! But, hm, studying on my own did help me when I was learning how to use my powers…perhaps it would be beneficial for you if I let you do so too.”
“I wouldn’t mind!”
“Someday you might be practicing your powers on your own. So it would be helpful to–” Sale-Dessu stiffened and glanced around the house.
“What’s wrong, Father?”
“I thought I heard someone,” he said. Eul-Bok sighed. “It’s probably La-Iin, Father. Hold on a second and I’ll tell her to get out of here.”
“If La-Iin’s here, she might need something from us.”
“Last time La-Iin was over, she just wanted to ask us what we thought about her.”
“Well, let’s both check, all right?”
The two walked to the living room, but nobody was there. Sale-Dessu flinched. “I heard it again! Wherever that noise was coming from, it wasn’t here!”
“Do you think a mouse got in?”
Sale-Dessu pressed his fingers together. “Or maybe Apeta teleported into the house. No, I think I’d recognize the sounds of teleportation….calm down, Sale-Dessu! It’s probably nothing.”
“Let’s check, Father.”
Eul-Bok led the way through the house as they searched for the source of the noise. Every now-and-then the strange, scuffling-like sound would reach their ears and they would follow it, feeling apprehensive.
“Father? It’s okay.”
“I know it is. I just really expected it to be La-Iin.”
“Are you scared of mice, Father?”
“No, it’s not that…” He sighed. “I know I haven’t told you everything about my life growing up, but even though it’s been years since anything happened, I always feel a little on-edge. I worry about what would happen if I had someone following me again.”
“Why?”
“I’m my Apeta’s grandson. My Apeta’s a well-known Witch. I ran into a few troubles because of that. Small ones, most of the time.” His mother’s death flashed in his mind. “But not all of the time.”
“Well, it couldn’t be anything like that. And if it is, we’re both powerful Warlocks! We could get them to leave us alone.”
“That’s what caused the troubles in the first place…I’ve lived in this home for a long while. And now I’m not just worried about myself. I’m worried about you, too. I’ve finally started really liking this house. It’s set up just for me. I have an ally now, and I have you, If somebody was following me, I have no doubts that they would be interested in your origins. I don’t want anything to happen to you because of me…”
“Father…you know, I can handle–”
The noise sounded again. “I’ll talk with you about this later, Father. Just in case.”
Sale-Dessu nodded and followed Eul-Bok through the house. The noise got louder before coming to an abrupt halt.
“What was that?”
“I don’t know. But it’s coming from here!”
The two burst into the room, both feeling on-edge. A breeze hit their faces almost immediately.
“I could have sworn I closed this window…”
“You don’t use this room much, do you, Father?”
“I guess not…still, wasn’t this window closed?”
Eul-Bok walked over to close it. “It’s just a little mistake. Well, a dangerous one, but I bet the most danger we were in was the possibility that La-Iin would sneak inside.”
“…”
“It’s alright, Father. Nobody’s coming for you because of Grepeta. It was just an open window. And look! It’s a little windy outside. No wonder we heard all those strange noises!”
“…you’re right,” he said with a nod. “It’s nothing. Sorry if I worried you, Eul-Bok.”
“Oh, no worries, Father! I wasn’t really worried.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Glad to hear it. …do you mind if I sit down for a little before we continue practice? Between the constant practicing and this fear, I’m exhausted.”
“Sure, Father. You sit down for as long as you need, and I’ll study my powers on my own!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “I look forward to seeing what you come up with.”
‘That’s right. It’s nothing. And even if it was, I have a lot more power at my disposal than I did when I was young. I would be safe. And Eul-Bok would be too.’
Despite those thoughts and the proof that nothing was wrong, Sale-Dessu still felt unnerved as he head to his bedroom and sat down.

—–
“Sure, Father. You sit down for as long as you need, and I’ll study my powers on my own!”
Baal-Mist turned off the recording. “Well, that definitely proves this child of his, whatever he is, is almost certainly a Warlock, and definitely a non-Normal.”
“Did you hear some of the other comments? They were suspicious of us. We barely made it out of there without being caught.”
“Not to mention the fact that it seems like that room isn’t in common usage.”
“You underestimate the range of that bug, then. Not that it will grab them when they’re in the living room, of course, but we might pick up on some interesting information anyway. Already we have some new tips. Such as, who might this La-Iin be? Who is Grepeta?”
“Grepeta is a term for a Witch or Warlock’s great-grandmother, isn’t it? I heard that child of his using the term. Do you think it’s possible that this man’s relationship to Astineth Eir-Tyuj is that of grandmother and grandson?”
Baal-Mist smiled. “That is a good theory, Uei-Buk. And if that’s the case, then I think we might just know the identity of our little mystery man here.”
“What might that be?”
Baal-Mist looked up. “With this information, I think the most likely identity of this mystery man is that of Astineth Sale-Dessu.”