16.593.The Sewmaster

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The Sewmaster”

“Ah huh…she’s coming out nicely.”
Mit-Sun pulled the needle through the fabric once more. Finally, the project she was working on was beginning to take shape. She still felt iffy about the eyes, but figured it was fitting enough for a simple doll for a baby.
Nearby her, La-Iin was still fast asleep in her crib. Even if she hadn’t been, Mit-Sun knew she wouldn’t have been able to see the work-in-progress doll even so.
“I wonder if I should give her a name, or let La-Iin give her one…” Mit-Sun shook her head. “That can wait. For now, I just need to focus on completing her.”
The doll was beginning to come to life, and Mit-Sun could only hope that La-Iin would take well to her.

***

“My last name is too complicated!”
“Why are you complaining about this now?”
“I was thinking about what I might do if I could get married in the future. Do I end up tacking another last name onto Haunsum-Cahongyun or do I just give it to the lucky lady? What kind of screwy last name is that anyway!?”
“Your last name, dummy. Besides, I mostly just call you Haunsum Bes-Isa. Haunsum-Cahongyun Bes-Isa is only your legal full name!”
“Who cares about legality!?”
“Why do you care so much about your last name all of a sudden!? You can’t even get married! First, you’re a doll, and second, same-sex marriage is ille…”
“La-Iin’s certainly energetic today,” Beht-Soh said.
“Yeah, she’s been arguing with Bes-Isa all morning. …um, anyway, let’s not focus on her for now. I don’t think we could get through to her if we tried.”
Beht-Soh chuckled. “You’re the La-Iin expert. Oh, so, I’m sorry it took me so long to finish these, but I don’t think they would fit her anymore anyway. I forgot to ask you for her measurements, and even then it looks like she’s grown since the last time I saw her.”
“Yeah, she’s been getting taller lately. That’s a good thing, though. For a little bit I was worried she was going to stay that small her whole life. Or at least for several years…”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. It would have made it possible for her to fit these dresses. Well, here they are.”
Beht-Soh laid his dresses on the coffee table. Mit-Sun’s eye twitched. Though the dresses were well-constructed, she could tell that they definitely wouldn’t fit La-Iin–in fact, she found it hard to see how they would fit anyone bigger than a small baby.
“Um, Papa…”
“Papa?” La-Iin questioned. Mit-Sun’s face flushed. “I meant, Father…
“You’re welcome to call me Papa, you know?”
“Can we just drop this? A-anyway, these are very nice dresses, but how did you even begin to think these would fit La-Iin?”
“I told you, I didn’t get her measurements. And even though I know what she looks like now, I still can’t forget those pictures you sent me of her when she was a little baby.”
“This one doesn’t even have wing holes!”
“I….sorry….”
“Father, it’s just constructive criticism. You don’t need to apologize for it.”
“I shouldn’t have wasted any time making these, though.” Beht-Soh’s eyes were clear, but to Mit-Sun, his expression looked as if he was about to cry. Before she could console him, however, his attention turned to La-Iin, or rather, her clothes.
“Are those store-bought or did you sew those yourself?”
“Those? I made them.”
“Wow…”
“Father, it isn’t that you’re bad at sewing. These are well-constructed and all, they’re just too small for what you wanted them to be used for. It’s not that big a deal. Lots of the clothes I made for La-Iin when she was younger don’t fit her anymore. I guess I should probably do something about them someday…”
“Can I see some of the other outfits you’ve made for La-Iin?”
“Um, sure, I guess.”
“Granddami, you shouldn’t take Mama’s criticisms sitting down! Stand up to her! Oh, that would be so satisfying…”
“No, your Mama is right, I did make them too small for you to fit them.”
The conversation continued, but Mit-Sun didn’t hear the rest of it. She head upstairs, into La-Iin’s closet, and pulled out various outfits she had made for her; then she head downstairs and laid them on the coffee table.
“You’re welcome to look at all of them as long as you like. And if you want, I can let you take one home.”
“That was in my closet!” La-Iin shrieked. “You went into my room!?”
“I do all the time,” Mit-Sun said, an edge to her tone.
“La-Iin certainly seems like a handful sometimes,” Beht-Soh said absently. He was staring closely at a dress that was purple, orange and black; Mit-Sun noticed that La-Iin was also staring closely at it.
“Wow, this is really well-made. Your sewing skills are amazing, Mit-Sun! How did you get them to be so good?”
Mit-Sun began to feel shy. “Well, I had a lot of spare time when La-Iin was a baby…after Asul-Zenza left, well, La-Iin was just a baby. So I was up a lot, and I didn’t have a job to go to, and of course she wasn’t awake all the time. I wanted to be cautious with funds, so I figured it would just be easier to make her clothes myself. Also, I had been sewing before that.”
“Wow.”
“I haven’t been sewing as much lately, but I was working on a new dress for La-Iin since she’s getting taller. In fact, that dress you’re wearing right now is getting a little short.”
“No it isn’t!”
‘Why is she so indignant about that?’ “I do enjoy sewing.”
“Some of these use different materials too.”
“I try to not try and make the same type of dress over and over again. If I buy enough, the overall cost of supplies usually ends up as less than the cost of buying her store bought dresses. Although I do still get her store bought ones sometimes.”
“So La-IIn, which dresses do you like better? Mit-Sun’s or the store bought ones?”
La-Iin blinked. “My favorite dress is one Mama made…”
Beht-Soh smiled. “Even La-Iin likes your sewing skills.”
“Come on…there are people better than me.”
“You made her little doll Bes-Isa too, didn’t you?”
Mit-Sun felt her face flush. “Now you’re just complimenting me for the sake of complimenting me.”
“No, I’m really impressed. Besides, we’re family, and you gave me criticisms, so why shouldn’t I? But I can’t find anything to criticize. You really are good at sewing, Mit-Sun. You might even be able to make a business of it if you wanted to!”
“Y–you think so?”
“No. Mama’s sewing skills are for me only.”
“Well, maybe she’d like to keep it that way. I’m just saying, if you ever wanted to, you probably could make a business of sewing. Your skills are very near professional.”
“Thank you…wait, near professional? What do you mean by that?”
Beht-Soh began to look flustered. “Well, there are a few parts where the fabric clashes a little on some of the dresses…but it isn’t anything all that bad. I’m sure it doesn’t bother La-Iin.”
“Actually this dress is a little itchy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Well, of course these things aren’t always going to end up perfect. Thanks, Papa. I never thought of it that way. It is something for me to think about, though. Maybe if I can, I can actually quit Eteibreit Data Storage!”
“No!”
“But I’d need to think on it more.”
“Oh, of course. But I’ll definitely be taking cues from you from now on. Maybe I can make La-Iin a dress the same quality of one of yours.”
“Granddami, except for a select few dresses you’d probably make better dresses than Mama.”
“Hey!”
“Nah, I doubt that’s the case. Mit-Sun’s good at this. And I’m very proud of that.”
“Thank you, Papa,” she said quietly.
“You should keep your sewing only for me,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Maybe if I do decide to start sewing professionally, I’ll do stuffed toys instead,” she said. “But don’t worry, La-Iin. For now, my sewing skills are still for you. I do have to think on this more, after all.”
“Yes, you do. And so do I…”
“Huh?”
‘I never did think of that part of Mama’s skills, did I?’ La-Iin realized. ‘I could use her for more than just a slave to torture. Even though she’s been mean to me, she does have good sewing skills. She could make something nice for me, San-Kyung and our children. Maybe even a wedding dress…’
“Are…are you smiling?”
“See, I told you, even La-Iin likes your skills.”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed a deep shade of red. “You two are flattering me too much.”

—–
“Now that the doormat’s left, I demand answers! Who the hell gave me this stupid name Haunsum-Cahongyun!? How come it isn’t just Cahongyun!?”
“Because it isn’t.”
“Who did call you Haunsum-Cahongyun? I honestly don’t remember. I feel like Bes-Isa was my idea…”
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Haunsum-Cahongyun sounds familiar to me, and not just because I know Bes-Isa.”
“I guess we’ll never know, unless we can find some proof from the past.”
“If I find out that woman named me, I want you to do one of two things, La-Iin. One, change my name, or two, burn me.”
La-Iin gave no response; to Bes-Isa, her quietness was unsettling.

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.

27.573.Good and Evil Debate

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 573
“Good and Evil Debate”

La-Iin sighed.
“I can’t tell if you’ve been busy or lazy this Summer. Some days you’ll go out and you won’t be back for hours, and yet others you’re just drawing the same crappy pictures and relaxing in bed.”
“Summer is for doing both. So don’t judge me.”
“I wasn’t.”
“Yes you were. Otherwise you wouldn’t have said anything about ‘crappy’ drawings.”
“Have you looked at those things past the first time you see the completed picture?”
“Are you any better? Unless I’m doing something with you you’re either listening to the radio or laying in bed.”
“You realize I’m not autonomous, right? And are you much better!? You’re listening to the radio right now!”
“Yeah, and there’s nothing good on. How do you put up with listening to this crap?”
“There’s just nothing good on right now. The radio’s had plenty of good things on in the past. Remember the Usl-Thaehey music marathon? Remember when that guy got murdered and it was all over the news? There are good things on the radio, you just need to find the right station, that and hope that the day isn’t a weak one.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, the radio does have weak days.”
“It’s probably a weak day then,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Try changing the station. There might be something good on another station.”
La-Iin changed the station.
“…so today’s topic will be about good and evil and what things are assigned as good or evil in society.”
“Ah, an interesting topic! I’ve been questioning some of the things assigned as one or the other…”
“Ooh, wonder what this is about?”

“Good and evil?” La-Iin said. “This sounds like it will be boring.”
“What makes you say that?”
“It’s probably just going to be done in a boring way. And from a goody-goody perspective. What would be interesting about that?”
“Do you have a better idea?”
La-Iin pouted. “No.”
“So in society, there are lots of things that are considered ‘good’, lots of things that are considered ‘neutral’, and lots of things that are considered ‘evil’. But when you think about it, the situation’s really a lot more complex than most moralists would make it seem.”
“I think I know what you mean. Donating to a charity is seen as a good act, but it would be perfectly possible to donate to an evil charity, yes? And murder is seen as evil, but it does occasionally happen in self-defense, which would make it more neutral.”
“Exactly! It’s very hard to just call something ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and leave it at that. Certainly, there are some things that fall squarely on one part of the morality scale. Obviously, if you torture someone that is pretty evil, even if they do deserve it. While to sacrifice yourself for someone else would be seen as a good act.”
“Yes, but when you put more thought into it, even those things could be done with a good or evil mindset.”
“How can you say that!?”
“Well, perhaps someone sacrificing themselves for someone else is in the midst of committing a terrorist attack! They might be sacrificing their lives under the words of someone else. That’s not exactly good.”
“But how is torture good under any circumstances?”
“Well, perhaps the torture isn’t harmful and is instead being done to pleasure the victim.”

“What?”
“He’s full of shit, La-Iin. Don’t listen to him.”
“So basically most things in the world can have multiple morality meanings. It’s hard to call something good or evil and leave it at that.”
“While I do agree with you, it is possible this is done because, the majority of the time, the specific action IS being done for good or evil purposes. Most people sacrificing themselves for someone else are probably doing it because they love that person, for example. And murder is not usually committed in self-defense. Mostly it is done intentionally.”
“True, so I suppose it does make sense to consider those actions good or evil. Most people would not put much thought into the different potentials that actions have. With that portion of our talk over with, I’d like to instead focus on a new subject.”
“And what might that be?”
“Actions speaking for people. Some people claim that actions speak louder than words, then, say, what do we make of good people committing evil deeds or evil people committing good deeds? Truly a conundrum.”
“Well, that I can answer. Like with good and evil actions, there are all sorts of reasons why someone might do something contrary to their morality. Someone good might be committing evil actions for the sake of a loved one, while evil people might prefer to disguise their evil by acting good to the face of the public. Truly, that does confuse people when a good person ends up being evil.”
“That’s true.”
“It can also be speaking to their true morality, however. Someone from an evil family might claim they are evil despite their good acts so as not to earn their family’s shame. But in truth they are good, so they do good things and claim it is to disguise their evil while that is not the case. While a good person may claim they NEED to do these evil things or hide them, such as serial killers who hide their crimes and claim to be good so they can claim more victims.”
“Hm, true.”
“And many actions are considered neutral. There’s really nothing good or evil about eating unless you are, say, committing cannibalism, and even so I’ve heard that over in North Vaelyn, cannibalism occurs for the sake of survival as opposed to an evil person who is simply just that sick.”
“Hm!”
“For neutral people it is a lot easier, since as you are neutral, good and evil actions you are mostly indifferent towards.”
“I wouldn’t exactly put it like that, rather that neutral people see some good things as right and some evil things as right. Many good people do not think killing is justified, but a neutral person may believe it is justifiable under certain circumstances, such as killing a criminal or in self-defense. Though even some good people believe murder in self-defense is justifiable. The majority believe disabling your attacker is preferable, however.”
“Ah.”
“If I can give one thing to our hoax of a president, it is that she is neutral, at least at last check. Neutrals tend to be slightly less swayed by their emotions, or so said a recent study, and more rational than their good and evil counterparts.”
“How about the subject of what makes a person good or evil? What about that?”
“Well, I would put it in a simple category, I guess. If you are good, you believe in things that are mostly considered ‘good’ and you care about the people around you more. You want better for people. If you are neutral, you have beliefs from both sides or take a truly neutral approach to situations. If you are evil, you believe in things that are mostly considered ‘evil’ and your goals focus on something detrimental to society.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s a simple way of putting it.”
“All three types can be quite complex.”
“Truly. The subject of good and evil does seem simple on the outside, but it is far more complex than we might think from first glance!”
“It is, it is. After all, to use evil people as an example as they are the most common to feel this way, sometimes despite being evil you do not wish to detriment society with your goals and turn to artistic pursuits instead. Or you are good, but think that evil actions are better for the world. Of course, I would say at least in the hypothetical good person’s case, they fall more neutral.”
“Hm. People do like to define their morality for themselves, though.”
“…La-Iin? Are you alright?”

“I can’t take it anymore,” she groaned. “It’s too confusing.”
“Yeah, I guess they were getting kind of detailed. Let’s see if there’s anything else on.”
La-Iin began to change the station. “You know, I can see how it would be beneficial to pretend you’re good when you’re actually evil. But I could never do that.”
“Yeah, you’re too stereotypically evil for that.”
“Besides, I’m past the point of no return. Everyone knows I’m evil!”
“Hm, that does build up more resistance against you, though.”
La-Iin groaned. “Don’t talk using that tone!”

—–
“Mama, do you see good and evil as complicated or simple?”
Mit-Sun blinked. “I think it depends on the person. It’s mostly simple but some people make it complicated. Why?”
La-Iin sighed. “Talk shows…”
“Huh?”

24.570.The Rivalry of Bes-Isa and Choungetsu

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 570
“The Rivalry of Bes-Isa and Choungetsu”

“This is it, Choungetsu. This is the day you are going down. You thought you could get away with biting me all those times scot-free. You thought there’d be no consequence for your actions. Well guess what: I’m autonomous now, and do you know what that means?”
Choungetsu began to growl.
“There’s no point in trying to look intimidating. It won’t help you now!”
Bes-Isa grabbed Choungetsu and began to squeeze him. His eyes were nearly bulging with fear. Bes-Isa grinned to herself.
‘Finally, finally, I will have my revenge!’
Just as she was about to grind her fist into his head, she was forced backwards. Her body began to shrink until she was once again her V-Puppet size. Finally, she turned back to her V-Puppet form and the scene around her changed from the Cahongyun house kitchen to La-Iin’s bedroom.
“What the hell, La-Iin! I was having the most wonderful dream!”
“What, about a whole bunch of girls acting like rival-boy does?”
“No! I was having a dream about revenge! Damn it, it was just getting to the good part!”
“Ooh, revenge? Tell me more!”
“I’d be able to if I hadn’t been so rudely forced awake!”
“Well excuse me for wanting to take you to lunch!”
“Why would you do that? Didn’t you stop taking me because of that woman and Choungetsu? Why are you making me face them now!?”
“I needed a more trustworthy companion while I eat. Besides, you don’t get in trouble for anything you say towards Mama. I think she’s finally one-hundred-percent convinced that you speak on your own with no influence from me. And since she doesn’t punish you, it seemed like a great combination!”
“To you maybe, but if her thinking that you’re controlling all I say can change, who’s to say her punishing me won’t change!?”
“You are my V-Puppet, you know. I can just move you away from her.”
“Are you talking to Bes-Isa, La-Iin?” Mit-Sun asked. La-Iin entered the kitchen. “Why did you bring her here for lunch? I thought she didn’t like being brought down here.”
“I have my reasons.”
“I wasn’t thrilled about having to see your ugly mug after such a nice dream either, so we feel the same for once.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes.
“Bes-Isa said it, not me. Don’t worry, Mama, I don’t think you look all ugly. After all, our eyes look a lot alike.”
“You’re so conceited.”
“So?” La-Iin began to eat her lunch, laying Bes-Isa on the table next to her. As usual, Choungetsu was walking under the table between both Mit-Sun and La-Iin, waiting for them to drop a scrap of food, but when he noticed Bes-Isa his tail began to wag.
It had been a while since La-Iin had brought with her that strange and tasty doll. Though he could also remember her retaliation, a thought which made him shudder, he also knew he was beginning to get quite fast. He could remember La-Iin stumbling while he ran. With that in mind he reached up to grab the doll.
“Bes-Isa!” La-Iin yelled.
La-Iin threw herself at Choungetsu and bit into his back. Though the bite was shallow, it sent Choungetsu running off into a corner, whimpering.
“Ow ow ow ow ow….”
“It looks like he didn’t bite too hard,” La-Iin said.
“La-Iin, you really shouldn’t leave Bes-Isa dangling off the table like that. You knew Choungetsu likes her as well.”
“Blaming me, are you, Mama? Well, how come you haven’t made Choungetsu his very own Bes-Isa!? You know, if you did that I probably wouldn’t have to worry at all about him biting her!”
By the look on Mit-Sun’s face, La-Iin felt she was going to argue with her, but it softened before she spoke. “You know, you make a good point. Maybe I should do that.”
She took her and La-Iin’s plates, put them in the sink and head upstairs.
“For once Mama thought an idea of mine was a good one. Astounding.”
“La-Iin, I’m furious.”
“At me?”
“No, at that stupid little furball. I can’t stand him. This is the last straw! It doesn’t matter if that woman makes him a doll of his own and even if it somehow came to life, I don’t care about some other doll’s pain, I care about the fact that he’ll probably still go after me! This dog is impossible!”
“He seems pretty cowardly right now.”
“That’s why I’m making this request. Help me fight him, La-Iin! I don’t have autonomy like I do in my dreams. So I’m requesting your help! Slam me against him until he’s traumatized!”
“That might be pretty funny,” La-Iin mused. “After all, you wouldn’t hurt him so bad he dies, and he would be upset and all. I’m pretty mad at him myself. He went to the bathroom in the house and he bit you!”
“Precisely!”
“I just want you to answer one question for me first.”
“What?”
“Were you a Normal in your dream?” La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“Er, um, half-Normal, at least! Now come on, La-Iin! Let me at him!”
La-Iin took a fighting position and began to fling Bes-Isa at Choungetsu, who looked startled and hurt. She twirled Bes-Isa in a circle to slap him rapidly and whacked her against his face and back. When she slammed against his bite injury, however, Choungetsu’s expression changed to one of anger, and he took a defensive position.
Choungetsu reached out to nip Bes-Isa, but La-Iin’s maneuvers were faster than him. Evidently angry, he continued to try and nip her, but La-Iin always seemed to be one step ahead.
‘It’s weird to see Choungetsu so mad…’
While in the midst of that thought, he caught Bes-Isa’s leg, and she began to shriek. Cautious, La-Iin moved her to smack Choungetsu in the face, and managed to free her leg. Noticing that Choungetsu was startled, she began a rapid attack, slamming Bes-Isa against Choungetsu with such a force that he cowered to the floor and began to give a shriek-like whimper.
“La-Iin, I heard someone yell, is everything–what are you doing!”
Mit-Sun picked up La-Iin and grabbed her hand. Bes-Isa fell to the floor, and Choungetsu went back to cowering in the corner of the kitchen.
“What were you doing!?”
“Getting revenge on Choungetsu for all the times he’s bitten Bes-Isa!”
“By abusing him!?”
“It was revenge!”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. La-Iin was startled. She recognized the anger in her mother’s eyes. Frozen in place, she was carried off by Mit-Sun, leaving Bes-Isa on the floor and Choungetsu cowering in the corner.

—–
“OW OW OW OW! What was that for!?”
“As nice as it was to get revenge on Choungetsu, I already got it when I bit him! The way he reacted to you hitting him was the same way he reacted to my bite!” She sniffled. “Now I can feel the pain of Mama’s hand and it’s all your fault!”
“You didn’t have to go along with it, idiot!”
“You would have just badgered me until I did, I know it! It’s your fault, Bes-Isa, and nothing you say will convince me otherwise!”
Though the two were arguing in La-Iin’s room, Mit-Sun could hear them from her room. She sighed. ‘Any time I doubt how immature La-Iin is, I’ll make sure to remember this argument…’

22.568.Withdrawal from Secret Keeping

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 568
“Withdrawal from Secret Keeping”

“It feels like it’s been a while since I came over here!” Fer-Shi exclaimed. “I think this month we’ve been talking lots over the phone, but we haven’t really been seeing much of each other, huh?”
“During the Summer there’s extra time for things we like to do, so of course we’re focused on those and not each other. Besides, it’s easier to just go straight from school to wherever it is we want to go.”
“That’s true.”
“Now, since the theme of this visit is getting caught up with everything that’s happened over this Summer break so far, I want to show you the many drawings I’ve made over the Summer! Gaze upon my masterpieces!”
La-Iin laid on her table several pictures drawn in crayon. Fer-Shi squinted her eyes at them. Most of them she could barely make out what they were supposed to be, though she could tell by the colors used and the outline that La-Iin had put herself in more than half of them.
“Um, there’s a lot of…red.”
“In case you couldn’t tell, my love for blood has increased recently.”
“I could tell. It’s been increasing steadily since last year!” She pointed towards one of the pictures. “What’s this orange-and-yellow thing supposed to be?”
“None of your business,” she said simply.
“Then why are you showing it to me!?”
“La-Iin isn’t the little Vampire known for being a child prodigy.”
“Bes-Isa, shut up. I let you go in that dollhouse, and I thought you promised you’d be quiet.”
“If you wanted me to actually hold to that promise, you should have snapped your fingers.”
La-Iin sighed. “Anyway, most of these are just fantasies, but some of them do concern certain things I’m not sure I want you to know about…”
“Eheh heh, well, I guess I’m used to that by now. There are certain things I don’t really want to talk with you about either.”
“I would be curious if it wasn’t likely that these are very goody-goody things.”
“Well, I might not consider that…eheh…maybe I shouldn’t say that.”
“Huh?”
“I–it’s nothing. Anyway, how have you been lately? Well, I guess you’ve told me about that. Who have you been hanging out with recently then? Have you been keeping in touch with Sara over the Summer?”
“I haven’t. I don’t know her phone number and her house is complicated to get to. Also, I can’t stand her family. But that doesn’t matter. I haven’t been wanting for company. After all, I’ve gotten to spend a lot of quality time with San-Kyung!”
“…” Fer-Shi gave an uneasy smile. “I see…well, um, I can tell that’s probably been very enjoyable for you.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
“He hasn’t been the only one you’ve been spending time with though, has he?”
“No, but I haven’t spent as much time with Mama this Summer because of what happened. You might be able to guess that rival-boy was there sometimes when I went to see San-Kyung, so I suppose you can count him as well. Oh, and Dami has come over this month, and then I guess there’s that annoying Eu–”
“Ixnay, ixnay, La-Iin!”
“You?” Fer-Shi said. “No, that couldn’t have been right. Who’s “Eu”, La-Iin?”
La-Iin’s face flushed. Bes-Isa calling her out made her feel humiliated, and now that she was in this situation she could only imagine what would happen if Fer-Shi were to find out about Eul-Bok. ‘Maybe Fer-Shi wouldn’t do anything, but what might Sale-Dessu or Eul-Bok do…no, scratch that. What would Eul-Bok do…’
Slightly scared at the idea of facing his powers, she cleared her throat. “That’s confidential.”
“What!? Why!?”
“Because it’s one of her silly fake future children, that’s why.”
La-Iin flinched. “They’re not silly or fake!” She flung the doll out of her dollhouse and began to swing her around the room, slamming her into walls. Bes-Isa let out shrieks of terror and pain, and Fer-Shi watched on in horror. It was only when La-Iin began to breathe heavily that her assault came to a stop.
“Um–”
“Even if there was someone else I had been spending time with, I bet there’s people you’ve been spending time with I know nothing about!”
“Huh? Oh, well, I guess a little,” she admitted. “I think you’ve heard of Hei-Maj before though, haven’t you?”
“Hei-Maj?” La-Iin said quizzically. “Hm…wait a second, is that the hobo slave!?”
“He’s not a hobo slave! But recently I saw him for the first time in a while.”
“I see.” La-Iin sighed. “If only you were evil and he was your hobo slave. I’d ask you to bring him over here and we could utilize him for future practice.”
“Future practice…? Well, I’m definitely not letting Hei-Maj anywhere near you now!”
“Your little conversation is nice and all but does anyone care that I’m in immense pain!?”
Fer-Shi stared at Bes-Isa with wide eyes. “I do…”
“You’re in immense pain enough that I feel numb about you mentioning it.”
“And whose fault is that!? Aren’t I your best friend next to Fer-Shi!? How come you don’t beat on her!?”
“I can’t fling her around like I can with you. Besides, my preference was to make Normal jokes about her, but unfortunately she doesn’t seem to care about those much anymore.”
“Maybe she beats on you, but it shows she trusts you if she’s willing to talk with you about things she won’t even talk with me about,” Fer-Shi said. “I really do wonder if you trust me sometimes, La-Iin…”
“So jokes about your species don’t hurt you anymore, but her not wanting to talk about an acquaintance does?”
“I’m not that sensitive,” Fer-Shi said.
“I’d beg to differ, given what I’ve seen of you.”
“Do I really seem that way? I don’t mean to…”
Seeing the expression on Fer-Shi’s face, La-Iin had begun to feel conflicted. Fer-Shi seemed genuinely upset, though she could tell she was trying to hide it.
‘You know, what do I even care about Eul-Bok anyway? I shouldn’t be worrying about him getting mad. I guess I should be more worried about Sale-Dessu getting ruined…I need my ally for the future. But Fer-Shi can keep a secret, this I know! She’s kept other secrets about me before! And even if Eul-Bok somehow found out and got mad, I can overpower him anyway.’
“Maybe I’ll tell you a little bit about this ‘Eu’ now that I’ve thought on it more,” La-Iin said.
“Y-you don’t have to do that! I wasn’t trying to make you feel bad for me. I just get jealous sometimes. But you know that already. And I don’t want to butt into your secret future plans…”
La-Iin sighed. “He’s not one of them. He’s already been born. In case you didn’t hear Bes-Isa, he’s an acquaintance of mine. And he’s pretty annoying. You could say I see him more as useful than an actual friend. But he’s really annoying and he’s younger even than me!”
“Younger than you!? Wow, that’s pretty young! Is he a Vampire too?”
“No. He intrigues me because of a certain something he has. But I care more for Sara than I do for him. Bes-Isa hates him even more than I do.”
“Bes-Isa’s met him?”
“I was there once when she met up with him. I wish I wasn’t.”
“Huh…”
“Anything else you want to know?”
“No, not really. And, um, sorry if I made you feel bad for me. Really, I wasn’t trying to do that.”
“So you say, but you seem to question me on my friends often despite the fact that you have plenty of friends, including that hobo slave, who I have never interacted with and have no intention of interacting with. Besides, he’s just an acquaintance and most of my other friends I can’t even plan nefarious deeds with anyway.”
“I said I was sorry!”
“Well, this conversation is over,” she said with a huff. “Anything else?”
“Um, how has your blood power been coming along?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “My blood power! Damn it, I haven’t been giving it the focus I need!”
“Really? It seems like you mention it daily.”
“Now you’ve given me a taste for blood. And a taste for discovering more. Damn it, Summer is the best time to focus on this and I’ve already wasted twenty days!”
“I think it’s the twenty-second,” Fer-Shi said. La-Iin sighed. “Shit.”
“Well, at least you remember now, so you can do something about it soon.”
“Soon is never soon enough.”
“…what does that even mean?”
“Hey, speaking of remembering things, that reminds me of something. La-Iin, how’d you like to go somewhere with me soon? I’d like to walk around Bledger for a nature walk. Nothing like that adventure we had, just looking at nature.”
“That’s all? It sounds boring.”
“There’s plenty of interesting and violent stuff in nature, you know. That’s not what I’m looking for, but I figure it might make you want to come along.”
“You just think I’m that shallow, don’t you?”
“I know you like evil!”
“True. Evil is my passion and my calling. But there’s no guarantee we’ll find anything evil. I’ll go with you anyway. My tolerance for Mama varies and this month it has been very low. I’ll take any chance to get away from her.”
“Okay then! Does tomorrow sound good?”
“Alright.”
“Hey, La-Iin, since I’m here, would it be okay if I drew a picture?”
“What for?”
“I wanna see if I can draw better than you. I haven’t drawn in a while, but when we were little I think I drew a little better than you.”
“Is this a challenge!?”
“No!”
“So you say.” La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Challenge accepted.”
“Why do I get myself into these kinds of things…”

—–
“You know, La-Iin…”
“What?”
“Eul-Bok coming up during your earlier conversation with Fer-Shi reminded me how much I want to beat that guy to a bloody pulp. And after you flung me around the room both of those things gave me an idea. The day I become autonomous is the day I get revenge on you for the way you treated me! And this includes drooling on me as a baby, I hope you know!”
La-Iin sighed. “Like a Normal could beat out a Vampire who can use her blood powers.”
“Who said I’d be a Normal!?”
“Have you looked at yourself? Mama obviously designed you as a Normal, the stupid fool.”
“You underestimate my physical strength!”
“You have none,” La-Iin said dryly. “Don’t even bother trying, Bes-Isa. I know for certain I would overpower you. It would just be sad.”
Before Bes-Isa could respond, La-Iin snapped her fingers and her doll fell out the sky and into her hand.

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.”

14.560.The Morals of V-Puppetry

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 560
“The Morals of V-Puppetry”

“La-Iin, I have a question.”
“What?”
“Do you really think it’s fair to shove me into such a tight space while you’re doing your homework? You take FOREVER to do it. And I can feel discomfort, you know.”
“I know, that’s why I did it. I hate doing my homework, so seeing you like that out the corner of my eye gives me motivation to go on.”
“How!?”
“This homework is but a momentary distraction while I wait for puberty to enhance my abilities. Sooner or later I’ll become taller and stronger and I’ll be able to shove more than just you into a small space like that!”
“If you shove a person into a tight space the way you’ve shoved me, they’ll die, I hope you know.”
“Oh, I know.”
“I thought your niche was torture, not murder.”
“Given the choice I’d never choose to murder. Torture’s more entertaining. But don’t think I’m above murder, because I’m not.”
“Like you’ve ever killed anything before.”
“I’ve killed bugs and plants.”
“Oh, woop-de-doo.”
“If I killed a cicada in front of a Cicadin they would go crazy.”
“Yeah, amaz–actually, that might be pretty entertaining to watch.”
“Mm-hm.”
“Doesn’t change the fact that you’re an evil f@%ker for shoving me in here, though. Being a V-Puppet is equal to suffering. They’re almost the same thing.”
“Yeah, when you’re evil you do stuff like this.”
The bedroom fell silent, save for the sound of La-Iin’s pencil against paper.
“Hey, I’ve got a fun idea for you and me once you’re done with that.”
“I can do it now, you know.”
“Oh yeah. I was thinking, after what I said earlier–V-Puppetry is pretty evil. You bring this thing to life knowing that it will never be able to move on its own, well, unless you’re crazy like Sale-Dessu, but he’s a massive exception. And even if you COULD, everyone would want their hands on you for research. Before you become a V-Puppet, you’re an empty husk and people would think nothing of losing or breaking you. Maybe not even when you are already a V-Puppet.”
“Yeah, it’s pretty horrible. But don’t blame me because even if I wasn’t evil, I brought you to life when I was just a baby. Babies are pretty much always neutral.”
“Yeah, yeah, but you forgot the fun idea part. So Sale-Dessu calls himself good, right? And I know he made Eul-Bok autonomous and that kid’s his devoted toadie, but think we might be able to mess with his mind by telling him this stuff?”
“Ooh, mental torture.”
“Exactly! I wanna see if we can get a reaction out of him. Can we go?”
“Certainly.” La-Iin set down her pencil, maneuvered Bes-Isa out of the cramped space, and walked downstairs. Choungetsu greeted her with a happy bark.
“Not today, Choungetsu.”
Choungetsu stared at her in confusion.
“Where are you going now?” Mit-Sun asked. “I was about to make a snack.”
“Why, because you’re bored?”
“Don’t use that tone with me. Summer isn’t as fun for me as it is for you, you know. Meanwhile you get to go out nearly every day if you want to.”
“Yes, well, I’m going somewhere now, too. Over to Sale-Dessu’s. Just so you don’t kill me. You know, Mama, there are plenty of things you can do. Haner being useless doesn’t change that. You have your Dami and other friends and me, but today Bes-Isa got to me first so you’re out of luck. I’m going over now.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Just come back soon. I might take you up on that offer of doing something with you.”
“So long as it’s not annoying.” She walked out the door and head over to Sale-Dessu’s house. The door was locked as usually recently, so she kicked on the door. When Sale-Dessu arrived, he looked frazzled.
“Spell gone wrong or is this because La-Iin kicked the door?”
“What do you think!?” Sale-Dessu said. “You really scared me, La-Iin. I had to check out the window to make sure it was you!”
“Who else would it be? The police?”
“Um, no. Well, you two can come in. Oh, La-Iin, what do you think about tea?”
“Unless you fill it with milk it’s disgusting. Mama made me drink it once and it made me want to throw up until milk was put in. It makes my mouth go crazy!”
“Well, I boiled this tea with milk, so maybe you’ll like it? I agree, tea tastes best with milk.”
“You mean it only tastes good with lots of milk.”
Sale-Dessu beckoned La-IIn into the kitchen and set down cups of tea.
“Father, should I even bother trying to drink this?”
“That’s up to you, Eul-Bok. Try if you want. By the way, La-Iin and Bes-Isa are over.”
La-Iin heard Eul-Bok groan. “Father, why do you even bother letting them in anymore?”
“They’re my allies, Eul-Bok.” Sale-Dessu set the cups of tea down on the table. La-Iin climbed into the chair next to Eul-Bok, who glared at her out the corner of his eye.
“Milk tea? Why are you doing something as mundane as this?”
“Not all my experiments are power-related. And I had a craving. I drank this once when I was young…” Sale-Dessu shook his head. “Anyway, you can have as much as you want, La-Iin.”
La-Iin took a sip of the tea and gave it a curious look.
“What did you come here for today, La-Iin? Did you want the books I promised you? I have them in a bag somewhere. I’m sorry I didn’t get them to you last time.”
“Actually, we’re here at my request, because there’s something curious I wanted to talk with you about, Sale-Dessu. It has to do with V-Puppetry.”
“What’s that? Have you changed your mind about autonomy, Bes-Isa?”
“I still want to be autonomous as much as ever, and not in the way you have right now. That hasn’t changed, and it has nothing to do with that. In fact it’s incredibly contrary, because it has to do with V-Puppetry prior to becoming autonomous like Euly-boy there has.”
“You know, if you don’t like me, you don’t need to give me a nickname. I don’t call you Bessy.”
“If I ever hear that out of your mouth again, the day I become autonomous I’ll slug you!”
“Don’t fight!” Sale-Dessu snapped. “Er, yes? What is it?”
“I’ve been thinking about all the times I suffered at the hands of La-Iin. All the times she flung me around and all the times I’ve been left on my own, just to my thoughts…I know as much as I do because I’ve been left by the radio a lot. Eul-Bok probably knows as much as he does because you dote on him like a son. But when you really get into the nitty-gritty, V-Puppets are pretty evil, don’t you think?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re bringing an inanimate object to life, and even though lots of people make little dolls specifically to become V-Puppets, there are lots of people who buy mass-produced V-Puppet shells and make those into their V-Puppets. How would you feel if you knew that someone was mass-producing Sale-Dessu look-alikes somewhere in the world?”
“…”
“Lots of people see V-Puppets as just a toy. And when they outgrow their ‘toy’ they put it away and forget about it for years. And what about when you die? V-Puppets live until we are too destroyed to be repaired. If our master dies, we will never be able to move the same way again. We’ll just rot away, left to our thoughts, stuck in the same dark place for all eternity….”
La-Iin glanced at Sale-Dessu’s expression. During Bes-Isa’s rant it had gone from a curious one to one of horror. She smirked.
“When people have babies, most of them are looking to care for the baby, and raise it to become good, neutral or evil, but still they want to love and cherish the baby and watch them achieve a goal. They want the baby to survive and such. Some people think otherwise, but lots of people, even some evil people, think it’s horrible to use a baby in that way depending on what they did. Even some evil people think killing babies is going too far. But with a V-Puppet? We’re more disposable. Some people don’t even believe we are able to talk on our own. We’re mostly seen as the sign of a child’s first power, and are equated as being as precious as a disposable toy the child will eventually get rid of or in a best-case scenario pass down. In short, even good people tend to make V-Puppets suffer. Even when we’re carried around and loved, we’re essentially like a person who’s become little more than a vegetable. We cannot move. We can mostly just think. And only a person who really takes us seriously would care for us in a way that makes us happy. Some people even torture us like La-Iin does to me. And what she does isn’t even the worst that can be done. It’s all pretty sick, huh?”
“What’s wrong with you?” Eul-Bok asked.
“I hear a lot on the news. …hey, why’re you crying?”
“I wasn’t taught that V-Puppets are disposable,” he said. “I was taught they were just like a baby, and they should be loved and cared for. I think it’s horrible that people would do that to V-Puppets! I don’t think they’re disposable or like a child’s toy that they’ll outgrow, and I’m certain plenty of people would agree with me! I would never just abandon Eul-Bok like that!”
“Yeah, because you basically adopted him. Ah, but, well, I guess we’re not all the same, and not all of us have miserable lives. I just wanted to give you something to chew on.”
“I wish I could help make more V-Puppets autonomous,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “But I don’t want to compromise Eul-Bok, either…”
“Don’t get so worked up over it. I just wanted to make you think.”
“You’ve definitely made me think.”
“You guys upset Father. Now he’s going to be miserable for the rest of the day.”
“I didn’t say anything,” La-Iin said. “The milk tea came out okay, Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Thank you, La-Iin.”

—–
“Father, what Bes-Isa said to you isn’t still stressing you out, is it?”
“No, not really,” he sighed. “But Apeta and Mamun, they taught me a V-Puppet isn’t just a glorified toy. I know you’re just like all living beings. You have your own feelings. And you have hopes and dreams just like us people.”
“If it weren’t for what would happen if you did, do you think you would tell the world you knew how to make us autonomous?”
“I would if I could,” he said. “But with the danger my name’s caused me, the sudden fame, the changes to my life, the disruptions in yours…I could never do it, Eul-Bok. No matter how much my soul wants to.”

2.548.The Contents of a Shell

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

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

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

25.541.A New Light to the Situation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 541
“A New Light to the Situation”

“So, we’re actually visiting Sale-Dessu for once? Color me surprised.”
“We just visited him the other day,” La-Iin reminded her.
“Yeah, but we stayed for like two seconds. You sound as if you have something you actually want to talk to him about this time.”
“I do. All this romance around me has had me wondering about something.”
“So you figured the best person to go to would be the reclusive Warlock whose friends are a little girl and a doll. And who considers a glorified doll to be his son.”
“Sale-Dessu is pathetic, but the reason I’m visiting him for this has nothing to do with his patheticness. Besides, he’s my ally.”
“I suppose he’s mine as well. What do you plan on saying to him, exactly?”
“You’ll see.”
La-Iin knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door. It wasn’t long before the door opened and out peeked Sale-Dessu, his hair still maroon and his face still bespectacled.
“Really, what experiment are you doing that makes you look like that?”
“I’ll explain later,” Sale-Dessu said. “Hello, La-Iin. Is that all you came here to say?”
“No. I have another reason for being here, too.” She walked in, Bes-Isa in tow.
“Hey, Father, do you want me to clean out your test tu–” Eul-Bok glanced in La-Iin and Bes-Isa’s direction and sighed. “Oh, it’s you two.”
“They’re guests, Eul-Bok. Besides, we haven’t been getting many visits from them this year.”
“That’s been fairly pleasant. You two are nothing but nuisances and wastes of Father’s time.”
Sale-Dessu glared at Eul-Bok, who cowered away from him. “I’m sorry, Father, but they have caused you a lot of trouble!”
“I’m sure you’ve caused him even more trouble before and after you got your autonomy, you little dickhead.”
“Can we not have any fighting?” Sale-Dessu sighed. “Um, La-Iin, what did you need?”
“I’ve been having some strange situations lately, and it made me want to ask you about something. You have and can make a lot of potions for all sorts of things, right, Sale-Dessu?”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “Though I can’t always guarantee they come out right. I also know a good place to buy potions, but I don’t really like going there…”
“Well, you’ve got me now if you need someone to fetch it, but do we have the vuyong?”
“That’s a subject for another time. Why do you ask? Is there a specific type of potion you wanted to know about?”
“Yes. I wanted to know if you can make love potions.”
Sale-Dessu blinked.
“What?”
“Why would you want a love potion at your age, La-Iin?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Morbid curiosity. And I don’t exactly want it. What I want would be better off happening naturally, eh heh heh…but I was curious as to whether or not it actually existed.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “Not in the flowery way you might see in some books, no. It’s not a potion that makes you fall in love, but it can simulate the feelings. You’ll know consciously it’s a lie, and a lot of the time it can cause other problems as well. At least that’s what I’ve heard. I’ve never had any use for a love potion nor has anyone I’ve known, so I’ve never made one. But in my potion books, they say that’s what it’s supposed to do, is simulate the feelings of being in love.”
“Hm.”
“Also, I’ve heard that the feeling of being in love is dubious as to who it’s towards. Sometimes it happens to the potion-maker. Sometimes it happens to the first person they see. But most of the time it isn’t contained and the effects are present constantly, or at least towards every person the person affected lays eyes on.”
“That would not be helpful,” La-Iin said dryly.
“I heard of attempts to make a love potion that actually makes the drinker fall in love, but I heard the person used for the experiment suffered a degree of brain damage not long after drinking it. Since that is unethical in most places, it probably won’t happen any time soon.” Sale-Dessu blinked. “Err, was there anything else you wanted to know?”
“You know an awful lot about love potions, Father.”
“Well, I got curious about them after my Mamun told me they’re nothing like in the books…”
“I doubt it’s anything suspicious with someone who’s as much of a shut-in as Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “Was there something else?”
“Yes. This was the most important part. Negative potions exist too, don’t they?”
“Certainly. Potions that give you diarrhea or destroy your organs…there are probably more than these than there are of ones that work properly because negative effects often happen when a potion isn’t made properly. Although destroying your organs is a fairly rare side-effect.”
“Luckily that never happened to you, Father!”
“Well, I hardly ever drink my potions, so–”
“But are there potions with effects that are negative of the normal effect?”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “What do you mean by that?”
“I think she means like an anti-potion.”
“Exactly. Love potions are fine and all and I might be tempted to use one if they worked, but they don’t and I don’t care. What I really came here for was an anti-love potion. I need one desperately, so tell me they exist!”
“Anti-love potion? I don’t think anything like that exists!”
“Well, what about a hate potion!?”
“Hate potion!?” Sale-Dessu sighed. “La-Iin, I wouldn’t know for sure, but I’m certain that if an anti-love potion exists out there it has the same kind of effect as the love potion. It’s either the potion maker, the first person they see, or everyone. Besides, potions usually wash out of a person’s system after some hours. That’s what they’re designed to do. So even if there was an anti-love potion, it wouldn’t last forever.”
La-Iin glared at Sale-Dessu, biting her lip. Sale-Dessu was surprised to see tears building in her eyes.
“Why do you feel so strongly about this!?”
“I suppose her rival in love must be getting their feelings reciprocated.”
“It’s not that. It’s nothing like that. It’s just a bad and stupid situation and…” La-Iin dug her fingers into her hair.
“She’s frustrated because there’s a man who most likely is in love with her mother.”
“Is that all? Why would that be so bad, La-Iin?”
“That man is not my Dami, and if Mama falls in love with him I won’t acknowledge him! My Dami is my Dami and no other man is!” She took a breath. “Fine then. If there’s no anti-love potion, then if Mama falls in love with Haner I want to live with you from now on.”
“What!?”
“Didn’t you just say your, er, “Dami is your Dami”? Why not stay with him?”
“It would be so hard with Mama watching me. Although maybe I could through a loophole in staying with you.” La-Iin’s shoulders slumped. “But if she was with Haner, she might not care anyway. She might just have a new daughter with Haner and replace me.”
Seeing La-Iin so dejected, Sale-Dessu felt conflicted. He had never seen La-Iin in such a state.
“It’s alright, La-Iin. I’ve seen you and your mother before. I don’t think she’d want to replace you.”
“Maybe not, but even if she didn’t that doesn’t change the Haner problem. Maybe he wouldn’t pretend to be my Dami. Maybe it would all be fine, but I would still have to live with that horrible man!”
“Whatever did he do wrong to you?”
“I pick my enemies as much as I pick my allies! And anyone who’s a threat to any of my plans is automatically my enemy!”
“She feels quite strongly about this.”
“I can tell,” Sale-Dessu mused.
“I don’t know what to do. Maybe everything would work out, but if there’s one interference in my plans, who’s to say the rest won’t go toppling down with it? I already have enough stupid romantic problems as it is.”
“At seven?” Eul-Bok questioned.
“Well, I don’t know how to help, La-Iin. But maybe this will make you feel better. Just because one plan doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean they’ll all go toppling down. I know that from personal experience. All too well, in fact… But you do have both of your parents, and I don’t think they would stop loving you. Especially not your Mamun–I mean, mother.”
“Dami is more especially than she is. She already gets annoyed with me all the time.”
“I get annoyed with Father too,” Eul-Bok said.
“I also get pretty annoyed by you. Not that we have a mother-daughter relationship, anyway.”
“And there’s something else as well. When plans don’t go right, that’s when you learn to adapt. Sometimes your life plans will have to change. Things might work out for you and maybe your mother won’t feel the same way. But if she does, then you just adapt.”
“I have changed my plans before.”
“And you have alternative options for others.”
“I never expected a big change like this, though. I was prepared for other things.”
“Just try your best to prepare yourself for whatever happens. It might work out. And if it doesn’t, you have a backup plan.”
“That won’t keep me from hating Haner,” La-Iin growled. “Even if I went to live with Dami, what would I do about that? Mama would be with Haner if I wanted to see her.”
“Well, maybe you could find something to like–” Noticing the glare La-Iin was giving him, Sale-Dessu backpedaled. “Err, well, maybe you could learn to tolerate him. Maybe you and your mother could agree to keep him out of the scene. I don’t know what to do about that, La-Iin.”
“Geez, you said you’re evil, didn’t you? Just plan to give him an extra layer of torture.”
La-Iin’s expression became blank, but soon a wicked grin spread across her lips.
“Great, now look what you’ve done.”
“That is true,” La-Iin said. “I hate thanking people, but I’ll have to thank you two anyway. You’ve given me a fairly obvious perspective on this situation. I’ll try and prevent it at all costs, but there has to be another way to manage it. If I dwell on something stupid like this all my other plans will be worthless.”
“It’s good to view things in a positive light,” Sale-Dessu told her.
“Still, I don’t want to be around Mama right now, so…”
“You’d stay whether or not I told you to leave,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “So go ahead and stay.”
“Good. Because now that you’ve told me all about those potions and the negative potions, I want to hear a lot more!”

—–
“It’s getting fairly late. You should head home now, La-Iin.”
“I guess.”
As La-Iin stood up to leave, Sale-Dessu slid a small item towards her.
“What’s this?”
“Consider it a Warlock charm. We use these for good luck over in Witch and Warlock societies.” He smiled. “Best of luck to you, La-Iin.”
La-Iin grabbed the charm. “You make for a good ally, Sale-Dessu. You’ll be very useful in the future.”
Sale-Dessu breathed. “I’ll be seeing you, La-Iin. Best of luck to you always.”

Baal-Mist smirked to himself.
“I don’t think this plan is completely down the drain just yet. Hopefully next time he’ll move closer to that room. That yelling was pretty curious….”