14.530.A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 530
“A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart”

“This stinks.”
“What now? I know you got in trouble for all the damage you caused yesterday, but is it worse than I thought?”
“It actually has nothing to do with my blood tests. Those are perfect. It’s something else entirely.” She growled. “Why is everyone else in such a stupid place!?”
“What?”
“Mama keeps hanging out with that Haner guy and she was feeling bad about her parenting, and it’s just so annoying and I have a bad feeling about what it could mean. Fer-Shi’s getting more irritated with my evil than she used to and she’s down about not having a dream! San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina are still looking sad even though I gave them an inspirational speech! I haven’t even seen Dami, Ai-Reia always hates me, and I haven’t seen Sale-Dessu either. I hate it. Every time it seems like something’s going right lately, something else goes wrong.”
“My, that’s a lot of pent-up frustration.”
“I may complain about you a lot, but you’re a saving grace, Bes-Isa. You’re not as annoying as the others are being right now. There’s even a girl at school who I agreed to be somewhat-friends with called Sara, but she doesn’t have any confidence at all.”
“I’m flattered that I’m the saving grace in this whole situation.”
“I need to see someone who isn’t like all those others. I need some advice, but you can’t give me the advice I need.”
“I’d protest, but point taken. I’m not the biggest fan of all those people you mentioned. Hey, wait a second. I’ve got an idea. If you need to talk to someone who’s not me and who’s not being a total idiot or depressia, what about that girl–you know, the one who claims she’s a ghost?”
“Imagination?”
“Yeah, her. That woman wouldn’t mind because you’d be taking Choungetsu off on a walk. That’d give you time to cool off. And after that you could always stop by the Astineth house. Complain about Sale-Dessu all you like, but he’s just been locked in his house recently. He might not be as depressed or annoying as all the others.”
“Maybe, but he has Eul-Bok there, too. I think Imagination is my best bet. Good idea, Bes-Isa.”
“Why, thank you, La-Iin. And since I’m such a genius as to have suggested that idea, may I come along? I haven’t gotten to see much of this little ghost-girl as you, the furball and Fer-Shi. And I have my own curiosities about her.”
La-Iin nodded. She head downstairs, put Choungetsu on a leash and head out.

***

“This part of town is pretty spooky. You know, you should come by here more often. It’d make for a perfect base or home away from home.”
“Maybe. You know, it’s times like these I wonder how I could ever get irritated with you, Bes-Isa. Then I remember the irritating things you can say.”
“Huh!”
“But you’re still not as irritating as Choungetsu can be,” she said. Choungetsu turned around and cocked his head. “And even he’s still not as irritating as everyone else is being.”
La-Iin turned into the graveyard and was surprised to see that there was no sign of Imagination.
“Maybe she was smart enough to leave for once.”
“Aw, damn. I was really betting on meeting up with her.”
“Why? You barely know her.”
“I have my reasons.”
“Well, I’d like to know–”
Choungetsu stiffened, his eyes widening. La-Iin turned in the direction he was staring.
“La-Iin!” Imagination called out. “I didn’t expect to see you here! Why’d you come to the graveyard? Did you bring Fer-Shi?”
“No, I didn’t. But I didn’t come here to play.”
“We never play, though, so why would you? That makes sense. Why’d you come here, then?”
“I want to talk.”
“What about? If it’s about me being a ghost, that’s boring me. I already told you several times I’m a ghost, and even if you don’t believe me I know it’s true and that’s all that matters.”
La-Iin shook her head. “It’s not about you being a ghost, it’s a stupid problem I have.”
“Aw, your problems probably aren’t stupid,” Imagination said. “What’s wrong, La-Iin?”
“Bes-Isa wanted to talk to you first.” She levitated Bes-Isa up to Imagination’s face. Imagination flinched away slightly.
“Hi, Bes-Isa. You’re a V-Puppet. I remember you a little. I never had a V-Puppet. What’s it like being a V-Puppet?”
“Can you focus on one subject?”
“I am. V-Puppetry.”
“It’s all I know, so how am I supposed to explain it? What’s it like being autonomous?”
“It’s a little different depending on whether you’re dead or alive. Is that what you wanted to talk about?”
“Nope. It was just a little morbid curiosity about what your life was like before you claim to have died. Was the world a darker place back then?”
“I guess a little. Back when I was alive there were a lot of things different. When I left the graveyard today I wandered around Bledger and I saw a lot of Dualbreeds. It’s weird because back when I was alive, if you saw a Dualbreed they probably had Normal in them just like me. But I saw a Minomix-Birdmix and a Lizardfoot-Snowliv! Sheesh, how can you be a Snowliv when it’s getting so hot outside?”
“I wonder that too.”
“But yeah, there are some things different. Though if we lived in Manemica, I could probably tell you even more things that were different. Manemica and Vaelyn are pretty different places. Though I saw a few Manemican influences here in the modern-day, heh heh.” Imagination smiled. “Well, I can tell you more, Bes-Isa, but I’m worried about La-Iin. What’s wrong, my friend?”
La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. “Except for Bes-Isa, everyone in my life is being annoying. I wanted to come to you because I figured you wouldn’t be annoying me, or at least not as much as they are..”
“…thank you,” Imagination said. “But I don’t know how I can help…”
“Recently I got something that’s really great for me. An amazing power I wasn’t supposed to get until I was older.”
Imagination clapped. “Good for you, La-Iin!”
“But then everything went to shit!” Imagination flinched. “Everyone either started being depressing or annoying. And I can’t stand it! This power is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m sick of everyone ruining it!”
“Why are they so sad? Is it because of the power?”
“No.”
“Have you tried making them happy?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Hm…” Imagination paced around the graveyard. “That sounds pretty annoying, La-Iin. I don’t think it would make me angry, but I can see why it makes you angry. And you can’t solve it, hm…”
“It’s not fair,” La-Iin huffed. “I’m evil. Sometimes I wish I was more like San-Kyung and I didn’t care about people as much. But I don’t want to be like he is now.”
“Aw, that’s okay, La-Iin. Caring about people is a good thing. It makes you feel better if nothing else. At least it did for me. You’re lucky because you have friends. I didn’t really. But now I have you and Fer-Shi and Choungetsu, and maybe Bes-Isa?”
“We’ll see about that, ghosty girl.”
Choungetsu looked up at her with a smile.
“Well, whatever happens, don’t let them get you down. You should enjoy your brand-new power to the fullest. And don’t feel sad about liking people. I think everyone likes someone!”
“Huh.”
“You like me and Bes-Isa and Choungetsu. And you have me, and Bes-Isa, and Choungetsu! So while these people are being all sad, I say you focus on the people who aren’t, and then also focus on yourself. You don’t always have to focus on other people, you know?”
“I know that.”
“I knew you did. You’re pretty smart for a little kid.”
“It was good to get that off my chest,” La-Iin breathed.
“Yeah, you look a lot more relieved now.”
“You really do. That’s good.”
“Maybe I should show you my new power. After all, you don’t talk to anyone else.” La-Iin grinned.
“GIVE ME YOUR BLOOOOD!”
“Eek! La-Iin, I don’t have any blood!” Imagination said, dashing away. La-Iin chased after her in the air. Soon enough, Imagination’s shrieks turned into giggles, and La-Iin found herself having genuine fun for what felt like the first time in a while.

—–
“Let’s see if he’s being a depressio.” La-Iin knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door. No response.
“Maybe he’s asleep.”
“We’ll see about that!” La-Iin banged herself against the door. “SALE-DESSU! OPEN UP!”
As she did that, memories of her time in the graveyard flashed in her mind–she was certain her fangs had met Imagination’s skin, but they had sunk into nowhere. Perhaps she imagined it in the speed of the moment, but it made her feel a mixture of unease and excitement.
La-Iin waited there so long she was ready to leave, but soon enough the door opened and out peeked a familiar face, though now wearing casual clothes, glasses and with maroon-colored hair, La-Iin could still recognize it as Sale-Dessu.
“La-Iin,” he said quietly. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Why do you look like that?”
“An experiment,” he said. “What brings you here?”
“You know what does.”
“Just give me a moment and you can come on in, alright?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes, but to her surprise it took shorter for Sale-Dessu to set up than it did for him to open the door. “Come on in, then.”
La-Iin smiled to herself as she and Bes-Isa went inside.

28.513.Spacebound

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 513
“Spacebound”

It was freezing cold outside, to the point where La-Iin felt as though her skin would harden from the exposure, and yet despite that, all the people around her were thoroughly enjoying themselves, seemingly oblivious to the cold.
Fer-Shi was playing with moondust, and Mit-Sun, Asul-Zenza, and Sale-Dessu were dancing to a melody Sale-Dessu had created using his powers. Nearby Fer-Shi, Ai-Reia was tracing mathematics into the moondust, and Choungetsu leaped around, looking more excited than ever. What surprised La-Iin most was the sight of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina, who were wearing sunglasses and nothing else save for their underwear.
The sight and the sound of such cheerful people made her wonder how parts of the moon could ever become so desolate as to strand her away from family and potential friends. Now that part of her past didn’t matter–all around her were cheerful people who were enjoying their time on the moon thoroughly, without a care in the world.
“Whoa, aren’t those boys cold? Isn’t that orange one a pumpkin?”
“He is,” La-Iin said. She had her own questions about why they would be laying there almost naked, but before she could approach them, Ai-Reia growled at her.
“Watch where you’re walking! You stepped on my studies!”
“Why do you study in moondust?” La-Iin asked.
“What else is there to study on? Argh. Now I have to start all over.” She turned away from La-Iin and began to trace a new problem.
“Moondust sure is fun, but it doesn’t hold up very well!” Fer-Shi said. She was covered in moondust from nearly head to toe. “Wanna play with me, La-Iin? You can make some pretty amazing moondust castles!”
“Maybe later,” she said. Fer-Shi nodded. “Alright then! I’ll be waiting!” She went back to work on her moondust castle, shaping in small windows and soon adding small clumps of moondust inside of them that La-Iin was unsure of whether or not they were supposed to be people.
La-Iin stopped next to San-Kyung, who lowered his sunglasses. Dosa-Mina soon did the same. “Hello there, little Vampire girl! What’s up?”
“Why are you lying there naked?”
“We’re not naked. We have our underwear on.” San-Kyung said. “Now scram.”
“It’s too hot to be walking around in all of our clothes, don’t you think?”
“It’s always cold here! Are you crazy!?”
“Nope. It’s plenty hot here.” And with that, both boys lifted their sunglasses back up.
“Am I the only one here who thinks it’s cold?”
“It has been getting pretty hot lately,” Fer-Shi said.
“You must over-sensitive to any cold, then,” Ai-Reia sniffed.
“It feels plenty warm, La-Iin, sweetie. Maybe you’re just too adjusted to the cold?” Asul-Zenza suggested.
“I can’t tell the difference much. I spend all my time stuffed into your dress so I always feel your body heat.”
“I’m surprised that someone who’s wearing more clothes than most of us is cold,” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“…there sure aren’t many people here to give an opinion, are there,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Not since most people moved to Planet Jiunan, no,” Dosa-Mina said. “Say, that could become a problem soon. All of us on the moon could end up dying out. We might have to start repopulating soon. I’d do that with San-Kyung, but unfortunately two males aren’t compatible ninety-nine percent of the time.”
San-Kyung’s face went bright pink. “What!?”
“That could be a problem, considering most of you here are children,” Asul-Zenza said. “Mit-Sun, what about–”
“No.”
“I wasn’t going to suggest myself!”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “That you had to say that makes me think you were going to.”
“I–I don’t know if I could do that,” Sale-Dessu mumbled, twiddling his thumbs. “Maybe there’s something I could use to help that along, though…”
“I’m too young to do that,” Fer-Shi said. “And I think Ai-Reia is, too.”
“Hm.” La-Iin stared at San-Kyung. “Well, the day that I’m able to breed, I’ll gladly do that with you, San-Kyung.”
San-Kyung’s face turned red. “Why does everyone want to breed with me!?”
“Your genes must be irresistible!” Dosa-Mina said.
“What’s wrong with you!? You know, I’ve got a few questions to ask about that behavior of yours…”
Bored by the conversation, La-Iin walked over to Fer-Shi. “Let’s make that moondust castle now.”
“Alright!”
The two set to work on a large moondust castle, per La-Iin’s suggestion. While the two girls began to construct it, Ai-Reia gave them tips on how to hold up the construction.
“You know, if you were looking for help with constructing that, you should have come to me,” Mit-Sun said. “I used to work in construction.”
“How am I supposed to know that? You did that before I was born. And it’s not like you’ve been here for me the entire time.”
“What happened to you was not my fault!”
La-Iin huffed and went back to work on the moondust castle, with Ai-Reia and now Mit-Sun also coaching her. As the castle took shape, Choungetsu leaped over a few times to play around inside, and was always shooed out, running over to Asul-Zenza’s side.
The further along construction got, the more curious La-Iin was as to if whether or not San-Kyung might help, but after he had complained to Dosa-Mina, he had gone back to relaxing, though she noticed he was now wearing his shirt as well. Meanwhile, Asul-Zenza was now playing with Choungetsu, who was dirtied with moondust, and Sale-Dessu was casting aesthetic spells that enamored even Ai-Reia and Mit-Sun for a moment before they went back to work on the castle.
“I think we might be almost done! Thanks, La-Iin! This has been a lot of fun!” Fer-Shi said.
“That’s fine. You know, I’ve always wanted to rule over a planet with an iron fist. A moondust castle might be the perfect place to start. I can see it now–all of you, becoming my loyal servants, and in return I would help to produce more by utilizing San-Kyung’s DNA. Wow, it would be amazing.”
“Uh…? Well, I guess it might be pretty cool to be a Princess, but I think it’d also be really hard. Though I guess there aren’t many people on the moon.”
La-Iin gave Fer-Shi a quizzical look. “What made you think I wanted to be a Moon Princess?”
“Er, um…”
“Never mind.” She peeked out one of the windows of the moondust castle. “Life here has never been better, though. Everyone is always relaxed. It’s a lot better than spending your time alone on the moon.”
“La-Iin…”
She stared up, and recoiled at the bright light of the sun. “Was the sun always so close to the moon?”
“I wasn’t paying attention,” Fer-Shi said. She too flinched away. “But wow, it is really close now, isn’t it?”
“This must be why it’s so hot lately,” Sale-Dessu said. La-Iin noticed he had begun to make small decorations that he was sticking onto the moondust castle. “How have you not noticed this? Aren’t Vampires sensitive to the sun?”
“Aren’t Warlocks supposed to be blue?” La-Iin sneered.
“U-um, no…”
“I’ve heard of this before!” Dosa-Mina said, sitting up. “They say that over all planets, the sun is the true ruler–the place from which everything will return to. There’s been legends about the moon absorbing the sun for thousands and thousands of years!”
“I’ve heard of those before,” Ai-Reia said. “Didn’t those legends say that in the nine-thousandth-and-somethingth year of the moon, the sun would ultimately destroy it and be tamed for another nine-thousand and some years until it was again hungry for more?”
All of them fell silent.
“B-but that’s just an urban legend, isn’t it?” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Come now, we’re the only people on the moon. We ought to make our own little legends instead of keep believing in old ones…”
“Yeah, that sounds ridiculous. The sun’s a big ball of fire. If that were the case it’d be totally unfair because pumpkin boy is immune to that stuff.”
“I’ve never seen any Animated Pumpkins living on the sun,” he scoffed. “In fact, I’ve barely met any others. Just those traitors who fled to Planet Jiunan…”
“I wouldn’t hold your breath,” Ai-Reia said. “Look! Doesn’t it look like the sun is progressively getting closer?”
“Maybe it’s our planet that’s getting closer,” Dosa-Mina said. “And it’s getting really hot!”
Sale-Dessu and Asul-Zenza lifted off the ground, and in an instant the planet exploded in screaming as they tried to keep their hold on the planet.
“Come into the moondust castle!” Fer-Shi cried out. Choungetsu dashed inside, followed by Ai-Reia, Mit-Sun, Sale-Dessu, Asul-Zenza, and then Dosa-Mina and San-Kyung, who had some difficulty fitting inside.
“This feels far too cramped.”
“What are we supposed to do!?” La-Iin hissed.
The sun began to hurtle towards the moon, and each of them closed their eyes shut, some praying that they would be safe and others preparing for the seemingly inevitable fate. When the sun reached close enough that even La-Iin could finally feel its heat, something dusty landed all around them.
It was the remnants of the moondust castle.
“Oh shit,” La-Iin said.

—–
La-Iin woke with a jolt. It was already a half-hour before she had to be at school, so running on fearful adrenaline, she dressed herself quickly and packed her supplies.
As she passed through the kitchen, she noticed that Mit-Sun had left a small meal for her. “You should have something to eat at school, you know.”
“Okay,” she said. “Mama, do you think that theory that the sun will eat the moon is true?”
“I’m chalking it up to crackpot. This planet will be eaten by the sun before the moon is. Besides, you never know what the world has to offer. We could all die tomorrow, or if that was the case, we could find a way to stop it way before it happens. Sorry, I just don’t like all these doomsday predictions. But even if it will happen, why does it matter to us? We’ll all be dead before then.”
La-Iin flapped her wings rapidly. ‘Says you!’ She kept the thought to herself and dashed off to school.

27.512.Baby-Voiced Over the Phone

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 512
“Baby-Voiced Over the Phone”

“Choungetsu, you are so stupid. I bet you’d eat anything.”
Choungetsu stared up wide-eyed at La-Iin, his tail wagging wildly across the floor.
“You’d probably eat some of the nastiest stuff out there. I bet you’d eat poison, or fire, or even chocolate malt balls!” She said with a shudder. “And that’s why you’re stupid.”
Choungetsu tipped his head to one side. La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “That and you don’t understand a word I’m saying, do you?”
“La-Iin, stop berating Choungetsu.”
“I’m not berating him. I’m just trying to see if I can get through that thick skull of his. So far, all of my attempts have ended in failure.” She stared closely at Choungetsu, who licked her face.
“He’s too friendly, Mama. One day he’s gonna get himself killed.”
“You say that, but if something happened to Choungetsu you’d be devastated.”
“All I said was he was gonna get himself killed. Why’d you even bother answering with–”
Before La-Iin could finish her sentence, the phone began to ring.
“I wonder who’s calling?” Mit-Sun said as she head for the phone. La-Iin turned her attention back to Choungetsu, staring him down. Choungetsu stared at her, his expression still one of confusion, but he soon gave a soft yap, his nose wrinkling.
“You’re being really stupid. If I wanted to, I could suck all your blood and there would be nothing you could do about it. Biting me wouldn’t stop your inevitable fate.”
Choungetsu stared at her wide-eyed, backing away from her and folding his ears to his head. La-Iin stroked his head, but it did nothing to change the look of shock and hurt on Choungetsu’s face.
“It’s for you, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said.
“Is it Dami!?”
“No, it’s not Asul-Zenza. But it’s someone you’ll want to talk to anyway.”
Mit-Sun handed the phone to La-Iin. She put it up to her ear, curious as to who was on the other side.
“Big sister!”
“Ei-Tio?”
“Hi, big sister! It’s been a really long time!”
“It has,” La-Iin said.
“I wanned to call you to talk about some stuff! I’m four now! How old are you now?”
“Seven.”
“Wow, isn’t it just…um…five and six, then? I’m closer to you, big sister!”
“You are.” La-Iin couldn’t stop her smile. “What did you want to talk about, Ei-Tio?”
“Do you have something cool happening in Bledger? Dami and Floma said Bledger’s getting scary, are you okay?”
“I’m fine. Bledger isn’t going to harm me. Oh! Ei-Tio, you want to hear something that happened to me?”
“What, what!?”
“I got a brand-new power. When I drink someone’s blood now, I can use their powers, too.”
“Wow! If you did that with me could you turn into a bat too?”
“Probably not,” La-Iin sighed, “but I’m trying to find out just how strong this power is. When I do, I can tell you all about it, if you like.”
“Okay!”
“What about you? Why did you want to call? Was there something you wanted to talk to me about?”
“Uh-huh! Something really cool happened to me recently too and I thought you would wanna hear about it! I don’t remember all of it, but I’m gonna tell you everything of what I remember!”

***

It was a bright, sunny day out, and Ei-Tio buried her face into her father’s chest. The bright sunlight stung her eyes more than she could bear, and even though she was excited about where they were going, she wished it didn’t have to be quite as sunny as it was.
“It’s alright, Ei-Tio. The carnival itself has a huge tent over it to block out the sun, so you won’t have to deal with it for much longer.”
“It hurts…”
“Do you think she has an allergy to sun rays, Jul-Ense?”
“No, she’s been fine out in the sunlight other days. It’s just particularly strong today. Even I’m feeling it strong. You Ghneckdos sure are hardy, Shi-Bara.”
“You and Ei-Tio are Ghneckdos too, you know.”
“I know, I know.”
As the trio passed under the tent, Ei-Tio felt as though her pain had been relieved somewhat. Curious, she glanced around, and soon broke out into smiles.
The carnival looked amazing. All around her there were various games, small rides and all sorts of confectionery all around. Several Vampires were there at the event, many of them families–she even spotted a few non-Vampires along with them.
“Wow!”
“Wow indeed,” Jul-Ense said. “It’s amazing. Makes me wonder what we should do first!”
The trio looked around the area, searching for what to do first, when Shi-Bara asked, “Hey, isn’t that Asul-Zenza over there?”
“Who’s Mr. Asool-Zenzah?”
“That’s La-Iin’s Dami,” Jul-Ense said. “Hey, Asul-Zenza! Good to see you here!”
“Hm?” Ei-Tio felt as though she didn’t recognize the man at all, though a few of his features reminded her of La-Iin. “Oh, hello there, Shi-Bara, Jul-Ense! And you too, Ei-Tio,” he said, reaching out to pinch her cheek. Ei-Tio giggled when he did.
“What brings you to the carnival? Aren’t you usually traveling the world?”
“This does count as travel, you know. It may still be in Vampire society boundaries, but I don’t live here. All that said, it’s good to see you. I’ve been in a good mood recently, so I wanted to do something fun! I do wish I could have La-Iin here with me, though.”
“I wish you had big sister too,” Ei-Tio whimpered. “Floma, Dami, can we play with Mr. Asool-Zenzah?”
“Well, bringing him along does still count as a family outing,” Jul-Ense said. “What do you say, Asul-Zenza? Want to join us?”
“Certainly!”
Asul-Zenza’s mention of La-Iin had made her miss her relative, but as she, her parents and Asul-Zenza went to get a small treat and played on one of the small rides–which, by the looks on her family’s faces, she was certain that she was the only one who had enjoyed it–the thought was put out of her mind for now as she was thoroughly enjoying this time spent with her family.
“What do you say we try the hall of mirrors? I never got to try those things when I was a young Vampire.”
“What are you talking about, Jul-Ense? You’re still a young Vampire.”
“Says the Vampire who’s still in his sixties. I think you forget that sometimes, Asul-Zenza.”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “I believe I do forget it.”
“Can I walk again, Dami?”
“Sure, Ei-Tio.” He put her down, and Ei-Tio ran ahead clumsily into the hall of mirrors. All around her were distorted visions of herself, and for a moment she was scared enough to cry, until she saw that her family looked much the same when they entered.
“You look so funny, Mr. Asool-Zenzah! Look, Floma, your head is really swelly!”
Shi-Bara chuckled. “It is pretty funny to see yourself all stretched out, isn’t it?”
“Mm-hm! Wow, if you got a pumpkiny-person, would they look really weird? Aren’t they super-tall?”
“They can be,” Jul-Ense said.
“I can only imagine how silly one of them would look,” Shi-Bara chuckled. “Their round little heads all swelling and their arms and legs and their tail all stretched…”
“Hee hee! It’d look so funny!”
Ei-Tio walked closer to the mirror, curious to see how that would distort the reflection of herself, when the light from outside began to quickly dim.
“Huh?”
“I wonder if clouds are passing over the sun?” Asul-Zenza suggested.
“Muahahaha!”
Ei-Tio flinched. She ran over to Shi-Bara’s side and buried herself in her leg. All of them remained frozen in place until Jul-Ense grit his teeth.
“All of you, stay back. I’m going to check what’s going on.”
“Jul-Ense, what if something’s happening out there?”
“That’s exactly why I’m going to do it! I have seniority over all of you, so if anyone should check, it should be me!”
Jul-Ense’s defensive anger did nothing to calm down Ei-Tio. As he walked out the hall of mirrors, Ei-Tio was too worried not to follow him.
“Ei-Tio!” Asul-Zenza and Shi-Bara hissed. They followed after her and out of the hall of mirrors, directly into the crowd of Vampires who were staring up at a masked figure with large bat wings.
“All you Vampires came here for a good time, didn’t you? Well, I’m no different from all of you! But my idea of a good time is a lot different. I…”
“What are you three doing out here!?” Jul-Ense hissed.
“Damiiii….”
“Ei-Tio, I told you and them to stay behind! Why’d you follow me?”
“I think you scared her when you got angry like that, Jul-Ense,” Asul-Zenza said. “What’s going on, anyway?”
“Now, brace yourselves all ye who have entered, for the overload of your senses I am about to dish out!”
Loud noises and bright lights flooded the area, and the crowd began to groan and shriek at the sudden burst of color and noise. Ei-Tio felt like dropping to the ground, but she couldn’t bring herself to.
All around the Vampires in the crowd began to change appearance. Their faces became fuzzy, their ears wider and larger, and their noses flatter. By the time the noise died down and the color faded away, nearly every Vampire in the crowd had turned into their bat form, and the man who gave the announcement broke out into laughter.
“You should see the lot of you!” He chuckled. He pulled out a camera and began to take many photos of the crowd. “Not to worry, though, I’ll make sure to send you all these pictures of what’s happened to you. But for now, Eclipsian is out!”
He flew off with the camera in tow. Some of the crowd members tried to chase after him, but none were able to catch him.
Ei-Tio still felt dazed by the noise and colors, but she couldn’t keep herself from laughing. All the Vampires around her looked ridiculous transformed into bats. Shi-Bara, Jul-Ense, and Asul-Zenza soon began to join in, giving soft chuckles at the situation.

***

“I can’t believe you ran into Dami!”
“Your Dami is really nice, big sister. But wasn’t it funny? Everyone transformed!”
“It sounds painful.”
“It was! But did you think it was funny, big sister? Even your Dami transformed!”
“I guess,” La-Iin sighed.
“I should probably get off soon. Floma and Dami are gonna take me to the park, and we’re gonna have a pickynick dinner there! I wish you could come over, big sister! I want to see you soon!”
“Me too. And next time we do, I’ll show you my newest power. Someday you’ll be able to use it too. Maybe I should train you early!”
Ei-Tio giggled. “Maybe! Bye-bye, big sister! Talk again soon!”
“Alright.”
La-Iin hung up the phone.

—–
“Damn it! Eclipsian is heading for the park! What do we do?”
“Brace yourself!”
Eclipsian flew up into a tree and cackled.
“Glad to see all you happy peppy little Vampires! I feel happy and peppy tonight as well! But I know something that will make me feel even more happy and peppy! Now, brace yourselves, all ye who have entered, for the overload of your senses I am about to dish out!”

21.476.Choungetsu the Werewolf

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 476
“Choungetsu the Werewolf”

La-Iin sat down at her table and began to relax. After school that day, she felt drained. After a short while, she made the hand motions to wake Bes-Isa.
“Hello, La-Iin. What has you so tired?”
“Hello, Bes-Isa,” she sighed. “School.”
“Ah, I see.”
Although she was glad to relax after school, La-Iin quickly found herself becoming bored, so she retrieved a piece of paper and some crayons and started to draw.
“This one is coming out good,” she said.
“I have to agree. Nice use of orange there. Didn’t know your kids were different shades than San-Kyung.”
“You need to pay more attention when I draw them, then,” La-Iin told her, then returned to drawing. She focused intently on finishing the picture, but found herself slightly distracted by a noise in the background. The noise quickly became louder, and as it did La-Iin felt as if the floor had begun to vibrate.
Her door slammed open suddenly.
“Hello, big sister!” Choungetsu said, his tail wagging. He ran over to her table and stared at her picture. “Nice drawing! Is that fire?”
“Choungetsu, I told you not to come into my room!” La-Iin snapped.
“Lock your door next time. Words aren’t going to stop him.”
“Is that Bes-Isa!?” He shrieked. He grabbed her out of the air and stuck her in his mouth. La-Iin gaped.
“Choungetsu! Bes-Isa’s–not–food!” She tugged on Bes-Isa, but Choungetsu bit down harder.
“En why oes e ase o ood?” Choungetsu said through his mouthful.
Both tugged hard on Bes-Isa, and La-Iin was soon able to free her from Choungetsu’s mouth.
“Aw man,” Choungetsu whimpered.
“It feels like my organs were smashed!” Bes-Isa yelled.
“Choungetsu, stay out of my room!” She yelled. Choungetsu’s ears folded to his head, but his tail continued to wag.
“You’re always so mad at me, big sister, it’s not fair. You always yell at Mama but you hang out with her anyway. Why am I different?”
“You’re annoying. And a goody-goody. Annoying goody-goodies are my least favorite kind of people.”
Choungetsu gave a frustrated growl. “Fine, I’ll go downstairs. You can finish your stupid fire picture. But you’ll pay for this someday, big sister! I’ll show you!”
La-Iin rolled her eyes as Choungetsu slammed the door behind him. “No, you’ll be the one who pays.” She huffed. “I’m not giving that idiot any freedom when I rule the world.”
“That would probably be for the better,” Bes-Isa panted.
La-Iin went back to work on her drawing, trying to push Choungetsu’s intrusion from her mind. Just as her picture was almost done, from downstairs she heard,
“LA-IIN! FER-SHI’S HERE TO SEE YOU!”
La-Iin blinked. “TELL HER TO COME UPSTAIRS!” She yelled back, then went to work on her drawing.
“Who told Fer-Shi she could come over?”
“I dunno. But after dealing with Choungetsu, I’m looking forward to seeing her.”
As La-Iin put the finishing touches on her drawing, she thought back to when Choungetsu first joined the family as a baby Werewolf, left on their doorstep. “If only Mama hadn’t taken him in,” she sighed.
“Who? Choungetsu?”
“Who else?” She scoffed. She finished her drawing, sat back and waited for Fer-Shi to arrive. Soon enough she heard the sound of footsteps, and the door slammed open.
“Hello, big sister! Is this your best friend? Hello, best friend!”
“Fer-Shi, what are you doing with Choungetsu?”
“He followed me upstairs. But that’s okay. I don’t mind him being here. Hello, La-Iin!”
I mind him being here,” La-Iin hissed. “Choungetsu, get out of my room!”
But Choungetsu ignored her, instead hopping on her bed and curling up. “Your bed is so nice, big sister,” he sighed contentedly.
“It looks like he’s just gonna take a nap,” Fer-Shi said.
“Don’t even give him the benefit of the doubt. Whenever Choungetsu’s in my room, he’s here to interfere.”
“He’s not in the way, though. He’s just being cute. Aw…” She pet him on the head, and Choungetsu gave a content grunt in response.
“No, he’s not! Choungetsu has absolutely nothing going for him! He’s not even a very good Werewolf! He acts more like a dog.”
“So? Werewolves are all different.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “If you’re going to defend Choungetsu, then I don’t want you over.”
“I-I’m sorry, La-Iin!” Fer-Shi said, raising her hands and backing away.
“And as for you–” She grabbed Choungetsu by the arm and began to tug. Choungetsu gave a loud whimper. “You have your own stinking bed, so go sleep in that and leave me and Fer-Shi in peace!”
“LA-IIN!” Mit-Sun’s voice threw her off and sent her tumbling into her table. Fer-Shi and Choungetsu flinched. “SAN-KYUNG IS HERE TO SEE YOU!”
“San-Kyung?”
“Oh no, not him!” Fer-Shi said.
“Who’s that, who’s that?” Choungetsu asked before heading downstairs. Frustrated, La-Iin flew after him as he nearly tumbled down the stairs and into the living room. La-Iin arrived first to the door, and standing there was San-Kyung.
“San-Kyung!” She exclaimed. “What a surprise. I didn’t think you were the type to pay me a visit. I thought I’d always have to force you.”
“I do what I want,” he said.
“So what you wanted is to come over and see me?” San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “I know, it’s probably something else. But you still came over here because I’m–”
“Is this your boyfriend, big sister?” Choungetsu asked, grabbing on to San-Kyung. San-Kyung glared at him and backed away, but Choungetsu held on tight, staring up at him. “Hello, boyfriend!”
“Choungetsu!” She snapped, reaching out to pull him off. “Of course he is. You have no place here, so get out–”
“I’m not your boyfriend,” San-Kyung snapped.
“Humor me for a little so I can get him off of you!”
San-Kyung only glared, evidently not amused as La-Iin attempted to pull Choungetsu off of him. When Choungetsu finally came off, San-Kyung’s vest went with him, and he stared up at La-Iin with an innocent expression.
“I can’t stand you!” She yelled, her wings flapping rapidly. “You are the most annoying person I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting. All you ever do is get in the way! You’re not even tiny enough to just hide somewhere while I do what I want! Why do you have to be this way!?”
“I just like my freedom, big sister,” he said. “I’m sorry. I’ll go away.”
“No, you won’t. You’ve wronged me for the last time.”
La-Iin pinned down Choungetsu and bit into his neck. Choungetsu gave a shrill whimper in response that didn’t quiet until she drew away from his neck, licking the last remnants of blood from her fangs.
“Why don’t you spend more time with me, big sister?” Choungetsu said weakly. “I just like spending time with you. Remember when we used to all the time? Remember when we were together lots?”
“Bes-Isa is my one and true young companion. I have others now, and no need for you.”
“I just want to feel like I’m part of your life again,” he said. “But if you don’t want me to be, then I’ll just go.”
Choungetsu’s eyes closed and his head tilted away from La-Iin. La-Iin reached out to touch him, but never made contact–before she could, darkness surrounded her and forced the scene to fade away.

—–
La-Iin woke with a strong craving for blood and feeling on-edge. She hopped out of her bed and head downstairs. Mit-Sun was making dinner. She walked past her and into the living room, where Choungetsu was lazing on the couch, looking content.
Choungetsu lifted up his head when she walked into the living room and sat up, his tail wagging and his eyes wide and bright. La-Iin sat on the couch and hugged him close.
“You may be annoying, but at least you’re not that stupid Werewolf,” she said. Choungetsu grunted as he tried to pull away from her hug.
La-Iin held close to him for a short while longer before letting go and running into the kitchen. Choungetsu followed close behind her, and she was happy to hear the clicking of his nails as she and he walked into the kitchen.
La-Iin peeked at what Mit-Sun was making.
“Looks like she put something nasty with dinner,” she whispered to Choungetsu. “When she’s not looking, I’ll slip it to you, so eat it quickly.”
Choungetsu gave a cheerful yap. Mit-Sun turned around briefly, then went back to focusing on dinner. La-Iin smiled to herself.

22.446.Multiplicity Scenario

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 446
“Multiplicity Scenario”

“I can’t believe I let you strong-arm me into coming to the park,” San-Kyung groaned.
“I can’t believe you were gullible enough to go along with it. But this is perfect. I was right, nobody’s here today!” La-Iin said.
San-Kyung glared. “You know, I just came by to talk.”
“Talk about what, harling~?”
“Call me harling and this will be your final resting place.”
“Oh, come on. The h stands for horrible.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes.
“Actually, there’s something I wanted from you too, San-Kyung.”
“What now?”
“I was just thinking I feel pretty powerful in my other form,” she said as innocently as she could manage. “And I was wondering when was the last time we fought.”
“That was a while ago,” he said. “And it’d be a bad idea to challenge, La-Iin. It might be March, but I can still easily best you.”
“Can you?” She asked, biting into her arm.
“Of course I can. I’ve always had the upper hand. Not just in powers, but in height, too.”
“You do for now,” she said. “But with my power, I think we’re on even terms.”
La-Iin’s transformation begun and ended fairly quickly, or at least it felt that way to San-Kyung. She came flying at him immediately, to which he responded with vines. La-Iin began to fly past his vines at a fast speed.
‘Geez, she is getting good,’ he thought. ‘But that’s a good sign.’
He continued to try and ensnare her with the vines, but La-Iin was always slightly ahead of them. She dove down and head for his neck, but he moved out the way before she could get close and lit as strong a hand fire as he could manage to dissuade her from coming closer. La-Iin began to look agitated, but she continued to fly around him as if waiting for him to put out the hand-fire.
‘Got her.’
He rose vines from the ground from underneath her. She flew above him, almost completely missing the vines except for one that snared around her ankle. She hissed and tried to break free, but San-Kyung was able to maneuver the vines in his direction and bring her down closer to him.
To his surprise, La-Iin broke free before she was close enough to him and began to circle around him again, faster this time. San-Kyung held his hand-fire up as high as possible, but she seemed unfazed and flew higher. San-Kyung’s frustration was growing, and it took his all to focus on the fight at hand instead of randomly attacking her.
He frantically searched for an opening, but was unable to find one. She dove down close to him and knocked him down. San-Kyung gasped.
‘She might be a little too good!’ He thought. ‘Damn it, I’m not losing to a little girl!’
He looked up, this time checking for her next move, but noticed that she seemed to be tiring. He took that as his opening and rose vines underneath her again. This time he succeeded and ensnared her too tightly for her to escape.
“Surprised your transformation didn’t run out,” he said, walking up to her.
“Are you really surprised? Rival-boy said it seems to activate because of fear. And I’ll admit, I’m a little scared.”
“I guess if we’re being honest, I was a little surprised by your ability,” he said. “I guess you’ve learned how to handle that power well.”
“You were so going to say you were scared,” La-Iin said.
“No, I wasn’t.”
“You were too! Now let me down!”

***

Fer-Shi sighed.
“What’s wrong, Fer-Shi? You sound down.” Tei-Sheu asked.
“It’s nothing, Mom. Well, nothing much. I was just really wishing I could have a dream in life. I want something that I know I want to do, something that I know is my calling. I want to be as certain about what I’m going to do as La-Iin is. Except, you know, without the evil.”
“Well, you’re only eight years old, Fer-Shi. You still have plenty of time to figure it all out.”
“I know I do…but I can’t help but be jealous of La-Iin. And for more reasons than one. I always thought she was going to be just a little bit behind me since she’s half-Vampire, you know? But it seems like she has so much more figured out about herself than I do. And I really thought I at least knew what sort of field I wanted to work in when I grew up, I just didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do there. Now I’m not sure at all.”
“I may not understand your jealousy myself, but I can certainly see where it comes from. And people have had much worse feelings throughout all of time. I can imagine it’s tough to see someone younger than you having something you wish you did too or being someone you wish you were.”
“She’s just so confident. It kinda gets to me sometimes. It also makes me worry she’s going to want to leave me for a more evil friend.”
“That you two have been friends this long while being good and evil is a feat in and of itself, I think,” Tei-Sheu said. “I’m sure your friendship wouldn’t go down that easily.”
“Well, that’s not what I’m most worried about, anyway. I’m just jealous because she’s so certain about herself. But I feel so lost. What if I find something that I really really want to do, but I can’t because I’m just no good at it? What if I find something I’m good at but I don’t want to devote my life to?”
“Not all dreams are ones you need to devote your life to, Fer-Shi,” Tei-Sheu said. “And if you’re no good at something you really want to do, you keep practicing until you become good at it.”
“I just feel stuck.”
“Your problem is that you’re trying to rush things. You need to take this easy. You can start worrying about it if you get to be my age and you’re going nowhere in life because of this.”
“I know I shouldn’t rush things, but I just can’t help it! I’m more confused than I ever was before and I just want to have this all figured out. It’s upsetting me.”
“Then you definitely need to take a break from all this. Why not try doing things that you should know for the future, like cooking? You should know how to cook for yourself. I can teach you a few snack recipes at first and then you can help with bigger meals, and I’m sure Den-Matsu has a lot he can teach you too. And you could focus on school subjects you’re falling behind in or your friendship with La-Iin. Just don’t go and bring up dreams.”
“But if I do that, then when I start thinking about it again, I’ll just feel the same way,” Fer-Shi said bitterly.
“And if you don’t do it, you won’t do anything,” Tei-Sheu huffed. “Come on, Fer-Shi. I can teach you how to make cornpop or Fairydevil cake. And next year you’ll be in the fifth grade. It might be a good thing to get a head start, don’t you think? Take things easy is what I’m saying, Fer-Shi. Focus the majority of your attention on something else, and put the whole figuring out a dream thing as a secondary task for now. Then you won’t be using so much energy up on figuring it out.”
“All right,” Fer-Shi sighed.
“Come on, Fer-Shi. Look up. You’ll figure it out someday.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she sighed. ‘I just hope that someday is soon.’

***

“I know you want to get to talking right away, Mit-Sun, but I was wondering, where is La-Iin today? Is she not home?”
“She’s out with a friend,” Mit-Sun said.
“Fer-Shi?”
“No, San-Kyung,” she said. “He said he was taking her to the park. Apparently he passed by the house and she muscled him into it.”
“That makes me feel uncomfortable…”
“It makes me feel uncomfortable too, but I bet our reasons are different,” Mit-Sun said. “Now, back on topic.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Look, I’m not comfortable with the idea of letting you take La-Iin for any designated day. I’m used to having her here and I still don’t like you, no matter how many privileges I’ve been giving you.”
“That’s a shame. I’ve really been thinking we could go back to being friends lately.” When Mit-Sun glared at him, he fumbled a bit before saying, “Of course, I knew you wouldn’t want to be.”
“Huh! Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, you can take her out on days I have something important to do or if she’s being a pain or she’s desperate to see you. Maybe I’ll even let you take her someplace on your birthday. If I do that, then you’re happy, she’s happy, I don’t have to see you, it’s a winning situation for everyone.”
“It certainly sounds like fun,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my birthday now.”
“La-Iin will stay with me most days, and you still need to call before coming over under any circumstances. And leaving a message saying ‘I’m coming’ doesn’t count. This is still my house before anything else. Forget La-Iin for a second, I don’t always want you on my property.”
“You say that as if I wasn’t already aware of that.”
“It certainly feels like you conveniently forget things at the perfect times,” Mit-Sun sneered. “Anyway, that’s my terms. Sorry if they seem complicated to you, but I don’t necessarily want the man I hate most hanging around my daughter all that often.”
“She’s still my daughter as well, and she can evidently make her own choices.”
“She can, but she’s also seven years old and still dependent on me. I’m still the one who’s taking care of her most of the time. Besides, now that statement’s more because I don’t want to see you than because I think you’ll be a bad influence. I still think you will be. But I’m sure there are other, much worse influences she can have. Her doll for one,” Mit-Sun muttered.
“Bes-Isa’s quite a nice doll…well, maybe nice is not the way to put it, but she’s polite at least.”
“At least,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “Honestly, with the way she talks I was convinced La-Iin was faking it for the longest time. Anyway, that’s it. That’s all I have to say to you. Now you know. I’ll try and keep consistent with what I said to you today, but don’t always expect for me to remember.”
“Oh, I’m certainly not expecting it,” Asul-Zenza said, a chuckle to his tone. “You seem to have an awfully convenient memory as well, Mit-Sun, at least when it comes to me and La-Iin. Honestly, you’re so contradictory I have to wonder if you retain any information from any of our talks ever.”
“If I don’t it’s because I can’t stand the sound of your voice,” she snapped.
“Well, sometimes I don’t like hearing that dry tone in yours either. I heard much more casual tones from you before, but now you constantly sound miffed. It’s not a good voice for you.”
“Oh shut up,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “And get out before I lose my patience, because after those comments you should be glad I didn’t lose it all just then.”
“Most definitely. I don’t want to be kicked anyplace important again, after all,” he said. “See you, Mit-Sun! Until the day we speak again!”
With that, Asul-Zenza went speeding out the door, wings spread before he had left the house.
“Moron. If it were up to me we’d never speak again…”

***

Choungetsu felt so confused nowadays. It seemed like so much was going on around him yet he could barely understand any of it.
Asul-Zenza had been coming by a lot lately and he wasn’t sure why. Mit-Sun still seemed angry with him a lot and he didn’t seem to be coming over for him. And even though he had come over for La-Iin last time, this time he had just gone into the kitchen with Mit-Sun and talked too fast for him to understand.
Choungetsu didn’t usually try to focus his attention on these sorts of things, but he couldn’t help his feelings of confusion and being left out. He wished that La-Iin and Mit-Sun would talk to him more often to help him understand, and he wished he could understand them better in the first place. Already he thought they didn’t understand each other well enough.
La-Iin had been acting a little strange lately too, he thought, and she didn’t take him on long walks that much anymore. In fact, some days Mit-Sun took him on walks and La-Iin barely paid him any attention. The thought made him a little angry. If only La-Iin would bring down that tasty doll again. It may have made her angry when he tried to play with her, but at least he could catch her attention!
Right now, however, instead of feel confused, he couldn’t help but feel lonely for Asul-Zenza as he dashed out the door. He felt a special bond with him and wished he would take him on a walk. He always seemed to be the most understanding out of everyone he met more than once. He was sure that if Asul-Zenza sat down to talk to him, he would be able to understand what he was talking about, and maybe, just maybe, Asul-Zenza would understand him, too.
More than anything, Choungetsu just wished he was more involved.

***

‘My worst fears are all coming true. Lirako’s suspicious about my being a Normal. La-Iin knows all about my dream about her. San-Kyung seems to think there’s something wrong with me more than he used to nowadays. What next, everyone at school’s going to find out about Kkumneok?’
He sighed. ‘I used to do such a good job of keeping up my demeanor. I liked things that way. The nightmares are horrible, but at least I felt like I was doing a good job of keeping what happens in them stuck in the dream. Now I’m just constantly miserable.
‘There has to be some way to make this work again….’
He tried to imagine what he might do if San-Kyung were here just then.
“San-Kyung, I know Spring just started, but you wanna wear my scarf? It’s still pretty cold outside, after all! ….no, that’s stupid. Hey, San-Kyung, I found out something interesting about Lizardfeet! Well, only a specific type of Lizardfeet, but hey, maybe if you run into one, you’ll know how to deal with them! Oh, would he even care about my studies anymore? Aww, San-Kyung, you look so adorable like that! Hm…”
“Dosa-Mina, are you talking to yourself?” Elai-Riya asked from behind the door.
“No, Mom! I’m just reading aloud!” He said hurriedly. It seemed to have worked, for Elai-Riya said nothing more.
‘I just want to focus on stopping my nightmares, not all this other shit. It’s like the world wants to punish me for something.’
He glanced out his window. ‘Maybe it does. But what did I do wrong?’

***

Lately Ai-Reia had been stuck in a perpetual state of melancholy. She would go to school, study for a short while, occasionally talk to her siblings or parents at dinner time, and then head off into her bedroom, lay on her bed, and think. On Weekends like today, it was even worse–she would stay in her bedroom for hours on end until summoned by a family member or natural function.
‘This isn’t right.’ She thought to herself. ‘La-Iin is an absolutely abhorrent person. This world would probably be better off if she died or disappeared from the face of the planet. But there is no reason I should be letting just the mere sight of her turn me into an animal.’
She clutched her pillow. ‘But I can’t control that if there’s some sort of monster inside of me. No, I have to find a way to tame her if that’s the case. But in what way? Do I do in La-Iin? I’m young enough so that I can’t really be arrested. But I’m also a prodigy. I’m sure they consider me smart enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. And that is true, I do understand it…
‘But then, what do I do? I don’t want to do something that horrible, at least I don’t think I do! Oh, I can only imagine how my family might feel if I killed someone with my own two hands. But if I got rid of La-Iin, finally this monster inside of me will be quieted.
‘….or I hope it will be. What if it doesn’t stop even after her death? Do I need the satisfaction of murder, or would her dying of other causes be enough? Would her leaving Malicerie be enough? What is it I need?’
Ai-Reia groaned. ‘I don’t understand what that monster wants! And the worst part is…I’ll never understand. Not until whatever it wants is satisfied. I know that who I think I am wishes La-Iin were dead, but I no longer wish to dirty my hands with her blood. But that’s only what I think. That’s only my reasoning to stray me away from killing her in the first place.
‘Damn it! Why did she need to come into my life!? Everything would be that much better if she had never come to Malicerie! If I had never come to Malicerie! All I want is some peace! I can’t deal with this monster nagging me for hundreds of years! I’ll go mad long before then!’
Ai-Reia stared down at her hands. ‘Do I sate her, or do I resist her? Which one will make me feel better? Which will be better for me? I’ve attempted to kill La-Iin before. I’m not all that scared of the idea, more of my family’s reaction to it. But that might not be what she wants at all. Who knows. Maybe she wants Ca-Miela dead. The idea wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But so long as I don’t know, all I can do is try or resist. And I don’t know which one is right.’
She buried her face into her knees. ‘I wish someone would help me…I wish there would be someone who could try and pull me out of this pit…and I wish I could ask my family. But I no longer have the faith I need to do that.’
Again her thoughts swirled in circles, and she flopped backwards onto her bed, confused and upset. Eventually her thoughts stopped going in any direction at all and she grew drowsy from resting on her bed, and fell asleep, a sleep she would be in until she was summoned at dinner time by her mother.

***

“I’m a little surprised La-Iin left you here, Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu said. “Wouldn’t she just normally leave you at home in her bedroom?”
“She probably did it to piss us off,” Eul-Bok said bitterly. Sale-Dessu glared at him.
“I’m not the most thrilled about this arrangement either, but at least it gives me a little more to do than just think.”
“Well, is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about?”
“Plenty. Namely, I want to ask a little bit about Eul-Bok’s inner workings.”
“Don’t tell her, Father!” Eul-Bok said.
“Sure, what do you want to know? Come on, Eul-Bok, it’s not going to change anything if she knows or not. At most she’ll tell La-Iin. What can she do about this information?”
“Yeah, you idiot. Anyway, I wanted to know, does Eul-Bok go to the bathroom? Does he eat? I’m sure he sleeps, but does he sleep like a V-Puppet or more normally?”
“What are you talking about?” Eul-Bok said. “I sleep the same way I always did!”
“He just goes to sleep, Bes-Isa. Were you asking if I still need to snap my fingers for him to rest? Because the answer is no.”
“I figured that. Though I see the two of you still have some sort of connection. That makes me wonder what would happen if you kicked the bucket, Sale-Dessu. Would he be left to the same horrible fate we non-autonomous V-Puppets are, or would he be able to walk around like he is now?”
“I’d like to think I did a good enough job that he wouldn’t be stuck like that,” Sale-Dessu said. “But there’s no way of knowing. He’s the first V-Puppet to end up this way….and as for your other questions, he doesn’t go to the bathroom. He doesn’t accumulate waste like I do.”
“Ew, Father!” Eul-Bok exclaimed. Sale-Dessu’s face flushed. “I was only trying to explain it to her.”
“Honestly, the idea of you pooping is kind of disturbing.”
“That’s not what this is about!” Sale-Dessu yelled. “Anyway, he doesn’t have to eat, although he can.”
“I tried to eat once. I could only taste it a little bit. And that might have just been me mistaking the texture. But I’m pretty sure I got some of its flavor.”
“I think you did too,” Sale-Dessu said. “Anything else you wanted to know, Bes-Isa?”
“Yeah. Were you nasty enough to put genitalia on him?”
“I didn’t put anything like that on him!”
“Yeah, I’ve got nothing down there,” Eul-Bok said. “Makes me wonder sometimes. Feels a little like something’s missing. It’s kinda weird.”
“I wonder if my chest would feel that way if I was autonomous.”
“Probably not,” Eul-Bok scoffed under his breath.
“Can we not talk about this right now?” Sale-Dessu said. “I didn’t have to put something like that on him. He’d have no use for it. I was just weighing options.”
“So you considered it.”
“What’s wrong with that!? It’s part of a man’s biology. But he has no use for it. So please stop talking about this.”
“If you say so. Honestly, I don’t care one way or the other. I was just curious if you were nasty enough to do it.”
Sale-Dessu glared.
“Ah, I still hope I can become autonomous someday. But, you know, putting that aside, I think I should thank La-Iin for leaving me here. If I can at least have a little bit more to do, life like this should be more tolerable. Hey, one more question.”
“I’m not answering if it’s anything indecent.”
“It’s not, and the question’s not really for you. Hey, Eulie, have you been let out at all yet, or have you been rotting away in here for almost two months?”
“I’m not rotting away in here,” Eul-Bok said. “And I can’t leave just yet. So I’ve stayed in here.”
“Yeah, things definitely need to be improved before I can even consider becoming autonomous.”
“Well, maybe someday,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “La-Iin should live for a thousand years or so. I’m sure something will happen in that time.”
“Normally I’d say otherwise, given that other Vampires have lived and died without getting anywhere, but if you figured it out, maybe there’s a little bit of hope for me.”

—–
“San-Kyung, you never told me what you wanted to talk about!”
“It’s not actually all that important, you know.”
“You made the effort to come over to my house, follow me to the park and then fight me. I think I deserve to know what you wanted to say!”
“I already got my answer,” he said.
“How!?”
“Figure it out yourself,” he called, then walked off. La-Iin’s wings began flapping involuntarily.
“Well, I guess I at least got to see him…”

15.439.If She was Furry

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 439
“If She was Furry”

La-Iin relaxed on her bed, lost in a daydream of the future she desired.
“Go, Fer-Shi! Attack those knaves who dare to defy me!”
“Anything you ask, La-Iin!”
Fer-Shi got down on all fours and began to sprint toward the crowd of people. She stopped a short distance from the front, then began to pummel her way in, occasionally leaping upward when a member of the crowd went on the defensive.
“Take any who perish back to me. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good drink of blood.”
Fer-Shi nodded and continued to attack the crowd. Something seemed to have sparked her power, for she began to take out several more people than she had just a moment ago. Once everyone in the crowd was left lying on the ground, Fer-Shi stopped in the middle of her victory and let out a long howl.
La-Iin cackled behind her.

“Daydreaming, La-Iin?”
La-Iin opened one eye. Fer-Shi was looking down at her, a smile on her face.
“Yes. Why did you interrupt me? Weren’t you downstairs talking to Mama?”
“I was, but we finished our conversation and I wanted to talk to you. What’s up?”
“Nothing.” La-Iin blinked. “Actually, two things. One, how do you put up with biology class!? I don’t care about the class, but Hyungdarou is the most annoying teacher ever!”
“Didn’t you go to biology class before?” Fer-Shi said to her.
“Yes, but I didn’t have to deal with her all the time. The second grade is shit.”
“It’s not so bad. And hey, we get to be together for more classes now. Isn’t that nice?”
“And I suppose I get to see San-Kyung more….but Hyungdarou teaching her annoying class gets in the way of that. I hope she gets fired.”
“Well, she’s good at what she does….apparently…I just can’t get used to the idea that I’m going to be in the fifth grade next year. I know it’s a year away, but the idea of having to go to all the classes is so weird.”
“That’s going to be really annoying. You should try learning how to ditch now so you’re used to it by then.”
“Er, no. Hey, what was the second thing? Or were you not done talking about biology class?”
“I could go on and on about how much I hate that class and our talk would go nowhere. I did have something else I wanted to talk about, after all.”
“What?”
“Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you were a Werewolf?”
Fer-Shi blinked. “A Werewolf? I don’t know. I’ve wondered about what it’s like to be another species, and what it’s like to have powers, but I don’t know if I’ve ever actually imagined myself as another species.”
“Well, I have. I think it’s a waste for you to be a Normal.”
“Why? Did you have some dream where I was a Werewolf?”
“I was daydreaming about you being a Werewolf before you came in and interrupted,” La-Iin said. “But Werewolf is thinking low. If you were a non-Normal, I think you’d be better off as a Multibreed. Maybe something mixed with Minomix. A Werewolf-Minomix.”
Fer-Shi scratched her face. “Well, it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not just going to turn into another species, La-Iin.”
“Well, I wish you could,” she huffed. “I almost wish Vampires worked like they did in some of those stupid books Mama reads. Then I could bite you and you’d become a Vampire too.”
“I’d already be a Vampire if it worked like that…”
“I know.” La-Iin blinked. “Wait a second, can’t Werewolves turn other people into Werewolves?”
“Um…”
“Mama has a lot of species-related books in here. Maybe one of them will have the answer.”
La-Iin hopped off her bed and head down the stairs, Fer-Shi close behind her. La-Iin checked the kitchen for Mit-Sun and was surprised not to find her there. She checked the living room next, and found Mit-Sun playing with Choungetsu.
“Mama!”
“Did you need something, La-Iin?”
“Do you have a book on Werewolves in here?”
“Sort of. Why?”
“I want to find out something.”
“What something?”
“She wants to know about Daytime and Traditional Werewolves, I think,” Fer-Shi said.
“If they have a name for it, that means I’m right, doesn’t it?”
Mit-Sun nodded. “I think I have a book somewhere that talks about that. Give me a moment.”
Mit-Sun began to look through her bookshelves. Fer-Shi picked up a chew toy and began to play with Choungetsu, who gave excited yips as he tugged on the toy. Watching the two, La-Iin suddenly got the urge to interrupt them, and took the toy away from Choungetsu, who began to whimper.
“Why’d you do that?”
“I felt like it.” She gave the toy back to Choungetsu, and he ran into her before running away with the chew toy.
“Here it is,” Mit-Sun said, lying the book on the floor. She had it open to a page on Werewolves. La-Iin squinted at the words on the page.
“Can you read it?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I can read it just fine. I can read Makeshire, can’t I? This is easy.” When she looked back at the page, the words seemed to blur over, and she shook her head.
“It’s alright if you can’t read it that well. These kinds of books tend to be harder for little kids to read.” Mit-Sun said.
La-Iin’s wings began to flap involuntarily. Fer-Shi began to read before she could retort.
“‘In some cases, when a blood transfusion occurs in a species whose species gene is recessive to Werewolves, they will become a Traditional Werewolf. Traditional Werewolves are a lot like Daytime Werewolves, except they mostly look like the species they used to be. These occurrences are rare nowadays and there are few Traditional Werewolves out there in the world’. So I guess it can happen.”
Fer-Shi flinched when she heard La-Iin chuckle.
“So Normals are recessive to Werewolves, right?”
“Um–”
“Then all I need to do is somehow do what that book says to make a Traditional Werewolf, and then you can be a Werewolf just like in my daydream!”
“No! No no no no! Besides, I don’t need a blood transfusion and I probably never will!”
Mit-Sun peeked her head between the two girls, giving La-Iin a side glance. “You realize the reason why Traditional Werewolves are so rare is because situations like that hardly happen? Besides, it says ‘in some cases’.”
“I noticed that. But it’s possible. Fer-Shi could become a Werewolf and have powers like me. I’ve heard Werewolves are powerful. It would be a good look for her.”
“I don’t want to change my species, though,” Fer-Shi said. “And I know there’s only that case, but I’m fine with being a Normal. Even if I’ve wondered sometimes what it’s like to be another species, I don’t want to change mine. Would you want to change your species if you could, La-Iin?”
“I would get rid of the Normal part and maybe add something else.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes.
“But you’d still want to stay a Vampire, right?”
La-Iin nodded.
“Well, I’m fine with being a Normal. And I want to stay a Normal. I think I’d feel the same if I was another species too. I know what you want to do probably wouldn’t happen. But I just wanted to tell you that. I’m fine with being a Normal. After all, there are some advantages to it!”
“Name one.”
“Well, I don’t have to deal with my powers coming in or wondering when I’ll get a certain one,” she said. “Don’t you think there are advantages to you being half-Normal, La-Iin?”
La-Iin was ready to shake her head, before a thought came to mind.
“Not really. …but I guess I’m aging faster than I would have if I wasn’t…”
“See? If you were still in diapers, you wouldn’t have been able to meet me! Aaaand San-Kyung, I guess.”
“You make a good point, Fer-Shi,” Mit-Sun said. “Although I’m sure she’ll still say how much she hates being half-Normal.”
“I could have been half something else and probably still aged faster.”
“Well, either way, it doesn’t matter. We’re us, and there’s no changing that!”
“Unless we get a blood transfusion.”
Fer-Shi sighed.
“That wouldn’t even work in your case. Vampire dominates Werewolf.”
“Well, that’s okay. I think Fer-Shi’s being sappy, but she has a point. Werewolves are overrated.”
Fer-Shi giggled.

—–
“Here you go, La-Iin, one cup of Werewolf blood!”
“I think I have a new appreciation for Werewolf blood,” La-Iin said. “I like it better when it’s mixed with something else, but it has this crisp flavor even when it’s not.”
“Hey, you know, talking about Werewolf blood’s got me thinking. Remember when we were kids and you wanted to get me a blood transfusion so I could become a Traditional Werewolf?”
“How could I forget? I really wanted you to become one back then.” She shook her head. “But that was ridiculous. With you being the way you are, it wouldn’t have changed much of anything. It’s not like you would have used your powers to take down my enemies anyway.”
“Definitely not,” she said bitterly.
“Besides,” she said after taking a sip of blood, “now I don’t have to waste any of this blood on you. I have it all to myself to drink. And I still have your blood, too.”
“You like blood too much,” Fer-Shi sighed.
“A Vampire can’t love blood too much, Fer-Shi. And besides, I still like mincemeat pie a little bit better.”
“If you say so!”

3.427.Imperfect Pomeranian

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 427
“Imperfect Pomeranian”

Mit-Sun had made breakfast for her and La-Iin that morning, and La-Iin was surprised to find out she actually enjoyed the meal she had made.
“For once you did something right,” she said.
“As if you haven’t said that before? For once,” Mit-Sun grumbled.
“Stop being so particular,” La-Iin said. As she continued to eat, she noticed that Choungetsu was staring at her food wide-eyed, his nose twitching.
“Go away,” she said, pushing his face. Choungetsu whimpered and continued to stare at his food.
“Choungetsu’s so stupid,” she sighed. “I think he’s even stupider than other stupid dogs. He’s always happy, he always begs for food and he always runs if someone leaves the door open too long. He never does anything different.”
“I’ve wondered about that before too…” Mit-Sun mumbled.
“So there’s actually something else we agree on? Mama, you’re surprising me today,” she said. “Maybe I put too little faith in you.”
“No kidding,” she huffed. “Although, speaking of judging people unfairly, maybe we’re doing the same to Choungetsu. He’s a dog, and it’s hard to tell with dogs if they’re below-average intelligence or not. Who knows what the average intelligence for a dog is? Who cares?”
Choungetsu cocked his head to one side and stared at Mit-Sun curiously.
“Choungetsu seems really stupid, though. Nothing I say registers.”
“Maybe dogs speak their own language and not Vaelis.”
La-Iin glared. “You said just a little bit ago you wonder if Choungetsu is stupid too. Now you’re saying we’re being mean for saying he’s stupid.”
“It’s just because we can’t really tell with a dog. But the reason why I said that is because I’ve seen other dogs catch on when it comes to teaching them the meaning of a word before. You tell them to do something, and when they do it right, you give them a treat, that sort of thing. It’s never worked with Choungetsu, and there are sometimes he does things I think is stupid even for a dog…”
La-Iin giggled. ‘It would be so nice if Mama always acted like this.’ “Well, I think he’s stupid. Even stupid people aren’t always happy like he is. What’s wrong with him?”
“Well, maybe he’s just an ‘eternal optimist’ like they say some people are,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“I think he’s just stupid.”
Choungetsu gave a cheerful yip.

***

Choungetsu had to wonder what the conversation La-Iin and Mit-Sun had been having was about. He knew he had definitely heard them say his name a few times.
He had to wonder if they might talk about it again when they came back from wherever it was they went somedays. The waiting made him impatient, but he was just so curious.
He lifted his head and pricked his ears when the door opened.
“How long were you waiting for me?”
“Too long. You owe me now. I think mincemeat pie would be a suitable enough recom…recom…um…giveback. That or blood.”
“It’s always the same few things with you, isn’t it, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“I know what I like well enough and I’m only seven. You should be happy.”
Closing the door behind them, both walked into the living room, catching sight of Choungetsu eagerly watching them as they passed by.
“What?” La-Iin asked.
“Maybe he needs food,” Mit-Sun suggested. La-Iin ran ahead of her and went to check both his food and water bowl. Both were filled.
“No he doesn’t!”
“Maybe he was lonely?”
La-Iin ran back into the living room, sat on the couch and cuddled up next to Choungetsu, who returned her affection with a nuzzle and licks.
“I don’t know…” La-Iin blinked at Choungetsu. “Do you think we’ll ever find out if Choungetsu is stupider than most dogs, Mama?”
“Like I said, there’s no real way for us to know, so no,” she said. “Maybe he is, or maybe he isn’t. Either way, does it really matter? Choungetsu’s very sweet and friendly. I have to admit, his coming here was one of the better times Asul-Zenza came over.”
She pet Choungetsu on the head. He shut his eyes and gave a contented growl. La-Iin glanced at him.
“I still want to know, though.”
“Don’t worry so much about it. It’s ridiculous to. Why, did you want to teach him how to do something?” Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “Knowing you, that something would probably be evil…”
“You give me a ton of ideas without even meaning to, Mama,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun slapped her forehead. “But that wasn’t the case. I just wanted to know if I was right.”
“That’s ridiculous.”
“Maybe to you,” she said. She let go of Choungetsu and hopped off the couch. “I’m going to take him for a walk.”
“Alright. I should probably get started on dinner. What I want to eat tonight will take a while to make.”
La-Iin fastened Choungetsu’s leash to his collar, opened the door and let him lead the way. She watched him as he cheerfully walked ahead of her, following the sidewalk.
‘Choungetsu is so simple,’ she thought. ‘I guess that’s a good thing about him. He’s someone who would never hate me, no matter what I do. He’s barely ever unhappy. And he doesn’t know the difference between good and bad. So his being stupid is a good thing…’
Choungetsu turned to look at her. ‘…it would be if he wouldn’t live such a short time.’
La-Iin sighed. The walk with Choungetsu brought Bes-Isa’s words to mind, but she couldn’t deny that she cared for Choungetsu. He was someone she was happy to have in her life, no matter how stupid she saw him to be.
“‘Your Normal side is showing, La-Iin.'”
“‘You can’t let love make you weak. Otherwise you’ll only end up failing.'”
“I think I care too much about people,” she said to herself. Choungetsu glanced back at her. “But it’s hard not to when you know you shouldn’t…”

—–
After dinner that night, Mit-Sun caught La-Iin in the living room, dangling a piece of food and Bes-Isa above Choungetsu’s head, the door wide open behind her. Her expression was unusually serious.
Choungetsu stared at the food, then at Bes-Isa, then at the door. His eyes darted between all three before he staggered backwards and fell onto the floor.
“Choungetsu!?” La-Iin shrieked. She ran to his side.
“Is he alright?”
La-Iin was silent for a short while, then said, her tone agitated, “I think he just got overwhelmed. Now I know for sure. Choungetsu is definitely dumb, Mama. He could have just grabbed Bes-Isa and the food as fast as he could and dashed out the door, but instead he gave up.”
“Why were you doing this anyway?”
“Because I wanted to know for sure,” she said, nodding.
Choungetsu’s ears pricked at La-Iin’s idea, but as he couldn’t understand what that sequence of words meant he should do, he gave up and whimpered, covering his ears with his paws.
“Definitely stupid,” she sighed. “But I guess that’s fine.”

25.390.Choungetsu of the End

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 390
“Choungetsu of the End”

“I wish Usl-Thaehey was still staying with us,” La-Iin sighed at breakfast.
“She was only staying with us because she had nowhere else to go. I have nothing against her, but I’m glad she left. I feel uncomfortable letting people stay at my house. Besides, she really wanted to help that Werewolf village.”
“Well, at least I get a CD out of it. And that Bunety man was tasty…” She licked her lips. “I wonder if it’s because he was a Bunety or because he was a sociopath. I bet it was because he was a sociopath. Sociopaths are evil, aren’t they, Mama?”
“I’ve never heard of one who wasn’t.”
“Am I a sociopath?” She said.
“If you were, you wouldn’t be friends with Fer-Shi and I doubt you’d be as crazy about San-Kyung as you are,” she said.
“I’d say I’m closer to sociopath than you are,” Bes-Isa said.
“I can still be plenty evil without being a sociopath, though,” she said. “But I hope I meet more sociopaths so I can suck them. I wish they’d sell sociopath blood at the store instead of just blood of a specific species.”
“That wouldn’t make any sense,” Mit-Sun said.
“It makes sense to me.” A claw dug into her leg. La-Iin glared down at Choungetsu, who wore a desperate expression. His tail was wagging wildly and he was staring at her lunch.
“You don’t want this, Choungetsu. This may be one of Mama’s better meals, but lots of stuff she makes would give you indigestion,” she said.
Choungetsu whimpered.
“…is that trying to turn him away from the meal or an insult?” Mit-Sun asked, obviously a little irritated.
“It’s both,” she said. “Just leave me alone, Choungetsu!” She pushed him away. Choungetsu continued to whimper.
“Is his bowl full?”
“You’re the one who fills it.”
You can fly, though,” she pointed out. “You should be able to reach it yourself. The bag’s not that heavy.”
“Yeah, you probably should fill his bowl if it’s empty so he doesn’t try to use me as a food source again.”
“He hasn’t done that in ages,” La-Iin said. “And besides, I think he was using you more as a chew toy than food.”
La-Iin went back to eating lunch, and the room fell silent for a short while, save for Choungetsu’s whimpering. She had mostly finished lunch when she glanced to her left and noticed Bes-Isa wasn’t there.
Right after a shriek split the air.
Bes-Isa was screaming something, but she was screaming it so loud and frantically that La-Iin couldn’t understand it. La-Iin jumped off the chair and tried to pull Bes-Isa out of Choungetsu’s mouth.
She let go when she heard something rip.
“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”
“Let me handle this!” Mit-Sun yelled. She ran at Choungetsu and smacked his back. Choungetsu began to cower, Bes-Isa still in his mouth and still shrieking. La-Iin couldn’t take the noise anymore, so she snapped her fingers and sent Bes-Isa to sleep.
“Bad dog!” Mit-Sun yelled. She held out her hand under Choungetsu’s mouth. He stared up at her wide-eyed and with his tail between his legs. Mit-Sun gently tugged on Bes-Isa, and Choungetsu let go of her.
La-Iin was horrified. Bes-Isa’s dress was torn wide open and revealed a large tear in her fabric. Her stuffing was fully visible. Mit-Sun shook her head, gave one last glare in Choungetsu’s direction, then head off with Bes-Isa in tow.
La-Iin followed after her, feeling sick to her stomach. She could remember other times Bes-Isa had been ripped, but none of those tears had been as bad as the one she had now. When she imagined what would happen to her if she suffered a similar injury, it almost made her vomit.
She almost wanted to wake Bes-Isa so she could ask if she was alright, but she knew she would only scream again. So she continued to follow Mit-Sun until the two had arrived in her bedroom. Mit-Sun retrieved her sewing kit right away, took Bes-Isa’s dress off, and began to get to work.
La-Iin stared blankly at the floor.
“This is a bad one,” Mit-Sun muttered under her breath.
“…”
“La-Iin, are you alright?”
“Is Bes-Isa alright?” She asked.
“She’s still torn open. I can probably fix this, but it’ll take a while…”
“She’s not beyond repair, is she?”
“No, probably not.”
“…you keep saying ‘probably’….”
Mit-Sun sighed. “It’s just been a while since I last sewed. I’m worried about my own abilities, not patching up her wound.”
“What if you patch her up and she doesn’t wake up even when she’s all fixed?” La-Iin asked.
“I doubt that’ll happen,” she said. She thread the needle and set to fixing the wound. “I heard somewhere that V-Puppets only die when there is absolutely no way to repair them, or repairing them would involve something like making them half glue.”
“What if there’s no way to repair her?”
“Please don’t worry, La-Iin. She’s had bad tears before.”
“But not this bad…” La-Iin began to tear up. Seeing her daughter this upset was breaking her heart.
“It was an accident, La-Iin,” she said. “I’ll fix her up and I’m sure she’ll still be alive.”
“If a person got their stomach ripped open, they would probably bleed everywhere and die,” she said.
“People have survived injuries like this before. Some have survived worse.”
“But she was still in Choungetsu’s mouth after she got ripped,” La-Iin pointed out. “If someone got their stomach bitten when it was wide open…”
She trailed off and her expression instantly became replaced by one of rage. “This is all Choungetsu’s fault! If Bes-Isa dies, I’ll rip him open and spread his guts everywhere!”
“La-Iin!”
“I’ll never forgive him if I lose Bes-Isa,” she growled. “Never, never, never!”
A whimper sounded at the door. Both Mit-Sun and La-Iin turned to the door. Choungetsu stood at the entrance to Mit-Sun’s room, his ears flat to his head and his tail firmly between his legs. He looked guilty, and his gaze was focused on La-Iin.
La-Iin was not fazed. Her wings began to flap rapidly and her face contorted with rage. Mit-Sun flinched. The expression her daughter made at that moment was one of the most emotional Mit-Sun had seen, and at the same time it terrified her it broke her heart.
‘She really does care about Bes-Isa.’
“If Bes-Isa dies, you’ll go with her!” She yelled. “I’ll rip you open and eat your guts and drink your blood! I’ll throw your body in the garbage and laugh when it rots! Bes-Isa will get a proper burial, but you, you will suffer until you’ve suffered enough, and then you’ll suffer some more!”
“La-Iin!” Mit-Sun snapped. La-Iin glared back at her, still wearing the same expression.
Choungetsu, however, looked mortified. His eyes wide and his ears and tail still plastered to him, he ran away from Mit-Sun’s room with one long whimper which soon faded away.
“Why should I forgive him?” La-Iin spat.
“Bes-Isa isn’t dead yet, is she?” She said. “And besides, if you had been more gentle with Choungetsu instead of tugging on Bes-Isa, this rip might not have been so bad.”
“So you’re blaming me!?”
“I’m saying don’t threaten to murder Choungetsu!”
La-Iin began to look indignant, and for a moment Mit-Sun feared she was about to storm out the room. But her shoulders soon relaxed and her expression went back to one of dejection.
“I just want Bes-Isa to live,” she whispered.
“I know you do. I’ll do all I can to repair her, all right? I just need a little quiet, and for you to promise me something.”
“I don’t make promises,” she spat.
“Well, do you want Bes-Isa to be fixed?”
La-Iin looked up, her expression indignant once again, and nodded.
“Promise me that if Bes-Isa survives, you’ll apologize to Choungetsu for what you said.”
La-Iin opened her mouth in protest, the lowered her head. “…maybe.”
‘I guess that’s the best I’m getting out of her,’ she thought. She went back to work on patching up Bes-Isa’s seam. Meanwhile, the tears building in La-Iin’s eyes began to stream down her face.

***

La-Iin wasn’t sure how much time had passed by the time she woke up. Her eyes stung slightly and she felt groggy as if she had been sleeping someplace cold for too long. All she knew was that she woke up to someone gently tapping her arm.
She looked up and met Mit-Sun’s eyes.
“La-Iin, wake up,” Mit-Sun said. “I patched up Bes-Isa. And you’ve been asleep long enough.”
“Where is she!?”
“Over here,” she said, handing her to La-Iin. “The rest is up to you.”
La-Iin sucked in a breath. She performed the hand motions to wake Bes-Isa up. Bes-Isa moved around, but wasn’t saying anything, and La-Iin felt as if her heart would plunge into her stomach.
“Guh!” La-Iin flinched. “It feels like someone has been sticking needles in my stomach…”
“BES-ISA!” La-Iin pulled her close.
“Ugh! Agh! You’re choking me!”
Mit-Sun breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Bes-Isa’s fine. And now La-Iin will be too.’
“You know, it’s pretty evil to hug a girl so tight after she’s just gotten stitches!”
La-Iin gave a malicious grin.
“Uh-oh.”

—–
Late in the night, while waiting for Mit-Sun to tell her to go to sleep, La-Iin sat at her table drawing a picture of San-Kyung and the children she envisioned them having. She was distracted by the sound of claws against the floor.
Choungetsu stood at the entrance to her room, still looking upset and guilty. She instantly felt furious the sight of him, but when she remembered the promise she had made to Mit-Sun, and how she had felt about Choungetsu in the past, she sighed.
“Come here,” she said, beckoning to him. Choungetsu walked slowly over to her, as if scared. La-Iin pet him on the head once he was close enough.
“I forgive you, this time,” she said. “But don’t let it happen again.”
While his ears stayed folded to his head, Choungetsu’s tail instantly began to wag. He gave a soft yip in response.

3.368.Asul-Zenza and Choungetsu

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 368
“Asul-Zenza and Choungetsu”

It was a misty Saturday morning, Asul-Zenza noticed as soon as he woke up. He stared out the window of the miscellaneous room, barely able to see outside around all the objects that were piled nearby the window.
“It looks so nice outside right now…” He mused to himself.
Enraptured by the sight, he almost didn’t notice Choungetsu sitting next to him. The dog sat still and stared out the window with wide, curious eyes.
“Hello there, Choungetsu,” he said, giving him a scratch behind the ears. Choungetsu gave a contented growl and curled up next to him.
‘This has been a nice few days.’ Even with Mit-Sun’s cold attitude, Asul-Zenza had been enjoying the days he was spending at the Cahongyun house, and the idea of leaving tomorrow made him sigh. He enjoyed spending quality time with La-Iin and Choungetsu, and talking to Bes-Isa was always interesting. He got to see things about La-Iin’s daily life that he wouldn’t have been able to had he not stayed over these days.
It almost made him wish his and Mit-Sun’s relationship had worked out, save for the sick feeling he got at the idea of actually marrying her now. He sighed and started to stroke Choungetsu’s head, putting the thoughts out of mind for now.

“Mit-Sun, may I take Choungetsu on a walk?”
The idea had come to him while staring outside. Mit-Sun was at her computer typing something, and she turned to face him with a blank expression on her face. She seemed drained.
“Are you alright, Mit-Sun?”
“Alright as you can be when your ex forces his way into your house. Only thing I’m grateful for is that you’re not one of the murderous or crazy types…” She sighed. “It’s not my place to tell you whether or not you can walk Choungetsu. You brought him here. If there’s anyone you should ask, it’s La-Iin. I keep her in charge of taking care of him most of the time.”
“Is she even awake?”
“That I don’t know….now stop talking to me so I can get back to work. The sooner you leave the happier I’ll be.”
Asul-Zenza stared down at his feet. “I’ll be leaving soon, so I suppose your happiness isn’t too far away.”
He closed her door and walked over to La-Iin’s. He knocked on it two times before opening the door.
“Are you awake, La-Iin?” He said quietly.
“What is it, Dami?”
La-Iin was sitting at the table in the middle of her bedroom, pieces of paper scattered everywhere and a red crayon in her hand. Asul-Zenza only then noticed Choungetsu whimpering and attempting to push past him into the bedroom.
“Stay here. I don’t know if she wants you in there,” he whispered, then cleared his throat. “La-Iin, would you mind if I took Choungetsu for a walk?”
“I don’t care. You can take him for a walk anytime, Dami. I think he’s been mad at me because I don’t like to take him on walks in Winter. It’s just so cold…he has fur, he’d never understand! Someday maybe I’ll shave off all his fur and make him play in the snow.”
“I….see. Well, then, I’ll be going now.”
“Dami, when are you leaving?” La-Iin asked just as he put his hand on the doorknob.
“Tomorrow. I have work then but that’s the last day of it. I’ll be heading back to Feratus after work that day. Why?” He smiled. “Are you as ready as Mit-Sun is for me to leave?”
“No, I was just wondering,” she said. “Go ahead and walk Choungetsu. I’m busy right now.” Asul-Zenza closed the door; the last thing he heard from her was, “Maybe I should turn on some music…”
“Ready to go for a walk?” Asul-Zenza said to Choungetsu. Choungetsu yipped in response. Glancing around once to make sure Mit-Sun was still in her room, Asul-Zenza flew downstairs, Choungetsu close behind him, and head for the living room. Choungetsu’s leash was in plain sight, and he picked it up and fastened it to Choungetsu’s collar.
Then, the two of them head out the Cahongyun house, Choungetsu in the lead.

The morning was still misty as Asul-Zenza and Choungetsu walked through the neighborhood. Asul-Zenza felt this was one of his first good looks at it. Several people were outside today, and it was easy to hear as well as see them.
Choungetsu kept a steady lead, and Asul-Zenza almost felt like he was the one being walked. Choungetsu would jerk him around to look at the ground, sniff the grass for what seemed like nothing, stare up at the sky and then sneeze, or simply stop and shake droplets of water off of him.
Asul-Zenza was a bit frustrated, but he was mostly amused. Usually he didn’t spend any time with Choungetsu when he visited the Cahongyun house, what with his attention usually being focused entirely on La-Iin and occasionally Bes-Isa or Mit-Sun. Looking at him now reminded him of the small puppy he had met at the shelter. Despite the whimpering, whining dogs all around him and the dreary cage he was stuck in, Choungetsu still seemed happy, even more so when Asul-Zenza decided to take him home.
‘And it looks like he hasn’t changed much since then,’ he thought to himself. Choungetsu seemed to be in a cheerful mood as he pranced along the sidewalk, pausing momentarily to nip at a pole.
Choungetsu had been much smaller back when he had brought him to the Cahongyun house. Now he seemed to have grown to his full size, and while he was still fairly tiny, he was no longer puppy-sized and he seemed well-fed and healthy.
“Ah, I wonder if I shouldn’t have kept you for myself,” Asul-Zenza said aloud. Choungetsu stopped and glanced at him, but then continued on. “But then, I wouldn’t always be able to be there for you. I’m gone a lot for work and travel. You’d be all alone a lot–I know I couldn’t bring you everywhere with me, and I also know dogs can easily get lonely…so perhaps it’s better you live with La-Iin. You love her after all, don’t you?”
Choungetsu yipped. Asul-Zenza checked ahead to see if there was something in front of him, but there didn’t seem to be. His tail was wagging and he seemed energetic.
“Do you love me?”
Choungetsu gave a cheerful yip. Asul-Zenza smiled. ‘Let’s hope that means something good.’ “I’m glad to hear it. I love you too, Choungetsu. I’ll try and pay more attention to you the next time I can come over. Fingers crossed that it’s sometime this year…”
As the walk continued and Choungetsu led him to somewhere he was sure was no longer in the neighborhood, Asul-Zenza dwelled on his memories of Choungetsu as a puppy. ‘He was good on the flight home, and on the flight to the Cahongyun house. But I suppose things can always change, and he was a small puppy back then, not a full-grown dog….still, I wonder what sort of differences my life would have if I had kept him.’
He thought back on La-Iin’s reaction to meeting Choungetsu. She had been excited, moreso than he had expected. ‘I wonder if it was just because I had brought him, or because she actually wanted a dog.’ He realized he had never asked about those earlier days and decided he would as soon as he got home.
‘No…the Cahongyun house isn’t my home. My home in Feratus is.’
“Choungetsu, would you mind if held you on the way home?”
Choungetsu turned around and cocked his head. Asul-Zenza picked him up. Choungetsu reached out to lick his face and Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Is that a plea for me to let you down?”
Choungetsu whimpered and stopped licking his face. He relaxed into Asul-Zenza’s arms. “I suppose you’re alright with it, then….”
Asul-Zenza walked home with Choungetsu in his arms. Memories of Choungetsu as a puppy filled his mind, along with them daydreams of what his life would have been like if he had kept Choungetsu. And as they approached the Cahongyun house, both felt closer to eachother than they had at any point before then.

—–
“Tomorrow’s the last day I’ll be here,” Asul-Zenza said to La-Iin later on. “So if there’s anything you’d like to do with me while I’m here, tell me now so we’ll have the time to do it.”
“I don’t know…I would introduce you to San-Kyung, but I can’t even contact him, not to mention there are other problems with that….” She gave a huff as if frustrated.
“Well, that’s alright. I’m sure we could find something else to do. Say, I’ve noticed you’ve been drawing a lot today. Would you mind showing me some of those drawings before I go?”
“Only some of them. Some of them have to do with things you’re not supposed to know yet.”
Asul-Zenza could guess what that meant, but it didn’t stop him from feeling a little curious. “I see. Well, I’d be glad to see whatever you’re willing to show me.”
A squeaky yawn startled him and he turned to his left. Choungetsu was comfortably splayed out next to him, and when he caught his eye he started to pant and wag his tail, tongue lolling onto the couch.
“Choungetsu likes you,” La-Iin said. “But then, he likes everyone, so….”
“I can imagine there are a lot of people Choungetsu likes, but I can also imagine that you and I have a special connection with him.”
“I’m not sure I want to have a special connection with him.”
“A special connection with Choungetsu is a good thing to have. He’s so sweet.” Asul-Zenza smiled at him. “Aren’t you?”
Choungetsu gave a yip. La-Iin blinked in confusion. ‘Did he always like Choungetsu this much?’

28.362.Down Neighborhood’s Lane

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 362
“Down Neighborhood’s Lane”

The Sanhuun family trudged through the snow toward the Cahongyun house. Even dressed as warmly as they could manage, they still felt cold.
“It’s really thick over here!” Tei-Sheu exclaimed. “I thought it was bad in our neighborhood!”
“I hope La-Iin can get out,” Fer-Shi said. Snow was piled in front of the door to the Cahongyun house. Fer-Shi kicked at it to see how soft it was. Some of the snow spattered into her parents’ faces and they started to sputter.
“I’m sorry!” Fer-Shi exclaimed.
“It’s not a problem,” Den-Matsu said. “But why’d you do that, Fer-Shi!?”
“I was just worried….look at all that snow in front of La-Iin’s house! Do you think they’ll be able to get out?”
“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Den-Matsu said. He finally stopped trudging in front of the door. “If not, we’ll help them get out.”
“Yeah, you’re right,” Fer-Shi breathed. “Still, there’s just so much snow over here…”
Den-Matsu knocked on the door. All three members of the family waited patiently in front of the door. Finally, it started to open, only to get jammed.
“Can you help us out here?” Mit-Sun’s voice said from inside the house.
“Sure!” At once Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu began to scoop snow away from the door. Fer-Shi managed to avoid getting hit with any clumps, and she soon went to help her parents.
“This is ridiculous,” the Sanhuuns heard La-Iin said from inside. “Can’t we just light a fire and burn the snow away?”
“Snow doesn’t burn, La-Iin.”
“I mean melt.”
“No, we can’t…” Mit-Sun sounded as if she had more to say to her daughter, but before she could continue the door opened just enough for the two to step outside. Both were as bundled up as all the Sanhuuns were, La-Iin perhaps even moreso, though her wings were exposed and she was obviously shivering.
“Hi, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said, giving her friend a hug. La-Iin quickly returned it before breaking away. “Was it scary being snowed in?”
“It was mostly boring.”
“Not even a little scary?” Fer-Shi asked. “I was scared and I’m older than you. You must be really fearless about these kinds of things…”
“I think La-Iin just cares more about whether she’s having fun or not than whether she can actually get outside,” Mit-Sun sighed. “But it’s good to see you three. I think it’s been too long since we all met up in person…”
“Good to see you too again, Mit-Sun,” Den-Matsu said. “Though…you look tired. Have you been getting enough sleep?”
“I’ve been doing fine. It’s mostly just random stresses here and there wearing on me, like the snowstorm, ha ha…I got a lot less sleep when La-Iin was a baby, so what I get now feels like a lot. She’s a hard child to sleep soundly with, but she does go to bed fairly early.”
“Stop talking about me so much, Mama!” La-Iin complained.
“It’s just a fact,” she said simply.
“May we come inside, Mit-Sun?” Tei-Sheu asked. “It’s really cold outside. I think my nose is frozen…”
“Sure, you can come in. Also, La-Iin and I had cinnamon soup yesterday. I can make some for you three if you’d like.”
“That sounds good!” Fer-Shi squeaked. La-Iin side-stepped next to her and whispered into her ear, “It’s not as good as you might think it sounds. It’s full of little particles that taste like dust.”
“Are you just saying that to be mean?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Maybe.”
As soon as they walked in the house, Choungetsu ran up to La-Iin, carrying his leash in his mouth. La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“I’m not taking you outside,” she snapped. “It’s too cold. Do you want to freeze too, or are you mocking me because you have fur?”
Choungetsu’s expression became dejected and he sat down, staring at her with wide eyes and ears folded to his head.
“Maybe he really has to go to the bathroom,” Fer-Shi said. “It might be better to take him out if he does…”
“Don’t forget you have to clean up after any mistakes he makes,” Mit-Sun called from the kitchen. La-Iin grit her teeth.
“Why can’t you take him out sometimes!?” La-Iin yelled. Beside her, Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu flinched. Mit-Sun began to feel flustered, and she tried to calm herself somewhat before yelling back to La-Iin,
“I’ve been taking him out a lot recently! And Asul-Zenza only gave him to you, so why should I have to watch him all hours of every day?”
La-Iin scoffed. She tore the leash from Choungetsu’s mouth and fixed it to his collar. “Fine, let’s go, Choungetsu.”
“I can go with you!” Fer-Shi said. She noticed La-Iin’s expression soften slightly. “Good. That might make this a little more bearable.”
Fer-Shi smiled as she and La-Iin walked outside. The cold didn’t even get rid of her smile. After how jealous she had felt of La-Iin’s friendship with San-Kyung, it felt great whenever her friend seemed grateful to have her.
As they walked along the sidewalk, Fer-Shi heard a voice muttering something in the backyard of a house.
“Who’s–”
“Sale-Dessu. I’ve told you about him before, right?”
“Not much…”
“Don’t worry about him. He’s easily distracted and I have him trained better than Choungetsu. He won’t do anything to you.” ‘That’s my job,’ she kept to herself.
“Okay…” Fer-Shi wasn’t sure of how to feel about La-Iin’s statement, but she followed behind her anyway. Choungetsu was shivering wildly but he continued to press on through the snow, clearing a path for the two girls, although snow still stood in their way, and Fer-Shi found herself trudging more than a few times.
“What kinds of people live in your neighborhood?” Fer-Shi asked. “I’ve never met anyone else.”
“I don’t really know, and I don’t really care. I know Sale-Dessu. Mama doesn’t even really talk to anyone else in the neighborhood. Her best friends are outside of here.”
“I see…”
“I wish I lived close to San-Kyung,” La-Iin sighed. “Then I could visit him anytime I want….already I’m able to see Sale-Dessu whenever I deem it necessary. But San-Kyung is difficult. And now I probably won’t see him until school starts again…”
La-Iin started to slow down, though Choungetsu continued to plow through the snow as if it were nothing more than dust.
“Don’t worry, La-Iin. I’m, uh…sure he’ll probably miss you too when he sees you next. You are friends, right?”
“That’s right,” La-Iin said, her tone suddenly becoming malicious. Fer-Shi flinched away from her. “And there’s no way he can take it back now. Ohh, I felt this year would bring nothing in the way of my relationship with him, but after that, who knows what next year will hold? First year is a meeting, the second is friendship. And the third could be–”
“Um!” Fer-Shi opted to interrupt La-Iin before her tirade became too disturbing. La-Iin glared at her over her shoulder. “Whatever happened to the days where you didn’t want to tell me about your crush? Why are you so open about it now?”
“Because you used to tease me about it. I don’t like being teased, it makes me angry. And when I’m angry I want to hurt people. But it’s harder to hurt you than it is most other people.”
Fer-Shi couldn’t help her smile returning, though she tried to hide it from La-Iin by covering her mouth. If La-Iin noticed, she had no reaction. “So if I started teasing you about it again, would you stop talking about it?”
“That depends. What’s the point? I think everyone in class knows about it after what I did…but that kiss was–”
“Never mind, let’s talk about something else!” Fer-Shi shook her head as she followed after La-Iin.
“I hear a new voice. Who’zat?”
Fer-Shi flinched.
“I’m assuming it’s Cahongyun’s friend, Grandma,” a Catori girl replied.
“Older one ‘er younger one?”
“The younger one, grandma.”
“Who’re they, La-Iin?” Fer-Shi asked, pointing towards the two Catori ladies.
“I don’t know. Some stupid neighbors. I told you I don’t really know anyone down this way except for Sale-Dessu, so why are you asking?”
“Sorry, I was curious…”
“I think they noticed we were talking about them, Grandma,” Fer-Shi heard the younger one say as the two walked away from the Catori ladies.
“Eh, kids these days, always so nosy.”
‘Is it nosy to wonder about La-Iin’s neighbors?’ Fer-Shi barely knew the people who lived in her neighborhood, and she wasn’t particularly interested in getting to know them–they all sort of scared her. She wondered if La-Iin’s neighborhood was much different.
La-Iin fell silent as she continued to walk Choungetsu along the sidewalk, only occasionally yelling at him when he stepped out of line. Fer-Shi kept an eye on the nearby neighbors, and noticed quite a few were outside.
She noticed two women and their young girl outside their house. The girl tossed herself into the snow and started to giggle.
“It’s so cold!” She trilled. “I love it!”
“Did you cover her enough, Alsi-Kyu?” One of the women asked.
“Sure I did. I didn’t even want her going outside today, so of course I made sure she was all bundled up. She wanted to go outside in the snowstorm yesterday…I think Oka-Nkok’s too fearless for her own good.”
Fer-Shi strained to try and hear the rest of the conversation, but the squealing of their daughter quickly drowned it out. Fer-Shi couldn’t help but think of how much fun it looked like she was having. ‘I hope the snow gets more manageable soon. Although…’ Her eyes rested on La-Iin’s wings and she sighed.
“How is the snow, my lovelies?” A man called out, catching the attention of both La-Iin and Fer-Shi. While La-Iin quickly turned away, Fer-Shi kept her eyes on the man.
“Wondrous, Gran-Howas!”
“I am pleased to hear it!” He yelled, his tone almost tearful. “Anything for you all. If there’s anything in particular you would like to do, just let me know and I will do it for you! Nothing is too good for my lovelies.”
“Thank you, Gran-Howas!”
Gran-Howas began to giggle. ‘What a strange man,’ Fer-Shi thought to herself. She couldn’t help but keep staring at him, until she crashed into a bespectacled Minomix man.
“I’m sorry!”
“How agitating,” the Minomix man sighed. “Another someone too interested in the goings-on of our neighborhood to actually care about doing anything for herself. Pathetic.”
Fer-Shi flinched.
“You should be doing something more productive with your time,” the man said. “There are plenty of things you could do that is better than merely watching–ow! Ahh, damn it!”
“Good one, Choungetsu,” La-Iin giggled as she walked back around with Choungetsu in the lead. Choungetsu began to growl at the Minomix man.
“Take better care of your dog!” The man snapped before walking off.
“La-Iin…did you do that on–”
“Where did you go? All of a sudden you weren’t behind me, so I went to go and get you. And then when we ran into that guy, Choungetsu just started getting angry at him. And Choungetsu barely ever gets angry. I bet it was his voice. Don’t worry, Choungetsu. I found it annoying too.”
Choungetsu gave a yip.
“Anyway, let’s get back to my house. I’m getting cold enough that cinnamon soup sounds good…”
Fer-Shi nodded and followed quietly behind La-Iin. As they passed by Gran-Howas again, she was tempted to glance in his direction given the noises he was making, but decided against it when she remembered the Minomix man.
She picked up speed and ran ahead of La-Iin.
“Hey!” La-Iin protested.

—–
“You make good cinnamon soup, Mit-Sun,” Den-Matsu said.
“You’ll need to give us the recipe sometime!” Tei-Sheu said.
“Sure, I can do that. I’ll just write it up sometime.”
The sound of something exploding sounded from next door. All three of them flinched.
“…um, what was that?” Tei-Sheu asked. Mit-Sun’s face contorted with worry, until she remembered who lived next door.
“It was probably nothing,” she said, trying to keep her tone light. “Some of our neighbors are….weird, to say the least.”
“Well, you’ve never seen our neighbors…” Den-Matsu said. “Yours probably pale in comparison.”
“I wonder about that,” Mit-Sun sighed.