17.594.Operation Reboot in Action

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 594
“Operation Reboot in Action”

A woman set up her stall near the plaza of Bledger. ‘I wonder if I’ll get any attention?’ She did her best to make the stall look neat and tidy.
Out the corner of her eye she spotted two hooded figures walking up to the stall. “Why, hello there! What can I get for–eek!”
“Something wrong, ma’am?”
“Ah, er, no, not particularly….is he…glaring at me?”
“Don’t worry about it. That’s his natural look.”
Two boys had approached her stall. Both were wearing hoodies that made it slightly hard for her to see their faces, but she could see their eyes, and noticed that one of them was slightly smaller than the other. Nevertheless they both seemed to be taller than her. She felt a little nervous as the smaller once glanced through her inventory.
“Ma’am, can you tell us a little bit about the potions you’re selling? We’re not all that well-versed in potions, you see.”
“Oh…certainly.” She swallowed hard. “I sell potions that mostly help people. They’re like medicine, but I’d like to hope they’re more effective than even the best medicine.”
“Mm-hm…” The smaller one had started to jot down notes in a notepad. “Tell me, would you compare potions to drugs? After all, you did just compare them to medicine.”
“Heavens no! Well, I guess some potions, but not mine! Potions should be designed to do good for you, that’s what I think! And their effects do wear off!”
“Hm.” The smaller one turned to his companion. “I’m not sure this is a good idea. I don’t care what you say, I’m still wary about potions!”
“I’m surprised, considering this seems more like something I’d be wary about,” his companion hissed. “I don’t care what you say. I don’t think this is anything like that drug.”
“What…what are you two talking about?”
“Oh, nothing. Pretend you didn’t hear that.” The smaller one glanced around her inventory. “You said your potions are for helping people, right? What would you give to someone who’s feeling weak?”
“Well, I made this potion,” she said, showing them a bottle of purple liquid. “This is designed to give you a bit of stamina. It might work.”
“How much?”
“Um, well, 2000.000 vuyong…”
The shorter one rummaged through his pocket and handed her exact change. “Thanks!”
The two walked away. She gave a nervous smile. ‘What weird people…’

Once they were a decent distance away from the Witch woman, San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina pulled down their hoods. Dosa-Mina stared at the purple liquid with a concerned look.
“I don’t see why you’re so worried about it. You’re okay with medicine, aren’t you? Vaccines? You’re a species studier. How is this worse than drugs if those other things aren’t?”
“It’s not potions in general that worry me, really. I just heard that some Witches are less than honest about the contents of their potions.” He sighed. “Besides, giving you a potion to temporarily heighten your powers? I don’t know if such a thing exists, but it sounds exactly like that drug.”
“But there’s a difference, isn’t there? You said that potions can be washed out of the system anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Can you blame me for being worried about you, though? You’ve been pretty desperate about getting what you want. But we’re here now, so do you want to try it, or not?”
“I’ll try it.” He took the liquid from him. “Any chance is a chance I’ll take. And it’ll be better than the dead-ends we’ve hit recently. If this stuff really works, and we can find a potion that does what I need….”
Dosa-Mina had mixed feelings about the ordeal. ‘Look at him. He’s so happy. If this all works out, it would really be great. He’d just have to take a potion and he could look like he wants…you need to stop feeling so wary! This is for his sake…’
San-Kyung drank the liquid. “He–hey, if you’re going to drink that now, can I try some, too?”
“Why?”
“Oh, no reason. Just curious. We’re in this together, after all.”
San-Kyung opened his mouth as if about to protest, but sighed and handed the rest of the potion to Dosa-Mina. There was only a small amount left on the bottom, and Dosa-Mina downed it in one go.
“Phew! What a bad aftertaste…”
“If only we hadn’t been so focused on La-Iin all that time. Witches and Warlocks might just be what I need. Damn it, why can’t I be half-Warlock?”
“I’ve never heard you lamenting your species before,” Dosa-Mina said playfully.
“Animated Pumpkin is fine. Aesthetically Normal is not. That’s how I feel. And if I was half-Warlock, we wouldn’t need to buy potions.”
“Mm-hm.” Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “Well, as long as you’re happy, that’s good enough for me. But maybe next time, we’ll look into potions some more before we go to creepy stalls. That lady did seem trustworthy, though.”
“If you say so…”
The two stood around in silence for a short while, waiting for the effects to kick in.
“I’m getting bored.”
“Me too. But what can we do while we wait for this to kick in?”
“Run? Running sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah, it does. We could run to Hledshess and back to here. That’s not exactly close, after all.”
“Yeah.” Right after saying that, San-Kyung took off ahead of Dosa-Mina. Dosa-Mina quickly caught up with him, and the two kept an even pace as they dashed across Bledger. The competition itself didn’t matter; they were enjoying running for running’s sake. As they passed by areas with more people, they caught a bit of attention, but at their speeds, it barely mattered. They were soon out of their line of sight.
The two kept running until they neared Hledshess, not once feeling slightly drained. Even when they made it to their stop, San-Kyung began to pace as if restless.
“Now what?”
“I have no idea.” He pulled up his hood. “Just be careful. Hey, there’s a stream near here, isn’t there? We can run past that and see what’s there.”
“Yeah. But only quickly, and then we get the hell out of here. Hledshess isn’t really the best place for us to be anymore…”
The two ran over to the stream, then bolted off past it. A path of stones was ahead of them, and they were able to hear voices. Looking around, they noticed a small Fairy society to their left.
“I didn’t even know any Fairies lived in Bledger,” Dosa-Mina said. “Wow!”
“Do you want to get caught!?”
“No. But I bet you want to wreak havoc on their little peace, don’t you?”
“I’m more concerned with getting this energy out of my system!”
The two continued to run. All sorts of winding paths were ahead of that small stream, along with some forest fixtures that Dosa-Mina was convinced were put there by the Fairy society. Once they had reached the top of a small hill, only then did they start to feel tired.
“I think we’ve run enough,” San-Kyung breathed.
“Yeah. Hey, you think that energy…you think that was the potion?”
“I bet you it was.”
“She said it was supposed to give you stamina, right? She must not have diluted it any, because I only drank a little and that was powerful!”
San-Kyung grinned. “If that’s the case, maybe I have a trump card for November…” He began to gasp and wheeze, but despite his labored breathing, he looked happy. “You should’ve looked into this earlier!”
“Sorry, there’s just a lot on Witches and Warlocks. I always get overwhelmed.” Dosa-Mina took deep breaths. “Alright, we should probably head back before we get lost here.”
“Yeah…”
“Got enough energy to keep going, or do I have to jump you there?”
“I can go on my own!” Despite San-Kyung’s protest, Dosa-Mina wrapped his arms around him and then jumped up. The jump was weak, so Dosa-Mina went into a second jump, this time holding San-Kyung in a way that was much more convenient for him. They jumped until they reached the stream, at which point San-Kyung pushed him away and continued on without him.
As soon as they peeked their heads out, they were greeted by the wild faces of a Catori and a Bearperson.
“Looks like what they say in copper school is true,” the Catori giggled. “Criminals really do come back to the scene of the crime!”
Dosa-Mina felt petrified, but noticed that San-Kyung seemed unusually confident. The duo in front of them looked ready to pounce, and yet he looked collected. When the two of them did make their leap, San-Kyung tied them up with vines, pulling them tight enough that they began to gasp and wheeze for breath.
“That should do it,” he said. “Come on! Let’s run!” He grabbed Dosa-Mina’s hand and the two ran out of Hledshess.
“You know, I’m fully capable of taking care of myself!”
“I know, I just wanted to get out of there faster! Didn’t think we’d run into those hacky “authority” people again. Think they saw our faces?”
The two came to a stop. “I wonder…”
“Hledshess is probably a bad idea. The people there already hate us enough to set bombs and traps. We have the power to fend them off, but if they riot again…”
“You have to wonder why we kept trying in the first place.”
“That place is significant, that’s why.”
San-Kyung began to walk off. “By the way, why were you so calm dealing with that duo back then? I know they’re not exactly police, but they’re still kind of authority. And they are pretty brawny…”
“I could predict their moves from miles away. Besides,” he flashed Dosa-Mina a smile. “I’m feeling confident after that potion. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have even thought about this. But this is a way I can get what I want without having to rely on someone else.”
“You do, though. The Witches and Warlocks who make them.”
“I don’t need to pretend to befriend them though, do I?”
“Yeah, guess not.”
“Lately I’ve just been a little happier,” he said. “…things started looking up for me in July, mostly anyway.”
“That’s good!”
“I’ll find my way. I’m still determined to give the world its comeuppance. Are you holding in there?”
“Huh?”
“Are you alright. You don’t talk about yourself, you know.”
“Oh, I–I know.” Dosa-Mina smiled. “Don’t worry, San-Kyung, I’m fine. And I’m even better seeing you happy. Trust me, the best thing for me is to see you act like you did back there!”

—–
“I know the real reason you’ve been happier lately, San-Kyung.”
“You know the real reason why already.”
“Nope, that’s not it. You’re happier because you’ve finally embraced your natural talent for dancing! Think about it: the best way to mock the people you’re damning to life in hell is to dance in front of them.”
“…”
“You don’t agree, huh.”
“No, I don’t. That just sounds stupid.”
“Ah well. It sounded like a good idea in my head.”

15.592.To See the Future–Part 4

The La-Iin Series
Capter 592
“To See the Future–Part 4”

“You know what’s weird to think about?”
“What’s that, Dad?”
“You’re sixteen and in Grade 11 now…2017 isn’t all that far away anymore. Graduation is the last step before adulthood.” Orlin-Aesth’s ears flattened against his head. “Why can’t you go back to being that cute little ten-year-old you were a few years ago!?”
“Why ten?” Dosa-Mina asked. “Aw, come on, Dad. You’ve never had a problem with me aging before.”
“It’s just the idea of you leaving the nest and all. But I guess at least you’re prepared for adulthood.” He smiled. “After all, you even have a game plan for the future, don’t you?”
“Yep! Hopefully someday in the future, you’ll see my name along with many other species studiers!”
“Hopefully,” he chuckled. “Although hopefully I’ll also see you walking around in your true…ahem. Never mind.”
“I know what you were going to say, Dad. That’ll never happen.” ‘And hopefully along with that, nobody will ever know about it, either…’

After Orlin-Aesth head to work, Dosa-Mina found himself pacing around his room.
‘Dad might be right about me having a goal. I do have a lot of ideas for my future. But I’ve never considered certain parts of it, have I?’
Immediately a few things came to his mind–San-Kyung, his nightmares, and the duo of Lirako and Airy-Aekok. ‘Sure I can strive for being a species studier all I want, but what if I can’t move past the point I’m at now? What’ll I do if I’m still having nightmares in the future?’
He sighed. ‘Well, I’ve dealt with my other problems just fine in the past. I’m sure the future would be no different, if I really had to….’

***

“Hey, Elai-Aesth, whatcha up to?”
Elai-Aesth glanced at his father. “I was measuring the properties of a certain protein Warlocks usually come in contact with. Unfortunately your unusually chirpy voice distracted me.”
“Sorry about that, kiddo. I know what it’s like to be distracted right in the middle of rigorous research.”
“Meh, it wasn’t going anywhere.” Elai-Aesth shook his head. Dosa-Mina smiled. He was thankful for Elai-Aesth–he had been the product of his last-ditch effort to have a child. Dosa-Mina was always uncertain about his willingness to show off his species, however. ‘It probably wasn’t the best idea, in hindsight, to have a biological child if I want to hide that…but I can’t see life without him now!’
“Is Uncle San-Kyung coming over today?”
“Uncle San-Kyung?” Dosa-Mina questioned. “Since when did you start calling him that?”
“What, do you want me to call him Papa San-Kyung? That man has no biological relation to me.”
“No?”
Elai-Aesth sighed. “God, Father, what the hell do you want me to call him!?”
“You didn’t need to mouth off at me like that. Just San-Kyung is fine. I don’t think he minds at all.”
“If you ask me, he seems like he minds a lot,” Elai-Aesth grumbled. “I don’t get your relationship with him, Father.”
“We’re best friends.”
“I don’t think you understand…never mind.”
“And to answer your question, yes, he is coming over here today. Happy?”
Elai-Aesth didn’t respond. Moments later he said instead, “So, Father, I was curious…”
“Yeeees?”
“Why do you walk around in that Normal form if you were so determined to have a child who had Werewolf and Siren blood in them? You make no sense.”
“I’ve been told that before by many people years before you were born, Elai-Aesth. I don’t know. I guess you could say it’s kind of a natural curiosity. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m a Normal.”
“Father, that’s physically impossible. Your powers show through even in that falsified form and there is no defined mental reason that would cause one to believe that one is–”
“I get it, I get it. It’s circumstances beyond my control at this point, alright?” A knock sounded at the door. “I think I know who that is. Try and be a little more cheerful, alright, Elai-Aesth? I swear, you’re probably the least cheerful Dslellular currently living.”
“Well, excuse my confusion, then.”
Dosa-Mina went to answer the door. San-Kyung was standing there, his eyes focused on a piece of paper in his hands, though he looked up when Dosa-Mina opened the door.
“Hey.”
“Hello there, San-Kyung! Come on in!”
San-Kyung closed the door, and Dosa-Mina ran ahead of him, though he couldn’t keep himself from glancing over his shoulder. ‘San-Kyung looks exactly like he does in my nightmares now, top to bottom, but he hasn’t been having the problems the one in my nightmares has. And I have Elai-Aesth now. He wasn’t in my nightmares…maybe I don’t have to worry. …geez, Elai-Aesth is nine now, Dosa-Mina! Of course you don’t have to worry about it anymore!’
“What’s got you lost in though?” San-Kyung asked.
“Oh, um, nothing. Just thinking about how you and Elai-Aesth can be a little similar sometimes, heh. You two both have bad attitudes.”
“Excuse me?” Elai-Aesth shot a glare in his father’s direction. “Oh. Hello, Sa…San-Kyung. What brings you here?”
“Your father, who else?”
“Yeah, I don’t think San-Kyung likes walking all the way out here. But he does it all for me!” Dosa-Mina hugged his arm, and Elai-Aesth’s face went bright pink. “Seriously, Father! Either be honest with him or stop teasing him!”
“…”
“Aha ha ha. I’ll never stop showering San-Kyung in affection.”
“Yeah, not even in your thirties,” he sighed.
“Aw, come on.” Dosa-Mina let go of him. “Actually, Elai-Aesth, I did ask him over for a genuine reason. I have something to show him. You two wait here and I’ll go get it!”
Dosa-Mina ran off, but even a room over he could overhear the starts of a conversation between San-Kyung and Elai-Aesth.
“San-Kyung, what are your intentions with my Papa?”
“Papa?”
“I only call him Father when I’m angry with him. You probably never noticed the difference because I’m always angry with him when you come over. Now talk with me. I’m aware of your xenophobia but I’d rather it not apply to me.”
“Hmph.”
“Don’t act like a child. You’re thirty-six.”
“Funny you’re saying that.”
“I value maturity in a person.”
“That makes me wonder how you deal with Dosa-Mina every day.”
“I do care about him despite his ridiculousness. Now, tell me, what are your intentions with him?”
“You should be asking him that question about me.”
“I’ve tried, trust me.”
Dosa-Mina giggled. He retrieved the files and head out the room.
“Look, I don’t know the answer to that question either. I’ve tried asking him but–” San-Kyung looked up. “Oh, you’re back.”
“Well!? Are you going to answer the question, San-Kyung!? My Papa frustrates me endlessly on this subject! If I could get a clear answer from you, I might be able to–” Elai-Aesth cleared his throat. “Excuse me.”
“Papa? That’s new.”
“He must be angry with you more than half the time, then…” San-Kyung stood up. “Alright, what is it?”
“My coworkers think I’m crazy, but I’ve been using a lot of my spare time to look into the whole Aesthetically Normal-Regular Form transformation you want so much.”
Elai-Aesth forced himself between them and stared at the papers; Dosa-Mina noticed San-Kyung flinch briefly. “So, this is what you’ve been holing yourself in your room for? Your devotion to each other astounds me. It’s also the source of much confusion on my part…”
“Aaaanyway, so in the time I’ve been looking into this I’ve found out a few interesting things. And I think it might be possible, but it’s going to take a bit.”
“I’ve waited thirty-six years. I can wait more if it means there’ll be a payoff at the end.”
“There might just be! But what I’m looking into right now is amplifiers. There seem to be a few methods worth looking in to, though.”
“Astounding what you’ve found out, Papa!”
Dosa-Mina giggled. “Thanks.”
“Yeah, it is pretty amazing.”
“Something wrong, San-Kyung? You look sad. We haven’t been able to hang out as much since Elai-Aesth came along. Go ahead and tell me if anything’s on your mind.”
“It’s nothing, really. I just wish this could have happened years ago as opposed to just having a breakthrough now.”
“Me too. But what are you gonna do?”
“What about you? You aren’t cutting anymore, are you?”
Dosa-Mina paled.
“Cutting?”
“San-Kyung, I thought I asked you not to bring that up in front of Elai-Aesth!”
“Shit. Sorry.”
“What’s he talking about, cutting?”
“Er, stress cutting! You know, like cutting paper–” Dosa-Mina flinched. Elai-Aesth had lifted up his sleeve. “I’m not stupid, Father. Your suspicious behavior made it click better than it would have on San-Kyung’s word alone. How long have these been here!?” Elai-Aesth’s paws gripped his arm tight and made him flinch.
“I–I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Look, Dosa-Mina…” Dosa-Mina glared at San-Kyung. “I’m not the one who should be telling you anything about parenting, but you owe it to that kid to tell him. I’ll…make it up to you twofold, just don’t keep him in the dark.”
“You’re saying that?”
“Father, please.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “…they’ve been here for a while. Ever since me and San-Kyung were kids. But I was older than you are now when I started. I had….certain reasons for starting that I’ll tell you about later. It’s easier for me that way…but anyway, now those reasons, they’re gone. All of them. I’ve realized it was irrational…but I can’t erase what I did in the past, no matter how hard I try.”
Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “I wish I could.”
“Father…”
San-Kyung scratched Dosa-Mina’s head.
“Why keep this from me!? You trust me, don’t you? Why do you do things like this to keep yourself from being happy?”
“I–I don’t think you understand, Elai-Aesth. I’m happier if I can pretend things are the way I want them to be. What am I supposed to do!? I can’t get rid of all these cuts!”
Elai-Aesth had started to cry. The expression on his face was a lot different from the composed one Dosa-Mina was used to seeing. He looked genuinely distressed.
“Father, I know I’m not nice to you all the time, but you’re still my Father! How do you think I feel seeing things like this!? I just want you to be happy…”
Dosa-Mina pulled him close. “Sorry, Elai-Aesth. Unfortunately, your Father’s not as strong as he’d like to pretend…”
“So–so why do you pretend you’re a Normal, then?”
“I think you probably figured that out by now, haven’t you?”
“He’s always been like this, kid. He kept these things secret from me too. I had to find out myself.”
“Why!?”
“I just want to pretend everything’s the way I want it to be…things like this are hard on me, too.”
“Father, you can’t do that. If you hold things in like this, when they are found out, it will be all that much worse. You make things hard on yourself this way. You’ll only be more unhappy if things are found out against your will.”
“Elai-Aesth…?”
“So please, be happy. It’s why I tell you to be honest with your feelings, you know…you really should be, whatever they are.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Th–thanks. I guess I can try…after all, now I know I was cutting for no good reason, maybe I can start being happier…but one thing at a time, alright?”
“You may consider me a xenophobe, kid, but maybe because you’re his child, you’re not as bad as the rest of the people. I can sympathize when it comes to him not being honest…”
“Yeah…”
“I can try. But you’ll have to be patient with me, alright?”
“Mm-hm…it’s just…it’s scary, seeing all those cuts.”
“I know. I’m sorry. To make it up, why don’t I make us all something to drink? Would you like that?”
“Yes…”
“Whatever.”
Dosa-Mina handed the papers to San-Kyung and walked into the kitchen. Soon after he noticed that Elai-Aesth and San-Kyung were close behind him, watching him with concerned expressions.
‘What Kkumneok said happened where he comes from won’t happen here. They prove that to me…people love you, Dosa-Mina. So why can’t you just tell them all these problems you have…’
“Hey.”
“What now?”
San-Kyung handed him a small picture. It was a picture of him and San-Kyung on their graduation day.
“I figured you could use a little cheering up after what happened.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Thank you. I really could…”

—–
‘If I want to be a father in the future, I’ll need to try and become honest with myself. All these problems I have…’ He lifted up his sleeve, then quickly pulled it back down. The sight of so many cuts was too much for even him to bear.
‘But things that way would just be too painful! I like things the way they are now. And even if I have to become more honest with myself when I have a kid, why should I have to show these to everyone at school?’
Dosa-Mina was plagued with uncertainty, and it made him feel sick to his stomach. ‘What would really be better for me, anyway? What do I really want?’

10.587.Lucid Dreaming

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 587
“Lucid Dreaming”

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

***

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

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

7.584.That First Friend

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 584
“That First Friend”

The central of the neighborhood was abuzz with noise that afternoon as children played together. Their raucous noise was infectious to their nearby parents, who instead of chatting mundanely like they normally did, had begun to play with each other, running around and giving hearty laughs.
Despite the cheerful mood of most other people there, Dosa-Mina couldn’t find it in him to share in it. He had believed that once he and his parents had moved to Bledger, the knowledge of him being a Werewolf-Siren would disappear. Everyone except his parents would see him as a Normal from then on.
Those hopes had been quickly dashed. Once they saw his parents nearly everyone knew, and those who didn’t were quickly corrected in that Dosa-Mina was their biological son and not adopted. He did want to play with the other children, but a pervasive fear that someone would question him on his species kept him from doing so. More than not wanting his species to be known, he didn’t want the other children to know that he was half and half.
“Hi, Dslellular!”
Dosa-Mina looked up. The girl who had approached him was called Xarta Sirlie-Baecho–Dosa-Mina had met her soon after moving to the neighborhood along with the rest of her family. She seemed nice enough, but he was still reluctant to approach anyone.
“Hi, Xarta.”
“Why’re you so down? Everyone else is playing. Why, nobody want to play with you? I can play with you. The tag kids were getting bored of me anyway. It’s not my fault I’m so great at tag!”
“I’m just…never mind, it’s not important.”
“Yeah it is. You’re sad and you’re leaving yourself out. What’s wrong?”
“…” Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure how to respond. Something gave him the feeling that Sirlie-Baecho wasn’t going to leave him alone unless she got a response. “I’m just kind of sad. I didn’t want anyone in the neighborhood to know about my species.”
“Why not?”
“Just…’cause.”
Sirlie-Baecho sighed. “It is pretty weird that you always look like a Normal, but why should that keep you from playing with everyone else?”
“I thought the other kids would just ask me about it, so I didn’t want to risk it.”
“Most of us will play with you anyway. We live in Vaelyn, Dslellular! Remember, we care more about if you came from overseas than if you’re a Werewolf-Siren! Besides, that’s a fun combination!”
“…”
“But I don’t care if you want to be a Werewolf-Siren or a Normal. I just want you to smile. You’re breaking the mood here! So let’s play! I still feel like playing tag, after all!”
“…” Dosa-Mina sighed. “I guess we can play for a little bit.”
“Okay! But I’ll show you, I really am a tag master!”
Sirlie-Baecho clapped her hands, and wings sprouted from her back. Dosa-Mina felt slightly at ease. Perhaps he was letting his worry get to him a bit too much. Even if the people in the neighborhood knew his species, that was still just the people in the neighborhood. And so long as people didn’t see him in his true form, maybe things wouldn’t be so bad.
After all, it wasn’t as if there was anything he could do about it now that it was common knowledge.

***

Dosa-Mina head out to the neighborhood central. It had been a while since he had been out there, and today the central was fairly empty–most of the time children or teenagers would be hanging out around there, but today only one person was there ahead of him, and that was Sirlie-Baecho.
Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure why his old friend had summoned him so suddenly, but with nothing better to do he figured it wouldn’t hurt to meet with her. He sat down on the bench next to her.
“Hi, Sirlie,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Hey. I’m glad you actually came. I really thought you were gonna ditch.”
“Why would I do that? You’re my longtime friend.”
“Yeah, but we haven’t really been getting together much lately, have we? After all, you’re with that San-Kyung boy a lot now. I’ve seen he makes you happy. That makes me happy.”
“Yeah, we are pretty close. But you’re still a good friend of mine too.”
“I know that. And I wouldn’t have called you out here if I wasn’t a little concerned.”
Now that was unexpected. “What about?”
“Well, you haven’t been coming outside often, but I’ve seen the looks on your face when you do. You don’t seem as happy lately. What’s up? You know I’m gonna be the first to question you when you’re sad. ….okay, maybe more like the fourth, but I’d be the first if I had my way.”
“Oh….well, it’s nothing really. Just a couple of minor things. San-Kyung’s a little down, and before Summer break, there were two girls who were bothering us.”
“Like at Deatrou?”
“No, not like that. I can handle that. It’s a lot different…they’re suspicious about my true species.”
“Oh man. Geez, Dosa-Mina, I don’t think that’s gonna stay a secret forever. You do pull it off pretty flawlessly, but it isn’t even completely a secret now.”
“I’ll keep trying to keep it hidden anyway. Hopefully they’ll guess wrong and I can prove otherwise. But they kept asking me to sing, so I’m really worried…you can’t just pass that one off with incompetence, after all. I can’t sing badly, and even if I could it wouldn’t change the effects.”
“Yeah…well, you know you’re always welcome to come to me with your problems, right? I’ll lend an ear. I actually wish you would rely on me more when it comes to your problems. I feel kind of overshadowed by San-Kyung sometimes.”
“Sorry.”
Sirlie-Baecho shook her head. “‘s fine, I know you two are close. And it’s not like you’re the only one with other friends. I’ve got a few friends at my school. I just can’t help but remember playing with you when we were younger. We’d come up with games that lasted us so long they’d go into a week before we were done! Remember the pirate adventure game?”
Dosa-Mina giggled. “Yeah, I remember that one. I think that took us longer than a week, though!”
“Maybe, but point stands, it took a long time for us to finish that one!”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “I’m really sorry we haven’t gotten together much lately, Sirlie. Things have been weird ever since I became a teenager.”
“What doesn’t become weird after you hit the big one-three? But quit apologizing. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay, that’s all. Seeing you happy is my top priority. And hey, we haven’t talked for months, and this conversation wasn’t awkward at all.”
Dosa-Mina smiled, and Sirlie-Baecho pulled him into a hug. “Geez, Dosa-Mina, you’re such a cutie now! No wonder that San-Kyung boy likes you so much. Sometimes I feel less like your best friend and more like yer doting big sister!”
“You’re younger than me though, aren’t you?”
“Hey!” She ruffled his hair and let him go. “But seriously. If there’s one thing I have over this San-Kyung boy, it’s that I get to see the shy and awkward side of you. That in and of itself makes me happy. And there’s one thing I can do for you that he can’t.”
“What’s that?”
Sirlie-Baecho clapped her hands and grabbed him from the waist. “Show you what it’s like to fly!” She took off into the sky, only struggling slightly with Dosa-Mina’s weight–it was his height that she was having a harder time of managing.
“Geez, why are you so tall now!?”
‘I guess now would be a bad time to tell her about the levitation,’ he thought. ‘Oh well, I can enjoy this for now…’

—–
When Dosa-Mina returned home, Sirlie-Baecho accompanied him. Elai-Riya greeted the two, and she smiled when she spotted Sirlie-Baecho.
“Hello there, Sirlie-Baecho,” Elai-Riya said. “It sure has been a while since you’ve come by here.”
“Yeah. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of the pumpkin boy, though. I ain’t gonna stay long. Just reconnecting with Dosa-Mina.”
She hugged him again. “You come to me if anything’s wrong, a’ight? Even if we spend three years apart, we’ll still be friends. I ain’t gonna judge you.”
“Thanks, Sirlie.” He hugged back. “Not sure I’ll take you up on that, though. You know I don’t like talking about myself.”
“I know, I know. Well then, come over if you need someone to cheer you up, then?”
“Sounds good. I think I’ll take you up on that offer.”
Sirlie-Baecho let him go and waved to Elai-Riya. “Bye bye, Dslellulars! And see you soon or later, doesn’t matter–I look forward to our next meeting anyway, Dosa-Mina.”
She clapped her hands and flew off. Dosa-Mina closed the door.
“It’s nice to see that you still get along with her after all these years,” Elai-Riya said. “Especially considering she’s a lot nicer than San-Kyung is.”
“Well, San-Kyung is San-Kyung and Sirlie is Sirlie. And they’re both very important to me, just for different reasons.”
‘I never consider her when I think about my and San-Kyung’s plan,’ he realized. ‘Demons are long-lived, but maybe, just maybe…maybe he and I can wait for her. I’ll have to look into something to help extend the lifespans of Animated Pumpkins along with Operation Reboot, just in case.’

30.576.Harem Master San-Kyung

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 576
“Harem Master San-Kyung”

“Gee, it feels like it’s been a long time since we just hung out casually like this. Speaking of, when’s the last time you drank something that wasn’t water?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
Dosa-Mina relaxed. “Yeah, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Still, I think you should try a milkshake someday, San-Kyung. I know you’re no fan of sweets, but I think you might like it despite that.”
“I heard some milkshakes have things in them I can’t drink.”
“That’s true.” Dosa-Mina took a sip of his milkshake. “You know, San-Kyung, going out like this again made me think of something. Even though you only like me and your parents, there are more people that like you than you might expect!”
“Huh?”
“Well, to list off the most extreme examples, there’s La-Iin, and Yukkini, and Ely–er–”
“I think I know who you’re talking about,” San-Kyung said with a grimace.
“Those three all like you, and quite a bit too. It’s weird considering their personalities. …well, actually, it’s not all that weird with La-Iin. And it’s not all that weird with Yukkini either, at least it doesn’t seem that way on the outside. I never did know her all that well.”
“I don’t want to think about this. I’m aware other people like me aside from you and my parents. But that doesn’t mean I like them back.”
“Yeah, that’s obvious. And even if you did like one of them the other two would still be left in the dust. Say, San-Kyung, do you think you’ll ever want to enter a relationship?”
“No.”
“That was pretty blunt. Ah well, let’s get our minds off of this silly subject and just enjoy our day out!”

That night, as he prepared for bed, Dosa-Mina’s words from earlier were on San-Kyung’s mind.
‘He’s right, it doesn’t make much sense. Most other people dislike me, and that’s the way things should be. I don’t understand. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, but still, why?’
The question was still on his mind as he laid down for the night.
‘It just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s because of my grades. Or my looks. But I definitely wouldn’t understand why they would like that…’

***

“Look at the sky, San-Kyung! It’s so nice and blue today! Ah, I think today will be another one of the same school days!”
“…what?”
Dosa-Mina cleared his throat. “You know, more of the same. I’m surprised you haven’t dropped out of school yet, speaking of. After all, do you even learn anything here anymore? It seems like our recent lessons are always below your level.”
“Ask yourself the same question first.”
“Yeah, I suppose you have a point. Well, it’s just a year and so left, so I suppose it’s not worth it to just drop out now.” Dosa-Mina trotted ahead of him. “I’m gonna head in early so I can get some stuff done before class. See you soon, San-Kyung!”
“See you,” he said with a sigh. In that school Dosa-Mina was the only saving grace. Everyone else annoyed him, and it didn’t help that he had ended up becoming arguably the most popular student in his class. Be it for his grades, his attitude, or just because he was an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin, he had a lot of fans, and the fact that Dosa-Mina could not be in the same class as him frustrated him to no end.
Moreso than the students who speculated about him or the students who begged him to help them study, there were three specific students in his class that angered him more than all the others.
“Ah! M-M-Molshei? I…I didn’t mean to bump into you…”
Deki-Tyunri fidgeted in front of San-Kyung, hiding his mouth with his wing. San-Kyung ignored him and walked right past him.
“O-oh! Molshei? Actually, it’s good that I ran into you….I, um, made something for you to eat during lunch today…”
“I don’t eat.”
“I know you don’t usually, but I thought you might like it.” He lowered his head, visibly blushing. “I heard about how much you liked the animal organ platter they served at the school dance last year, so I was inspired by that…”
“I don’t eat.”
“Please, give it a try. I did my best to recreate it just for you!” Deki-Tyunri ran ahead of San-Kyung, holding the lunch he had made in his mouth. “Pweef?”
“No.”
“How disrespectful of you, Molshei!” San-Kyung flinched. “That boy put his heart and soul into that lunch and you’re just rejecting it?”
Deki-Tyunri peeked past San-Kyung, and both spotted a half-Goathoof girl who was standing a distance behind them, Yukkini Kai-Rin.
“You shut up, hypocrite!”
“Tsk tsk, Molshei, don’t turn to insults, it makes you look petty. And I know how I feel, but I also fully approve of your love for Elyshen!”
“I don’t love Elyshen!”
Deki-Tyunri put the lunch down. “I don’t mind that you don’t, but you should at least give yourself some nutrition. Otherwise you’ll start to look emaciated…”
San-Kyung huffed. “I eat enough to prevent that!”
“Oh, Molshei, you should give him a shot. I’ve given you my blessing.” She grabbed onto her arm and pressed her chest against it. San-Kyung began to rapidly strike his hand.
“I don’t need your blessing!”
“Oh, Molshei…” Deki-Tyunri’s eyes began to sparkle. “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“It means the opposite of what you think it means!”
“At least eat his lunch, Molshei. Why let it go to waste? And besides, he’s right, do you want to look emaciated?”
“YOU!”
San-Kyung let out a loud groan. Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin turned around.
“How dare you! You two-timing shitface!”
“Great. Just great. If you had let me go to the classroom, I could’ve avoided this, but no…
“Cahongyun, please. Molshei is not your boyfriend, and besides, all we were trying to do was get him to eat Elyshen’s lunch.”
La-Iin huffed. “I don’t buy it! Why are your boobies pressed against his arm, then!?”
San-Kyung broke free of Kai-Rin’s grasp. “That’s it, San-Kyung! You need to learn your place! And I know the perfect way to teach you.”
She flew towards him, but he rose vines quick enough to block her off. He wrapped the vines around her and trapped her in place. Her face flushed bright pink.
“Oh, San-Kyung, I can’t believe you’d show your vines in public!”
“Now it’s worse.” San-Kyung turned away from them. “I’m going to class.”
Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin, and La-Iin–they were the bane of his existence, and he had to deal with that same situation nearly every day.

During classes, San-Kyung tried to ignore the trio to keep from causing any noise in front of other students. It worked, for the most part: Deki-Tyunri had stopped trying to give him the lunch, and Kai-Rin only stopped by to tell him he had made a mistake. It was La-Iin who was problematic–she had started watching him like a hawk.
“I won’t let you cheat on me again!” Her words caught the attention of nearby students, and San-Kyung was uncertain of whether he should retaliate with violence or ignore her. Luckily for him, when the teacher arrived, she was forced to go back to her seat, and though she tried again that time too she was forced to go back to her seat.
When school came to an end for the day, San-Kyung immediately set to head home. After the earlier incident with Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin and La-Iin, he was looking forward to just spending time with Dosa-Mina and testing out his driving skills before relaxing at home with one of his favorite violent books.
Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that the situation would not be that simple.
“Molshei! I, um, know you don’t like me…that way and all…but you still shouldn’t let the food go to waste.”
“You eat it.”
“Please, Molshei, he made it just for you. And it’s animal organs~”
“I don’t care.”
“San-Kyung, stop hanging out with these fools. I don’t trust you around them. The two of us should head home alone. I know a secret path.”
“Shut up. You’re not my girlfriend. Look, all three of you just leave me alone, or I’ll disfigure your bodies so badly you’ll never be positively identified.”
“You wouldn’t take me down that easily!” La-Iin yelled.
“You couldn’t do that. Love me or hate me you’ve known me for a while.” Kai-Rin said.
“P-please….my grandmother would never mistake even my badly burned corpse.”
San-Kyung huffed. “Just leave me alone!”
“Molshei…” Kai-Rin’s tone became serious and she stopped in place, causing Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin to do the same. San-Kyung continued to walk on, at least until he was pulled backwards by Kai-Rin. “You can’t just walk away from this situation. Here you have three people who love you and would do anything for you.”
“So you say!” La-Iin complained.
“Object as much as you like, but you are an only child. It might do to continue on the Molshei family name with one of us. Granted, we’re all only children too, but the point is that our lineages will continue on. So–”
“SHUT UP!” San-Kyung rose vines from the ground and wrapped all three of them in them.
“M-M-M-Molshei–!” Deki-Tyunri’s face turned bright red and he seemed to nearly faint.
“Oh, Molshei, I don’t–I–” Kai-Rin’s face had also become red. San-Kyung glared at them.
“San-Kyung, you pervert,” La-Iin said slyly, smiling, at least until she noticed that Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin were in the same situation; then, she began to squirm.
The trio began to make strange noises, so unsettled, San-Kyung decided to let them down.
“San-Kyung! Sorry I’m late. A little student called Vampiris was asking for my help…” Dosa-Mina stared at them. “What’s going on?”
“You’re the one who said today’s going to be another of the same school days. What do you think!?”
“Oh no. It’s the option we all forgot about.” Kai-Rin covered her mouth. “Molshei, you get one more option, now that we think about it.”
“What are you talking about?”
Kai-Rin walked up to Dosa-Mina. “Dslellular, we need you to tell us.” She, Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin watched him with a serious glare. “Do you love Molshei romantically?”
“Huh?” Dosa-Mina backed away from her, then smiled. “Well, the truth to that is that I…”

—–
San-Kyung sat up and gasped. He got out of bed and wandered around the house, trying to ease his urge to strike his hands and set the house on fire. In the midst of his wandering, he failed to notice that he had walked into his parents’ room.
“San-Kyung?” Del-Kyuus yawned. “What are you doing in here?”
“Mom?”
“Did you have a nightmare?” Salsh-Era asked. “It’s alright, San-Kyung…”
The both of them tiredly levitated out of bed. San-Kyung felt immensely embarrassed. After the both of them had given him a pat on the head, he head back to his room, flustered and humiliated.

21.567.Operation Reboot

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 567
“Operation Reboot”

In the early morning hours of Tuesday, San-Kyung was startled alert by a sudden phone call.
“Hiii, San-Kyung! Hope I didn’t wake you up too suddenly!”
“I wasn’t asleep, though if I was tired before I’m not now,” he said. “What are you calling for?”
“Tell me, San-Kyung, if I said I had something to talk with you about, where would you say we should talk about it at? At your house? At mine? Ooh, maybe at Hledshess!?”
“Why can’t we talk about it over the phone? I have nothing better to do.”
“Because I feel like seeing you. After yesterday I have to admit, it can be pretty lonely when you’re home alone and both your parents work. You’re lucky, having a stay-at-home mom.”
“You might not consider it so lucky with some of the things she says. …do I have to pick?”
“You know, if you’re feeling lazy you could just ask me to come over there. With jumps like mine it’s not that long a trip.”
San-Kyung sighed. “Fine, come over here, then. I’ll see you soon, I guess.”
“I’ll have to get ready first, but you’ll definitely see me within the hour! Until then, San-Kyung!”
Dosa-Mina hung up. ‘He sounded pretty excited. I wonder what’s going on.’
Even though he was curious about what had Dosa-Mina so riled up, at the same time he felt uneasy. He knew Dosa-Mina could be cheerful, but after the strange way he had been acting and incidents such as his cutting or Airy-Aekok, Dosa-Mina’s hyper-cheerful attitude sent off warning signals for San-Kyung.
‘He acted like that before when he had problems. I wonder if something’s wrong.’
“San-Kyung, dear? Are you feeling thirsty? I poured you a glass of water, if you’d like.”
San-Kyung pushed the thought aside and head to the dining room. “I can pour my own glasses of water, you know.”
“I know, I just thought it would get your attention.”
“Hm.” San-Kyung took a sip.
“Were you talking to Dosa-Mina?”
“How could you tell?”
“It’s always obvious when you are, San-Kyung. You seem to, ah, raise your voice a little while talking over the phone.”
“…I was getting to that, anyway.”
“What is it?”
“Dosa-Mina said he’s going to come over.”
“Oh, that’s nice. Though I really wish he’d ask for my permission sometimes instead of yours.”
“He’s not good, Mom.”
“Yes, but he isn’t evil, either. Oh well, I guess I’ll never understand neutrals.”

Dosa-Mina arrived in the midst of a mundane conversation between San-Kyung and Del-Kyuus, bringing with him a large bag.
“What did you bring, Dosa-Mina?” Del-Kyuus asked.
“Oh, nothing really. Just some stuff that’s relevant to what I came over for. But that’s all stuff that only San-Kyung would care about!”
“It isn’t nefarious, is it?”
“Mrs. Molshei, when it comes to nefarious you should be looking closer at your own son rather than his best friend,” he said coyly. “Now, if there’s nothing else for you to do, come along, San-Kyung!”
Dosa-Mina led the way to San-Kyung’s bedroom. “I know where my bedroom is, by the way.”
“I’m aware, but I intend on taking the lead in this little venture.”
“What are you planning?”
“You’ll see.” Dosa-Mina glanced around San-Kyung’s room. “Geez, you know, when it’s been a bit since you’ve been in someone’s room, it can give you a really different perspective of them.”
“What’s that supposed to mean!?”
“Your room looks like an emo’s room, that’s what it means. Seriously, how come your walls aren’t painted red? Isn’t that your favorite color?”
“It is. But this was cheaper. That’s what my parents said, anyway.”
“Oh, so it’s their fault.” Dosa-Mina put the bag on his bed. “Ah, that feels a lot better!”
“So?”
“Well, I’m gonna get to it, but you have to promise me you’re not going to start acting weird because of anything I say.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “If you’re getting the wrong idea, stop it. It’s because this little thing deals with your true form. That’s why I said this.”
San-Kyung relaxed. “Bringing that up again, aren’t you…”
“This time it’s a lot more positive than before. Instead of getting upset about what the paper said, I decided to take some action. You see, the paper may have rendered the certain methods we were looking at as ineffective, but when I put some thought and study into it, I realized that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s impossible for you to have another way to transform.”
“I doubt it’s possible.”
“Don’t doubt now! I know when something’s not possible, San-Kyung. You know what’s not possible? A non-avian spontaneously sprouting wings and flying. This one is debatable. Perhaps there’s something we missed. We were pretty focused on La-Iin being the trigger, after all. But now we need to look at things differently and closely, and by the way San-Kyung, if you could be in your true form all the time but you wouldn’t get the power boost, how would you feel about that?”
“Huh?”
“If you could transform physically but you were still, y’know, weak in November.”
San-Kyung’s expression became blank. “Because that could be a possibility.”
“It’s better than what I have now,” he said. “Is that possible?”
“Well, I was looking into it as a possibility. You see, I haven’t done much research on Witches and Warlocks because there’s just so much stuff on them it’s annoying to sift through it all! But I realized it could be a possibility. And if I find out that it’s possible, I’ll tell you how to do it right away.”
“As much as I’d love the power, if I could at least look like myself…”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “I understand how you feel. Sort of. But I thought this project should be started because it isn’t hopeless yet. We just got side-tracked because all our hard work was for nothing. But just because that was a waste doesn’t make it impossible. And we’ve had our time to get our frustration out. Now it’s time to get back to work, and this project, I dub it ‘Operation Reboot’!”
“Did you have to give it a ridiculous name like that?”
“I figured it might lighten the mood if I did.”
“Well, you might just be wasting your time with ‘Operation Reboot’ as well,” San-Kyung said. “Just as you’re saying that it might be possible we overlooked something with our one-track search it could be possible there’s nothing to find and that this will only waste more of our time.”
“San-Kyung…”
“But, if you’re right and there’s a chance that another method is possible, then I don’t mind going along with whatever ridiculous scheme you dream up. It’s been hard for me lately to get motivated…the idea of having to go through November while I follow through with my goal always seemed like a major disadvantage. But I don’t want to be like that. And maybe it won’t be easy, but I’ll take a chance if it’s there.”
“There’s the San-Kyung I know and love,” Dosa-Mina said. “Where have you been hiding all this year?”
“All this year?”
“The whole, er, cutting thing at the beginning of the year kinda soured your mood too.”
“Yeah, well, I know I need to try and do better than I have been. So…I guess that makes ‘Operation Reboot’ a go. It’s weird, considering the original plan you didn’t want anything to do with at first.”
“People can change, and people can be pushed to do some pretty out-of-character things for the people they care about. But I’m glad, San-Kyung. So I’ll keep looking! I haven’t been doing as much species study as I had been in the past too. Both of us have been pretty off. So this is our chance to get back to where we were before!”
“Yeah!”
“So let’s do this!”
San-Kyung clenched a fist. “Operation Reboot is a go! We start immediately!”
“Immediately? I didn’t bring any books!”
“That doesn’t matter! The project’s started now and there’s no going back.”
Dosa-Mina opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the door opening.
“Mom?”
“Sorry, I heard you two yelling and I wanted to make sure everything was alright,” Del-Kyuus said. “But it looks like everything’s fine!”
“You didn’t need to worry at all, Mrs. Molshei. I think things are better than they have been in a while!”
“I agree.”
Del-Kyuus narrowed her eyes. “I’m not taking your word on that until I see some actual evidence!”
“Well, hopefully you’ll get to see that soon.” To the surprise of both Dosa-Mina and Del-Kyuus, San-Kyung cracked a smile.

—–
“San-Kyung, your father is–what happened!?”
“We got into a bit of a scuffle, Mrs. Molshei,” Dosa-Mina said. He was covered in dust and Del-Kyuus could spot what appeared to be a bruise on his face. “But nothing major.”
“A scuffle!?”
“Yeah, like the early days,” San-Kyung said. Del-Kyuus gave an exasperated sputter.
“How is that a good thing!?”
“It’s not really. But at least it tells me I haven’t lost San-Kyung yet!”
“What do you mean by that?”
“I mean I still see some of those traits I thought you’d lost!” He giggled. Though he smiled and spoke with a happy tone, San-Kyung noticed discomfort in his eyes, and all at once his feeling of unease returned.

20.566.Drug of Choice

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 566
“Drug of Choice”

“I wish I had the powers of a Warlock sometimes! They can do so many interesting things. And they have such a wide range of abilities that just reading about it in a book doesn’t give me anything close to the kind of information I want!”
“That’s strange, coming from the boy who doesn’t even like to acknowledge his real species,” Elai-Riya said.
“I use my powers plenty.”
“I know, I know.”
“They can do all sorts of cool things,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Just think, they haven’t even tapped into their full potential yet…”
Before Elai-Riya could respond, someone knocked at the door. “I hope that’s not Orlin-Aesth. He knows I go to work almost right after he leaves.” She fluttered over to the door. Dosa-Mina tried to glance past her to see who was there.
“Oh, hello, San-Kyung. It’s good to see you.”
“…”
“Something wrong?”
“No. Dosa-Mina’s in, right?”
“Yeah, he is.”
“San-Kyung, is that you?”
Elai-Riya moved to the side and Dosa-Mina caught sight of his friend. He walked up to him and hugged him. “What brings you here so early in the morning?”
“I have something I need to talk with you about.”
“Ooh, I wonder what,” Dosa-Mina said. ‘Hopefully that’s not anything about cutting…’
“Looks like you won’t have to be alone while I’m gone, Dosa-Mina.”
“I wouldn’t have been alone even if he hadn’t come over. Sirlie-Baecho doesn’t live that far away from us.”
“I know, but it seems like you barely hang out with her anymore.” Elai-Riya sighed. “I should go now. I’ll see you when I get back.”
“Alright. And cheer up, Mom! There’s no need to be so jealous of me. Come a few years and I’ll be doing a job just like you.”
“It’s certainly disheartening,” Elai-Riya grumbled. “If you’re willing to say that, I hope you’re willing to listen to some complaints later on tonight!”
“Um, that depends.”
Elai-Riya scoffed and head out the door. Dosa-Mina let go of San-Kyung.
“Any reason you needed to hold onto me for that whole conversation?”
“Nope! Alright, I know my parents aren’t here right now, but let’s head to my room. It’s comfy in there.”
Both boys head off to Dosa-Mina’s room. ‘Something seems like it’s bothering him.’ As soon as they arrived, Dosa-Mina flopped onto the floor. “What’s up?”
“I have a bit of a problem.”
“Oh, what’d you go and do now? And without me? This doesn’t have to do with the car, does it?”
“Why do you keep bringing up the car? I haven’t used that in a while. No, it’s not that.”
San-Kyung placed a pill on Dosa-Mina’s table. Dosa-Mina examined it closely. “Is this a…a power strengthening drug!? What did I tell you about this, San-Kyung!?”
“I haven’t taken it, have I!? And I don’t have any more, so don’t bother asking. I didn’t intend on taking it. Not really, anyway.”
“San-Kyung, your desperation is turning you to things you’d have never considered in the past.”
“I’m not considering it now!”
“Don’t get so defensive! Look, I’m going to destroy this somewhere away from home. I don’t need my parents thinking I’m looking to take power-increasing drugs.”
He glared at San-Kyung. “But first, tell me where you found it.”
“I was taking a walk nearby Hledshess and I spotted it on the ground. I was curious as to whether or not it actually was one, so I took it home with me. I was going to get rid of it myself either way, but I thought I should come to you. I know how you felt about this subject when it came up the first time.”
Dosa-Mina relaxed. That San-Kyung had opted to come to him for advice in this situation made him feel immensely relieved. “Thank you, San-Kyung. …but you saying you should come to me, that means it crossed your mind to take this, didn’t it.”
San-Kyung didn’t respond.
“Look, San-Kyung, you’re aware of what these things do to you, right?”
“I actually read up on that recently. It doesn’t matter that they increase your powers, because afterwards you just get weak again. I want you to believe me on this, Dosa-Mina. There’s no way I would take a bit of time to be in my true form only to spend more in November mode.”
“Is that all you read? Because it’s a lot worse than that.”
“How would you know?”
“Power-increasing drugs come up sometimes in species study books. Remember, most of the species have powers. They also wreck the parts of your body from which the powers come from. Know how striking your hand sets any blood you draw on fire? That wouldn’t happen anymore if you took those drugs. And since there are all types of different ones for all the species, you realize that if this is not one for Animated Pumpkins, had you taken it the effects would have been much worse?”
San-Kyung began to look concerned. “There are actually ones that are supposed to work for all the species, but I heard that those are the worst of all. They really mess you up. And I don’t even know if taking those drugs would really transform you in the first place. Even if they could, it would probably take a large amount of those things to actually do it, and the length of your transformation could be incredibly short followed by such a sudden decrease in power that it would make November look like October.”
San-Kyung flinched. “Of course, a lot of those are worst case scenarios, but do you want to risk it? Really, taking the wrong type of drug can mess with you. And a lot of these tend to kill your powers pretty badly, depending on what they are. You take a few of these and you can say good-bye to raising vines from the ground. That’s how bad it can get. I don’t think I even need to get into the possibility of death that exists in these things. Remember, we made a promise.”
“I remember. But I told you before you went off on this tangent. Just the idea of taking one and going from power to November faster than I actually do on November 1st turned me away. And besides, there were a lot of other factors too–”
“My problem is that you considered it! Powers were not meant to be influenced by drugs. They’re a part of us that can really mess with the rest of us if we mess with them in the wrong ways. A lot of drugs out there can already mess up the other parts. So messing up your powers and letting that spread…I wouldn’t want you ending up with leukemia or something like that…”
“Could you even get leukemia from these drugs?”
“I–I don’t know. But I wouldn’t risk it anyway.” Dosa-Mina sucked in a breath. “Sorry, San-Kyung. You came here to get my advice, and instead I just got on your case for doing that. I’ve just been worried. This behavior has been going on for a while now. You’ve been acting so odd, and I know why, but I just feel like everything I’ve done or can do is a temporary fix. Nothing actually brings you out of this mindset. More than ever, I really want you to cheer up. To go back to the way you were.”
San-Kyung remained silent. “This is the tipping point. What if it gets worse from here? Remember, you still have your goal of world domination. You shouldn’t give up on that because you can’t get your true form!”
“Like you would even want me to pursue that.”
“I’ll take that over this! All I would want is to be safe. That, and for my family to be safe. And I know you care about me. I trust that they would be.”
Dosa-Mina’s hands balled into fists. “I need to do something about this. I’ll destroy this drug, San-Kyung, and you can stay if you want, but if you’re ready to go home, then go. I have to formulate a plan.”
“Dosa-Mina, you don’t have to bother. I–”
“Don’t tell me not to, San-Kyung. Right now, your well-being is my biggest concern.” He smiled. “While I think over a few things, why don’t you have something to drink? After all, I guess it has been pretty lonely all by myself when my parents are at work. Make yourself comfortable, because something tells me I’m going to have a lot of ideas for something fun to do to pass the time!”
“Dosa-Mina?”
“Come on, up off the floor, I’m going to make you something that’s tastier to drink than just water. Warm or cold?”
“Uh…”
“Well, I’ll just make both, then!” He pulled San-Kyung out his bedroom, then head for the kitchen.
‘What was that all about?’ San-Kyung wondered. ‘I’ve seen him go from one attitude to the other, but never that fast…he must really be concerned.’
At this point, however, San-Kyung saw no point in questioning him about it. ‘With how little Dosa-Mina’s willing to tell me on a daily basis, he’d just dodge this one.’ Opting to go along with it, he head for the table and sat down.

—–
“I’m hoooome…and exhausted,” Orlin-Aesth breathed. “Dosa-Mina, where are you?”
“Right here, Dad,” he said. “I’ve been having some fun with San-Kyung while you and Mom have been at work.”
“Appropriate fun, right?” Orlin-Aesth said coyly.
“Of course! Geez, everyone thinks just ’cause I’m affectionate that means I’m a pervert! But you know I wouldn’t be inappropriate, right, San-Kyung?”
“Not in the way everyone seems to think, no.”
“Aha ha, just picking on you, son. I know you wouldn’t. Or, at least, I hope I know you that well.”
Sitting next to each other, both boys felt in a better mood than earlier, but both also felt the same feeling of unease, as if something about the situation was wrong.

Late that night, after his parents had gone to bed, Dosa-Mina took the drug outside and stepped on it repeatedly until it was so ground that he couldn’t even spot it in the moonlight. Then he head back inside, yawning.

18.564.Plans for the People

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12.558.Makeshire-Kyung

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 558
“Makeshire-Kyung”

Early Sunday morning at the Dslellular house, a knock sounded at the door.
“I wonder who that is?” Orlin-Aesth said. “Dosa-Mina, can you get the door?”
“Fine, fine,” he sighed, putting his book down. When he opened the door, his eyes widened in surprise at the sight of La-Iin standing there, her expression serious. Close behind her was Choungetsu, who watched Dosa-Mina while lolling his tongue.
“Before you ask any questions, rival-boy, know that I’m not here for any other reason other than having you help me with a…project of mine will benefit me. I need your help for something!”
“How do you remember the way here?”
“Like I said, I retain any information I consider useful. Besides, I’ve been here more than once. Now, you need to listen up. I have a plan for something I want San-Kyung to do, but I don’t think he’ll do it without your goading…”
She beckoned to Dosa-Mina to crouch down. He decided to oblige. “Huh? …oh, that does sound interesting. Well, you definitely came to the right person, La-Iin! If anyone has a chance of convincing San-Kyung to do something, it’s me. Though I can’t guarantee he’ll go along with that.”
“Any extra percentage I gain from you is a good thing. But don’t think I like this arrangement one bit!”
“I know, I know. If you keep denying it it makes it sound like you actually do like this arrangement.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. Letting Choungetsu lead the way, she and Dosa-Mina walked away from his house to discuss their plan.
“Oh, if I’m going to go somewhere, I better tell my Dad first. He’s used to me leaving without notice but I’d rather he knows I’m going off.”
La-Iin scoffed, but didn’t protest. Dosa-Mina head back to his house. Choungetsu tried to follow him, but Dosa-Mina quickly outran the leash’s length and he was pulled backwards.

***

After the recent dispute La-Iin had had with Mit-Sun, a feeling had stirred inside of her and prompted her to leave the house that Sunday morning under the guise of visiting Sale-Dessu for some advice.
“Sale-Dessu, I need you to do something for me, ally to ally.”
“What’s that, La-Iin?”
“I need you to pretend that I’m here if Mama comes over,” she said. “I need to do something important, but Mama doesn’t like me going off on my own unless I’m going to see someone. And I am, but I don’t think she’ll agree.”
Sale-Dessu’s stare gave no indication of how he would respond. “Are you sure you should be doing this?”
“You’re not my Dami. You’re my ally, so cover for me!”
“I might not be your father, but I am a father, so I can understand some of your mother’s concern,” he said. “Besides, I really don’t know how I would cover for you. What if Mit-Sun comes inside and starts looking for you? Eventually she’ll find out you’re not in here.”
“Disguise Eul-Bok as me, then. You’re a Warlock. You can do things like that. Don’t tell me you can’t, if you can glitch the world you can do that!”
“Eul-Bok doesn’t act anything like you, La-Iin, and I’m pretty sure she’d be able to tell something was off. Besides, I can’t risk her looking around and finding Eul-Bok in his state. I trust your mother, but not that much.”
La-Iin huffed. “You’re a shitty ally sometimes, you know!?”
“What!?”
“Fine, I’ll go with Choungetsu! At least he’s stupid enough not to care.”
“I-I’m sorry, La-Iin! It’s really only because I’m worried about messing up! I’ll owe you, I promise!”
“How funny to see this powerful man cowering to a little girl. I must be stronger than I thought. Fine, you’ll owe me, and you’ll owe me big time. But I understand, I guess. Mama can be violent sometimes and I wouldn’t want her kicking you in the crotch.”
Sale-Dessu paled. “She would do that? La-Iin, I’m sorry, I really am going to have to owe you…”
La-Iin snickered. “Oh, she probably wouldn’t do it to you, but we shouldn’t take those chances. Prepare yourself, my ally!” She closed the door and head back to her house, then beckoned to Choungetsu.
“Oh, so you’re taking him on a walk yourself for once?” Mit-Sun asked, looking up from her book.
“Yes, I am. Mama, you’re fine to spend time with and all, but it’s constantly, day after day and after what you did yesterday I’m still mad at you! So, I figured since Choungetsu hasn’t been bothering me I both owed him and he would be the least annoying to spend time with.”
“Don’t walk into any suspicious neighborhoods. Or go adventuring across Bledger on your own.” Mit-Sun said with narrowed eyes.
“I might not do either of those things but you won’t stop my path! Let’s go, Choungetsu!”
“What does that mean?” Mit-Sun asked, though she got no response as La-Iin and Choungetsu head outside right afterwards.
“It’s good that you’re stupid, Choungetsu. You’re the best dog to keep a secret for me.”
Choungetsu didn’t respond. He walked ahead cheerfully, his tongue lolling.
La-Iin found that it was often after Uil-Cur came up that she had a desire to see San-Kyung not long afterwards. This time was no exception, though she had some concerns about her plan for what to do.
‘Fer-Shi finding out I did one of our special things with someone else is one thing, but will there even be an incident for her to find out about?’
La-Iin had her doubts that San-Kyung would agree to act out a Makeshire play script for more reasons than one–the primary one being that San-Kyung generally seemed to dislike doing far more things than she did.
“It’s because he’s a teenager!” She could hear Fer-Shi saying those words, but she knew there was another explanation, simply that it was in San-Kyung’s nature.
Still, she was desperate both to see San-Kyung and to see him acting out the play script and could find no other excuse for going to visit him. She had stewed on the idea until walking outside with Choungetsu, but once she was outside she was certain she knew what her best chance at having him accept once.
‘I really am just going to have to swallow my pride and ask rival-boy for help.’
The idea disgusted her, but the thought of having her wish fulfilled was more pleasant than the disgust she felt from the former. With that in mind, she thought back on the path she had taken in the past to Dosa-Mina’s house, then ran ahead of Choungetsu, who was hot on her heels and eventually overtook her; after that point, she let him take the lead, only pulling him back when he tried to send her down the wrong path.

***

On the way to the neighborhood, La-Iin, Choungetsu, and Dosa-Mina were silent, though La-Iin scoffed at Choungetsu when he would stop to sniff something or for a quick bathroom break. Only once they entered the neighborhood did Dosa-Mina speak.
“What’s it like, having a dog?”
“Don’t talk to me.”
“I was just curious.”
“Aren’t you basically part dog?”
“Part Werewolf, La-Iin. Some Werewolves might act dog-ish, but that’s just their personality. We’re descended from wolves, not dogs.”
Dosa-Mina knocked on the door to the Molshei house. Unsettled, La-Iin opted to stand outside the line of sight of the door.
She gave a sigh of relief when she noticed that Del-Kyuus had answered the door.
“Hello? Oh, hello, Dosa-Mina! Are you here to see San-Kyung?”
“Yeah, I wanted to ask him if he was up for doing something. It’s perfectly innocent though, Mrs. Molshei.”
Del-Kyuus gave a wry smile. “What made you think I thought it wasn’t?”
“That’s just how you are sometimes, Mrs. Molshei!”
“Well, I’ll ask him if he’s up for it, but he’s busy doing his Summer homework right now.”
Dosa-Mina slapped his forehead. “He’s got a head start, then…”
“Ah, don’t worry. School doesn’t start again until September, right? You have time to catch up! In the meantime, would you like to come inside?”
“Nah, I think I’ll wait out here. Thanks, Mrs. Molshei!”
Del-Kyuus nodded and head back inside.
“He’s doing his homework?”
“I’d be surprised too, but it’s like San-Kyung to do that. He doesn’t have much to do most of the time. Makes it easy to get him for something.”
“He really does spend a lot of his time doing nothing, doesn’t he?”
“Oh, he doesn’t spend it doing nothing.”
“Does he fantasize?”
Dosa-Mina shrugged. “I wouldn’t know. If he does he doesn’t share those fantasies with me. But he mostly preoccupies himself with things he has to do. So sometimes he does errands for his parents or chores around the house, things like that just to keep himself preoccupied.”
“Hm…”
“I think your dog likes the way I smell,” Dosa-Mina said, glancing at Choungetsu.
“He likes the way San-Kyung smells better. And I mean this legitimately.”
“How does he know what San-Kyung smells like?”
Having begun to talk among each other about mundane topics, both La-Iin and Dosa-Mina almost failed to notice San-Kyung come outside.
“And besides, I don’t think you should let–oh, hello, San-Kyung! It’s good to see you.” He walked over to him and hugged him. La-Iin narrowed her eyes.
“It’s good to see you too, but it’s too sweaty for your affection,” he said, gently pushing Dosa-Mina away. “Mom told me it was you at the door. She didn’t mention La-Iin.”
“For all her bluster I think La-Iin is more wary around strangers than you are! The stranger-danger mentality probably would be stronger in a seven-year-old than a sixteen-year-old anyway.”
“Hey! San-Kyung’s Mama just reeks of goody-goody, that’s all. She’s nothing like you, and it disgusts me.”
“You knew that already. Besides, haven’t you complained about your own mother being good?”
“At least she has a jackass factor.”
“Jackass factor?” Dosa-Mina questioned.
“What are you two here for anyway?” Before Dosa-Mina could respond, an unreadable look crossed San-Kyung’s face. “You’re not here to recreate that date from last year, are you?”
“No way. That was fun but I’m not looking to do it again anytime soon, especially not with how annoying La-Iin’s been lately.”
“Try looking in a mirror, rival-boy.”
Choungetsu walked up to San-Kyung and began to sniff him intensely. “And you brought your dog, too…” He groaned.
“You know, being caught up in the moment of there being more people here than you expected distracted me. We’re here because there’s something I want you to do.”
“What’s that? And what does La-Iin and her dog have to do with it?”
“I had to bring Choungetsu or else Mama wouldn’t let me go.”
“You could sort of say it was her idea…she provided the supplies we needed. San-Kyung, how’d you like to do a play?”
“No.”
“Aw, come on, San-Kyung, it might be fun.”
“No. I have better things to do with my time.”
“Do you really?” La-Iin asked. “Or are you just going to keep doing your homework until it’s done and then do chores and errands for your parents!? What sort of future world ruler does that with his time!?”
San-Kyung was surprised to see that La-Iin’s wings were flapping rapidly.
“Sorry. I kind of told her you spend a lot of time doing…well, that.”
“So? Why should I do this stupid play? Let me guess, it’s some romance and La-Iin wants to play one role in the couple and for me to play the other.”
“Actually it’s a violent play about Sirens. I actually was considering bringing Varinis et Sol-Kiut, but I knew you wouldn’t go along with it.”
“Aw, just give it a shot, San-Kyung. We could only do one act. I don’t know much about Makeshire’s plays but I’m sure one act isn’t three hours.”
“Three hours is the full length of some of his plays. But not one act.”
“What has you two so desperate?”
“We want to see you act.” Was the response both of them gave.
“This play has lots of evil roles! You get to do violent things! But you also have to sing.”
“Remember when we were younger we used to act out violent scenarios? Come on, it’ll be just like that, except you kind of have to follow a script.”
San-Kyung had begun to look uncertain.
“Aw, come on.”
San-Kyung sighed. “Fine. I’ll do it. You have a point that I don’t have much to do. But I’m not doing any good role.”
“I told you, this play has lots of evil roles. So long as you’re one of the Sirens you’ll be okay.”
“Aren’t Sirens usually female in fiction?”
“Yes. That’s the case here too. But that’s where modification comes in!”
San-Kyung looked uncertain. ‘Fer-Shi would be so mad if she found out I was doing this with San-Kyung. I’ll just have to act out another play with her instead!’

“‘What you fail to realize, fair Lien, is for the world of Sirens, the rules are doled differently. All the rules are that survival of the species is key. Accept this, escape it, but do not try to change it! Your methods of survival vary from ours, Lien, and that I will grant respect, but oppose me and I shall make of you my next meal. I am, after all, a lover of rabbit’s meat…'”
La-Iin had expected to enjoy watching San-Kyung act, though she had been concerned about his acting ability. Soon enough she found that there was no need to be concerned, all except for the behavior of one Siren towards a character of Dosa-Mina’s.
‘I wish I had a camera. I would record all this. I’d let rival-boy do all the other parts if I could just record this.’
“La-Iin, it’s your line next,” Dosa-Mina said.
La-Iin snapped out of her daydreams and began to read the script. “‘Mes-Iri, why spare the rabbit at all? Why give him a chance at life when his would better benefit our own kind?'”
“‘It’s simple enough, isn’t it, to have just killed him then and there with my song as opposed to letting him go, but I enjoy the thrill of the hunt as much as the spoils. So I anxiously await Lien’s return to our island. I’ll chase him for as long as need be until the moment his sanity is shattered, till the moment I see its effects reflected upon his physical body. Any names you might call me as a result are acceptable, Niciera. Young Sirens are told not to play with their prey. But where’s the harm in playing with it before it is, officially, prey?'”
What made her even more anxious was hearing San-Kyung’s singing voice. Though she knew a song for his character Mes-Iri was in the script, it did not occur until the end of the first act. Perhaps because she was both enjoying her time and feeling anxious, it felt like it had both taken forever and just a short time before they reached the end of the script.

Watch the empire front of me fall,
watch the place so civilized show all its flaws
Say your prayers just one more night
For tomorrow, the worth of those prayers will be lesser than nothing!

After the song, San-Kyung lowered his head as if embarrassed.
“Can’t we do another act!? Please!?”
“No!” San-Kyung snapped. Lifting his head up briefly, La-Iin felt she could see him blushing. His yell caught Choungetsu’s attention, and he turned away from the butterfly he was watching to bark at San-Kyung.
“You did pretty good there, San-Kyung. You seemed like you were getting pretty into it.”
“Well, it was nice to do that and all, but I should probably finish my homework.”
“We have until Septemberrrr!” La-Iin whined.
“Yeah, well, I’d rather get it over with early!”
“Don’t worry, San-Kyung, I won’t bother you anymore. But there is something I’ve been meaning to ask. Watching you act and after having a conversation with La-Iin earlier, there’s something I’ve been wondering about.”
“What now?”
“You seemed to enjoy doing that a bit. I’ve seen you enjoy doing certain things but you don’t do them often. You don’t even go out and use your car as much as you used to.”
“…”
“The car’s another thing, but San-Kyung, if there are things you enjoy don’t just bury them because they came about because of the world or people. You might not like either, but where’s the sin in enjoying them? Well, rather, if there is a sin why aren’t you embracing that?”
“I draw, San-Kyung. Creative outlets can be good for evil.”
“What makes you think I enjoy any of this stuff?”
“Just watching you. Besides, it’s a waste. Your acting’s good and all, but I’ve seen you dance. You have a natural talent for that. I’m not saying give up on your main goals, but what’s wrong with having a hobby?”
San-Kyung blinked. “I think you’re misunderstanding.”
“If you don’t want to talk about this in front of San-Kyung then we can talk over the phone later. But really, San-Kyung, if you enjoy other things don’t just stop yourself from doing them. Go on and do them. But, well, that’s enough for now, and I should be getting home. It was fun you two! I’ll be seeing you!” He gave San-Kyung a kiss on the cheek, waved, then began to head home.
“I hate to agree with rival-boy, but creative outlets really are good for evil. But you do your homework, then. Choungetsu looks like he’s getting antsy.” She pulled on Choungetsu’s leash.
“I’ll show you, San-Kyung. Sooner or later I’ll get you to do the rest of this script! See you!”
She flew off, Choungetsu for once unable to catch up to her. San-Kyung sighed. He head back inside.
“What took you so long?”
“Nothing important. Not really, anyway.”

—–
As he came to the end of his homework, San-Kyung found himself thinking back on La-Iin and Dosa-Mina’s words from earlier.
‘What makes them think I like any of this stuff? Wishful thinking?’ The thought made him let out a sigh. ‘I don’t know about La-Iin, but Dosa-Mina knows me well. Maybe he’s seeing something I’m not seeing in myself…’

9.555.Revolution in Dasdoria

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 555
“Revolution in Dasdoria”

“Mama, do you think there’ll be an evil revolution soon?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I don’t know, La-Iin. I know you’d love for something like that to happen, but you realize other evil people are typically against their own, right? Evil people disagree on what’s the right way to be evil more than any other group I’ve seen.”
“Of course we do. Some of them are just closeted goody-goodies. Others are just stupid and do things that would obviously get them caught or dead. And a lot of the ones who aren’t don’t strive high enough.”
She grinned. “That’s why I love San-Kyung so much! He might have a few questionable opinions, but he’s striving high and has the means to do some serious damage! Other evil people can be questionable. I met some just recently who are incredibly stupid.”
“Well, I hope there aren’t any revolutions. But if there is, I hope it’s a revolution against the evil. I know you don’t like good, La-Iin, but it does keep you safer. Which version of Bledger would you prefer?”
“A neutral one because then I don’t have to deal with goody-goodies and I won’t be killed by an evil failure. Other evil people think it’s honorable to die at the hands of someone evil, I disagree! I go at my own hands or death comes and takes me! Nobody else will steal my life.”
“You’re feeling pretty passionate about this.”
“Evil people might be evil, but we are all different, Mama. The biggest difference being that some of us are wrong and some of us are right.”
Mit-Sun gave another sigh. “Well, I guess at least you aren’t falling in with a gang….even if I wonder about San-Kyung sometimes. Are you sure he’s evil?”
La-Iin opened her mouth to respond but opted to keep it shut. ‘Maybe San-Kyung would rather keep up appearances around Mama…’

***

La-Iin was startled awake by loud noises and screaming. She didn’t even have time to open her eyes–nearly as soon as she woke up she was pulled aside by Mit-Sun.
As soon as her eyes were wide-open, La-Iin caught sight of an explosion and heard the screaming of people as they ran off in the direction opposite of them. Fire split the air and La-Iin heard someone caterwaul.
“We have to get out of here.” Mit-Sun stood up, shaky on her legs, and began to run along with the rest of the crowd. La-Iin spotted Dasdorian officials facing off against the source of the fire and the explosions, but still, from her view, she could not catch sight of the perpetrators.
“Stop what you’re doing unless you want to face the full might of Dasdoria!”
“You idiots! Using your full might against me!? Do you know how much room that opens up for escapees? By the time you finish me off, Dasdoria will be an empty hellhole as opposed to a full one!”
“You’re being awfully corny, you know.”
“Shut up,” the first voice hissed. “I don’t need them knowing who I am.”
“Then why talk to them?”
“I’m disguising my voice the best I can! Besides–well, I’ll tell you when it’s safer!”
Hidden under the shadows of night and beneath trees was San-Kyung, covered from head-to-toe in mud and stolen clothes. He was so thoroughly covered that he felt certain that even if the officials caught sight of him, they wouldn’t recognize him if he needed to repeat the spectacle. Still, he wanted to be cautious about coming into the moonlight. Dosa-Mina stood at his side similarly covered.
“He won’t listen to reason! The leader didn’t tell us we needed to wait for him to be violent either! Go!”
Before anything was shot in his direction, he shot seed bombs in their direction and began to lift vines. Hiding under shade gave him the significant disadvantage of being unable to see the exact location of his opposition, but he saw it as a small price to pay.
‘How fitting that you bastards are the first one who pay.’ While giving himself a chance to recover, he recalled a scene of his mother, lying on the ground and screaming as black-clad men advanced upon her. Sedated with power suppressants, there was nothing he could do to stop the sight.
San-Kyung grit his teeth and increased the intensity of his attack. ‘Sorry, Dosa-Mina, but the promise of keeping them alive might be off. These assholes need to fry!’
The residents of Dasdoria huddled into a crowd, watching as bursts of fire and explosions bombarded the stunned authorities who backed away for one moment and attempted to attack the next, always overwhelmed by the suddenness of the attack.
“Why is this happening?” Fer-Shi cried.
La-Iin had no response. She watched on in awe. Each time the authorities were exploded or had fire shot at them, La-Iin found herself cheering on whoever was opposing them. They were doing what she had always wanted to do.
She found herself hoping they were successful, whoever they were.
“You guys!” Hissed a Catori. “Look at the situation! This is a perfect time to make a break for it! Instead of panicking, why don’t we leave this hellhole!?”
“We might not be able to!” A Llamaki said. “They’re in, like, kill mode! If they catch us tryin’ to leave, we’re gonna die for sure!”
“Mama, what are we gonna do?” La-Iin asked. Mit-Sun didn’t respond. Her gaze was kept squarely on the sight ahead of her, her facial expression revealing nothing.
“San-Kyung, they could overpower you at any moment!” Dosa-Mina hissed. “What are we gonna do!?”
San-Kyung fired off a flamethrower at them and gasped. His hands stung with the many injuries he had caused them, but he still didn’t feel deterred. “If I keep going like this, they might break through, but if I make a break for it, we’ll be pursued and killed for sure…shit. This situation doesn’t leave many outs.”
“What do we do!?”
“You can leave! I’m not going to risk your life. As for me, I’ll keep going. If I run away I’ll definitely be killed. But if I keep going, I might get them first.”
“I thought you promised you wouldn’t kill anyone!”
“I only said that because I wanted to torture these f@%kers,” San-Kyung said through grit teeth. “But the situation doesn’t really allow for that anymore.”
A waterball head for him. He rose vines as fast as he could manage and was ultimately only splashed with a small amount of the water. He retaliated immediately by swirling vines around his assailants and wrapping them tightly, followed by another seed bomb.
“San-Kyung, your hands!” Dosa-Mina gasped.
“This is a small price,” he grunted. “I’m fine! Dosa-Mina, how far out would I need to go in order to scout their current situation?”
“I can do that for you.”
“No, you can–!” Dosa-Mina peeked his head out before San-Kyung could finish, and he bit his tongue to keep from yelling too loud. Dosa-Mina retreated back into the shade not long after.
“They’re tied up good, San-Kyung. I don’t think they’ll be getting down anytime soon.”
“Good. Then that leaves me with one more thing to do.” He walked out of the shadows, seed bombs in his hands. He placed them inside the vines, then lit the vines and stood back with Dosa-Mina as they exploded and engulfed their assailants in fire.
“DAD!” The Llamaki yelled.
“What…what does this mean? Didn’t they say they were using the full force of the Dasdorian authorities? Are we free?”
“Certainly not.” The crowd was startled by a voice from nearby, and spotted a stern-looking Catori-Werewolf glaring at them. “Dasdorians do not leave Dasdoria. We might be hampered, but these revolutionaries will not stop us from carrying on as usual.”
“They’ll never stop me!” Yelled a Cicadin. He began to try and take off, only to be shot down by the Catori.
“The same fate awaits the rest of you who try to leave!”
“I guess not,” Fer-Shi whimpered quietly.
La-Iin glanced up at Mit-Sun. She looked disappointed. La-Iin couldn’t deny she felt similar–but at the same time, watching as so many guards and authority members went up in flame, remembering all that had happened, she felt as if there was just a bit of hope.
And she certainly wanted to meet the perpetrator behind the crime.

—–
La-Iin wandered through Dasdoria, checking the outskirts. New guards now stood post, most seeming to be of strong species such as Minomix, though La-Iin noticed that some of them seemed malnourished and dazed, same as many of the Dasdorian residents. ‘Did they take residents for the new guards?’
On her walk, she spotted another interesting sight among the underfed guards–San-Kyung lying on the ground, covered in mud and hands scabbed over and scarlet red. Dosa-Mina sat nearby him, putting a hand on his forehead.
La-Iin thought back to the display of powers during the earlier incident: fire, seed bombs, and vines. She felt as though someplace she had heard something about Animated Pumpkins, fire and vines.
“Were you the perpetrator!?”
Dosa-Mina shused her. La-Iin walked closer and got down on her knees.
“Molshei, did you do all of that?”
“I can’t say,” he panted.
“Please, we’re busy right now. You should head back to wherever you stay.”
La-Iin noticed fear in Dosa-Mina’s eyes, and felt certain that she had the right people. Still, keeping her voice low, she asked, “That display earlier certainly was something, wasn’t it?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah…guess it kinda was.”
‘How amazing,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Molshei had the strength to do something I could never do. I think I like him even more now…’
“Do you want my help with his hands?”
Dosa-Mina looked confused for a moment, but then gave a slight nod. “I’d appreciate it.”
La-Iin assisted Dosa-Mina in patching up San-Kyung’s wounds. She watched as San-Kyung fell into an uneasy sleep, twitching and groaning as if he was having a nightmare. Dosa-Mina seemed grateful for her help, but she payed no attention to him.
“I hope he’s alright,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Me too.”