The La-Iin Series
“I can’t believe I let you strong-arm me into coming to the park,” San-Kyung groaned.
“I can’t believe you were gullible enough to go along with it. But this is perfect. I was right, nobody’s here today!” La-Iin said.
San-Kyung glared. “You know, I just came by to talk.”
“Talk about what, harling~?”
“Call me harling and this will be your final resting place.”
“Oh, come on. The h stands for horrible.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes.
“Actually, there’s something I wanted from you too, San-Kyung.”
“I was just thinking I feel pretty powerful in my other form,” she said as innocently as she could manage. “And I was wondering when was the last time we fought.”
“That was a while ago,” he said. “And it’d be a bad idea to challenge, La-Iin. It might be March, but I can still easily best you.”
“Can you?” She asked, biting into her arm.
“Of course I can. I’ve always had the upper hand. Not just in powers, but in height, too.”
“You do for now,” she said. “But with my power, I think we’re on even terms.”
La-Iin’s transformation begun and ended fairly quickly, or at least it felt that way to San-Kyung. She came flying at him immediately, to which he responded with vines. La-Iin began to fly past his vines at a fast speed.
‘Geez, she is getting good,’ he thought. ‘But that’s a good sign.’
He continued to try and ensnare her with the vines, but La-Iin was always slightly ahead of them. She dove down and head for his neck, but he moved out the way before she could get close and lit as strong a hand fire as he could manage to dissuade her from coming closer. La-Iin began to look agitated, but she continued to fly around him as if waiting for him to put out the hand-fire.
He rose vines from the ground from underneath her. She flew above him, almost completely missing the vines except for one that snared around her ankle. She hissed and tried to break free, but San-Kyung was able to maneuver the vines in his direction and bring her down closer to him.
To his surprise, La-Iin broke free before she was close enough to him and began to circle around him again, faster this time. San-Kyung held his hand-fire up as high as possible, but she seemed unfazed and flew higher. San-Kyung’s frustration was growing, and it took his all to focus on the fight at hand instead of randomly attacking her.
He frantically searched for an opening, but was unable to find one. She dove down close to him and knocked him down. San-Kyung gasped.
‘She might be a little too good!’ He thought. ‘Damn it, I’m not losing to a little girl!’
He looked up, this time checking for her next move, but noticed that she seemed to be tiring. He took that as his opening and rose vines underneath her again. This time he succeeded and ensnared her too tightly for her to escape.
“Surprised your transformation didn’t run out,” he said, walking up to her.
“Are you really surprised? Rival-boy said it seems to activate because of fear. And I’ll admit, I’m a little scared.”
“I guess if we’re being honest, I was a little surprised by your ability,” he said. “I guess you’ve learned how to handle that power well.”
“You were so going to say you were scared,” La-Iin said.
“No, I wasn’t.”
“You were too! Now let me down!”
“What’s wrong, Fer-Shi? You sound down.” Tei-Sheu asked.
“It’s nothing, Mom. Well, nothing much. I was just really wishing I could have a dream in life. I want something that I know I want to do, something that I know is my calling. I want to be as certain about what I’m going to do as La-Iin is. Except, you know, without the evil.”
“Well, you’re only eight years old, Fer-Shi. You still have plenty of time to figure it all out.”
“I know I do…but I can’t help but be jealous of La-Iin. And for more reasons than one. I always thought she was going to be just a little bit behind me since she’s half-Vampire, you know? But it seems like she has so much more figured out about herself than I do. And I really thought I at least knew what sort of field I wanted to work in when I grew up, I just didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do there. Now I’m not sure at all.”
“I may not understand your jealousy myself, but I can certainly see where it comes from. And people have had much worse feelings throughout all of time. I can imagine it’s tough to see someone younger than you having something you wish you did too or being someone you wish you were.”
“She’s just so confident. It kinda gets to me sometimes. It also makes me worry she’s going to want to leave me for a more evil friend.”
“That you two have been friends this long while being good and evil is a feat in and of itself, I think,” Tei-Sheu said. “I’m sure your friendship wouldn’t go down that easily.”
“Well, that’s not what I’m most worried about, anyway. I’m just jealous because she’s so certain about herself. But I feel so lost. What if I find something that I really really want to do, but I can’t because I’m just no good at it? What if I find something I’m good at but I don’t want to devote my life to?”
“Not all dreams are ones you need to devote your life to, Fer-Shi,” Tei-Sheu said. “And if you’re no good at something you really want to do, you keep practicing until you become good at it.”
“I just feel stuck.”
“Your problem is that you’re trying to rush things. You need to take this easy. You can start worrying about it if you get to be my age and you’re going nowhere in life because of this.”
“I know I shouldn’t rush things, but I just can’t help it! I’m more confused than I ever was before and I just want to have this all figured out. It’s upsetting me.”
“Then you definitely need to take a break from all this. Why not try doing things that you should know for the future, like cooking? You should know how to cook for yourself. I can teach you a few snack recipes at first and then you can help with bigger meals, and I’m sure Den-Matsu has a lot he can teach you too. And you could focus on school subjects you’re falling behind in or your friendship with La-Iin. Just don’t go and bring up dreams.”
“But if I do that, then when I start thinking about it again, I’ll just feel the same way,” Fer-Shi said bitterly.
“And if you don’t do it, you won’t do anything,” Tei-Sheu huffed. “Come on, Fer-Shi. I can teach you how to make cornpop or Fairydevil cake. And next year you’ll be in the fifth grade. It might be a good thing to get a head start, don’t you think? Take things easy is what I’m saying, Fer-Shi. Focus the majority of your attention on something else, and put the whole figuring out a dream thing as a secondary task for now. Then you won’t be using so much energy up on figuring it out.”
“All right,” Fer-Shi sighed.
“Come on, Fer-Shi. Look up. You’ll figure it out someday.”
“Yeah, I guess so,” she sighed. ‘I just hope that someday is soon.’
“I know you want to get to talking right away, Mit-Sun, but I was wondering, where is La-Iin today? Is she not home?”
“She’s out with a friend,” Mit-Sun said.
“No, San-Kyung,” she said. “He said he was taking her to the park. Apparently he passed by the house and she muscled him into it.”
“That makes me feel uncomfortable…”
“It makes me feel uncomfortable too, but I bet our reasons are different,” Mit-Sun said. “Now, back on topic.”
“Yes, of course.”
“Look, I’m not comfortable with the idea of letting you take La-Iin for any designated day. I’m used to having her here and I still don’t like you, no matter how many privileges I’ve been giving you.”
“That’s a shame. I’ve really been thinking we could go back to being friends lately.” When Mit-Sun glared at him, he fumbled a bit before saying, “Of course, I knew you wouldn’t want to be.”
“Huh! Anyway, as far as I’m concerned, you can take her out on days I have something important to do or if she’s being a pain or she’s desperate to see you. Maybe I’ll even let you take her someplace on your birthday. If I do that, then you’re happy, she’s happy, I don’t have to see you, it’s a winning situation for everyone.”
“It certainly sounds like fun,” he said. “I’m looking forward to my birthday now.”
“La-Iin will stay with me most days, and you still need to call before coming over under any circumstances. And leaving a message saying ‘I’m coming’ doesn’t count. This is still my house before anything else. Forget La-Iin for a second, I don’t always want you on my property.”
“You say that as if I wasn’t already aware of that.”
“It certainly feels like you conveniently forget things at the perfect times,” Mit-Sun sneered. “Anyway, that’s my terms. Sorry if they seem complicated to you, but I don’t necessarily want the man I hate most hanging around my daughter all that often.”
“She’s still my daughter as well, and she can evidently make her own choices.”
“She can, but she’s also seven years old and still dependent on me. I’m still the one who’s taking care of her most of the time. Besides, now that statement’s more because I don’t want to see you than because I think you’ll be a bad influence. I still think you will be. But I’m sure there are other, much worse influences she can have. Her doll for one,” Mit-Sun muttered.
“Bes-Isa’s quite a nice doll…well, maybe nice is not the way to put it, but she’s polite at least.”
“At least,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “Honestly, with the way she talks I was convinced La-Iin was faking it for the longest time. Anyway, that’s it. That’s all I have to say to you. Now you know. I’ll try and keep consistent with what I said to you today, but don’t always expect for me to remember.”
“Oh, I’m certainly not expecting it,” Asul-Zenza said, a chuckle to his tone. “You seem to have an awfully convenient memory as well, Mit-Sun, at least when it comes to me and La-Iin. Honestly, you’re so contradictory I have to wonder if you retain any information from any of our talks ever.”
“If I don’t it’s because I can’t stand the sound of your voice,” she snapped.
“Well, sometimes I don’t like hearing that dry tone in yours either. I heard much more casual tones from you before, but now you constantly sound miffed. It’s not a good voice for you.”
“Oh shut up,” Mit-Sun scoffed. “And get out before I lose my patience, because after those comments you should be glad I didn’t lose it all just then.”
“Most definitely. I don’t want to be kicked anyplace important again, after all,” he said. “See you, Mit-Sun! Until the day we speak again!”
With that, Asul-Zenza went speeding out the door, wings spread before he had left the house.
“Moron. If it were up to me we’d never speak again…”
Choungetsu felt so confused nowadays. It seemed like so much was going on around him yet he could barely understand any of it.
Asul-Zenza had been coming by a lot lately and he wasn’t sure why. Mit-Sun still seemed angry with him a lot and he didn’t seem to be coming over for him. And even though he had come over for La-Iin last time, this time he had just gone into the kitchen with Mit-Sun and talked too fast for him to understand.
Choungetsu didn’t usually try to focus his attention on these sorts of things, but he couldn’t help his feelings of confusion and being left out. He wished that La-Iin and Mit-Sun would talk to him more often to help him understand, and he wished he could understand them better in the first place. Already he thought they didn’t understand each other well enough.
La-Iin had been acting a little strange lately too, he thought, and she didn’t take him on long walks that much anymore. In fact, some days Mit-Sun took him on walks and La-Iin barely paid him any attention. The thought made him a little angry. If only La-Iin would bring down that tasty doll again. It may have made her angry when he tried to play with her, but at least he could catch her attention!
Right now, however, instead of feel confused, he couldn’t help but feel lonely for Asul-Zenza as he dashed out the door. He felt a special bond with him and wished he would take him on a walk. He always seemed to be the most understanding out of everyone he met more than once. He was sure that if Asul-Zenza sat down to talk to him, he would be able to understand what he was talking about, and maybe, just maybe, Asul-Zenza would understand him, too.
More than anything, Choungetsu just wished he was more involved.
‘My worst fears are all coming true. Lirako’s suspicious about my being a Normal. La-Iin knows all about my dream about her. San-Kyung seems to think there’s something wrong with me more than he used to nowadays. What next, everyone at school’s going to find out about Kkumneok?’
He sighed. ‘I used to do such a good job of keeping up my demeanor. I liked things that way. The nightmares are horrible, but at least I felt like I was doing a good job of keeping what happens in them stuck in the dream. Now I’m just constantly miserable.
‘There has to be some way to make this work again….’
He tried to imagine what he might do if San-Kyung were here just then.
“San-Kyung, I know Spring just started, but you wanna wear my scarf? It’s still pretty cold outside, after all! ….no, that’s stupid. Hey, San-Kyung, I found out something interesting about Lizardfeet! Well, only a specific type of Lizardfeet, but hey, maybe if you run into one, you’ll know how to deal with them! Oh, would he even care about my studies anymore? Aww, San-Kyung, you look so adorable like that! Hm…”
“Dosa-Mina, are you talking to yourself?” Elai-Riya asked from behind the door.
“No, Mom! I’m just reading aloud!” He said hurriedly. It seemed to have worked, for Elai-Riya said nothing more.
‘I just want to focus on stopping my nightmares, not all this other shit. It’s like the world wants to punish me for something.’
He glanced out his window. ‘Maybe it does. But what did I do wrong?’
Lately Ai-Reia had been stuck in a perpetual state of melancholy. She would go to school, study for a short while, occasionally talk to her siblings or parents at dinner time, and then head off into her bedroom, lay on her bed, and think. On Weekends like today, it was even worse–she would stay in her bedroom for hours on end until summoned by a family member or natural function.
‘This isn’t right.’ She thought to herself. ‘La-Iin is an absolutely abhorrent person. This world would probably be better off if she died or disappeared from the face of the planet. But there is no reason I should be letting just the mere sight of her turn me into an animal.’
She clutched her pillow. ‘But I can’t control that if there’s some sort of monster inside of me. No, I have to find a way to tame her if that’s the case. But in what way? Do I do in La-Iin? I’m young enough so that I can’t really be arrested. But I’m also a prodigy. I’m sure they consider me smart enough to understand the difference between right and wrong. And that is true, I do understand it…
‘But then, what do I do? I don’t want to do something that horrible, at least I don’t think I do! Oh, I can only imagine how my family might feel if I killed someone with my own two hands. But if I got rid of La-Iin, finally this monster inside of me will be quieted.
‘….or I hope it will be. What if it doesn’t stop even after her death? Do I need the satisfaction of murder, or would her dying of other causes be enough? Would her leaving Malicerie be enough? What is it I need?’
Ai-Reia groaned. ‘I don’t understand what that monster wants! And the worst part is…I’ll never understand. Not until whatever it wants is satisfied. I know that who I think I am wishes La-Iin were dead, but I no longer wish to dirty my hands with her blood. But that’s only what I think. That’s only my reasoning to stray me away from killing her in the first place.
‘Damn it! Why did she need to come into my life!? Everything would be that much better if she had never come to Malicerie! If I had never come to Malicerie! All I want is some peace! I can’t deal with this monster nagging me for hundreds of years! I’ll go mad long before then!’
Ai-Reia stared down at her hands. ‘Do I sate her, or do I resist her? Which one will make me feel better? Which will be better for me? I’ve attempted to kill La-Iin before. I’m not all that scared of the idea, more of my family’s reaction to it. But that might not be what she wants at all. Who knows. Maybe she wants Ca-Miela dead. The idea wouldn’t be too far-fetched. But so long as I don’t know, all I can do is try or resist. And I don’t know which one is right.’
She buried her face into her knees. ‘I wish someone would help me…I wish there would be someone who could try and pull me out of this pit…and I wish I could ask my family. But I no longer have the faith I need to do that.’
Again her thoughts swirled in circles, and she flopped backwards onto her bed, confused and upset. Eventually her thoughts stopped going in any direction at all and she grew drowsy from resting on her bed, and fell asleep, a sleep she would be in until she was summoned at dinner time by her mother.
“I’m a little surprised La-Iin left you here, Bes-Isa,” Sale-Dessu said. “Wouldn’t she just normally leave you at home in her bedroom?”
“She probably did it to piss us off,” Eul-Bok said bitterly. Sale-Dessu glared at him.
“I’m not the most thrilled about this arrangement either, but at least it gives me a little more to do than just think.”
“Well, is there anything in particular you’d like to talk about?”
“Plenty. Namely, I want to ask a little bit about Eul-Bok’s inner workings.”
“Don’t tell her, Father!” Eul-Bok said.
“Sure, what do you want to know? Come on, Eul-Bok, it’s not going to change anything if she knows or not. At most she’ll tell La-Iin. What can she do about this information?”
“Yeah, you idiot. Anyway, I wanted to know, does Eul-Bok go to the bathroom? Does he eat? I’m sure he sleeps, but does he sleep like a V-Puppet or more normally?”
“What are you talking about?” Eul-Bok said. “I sleep the same way I always did!”
“He just goes to sleep, Bes-Isa. Were you asking if I still need to snap my fingers for him to rest? Because the answer is no.”
“I figured that. Though I see the two of you still have some sort of connection. That makes me wonder what would happen if you kicked the bucket, Sale-Dessu. Would he be left to the same horrible fate we non-autonomous V-Puppets are, or would he be able to walk around like he is now?”
“I’d like to think I did a good enough job that he wouldn’t be stuck like that,” Sale-Dessu said. “But there’s no way of knowing. He’s the first V-Puppet to end up this way….and as for your other questions, he doesn’t go to the bathroom. He doesn’t accumulate waste like I do.”
“Ew, Father!” Eul-Bok exclaimed. Sale-Dessu’s face flushed. “I was only trying to explain it to her.”
“Honestly, the idea of you pooping is kind of disturbing.”
“That’s not what this is about!” Sale-Dessu yelled. “Anyway, he doesn’t have to eat, although he can.”
“I tried to eat once. I could only taste it a little bit. And that might have just been me mistaking the texture. But I’m pretty sure I got some of its flavor.”
“I think you did too,” Sale-Dessu said. “Anything else you wanted to know, Bes-Isa?”
“Yeah. Were you nasty enough to put genitalia on him?”
“I didn’t put anything like that on him!”
“Yeah, I’ve got nothing down there,” Eul-Bok said. “Makes me wonder sometimes. Feels a little like something’s missing. It’s kinda weird.”
“I wonder if my chest would feel that way if I was autonomous.”
“Probably not,” Eul-Bok scoffed under his breath.
“Can we not talk about this right now?” Sale-Dessu said. “I didn’t have to put something like that on him. He’d have no use for it. I was just weighing options.”
“So you considered it.”
“What’s wrong with that!? It’s part of a man’s biology. But he has no use for it. So please stop talking about this.”
“If you say so. Honestly, I don’t care one way or the other. I was just curious if you were nasty enough to do it.”
“Ah, I still hope I can become autonomous someday. But, you know, putting that aside, I think I should thank La-Iin for leaving me here. If I can at least have a little bit more to do, life like this should be more tolerable. Hey, one more question.”
“I’m not answering if it’s anything indecent.”
“It’s not, and the question’s not really for you. Hey, Eulie, have you been let out at all yet, or have you been rotting away in here for almost two months?”
“I’m not rotting away in here,” Eul-Bok said. “And I can’t leave just yet. So I’ve stayed in here.”
“Yeah, things definitely need to be improved before I can even consider becoming autonomous.”
“Well, maybe someday,” Sale-Dessu sighed. “La-Iin should live for a thousand years or so. I’m sure something will happen in that time.”
“Normally I’d say otherwise, given that other Vampires have lived and died without getting anywhere, but if you figured it out, maybe there’s a little bit of hope for me.”
“San-Kyung, you never told me what you wanted to talk about!”
“It’s not actually all that important, you know.”
“You made the effort to come over to my house, follow me to the park and then fight me. I think I deserve to know what you wanted to say!”
“I already got my answer,” he said.
“Figure it out yourself,” he called, then walked off. La-Iin’s wings began flapping involuntarily.
“Well, I guess I at least got to see him…”