9.586.Fightercise

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 586
“Fightercise”

“I bet you want the toy, don’t you?”
Choungetsu stared up at La-Iin, sitting patiently and eyes on the toy. La-Iin glanced at his tail. It was twitching slightly.
“Well, that’s too bad! You didn’t get the toy first, and now I have it, so you’ll never get it–”
Choungetsu jumped up and ran off with the toy. “Hey!” La-Iin chased after him, but by the time she caught up with him, he was hiding in an area too crowded for her and him to be in it at the same time.
“Damn you, Choungetsu! You’ll taste my revenge soon enough!”
“La-Iin, what are you doing on the floor? And don’t think I didn’t hear you curse.” Mit-Sun walked past, holding a basket of laundry.
“You act like you enforce punishments for me cursing, when the reality is that you don’t,” La-Iin sighed, standing up. “And I was trying to play keep-away with Choungetsu, but he took advantage of my momentary distraction.”
“Hm.”
“At least it’s more than you’ve been doing!”
“Actually, I’ve been doing a lot, but since you’ve been off in your own world lately, you probably haven’t noticed. I’ll admit that most of the stuff I’ve been doing lately is things I used to do, but so what? At least it’s something. Besides, it’s been nice to pick sewing back up again.”
“Ooh.”
“Of course you’d ‘ooh’ at that. Anyway, speaking of that, let me ask you a question, La-Iin. I’ve been taking up exercising lately, what about you?”
“You don’t even need to ask that question. I take Choungetsu on walks! I fly almost everywhere, and it would be everywhere if you’d let me fly in the house. And most of the time, when I go places, I have to walk a long way to get there. One of my favorite places to go is almost two hours away, and it’s worth the whole walk. Or flight. I guess flying makes it take less than almost two hours.”
“Uh huh.” La-Iin sounded confident. “I guess you do get a lot of exercise, more than I do, anyway. Still, your methods are…questionable. And have you done any of those things lately?”
La-Iin stared blankly at Mit-Sun. “I took Choungetsu on a walk recently.”
“I guess so,” she sighed. “And I can’t exactly call you out on not doing much. You might spend a lot of time in your head, but you’ve been drawing, dancing, playing with Choungetsu and Bes-Isa…everything short of doing any chores.”
La-Iin scoffed. “Oh, poor, poor Mama. Getting competitive with her daughter, how sad.”
“I wasn’t getting competitive!”
La-Iin smirked. Mit-Sun sighed. “Obviously you aren’t going to believe me no matter how many times I deny it, so I’m ending this here.”
“So you admit defeat, and the fact that you were getting competitive!”
“Now look who’s getting competitive! Besides, I know it’s impossible to manage you. If I had continued going on, you only would have said that because I kept going on, that meant that I was denying becoming competitive!” Mit-Sun sighed and slammed her face into the laundry; her words slightly muffled, she said, “Some days I don’t understand myself how I deal with you every day…”
“Cahongyuns don’t admit defeat! And even if you will, I shall continue on that legacy! For someday the Cahongyun family will be my name!”
Mit-Sun lifted her face out of the laundry and stared at La-Iin. “What the hell are you talking about? Oops!”
La-Iin’s smirk only widened. “It doesn’t matter, Mama. If you want me to exercise, for once I’ll actually listen to you. Because you’ve given me a great idea.”
She spread her wings and flew for the door. “Hey, where are you going!?”
“To go and meet with Fer-Shi! If you don’t believe me, call her in an hour.” Before Mit-Sun could say any more, La-Iin flew out the door and slammed it shut.

***

“You want to do what!?
La-Iin punched the air and twitched her wings as she explained her idea to Fer-Shi. “Mama tried to tell me that I don’t exercise, and I proved her wrong spectacularly. But when she said that, she gave me a burning desire to fight someone!”
La-Iin stopped the motions and faced Fer-Shi. “It’s been a while since I had a good fight, and for as much as I like to pull out over someone more powerful than me, right now I feel like taking down a weakling!”
“Hey, who says I’m a weakling! And um…what do you mean by a while since you had a good fight?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“I actually would,” Fer-Shi said.
“Some people are more accommodating of my desires than others,” she said. “Certain people who have powers even I struggle dealing with. Though, this last fight happened before I developed my blood powers. So I suppose that now, it doesn’t matter. I can go and meet up with a certain someone and we’ll be on even ground. Somewhat.”
Fer-Shi had a feeling she knew who La-Iin was referring to right away. She could see it now–San-Kyung raising vines from the ground and wrapping them around La-Iin’s arms and legs, walking towards her with his hands lit with flames. It was a horrifying sight, and though La-Iin looked ready enough to take off, Fer-Shi couldn’t stand the idea.
“Okay, okay, I’ll fight you!”
“Really?” La-Iin smiled, though it quickly dropped. “Oh no. You’re not becoming a major doormat like Granddami, are you!?”
“No, I’m not becoming a doormat. I’ve actually gotten better at not being that than I used to be.”
“Fair enough.”
“I just don’t want you to get killed. And I feel like there’s a better chance of avoiding that if I’m the one who fights you…”
“I won’t get killed. Not before fulfilling my purpose, anyway.” La-Iin looked around. “We should probably do this somewhere where your Mama and Dami can’t see. I don’t want them interrupting our fight!”
When La-Iin mentioned Den-Matsu and Tei-Sheu, Fer-Shi felt a sudden wave of remorse. ‘I’m sorry, Mom and Dad. But this is the better, safer option, right? It’s better than just sending her to her death…’
The two walked away from her house and across the street. Fer-Shi wanted to avoid Hei-Maj’s cove, and so walked a short distance further before they went into the forestry.
“Bushes near your house are too prickly,” La-Iin complained.
“Bushes are always prickly,” Fer-Shi told her. The two stretched and stood in the middle of a small clearing.
“Okay, since I agreed to this, I just want to say a few things. Please don’t suck my blood as part of the fight, and let’s not do anything too dangerous, oka–”
La-Iin flew at Fer-Shi before she could finish, then flew above her and dove for her once more. Fer-Shi tried to run away, but La-Iin was faster, caught her, and pinned her to the ground.
“Too easy.”
Terrified, Fer-Shi scooped up some dirt and tossed it in La-Iin’s face. La-Iin staggered off of her, trying to pick the dirt out of her eyes. The sight made Fer-Shi feel terrible. She didn’t dare try and take advantage of the situation, which was why just moments later, she ended up in a much similar situation.
“Take that!” La-Iin yelled. Fer-Shi backed into a tree and La-Iin pinned her against it. She blinked dirt out of her eyes and met La-Iin’s–they were alight with the thrill of the fight. The sight made her shudder.
She wiggled free from La-Iin’s grasp and tried to run. La-Iin flew up behind her and tried to carry her off into the sky, only to drop her soon after. Fer-Shi was stunned by the fall, and so didn’t retaliate. When La-Iin came flying for her once more, she grabbed her arms and the two became locked in a tussle.
“Let’s just stop this before it gets too violent!” Fer-Shi yelled.
“Never! I’m enjoying this thrill!”
The two rolled around in the upturned dirt. Fer-Shi only managed to keep La-Iin below her for a few minutes more, as after that La-Iin turned them over, pinned Fer-Shi’s dress down with a rock, and stood on her legs.
She gave a cackle of delight.
“STOOOOOP!”
La-Iin flinched and backed off of Fer-Shi, who sat up, shook her hair out, and stared La-Iin down.
“Look, I’m only going to say this once. I get it, you like violent stuff and fighting and things like that, but if we keep going this way I’m going to end up furious with you! There has to be a limit to these sorts of things. You’re too competitive!”
“I am not,” she said.
“You are so!”
“I am–actually, you have a good point. I’m very competitive.” La-Iin shook her head. “You’re right. Fighting isn’t for us two. And besides, against you I barely got any exercise.”
“Hey!”
La-Iin smirked. “I’ll stick to fighting teenage boys from now on. How’s that sound?”
Fer-Shi gasped. “No! You’ll get killed!”
“But maybe not right now.”
“Not ever again if I have anything to say about it!”
“But will you, Fer-Shi? Will you?”

—–
The two girls head back to Fer-Shi’s home to tidy themselves up. La-Iin managed to make it to the bathroom before being spotted, but Tei-Sheu quickly caught sight of her daughter’s disheveled state.
“What the–! Fer-Shi, how did you get so dirty?”
“Um, there’s a good explanation for it, Mom! You see–”
“Really, Fer-Shi, you need to be less rambunctious,” La-Iin said. “Look at you. All dirty.”
“You frikkin’ hypocrite! You were dirty just a moment before!”
Tei-Sheu sighed. She decided to call Mit-Sun; just as she did, the phone rang.
“Hello?”
“Hello, Tei-Sheu. Is La-Iin over there?”
“Yes. Yes she is.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Oh shit.”

24.570.The Rivalry of Bes-Isa and Choungetsu

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

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

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

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.”

18.534.Animosity from Suspicion

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 534
“Animosity from Suspicion”

“Mit-Sun, you look awfully happy today. What’s the occasion? Or, are you just happy because you are?”
Mit-Sun giggled. “It’s nothing, really. Just, I forgot how much fun going out could be. Having to take care of La-Iin, I haven’t been able to do much for myself lately. When we hang out together I get to go places La-Iin probably would never agree to go. Keeping her under wraps is hard.”
Uil-Cur scratched the back of his neck. “Always happy to be of assistance, Mit-Sun. My siblings told me I could be refreshing, but I never thought that would extend to another adult!”
“You can be pretty fun, Haner. So I want to ask: would you like to come over for dinner again tonight? I know La-Iin will hate it, but she’s been resisting all my attempts to bond with her lately. I really don’t think inviting you over again is going to make things any worse.”
“A-are you sure about that, Mit-Sun? She was pretty harsh towards me last time I came over.”
“La-Iin’s like that, but damn it, she can’t control who I make friends with as much as I can’t control who she makes friends with. I seriously don’t know what she has against you. She said something about male Sirens once, but I doubt she’s met another. I know you guys can be pretty rare.”
“It’s hard to think I’m technically somewhat rare. But I suppose that also comes from being an individual!”
“So, what do you say? Want to come over again? I could use a break from all her animosity and there’s not been much to do around the house lately.”
Uil-Cur gave a small smile. “Almost anything you ask me I would accept, Mit-Sun. I enjoy my time with you. I think you are…well, you’re the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“That’s sweet, Haner. Thanks. You’re a pretty great friend too.”
Uil-Cur began to flap his wings rapidly to calm him down. ‘Just because she smiles at you so much, it doesn’t mean anything! Quit getting your hopes up!’ Still, he couldn’t help but feel slightly excited at the sight of Mit-Sun’s casual smile.

***

“You seem pretty steamed up, La-Iin.”
“I am steamed up! I can’t stand it when Mama goes to spend time with Haner! Either she’s stupid or slowly she’s falling for his wiles. Well, either way she must be stupid, because if she’s falling for his wiles she’s delusional! If his wiles were so great I would be in love with him!”
“That’s….disturbing, to say the least. And that begs the question: if another man had really good wiles, would you like him better than San-Kyung?”
“No way, Bes-Isa. San-Kyung is my one and only. Mama is a fool. If she’s looking for what true love looks like, she should be looking in my direction.”
“Nobody who was in their right mind would take love tips from a stalkerish little kid…don’t look at me like that, La-Iin! I’m not saying your little thing for San-Kyung is little kiddy, I’m just saying you’re creepy.”
“I’ve heard what you’ve said about keeping girl slaves before. If anyone is creepy, it’s you!”
“Well, doesn’t that make me more evil!? I want girl slaves for my own use…heh heh….but you want San-Kyung to reciprocate your feelings and work equally by your side! What the hell’s with that!?”
“You should understand by now if you know me any, Bes-Isa. Besides, I would be in a higher position of power over San-Kyung anyway. But this wasn’t about him! I haven’t been able to make any progress with that depressio lately anyways. I’m getting burned up about Haner! Someday I’ll suck that guy’s blood and sing his own song back to him!”
“Tell me, do you think that would work?”
“It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
Before Bes-Isa could speak again, the door opened. La-Iin narrowed her eyes at Mit-Sun, then gasped when she noticed that Uil-Cur was right behind her.
“No!”
Mit-Sun scoffed. “Please, La-Iin.”
“H-hello there, La-Iin,” Uil-Cur said, sounding uncertain.
“No. Don’t even talk to me. Mama, you said you wanted to repair our bond. You’re on the wrong path. Continue to show me your stupidity and I’ll lock you in a high-security cage when the time comes, if there’s even any of you left to lock in a cage!”
She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow. She could hear a faint conversation between Mit-Sun and Uil-Cur, but she couldn’t be bothered to listen in to hear what it was. She was infuriated that Mit-Sun would even bring Uil-Cur over in the first place.

“I had a feeling this would happen,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Sorry about that, Haner.”
“No, there’s no trouble, Mit-Sun. Just as you had that feeling, so did I. She didn’t take well to me last time I was over either.”
“Well, she can go off and do her own thing if she wants to. Is there something you’d like to do?”
“Much as I’d like to spend time with you right at this moment, I want to try something, Mit-Sun. I’m going to see if I can get through to La-Iin.”
“Why?”
“The two of us are friends! I know it’s not all that important, but I don’t want to strain your relationship with your daughter just because she doesn’t like me. We can spend time together after this–after all, we do have plenty of time!”
“I suppose so,” Mit-Sun said. “Just don’t take too long, alright?”
‘She really does want to spend time with me,’ Uil-Cur thought. ‘Now I really do have to do this. With how she’s acting perhaps La-Iin may someday really be my step-daught…no, don’t think that, Uil-Cur! Stop it!’
He pushed the idea away as he fluttered after La-Iin.
“No flying in my house, Haner,” Mit-Sun said. Uil-Cur landed. “Sorry about that, Mit-Sun.”
“Just don’t do it again.”

“Haner won’t get to Mama first, I’ll show her, if anyone’s going to harm her bodily, it’ll be me, just wait and see….”
“I get that you’re angry, but do you have to pull on me like this!? I can feel pain, you know!”
“Heh heh heh…” The dark look in La-Iin’s eyes told Bes-Isa she wasn’t likely to be released soon.
From behind her La-Iin could hear footsteps. She glared over her shoulder. “Don’t bother reasoning with me, Mama. I will always and forever hate Haner. I–”
La-Iin’s eyes widened when she caught sight of Uil-Cur. “I know you’re not all that fond of me, La-Iin, and I respect that. But I don’t think you should get all so mad at Mit-Sun because of this.”
“Don’t you even dare talk to me, fool!” La-Iin hissed. Uil-Cur sighed. “Please, La-Iin, make this easy on me. If it makes you feel better, this friendship started because of me.”
“Take advantage of my Mama’s stupidity, will you!? Well, I’m not as stupid as she is!”
“Mit-Sun is not stupid! You shouldn’t say such things about your own mother.”
“Why should I listen to you!? You don’t matter to me. You’re just trash.”
Uil-Cur flinched. “I don’t know what I did to earn your ire, La-Iin, but I don’t want this to be how it is. I don’t want you to hate Mit-Sun because you hate me.”
“Quit referring to me by name. You don’t have the permission to do so.” La-Iin’s wings began to flap wildly. “I know your aim, Haner. I know what plans you have for my Mama. I can see them from a mile away. For you see, I’m an expert when it comes to planning things.”
Uil-Cur blinked at her. “What do you mean? I don’t have any plans for Mit-Sun.”
“Do you think I’m stupid!? I know wiles better than most others! You can only have two possible plans for Mama. Either way I won’t accept you!”
“I honestly have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“You won’t fool me, Haner! Until the moment she proves otherwise, I’ll hope that Mama’s not so stupid to let her emotions fall victim to your plans!”
Uil-Cur blinked. ‘What is she talking about?’ As La-Iin bared her fangs, it clicked in his mind, and his face turned a dark red.
“I–it isn’t–it’s not–look, I think you have the wrong idea, La-Iin…”
“Your reaction only proves to me I have the right idea! Stop it, Haner! Or I’ll give you a reason to regret it!”
Uil-Cur felt completely embarrassed. “I…it’s…there’s nothing to worry about on that front, La-Iin. And if that’s making you angry at Mit-Sun, then you’re being irrational. Be angry at me all you want, but this has nothing to do with her…”
La-Iin’s nose wrinkled.
“Haner? La-Iin?”
Mit-Sun’s voice broke into the argument. “Haner, I heard arguing. If you can’t get through to her, there’s no reason to argue with her.”
“All the arguing was coming from her side, though.”
“La-Iin, cut Haner some slack. I get it–you don’t like him. You’ve made that painfully clear.”
“Apparently not clear enough to get through your thick skull!” La-Iin yelled. She stomped off, Bes-Isa in tow.
“I swear, one of these days you’re going to kill me.”
“I’m sorry, Mit-Sun. I didn’t mean to fight with her. She hates me more than I’d expect a seven-year-old to…and now I think I understand why.”
“Why?”
Uil-Cur’s face flushed. “I–I think I just remind her of someone she doesn’t like at her school.”
“Huh?”
“That’s the impression I got, anyway,” he sighed. “So, um, Mit-Sun–about that hanging out?”
“Oh, yeah. Well, there’s plenty I can show you around the house. We have time until dinner to just look around, so tell me where you want to go. Although obviously La-Iin’s room is off-limits.”
“I figured. Well, anywhere you want to show me is fine.”
“Well then, we might as well stop by the miscellaneous room, then,” Mit-Sun said. “Come on!”
From her bedroom La-Iin could hear their conversation. She grit her teeth.
‘What can I do now? Maybe I should turn to Dami for advice on this…’

—–
Dinner came and went, and no matter how hard she tried Mit-Sun simply could not manage to get La-Iin to sit at the table while Uil-Cur was there. Even sending him away didn’t seem to work–La-Iin still refused to sit anywhere near him and instead took her food away and into her room. Mit-Sun lacked the energy to fight with her over it, and so opted against it.
“Thank you for the dinner, Mit-Sun. You are an excellent cook.”
“Not a problem. It was nice to have you over, even though La-Iin was acting up. Maybe next time, we should hang out at your house.”
“Maybe. I hope you can make up with her.”
“Me too. Well, I guess I’ll see you tomorrow, Uil-Cur. Good night.”
Uil-Cur froze and blinked at Mit-Sun. “What? Did I say something wrong?”
“Er, um, no, not at all!” He flustered. “Did I give you a weird look? I’m sorry, I’m just used to you saying Haner…”
“Oh…well, you keep telling me I can call you Uil-Cur, so I suppose it just came out.”
“Well, I am okay with you calling me that,” he said. “Er, I have to go now. See you, Mit-Sun.”
“See you, Haner. Er, Uil-Cur.”
As Uil-Cur walked out the house, he smiled to himself. ‘I wonder if I might just have a chance after all…maybe, just maybe.’
Remembering Leirhyn’s words, he began to feel confident as he fluttered off towards home.

20.505.Occurrences of Fer-Shi

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 505
“Occurrences of Fer-Shi”

“You know, it’s been a long time since you’ve been over to my house, La-Iin,” Fer-Shi said. “So how come you don’t look happy?”
“It’s hard to be happy when you did something you thought would help, but ended up making things worse.”
“What?”
La-Iin sighed. “Remember when I told you San-Kyung was coming over to my house the other day? He came over, saw what I had, and realized he’s been making a giant mistake.”
“Is he going good?”
“Hell no! If he was doing that I’d be even more depressed! No, it’s something so personal that if I told you he’d probably kill me and stuff me in a shallow and watery grave. I’d tell you but I don’t want that to happen.”
“Um, okay.” ‘Just what sort of secrets is San-Kyung hiding!?’ “Well, I can make it all better. My Mom and Dad will be back in an hour or so, but until then, we have the house to ourselves! There has to be something you want to do.”
“Not particularly.”
Fer-Shi huffed. “Well, I’ll find something for us, then!” She head off into the kitchen and looked at the snacks that her parents kept. She put some snacks into a bowl and carried them to the table. La-Iin took one almost immediately.
“We need to make good on our promise to go on an adventure,” Fer-Shi said.
“You still remember that? I’ve been meaning to, but I’m lacking ideas. If you have a good one, go ahead and say what it is.”
“I don’t,” Fer-Shi said. “Hey, speaking of adventures, when do you think they’ll do the school trip this year? They usually do it in Spring, right? And Sanyaow and Sherry and…there’s one other, I think, they’re all twelfth graders this year, so we’ll have to go on one soon.”
“Hm.”
Fer-Shi glared. “La-Iin, you’re being boring!”
“And you’re being forceful! Since when did you become this way?”
“I don’t want to see you like this, La-Iin. Sometimes I worry you spend so much of your time focusing on evil and San-Kyung that you end up disliking anything else. You need to clear your head and find something fun to do. We used to play together all the time and now we only play in the recess are!”
“Hm.”
“I’ve got an idea. Come on, I know a place I can show you.”
“I want to eat the rest of the snacks.”
“That can wait! Come on.”
La-Iin sighed. Fer-Shi ignored it and led her out the house. ‘I understand how she’s feeling, though. It’s easy to get caught up in what you want or what you lack. But you need to find a way to enjoy the parts of life that aren’t focused on that, too!’
“Do you know a secret place, Fer-Shi? I didn’t think you had it in you. What sort of secrets are you hiding?”
Fer-Shi dashed over to a bush and blocked La-Iin. “This is a big one. If I’m really gonna show you this secret, you have to promise to keep your mouth shut. If you tell Miss Cahongyun, she might tell my Mom and Dad, and I’d be in a lot of trouble if they found out about this.”
La-Iin smirked. “I hate making promises, but I’ll have to make an exception here. Whatever you’re hiding–” La-Iin tried to glance behind Fer-Shi, but she outstretched her arms to cover the forest behind her. “–has got to be something interesting if you’re going to get in trouble if I tell. Almost makes me tempted to break the promise.”
“Come on, La-Iin! I need a pinky swear.”
“You don’t get a pinky swear from a Vampire. You get a blood pact!”
“B-blood pact!? Well, alright, if you really promise you’ll keep the secret!”
La-Iin’s smirk deepened, and Fer-Shi felt wary as she nicked her finger and La-Iin did likewise. The two pressed the injuries together, then Fer-Shi led the way to Hei-Maj’s small cave.
‘I hope he doesn’t have a bad reaction to La-Iin,’ she thought. ‘If he lashes out at her this could be trouble.’
“My excitement grows with every scrape of my knee, but so does my impatience,” La-Iin said.
“Be quiet! We’re almost there.”
‘I hope he’s not expecting anything from me!’ Fer-Shi pulled herself out from underneath the bushes, only to realize that Hei-Maj was not there. Garbage she was sure he had left behind was lying all around, but he was not there at all.
“Where did he go?”
“Where did who go?” La-Iin asked. Fer-Shi flinched. “Is this the secret? This is a pretty cool hideout, Fer-Shi, and I’m glad you told me about it. Something like this deserves to be kept a secret. Though you leave a lot of garbage here, and it’s pretty close to your neighborhood. If you want to keep a secret this big, you should have made your base further in the forest.”
“This isn’t my base.”
“I should have known when you said ‘where did he go’,” La-Iin said. “So who is he?”
“A friend who lives here,” she said. “He’s kind of, well…homeless. So I take care of him. That’s where all the garbage comes from.”
“You have a hobo slave!?” La-Iin exclaimed. “Now I’m really jealous. Sometimes I think you’re even more evil than me, Fer-Shi. You just haven’t tapped into your full potential yet. That both excites and terrifies me.”
“I’m not evil!” Fer-Shi exclaimed. “And he’s not a hobo slave, he’s my friend!”
“Well, where is he? Did he curl up to die somewhere?”
Fer-Shi shuddered. “Don’t say things like that! He’s probably nearby, and even if he isn’t, well, he has his own problems to deal with, so I’m sure he’s doing, well, something.”
“Hm.”
Fer-Shi hadn’t wanted to venture further into the forest, but La-Iin’s words had worried her. She pushed on, La-Iin close behind her, and began to call for Hei-Maj.
“Hei-Maj? What sort of name is that? That doesn’t sound Vaelis.”
“I don’t know if it is. I don’t know much about Hei-Maj at all. And neither does he. But he’s a good friend of mine.”
“A better friend than me?”
“I only have one best friend, La-Iin, and that’s you. But he is a good friend, and I would like you to meet him. But not to make him a hobo slave, just to meet him!”
“You read my mind, huh.”
“Why do you see people as nothing but potential slaves?”
“I don’t see all people that way. I see San-Kyung as my future husband, and Bes-Isa as a close advisor. My next-door neighbor, Sale-Dessu, I see him as a close and trusted ally.”
“So how come I’m different?” Fer-Shi asked. “I’ve heard you say what a good slave I’ll be someday, but we’re good friends, right? So why am I a slave when other people are more useful to you? Why do they get to assist you in taking over the world? Is it because they’re evil?”
“Sale-Dessu isn’t evil, unfortunately. To get him to help me will be jumping through hoops, but I’ve found my loopholes. And it has nothing to do with not caring about you, Fer-Shi. I just don’t think your influence would be any good to me. Because you’re…well, you’re a goody-goody, you know?”
“Yeah, I know. And because of that, you see me as lesser than you.”
Fer-Shi heard La-Iin’s wings begin to flap. “Fer-Shi, you’re being an idiot! Nobody is as good as me when it comes to being evil. And you never considered the reason why I wanted to make you a slave anyway. It’s because why would you want to help me ruling the world behind the scenes!? Besides, you’d be a trusted slave who I would let take care of my children, although there’s no way I’d let you teach them.”
“Even if you have good intentions…well, for you anyway–it doesn’t change the fact that hearing that your friend wants to make you a slave still hurts.”
“You rejected my earlier positions, which if you ask me were a lot more influential than slave. I think you have potential, Fer-Shi. But until you tap into that, I can’t find a higher position of power for you. It has nothing to do with bias against or for you, otherwise I wouldn’t be planning Sale-Dessu in the position he’s in.”
“Yeah, you say that…” Fer-Shi shook her head. “Why are we even arguing about this? We need to find Hei-Maj, or at least our way back!”
“I like this forest. This Hei-Maj’s guy home or not, it could make for a pretty great base.”
“Do you think about anything that’s not ruling the world?”
La-Iin glared. “I wasn’t thinking about it being a base of operations for my ruling the world plans. I don’t need a place for that yet. I thought it could be a base you and I could use for fun. But apparently, you don’t like that idea.”
That was your plan?” Fer-Shi said. “That’s pretty sweet, La-Iin. Thank you.”
“Huh?”
“I hope Hei-Maj is alright,” she sighed. “But we should get back. My Mom and Dad might get suspicious about what I do when I leave the house suddenly, but I always have you as an excuse. If we’re out when they come back, I think they’ll be pretty…”
Fer-Shi staggered backwards. Her sight had begun to blur slightly and she felt disoriented.
“Fer-Shi? Is something wrong?”
Though she could make out La-Iin’s words, her voice sounded slightly muted. “Uh, yeah, I think so…can you lead the way back, La-Iin? I can barely see…”
“Fer-Shi?”
Fer-Shi wasn’t able to respond past that; she felt too nauseated to. She was aware of someone pulling on her arm and leading her through the forest, but all the colors had begun to blur together, and eventually the greens and browns of the forest covered the purple of La-Iin’s dress and the yellow of her hair and left Fer-Shi in a nauseous daze that made her wish she had never taken La-Iin out to the forest.

—–
“Is Fer-Shi alright?”
“She seems fine,” Den-Matsu said, checking over his daughter. “She doesn’t feel warm or clammy, and her eyes look fine. She doesn’t look injured and I don’t see a rash. So I wonder what happened?”
“Let’s ask her how she feels when she wakes up,” Tei-Sheu said. “Oh, but do you think we should take her to the hospital before then?”
“Maybe we should. Come with us, La-Iin, and we’ll get you home. Don’t worry, we’ll call and tell you how Fer-Shi’s doing.”
“I’m sure by then she’ll be able to tell you herself,” Tei-Sheu said with a smile, though La-Iin noticed a waver in her tone.
‘Mr. and Mrs. Sanhuun probably think something’s badly wrong with Fer-Shi. They probably think she’s going to die or something. I’m smarter than that. Fer-Shi can’t be too sick.’
She glanced back at her friend. ‘Still, what was wrong with her?’

11.496.Attack on Astineth

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

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

***

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

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

5.490.Strife Among the Students

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 490
“Strife Among the Students”

“Is it just me, or does it feel really tense in the classroom today?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I don’t know. But I see that stupid Catori girl is glaring San-Kyung’s way.”
Fer-Shi glanced in that direction. “It kinda looks like she’s glaring Dosa-Mina’s way.”
“Well, I don’t care if that’s the case.”
“You know, Llanni, it sure would be a shame if we leaked our suspicions to the class,” Lirako said.
“Yeah, like totally. I bet Dslellular’d be hard-pressed to defend himself.”
“What are you two talking about?” Deki-Tyunri asked. “This isn’t the first time I’ve heard you two bring up Dslellular. Llanni, do you have a crush on him?”
“Far from it, Elyshen. Someone like Ferister’s more my type.” She glanced at Tenha-Gumo and winked. Tenha-Gumo shuddered. “We’ve just got a bit of a secret we’re keeping and it’s really hard to keep.”
“We could let you in on it, if you promise to keep it secret. …at least, for now.”
“Would it really be so smart to say it in front of the whole class?”
Lirako glanced at the students behind her. All of them seemed fairly distracted with other students or their studies.
“Maybe not, but it probably wouldn’t be the biggest deal to say it here. And I think we have a little more time before class starts. We could probably leave the classroom and still make it back in time.”
“Is this secret something nefarious?”
“It might interest you, Elyshen,” Airy-Aekok said.
Deki-Tyunri blinked. “Interest me…?”
“Yeah, you might like hearing what we have to say. But ultimately, the decision’s yours. Just make it before old man Chensu gets here to scream at us.”
“I–”
Deki-Tyunri froze. Before he could give his response, San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina had walked up to his desk, their eyes fixed on Lirako and Airy-Aekok.
“Hey, Sanyaow. Don’t you think you’ve gotten told shut up enough by now?” San-Kyung said.
“Yeah, is that the sort of legacy you want to leave at Malicerie?”
“Like you two can talk! He’s told you two shut up a fair amount of times. Besides, I’ve done other stuff at this school to get me recognized.”
“Hey there, guys,” Airy-Aekok said with a wave. Both boys ignored her, and she began to look indignant.
“Look, Lirako, I don’t like you and you don’t like me. That’s fine. But you’re crossing a line when you’ve stooped to spreading rumors about me.”
Lirako glared. “Do you know just how many rumors there are about me in school? Besides, you’ve already got the people debating whether you like San-Kyung romantically or not.”
“That’s beside the point. Not only am I used to that, but I had to deal with a much worse version of that in the past.” Dosa-Mina glanced away. “Not that it’s any of your business.”
“Look, Dslellular, I’m not trying to make your life harder, but you gotta admit, the fact that you won’t sing for me is pretty suspicious. What do you have to hide? If your singing voice doesn’t kill people, it’s not gonna kill you to sing me a little something.”
Students nearby had begun to glance up to watch the confrontation.
“Ugh, it feels like it just got more tense in here. I feel so uncomfortable.” Fer-Shi said.
“It looks like something’s going on over there. And San-Kyung’s involved! So is that stupid Catori and the llama girl. Hm…”
“I wish they wouldn’t start stuff like this right before class. Mr. Chensu’s gonna be super mad at us if there’s a fight breaking out right before history class.”
“I can guarantee if you asked San-Kyung to sing, he would say no. So why am I coming under fire for saying no as well? Llanni, you tied me up and forced me to look at risque photos!”
“I know I did that,” Airy-Aekok said, looking away from him. “And I am, like, sorry. I’m also sorry that I’m so stupidly curious about whether or not you’ve got something to hide.”
“I don’t! Look, not everyone’s all that proud of their singing voice. And truth be told, I’m one of them. …I actually used to like to sing when I was little. But I’ve never been a good singer, so they picked on me for even trying. It can be discouraging to a little kid to hear that. And a lot of stuff from your early childhood can affect you even when you’re older. Are you happy now? In case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t like talking about myself.”
“But there’s no guarantee about that, is there?” Lirako said. “I understand San-Kyung probably wouldn’t sing for me or Llanni. He might not even sing for you. But we pretty much have dead-on proof that he isn’t anything else aside from an Animated Pumpkin. Aside from the fact that that’s all he looks like, knowing him I’m pretty sure he’d have used his other powers by now.”
San-Kyung glared. Dosa-Mina gave him a pat on the shoulder. “Look, can we just drop this? I don’t look like any other species either, do I? Have I ever shown myself to be able to use any powers?”
“You can jump freaky high. And that’s something a lot of non-Normals can do, but not many Normals.”
“I happen to like jumping! Besides, where I live, there are a lot of little kids who can use that jumping power. And by the way, Sirens aren’t a species that can.”
“Yeah, but they’re avians,” Airy-Aekok said.
“…you haven’t done much species study, have you.”
“Look, Dosa-Mina, at this point the problem really isn’t proof or no proof. We have no proof for or against you being a non-Normal. We haven’t really seen your parents. You haven’t sung for us and we don’t know if you sang during Denden Saree, so there’s that. It could be that you don’t want to sing because it’s one of your powers. It could be that you’re telling the truth about being discouraged about your singing voice. But in reality, that isn’t the main problem.”
Fer-Shi put her hands on her head. “I wish Mr. Chensu would arrive and tell them to shut up already!”
“I might go and do that myself,” La-Iin said.
“Why?”
“I can barely hear what that Catori girl is saying. But I know she’s done bad things to San-Kyung in the past. If you mess with San-Kyung, you should be prepared for my ire!”
“If you’re going to stop them, stop procrastinating, then!”
“What’s the main problem, then?”
“Someone who really didn’t want to be seen as something other than what he was probably would have sung for us already, no matter how embarrassing it was, just to prove that he really was a Normal and not a Siren like we’re asking. And even if you put that aside as those childhood experiences being really ‘traumatic’, the fact that you’re jumping to your defense so readily when you don’t do the same for the rumors about you and San-Kyung tells me a lot. I’m pretty good at reading people, you know.”
“I agree with Sanyaow,” Airy-Aekok said. “My dad’s, like, a cop. Your behavior is pretty suspicious.”
Dosa-Mina’s eyes widened. “I defended myself against those rumors before I came to Malicerie! And I can’t stand these rumors because they’re being sent around by people I despise! Influential people. Do you think I want people mistaking my species for something else?”
“Are they mistaking your species for something else, Dosa-Mina? Or have they discovered the truth and you just don’t want to admit it!?”
“Sanyaow, you’re getting a little rough on–”
“Dosa-Mina, have you ever considered that part of the reason I might be doing all this is because of how you’ve treated me?”
“You started this stupid war!”
“Yes, well, instead of acting so suspicious, you c–”
Lirako flinched. “Sanyaow, you alright?”
Lirako turned around. La-Iin was flying behind her, a glare on her face.
“I don’t know what you’re doing, Catori, but whatever it is, leave San-Kyung out of it!”
“Did you hear any of that conversation at all!?”
“I don’t care. That dolt of a history teacher is taking too long to make you shut up. And I also don’t care if you were harassing rival-boy. I can’t stand you, Catori. And if San-Kyung’s anywhere near you, it’s probably because you’re bothering him in some way!”
“What the–”
“I developed my powers early, Catori,” La-Iin said. Her tone and expressionless face made Lirako shudder. “Don’t make me use them in class.”
“That’s against the rules.”
“Do you think I care?” La-Iin slapped at her tail. “Leave San-Kyung alone. He’s mine to bother.”
As La-Iin walked away, she was pulled back by Dosa-Mina.
“We owe you, La-Iin,” he said.
“We!?”
“Ooh, if you owe me, there are plenty of good things I can ask for…” La-Iin’s smile became sly as she walked back to her desk.
“What’d you go and say that for?”
“Because I’m grateful she got Lirako off my back?”
“This isn’t over, Dosa-Mina. There’s no turning back now. Siren or not, something’s going on with you, and I am going to find it out before I graduate!”
“And if she doesn’t, I totally will,” Airy-Aekok said.
Dosa-Mina scoffed. “Do your worst. You won’t find anything.” He sat back down in his chair. As Mr. Chensu entered the room, glancing around curiously at the class, Dosa-Mina found it hard to keep his expression straight.
‘How much longer do I have until she pulls out all stops and there’s nothing I can do anymore?’

—–
“By the way, rival-boy, about that whole ‘owing’ thing.”
“You still remember that? You really believed me?”
“You will owe me or there will be consequences.” La-Iin’s wings flapped rapidly. Dosa-Mina sighed. “Fine, what is it? If you ask for San-Kyung naked and wrapped in a ribbon, I can’t provide.”
“I haven’t figured out what I want yet, rival-boy. I was certain, but now I’m thinking there are a lot of good options for me to consider. I just want you to know that I won’t forget your promise.”
La-Iin walked ahead of him. “I always have to go and mess things up for myself, don’t I…”

22.446.Multiplicity Scenario

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 446
“Multiplicity Scenario”

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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

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

7.431.Delusions of Illogic

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 431
“Delusions of Illogic”

A public fixture had been set on fire. The smoke coming from it, rising into the sky until it was too dark to see past it, was visible from distances away.
Once Ai-Reia had seen it, she stopped what she was doing and ran to find the source. Whatever the fixture had been at one point it was no longer–now it was melting to the ground at a rapid pace.
Nobody else had come to see the fixture except for her. But someone had been there already, someone whom Ai-Reia was certain was the arsonist.
Cahongyun La-Iin.
She turned around, a box of matches in her hand, and smiled.
“Now I understand,” she said. “Now I understand why San-Kyung likes fire so much. He’s lucky to be an Animated Pumpkin, getting to light things on fire any time he wants. But I think this is just as good.”
“What do you think you’re doing!? Look at all that smoke! It’s going to choke everyone in Vaelyn!”
“You made one mistake, “child prodigy”,” she said with a sneer. “What have I done.
Anger and fear bubbled inside Ai-Reia. She knew La-Iin’s face to be expressionless, but today she felt that it was a sign. Today she could not consider it simply the way her face was–today it was because she simply didn’t care about the gravity of what she had done.
Ai-Reia knew something had to be done. If she was at the point where she felt no emotion for what she had done, she was not salvageable. She cursed herself for not realizing earlier–even if someone cared about others, they were already past the point of return when they wanted to decimate the world.
It angered her more.
The smoke all around sent her senses into overdrive and transformed her into a Vampire bat. La-Iin grinned, her face still looking devoid of emotion regardless.
“What are you going to do, Ai-Reia?” She asked. “Because there’s nothing you can do, really. I may be younger than you, but I am far more powerful. I’ll be able to take you out regardless of whether you’re a bat or not.”
“So you say,” she hissed. “But I finally have control of my power! And even if I didn’t, I would still do everything in my power to stop you!”
She flew above La-Iin and dove down to her, noticing the startled expression on her face as they collided. The top of La-Iin’s head crashed into the flaming structure and her hair caught fire. La-Iin shrieked and tossed off her headband before trying to put out the fire lighting her hair. It was such a pathetic display it made Ai-Reia laugh.
She grabbed some dirt and put it over the fire. With a little work, the fire was quickly out.
“You…you helped me?” La-Iin said in disbelief. “But I–”
“Don’t get the wrong idea, La-Iin,” she said. “That display was only so I could take care of you myself.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened again, wider this time as Ai-Reia grabbed the collar of her dress and pulled her into the air. She flew around for a little bit, relishing the feeling of spreading her wings and flying. She flew close to the smoke but felt no effects; La-Iin, however, began to cough violently. The sight spurred a grin on her face, though she hardly noticed in her glee. The two of them flew above a sidewalk, and finally Ai-Reia decided to land.
Putting La-Iin in front of her, she plunged downwards as fast as she could go. La-Iin’s face became strangely expressive as she glanced down and noticed she was plummeting towards the sidewalk. With a growl she broke free of Ai-Reia’s grasp and flew above her.
“Not bad, not bad at all,” Ai-Reia said. “It’s nice to have a victim who fights back!”
Then, her face twisted in an angry scowl. “Think of all the destruction you’ve caused with your arson act, La-Iin. Look at that smoke, it’s covering the sky! So many people will likely die as a result of smoke inhalation! People trying to put out the fire you set might be burned alive themselves, if civilians aren’t killed first by that structure melting to the ground! So many lives in Bledger will likely be lost, including the ones of those you love! Do you care at all!?”
La-Iin’s expression became one of horror, as if she had just finally realized the weight of what she had done. But Ai-Reia felt it was put-upon. Truly La-Iin felt no remorse for what she had done–and even if she had, the amount of lives that were likely to be lost was enough for Ai-Reia to know in her heart that she should pay.
“Never mind. There’s no point in even asking that question. I know you don’t. No person who could do something so heinous without a thought for even her loved ones has any heart at all!”
La-Iin backed away, but she was too slow. Ai-Reia knocked her hard against the sidewalk. Already she seemed dazed and confused; blood was rolling down her head and her eyes were glazing over as if already she was being lost to death.
Ai-Reia wasn’t going to allow her to go that easily.
Baring her fangs, she tore away at La-Iin’s stomach until her dress and flesh had been completely torn away. She glanced up at La-Iin to see her reaction. She hadn’t screamed at all, but she was breathing in an odd way Ai-Reia had never heard before, and her expression was one of agonizing pain, tears mixing with the blood on her face. It was a far cry from the emotionless face she normally saw, but it stirred no reaction in her.
‘How to prolong this?’ She wondered. La-Iin was already showing signs of slipping away even in her agony. She barely moved and her breathing was slowing at a rapid pace. Evidently no matter what she did, La-Iin would likely die on her next attack.
So she had to plan it carefully.
Still, looking down at her, stomach exposed to the world, made her chuckle.
“You know, I could have simply smashed your head against the sidewalk and been done with it,” she said, sitting down next to La-Iin. La-Iin showed no signs of recognizing that she was talking to her, and Ai-Reia could care less. “That would have been a painful death I’m sure, but what’s important was that it would have been quick. But you had to fight me and give me time to think. And I don’t need all that much time to think. What you did was incredibly callous. Death from smoke inhalation, death from burning alive…I’m sure those are painful and prolonged deaths, especially in the case of the second one. So this is honestly what you deserve.”
La-Iin still didn’t respond. For the briefest of moments, something stirred in Ai-Reia–something that screamed and cried and told her she had made a grave mistake. But she quickly forgot it when she noticed La-Iin was finally slipping completely away. While still breathing any spasms in her body had completely ceased and when Ai-Reia felt her heart it was beating so slowly that she doubted it was of any use to her.
“Oh no you won’t. You need one more punishment.”
Raising a foot, she slammed it down on her stomach. La-Iin finally gave a pained screech, took a few final deep gulps of air, then ceased to move at all, her face permanently twisted in agony.
“I suppose she’s gone,” Ai-Reia said casually, checking for any signs of life. There were none. La-Iin was most certainly dead, her agony forever reflected in her facial expression. Ai-Reia grinned a malicious grin.
“Oh, this isn’t over yet,” she said. “There’s one final act to this.”
Anyone who might have seen the sight would have seen it as the work of someone with a truly sick mind. Ai-Reia thought it should be viewed as a work of comedy, for the people who passed by it to laugh at the fact that someone so horrible had been so badly torn apart.
Ai-Reia decimated La-Iin’s organs to the best of her ability until they were hardly recognizable as anything but mush. It was bad enough to look at that even Ai-Reia gagged glancing back at it after the deed was done. Figuring she was finished here, she decided to clean her hands.
She brought her hands across a nearby railing, covering them with La-Iin’s blood. The rest that wouldn’t come off she wiped on the remains of La-Iin’s dress. She stared back at the sight, a young girl dead on the sidewalk with her expression one of pure agony, her stomach torn open presenting a sight that made even her murderer gag, her blood painted upon the railings.
Ai-Reia stared at it for a while, her feelings conflicted, before walking off. The world around her seemed to fall apart until she was walking through a black-and-blue void, completely lacking any conscience or consciousness.

—–
Ai-Reia let out a screech of horror at the dream. Already when she woke up she was crying.
Her thoughts and emotions were jumbled and messy, and she herself was obviously frazzled, not that she could tell. Through her walls she could faintly hear the sounds of her family saying something she couldn’t make out from her room.
All she was able to say as all the dream slipped away from her save for La-Iin’s murder was,
“I’m not a monster. I-I’m not–not a monster. Not a monster, not a monster…”

12.408.Conflicts of the Plush-Heart

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 408
“Conflicts of the Plush Heart”

“I’m so jealous of Eul-Bok…”
“How long are you going to keep whining about that?” La-Iin asked as she took off her pajamas.
“Until you let me become autonomous like him.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “There’s no body you could be put into, though.”
“I could wait better if I knew one was being made. My impatience comes from the fact that nothing is happening, so therefore I have no guarantees that I will ever become autonomous. What do I do if Sale-Dessu dies before I can become autonomous? Warlocks don’t live as long as Vampires, I hope you know!”
“I know that,” La-Iin scoffed. “But how do you know Sale-Dessu won’t botch it if he tries to do it to you?”
“It’s a chance I’d be willing to take.”
La-Iin sighed. “You were used to the idea of staying like this forever a year ago.”
“But now I know my dream is possible.”
“So?”
“Maybe it will make more sense to you if I explain it like this. Say there was a way for you to rule the world tomorrow, or soon, anyway. But there was potentially a time limit. And if you waited too long, your chance would disappear in front of you, possibly forever….what would you do? Wouldn’t you want to take it?”
“My ruling of the world won’t work like that, though,” she said as she started to put on her dress. “There will always be chances available.”
“How about if San-Kyung was in love with you and his little best friend. If you went to him first, obviously he’d accept you instead of his friend. But you’re limited by whether or not that woman lets you go outside. What–“
“If San-Kyung was in love with both of us at once I’d never forgive him,” La-Iin said through grit teeth, her wings flapping wildly with anger. “Fine, I get your point. But you’re still my V-Puppet and I have final call. If Sale-Dessu hadn’t wanted to make Eul-Bok autonomous he wouldn’t have and there would have been nothing Eul-Bok could have done to prevent that.”
“But then he wouldn’t have known whether he could actually become autonomous or not! I KNOW it’s possible now. I saw Eul-Bok moving around without Sale-Dessu making the motions! Now I know that I can move around just like you and that woman and him and your little best friend and EVERYONE who’s not a V-Puppet! I know I can try and chase some of my dreams I thought were just pipe dreams! And for whatever reason you don’t want that for me! What, is it that you need me just in case your kids kill each other and you have nobody else when you’re a little old lady? God!”
La-Iin glared. “Getting mad at me like that isn’t helping you get what you want. But fine, go ahead and get pissed as much as you want. I have to go to school anyway, so it’s not like I could even take you over there right now. You know, I might be considering letting you do it a little more if you hadn’t been so annoying! And don’t think trying to be nice to me now will work. I’m not stupid no matter how much you say I am!”
La-Iin stomped out the room. Bes-Isa huffed.
“I’d have thought she would put me to sleep. But I guess she’s too angry to think about that. Hmph.”
Bes-Isa felt a mixture of frustration, sadness and anger at both La-Iin and herself building within her. She lay on La-Iin’s bed, unable to do anything about it, as La-Iin head off to school.

***

“Wake up, Bes-Isa.”
Bes-Isa slowly opened her eyes. Her vision was blurry, but she could make out Sale-Dessu, standing in front of her. Sale-Dessu heaved a sigh of relief.
“Oh, thank goodness. I was worried I’d killed you…”
“I just had the strangest dream…”
“Does it have to deal with becoming autonomous?” Sale-Dessu asked with a smile. “Because it wasn’t a dream if that’s the case.”
“No, it wasn’t about that,” she said. Then she flinched. “Wait a second, what!?”
“Don’t you remember? You asked last time you were here if you could become autonomous. I didn’t want to go against what La-Iin wanted, but I thought you would be happier from becoming autonomous than she would be from losing you as a V-Puppet, so I performed the procedure and here you are.”
Bes-Isa lifted up her arm. She tried to sit up, but fell over. She twitched her fingers. Then, she smiled.
“I’m really autonomous!” She squealed. Sale-Dessu chuckled. “Your reaction is reminding me of Eul-Bok’s.”
“Did you call for me, Father?” Eul-Bok asked as he ran into the room. Laying eyes on Bes-Isa, he began to scowl. “Oh. I see you finished her.”
“Does that mean I can throttle you?” She asked, reaching out a shaky hand.
“Don’t start fighting again!” Sale-Dessu snapped. “I believe the way your new body was created leaves you with less starting strength than Eul-Bok.” Eul-Bok puffed out his chest and his expression changed to one of conceit. “You’re autonomous now, but you’ll need a little work.”
“Hmph.” Bes-Isa frowned for only a second before smiling once again. “Well, at least I can move now…”
“So it’s too late now, is it?”
Bes-Isa knew that voice all too well. La-Iin entered the room, her expression obviously one of fury. ‘I can’t remember ever seeing her so angry…’
“La-Iin? …did I leave the door unlocked again?”
“Apparently fools never learn,” she said, her gaze focused on Bes-Isa.
“La-Iin, I can barely move in this new body as it is. Besides, it’s not all going to be different.”
“Shut up!” La-Iin yelled. Tears made her eyes glisten. “I don’t want to hear anything from you. You’re nothing to me now.”
“I–I’m sorry, La-Iin…” Sale-Dessu said. “If you want, you can have Bes-Isa’s original body back…”
He handed the small plush doll to La-Iin. Staring at it elicited a strange feeling in Bes-Isa. ‘That used to be me…that was the body I was born in. And now…’
She stared down at her new hands and knees, which looked almost like that of a person’s save for a ball joint in one knee.
“If I have this,” La-Iin started, motioning to Bes-Isa’s old body, “then I don’t need you. I’ll never need you ever again. You said you would be my greatest ally. My ally who was evil and who wouldn’t leave my side at all. But you betrayed me. Oh, but that’s fine, though. I don’t mind having one more person to exact my revenge on when I take over the world. Know, though, that it won’t be a simple revenge. No, you deserve much worse. Cahongyuns don’t back down when faced with an enemy.”
“You’re taking this too seriously,” Bes-Isa sighed. “I can still help you if I’m autonomous, La-Iin. Maybe I can even help you better than I could have when I was a V-Puppet.”
“But I bet you’ll just die years earlier than you would have in this body, won’t you?” La-Iin sneered, wrinkling her nose. “Not that it matters. I have Tae-Kyok. And with this, I can probably make a new Bes-Isa. A better Bes-Isa who will actually stay by my side and listen to me.”
“She could end up good,” Bes-Isa pointed out. “Come on, La-Iin.” Standing on the sidelines, Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok looked away, as if unable to bring themselves to watch the debate.
“She won’t. That, I will make sure of. And she will want to take you down. That I can assure. You’ve betrayed me, Bes-Isa, and now I have no use for you. So stay out of my way unless you want to die!”
La-Iin ran out the room faster than normal, clutching Bes-Isa’s old body tight.
“If you want, you can stay with us for now,” Sale-Dessu said. “Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I’ll keep you two in separate rooms.”
“So you say! But I can’t make any guarantees I won’t pour water on her while she’s sleeping.”
“Eul-Bok!”
The conversation between those two went mostly unheard by Bes-Isa. She just stared at the door through which La-Iin had left.
She had known this girl all her life; she had met La-Iin before she had even turned one. And just now, she had said she hated her.

“Be careful. Try not to run into anyone you don’t know out there, alright?”
“I’ll be careful. Th…well, whatever.”
Bes-Isa walked outside the Astineth house and took a deep breath. ‘I haven’t had fresh air in so long…’
She was almost scared to keep walking along the sidewalk; she was still having trouble walking around on her own. So she took slow, cautious steps, hoping she would be able to keep her balance.
Only a few steps in, she noticed La-Iin standing there on the sidewalk, staring up at her and holding her old body close to her chest.
“La-Iin?”
“Not you again,” she hissed, baring her fangs. “Look, Bes-Isa. This is the faker who thought she was you for so many years.”
“Ugh, how ugly! I have a hard time believing what you say. I doubt a V-Puppet can really become autonomous!”
“We’ll say this faker’s case is a….special exception,” she said, then glared at Bes-Isa. “Now get out of my sight before I maul you!”
“La-Iin…come on, we were stuck together for so many years. You can’t just turn against me now…”
“I guess I know your choice now,” she said, before biting into her arm. Bes-Isa tried to back away from La-Iin, but tripped and fell over. Before she could get back up, La-Iin flew at her.

—–
Bes-Isa was surprised to find herself waking up, staring at the ceiling in La-Iin’s room.
“Oh, so you’re awake,” La-Iin said, by her tone obviously still upset with Bes-Isa. “Look, I’ll talk to you, Bes-Isa, but only if it’s not about autonomy.”
“I wonder if autonomy is really worth it if that might happen…” She whispered.
“What did you say?”