20.536.The Weekend School Trip–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 536
“The Weekend School Trip–Part 2”

“Why did you ask to room with me instead of Sanhuun, Cahongyun? Aren’t you two good friends?”
“We are.”
“I know you’re interested in my family, but there’s nothing I can tell you about them right now. Nothing really big, anyway. So why did you ask to room with me? I know the final choice wasn’t yours, but–”
“I was wondering about something.”
“Huh?”
“It’s nothing I can tell you, though. It’s just a little…experiment.”
“Er, okay. Well, I’m happy to room with you anyway, Cahongyun. You know, Neigghed is a lot nicer than my house. I kinda wish our school trip was a little longer than it is.”
“Well, I have to make it back home soon. I’m concerned about something.”
“What’s that?”
“That’s also nothing I can tell you.”
“Hm…well, I don’t really want to talk about my family and I can’t ask you much, but I’m not tired yet. Say, Cahongyun, you seem to really like Molshei.”
“I do.”
“Do you have a crush on Molshei?”
“…”
“Huh?”
“I don’t like saying that outright.”
“So you do?”
“What do you think?”
“Yes?”
“What do you like so much about Molshei?”
“If San-Kyung didn’t hate almost everyone I’d have you ask him yourself about how he is. But all I can say for now is that he’s exactly what I was missing.”
“Huh?”
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t get it. Fer-Shi doesn’t either.”
“Um, okay…”
Shuu-Kena smiled. ‘This is nice. I wish this school trip would go on forever.’

“Aren’t you upset that Cahongyun is rooming with Sara, Fer-Shi?”
“No, I’m not really worried. We’ve been friends for a long time. If our friendship was so bad that I was worried about it because she has a new friend, we wouldn’t be friends at all because I have Shan-Zetsu. And I know La-Iin really doesn’t like him.”
“Are you jealous?”
Fer-Shi flinched. “…maybe a little. It’s just, I know I’m still a kid and all, but it feels like all the fun times I had with La-Iin happened both a long time ago and just recently. We used to spend a ton of time together. We’re best friends, and she would go to me when something was wrong. Now it feels like she’s keeping a lot of secrets from me and she seems to go to other people before she’ll go to me. She only just started liking Sara and it feels like they hang out all the time now.”
“That sounds like more than a little. But like you said, if your friendship was a bad one, it probably would have already ended. If you two have been friends for a long time in a friendship between good and evil, I think it may last. But she might want to turn to people who understand her values better.”
“I understand her values!”
“Maybe not enough? I don’t really know, Fer-Shi, I just wanted to try and help…”
“I know you did. And maybe that’s what I needed to hear. Maybe I haven’t been hearing her out enough. Of course she might turn to people who understand her better if I’m not even lending her an ear.”
“Perhaps.”
“I’ll just have to keep trying, then.”
“A friendship takes the effort of both people part of it, after all.”

“Geez, I can’t believe our door was unlocked. I blame you.”
“Absolve yourself of any responsibility, huh.”
“No, it’s not that. Still, I both can’t believe that those two opened the door and I’m not surprised that they did.”
“I’m not surprised at all. Last year La-Iin broke in. Although that one was worse–she opened the door with sheer force.”
Dosa-Mina giggled. “No wonder you’re so interested in her abilities. She is pretty powerful for a seven-year-old.”
“…”
“Oh, sorry, San-Kyung, I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“No, I’m fine. I’ve been feeling a little bit better lately. Just wish using La-Iin’s power wasn’t a crapshoot.”
“I’m sure there’s some other way we can find out how to help you. I’ll keep looking, okay?”
“You say that, but I know you’ve been preoccupied with your own things.”
“…those aren’t all that important. And anyway why are we talking about depressing things on the school trip!? We should be talking about better things! In Neigghed did you know there are a lot of free things to do? You and I haven’t been going out much lately. Tomorrow we have more free time–we should take a chance to cast out on our own and have some fun!”
“Yeah, but we’ll need to make sure we aren’t caught by La-Iin or else she’ll tag along.”
“She’s been pretty preoccupied with that little girl who joined our class in March. Maybe she’s annoyed with us right now. After all, that speech she gave us…”
“She was hanging onto me on the bus.”
“Good point. Either way, I guess there’s time to plan for all this later. I’m starting to get tired!”
“Same here.” San-Kyung yawned. “Good night, Dosa-Mina…”
“Good night, San-Kyung.”

***

“Alright students, who’s ready for the day? We’re going to get something to eat, and then we’re going to study history. After that, you’re allowed on your own–although if you’re under fourteen, you need to be accompanied by someone older.”
“What!?” Airy-Aekok exclaimed. “You, like, gotta be kidding me! I’m gonna be fourteen this year! I’ve gotta be accompanied ’cause I’m a little too young?”
“You have me if you need anyone, Llanni.” Lirako said.
“Yeah, I know, but I’m still pissed off!”
“Sorry, but it’s the rules,” Theasis said. “Not just set by us, but set by Neigghed as well.”
“How does that make any sense!?”
“How are you feeling today?” Shuera-Kaizima asked Ai-Reia.
“F…fine, I suppose,” Ai-Reia said. “Thank you…both of you. You don’t need to be so worried. I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’ve just been…stressed lately, that’s all.”
“That’s alright. We’re on your side, Vampiris. We’re here for you.”
Ai-Reia had to take a deep breath to keep herself from tearing up. “B-b-by the way, you two, I don’t mind if you call me Ai-Reia.”
“Really? That would be lots easier for me!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“Hey, are you three paying attention?” Mr. Chensu asked. “Anyway, first things first. We’re heading out to eat!”

Breakfast for the Class D students and teachers had been somewhat cumbersome; the number of people going to the small restaurant overwhelmed the workers and Mr. Chensu had panicked at how much vuyong the entire meal had cost. Still, after the meal the group was in mostly high spirits as they ventured to other historical locations within Neigghed.
“This building right here used to be a place where the bodies of the dead were stored. In early Neigghed, burials were uncommon. They prefered to store and preserve the bodies for various reasons–trophies, food, threats….their methods of preservation are methods other places in the world adopted for preserving bodies prior to funerals. Nowadays it’s a small hospital for treating minor wounds.”
“How much longer is this going to take?” San-Kyung whispered.
“I don’t know, why do you ask? I find all of this interesting.”
“I do too, but I’m getting sick of hearing his voice.”
“Mr. Molshei, shut up! I’m trying to give a lesson.”
“…great. I just made it worse.”
“Mr. Chensu is always annoying, San-Kyung,” La-Iin whispered. San-Kyung flinched and crashed into Dosa-Mina. “What do you say we cast out on our own?”
“No!”
“A-hem.” Mr. Chensu narrowed his eyes. “Anyway, we’ll be letting you all go off on your own soon enough. But before we do, there’s one last place we think you students should see.”
The teachers led the way to a more rural part of Neigghed that to La-Iin, looked as though it had been abandoned; the ground was dotted with bare patches and tall grass. Up ahead in the distance, a large statue stood.
“This is the statue of the dictator who ruled over Neigghed like a certain family rules North Vaelyn. As you can see, it’s since been defaced in more ways than one. Here you can see that not all the population of Neigghed is forgiving and pacifistic. Some have written some violent and profane graffiti on here….like “dick-tator”. Ha ha. Very funny.”
“Did you just laugh, San-Kyung?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Oh, he totally laughed.
“You shut up!”
“Anyway, let’s head back before you all go off. Heading off in different directions in the middle of nowhere is a recipe for disaster.”
The students followed the teachers back to the hotel. San-Kyung glanced over his shoulder one last time at the statue and stifled a giggle.

“Now we finally have the freedom to go off on our own!”
“A freedom we usually have?”
“Yeah, but we haven’t had it in Neigghed yet! Come on, let’s go!”
Dosa-Mina led the way as the two looked at the small buildings in Neigghed. San-Kyung was intrigued, but only mildly. Neigghed had several places to visit, but it was swarming with all sorts of people wishing each other well. It seemed like a stereotypical utopia–and it made him sick.
“Hello there!” One called out. “Would you like to visit one of our facilities? We have ones perfect for a couple like you! Don’t worry–we’re very accepting here!”
“What the hell?”
“You’ve got the wrong idea,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Oh? Our apologies! Well, there are plenty of places for anyone to go! You’re welcome to go anyplace you like!”
“Calm down, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina whispered. “This is just them being polite. They’re known for being kind here.”
“Well, it makes me sick!”
“Wow, look at San-Kyung. Can’t even take a little politeness without getting all worked up.”
“Yeah, kinda cute though, isn’t it?”
“Llanni, are you high?”
San-Kyung sighed. “Let’s just keep going.”
Dosa-Mina glanced around Neigghed. It reminded him of a peaceful village. “This place is like the opposite of Hledshess. I like the way it’s set up, though.”
“Dosa-Mina, you’re more interested in this place than I am. Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know. There are a lot of places around here, but a lot of them seem like eateries and I am not hungry in the slightest.”
“Eateries aren’t the only type of place around here, you know.”
San-Kyung groaned. La-Iin was sitting on a bench nearby, Fer-Shi at her side. “San-Kyung, it’s wonderful to see you!”
“Have you been stalking us?”
“Actually, this is complete coincidence,” La-Iin said confidently. “But I’m happy to see you regardless. Rival-boy is completely useless when it comes to finding fun places in Neigghed–meanwhile, I and Fer-Shi have found quite a few.”
“There are a lot of fun places if you know where to look. Did you know you’re in the eatery district right now?”
“That would explain all the eateries,” Dosa-Mina mused. “What kind of good locations have you found?”
“Don’t humor her!”
“I’m just asking for the general direction.”
“If you don’t want to be anywhere near me, it was a mistake to ask, rival-boy,” La-Iin said. “I’ll only show you if you accompany me and Fer-Shi to that place!”
“If you want to find another district, just take a left or right at the beginning of the eatery district. The first eatery is called Smoothie Sandwiches!”
“Smoothie Sandwiches?” Dosa-Mina began to look nauseous. “Er, why don’t we go now, San-Kyung?”
“Sure.” The two took off, and as soon as they did, La-Iin grabbed Fer-Shi by the collar of her shirt.
“Why would you tell them that!? This was my perfect chance!”
“That’s exactly why I told them! Can’t we just have fun on our own!?”
“A school trip is the perfect opportunity for rival-boy to make his move. He and San-Kyung are in the same room! The only thing that made me feel good last night was the fact that my and Sara’s room was next-door to theirs. I didn’t hear anything but who’s to say there isn’t a makeout district!?”
“You’re over-blowing this, La-Iin. You seemed so calm yesterday, so what’s got you all riled up today?”
“I’M ANGRY AT MAMA!” She yelled. “Come on, Fer-Shi! If we chase after them, we might be able to catch up to them!”
“Hey, wait!” La-Iin grabbed Fer-Shi’s hand and, propelling herself faster with her wings, chased after the faint outlines of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina in the distance.

“This place is a lot of fun, don’t you think, Ai-Reia? Everyone is so nice here in Neigghed!”
“It is a nice break from all the bustle of Bledger,” she said.
“Bledger doesn’t bustle all that much. Though I guess I can understand how it can seem that way sometimes.”
“Mm.” Ai-Reia lowered her head. “Why do you two even want to spend time with me? I’m a young child and you two are adolescents. I don’t understand.”
“You’re our friend, Ai-Reia. And like I said, Cahongyun and Morushei are friends and they have an even wider age gap!”
“And please try not to worry about the lifespan factor. We don’t want to make you upset by being your friend–we want to make this time better. But I think I need to ask this. Would it make you happier if I stopped trying to be your friend now, or if you had lots of fond memories of me when I’m gone?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“In-Dei, you shouldn’t change the conversation to that,” Shuera-Kaizima scolded. “We are here to have fun.”
“You’re right,” he said. “And that’s just what we’ll do. Don’t worry about it, Ai-Reia. Right now we’re here to have fun with you!”
Ai-Reia smiled. “Thank you, you two.”
Slowly but surely the kindness the two showed her was starting to make her feel just a slight bit better. It felt to her like the happiness that was buried by her constant self-reminders of their lifespans was starting to slowly peek its way out, and it pushed away her memories of her recent breakdown as she chased after the two.
“I think she’s gaining on us!”
Ai-Reia stopped in place when she noticed San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina run by. They quickly outpaced even Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei, who were still running ahead until they noticed the two. They were followed not long after by La-Iin and Fer-Shi, who were running almost as fast.
“What’s going on?” Shuera-Kaizima asked.
“I don’t know,” Ai-Reia sighed. “And I’m certain I don’t want to.”

***

“You students sure look like you’ve had a lot of fun,” Mr. Chensu said that night at dinner.
“If by fun you mean getting chased down and harassed by a little girl…!”
“Calm yourself, San-Kyung.”
“Well, we leave for home tomorrow, so anything else you might want to do in Neigghed you’ll have to do early. We leave a little bit before twelve.”
“What would be the point in doing anything at all?” La-Iin asked.
“I dunno, just for fun?”
“Well, anyway, I hope you all enjoyed the trip. And I hope it made you feel a little bit less stressed. Bledger might be a more dangerous place to live than Neigghed right now, but maybe the morals we’ve learned here will help you feel a little bit better about the future. …unless you’re one of our evil students.”
La-Iin and San-Kyung looked away.
“Hey, teach, can I room with Fer-Shi tonight?”
Mr. Chensu blinked. “But aren’t you rooming with Miss Sara, Miss Cahongyun?”
“I am.”
“Why the sudden change of heart?”
“No particular reason.”
“I’m fine if she changes rooms,” Shuu-Kena said. “We actually somewhat talked about it already.”
“Well, if you say so…”

“Did you really talk to Sara about rooming with me tonight?”
“Sort of.”
“What changed your mind?”
“Nothing in particular.”
Fer-Shi growled. “You never tell me anything!”
“I’m not telling you because if I told you, you would just get mad.”
“Now I really want to know.”
“Oh, come on,” La-Iin sighed. She laid down and pulled the covers over her. “If you feel bad about me hanging out with Sara more, don’t. Stop being so jealous.”
“Is that why you’re rooming with me tonight?”
“What do you think?”
Fer-Shi shook her head. “I don’t know what to think. But, um…thanks, La-Iin.”

“Say, San-Kyung, would you say this school trip was a success?”
“In what way?”
“Did it help make you feel a little bit better about living?”
San-Kyung tried to push away the memories of being chased down by La-Iin as he thought back on the trip.
“…yeah, I guess so. But not for the reason the Neiggheds would want.”

As Ai-Reia settled down that night, she felt content.
‘I really do have friends who will stick by my side, don’t I?’

—–
On the way back to Bledger, most of the students had fallen asleep. The ones who had not still seemed exhausted.
“You know, this was a pretty fun school trip. I’m glad the Principal reminded us.”
“Me too. I hope next year’s is fun as well.”
“Next year’s?”
“Yes. It happens every time there’s a Grade 12 student, right? Don’t you remember? Mr. Molshei, Mr. Dslellular, Mr. Ferister and Mr. Yuuldang are in Grade 12 next year. And the year after that, Mr. Elyshen and Miss Fheyundaer. And after that, Mr. Fyuori, Mr. Pinyon and Miss Llanni. And so on until the year Miss Shaejaein and Miss Auedarna graduate, and that’s not counting any new students who join. And even then, just a year later Miss Sanhuun, Mr. Gyurkang and Mr. Veiner would be in Grade 12.”
Mr. Chensu’s eyes widened. “Aren’t Miss Shaejaein and Miss Auedarna in Grade 6!?”
Theasis nodded. Mr. Chensu nearly fainted in response.

19.535.The Weekend School Trip–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 535
“The Weekend School Trip–Part 1”

“I thank you all for taking the time out of your day to come for this discussion.”
“Not a problem. I don’t really do much outside of school.” Mr. Chensu said.
“What did you need from us?” Asked Theasis.
“Mr. Sharai, loathsome as he can act sometimes, has been informing me of recent tensions within Class D. Tensions between students who do not get along and students who have grown suspicious of another due to her recent actions. He also mentioned something else to me that I want to talk with you all about.
“Each year that there is at least one student in Grade 12, the class with the students will go on a school trip. That is a rule here at Malicerie that is often enforced and the trip can happen at most any time in the year. In Class D I noticed there are three students who have reached Grade 12–Miss Sanyaow, Miss Sherry, and Miss Hangdul. Given the tensions and the fact of this rule, I wanted to suggest that you of Class D go on a school trip to alleviate these tensions and to fulfill the rule.”
“That does sound pretty nice,” Mr. Chensu said. “Things have been weird in Class D lately.”
“As nice as an idea as it sounds, where do you think we could go, Principal? And when would we go?”
“It would probably be best to go this month or as soon as school starts again. School trips aren’t intended for the students to all have some random fun–they are supposed to learn on these trips as well, and I don’t know that many students would appreciate that during their Summer break.”
“Well, it sounds kind of cumbersome in September,” Mr. Chensu sighed. “And you mentioned part of the reason it sounded like a good idea to you now is because of the student tensions. By September they could have blown over.”
“That’s true, but then that doesn’t leave us with much time to plan a location and head off for it. We’d have to do it before July, and we’re already a decent way into June.”
The Principal’s gaze fell on all the teachers. “Then let me propose this idea. If you have no ideas, then why not visit Neigghed? It has been referred to as one of the more peaceful places in Vaelyn, and it has a history to it as well, one that’s much more violent than one might expect given their recent history all has to do with peace. It could be something for the students to learn about, and give all of you a chance to head off to someplace more peaceful.”
“Neigghed, huh? I’ve never been there, but I heard my cousin lives there,” Mr. Chensu said.
“When would we go, Principal?”
“Why must you turn to me for every decision? Am I just going to plan this entire school trip? Fine then. Head off to Neigghed on June 19th and return on June 21st. Make sure to relax and learn. And tell the students soon enough, otherwise you’ll be forcing them into a sudden school trip.”
“We’ll make sure to tell them, Principal.”
“Are you sure this is a smart idea?” Denbek asked. “This is all pretty sudden–even if we inform the students they could still be caught off-guard. And part of this dips into their Weekend.”
“I was asked to provide a schedule, and I did. Besides, it wouldn’t be the only time they’ve done school work on the Weekend, and they will have a trip to go along with it. They don’t have to go in the end. Work with what I gave you. If you have a better idea then discuss it among yourselves. But this is what I give you for now.” The Principal stood up. “I’m heading home. You all debate the matter among yourselves.”
The Principal stepped out of the room, leaving the Class D teachers to themselves.
“What do you all think?” Theasis asked.
“I think it sounds like a fine idea. We’ll tell the students and go when she said. After all, if we head home early enough they’ll still have some of their Sunday. Maybe we can even give them Monday off.”
“It still sounds so sudden,” sighed Denbek.
“Well, Neigghed isn’t too big a place. There’s a lot of history on it but there isn’t much to learn aside from that. The students would have plenty of time especially if we do the brunt of our teaching on Friday. Then on Saturday all of us could have some fun!” Haebochi said.
“That sounds like a plan,” Hyungdarou said.
“Mr. Denbek, are you still having concerns?” Theasis asked.
“Yes, but that’s all about the suddenness. You all practically give me no reason to say no–all the rest of it does sound pretty appealing. I’ve kind of been wanting a vacation myself.”
“Then it’s settled. We’re going with the Principal’s plan, and next week we are going to Neigghed!”

***

“This school trip really happened fast!” Fer-Shi said. “It feels like one day we were being told we’re going on a school trip, and then the next day we’re going on that school trip!”
“Yeah, Mama didn’t like it much that it happened so randomly,” La-Iin said. “I have one problem with the school trip, myself.”
“What’s that?”
“I want to be away from Mama right now, but I don’t trust her to be on her own!”
Fer-Shi looked confused. “What?”
“You would never understand the evil that is Haner, and I wouldn’t want you to.”
“If Haner is evil, shouldn’t you like it?”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Haner is that fake brand of evil that even we evil people despise. Except for idiots like the Saras, probably.”
La-Iin glanced behind her. Shuu-Kena was glancing around the crowd of students and parents. La-Iin walked up to her.
“Sara?”
“Eep! Y-yes, Cahongyun?”
“They didn’t come, did they.”
“No,” she sighed. “They said they didn’t want to encourage this venture. I told them about how they said it was also to get away from the bad in Bledger, and then they told me they’re trying to cause bad in Bledger and that it’s stupid for me to want to go. But then they said they don’t care…I really wonder if they even love me sometimes, La-Iin.”
La-Iin felt conflicted. A part of her wanted to reassure Shuu-Kena, but the other part told her to hold back from it.
“Your family is stupid. Did you tell them we’re going to Neigghed?”
“Yeah, that just made them more angry.”
“Mama told me that Neigghed has a long and violent history,” La-Iin said proudly. “So they’re stupid. Don’t worry about it.”
Shuu-Kena smiled. “Okay, I’ll try not to.”
“I think this school trip will be good for you, sweetie,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Maybe.”
“Personally, I’m looking forward to it!” Dosa-Mina said. “Think about it, San-Kyung. It’s a chance to get away from this place where all the things that are on our mind happened. And last year’s school trip was pretty fun, wasn’t it?”
“I guess so.”
“I think this trip will be a lot of fun, Mr. and Mrs. Molshei. We might even come back changed men!”
“I sure hope you’re right, Dosa-Mina,” Salsh-Era said. “But I think your little comment upset Del-Kyuus.”
“Ohh, I know San-Kyung isn’t going to be a minor forever, but it’s hard to imagine him becoming a man,” she sighed.
“He’s gotta graduate school before he can graduate to adulthood, so don’t worry!”
“I guess you really are excited about this school trip.”
“Sure I am! I love school trips.”
“Well, have fun, you two!” Salsh-Era said.
“We will!”
“We’ll try.”
“Hm…”
“Somethin’ up, Sanyaow?”
“I’m just thinking about our little deal, that’s all. We still haven’t found out what’s going on. We started up some suspicion but we still don’t know for ourselves what’s the truth. July isn’t too far off–would we even be able to figure out the truth while we’re not at school?”
“Like, I’m concerned about that too, but don’t let it worry you,” Airy-Aekok said. “We’re going on a school trip not to worry about this? Bledger’s been getting more dangerous, and my Dad’s super-busy ’cause of it. I’d rather just have fun.”
“I guess you’re right. I do kinda need to cut loose. Between this and college plans I’ve just been stressing myself out!” She stretched. “Hey, Deki-Tyunri, want to sit next to me on the ride there?”
“Really? You’re asking me? I thought you were going to ask Llanni.”
“I’d rather find a cute teenage boy to sit next to,” she cooed.
“You know, that’s one thing you two have in common–your love of teenage boys.”
“I–”
“Weird that someone like me isn’t as interested as you two.”
“You’re becoming a woman, Lirako. You have, like, a more mature taste.”
“Can we just stop this conversation…?”
As Rini-Futo head off, leaving her family behind her, she caught sight of Mr. Chensu standing there in the crowd with the rest of the Class D teachers.
“Mr. Chensu!”
The teachers stared at her for a short while before all of them except for Mr. Chensu took a step backwards.
“What is it, Miss Shaejaein?”
“Um….even though I said what I did earlier this year…do you think we could have fun on this trip like we did last year?”
“Oh? Sure! There’s a lot of history to learn in Neigghed, so that’s still possible.” He furrowed his brow. “You do actually like history, right?”
“Mm-hm!”
“Then it won’t be a problem.”
Rini-Futo breathed a sigh of relief.
“Ai-Reia, they gave you a choice,” Reuf-Bu said. “Do you want to go on this school trip, or do you think you need to stay home and recover more? I’m worried about you after what happened.”
“…I’m not sure,” she said quietly.
“You need to make your decision soon. The other students are getting onto the bus.”
“…”
“Vampiris?”
Ai-Reia looked up and caught sight of Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei.
“Are you coming on the school trip, too?”
“…I don’t know.”
“We’d love to spend time with you in Neigghed,” Im-Dei said. “But if you need to stay home and recover, you should do that instead.”
Ai-Reia felt conflicted, but only for a moment. She had two choices–recover at home and be surrounded by the people who caused her so much stress, or go off with her friends and perhaps alleviate some of it. The thought that La-Iin would also be on the trip bothered her, but she felt as though ultimately, this was the right choice.
She reached out to her friends. “I want to go…”
Shuera-Kaizima grinned. “Good! We’re happy to have you!”
“All students of Class D! We’re heading off to Neigghed in a few minutes! If you aren’t ready for some reason, hurry it up or you’ll miss the bus!”
“We have to go,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “Brother Vampiris, thank you for bringing her.”
“Not a problem. Call if anything goes wrong, alright, Ai-Reia?”
“I will.”
The students head onto the bus and took their seats, followed by the teachers. With a majority of their parents watching, the bus took off. Glancing out the window, La-Iin gasped.
“What’s wrong, La-Iin?”
“Did I just see Dami? But I didn’t see him in the crowd before!”
“Maybe you just mistook him for someone else,” Fer-Shi said. “I think Ai-Reia came on the trip. Maybe it’s her dad?”
“No, I would never mistake anyone else’s Dami for my Dami. I either hallucinated him or he’s actually there!”
She glanced out the window once again. “I sure hope I hallucinated him.”

La-Iin’s concern didn’t take long for her to lose.
“San-Kyung, a trip is just what you needed, I think.”
“My parents said so too.”
“Wow, she’s obviously flirting with you and you’re just sitting there and taking it.”
“I don’t have the energy to fight right now. Trust me, she’ll get her payback.”
“You’re saying that right in front of me,” La-Iin said, cuddling up close to San-Kyung. “Well, if you don’t have the energy to fight, I should take my chances while you don’t. Be my boyfriend, San-Kyung. We’ll be so–”
“No.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Not having the energy to fight doesn’t make me gullible.”
“Well, if you can still fight back with words, I know one way you can’t fight back!”
“I’ll strike my hand if you try anything, so don’t.”
“If you do that you’ll cause a panic on the whole bus!” La-Iin blinked. “Actually, that sounds like a lot of fun. Do your worst!”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes.
“Well, at least this is entertaining,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Maybe to you!”
“We’re about to arrive in Neigghed, students,” Theasis called out. “Once we arrive we’re going to take a look at the history of Neigghed. Today is a day fully devoted to studying, so I hope you all are ready!”
“Well, at least it’s not science study,” Xhen-Bei sighed.
“Do you have trouble with science, Yuuldang?” Kim-Koou asked.
“Yeah, it’s not my strong suit.”
“It seems like a lot of our classmates like science,” Mi-Kou said.
“Yeah, well, I’m not one of them.”
The bus came to a stop, and the students prepared for the day ahead of them. Dosa-Mina tapped Theasis on the back.
“How’s the room situation going to work this year, Miss Theasis?”
“I’m not sure yet. That depends on how this hotel is set up. I’m sure if it’s two to a room you’ll want to room with Mr. Molshei, Mr. Dslellular. You two are pretty close, aren’t you?”
“Yup. We’re inseparable.”
“That’s good. It’s nice to see such a healthy friendship…for the most part. Mr. Dslellular, I can’t claim to know the more intimate details about your friendship, but please, it’s embarrassing the way you act in public.”
“Sorry about that. But I just can’t resist a chance to shower him in affection!”
“Hm.” Theasis turned around and met face-to-face with Hyungdarou.
“Two to a room.”
“Looks like you’re in luck, Mr. Dslellular.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. He walked off and joined the rest of the students.
“What a sweet boy. I think he has to be one of my favorite students.”
“You really shouldn’t play favorites, Miss Hyungdarou…”

***

“Neigghed, Vaelyn. A pinnacle of peace–this place is full of good people. Neutral people and evil people are definite minorities here.”
“I’m so happy Class A isn’t here,” La-Iin said. Fer-Shi gave her a quizzical look.
“Thing is, about Neigghed, that wasn’t always the way things were. Long ago, before Vaelyn was even really Vaelyn, Neigghed was ruled by a dictator. Many of you, having studied Vaelyn’s history, will know that Vaelyn’s primary species changed several times over the years. Places like Nyappon were consistent Catori societies, for instance, but in Vaelyn which species reigned in dominance changed. All around the place soon to be called Vaelyn there were dictators who wanted complete rule over these lands. Neigghed’s dictator, a Minomix called Ghurheng, was known for being notoriously violent and for ordering the deaths of his enemies over their capture. In the event he did order for their capture…well, it’s said they were tortured in ways the populace had no idea about.”
La-Iin soaked in every word. She was enamored.
“This nature of Neigghed didn’t stop when Vaelyn became Vaelyn, either. You see, Neigghed is a bit closer to Aena than other places in Vaelyn. So Aena wanted to take this land for themselves, and there were some bloody battles fought over it. When Neigghed became Neigghed, this is where the evil of Vaelyn converged. There are a few tales of violent crimes going on here–they say the evil of other parts of Vaelyn would take their soon-to-be victims out to Neigghed to kill them and hide the body. They say some of those cases still haven’t been solved.”
“Scary…” Fer-Shi mumbled.
“Even other evil people were scared of Neigghed because they knew that it was easy to get killed here. The culmination of Neigghed happened sometime after the Vaelyn War. People from Vaelyn who sympathized with the rulers of North Vaelyn essentially made Neigghed a copy of it–for a place like Vaelyn, this was a big deal. People in Neigghed were miserable. Once the extent of the situation got out, it was dealt with and it ended in the death of the man who was ruling over Neigghed.”
“Hm…”
“Intrigued, San-Kyung?”
“Neigghed after that basically was populated by newcomers and people who had lived under that man’s rule. They decided they would make up for the darkness in Neigghed’s past by making it a place of peace and goodness–don’t give me that look, Mr. Molshei. Anyway, to the surprise of the people in Neigghed, their attempts to make this place a peaceful one succeeded greatly. After all, now barely anybody thinks of Neigghed as the dark place it was before–now it’s truly lauded as a place of peace.”
“And boringness,” La-Iin sighed.
“You were right, Cahongyun. If only my family knew about Neigghed’s past.”
“Now, there are a few historical sights we can see in Neigghed, but who feels like stopping for something to eat?”
“I do!” Xhen-Bei called out. “I’m starving!”
Mr. Chensu chuckled. “Then’s let go get something to eat!”

***

After dinner that night, Class D saw a few sights including the grave of the man who ruled over Neigghed years before. They retired to the hotel after that, where the students debated over rooming.
“Of course I’m rooming with San-Kyung. Who else would I go with?”
“We know, Mr. Dslellular,” Mr. Chensu sighed. “Well, we want to try and put together combinations of people who will get along. So I suppose Miss Cahongyun and Miss Sanhuun would be good together.”
“What about me?” Shuu-Kena asked.
“Miss Sara, why don’t you room with Mr. Veiner?”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Fer-Shi whispered to La-Iin. “They might be able to get along.”
“I wonder…”
“Did you want to room with Sara, La-Iin?”
“Hm…I’d actually want to room with San-Kyung, but…”
La-Iin glanced at Shuu-Kena, who looked dejected as the rooms were doled out, with most ending up in pairs of friends such as Yefu-Shenhao and Zae-Mia.
“Hey, I’ve got an objection.”
“What’s that, Miss Sanyaow?”
“I think some of us would be better off in pairs of three,” she said. “It’d take up less rooms and besides, I kind of want to room with both Deki-Tyunri and Llanni.”
“That might be cool,” Airy-Aekok said.
“It would save on space, but we did say two to a room.”
“I think it is a great idea,” Shuera-Kaizima said. “Then I can be with In-Dei and Vampiris.”
Ai-Reia remained silent, while Im-Dei smiled.
“Well, if you all are insisting…but does that end in consistent pairs? We kind of wanted to avoid anyone getting left with a teacher.”
“Why don’t we just stick with two to a room? We have twenty-four students; it should be even that way. Besides, I don’t want to room with anyone aside from San-Kyung.”
“Mr. Dslellular does have a point. Perhaps we should just assign rooms ourselves. After all, I do know a lot about who you all are friends with.”
“Then I want to make a request. I want to room with Sara instead.”
Fer-Shi bowed her head. “What? Aren’t you friends with Sanhuun?”
“I am. But I have my reasons for doing this.”
“And I can room with Veiner, I guess…” Fer-Shi sighed.
“Now this is strange…”
“Well, I’m fine just rooming with Deki-Tyunri, but Llanni isn’t exactly what I’d call popular. And same goes for Deki-Tyunri if I room with Llanni.”
“I don’t want to leave Vampiris alone,” Im-Dei said.
Mi-Kou sighed. “This is so frustrating…”
A chatter rose among the students about the situation of the rooms.
“EVERYONE SHUT UP!” Mr. Chensu yelled. “Look, while we’ll put your suggestions into consideration, we’re just pairing you with whoever we feel like, alright!? Except for you two. You two are staying paired up.”
“As it should be!” Dosa-Mina said.
“We’ll get back to you in a few minutes.” The teachers walked off and began to discuss the rooms.
“I hope I end up with you or Veiner,” Fer-Shi said.
“…”
Fer-Shi bowed her head. ‘I guess she really does like Sara, now…’

—–
Although it took longer than expected for all parties involved, the rooms were eventually decided, and students head off to bed and began to chat.
“Yo, Llanni,” Lirako said, peeking her head into her and Mi-Kou’s room. “There’s something I wanna do.”
“You two really shouldn’t be leaving the room at this time,” Mi-Kou said.
“I’ll be, like, back soon. Then you can tell me a bit more about that boy.”
Mi-Kou sighed. “It isn’t anything big, Llanni.”
“Aw, come on. I’m always interested in teenage boys! Now, what are we getting up to?”
“Most of the doors are going to be locked soon. Some already are. But I think San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina’s isn’t. Maybe we’ll catch Dosa-Mina in a different form if we open the door!”
“Are you so sure about that?”
“Maybe they’ll be talking about his true species?”
“Guess it’s worth a shot. Alright, let’s do it!”
Lirako opened the door and pushed her way into the room. The two stared blankly at the sight of San-Kyung, who looked both agitated and embarrassed, being almost smothered by Dosa-Mina, who was smiling wide.
The two turned in the direction of Lirako and Airy-Aekok, who closed the door and silently went back to their own rooms.

12.528.The Days of Makeshire–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 528
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 3”

La-Iin opened the door cautiously and quietly, and closed it just the same.
‘It’s just the end of Makeshire’s story. I heard all about his success and a lot about his plays. I know more things now, and what I really want to know I’ll never know. Today has to be the day I conduct my blood tests, it has to! Of course Mama would never understand that, so…’
She tip-toed through the house, hiding and trying to keep her breathing, footsteps and occasional wing-flaps as quiet as possible. Once she made it to the kitchen, she immediately noticed Mit-Sun sitting there, the book open to a late page. Cautiously she began to sneak through the kitchen, thus far going unnoticed by Mit-Sun.
But this time, someone else noticed her.
Choungetsu began to bark happily and ran up to her, wagging his tail and pressing against her. “Damn it, Choungetsu!”
“La-Iin? What are you doing under the table?”
La-Iin stood next to Mit-Sun. “Mama, I like Makeshire. I really do. But this is the end of the book. He’s an old man who’s almost dead. I want to do something else! Don’t make me listen to your droll reading another day!”
“Droll?” Mit-Sun questioned. “Come on, La-Iin. Look at how few pages there are! You’ll definitely have time to do whatever it is you want to do.” She narrowed her eyes. “And if it’s nefarious I don’t want you doing it in the first place.”
“You’ll never stop me! And I don’t believe you! You took too long two days in a row! There’s a definite trend here, Mama.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Let’s just finish it, alright?”
Choungetsu whimpered. La-Iin glared at her, then shook her head. “Fine, but Mama, if I don’t have any time to do what I want, there’ll be hell to pay!”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes further. “Well, at least you’re listening, for once. Aaaaanyway, as you said, this is near the end of Makeshire’s life. He had his big burst of success, he’s still popular, but the man is an elderly Vampire, and his prime is long past, though still more present than some other notable people…”

***

Centuries had passed since the beginning of Makeshire’s career, even moreso since the beginning of his delve into stage plays. His parents, as well as his siblings Nillion and Aletta, had been dead for so many years living without them felt normal now. And Makeshire had written several plays which had been produced several times and translated into many different languages.
He had lived through nearly all of the 1000s, and soon the 2000s would begin. Still he went to showings of his plays. He could remember much from his career, both good and bad–and even today he was still working, writing what he suspected would be his final play: The Angels and a Conundrum.
The play had been inspired by thoughts of his siblings Nillion and Aletta, and the two main characters shared many personality traits with them. Even after so many years he could still remember clearly Nillion’s strict yet fair behavior, the kindness he had shown him when he was having trouble making his way in the world. He could remember Aletta’s gentleness–his sister had continued working and making treats for him even as she deteriorated in health. Thinking on Aletta was particularly painful–she had never even known that he had begun to write stage plays in the first place.
Still, Makeshire was determined to see through his final work. And he had already written a dedication to his family as the first page. ‘Writing has certainly improved over these years,’ he thought. ‘Before I was stuck using just paper, but now I can use a typewriter, and computers are on the horizon…’
Makeshire was happy for his success. He was happy that he was able to spend so much time doing what he loved, to the point he could make a living off of it. But he was done. He was ready to join his siblings and be nothing more than part of the world’s history.

“Mr. Makeshire? Is it true that The Angels and a Conundrum is going to be your last play?”
“Yes, it is true,” Makeshire sighed. “I’m an old Vampire. Even with the means of writing having improved–and not a moment too soon, those hand cramps of the past were a pain! But I am an old Vampire. It’s time the young people of the world took the helm from me and made their own stage plays that everyone will remember.”
“Nobody can make the kind of stage plays you do, Mr. Makeshire. You have a talent no other will share.”
“True. But so do those young people. And if I were to write a stage play that is similar to one of theirs, they would be accused of copying me when in truth neither of us would be copying, most likely. And I am not as well-inclined with the new happenings of the world as I was with the old. You must realize I have outlived much of my family. Vampires do not often do so by such a large margin of centuries.”
“I suppose I understand in a way, Mr. Makeshire. It has been a long career.”
“Indeed. But, I do not regret a single moment of it.” Makeshire smiled. “I know this is what I was meant to do–this was my purpose in life. I contributed to the world. I will be considered a part of history. And even moreso I have made people happy. I never expected this sort of outcome when I was a young man. I’ve done what I love for so many years. But death no longer scares me. I’m ready to embrace it whenever it comes. But be it tomorrow or in fifty years, this shall most likely be my last play. So I do hope you all enjoy it.”
“I’m sure all of us are hoping that as well, Mr. Makeshire. Thank you for the hundreds of years of plays. We hope that the rest of your life is filled with peace and relaxation.”
“I do too. I’d hate to be witness to the fifth World War when I don’t have the means to fight.”
“We’re looking forward to your last play.”
Makeshire gave another smile. This time, he said nothing further.

The seasons of that year passed. Halloween came and went, and Animated Pumpkins everywhere celebrated. Makeshire visited Manemica during Thanksgiving. Christmas came and went and Makeshire was showered with gifts. The Angels and a Conundrum opened to wildly positive reviews, with some saying it was Makeshire’s saddest play but also one of his best.
Makeshire completely retreated from the public eye after that. Many more people wondered about him after his last play, but Makeshire opted to spend his days in silence and peace, reading the works of others and his older plays. He felt lonely. All these years he had spent his time writing plays, watching as he garnered fame–and all of it had helped to bury the sadness he felt.
He missed his parents. He missed his siblings. He missed his niece and nephew. He longed for the simpler days of his youth. He was ready to die. But passing the time reading the various writings of the world and of his own wasn’t too bad.
‘Soon enough, my family, I will join you.’
His career had been an exciting one. He had never expected it to happen.
A few days into the new year, Makeshire checked into the hospital. The doctors warned him that if he wasn’t cautious, he could easily die–his organs had grown fragile over the years and could shut down at any moment. They warned him to come by if anything at all felt strange.
He was glad he had gotten to write all that he did. He wished Nillion and Aletta could have read the works and come to the showings. They would have had such fun, and would have been so proud. He could imagine Aletta, a kindly mother raising her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and further on. He could imagine Nillion, a successful businessman. They should have been able to pursue their goals as well. It wasn’t fair.
Makeshire was dismissed from the hospital, though he could tell the nurses were still concerned about him. They gave him medication. Makeshire put it on a shelf someplace in his house and forgot about it immediately after arriving home. Not two days later, one of the nurses called him and asked how he was doing, and if he wanted to be moved to senior care.
All those people he had touched over the years, many of them were gone too. Perhaps he would have more confidence, be more social when he met them in the afterlife. He had always wondered if writing so many plays had made him a bit of a recluse.
Pain wracked his body to the point where he couldn’t stand. It was laboring to breathe, and even an involuntary twitch felt like agony.
He hoped that even after he was gone, his plays still made people happy.
Makeshire opened his eyes. The pain was subsiding. At the edges of his vision, he felt he could see Nillion and Aletta. They looked at him with smiles, the perfect picture of health. They seemed all dressed up for a fancy event, and Makeshire wondered where they might be going.
“I think he can see us,” Nillion said to Aletta. “Hello, Makeshire.”
“Would you like to come to a special showing of your play? We helped direct it!” Aletta said cheerfully.
“My children will be there as well,” Nillion said. “It’ll be like a family reunion. Come on. Let’s go.”
“You helped with one of my plays?” Makeshire rasped. His siblings nodded. Makeshire smiled.
“Certainly. I’d love to go…”
Makeshire closed his eyes, yet the vision of Nillion and Aletta did not seem to disappear. No matter how much darkness flooded his vision, they were always standing right there at the corner of his vision, reaching out their hands and waiting for him to join them.

Not more than ten hours later, the headlines sent shock through several people around the world.
FAMOUS PLAYWRIGHT MAKESHIRE FOUND DEAD INSIDE HOME

—–
“And that’s the end of the book.” Mit-Sun slammed it shut. “…La-Iin, are you crying?”
“…”
“It was a big surprise when Makeshire died. I didn’t know much about him, but seeing those headlines was so weird…”
La-Iin shook her head. She checked the time.
“Mama, you took too long. Again.”
“I’m sorry.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Is that why you’re upset? Because you didn’t get to do what you wanted to? It’s earlier than yesterday! You have more time!”
La-Iin ignored her. She was lost in thought.
‘Now I know why Dami wanted to get that thing. It all makes sense now. And now I know for sure. I need San-Kyung at my side.’
Hearing of Makeshire’s death had made her sad, but she had known the man was dead since she first saw a Makeshire play. The thought of being found like him, dead alone inside her house, was unbearable.
She was even more determined than before to finish her blood tests as soon as possible.

11.527.The Days of Makeshire–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 527
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 2”

“Today is certainly the day,” La-Iin announced to herself as she opened the door. “Today of all days I will begin my blood experiments! And I know just where I could get some blood from, eh heh heh…”
‘Yesterday may have been interrupted by Mama, but no longer will I wait! Today I discover the truth about this new power!’
She strode into the kitchen with a confident gait, and once again failed to notice Mit-Sun sitting there with a book.
“La-Iin?”
La-Iin stopped in place, grimaced, and sighed.
“Yes, Mama.”
“There’s still more to Makeshire’s story.”
“Mama, I learn enough stuff at school. Can’t I do my own thing today!?”
“Didn’t you enjoy hearing about him yesterday?”
“I did, but then you took so long it was dinner time when you finished and you still weren’t done! If Makeshire hid so much about himself then why is there all this information on him!?”
“He wrote a lot of plays. That’s what a lot of this information is on. And you noticed some of it is speculation, right? Don’t worry, I’m sure we’ll reach the end of the book today. Why don’t we finish?”
“It looks like you aren’t even halfway through the book,” grumbled La-Iin.
“Oh, come on. At least you like Makeshire.”
“I know you’re just gonna take so long that I have to go to bed after you’re done. If you take that long, heed my warning Mama, I will follow through with my task whether you like it or not!”
“Hm.” Mit-Sun looked down at the book. “Don’t worry, La-Iin. Most of Makeshire’s notability comes from the time where he started garnering success. And that’s exactly where we’re at right now…”

***

After the success of his play The King of Marmotts, Makeshire found himself writing more plays than expected for the small performance group. He enjoyed taking the time out of his day to write, and even when he had no inspiration, the sheer number of scripts he had written meant that he could quickly revise any problems he had with one before getting the script out to the group. So far, only one of his scripts had been rejected, and each night he came to a showing, it seemed as if there were a fair few people who enjoyed his work.
“You have a true talent for words, Makeshire. Your work is the kind of which payment would be well deserved.”
“I am fine working for free.”
“Nonsense! Say such things and people will take advantage of you. Here.” He handed Makeshire payment, and though he felt reluctant to accept it, he did so without another word.
Makeshire had barely expected this performance group to like his writings so much, but he was quite pleased. Watching the performances, seeing people who enjoyed his writing and even getting paid for it–it was all a surreal experience. Back when he had been living with his brother Nillion, he had certainly never expected that his cathartic hobby would take off in such a way.
Needless to say, he was incredibly happy.

What would surprise him even more than the performance group’s acceptance of his scripts was an event that happened months after the last performance of his play June in the Meadows. He had recently delivered another script to the performance group and was working on another one he had recently come up with based upon a local story he had heard of a woman who jumped out a window and was currently recovering in a nearby hospital.
A knock sounded at the door, and though Makeshire tried to return his concentration to his work, he failed to do so when the knock sounded a second time. He stood up and head for the door, and was greeted by a tall Vampire man in fancy clothing.
“You must be Makeshire.”
“I am Makeshire,” he said, quieter than he had expected. “To what do I owe the visit?”
“Makeshire as in the writer of the stage plays performed by the Blood Aerial Troupe?”
“I have written stage plays for the Blood Aerial Troupe, yes.”
For a moment, Makeshire worried that the man would begin to yell at him, criticizing his works for overtaking the prior works the Blood Aerial Troupe had performed, but instead the man smiled. “Wonderful, just wonderful! I was hoping I would find you soon. Many a Vampire’s house I stopped by was confused by my mention of Makeshire. You could consider me intrigued by your works, especially your focus on half-breeds. What sparks such interest?”
Makeshire gaped. He tried to regain his composure as quickly as possible. “I find them fascinating,” he said. “particularly because in my childhood, it was thought impossible for two of separate species to birth a child…”
“Ah, many Vampires remember those days, but those of other species don’t tend to, hm?” He said, his smile turning to more of a grin. “Ahem. In this day and age stage plays have taken on some fame as a medium for those who are rich. Troupes such as the Blood Aerial perform in the streets, but I am a man who owns a theatre.”
“A theatre?” Makeshire was stunned. He had heard of how prestigious theatres could be–to find he was meeting someone who owned his own was even more surprising.
“Yes, indeed! And we have been fairly dry on ideas for performances–a rule of ours is never to repeat the same show except on special occasions. So I was wondering, perhaps you would loan a script we at my theatre could use for one of our productions? Naturally, you would be paid handsomely for your assistance, moreso if the show were to end up a success–though most proceeds would, of course, go to the theatre.”
Keeping his composure seemed to be getting harder with each word out of the man’s mouth. “Sir, I am but a humble playwright. Certainly there are other scripts out there ‘twould be more deserving than mine…”
“Nonsense! Makeshire, if you do not wish to turn over a script, that is your call. But my offer stands long as I stand at your door. I have read many a stage play script. I know quality when I see it. Should you be so concerned merely turn over June in the Meadows! I might say that is one of exceptional quality.”
“You would truly wish to perform a script of mine?”
The man nodded. “Your humbleness is endearing, Makeshire, but you must step out of your boundaries. You could achieve great success with your talent!”
‘Great success….’ Makeshire felt as though he could almost hear Nillion goading him on, telling him it was his chance to finally give all his play writing a meaning. After that, his deliberation on the matter was only a moment of seconds.
He extended his hand. “A deal it is, sir. My gratefulness is more than you could know.”
“Fantastic!” He chuckled. “I assure you, Makeshire, you will see: you are bound for success!”

Makeshire had been incredibly nervous about the idea of a theatre performing his works, but the performers of the Blood Aerial Troupe were supportive of his decision and a few even told him they would agree with what the man had said–his talents made him seem bound for success.
Makeshire couldn’t believe their words, but if he could do something with all the writings he produced on his spare time, it would be worth it. He continued writing as the theatre practiced his play, and the owner even invited him to a showing free of charge.
Makeshire had never been in a theatre before, and he was awestruck. He sat near the back and watched as the actors performed his play.
“‘Do you believe that someday we may all live in peace, Caeri? That someday all strife in this world will end and finally we will be left with nothing to pursue aside our dreams?'”
“‘Such words are nonsense. No, I do not believe that someday we may all live in peace. That is why we must keep stable what little peace we have, for the reverse may someday be possible. Our world did not make it here on peace. As we learn from mistakes as children, so do all people who bear witness to events of discord. That is what we must do to preserve this peace, is learn.'”
When the play came to an end, Makeshire readied himself to leave. He was surprised by the sheer number of people who gave applause at the end. Never had he seen so many at any of the Blood Aerial Troupe’s performances.
Normally, he was sure he would be nervous. But today he was just happy. He was reaching out to these people and giving them enjoyment. And to him, that was more wonderful than receiving payment for his works.

As it would turn out years later, the man’s prediction was right.
That theatre’s performance of June in the Meadows had sparked a sudden rush of demand for Makeshire’s scripts. As time went on more troupes performed his works, the theatre performed more of his plays, and a second theatre went on to produce both June in the Meadows and his early work The King of Marmotts.
Makeshire was dumbstruck, but he continued to work as hard as he could. He still had plenty of ideas for plays, after all, and as long as he did he would keep writing, but now he did so not only for himself. Not all of his plays received glowing admiration–he could remember one called Greenery Jubilee that many had not cared for–but the vast amount people were thrilled to see his works. They loved his take especially on the subject of intermixed societies and half-breeds, and after some time it wasn’t only other Vampires who watched his plays.
Makeshire’s popularity was spreading.
“Mr. Makeshire, what is your next play going to be about?” Some would ask him.
“I don’t know.”
“Mr. Makeshire, do you have a wife? Is she an inspiration?”
“No, I do not have a wife.”
“Mr. Makeshire, do you want to have children?”
Makeshire was unable to respond. His popularity had naturally given way to people who wanted to learn more about him. When he would go out in public and be recognized it was overwhelming, and hiding his identity didn’t seem to be working–people would recognize him anyway and it would cause the same trouble.
Makeshire was happy, but he was also overwhelmed. All this caused him to stay inside his house the majority of the time writing play scripts or going about his day–that and the fact that he didn’t much care for being out in the daylight in the first place, anyway. He was better off staying inside as far as he was concerned, though at times he would still grant the wishes of the people who wanted to talk to him.
“Thank you for agreeing to this, Mr. Makeshire. We know you don’t come outside much anymore.”
“I figured it was long overdue. Many have wanted to know more about me, so I decided to give in.”
“Alright then, a question some want to know, have you written anything that is not a stage play script?”
“I initially dabbled in novels, but my interest lies in stage plays first and foremost. I have adapted some of those old novels into stage plays.”
“I see. Have an example?”
“Vampire’s Stabmist…”
“Ah, okay. Here’s another question, then: what is your family like?”
“I would prefer not to go much into it, but I did have siblings. They are both passed on, but they are an inspiration to me.”
“I see. Mr. Makeshire, you have written several play scripts over your career, and as a Vampire though you are now fairly middle-aged, you still have hundreds of years left to go. Just how do you do it? How do you produce so much writing within this amount of time and never lose your ideas? How do you keep yourself interested in it?”
Makeshire had to ponder over the question for a long while; it hadn’t been something he had exactly given much thought to. He mostly enjoyed sitting down to write a play script and didn’t think about why he got so much enjoyment from it.
But that question had made him think, and now he believed he had a response.
“Well…as you know, we Vampires lead long lives, so to find something that keeps us enraptured for a long time can be quite difficult. However, I was lucky enough to be one who is interested in many things in this world, the way they work and why they happen, the bad and the good…when my interest in something is high I develop a desire to make a stage play based around said interest. Therefore, so long as the world keeps turning, I think my inspiration will continue.”
“I see. Quite interesting!” The man scrawled down his words. “Now, mind telling us a little bit more?”
“Certainly. I figured you had more questions to ask, anyway.”
Makeshire found his popularity quite overwhelming, but in the end, when he thought on it, he was doing something that made him happy that in turn, made other people happy and entertained. He had no regrets for following this path, none at all.

—–
“Ohh…”
“What’s wrong, La-Iin? We’re getting closer to the end.”
“I’m starving….again. Mama, you failed me!”
“I’m sorry!” Mit-Sun closed the book. “Come on, we’re not on a time limit. We can finish this book anytime we like. Maybe tomorrow.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened. She wanted to protest, but no words would come. All she knew was that it was very likely that Mit-Sun was going to put her through the same thing tomorrow, and despite her interest in Makeshire La-Iin was desperate for the book to be over with and for her to have the freedom to finally conduct her blood tests.

10.526.The Days of Makeshire–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 526
“The Days of Makeshire–Part 1”

After arriving home from school that day, La-Iin strode into her house with confidence. ‘Today is certainly the day! Now I know what way would be the best to determine the true extent of my blood powers. I’ll head out today and finally begin the true work on my plan towards world domination!’
She walked past the kitchen, failing to notice Mit-Sun beckoning to her. When she realized she wasn’t getting her attention, she called, “La-Iin, come over here.”
La-Iin turned around. “I’m busy, Mama.”
“You don’t look very busy to me. And if you’re going to get busy, maybe it can wait? There’s something I want to tell you about.”
The look in La-Iin’s eyes grew dark. “I certainly hope it has nothing to do with a Siren named Haner…
“Why would Haner be a part of this? Although, he did–never mind, you don’t need to hear that.”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap rapidly in agitation. She turned to leave the kitchen.
“Wait, La-Iin! Don’t you remember when I would teach you details about species study after school?”
“I learn lots about species study now at school! Though not as much as I would if Hyungdarou wasn’t such a hack. So what could you possibly want to tell me that I don’t already know?”
“For starters, there’s always lots to learn about the species. For instance, I barely know anything about Seahorsemen or Groundisers, and they’re not the only ones. Skeletaltypes don’t make much sense to me either, but aside from that, it also has nothing to do with species study. It has to do with the history of a Vampire I know you’re quite interested in.”
“Dami?”
“No, not Asul-Zenza. I don’t know nor care enough about him to give you a history lesson, and besides it probably wouldn’t be all that interesting. No, I was going to talk to you about Makeshire. Not only is he notable, he lived for over nine-hundred years, you like him, and you did tell me once your school doesn’t often talk about him.”
“More like they get interrupted if they try.”
“Huh.” Mit-Sun opened a book. “Well, his story is a long one, and like you know there isn’t a lot known about him since he wasn’t all that social. But I thought I’d tell you some about his plays, and perhaps both of us can gleam some details from there.”
“How could we? His plays don’t always make sense.”
“This is a history book on Makeshire, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said, pressing her hand down on the book in front of her. “Makeshire’s notoriety began hundreds of years ago, back when he was still a fairly young Vampire. Though he wasn’t too young a Vampire–I really doubt he could have done everything he did back in the 1100s…”

***

“What might ye be writing, fair brother?”
When his brother’s voice broke into his silence, Makeshire felt as though he had lost some of his concentration. He heaved a sigh and attempted to return to his work, writing slowly and carefully and trying to achieve the concentration he had before.
His brother seemed to have other ideas. “Makeshire, in times where parchment is scarce, ‘twould be courteous to speak of your reason for its usage.”
Makeshire was reluctant to answer. His brother sighed. “This silence leads me to believe the reason is nefarious or otherwise frivolous.”
“…I will replenish our store of parchment,” Makeshire responded quietly.
“And so we learn the reason truly is frivolous. Makeshire, you will not be able to escape to the realm of parchment forever. War looms constantly on the horizon and ye are an adult Vampyre. Understand, my reasons for my judgment.”
“That I do,” sighed Makeshire. “My sincerest apologies, Nillion.”
Nillion gave no further response, and Makeshire could only assume that he had left the room. He breathed a sigh of relief and went back to work on his play.
‘Whatever Nillion might say,’ Makeshire thought, ‘these writings of mine are a cathartic exercise.’

“Makeshire, the count of these writings is fantastic, though my meaning is nowhere near the positive sense.”
“I could imagine, Nillion…” sighed Makeshire.
“How much free time must a Vampire have in order to accumulate such a large number of writings? What all are they about? How could you manage it all? Does your hand not cramp?”
“Nillion, are ye upset, or intrigued?”
“The combination of both, be there a word for it! How does one make all these? A waste of parchment, but the tales told upon them are lost otherwise. A conundrum of the highest order you have created.”
“I do enjoy writing stage plays,” admitted Makeshire. “I have writings of other types, but the stage play format fascinates me.”
“Stage plays?” Questioned Nillion. “Why Makeshire, you’ve barely seen any! Why would your fascination lie with them?”
“I…I am not sure.”
“This is all not meant to judge ye, Makeshire. But the paper excess is astounding. To utilize more of this parchment in my care, ye must earn it first. I will then support your pursuits in such a case.”
“Truly, Nillion? Your judgments seemed stronger in the beforehand.”
“Who am I not to support my younger brother? Though I still question your choices, if it has you doing something, then pursue it. But use less parchment, and focus on other aspects of life. Taking a spouse is uncommon within our family. You would do well to join the ranks of those who have. Young though you may be, no longer are you in a Vampire’s prime, so do not wait it out forever.”
“…” Makeshire could give no respond, but when he noticed Nillion was smiling, he felt slightly more confident about his works.

Years of living had left Makeshire feeling as though he was wasting his many years. While the few people of other species he met worked as hard as possible and made the most of their life, Makeshire felt he barely contributed anything to the world. Always he was anxious, the world always feeling like it was on the precipice of war–and what felt like constant deaths in his family only heightened that anxiety.
So much went wrong in this world that was still learning to stand–Makeshire had heard tales of great conflicts that he was grateful to have never been alive for. In hindsight he had many things to be grateful for, but as he stood at Nillion’s grave that day, he hardly felt as though the world had anything in it that was worth forgiving.
All except his writings. All there was in the world gave him many ideas. When he made something horrible into a story, it felt as though it was slightly less horrible, because he could sense the hope that his characters had, could give them a happy ending as opposed to one filled with mass death. Perhaps Nillion would not have found the idea comforting, but aside from his brother his plays were all he had to think about.
‘Perhaps I shall do something about them,’ thought Makeshire. ‘Stage play performances have been going on in the nearby city. Would a submission from an unknown be accepted?’
His tales were filled with so many grim events up until their ends, and sometimes, he realized, even past their ends if he felt the tale he was telling could not, under any circumstances, reach a happier conclusion. The people who performed stage plays nearby often performed them for the rich and more well-off. Makeshire was nowhere in their league. Would anyone really want to perform his plays if he suggested them?
The idea itself made him feel anxious. But what did he have to lose from trying?

“You say that this writing was produced by ye alone?”
“Written,” Makeshire said.
“Ah, understandable. The writings of outsiders we had not considered, but perhaps we will review this and see if it fits within our guidelines. May we hold it for this time? It shall be returned in pristine condition, God as our witness.”
“I have faith it will be,” Makeshire said, spreading his wings. “So be a good day to ye all, and gracious thanks for your acknowledgement of my work.”
“Gracious thanks for your assistance!” Called back the man. “Return to this area in two morning’s eves and we shall deliver a final opinion!”

And he did return, his curiosity too strong to stay away for long. To his surprise, the performers had graciously accepted his writings, and invited him to a showing of the performance. Makeshire had felt a mixture of anxious and timid at their acceptance. He tried to imagine how Nillion might react to this news, though the thought only made him feel sad.
The performance, held for five nights, was of his play The King of Marmotts, a play about a king presiding over a kingdom of “Marmotts”, mixed-breed people who were outcast and shunned by all societies. Few people had shown up to the performance on the night he had come, and he was slightly distracted throughout the showing both of thoughts on his family and of the opinions of the other people, especially as he knew “Marmotts” were often thought of negatively, contrary to his script.
But as well as his concerns he was also entranced by the performance of something he had written. Reading it had been one thing, but to see actors performing his roles and speaking lines he had written amazed him.
After the end of the play, one Vampire woman approached him.
“I heard from an actor that you are the author behind this script,” she began. Makeshire tried to remain collected.
“Your perspective intrigues me. I look forward to seeing further works out of you.”
Makeshire was stunned. The last thing he had expected was to hear that someone had liked his work. It gave him a thrill.
If he could interest this woman, perhaps he could put a foot in the world that way–by giving people some entertainment.
After all was said and done, he approached the man behind the performers once more.
“I do not mean to be imposing myself upon you. But in any time you may need a script to perform, I am willing to provide.”
“How strange you would bring this up! I was wishing to talk with you about your scripts as well. Why don’t we speak over tea?”
Makeshire nodded. “I would like that.
It felt like the start of something big–though Makeshire didn’t dare get his hopes up.

—–
“Mama, all this about Makeshire is fine, but I’m staaarving.”
Mit-Sun checked the time. “Oh, it is getting pretty late. I suppose we could leave the rest for tomorrow.”
La-Iin sighed. “How long is that book?”
“Pretty long. Why?”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “Never mind.”

29.302.The Activation of an Animated Pumpkin

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 302
“The Activation of an Animated Pumpkin”

“….damn, I’m exhausted,” San-Kyung sighed.
“It’s because you’ve been staying up all night!” Salsh-Era chided. “You need to get more sleep.”
“But it’s almost here, Dad…Halloween is almost here…just a few more days.”
“A few more will lead into November,” he said. “Although I guess you’re already planning to stay up all night on Halloween. But remember, if you stay up too late tomorrow, you’ll end up being too tired for Halloween. And I want to take that picture with you, even if you spend the rest of the day with Dosa-Mina.”
San-Kyung nodded.
“Wake up a bit. You have to get to school.”
“I’ll be fine,” he said.
“If you need a nap, take one once you get back home,” Salsh-Era said.
“Sheesh, Dad, I’m fine…”

***

After history class that day, La-Iin had a question on her mind.
The class that day had been on the history of Animated Pumpkins, from their origins to historical challenges, and she felt she knew why their teacher had picked that subject. However, hearing of their roots in Witch power made her curious.
‘I wonder if Sale-Dessu could make an Animated Pumpkin…’
The question was on her mind for the rest of the classes afterwards. She had wanted to ask Fer-Shi’s opinion, but when she remembered Fer-Shi barely knew Sale-Dessu, she opted against it. ‘She’d probably just say it’s impossible for a modern Warlock…’
Once she had resigned herself to that, however, her focus shifted to someone else. ‘I wonder if San-Kyung would be interested in knowing?’
If nothing else, it was an excuse she could use to get some time alone with him, and any excuse she could find she was willing to take.
The break time before the last class, she approached his desk. His head was bobbing lightly; Dosa-Mina gave him a light smack with the back of his hand and he lifted his head.
“…what do you want?” He said. Once she had made sure his focus was on her, she spoke.
“I had an idea for something you might like. Can you come with me somewhere after school?”
“…I’m not sure I trust your idea on what I might like,” he said. “Besides, I…I have other things to do…”
“Like sleeping,” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Shut it.”
“But it maybe has to do with your true form, sort of,” she said. San-Kyung looked back up at her.
“…what do you mean by that?”
“Maybe we can find out some things about it? And Animated Pumpkin things too. Where we’re going we might be able to learn some interesting things about Animated Pumpkins.”
“…I know a lot about myself already,” he sighed.
“Don’t fall asleep. We’ve got one more class,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I know!”
“Maybe it can help you learn to use your other form like me!” She exclaimed. She hoped that would be enough to catch his attention. It seemed to be working; San-Kyung seemed mildly interested as he stared back at her. Unconsciously she began to fidget.
“…what do you mean by that?”
“I wanted to see something that had to do with Animated Pumpkins, like I said. I wanted you to come too, since you’re an Animated Pumpkin. I thought maybe because of what it was, it could help you learn more about your true form and…maybe it can make you transform at will. Then I don’t have to wait until Halloween to see it.”
She doubted it would be the case, but it seemed to have San-Kyung’s attention, so she decided to keep up the act. “…if that’s the case, then fine. I’ll go with you, but if it’s not worth my time, I’m leaving.”
“Then I’ll just have to make sure it’s worth your time,” she said, before walking back to her seat.
Dosa-Mina turned to face San-Kyung and dropped his voice to a whisper. “Do you think she knows?”
“…I don’t know.”
“Do you really trust what she’s saying? Use a little common sense, San-Kyung. I know you’re exhausted, but–”
“I doubt it’s anything interesting,” he snapped. “I just want to know what she wants. Who knows. Maybe it will be helpful. After all, without her we wouldn’t be getting the info we need on transforming into true forms…”

After the last class, La-Iin ran over to San-Kyung’s seat and grabbed his hand. By now, San-Kyung’s head had drooped, though he looked up when she came by. He didn’t move from the seat.
“Come onnnnn!” She whined.
“Don’t just force me to move right after class has ended,” he snapped, drawing his hand away from her.
“…wish me luck,” he whispered to Dosa-Mina.
“I will be. I wish I could come with, but I bet I know what’d happen if I did…” He hugged San-Kyung close. “See you tomorrow, then?”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.”
“…” La-Iin glared at the duo.
“I’m coming,” he sighed, letting go of Dosa-Mina. “Don’t get diaper rash.”
La-Iin blushed. “I don’t wear diapers!”
“You’d think a half-Vampire of your age would. Then again, it’s nice not to have to smell poop during class….”
La-Iin huffed and ran ahead of him. “You’re so mean to me sometimes, San-Kyung.”
“Don’t be surprised. Besides, knowing you I’m surprised you don’t like it.”
“It’s not that. It’s just, you’re not that mean to Dosa-Mina,” she pouted.
“Have you seen how I react sometimes when he’s too affectionate?”
“You just accepted his affection back there.”
“It was a hug.”
“In front of the whole class. I still think you fail at evil sometimes, San-Kyung. You say you don’t let your love make you weak, but I think you do.”
San-Kyung glared. “I’d like to see the difference in reaction between if I had to kill Dosa-Mina, and you had to kill me. I bet I’d act faster.”
“You’d probably cry afterwards.”
“I don’t cry.”
“You do too.”
“…you know what, just shut up until we get there.”
“You gave up after one try,” La-Iin mocked.
“You know why? Because I see the pointlessness in arguing with a repetitive little kid who will just keep saying I do until I rescind. I don’t have the time to argue pointlessly. …besides, I don’t cry.”
“You do too.”
“Shut up.”
La-Iin led the way to her neighborhood, checking behind her every now-and-then to make sure San-Kyung was still following. She picked up her pace slightly when she noticed the two were moving slowly and making little progress.
San-Kyung still seemed exhausted as they walked on. ‘Is that why he’s not levitating?’
“San-Kyung, can’t you just levitate the way there?”
“I’m not listening to a little kid’s poor directions on how to get wherever the hell it is you want to take me. And I’m not levitating you. And I’m sure I can go faster than you can fly while levitating, so you’d end up getting left behind…” He yawned. “And I don’t know where the hell we’re going.”
“Are you sure it’s not just because you’re tired?” She snapped.
“I can levitate while exhausted. I just choose not to today. So shut up. I’m already sick of hearing your voice.”
After that, the both of them were silent as they arrived in La-Iin’s neighborhood. La-Iin began to head for Sale-Dessu’s house.
“You’re not just taking me to your home, are you? Because I’m not going there.”
“No. Though that would be lots of fun. Maybe I should try that when you can’t levitate anymore.”
“…good villains don’t tell their plans ahead of time, you dumbass.”
“But you never know when I’ll enact it. So I think I’m still good.”
“You just said you’re good. And I think I have a pretty good idea of how you’d enact it, so don’t start with me.”
“…I didn’t mean good in that way. Now who’s being a dumbass?” She knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door.
“If you remember my house correctly, you’ll also remember this isn’t my house. I know you don’t like people, so let me do the talking. You can just sit back and listen.”
“….ugh, this is going to be more annoying than I thought it would be…” San-Kyung grumbled under his breath. The words went unnoticed by La-Iin, who continued to knock at the door until a familiar face opened it.
“…La-Iin?” Sale-Dessu said. His focus then turned to San-Kyung. “…who’s that behind you?”
“This is Molshei San-Kyung. A friend.” Sale-Dessu noticed San-Kyung roll his eyes. He let some of his mats drop in front of his face.
“…I see. Well, you can both come in…I see you didn’t bring Bes-Isa?”
“No. I want to ask you something, so let us in already!”
“I said you could–” Sale-Dessu cut himself off with a sigh. As the two walked inside, San-Kyung couldn’t help but feel agitated, and Sale-Dessu couldn’t help but feel shy. The last thing he had expected was for La-Iin to bring by someone he didn’t know. That this new boy was almost the same height as him was enough to make that feeling worse.
To Sale-Dessu it felt as though La-Iin was leading the way in his house. She stopped in the room the two normally held their meetings and sat down. San-Kyung sat down a distance away from her. Sale-Dessu chose to sit closer to La-Iin.
“So, um, La-Iin…what did you want to talk about?” Sale-Dessu asked.
“Do you know how Animated Pumpkins came to be, Sale-Dessu?” La-Iin asked, pointing at his nose. Sale-Dessu gently set down her finger.
“O-of course I do. It’s a story almost every Warlock learns sometime.”
“At school today we learned all about that history. I knew it already, but I hadn’t read up on it in a while, and it made me think. Do you think you could make an Animated Pumpkin?”
Sale-Dessu began to feel flustered, but he tried not to let it show on his face. “…no, I don’t think I could. Things were different back then, after all….”
“You can glitch the world.” La-Iin huffed. Morbid curiosity instilled itself in San-Kyung when he heard it, though it was mild enough that he didn’t care to ask.
“…glitching the world is messing with the world,” Sale-Dessu said. “What you’re suggesting is bringing someone to life…”
“V-Puppets,” La-Iin snapped.
“V-Puppets are different. Even you have the power of V-Puppetry. If that were the case then even you could bring a new Animated Pumpkin into the world. What that Witch did…she technically made a brand-new species, all on her own. It was more than just bringing life to a pumpkin…I don’t think even my Ape…the powerful Witches I’ve met in my lifetime could rival her. And she lived ages ago, so it’s not like we could ask…”
“I don’t know what to think about you sometimes, Sale-Dessu,” La-Iin sighed. “You have all sorts of powers but you never really use them for anything useful, and then even with those powers you can’t do things that sound easier than what you can do!”
“….well, let me put it this way,” he said. “I can’t even do Hex Change Operation all that well. If I couldn’t make Eu–I mean, perform it right a second time, then what makes you think I’d be able to make an Animated Pumpkin?”
“…” La-Iin glared at him.
“Besides…all we have is the story. We don’t have everything that Witch used. We don’t know all of what she did. Even if I tried to recreate what she did, if I studied and practiced and did all I could to be as powerful as she is, so I could do Hex Change Operation with ease, so I could perform all the spells that have eluded me and caused me trouble…I don’t think I would be able to do that, because we’ll never really know what that Witch did when she created the first Animated Pumpkin. For all we know, she might not have even really done that. Maybe it was an Animated Pumpkin already and she just gave it a push. After all, there is the October power surge…”
“What do you mean by that?”
“You don’t know about the October power surge?” Sale-Dessu said, gaping. “But your friend–”
“I know about the power surge, but I don’t know what point you’re trying to make,” La-Iin said, an edge to her tone.
“Maybe all that Witch did was initiate the surge, or maybe she helped the surge along with her powers,” he said. “Maybe the Animated Pumpkin was alive to begin with and its origins lie elsewhere…perhaps the Witch gave it a boost by using her powers on it and causing or heightening the surge. I’m not sure why it’s limited to October though except that they say it was on Halloween that the first AP was born…but if the power surge existed without the Witch, then it’s just one of those mysteries of the world, but even if she did cause the surge, they say she did it on Halloween, which is this month…either way I can see where a Witch played some part–the flammable blood and levitation, to start, to me that makes it obvious….but anyway, since we don’t really know everything about this story since it happened so long ago, I don’t think I could do the same. There’s too many mysteries about this. Besides, do you know of a pumpkin I could experiment on? …not an Animated Pumpkin, of course,” he said, giving a cautious glance in San-Kyung’s direction. San-Kyung’s face remained blank, though his eyelids were no longer drooping and he was focused on Sale-Dessu. Sale-Dessu felt nervous when he noticed it.
“No,” La-Iin pouted.
“…I’m sorry that probably wasn’t the response you wanted. But Warlocks have their faults, even powerful ones…”
“…” La-Iin turned to San-Kyung. “It was useless. …sorry.”
“Hey, you,” San-Kyung said, his eyes still fixated on Sale-Dessu. Sale-Dessu flinched.
“…what do you know about the chances of an Aesthetically Normal AP turning into a normal AP?”
“…I…I’ve never heard of a case like that….though I’ve heard of drugs that can simulate October power surge, sans transformation of course…but those are dangerous and rare and I’ve never come in contact with them, so I wouldn’t know if they actually exist or if they were just in development, or a myth…I…don’t have easy ways of getting that sort of information.”
“Hmph.” San-Kyung stood up. “You showed me what you wanted to. Now let’s go.”
“Okay.” La-Iin turned to Sale-Dessu. “I’ll be back. Probably without San-Kyung next time.”
“Okay. See you, La-Iin…” Sale-Dessu sighed. He watched La-Iin and San-Kyung leave his house, then relaxed.
“I can’t believe I got so nervous because of one stranger…”

—–
“Oh no you don’t. I’m looking into how you could utilize a power like La-Iin’s, I hope you remember. You’re not going looking for any sort of drugs to propel that transformation. They wear off anyway and what’s the point in risking your life for something temporary? We’re going for permanency after all.”
“I wasn’t saying I was going to use them…” San-Kyung sighed.
“Well, you sounded pretty excited about them. Still, that gives me an idea of how you COULD activate a transformation power…I need to think on that.”
“Don’t worry about it for now. Besides, I don’t let myself trust worthless random people, and Halloween’s almost here…I’ll have a natural transformation soon enough. And then, we’ll find out how I can activate it at will.”
“Gotcha. I’m looking forward to Friday.”
“…nobody’s looking forward to it more than me,” he said.

10.191.Siren Hell

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 191
“Siren Hell”

“This is a great party, isn’t it, Cyar-Hee? Nearly all of Ardia must be here!”
“Well, nothing much’s happening right now, is it?” He sighed. “I hope things pick up soon….”
“I’m sure they will! This isn’t like a fancy party or anything, it’s just a kick-back-and-relax type. Ignore the people wearing fancy clothes! C’mon, whaddya say we attack the refreshments while we wait for something to happen?”
Cyar-Hee’s friend ran giggling ahead of him, but the Siren felt uncertain about the party still. Nothing much was happening. It hardly seemed like a party. He almost regretted coming, but he would never tell his friend that. He walked over to her as she started on samples of cheese.
“These are specialized, creation-approved and verified “Person Cheeses”,” a nearby Goathoof said. Cyar-Hee didn’t recognize his accent. “This one right here is from the milk of a Normal. This one is from the milk of a Siren. This one was made from the milk of a rare breed of Catori.”
“Oh my gosh, so good,” his friend moaned. “Try one, Cyar-Hee! Which cheese do you think sounds the most interesting?”
Cyar-Hee felt uncertain. The idea of eating cheese from a person’s milk made him imagine things he felt horrible for imagining.
“I…I think I’ll take the safe route and say Siren,” he mumbled.
“Yay!” She popped a piece of cheese into his mouth. “So, whaddya say? Good?”
“Mmm….” Cyar-Hee had to admit, it was a good piece of cheese. When he remembered it was made from Siren milk, he was flooded with a feeling of embarrassment. “It was good, but I wouldn’t eat it again…”
“You seemed like you liked it more than that. Oh well, more for me!” His enthusiastic friend set to work on the cheese again.
‘She’s still the most happening at this party…’ Cyar-Hee gave a mental sigh. He could only hope something happened soon.

***

“That cheese was so good….”
“You keep saying that.”
“It bears repeating.” His friend sat up and glanced at her face. Her expression became more concerned. “What’s the matter, Cyar-Hee? Not enjoying the party?”
“I, well….that is…you….not exact….ugh, I can’t lie to you. I was hoping something more would happen! So far this party has been, well….boring.”
“…I guess you have a point,” she said. “I just like parties. Sorry I didn’t notice.”
“Oh, it isn’t your fault. Actually, seeing you devour all that cheese was been the best part of this all so far.”
“Is that so?” She said with a smile. “Well, my sisters always said I was the life of the party!”
While the two giggled off in a corner, music started in the large room.
“Now that our final guests have arrived, it’s time for a dance! Our music tonight is provided by a group and a soloist–popular singer-guitarist Marko-Nathen from the borders of Manemica, and local group Seventeen Heaven!”
“Music?” Cyar-Hee questioned.
“Must be dance time! Maybe things will start looking up for you now! Come on, let’s dance!” His friend pulled him off the seat and towards the dance floor. Many people were finding partners to dance with while they waited for the band to set up. Cyar-Hee’s friend clung tight to his arm as they awaited the music.
“LET’S DANCE!”
Cyar-Hee tried to lead the dance, but his best friend was quicker. She held him tight as she spun him around. It was quickly obvious to Cyar-Hee that she had no idea what she was doing.
‘Well….neither do I.’ He let his friend lead and let himself enjoy the dance. Compared to the slow dances and skilled dances nearby them, his dance with his friend was just fun. They kept dancing even a short while after the music ended.
“We’ll take one quick break! Feel free to refresh and socialize as we do!” An announcer said.
“Ooh, I’m getting hungry again,” his friend said.
“After all that cheese?” Cyar-Hee giggled.
“We were just dancing! Besides, it was those tiny, fancy-type cheeses. Those are really good but not filling at all!”
At the table with various different snacks, a Narwhaltae was looking through the cheeses curiously. Cyar-Hee’s friend didn’t seem to notice him and started to eat more cheese, while Cyar-Hee reached for a drink.
“A Siren, huh…” The Narwhaltae murmured.
“Were you talking to me?” Cyar-Hee asked.
“You aren’t gonna get int the music, right?” The Narwhaltae asked, a sour look on his face.
“What?”
“I mean you aren’t gonna start singing along, right?” He asked. Cyar-Hee viewed his expression as antagonistic, but in truth fear was crossing the man’s face.
“No?”
The Narwhaltae still glared at him as he continued to drink. Cyar-Hee felt uneasy.
“You sure you don’t want any more cheese?” His friend asked.
“No thank you. I’m not really hungry or thirsty anymore…”
“Something wrong?”
Cyar-Hee glanced around the party. “….are there any more Sirens here?”
“Why? Looking for looooove?” She asked.
“No, I was just….curious.”
“Dunno. There’s too many people here to gauge who’s what. Mostly. Besides, Sirens have cloaking abilities, right? Could be that there are some here, but–”
“Cloaking abilities?” The Narwhaltae asked. Cyar-Hee wanted to deny it, but his friend spoke first. “You didn’t know? The song of a Siren has different effects on the singer. Certain songs can change the appearance of a Siren, sometimes to a different species! But they always retain their powers.”
The Narwhaltae clenched his teeth. “So, is that it? So hypothetically, a Siren could hide ‘imself and sing and kill us all without us ever knowing it.”
“Only an evil Siren would do that. The evil population is already low in Ardia. Pureblood Sirens aren’t exactly the most common species….”
“It still could happen, couldn’t it!?”
“I suppose…”
“What Cyar-Hee’s trying to say is that it’d be a really low possibility,” his friend said before stuffing more cheese into her mouth. She swallowed before continuing. “Not really something we need to worry about. If you don’t care about missing music, if you’re that worried, plug your ears!”
“How?” He asked, showing his flippers.
“Well, Narwhaltae flippers are kinda handy-like….but I guess with earplugs?”
“….it’s not as easy on a Narwhaltae body.” The Narwhaltae man stroked his tusk. Cyar-Hee glanced away from him.
“I don’t know why you’re scared of Sirens, but it’s okay! Even though Sirens have a scary power, they’re pretty good friends! Cyar-Hee is living, breathing proof of that fact. He would never sing.”
“…how do you know he’ll never turn on you?”
“Huh?”
“What if some day, he snaps!” The Narwhaltae yelled. Up on stage, the band prepared to perform their next song. The man’s eyes were crazed and wide. Cyar-Hee wondered if he was insane. “He could sing to you and there would be nothing you could do! Tell me, why were Sirens born with this power, huh? All the rest of us got our powers from something that could help our species, but what does singing do!?”
“Um, uh…” His friend seemed cornered. “I think it’s some hunting thing or whatever….”
“Hunting.” He glared at Cyar-Hee. “Hunting! Hunting! Ha! If a Siren’s singing is for hunting, then how come they hunt people!? The rest of us are all smart enough to know better, but Sirens, oh no!”
“It’s not really a common practice anymore…I don’t hunt people. It’s against the law.” Cyar-Hee mumbled.
“I’ve done the research. Even the most well-meaning person could completely snap. And then, then, he sings!” The Narwhaltae tackled Cyar-Hee to the floor. He held him down and pointed his tusk at his neck. Some attendants to the party, including the performers, were startled by the sound of someone crashing to the ground and stared in his direction.
“What are you doing!?” Cyar-Hee’s friend yelled. She tried to pull the man off of Cyar-Hee, but he only mumbled, “If you do that, I’ll really jab it in him.”
His friend took a step back.
“You were just accusing me of snapping and committing a murder!” He said. “If you puncture my neck, you’ll be a murderer!”
“There’s such a thing as justified murder. Death penalty for criminals. Killing people in the thick of war. Self-defense. Oh, but the murder of a Pureblood Siren would be–DON’T COME NEAR ME OR I’LL KILL HIM!” He yelled. Nearby attendees started to panic.
“Get security,” someone said. A person ran off.
“Be quiet.” The Narwhaltae said. He kept his tusk pointed straight at his neck, ready to jab it in. As the attendees continued to panic, Cyar-Hee could feel the tusk’s tip pressed up against his fragile neck skin.
Just a little further. Just a little further was all his assailant needed, and he would be dead. There was nothing anyone could do. Security likely wouldn’t arrive quick enough, and there was no way he could try and force the man off him without dying in the process.
Cyar-Hee, in his moment of fear, was reduced to his instincts.

Please let me go, please let me go, please let me go, please let me go….

As Cyar-Hee repeated the mantra, the Narwhaltae’s expression became one of surprise. He staggered backwards and dropped onto Cyar-Hee’s legs. Cyar-Hee hardly noticed.
Attendees of the party started to drop all around him. Some dropped to the ground and were automatically deceased. Others staggered and struggled as he sang, unable to deny what was happening to their body. As he repeated the mantra, the effects became more great.
Cyar-Hee’s friend tried to struggle against the sound of the song, but even she knew she was done for. Even if somehow, she survived his song, before the day ended she would be lying somewhere dead. She wanted to try and stop him, try to prevent any further deaths. Despite the fact that her breathing grew labored and she began to feel like her body was shutting down, she crawled as far as she could over to Cyar-Hee.
She tried to struggle longer, but it was agony to try and keep herself alive any longer. She gave up trying to fight it, and let her body shut down. She flopped onto Cyar-Hee’s arm.
Cyar-Hee gasped when he felt hair brush his arm. He looked to his side. His friend lay there, drool streaming from her mouth, her eyes closed and a relatively peaceful expression on her face. She appeared asleep at first, but it only took a matter of seconds for Cyar-Hee to realize what had happened.
“No, no, no no no no!” He cried. His throat choked up. He tried to look for any signs of life, but there weren’t any. As he cradled his friend close, he glanced around the room.
There were numerous corpses all around. Almost everyone who had attended the party was dead. There was no sign of life in the room, no movement, no breathing. No longer was anyone trying to fight the effects of Cyar-Hee’s song. They were all dead. The band, the Manemican singer, the Goathoof describing the cheeses, the aristocrats who came in fancy clothing, his assailant Narwhaltae, and his friend. Every single last person was dead.
It was the worst moment in Cyar-Hee’s life. And all these deaths were his fault. As he lay there, he realized that the injuries he may have sustained, or the death the Narwhaltae may have caused, were nothing in comparison to what he had done.
The moment broke Cyar-Hee.
Security arrived a moment later, and they glanced around at the corpses.
“What’s going on here!?” One of them yelled. One pointed towards Cyar-Hee.
He gave them no reaction. He didn’t care what it was they wanted to do.
“Did he–?” One of them questioned. Terrified expressions showed on their faces as they glanced around at the chaos.
“….please kill me,” Cyar-Hee mumbled.
“What?”
“Please, kill me,” he said. “Please.”
“Are all these corpses your fault?” The man asked. Other members of security spoke to each other in hushed voices. He could hear what they were saying. “Take precautionary measures. He may be planning to sing again.” Members began to plug their ears with earplugs.
“…I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Cyar-Hee repeated. “I want to go with my friend. Please send me to her. Please. I want….”
He couldn’t speak any longer. The members of security saw that as enough of a sign. They tackled him to the ground and restrained him. His friend’s body fell out of reach.

***

“…” La-Iin stared at her mother in awe.
“After that, he was given a life sentence. They also performed forceful vocal chord removal surgery. They say even to his last day, he begged to be killed.”
“How did he die?”
“He got sick from an infection. He begged to die. A member of the security force who took him down decided to go to the prison he was being held in and do the job for him. ….that guy got charged afterwards.”
La-Iin grinned.
“Why do you enjoy hearing about this anyway? Ardia hasn’t had nearly as many residents since then.”
“Because I like suffering stories. …well, it also sounds like a made-up story too. A good one.”
“It’s really sad one…and sadly, it’s true,” Mit-Sun sighed.

—–
‘What might’ve happened if he didn’t sing, I wonder?’
Mit-Sun couldn’t deny her curiosity on the case as well. She ended up wondering how it all would have gone down if just one thing had changed.
What if the Narwhaltae was allowed to kill Cyar-Hee?
What if Cyar-Hee had escaped?
What else could have gone differently?
Yet still, no matter what alternate situations came to mind, it never changed the fact that in the end, Cyar-Hee had caused numerous deaths.

12.43.Dark History

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 43
“Dark History”

La-Iin was sitting at the table, trying her best to be patient. She was bored of trying to be patient. She kicked her feet back-and-forth, waiting for Mit-Sun. Her mother had told her that she wanted to teach her about something. Since then, she had had a bad feeling about what that something was.
‘I just came back from school. I already learned things today. I even went to biology class! Why does she want to teach me something?’
She rested her head on the table. A few moments later, out the corner of her eye, she saw Mit-Sun, holding a book and heading for the kitchen. She tried to lift her head up, but found that her fangs were caught to the table. She lifted her head as fast as she could, and they came free. Then they started to hurt. ‘At least they’re still in…’
“What are you doing?” Mit-Sun asked. She sat across from her and opened up a book.
“Nothing.”
“I don’t believe you. You’re always up to something.”
“Yes, but I wasn’t doing anything then. I was just lying on the table, bored out of my skull. I was so bored I think you knocked a hundred years off my lifespan.”
“Very funny.”
La-Iin rested her head on the table again, being cautious so her fangs didn’t get caught. “So why do you want me? I could be talking to Bes-Isa right now. She’ll be mad at me for ignoring her.”
“You can talk with her later. I wanted to tell you about the history of Dualbreeds. I figured you might find it interesting, since you’re so obsessed with them.”
“I know a lot about Dualbreeds already, Mama. What else could you teach me? I know about what happens to so many combinations. I know which Dualbreeds are the most powerful. I know which Dualbreeds barely survive the womb. I even know which Dualbreeds are most common!”
“I wanted to teach you about Dualbreed Discrimination. Do you know about that?”
“It’s pretty obvious,” she grumbled. “Centuries ago the species mostly lived on their own, right? So it was seen as trying to unite two societies without permission or something or another.”
“You do have the basic gist down. Yes, the whole reason why nobody liked Dualbreeds is because they were the product of two different species. For instance, Groudgyp and Nyappon are two entirely separate places. Groudgyp has mostly Groundisers, and Nyappon has mostly Catori. Back in the day, Groudgyp only had Groundisers, and Nyappon only had Catori. Now, if a Catori from Nyappon and a Groundiser from Groudgyp got in a relationship and had a baby, it would be seen as an offense to both of those places, since most of the species didn’t like other species back then for various different reasons.”
“Using Nyappon as an example is stupid. Catoris weren’t even legal citizens of anywhere for a while.”
“….you sure do know a lot. In any event, I just wanted to talk about what it was like to be a Dualbreed back then.”
“Why?”
“Because?”
“It doesn’t matter to me.”
“You get to hear stories about suffering. And about history and species study.”
“…I’m listening.”
“A-hem! Back in the earlier days of the world, when times were simpler and there was no such thing as cars, all the species were separate. And they liked it that way. But sometimes, members of each of the societies strayed out of those societies. Some of them fell in love with people from other societies. And when two people love each other, well, sometimes they want to have children. Thus, Dualbreeds came into existence!”
“This isn’t a book, Mama.”
“I’m reading from one. In any event…compared to now, Dualbreeds were incredibly rare back then. Really, the most common Dualbreed you’d find was Normal-Siren, since male Sirens were rare and Sirens tend to fly solo of one another. But Dualbreeds were not really accepted by any of the societies. Because really, what society would accept them? They were two different species when the rest of the society was one. So many times the parents of the Dualbreed had to leave the society, or they could stay in the society but face violence, and often the parents were separated. The mom from the duo usually kept the child and faced whatever punishment came her way, while the father was shunned in his society for having a child with someone other than another of his species. Sometimes it went the other way around, but that depended on the society. But that was just when the Dualbreed was a baby. Oh, things changed when they grew up. For starters, even before they grew up, Dualbreeds were called ‘Fakebloods’ back then. Of course, there were nicer terms, such as ‘mixed blood’ or ‘mixed breed’ but nobody used Dualbreed back then.”
“I know all this already!”
“Well, then, why don’t we get to the juicier bits?”
“Why do you seem more excited about this than I do? I’m the Dualbreed here.”
“And you’re conceited about being a Dualbreed. So maybe you hate hearing bad stories about them.”
“No way! I love these types of stories, even if it is about Dualbreeds.”
“Of course you would….in any event, when Dualbreeds grew up and could take care of themselves, things got really rough. In the rare events that they were allowed to stay in the society their parents lived, there was really no law for them. They were illegals. So they could be kidnapped and experimented on, or killed without consequence, or bullied to the point of suicide. Nobody expected children of two species. As time went on, it did become illegal to murder Dualbreeds, but everything else was still fair game. It’s really because they didn’t have any Dualbreed laws back then that got them killed so often.”
“If I lived back then, I would’ve gotten back at them by killing them instead.”
“You’d get in a lot of trouble for that….but anyway, it did help with one thing. As Dualbreeds were shown to be fair game, with no law against murdering or harming them, those who would otherwise pursue a relationship with someone of another species decided against it, since they didn’t want their children to be killed. So Dualbreeds began to die down even more. But some people didn’t think it was right for Dualbreeds to be killed, even if they disagreed with interspecies breeding. So they decided to work on a way for Dualbreeds to live in a society that would care about them. So years later, intermixed societies were born.”
“Like Mixan from Vampire’s Stabmist?”
“Yes, like Mixan. Although I don’t think there were any societies called Mixan. But that doesn’t matter. Anyway, in those societies, many different species could live in harmony without repercussions. Those were the best places to live back then, since they were the most concerned with species survival. Some of those places still had laws against Dualbreeds, but for the most part, they also had laws for Dualbreeds–that even if their parents were sinners, they were not, and therefore it was wrong to kill them based on their parents alone. One of the most notable intermixed societies is Manemica, which didn’t exist until 1776, later on in the Dualbreed debate. However, there were many other societies which were intermixed societies. Dasdoria was one of them!”
“Dasdoria was an intermixed society? I thought it was an Animated Pumpkin society.”
“Why?”
“The AP I know has a Dasdorian last name.”
“That doesn’t mean anything. Cahongyun isn’t a Vaelis last name, it’s an Aeness last name. In any event, yes, Dasdoria was one of these intermixed societies, and quite an infamous one too. As you well know, Dasdoria is a violent society full of mostly troublemakers, so many other societies began to believe that all the intermixed societies were like Dasdoria–full of law-benders. These intermixed societies did come under fire for those reasons, and the ones closer to other societies often had disputes over this. Many wars were fought because of these debates. The first World War was because of those debates!”
“You never told me that.”
“Covering all four World Wars would take all day. I’ll save it for another time. Anyway, single-species societies began to see intermixed societies as troublesome to their continued existence, especially when their members left society for the intermixed ones. But the intermixed societies weren’t without their problems. Some people in intermixed societies had concerns about Species Dominance. They worried that one species was taking precedence over all the others, and effectively ruling other species! It happened with many species. For instance, when Manemica was in its early days, many people thought that Normals were ruling over the other species.”
“Manemica is stupid.”
“You don’t know that. You’ve never been there. Anyway, those times were dangerous times, but still, many Dualbreeds enjoyed intermixed societies since they gave them the rights to live. But Dualbreeds were still a source of interest since their powers are simultaneously stronger and weaker than their Pureblood selves. In these intermixed societies, the term Fakeblood was abandoned, although Dualbreed still didn’t exist. But enough about the far past. As time went on, and the societies began to get more integrated, Dualbreeds became less of a source of concern, and most Dualbreeds stayed in intermixed societies, while very few Dualbreeds chose to stay in single-species societies. Things were getting better world-round because it was gradually becoming illegal everywhere to murder anyone, even if they were a Dualbreed. But as these societies progressed, Dualbreeds weren’t the only Multibreeds anymore, and Tribreeds were discovered. Now Tribreeds were incredibly rare back then, and anything higher than it was unthinkable! But it was a source of interest to many people. Someone who was three species at once wasn’t something they had contemplated.”
“Tribreeds are still rare today.”
“Yes, but they’re much more common than back then. And anyway, Tribreeds are more common in other parts of the world, as they were back then. The first Tribreed hailed from Dasdoria, although most of the notable early Tribreeds came from Manemica.”
“If I hear you say Manemica one more time, I’ll scream.”
“Manemica–”
La-Iin yelled as loud as she could. Mit-Sun slammed her fist on the table, and La-Iin fell silent. “Manemica is an important part of Dualbreed history. Never forget that. But yes, time progressed, species began to intermix more, but Dualbreeds, or ‘half-breeds’ as they were known by back then, were still facing issues. So those part of societies willing to intermix tried their best to make Dualbreeds normal. They promoted the idea that Dualbreeds were just one species with the traits of another, that’s all. Like a Catori-Wingyrm is really just a Catori with wing arms. These plans worked, for the most part, and people began to look at Dualbreeds in another way. At some point during this time, it was even considered hip to be a Dualbreed! And so, the pattern of seeing Dualbreeds as normal continued on, the societies became more intermixed, and with that, the main discrimination towards Dualbreeds ended now that in most places, multiple species lived together in harmony. Of course, there are still some places in the world that see Dualbreeds as abnormal.”
La-Iin felt her head bob. She was a little interested hearing the whole story, but she was bored by the way her mother told it. ‘I wish she would’ve talked about World War I…’
“Are you alright, La-Iin?”
“I’m sleepy. Your boring descriptions of history nearly made me miss the end of it. And you never talked about the war.”
“Well, excuse me for being boring. I’m sure your teacher isn’t any more interesting.”
“He can be loads more interesting, if he tries.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “But do you feel like you learned anything?”
“Hardly.”
Mit-Sun rolled her eyes. “Well, it doesn’t matter. I feel like I did a good job. It’s not my fault if my daughter doesn’t care. Maybe I should’ve homeschooled you.”
La-Iin sat straight up. “That would be terrible! Please don’t homeschool me.”
Mit-Sun grinned. “If you don’t do naughty things, you’ve got yourself a deal.”

—–
La-Iin curled up into her bed, ready to go to sleep. She moved her arm into a more comfortable position.
“Good…evening, La-Iin.”
“Bes-Isa?” She mumbled. She hadn’t realized the doll was awake.
“You just woke me up. Did you do it by accident?”
“Think I did…” She sighed. “Can we skip the conversation and I go to sleep?”
“Why are you so tired? You’re usually so energetic at night. Did you have a hard day at school or something?”
“Mama gave the most boring history lesson ever.”
“Why was she giving a history lesson? Don’t tell me she’s working at Malicerie now!”
“No. That would be even worse. But she feels like I need to know about Dualbreed history. So what? I pretty much got the idea that nobody liked Dualbreeds way back when. She told me as much many times, yet she still felt like I needed to hear the whole story.”
“The whole story!? Including World War I?”
“I wish she’d included World War I,” La-Iin grumbled. She shut her eyes and went to sleep, ignoring the rest of what Bes-Isa said.