15.531.Mental Breakdown

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 531
“Mental Breakdown”

Ai-Reia felt as though she was once again on the path to despair.
She desperately wanted to write down her thoughts in her notebook, but she felt that Zih-Amo would get her hands on it again and read it and tell the whole family of its contents. She felt she could fix Ca-Miela, but for the effects to show it would take a while–and she had no idea if her influence on her baby sister would be vastly outweighed by the influence of her family.
Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei had also reached out to her as friends, but a constant reminder of their limited lifespan was always on her mind whenever she talked to them. It made ,any conversations she had with them unenjoyable, and in the end only served to depress her further when she arrived home from school.
There was no out. No matter how hard she tried, it would always find her. This was how it was even before she had encountered La-Iin. Nothing would ever go her way the way she wanted it to. Her family would never think of her in the same way they thought of her siblings. It was an endless loop that would never cease.
The idea of continuing on the way she was for hundreds of years was maddening. Living was becoming a chore, and she wasn’t quite sure what it was she wanted anymore.
If Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei somehow extended their lifespans, would that fix the problem?
If La-Iin died, would that fix the problem?
Would she recover once Ca-Miela grew up and proved her wrong?
Was it something with her family? Was she waiting for them to reach out to her?
Or was the only option her own death? Perhaps all along it had nothing to do with the fault of the world and it was just her, herself. Whatever monsters lie inside of her manifested themselves in the form of a violent dream, and if that and daydreams of La-Iin’s murder were capable of nagging at her, perhaps the truth was all along that there was no fix for her. It wasn’t as if
Maybe she really was insane, just as she was certain her family thought she was.
Whatever the case, Ai-Reia desperately wanted the night to be over. In the darkness she was left alone with her thoughts which had begun to barrage her with ideas that all along there was no cure to her sadness.

***

“Ai-Reia, aren’t you going to have breakfast?” Her mother asked.
“Hey, Ai-Reia, you don’t look so good. Get enough sleep last night?” Reuf-Bu asked.
“Ai-Reia, you okay? Your clothes are on backwards.” Zih-Amo asked.
Ai-Reia responded to none of them and head outside and on the path to Malicerie. The door opened behind her.
“Ai-Reia! You’re not ready for school yet! Come back inside!”
Her mother’s voice barely registered, but the angered tone hurt Ai-Reia. She continued on in a run, hoping to outrun the voice and make it to school.
Though her mother started to fly after her, she soon noticed that Ai-Reia was in a desperate run, going much faster than she had ever seen her daughter go. She was certain she could catch up with her, but she was momentarily stunned.
What could have happened to Ai-Reia to make her break out in that sort of run?
Ai-Reia continued on the path, her eyes bleary. She couldn’t tell with what, but either way, she continued on, occasionally tripping on the path there. She felt she could hear the sound of wings flapping behind her, but couldn’t tell if there was actually someone flying behind her or if she was just imagining it.
Something told her it was both. Ai-Reia continued on running.
The path to school was filled with students from all four classes as Ai-Reia dashed into the crowd.
“Is that girl okay?” A Class B student asked.
“She seems upset. Maybe we should do something.” Said one from Class C.
“Probably nervous that some boy’s gonna do something to her!” Said a student from Class A.
“Vampiris!” Shuera-Kaizima called. “Vampiris, are you okay?”
“Is everything alright?” Im-Dei asked.
When Ai-Reia closed in on them, the two noticed that her clothes were put on improperly; her shirt was on backwards and so her wings were underneath the fabric, and her skirt was not properly fastened and was slipping down. Her hair didn’t seem to be brushed and her normal wing hair clip was gone. Most notably to them, her face was streaked with tears and she seemed desperate to reach the school as if being pursued. While Shuera-Kaizima chased after her, Im-Dei checked the crowd to see if anyone was pursuing her, and noticed a Vampire woman flying above the crowd.
The woman spotted him and landed next to him.
“Excuse me,” she panted, “have you…did you see a Vampire girl running by?”
“I did.”
“Where did she go?”
“Into the school?”
“Thank you.”
Now on ground, she ran past the crowd. Im-Dei was confused, and hoped that the woman was Ai-Reia’s mother.
Ai-Reia scrambled into the classroom and into a random seat.
“What are you doing?” La-Iin asked as she walked by.
“Are you okay, Vampiris?”
Ai-Reia shrieked. She ducked under the seat.
“…okay…”
“I don’t think Vampiris is okay,” Fer-Shi said. “Did you notice she had her shirt on backwards? The wing-slots were in the front!”
La-Iin peeked under the desk. Ai-Reia was holding her head and shaking slightly.
‘This has nothing to do with her. It’s all because I’m a monster. There’s no escape. I wish I hadn’t been born with this stupid brain!’
“She seems messed up.”
“We should tell one of the faculty members!”
“Who? I don’t think the school faculty has anyone who deals with crazy people.”
“Well, I think anyone on the faculty would call her family to deal with this!” Fer-Shi dashed out the classroom, nearly crashing into other students who were heading in.
Ai-Reia’s strange behavior soon caught the attention of most of the Class D students, who peeked at her under the desk or watched from a distance. Shuera-Kaizima and Im-Dei remained at a distance, both looking horrified at the sight of their friend shaking under the desk.
“…go away…”
“No. This is too amusing.”
Ai-Reia’s eyes widened. She crawled out from under the desk and grabbed onto La-Iin’s shirt. She said nothing further, and La-Iin wondered if she should break from her grip before she reacted any further. The other students watched on in fear and curiosity, wondering what she might do to La-Iin next.
“You really are crazy,” La-Iin sighed. ‘It’s a shame. I could have used this to my advantage.’
Ai-Reia’s grip on her shirt became stronger, and La-Iin flinched, ready to break away, when a Vampire woman walked into the classroom, heading for Ai-Reia. She seemed oblivious to what she was doing and scooped her up, hugging her close.
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?” She asked. Ai-Reia didn’t respond. The woman blinked and looked at La-Iin. “Are you okay?”
La-Iin stared curiously at the Vampire woman, who seemed to lose interest in La-Iin’s response in favor of comforting Ai-Reia, who had started to sob.
While the students were distracted, Xhuzsha walked into the classroom and over to Ai-Reia’s mother. The two conversed for a short while before leaving the classroom. Fer-Shi ran over to La-Iin’s side.
“Did you get Xhuzsha?”
“Mm-hm. He sounded pretty worried when I told him about how she was acting. I hope she’s okay…”
La-Iin felt conflicted about Ai-Reia’s behavior. She chose not to dwell on it and head for her seat.

***

“I hesitate to say whether or not she had a mental breakdown, but it could be possible. Has Ai-Reia been under any particular stress lately, Mrs. Vampiris?”
“I don’t know…” She sighed. “She hasn’t been talking to us much lately…”
“Hm.” Xhuzsha glanced at Ai-Reia, who laid silent on the office’s bed. “We’ll let you take her home for today. I don’t think she’s in any condition to stay at school. I can’t claim to know her stressors and I am not a mental health professional, Mrs. Vampiris, but I did dabble in the subject before focusing on physical health. And even had I not I would recommend finding out if there is something wrong with her. With young children, especially Vampires, it can be hard to tell if it’s an actual mental illness or some other cause, but you should get her checked out regardless.”
Ai-Reia’s mother gave an absent nod. “We will, Mr. Xhuzsha.”
‘Just as I thought. It’s all a problem with me. They think I’m crazy.’
“Ai-Reia, are you okay?”
“Take her home, Mrs. Vampiris. She’ll be better off home than at school forcing herself to manage this.”
Her mother picked her up, waved to Xhuzsha, and left the room.
Ai-Reia couldn’t help but feel deeply embarrassed, and more depressed than she had been feeling just moments before.
‘Everyone witnessed that, didn’t they? Now there is no secret. Everyone knows I’m a monster. There’s no out. But no matter how much I prepared myself, I still wasn’t ready…’

—–
“Oh, the Principal wanted me to relay a message to the students of Class D–Miss Vampiris won’t be joining us for classes for a little while she recovers. We don’t know exactly what’s wrong with her, but she will be staying home for a short while.”
“If Ai-Reia needs to recover from being crazy, then why don’t I get to?” La-Iin grumbled.
“You’re not crazy. And I don’t think Ai-Reia is either, but there’s definitely something wrong with her.”
“Huh. Say whatever you want, Fer-Shi. This is all overblown.”
“You should be more considerate, La-Iin. You wanted Ai-Reia to be your friend.”
“She proved to me that she doesn’t want that in a violent way. I don’t owe her my concern.”
La-Iin still felt conflicted as she left the classroom. Although she genuinely felt no sympathy for Ai-Reia, she did find herself slightly concerned about what had happened.

5.521.Pumpkin Psychology

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 521
“Pumpkin Psychology”

“Hm…”
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I’m not sure how much longer I can stand this,” she said, her eyes narrowing.
“How much longer you can stand what? You’ve been acting kind of weird lately, La-Iin.”
“You say that about me, but there’s someone in this class who has been acting even weirder.”
“Um…San-Kyung? Oh no. Never mind!”
“This behavior of his is nothing like the fire he normally has,” La-Iin said. “And I’m fine with San-Kyung almost all of the time, but this is irritating. At this rate he’ll randomly give up just because of what, being sad?”
“Huh?”
“I understand the place San-Kyung is in because I was just in there. But now I know the truth. It’s time I got through to him, once and for all.”
“Good for you?”
“You don’t need to understand any of it, Fer-Shi. Just know that I know that San-Kyung isn’t acting right and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get his fire back! For that is the San-Kyung I love the most!”
“Miss Cahongyun, SHUT UP!!!”
La-Iin slumped in her seat, but not before raising her middle finger at Mr. Chensu, who failed to notice it.
“La-Iin!”
“What? It’s not like he saw it.”

***

“As soon as San-Kyung gets home, we’ll try everything we can to get through to him,” Salsh-Era said.
“I’ve seen San-Kyung through a lot of points in time, but he seems really bad at this one,” Del-Kyuus sighed. “Even in November he hasn’t seem this sad…”
Salsh-Era grabbed his wife’s hands. “Don’t worry, Kyuusie. We’ve thought long and hard on this. Obviously a professional would never get through to San-Kyung. He’d just try to incinerate them. But even when he hated everyone else in the world, he still loved us. And with that said, what makes you think he won’t hear us out at all? We just have to appeal to what he likes in the world. And that may not be much, but I do know a few things he likes.”
“This has nothing to do with those, um, well…”
“That depends on how desperate the situation gets. But it’s a last resort only, okay!?”
“Okay, Salsh-Era, you don’t need to yell. And you don’t need to keep holding onto my hands, either.”
“Well, I want to take my chances while he’s gone, too…ever since he turned thirteen he’s been getting mad at any little display of affection we show for each other. I want to be able to call you Kyuusie again without getting screamed at.”
“You have right now to be able to do that,” Del-Kyuus said with a smile. Salsh-Era smiled back. “I know I do. And I’m going to take advantage of that as best as possible. But our focus is still on our son. If we can’t break him out of this, who knows what might happen in a few days, a few weeks? We need to keep trying until we succeed.”
“I know. And we will!”
The door opened and Salsh-Era let go of Del-Kyuus’ hands. “Hello there, San-Kyung. How was school today?”
“Why do you care?” He asked. “It was the same as always.”
“I wonder sometimes if we should have sent you to a different school. It feels like a lot of your potential is being wasted at Malicerie.”
“Yeah, San-Kyung. You know, we’re really proud of you for getting the grades you have.”
San-Kyung scratched at his head. “I just study so I won’t get yelled at.”
“Well, it’s definitely paid off.”
“I think you might even be smarter than me!” Del-Kyuus giggled.
“What’s with all the sudden compliments?”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus froze. “U-uh, we had nothing to do while you were gone, so our minds just went to the first thing there was to think about, ha ha…”
“Speaking of, San-Kyung, is there anything you’d like to do today? We could go levitating around downtown, and have lots of tasty–”
Del-Kyuus stopped herself when she noticed the dark expression on San-Kyung’s face. “You two can do whatever you want. I won’t get in your way.”
He head off to his bedroom and closed the door.
“Well, that didn’t work,” Salsh-Era sighed.
“I had a bad feeling it wouldn’t be that easy. But that’s alright! We promised we would find a way to cheer him up, and we’re not going to stop here.”
“Yeah, I guess when he’s feeling down, mentioning levitation wasn’t the best idea.”
Del-Kyuus lowered her head. “B-but it’s alright! You were just trying to be kind, and your intentions mean more than what you said. We’ll get through to him, we have to!”
“You’re right, we have to, but I think we’d be best off bringing out the big guns.”
“Aren’t you the one who was worried about doing that!?”
“I was, but what you said made me think. San-Kyung seems to be in a bad place right now because something’s bothering him mentally. So perhaps if we have him do the things that make him feel in a good place mentally, we’ll get through to him that way!”
“Or distract him from the thoughts in his mind…you’re right, Del-Kyuus! That might just work. And I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to carry it through!”

San-Kyung laid down in his bed, his mood still stuck in the negative. He felt as though he should be getting up, at least heading off to Hledshess to wreak some havoc, before he remembered the recent incident and the dangers he might face if he did so. He contemplated calling Dosa-Mina, but figured he would be better off dealing with a problem he had away from the company of someone in as bad a mood as he was. He considered practicing his powers outside his house, but all he remembered was just how limited they were.
‘Just like my thoughts. Stupid and limited…’
“San-Kyung, dear?” Del-Kyuus’ voice and the creak of his bedroom door snapped him out of his self-deprecating thoughts.
“Sorry to bother you, San-Kyung, but we wanted to show you a little something.”
“What?”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus glanced at each other. “We think that you aren’t doing enough with your time! So we want to give you a special task to distract you!”
“…”
“See this book? We picked it up from the bookstore and when we noticed there was a warning for violence on the cover, we thought it might suit you. We want for you to read this book, then act out for us the violent scenes in it.”
“We’re going to go and buy some fake blood packs and a plush body so you can show it to us in all its gory detail!”
“And that’s not all. We want you to message Dosa-Mina with your blunt opinion on him and his affection. Blunt, and honest. See how he responds, then maybe let him show you a little more affection, alright?”
“And one other thing, San-Kyung? We want you to think long and hard on the things that are important to you, and the things that don’t matter. We want you to write them down, look them over and think even more. Don’t think too long, or you’ll burn yourself out, but think as long and hard as you can manage. Then when you’ve finished doing that, do something else like build up some muscle outside!”
“Why are you making me do all this?”
“Just figured you need something to do, and we’ve been pretty passive lately in letting you do what you want. But if you aren’t going to do what you want, then we’re going to give you something to do. We’re off now, but make sure to read that book, send that message and think, think, think!”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus left the room, and San-Kyung heard Del-Kyuus giggle. He stared at the book, its cover adorned with a female Narwhaltae running away from a Demon-winged shadow, blood spatter behind them both. It looked utterly ridiculous, but he felt he recognized the title from somewhere.
“This isn’t…” He shook his head. “No, they don’t know about that, do they?”
He was reluctant to follow through on what his parents asked of him, especially since some of it sounded so ridiculous. But they were right: he truly did have nothing better to do. San-Kyung opened the book and relaxed in his bed, scoffing at the cheesy opening line.

***

I was asked to write this message to you by my parents. Don’t get on my case if it sounds stupid.
As far as I what I think of you: you are my only best friend, and I trust you probably even more than I trust my parents. Don’t tell them that, though. But you’re too secretive. You can be annoying sometimes, but it’s forgivable. And it’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like now if I had continued hating you back in Elementary school.
They also asked me to write about this as well. Your affection can be f@%king annoying sometimes! Especially when you do stupid stuff like kiss me or squeeze me so hard I feel like I’m going to die. But I don’t mind all of it, I suppose. If you stopped being affectionate I think it would seem weird. So don’t stop doing it, but for the love of specites don’t do stuff that makes us seem like we’re a couple!
Sorry to send you the random message, but my parents insisted and I had nothing better to do. So there you go. They want you to respond, but respond if you want to.

San-Kyung sighed. ‘That’s two things down. It’s been two hours and they aren’t back yet. Probably got sidetracked by Dad calling Mom Kyuusie…’
The last project they had asked him to do he was dreading, and he chided himself for not getting it out of the way first. Regardless he pulled a piece of paper out of an empty notebook and began to write his thoughts down.

My parents and Dosa-Mina: because they are the only people who matter in this world.
World domination: because paying back the world and its people will be so satisfying.
My true form: because that is who I truly am, with all my powers and my true appearance.
My powers: because without them I would lack a lot of capability.

After those four he felt stuck at a halt, but eventually more came to him.

La-Iin: necessary for my plans.
Hledshess Street: see above.
Certain books: reason not specified here.
Studying: learning more about the world and such gives me a better understanding of things, which I need.
Freedom: without it I would go mad from having nothing of worth in this world.
Smarts: without them I would be at a loss and unable to plan in the way I do. These have served me well.
Love: mostly worthless but helped me garner more strength. Also helped me to develop:
Ability of detachment: because you never know when someone will betray you.
October: without it I would never have true power or my true form at any point in time.

Once he turned over the paper, he began to write furiously.

The world: does nothing to protect itself.
People: two-faced assholes.
Sanyaow Lirako: major obstacle and annoyance.
Goodness: empty goal that nobody seems to truthfully pursue. (Exception: parents.)
Police: terrifying to someone like me. (Immature, I realize.)
November: torture device masquerading as a month.

San-Kyung took a breath and looked at the paper. He stashed it away inside a book, then glanced back at the small shelf of books.
‘It’s out of place! They couldn’t have…could they?’ Glancing back at the book he just read, he wasn’t sure.
He decided to take his mind off of it and see if Dosa-Mina had responded.

I owe your parents a favor if they made you write this! Thanks, San-Kyung. I haven’t been in a good mood lately so it was nice to see this! No guarantees I’ll stop being ‘annoyingly affectionate’ as you put it, though~

San-Kyung chuckled to himself. ‘Maybe my parents didn’t have too bad of an idea. I guess it’s better than laying in bed all day.’

***

When his parents arrived home with the body plush and the fake blood packets, San-Kyung instantly went to work recreating the book’s violence as best as he could, though he faced some limitations due to his species his parents still seemed impressed, that and shocked. San-Kyung felt slightly exhilarated once the whole ordeal was over.
“Now, we know you don’t eat often, but we also remember that one time you did eat, you liked this,” Del-Kyuus said. She set on the table a platter of animal organs.
“…you guys are trying too hard.”
“Maybe we are, but hey, seeing you destroy that body plush is a lot better than seeing you lie in bed all day.”
“I guess.” He started to eat the animal organ platter. Seeing his parents’ smiles, he was almost tempted to smile himself.

***

Darkness had covered the small neighborhood, and most houses had all their lights out for the night. In the midst of all this, a small shadow walked over to the Molshei house and opened one of the windows.
She moved quietly through the house, over to San-Kyung’s bedroom, and took a close look at him.
“San-Kyung?”
San-Kyung grumbled in his sleep.
“It’s a shame I missed seeing you awake. But I bet if you were awake, you’d appreciate what I did to get here. Sooner or later, I’ll make you feel a lot better than you have been recently.”
La-Iin’s heart thud hard in her chest at the idea that San-Kyung might wake, but when he didn’t, she continued on. “Someday I know you’ll achieve world domination, San-Kyung. And if you still can’t be in your true form, you can still help me out.”
“Stupid…” He mumbled. La-Iin blinked. She couldn’t tell if she was imagining things but it almost looked as if San-Kyung was smiling.
With a smile of her own, she kissed him on the forehead before leaving the house.

—–
“Why is this window open? Didn’t we close it?”
“Did you open a window last night, San-Kyung?”
“I didn’t…” His face paled. “No, that was just a dream, right? I didn’t actually hear her…”
“San-Kyung?”
San-Kyung’s eyes rolled into his head. His parents gasped and reached out to catch him.

4.520.Contemplation and Consideration

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 520
“Contemplation and Consideration”

“I gave you those nightmares.”
“I wanted to prevent what happens in your nightmares from happening again.”

Those two sentences had been repeating on a constant loop within Dosa-Mina’s mind ever since Sunday, and still he felt he couldn’t make sense of the situation at all. Each time he tried to think of some sort of reasonable conclusion, he fell short.
On one hand, it was incredibly likely that Kkumneok was a creation of his mind. On another, what he had said about visiting San-Kyung’s dream, and that San-Kyung had dreamed someone similar to him at all, rose many questions.
On one hand, it seemed improbable that someone from wherever Kkumneok was, be it another time or the future, could exist at all–even with the absurdities of a Witch’s powers existing in the world, it simply made no sense. On the other hand, the events were so clear in his dream that he almost felt like he himself were living through them. Some nights he could barely tell he was in the midst of a nightmare.
No matter what kind of sense he tried to make of it, it didn’t seem to make any, and slowly he was feeling as though he was being driven mad. He felt terrible for focusing so much time on the subject–he could tell his parents were more than a little curious about the way he had been acting recently–especially when San-Kyung had an immediate issue that he knew he should attend to. His time was better spent, and more enjoyably spent, searching for another way or at least a certainty that transforming permanently was absolutely and undeniably impossible.
Though with the state San-Kyung’s mind was in, he strongly hoped against the latter.
The state of his friend’s mind and Kkumneok’s words had stirred within him another concern. If perhaps all of what he said was true, and there was some reasonable explanation–perhaps if he came from the future, there Witches and Warlocks had discovered time travel, he certainly wouldn’t put it past them–wasn’t it also possible that preventing the future was impossible? All that made him consider otherwise was the nightmares he had of La-Iin’s death.
Who exactly was Kkumneok that he discovered such a way to talk to people in dreams, that he knew where to find him? Even if he met with Kkumneok in a dream again, he doubted that question of his would ever be answered.
Whatever the answer to all of these questions was, Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure he was ready for them or would particularly care to hear them. Already skeptic as he was, he had near wanted to strangle Kkumneok when he had said that he was the one who gave him his nightmares.
What was the truth in all of this? And how exactly could he find out what it was?

***

“Rival-boy, you look constipated,” La-Iin said.
“Are you alright, Dosa-Mina?” Fer-Shi asked.
“Like, this is weird. I don’t think he’s smiled for like, days now,” Airy-Aekok said.
“He’s barely smiled all this week, and he hasn’t latched on to San-Kyung once. Although that’s happened before in the past.” Lirako told her.
“I hope he’s alright.” Deki-Tyunri said.
Hearing all those students commenting on him made him want to leave the classroom right then, but he pushed down the feeling. It would only make them comment further, he knew. He glanced at San-Kyung. San-Kyung’s head was bowed and his eyes looked empty. If Dosa-Mina hadn’t been used to him making similar expressions recently, he would have been concerned.
‘The two of us sure do have a lot in common,’ he thought. ‘We both have issues with our true forms, and we’re both like this now…’
He was even more concerned about San-Kyung. This kind of behavior only reminded him of the way he acted in his nightmares–and that, in turn, reminded him of what Kkumneok had told him. It brought another thought to mind–perhaps, by meddling in the affairs of a place he didn’t belong in, Kkumneok would only cause the tragedy that happened wherever he came from to happen earlier than it was supposed to, if the tragedy had really happened at all.
The mere thought of it was enough to prompt him to unconsciously squeeze San-Kyung’s hand, and though San-Kyung shot a glance in his direction, he barely noticed it. Even if it was some sort of imagination, he still had to try his best to help San-Kyung. That much he was certain of.
“Geez, I guess some things don’t change no matter how sad they are,” Lirako sighed.
“What do you mean by that?” Asked Deki-Tyunri. Lirako pointed at the two’s hands. Deki-Tyunri lowered his head.
“Come on, Deks, you know not to get upset by that. Dosa-Mina does it all the time even if San-Kyung protests. And I think he’s too sad to protest him doing that right now.”
“Do you think I should try approaching him? I was considering it, but I…”
Lirako shook her head. “I’d love to say yes, Deki-Tyunri, but my guess is he’ll either get mad at you or it won’t matter that you went up to him because he’ll pretend you don’t exist.”
Deki-Tyunri sighed. “And I’d love to argue against that, but you’re probably right…”

***

When Dosa-Mina went to bed that night, it seemed as if a nightmare had started immediately–or rather, several of them. All around him there were square screens reflecting various events–San-Kyung’s depression, several times over. The hopelessness that Dosa-Mina felt. One happy event that was compounded by San-Kyung breaking out in tears, and their respective suicides, along with La-Iin’s.
The setup of it was enough to prompt him to call for Kkumneok, but the strange boy never arrived, and the scenery around him didn’t change. Dosa-Mina reached out to touch one of the strange screens, wondering if there was some way to turn them off and destroy the cacophony of so many tragedies occurring around him, but when he touched the one that depicted La-Iin’s suicide, it merely surrounded him and made him relive that same nightmare. On the sight of La-Iin’s suicide, as her blood started to drain, the dream began to disappear and all around him seemed to be sights comprised of the other nightmares once again and actual events from his life, both happy and sad.
As soon as Dosa-Mina woke up, he didn’t take the time to try and fight off the urge to harm himself. He simply reached for the small knife and cut several times at his scars. Once he was done he felt briefly concerned, wondering if he had cut enough to make him bleed as badly as he did in the nightmare, but when he checked the flow of blood it didn’t seem to be nearly as much as he had expected.
He felt terrible and confused. San-Kyung was falling into a depression, he didn’t know whether or not to believe Kkumneok–and either way, an explanation for why exactly that incident had happened–he had Lirako and Airy-Aekok pursuing his true species, and he was bleeding from cut wounds he had inflicted himself, cut wounds that San-Kyung already knew existed.
His own life felt as though it was on a downward spiral as well. And recovering it seemed near-impossible at the point he was at. He felt as though he should try, but he was exhausted. He rubbed a particularly sharp wound with the underside of his blanket to slow the bleeding, then lay back down, unconcerned of whether he was going to have a nightmare again or not. Whichever happened it certainly wasn’t going to affect him all that much, or at least not any more than he was already affected.
As he drifted off, he found one slightly disturbing thought crossing his mind–one that wished his and San-Kyung’s parents would die so that they could have an excuse to end themselves already.

—–
“Elai-Riya, I don’t think Dosa-Mina will be all that happy if you’re ransacking his room,” Orlin-Aesth said.
“He won’t be able to tell. See? I’m putting everything back as it was before. Dosa-Mina has an annoying habit of not telling me when he’s taken something for general usage.”
“You could just ask him when he gets back, you know.”
“I need it now! Oh, maybe he’s hiding it on his bed.”
As she lifted up his blanket, she was startled to see what looked like traces of blood.
“Orlin-Aesth, has Dosa-Mina hurt himself recently? You know, come home with a bloody knee or something like that?”
“No, he’s been fine as far as I’ve seen. Why?”
“Does that look like blood to you?”
Orlin-Aesth walked over to the blanket and sniffed at the spot. “It smells like his blood to me.”
Elai-Riya stared at it, concerned.
“He probably just hurt himself a little bit and got it on the blanket. We can ask him when he gets back.”
“I suppose so.”
Something in Elai-Riya told her that getting a clear answer from Dosa-Mina would be nigh impossible, but when he came home she broached the subject anyway.
“I did get a small injury the other day, but it wasn’t bleeding much. I guess it must have still been bleeding when I went to bed.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I’m not little anymore, Mom. I was able to take care of it. Though I guess not as well as I thought. Can I go now?”
Elai-Riya noticed, when she looked quickly, that Dosa-Mina’s hands seemed to be shaking. She was tempted to question him further, but the look in Dosa-Mina’s eyes told her that if he was hiding something, she wouldn’t get an answer anytime soon.
‘Still, what could he have been doing to get that injury if he’s worried about telling me?’
“You can go,” she sighed. Dosa-Mina smiled and head off.
‘If I can’t get through to him directly, there’s always the sneaky way,’ she reminded herself. Just the mere thought of tricking her son into talking made her feel terrible, but she felt it was her only way.

1.517.Rapid Deterioration

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 517
“Rapid Deterioration”

Ever since the day he had read the paper which told him his goal as it was right now was impossible, the subject had not left San-Kyung’s mind for even one day. He might be able to avoid it for a short while, but it would always come back to haunt him, the reality that the goal he had been striving for was either impossible or could only be obtained by a method he had no idea existed.
The first few days had been horrible. He felt as if he lacked the energy for anything, and he knew how ridiculous it was. He had lived fifteen years of life in this way, his true form only ever arriving on Halloween, and now he was living out his sixteenth. But along the way he had built up a hope, and now thinking back on that the sight of his current form staring back at him in the mirror made him wince.
When Dosa-Mina had taken him to Hledshess, he had for the first time since that day felt even slightly better, but it wasn’t a permanent solution. Every day since then he had forced himself to use his powers until he felt over-exerted, because the feeling was much better than being reminded of what every single November for the rest of his life would be like.
He was sure his behavior was concerning his parents, and knew for certain it was concerning Dosa-Mina, but he could barely find it in him to care.
“San-Kyung, are you sure you’re alright? You’ve barely been drinking anything lately.”
“I’m fine.”
“You don’t sound fine,” Del-Kyuus said. “Please, San-Kyung. If there’s anything we can do to help, we want to help you! So please, let us, alright?”
“The only way you could have helped me was if you had waited to conceive me until I would have been born in October.” He couldn’t muster the will to snap at his parents, but the expressions they made might as well have been in reaction to him doing such a thing. “But you either didn’t know or didn’t care.”
“San-Kyung, I…we’re sorry,” Del-Kyuus said. “We really wanted a child. But we had no way of knowing you’d turn out like this. For all we knew, you could have loved being Aesthetically Normal. There’s no real way to know that sort of thing.”
“As if it isn’t common sense for Animated Pumpkins to have their children in October…” San-Kyung stood up from his seat. “I’m not going to fight with you two, but my problem isn’t something you could help with unless you went back in time.”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus gave each other concerned glances, but San-Kyung didn’t notice. It was another day he had to force himself to go to school, and it was every bit as disheartening as the other days he needed to do so.

***

As soon as school had ended, San-Kyung took his leave and head off, ahead of Dosa-Mina, towards Hledshess. Already his hands itched with the urge to use one of his powers. He scratched lightly at his palms almost the entire way there.
He checked behind himself to make sure Dosa-Mina wasn’t following him. His earlier curiosity returned as he thought back on Dosa-Mina’s strange demeanor earlier that day. He had seemed somewhat distracted and disoriented, as if something had been weighing on his mind. San-Kyung was curious to ask about it, but kept himself from doing so. It wasn’t a given that Dosa-Mina would tell him what it was, anyway.
Hledshess seemed as a ghost town as it normally did, so San-Kyung started off raising vines from the ground. Already he felt soothed watching them rise and tangle into creative shapes.
‘But it’s always this same thing.’ The vines began to tangle into knots, San-Kyung’s hands balling into fists. ‘My powers are too limited to be of much use for long. Even if I took over the world, I’d need some sort of supplement. To cover for November. To cover for my lacking powers. And what else do I have to do in life if I can’t destroy this world? Absolutely nothing. Living for me has been entirely pointless.’
Tears welled in his eyes and blurred his vision. ‘Damn it, I wish I could die!’ The memory of his pact with Dosa-Mina chased away thoughts of ending himself early, but it didn’t send away the feeling. He was filled with self-loathing and a sense of worthlessness, and too lost in those emotions he noticed not that he was tangling his vines, nor the people who were starting to approach him from behind.
“We’ve got you!” One exclaimed as he held San-Kyung’s hands behind his back. San-Kyung struggled against his grip. “So, thought you could go on terrorizing Hledshess, huh? Well, you’ve got another thing coming! We of Hledshess aren’t going to back down any longer. We aren’t the weaklings we once were. And you’re all on your own.”
People began to surround him, and at once he realized the weight of the situation he was currently in. His face was mostly visible, and he was surrounded by a crowd consisting of a large portion of non-Normals, his hands held behind his back. These people had a renewed determination, and they looked ready either to fight him or to report him to police. Whether Hledshess’ police force or Bledger’s in general, it was a terrifying idea to have to face them.
For that moment he put aside his self-loathing and struck his hands in a desperate attempt to flee from the crowd. The man holding his wrists let go, but the crowd was in hot pursuit. He kept his hands lit as he built vine walls to try and keep them from reaching him, but again it all reminded him of just how limited his powers were. He could only keep going the way he was for a short while longer.
Already residents of Hledshess were breaking through his vine shields. They tore at them and lunged for him. He fired off seed bombs, but aside from a momentary startle, it didn’t faze the crowd. Nothing he could do would dissuade them now–and even if he managed to escape, they likely had his face by now. He would be reported to police, and it would all be over. Stuck in a jail cell along with strangers he didn’t know nor cared about, earning the pity of his parents…
It was all too much for him to take. He struck a deep wound into his left palm and outstretched it towards the crowd. A flamethrower burst forth and engulfed the crowd as far as he could see, along with the vines that still stood around them. Immediately after he pulled off the action, San-Kyung ran away, head past the small lake in the forest near Hledshess, and checked his hand wound. It was bleeding profusely, so he covered it in water to try and clean it off.
It was all over for him now. What could the future hold for someone like him? As he continued to clean the injury, the tears welled in his eyes once again and blurred over his vision.
It was truly pathetic, the state he was in now. In the past, he felt he would have been able to deal with the pain of the truth and move past it. But now he wasn’t sure what path he was on, and he felt as though he had made some sort of grave mistake, coming to Hledshess.
He wasn’t happy anymore. He constantly reminded himself of his parents and Dosa-Mina as incentive to try and move past this point he was at. And at one point during these thoughts, even La-Iin crossed his mind.

—–
“San-Kyung, how did you get injured like this?”
“I was practicing my powers,” he said dryly. “That one can injure you, you should know that. All the fire powers injure you.”
“You shouldn’t use that so recklessly, San-Kyung,” Salsh-Era scolded. “That should be for emergencies only. Your normal fire power works just fine and doesn’t hurt you this much for anything you might need fire for.”
“It’s the most powerful thing I can use right now. Of course I want to use this.”
“Is this the same hand you injured last year in the Malicerie incident? I suppose you at least didn’t pull off most of your palm this time, but I agree with your father. Don’t be so reckless with that flamethrower.” Del-Kyuus stared San-Kyung in the eyes. “Really, San-Kyung, are you alright? You’ve seemed so depressed lately. I’m worried about you. Please, tell us if there’s anything going on.”
“We know how you are already. If it has to do with that, you know we won’t judge you. We’ll hear you out, so please don’t suffer like this alone. If you don’t want to talk with us, at least talk to Dosa-Mina.”
San-Kyung remained silent as Del-Kyuus finished patching up his hand, and stayed that way as he head off to his room. Staring at his night desk, after a few moments of deliberation he opted to call Dosa-Mina.
“Hello, this is Dosa-Mina, and I know that’s you, San-Kyung. What’s going on?”
“I…” For a moment, San-Kyung contemplated letting out all his problems to Dosa-Mina right then and there, but he quickly reminded himself that Dosa-Mina not only had his own problems, but he doubted he would appreciate being told that his best friend wanted to die far earlier than they had planned.
Just as usual, there was no other option for him.
“Er…”
“Yes?”
“Just…wanted to say hello,” he said.
“Are you alright, San-Kyung? You sound more drained than you have these past few days. Is everything okay?”
“It’s fine. A-anything going on with you?”
Just as earlier, San-Kyung felt completely and utterly pathetic, but he knew there was nothing he could do about it now. No matter how hard he tried or how much he resisted it, this sadness was likely to stay, and he would have to figure out how to live with it.
If he could stay that way for much longer.

30.515.Darkness Swallows You

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 515
“Darkness Swallows You”

La-Iin had always known that her reputation within Malicerie Public School had not been a positive one, and had enjoyed that. She knew that she had worsened that opinion when she sucked San-Kyung’s blood in the school hallway in front of so many students, and had been fine with that. It garnered her some unwanted attention, but she was happy to feed off of the negativity and fear of other students. It made her feel as though she had control over the school.
But as the school week progressed, she had begun to feel as though her power over the students was diminishing. The Principal seemed to be breathing down her neck, always watching her for even the slightest sign of a misstep and being wary of every rumor she was fed. The students spread ridiculous rumors and seemed to become defensive around her, and she had barely talked to any of her friends–San-Kyung seemed reluctant to say anything to anyone and Fer-Shi had deliberately avoided her up until yesterday. Only Shuu-Kena had bothered talking to her, but as far as La-Iin was concerned that was the same as talking to nobody.
She felt as if the power she had garnered from gaining her blood power was now facing a powerful opposition–the people who would now be wary of her as a result of what she had done to San-Kyung. Her power high had ended almost as soon as it had started, and she was left to be frustrated. If the students became defensive, it wasn’t just Ai-Reia she might have to worry about in the future–it was an entire resistance of people who now knew she was dangerous.
On the last day of school that week, she had finally snapped.
“You all think this will protect you, spreading rumors like this. But nothing will. All the powers you have are powers I have, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me, not a single damn thing!”
It had taken all her resistance to keep from doing anything further than yelling, but it had already done enough. After her last class, La-Iin paid another visit to the Principal, and then listened to the crowd chatter about her as she head back home with Fer-Shi by her side.
“Don’t worry, La-Iin. I’m sure all of this will die down. Remember how everyone was talking about San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina after they had just come to the school, and how everyone wouldn’t stop talking about Saoning and Kerushao last year? Don’t worry, I’m sure this’ll blow over!”
‘Even if it does, the damage has already been done,’ thought La-Iin, though she couldn’t bring herself to speak those thoughts. ‘I figured I would only have to re-plan strategies to accommodate for my new power. Now I have to re-plan strategies to accommodate for a potential resistance.’
She tried to remind herself that the possibility had always existed and she should have prepare for it in any event, but it did nothing to lessen her anger and helplessness. At that moment, La-Iin knew that if she could have her way, each and every one of the students who dared to spread rumors about her would have sustained a severe injury at that moment.

***

“La-Iin, are you alright? You look a little down.”
Mit-Sun’s question at dinner time brought her feelings of helplessness back to the surface and in full force. She glared at Mit-Sun without a response.
“Sorry, sorry! I just wanted to know if something happened at school. You know, with each day that passed this week you looked more upset when you came back home. Don’t think I didn’t notice. I’m worried.”
“Well, stop being worried. I can handle my problems myself. But this is one problem even I’m stopped on. So what makes you think you’d be able to help!?”
Mit-Sun’s expression became one of surprise. “I don’t know what has you so angry, but you don’t need to take it out on me, alright?”
“I’ve had to bottle up my rage all day, Mama. My letting it out at you isn’t anything personal, but you seem to want to make it that way.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “La-Iin, when you’ve started to cheer up a bit, come back to talk to me.”
“Hmph. For someone who wanted to improve my opinion of her, you’re being awfully lazy when it comes to trying.”
“I was trying! I asked you if you were alright! But I can’t help you if I don’t know what the problem is!”
“It isn’t something you would ever care about, Mama! Even if I told you and you really truly wanted to help, there would be nothing you could do and you would probably just make it worse! So just shut up and leave me alone!”
La-Iin sunk back into her seat and scarfed down the rest of her dinner. Mit-Sun’s expression gradually changed from one of fury to one of concern.
“Y–you know, La-Iin, you can talk to me anytime you need to, right? I’m always here for you.”
“Huh. Yeah right. Don’t bother, Mama. If I can’t even overcome this problem on my own, then I don’t need to be having this problem in the first place. I’m going to bed.”
As she head upstairs, La-Iin felt as though a dark cloud were hanging over her. ‘Bes-Isa told me I should aim lower. But where’s the advantage in that? That’s basically nothing to strive for. It’s nothing to me.’

***

A swarm of Malicerie students watched her on all sides, seemingly waiting for the moment she made a wrong move so they could retaliate. La-Iin herself sat on a chair in the middle of this circle, making absolutely no move.
Avian students flew above the crowd, watching her with a close eye, but the students on the ground seemed even more prepared–some of them seemed ready to take her down personally. Weapons were prepared, students practiced their powers. It was a thorough resistance, and they were giving her one chance to reform, or otherwise rebel and face the might of so many people.
It drove La-Iin mad. If she had ultimate power, none of this would be a problem. Even the blood power or her flight or transformation was not enough to save her now. But if her power had been supreme, she would be able to take them all out.
There was nothing she could do. It built up her rage until she was seething and could no longer hold herself back. She bit into her arm with a force that made her wince in pain for the first time in a long while. That seemed to be incentive enough for the students around her, who swarmed her immediately. But she was able to break through with the force of her power, flying high above the other students.
It wasn’t as if these people deserved any form of salvation. La-Iin felt it in her heart–even if she was as good as could be and had never wanted world domination, she knew that this would have pushed her over the edge. It was all too much, this feeling of powerlessness. Power was hers; power NEEDED to be hers. Without power, all her dreams of ruling the world would go to waste and be buried by people who sought to oppose her, leaving her empty and worthless. It didn’t matter what stood in her way, the true measure of her strength would come from whether or not she could succeed even with so much opposition in her way. And in her heart, La-Iin felt certain she could so long as she kept pushing forward and making active progress.
La-Iin began to soar in an arc around the students before tossing them all off balance with the quickest flight she had ever managed.
Power and the world could be hers. She had the power, the potential, and the drive. And all the time in the world to figure out the perfect way to do it.

When La-Iin woke up, she felt a renewed sense of purpose.
‘That’s right. I shouldn’t have let myself get down. I have the power. No resistance can stand in my way. I’ll use this power to the best of my ability. I’ll find out a new way for San-Kyung to transform like he wants to. I have the drive and willpower! I will rule the world!’
It was far earlier than she should normally be awake, but La-Iin felt too energized to attempt going back to sleep. Instead she plotted and planned revenge for the students, new ways to utilize her power and to rule the world, and even small tasks she could do that would assist in bringing the world to its ruin.
The dark cloud that had been hanging over her felt as though it had finally lessened. Now, instead of serving to remind her of how her evil would ultimately be pointless, it was under her command and was helping her plot her plans for world domination.

—–
“I’m sorry to come over so suddenly, La-Iin. But I wanted to make sure you’re alright. I’m really, really sorry for not talking to you all this time.”
“It doesn’t matter, Fer-Shi. I think I needed that rough patch to remind me of something very important. All these difficulties I will use to my advantage.”
“Well, um, I guess I’m glad you’re happy now?”
“I wouldn’t care even if you weren’t. I know now what I must do. This darkness swallowing me–I’ll change this darkness that wants to turn me away into a darkness that serves me as a loyal slave in my plans of world domination!”
La-Iin gave a wicked cackle, and Fer-Shi took a few steps backwards. La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. “Is that hotteok?”
“Um, yes!”
“Give me.”
Fer-Shi grinned. She set the hotteok down on the coffee table and began to share them with La-Iin.

4.489.Ai Horror

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 489
“Ai Horror”

“I’m home!” Zih-Amo announced.
“Welcome home, Zih-Amo,” her mother said. “Did you have a good day at school…?”
“Mm-hm, it was good enough. But I think my classmates take school way too seriously. I know we need to take it seriously, but there should be some sort of cap for just how serious that seriousness is!”
Her mother chuckled. “Well, go ahead and get comfortable now, Zih-Amo. And again, welcome back…”
Zih-Amo head off to her room to unpack her school supplies when out the corner of her eye she caught sight of Ca-Miela, playing with something in Ai-Reia’s room.
“Hey, Ca-Miela!” She called, running into the room and swiftly picking her up. Ca-Miela looked up at her, her expression one of confusion.
“You can’t play around in Ai-Reia’s room. She’s already mad at you enough. You don’t want to make her angrier, do you?”
Ca-Miela still looked confused. Zih-Amo sighed. “You should go and play with your own toys. Ai-Reia’s toys wouldn’t even be safe for you!”
Before she put down Ca-Miela, Zih-Amo noticed that a notebook was sitting open on Ai-Reia’s bed. After she put down her sister, her curiosity got the better of her and she peeked at the page the book was open to.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2015

“It’s dated today?” She said aloud. ‘I wonder what this is. Is it a diary?’ She gasped. ‘If it’s a diary, I really shouldn’t look. But, hm, I wonder what kind of stuff Ai-Reia would write in her diary?’
Though she knew of her sister’s stresses, she couldn’t imagine her diary being filled with anything but a summary of the day and perhaps a few tidbits of information. The curiosity was overwhelming.
‘Ah, it can’t be anything big. Just a peek and Ai-Reia won’t even know I looked.’
She felt guilty, but her curiosity got the better of her and she opened the diary to the first page.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

The dilemma that I, Vampiris Ai-Reia am facing right now has gotten to the point where I don’t know how to handle myself better. For the purposes of figuring that out I am going to write the following problems I have had since I entered Malicerie almost one year ago.
-A student at my new school, named Cahongyun La-Iin, became my stalker almost immediately after I entered. She would follow me about silently and mock me. It still confuses me to this day why she decided on ME particularly, aside from her explanation as to her needing another Vampire to help her rule the world in order to stave off loneliness. As if that isn’t the biggest load of bullshit! We have fought since then and it is her stalking of me, and continued mistreatment and vaguery around me, that has led to me having violent thoughts and various issues. Once recently I had a dream in which she destroyed Bledger; in response I murdered her in a brutal way. This will be the focus of a subject I will get to later.
-The birth of my younger sister Ca-Miela. That little brat has potential, but my family utterly spoils her as opposed to how they treated me. For a comparison, my smarts they attempted to hide out of fear of what response the public would have, seeing as I set a new world record for the youngest known Pureblood Vampire child prodigy–an astounding accomplishment for a Vampire in single digits. Meanwhile, Ca-Miela gets all that she needs and more. I have no doubt that if she showed smarts tomorrow, it would be encouraged by family. Perhaps because they’ve dealt with me before? Maybe they love her more? I wouldn’t know the answer because I don’t think it’s likely to happen, though I have doubted my own certainties before….in any event, my negative opinion and half-attempts to show Ca-Miela life isn’t all good have been failures and have strained my relationship with my family somewhat, all close members of it. To this day even though we get along much as we used to, I feel things are not the same as they were before any of these Ca-Miela events happened.
-The nightmare I mentioned above–the nightmare in which I brutally murdered my hated enemy La-Iin. That night made me feel like a monster, and I realized something from it. There is some part inside of me, though I’m unaware of what, that truly embodies that monstrous personality. I don’t know if it’s a manifestation of my hatred for La-Iin, a manifestation of my frustration, some sort of hurdle…or perhaps, who I really am? I struggle with that thought and this is one of my strongest reasonings for creating this diary.
I’m hoping to figure out potential solutions for my problems in life or at least explanations for what is going on. Perhaps I really can change Ca-Miela, divert her away from the spoiled persona I’m almost certain she’ll develop at this point. Perhaps I will be free of La-Iin someday, whether by her death, her or my transferring schools or some other means, or she will change and will no longer be one of my problems. Perhaps this ‘monster’ is something imagined. But I will not rest until I find out the truth. As a note to myself on how effective I believe this treatment will be–I feel already more positive just writing down my issues for myself to see.

Zih-Amo was stunned by the diary entry. ‘I had no idea Ai-Reia felt like this.’ Her reluctance to search her diary abandoned, she began to flip through further pages.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Today I’ve only been reminded how much I despise the month of April. I can’t wait until this month passes. All the strongest memories I have from this month are bad ones. Just it being this month is making me furious, and it’s giving me more reason to feel there is some credence to my theory of that monster being part of my personality. Who else would get so irrationally angry at it being a certain month? And yet, still, I don’t want to believe that…

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Today I had a talk with my enemy’s close friend, Sanhuun Fer-Shi. Their friendship completely and utterly baffles me. I give no credence to that sham of a morality scale that people choose to prescribe themselves by, but if you truly do wish to believe in it, then why befriend people whose morals do not align with yours? If you believe in the goodness of people, and want the world to improve, why would you call someone who wishes to take it over and destroy it your best friend? She is a young child as I am, though, so perhaps that explains some of it. She’s smart enough and perhaps she will realize later on that she shouldn’t be friends with such a monster.
That talk made me think on something else as well. I fear my inner monster, but perhaps it’s a manifestation of my unstable powers. I’ve learned in school that some major powers can cause changes in one’s mind for the duration of its use that can be unhealthy for the user’s mental health. Perhaps my early development of my bat transformation power is the reason I believe in that monster. It’s a comforting thought to me–both because it means it’s something I could get a hold on, and because it completely absolves me of anything I might do to La-Iin while in that mindset…I truly mean that except in cases of self-defense or the defense of the people around me I would not harm La-Iin while within my right mind. But I cannot vouch for my wrong mind, and in such a case nobody can blame me. I would hold SOME regret over doing such a thing…but if I’m telling the truth, it really wouldn’t be much.

Thursday, April 9th, 2015

An encounter with a man who used to go to my school has me thinking. There’s another problem I have in life. I feel alienated and alone at times because my family will jump to Ca-Miela’s defense–their excuse being that ‘she’s just a baby’ while they ignore their damaging smothering of her–and do not understand me. They believe I am truly and genuinely insane at all moments and capable of snapping, or at least that’s the impression they give off to me, while meanwhile the truth is I only know I am really losing myself when I transform into a bat. I have people in my life who would understand me. That man and his friend–although I am convinced they are actually boyfriend and girlfriend, despite his claims–and two dear students of mine, Fyuori Im-Dei and Kokohara Shuera-Kaizima. Those four would hear me out and care about me, especially Fyuori and Kokohara. If I told them of my problems they would try to help me back on the right track. And that leaves me wondering, ‘why don’t I ask them for help with my problems?’
That man is a Normal. His friend and Fyuori are Birdmixes. Kokohara is a Catori. I am a Vampire. The differences in our lifespans are vast. Even putting that aside, I am seven years old. That man and his friend are most likely grown adults, though they can’t be that old. Fyuori is a teenager and Kokohara is very nearly at that point herself. Even if I put aside our lifespan differences, the fact remains that we have a large age gap already. I desperately WANT to reach out to these people. I know they would understand, and I can easily talk to Fyuori and Kokohara. We go to school together. We get along. But that is one place where I can understand La-Iin. She wanted me to help her rule the world because we are Vampires of similar age and thus would live for about the same time, with her perhaps exceeding me by only a hundred years–nothing to a Vampire who got to spend nearly a thousand with a cohort. For as much as I want to reach out to them, they will not be there with me for all my life. I will lose them early on and they will be only memories for the majority of my life excepting the possibility that something happens to me. The closer I become to them, the more painful that would be.
And yet people such as my untrusting family, that spoiled brat Ca-Miela, that malice La-Iin–they all will be around with me for a long time. It simply isn’t fair. Why can’t those four be of long-lived species like I am? Why can’t I be a short-lived species? Why can’t La-Iin at the very least be a Pureblood Normal so I won’t have to deal with her all my life? It simply isn’t fair. Writing this down has only just nearly prevented me from falling into a depression, but I’m sad enough just thinking back on it.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

The violent imaginations are getting stronger. I’m getting a little distracted in class imagining disembowling La-Iin. And the frightening part is, such thoughts used to be things that would disturb me despite my hatred of La-Iin. Now I don’t really care all that much. I’ve finally started to believe that this monster isn’t who I truly am, and now I have to face this question–is it possible that I could lose to the monster in the battle for domination over my personality?

Zih-Amo gasped.
“Ugh, it smells like Ca-Miela soiled her diaper in here.”
Zih-Amo flinched. Ai-Reia had walked into her room. There was no time to put down the notebook, and already she could see a smoldering anger starting in her eyes.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing in my room!?” She shrieked, taking the notebook from her. “How much did you read? What page were you on!?”
“I–I didn’t read much, I swear! Just a little bit about…um…how you were scared to get close to your classmates.”
Ai-Reia’s expression softened somewhat, but her glare remained. “You had no reason to be in my room, nor to be looking through a personal notebook. Regardless of how little you saw, I–I don’t want to talk to you right now. This is a private journal, Zih-Amo. I’d think you could get that through your head!”
Zih-Amo bowed her head and head for the door, but she couldn’t resist a glance back at Ai-Reia before she left.
“If you need to talk to anyone, you can talk to me, okay? Ai-Reia, I’m really worried about you. And I don’t think you’re insane.”
“Evidently you read more than you let on,” Ai-Reia said through grit teeth. “Leave, Zih-Amo! If I had ever considered talking to you about this before, I’m abandoning that thought now.”
Zih-Amo’s vision blurred over as she left the room, almost running away from it.

—–
Monday, May 4th, 2015

I don’t know how safe it is to keep writing in here anymore. I don’t know how much Zih-Amo knows. She’s very close to our whole family, particularly our father; I have no guarantees she won’t tell anyone of the violent thoughts I’ve had and that they won’t just ship me off to therapy in the hopes that I’ll ‘reform’, thus leaving me alone with my thoughts and them alone to continuously ruin Ca-Miela.
I may need to take a break from writing in here. This may have helped my sanity in the past, but the reason I put you down now–that is also for the sake of my sanity.

13.437.Voice of Concerns

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 437
“Voice of Concerns”

Since Saturday, those in the Vampiris house had been deeply worried about Ai-Reia.
Ai-Reia had become quiet since that day and barely talked to her family except on the occasions that she needed to. She seemed startled when they drank blood and started to whimper and cry. She kept an unusual distance from Ca-Miela, and shot her no glares–instead, she glanced at her as if she were scared of her.
It was getting to be too much for her mother. So that day after school, she decided she would talk to her.
“Ai-Reia…? It’s your mother. May I come in?”
Ai-Reia didn’t respond. She decided to let herself in.
Ai-Reia was curled up on her bed, her blanket pulled over her and looking as though she had barely gotten any sleep. She sat on the bed next to her daughter, who glanced at her.
“Did you need something?” Ai-Reia said quietly.
“I wanted to talk…”
“What about?” She said.
“Ever since Saturday, you’ve seemed to be in a bad mood…and I was wondering if maybe it was something you wanted to talk about…”
“It’s nothing!” She said. “Really, Mother, I’m fine. So you don’t need to bring this up. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Obviously there’s something going on…” She sighed. “Ai-Reia, I am not leaving until you tell me what’s been going on. And I won’t let you leave either. You need to confide in me more often. Whatever you’re keeping to yourself is obviously eating at you. You need to let it out, okay…?”
“You say you won’t leave, but what if Ca-Miela needs you?”
“She has Reuf-Bu, Zih-Amo and your father to tend to her. And dinner can be taken care of by them too. In fact, Reuf-Bu was talking about doing dinner earlier today. And he doesn’t know I came here to talk to you.”
“But Mother, really, it’s nothing. Trust my judgment on this.”
“I do trust your judgment, Ai-Reia. But I also worry about you. You’re only seven years old, you’re a Pureblood Vampire, and you’re a child prodigy. I fear you’ll try and force yourself to act older than you need to, or that you’ll bottle things up that seem immature or suchlike…I’m worried that being such a young child prodigy, with such expectations foisted upon you, will get to you. I don’t want that for you…”
“…do you think that might make someone go crazy, Mother?” Ai-Reia asked calmly.
“What?”
“Being the youngest known Pureblood Vampire child prodigy,” she said. “Do you think it would make someone go crazy.”
“…are you okay, Ai-Reia?”
“Answer the question.”
“It does seem like a very stressful position to be in…” She said. “I think depending on your personality, it might get to you and you might start doing some destructive things…are you worried about your sanity, Ai-Reia? I’m sorry if we worried you by what we did last year…really, we just want you to be okay…”
“I’m glad. But, you know, Mother, for all my smarts there is still so much I don’t understand.”
“You don’t need to understand everything all at once,” she said. “Don’t let it worry you. Let yourself learn at the pace you need…”
“No, you don’t understand. If this had something to do with book smarts, or scientific smarts, or something of the sort, it would be one thing.” Ai-Reia sat up and stared down her mother. She was surprised by the look in her daughter’s eyes. It was a strong gaze, as if she was trying her hardest to keep her taking her seriously.
But at the same time, something about her gaze seemed cold and distant to her, and it made her shudder.
“But that is not what this is. It has to do with understanding your own sanity. Something I don’t think even the sane can do. I’ve read up on mental conditions in the past, Mother. After all, in some of the advanced classes, they talk of such things. And I learned that even an expert mental health professional is not allowed to diagnose him or herself.”
“That is true…what point are you trying to make here, Ai-Reia…?”
“Even a skilled mental health professional is not allowed to diagnose himself if he thinks something is wrong with him!” She said, her voice almost becoming a shriek. “Even someone who knows lots about the minds of people and how they work! Someone who would know so much still cannot understand that about himself because he may just get it wrong! So I’m grappling with this. I don’t know who I am!”
“You are Vampiris Ai-Reia,” she said, patting her shoulder. “And you have so much more time left in your life. Don’t try and set everything early or you might become miserable. It takes strength to survive all the years we Vampires do.”
“Is that a strength I have?” She said. “Maybe it isn’t! Maybe knowing all I do at seven is just going to send me spiraling until I end up in an early grave!”
“Ai-Reia, don’t say such things!” She snapped.
“Mother, please. What I do understand is that I’ll never truly understand myself. I know that someone else would understand me better than I would. But even then, there’s still room for error. If you’re someone who knows me well, you don’t know if there’s something I’m lying about or being disingenuine about. If you’re someone who doesn’t know me, that’s it, you simply do not know me. You can go only off my words and the words of people who know me. You cannot make much of a personal viewpoint until after you know me more. But if you’re a stranger trying to find out about me, that probably won’t matter much, and already you’ll be colored by biases given to you by myself and the people I know and love!”
Ai-Reia’s gaze became crazed. “So that’s the point! I don’t know who I really am! I don’t know what potential is lurking inside me! I can try and understand as much as I want, but there’s no guarantee I’ll ever know for sure! I probably won’t ever! I’ll live hundreds of years, watching as the world changes and you all die, and I still won’t understand just who I really am. But already I have fears about who she may be, and if I’m right, I…”
Ai-Reia began to cry. “I don’t want that to be me. I know what I want to do that I think is right! I don’t think that’s right at all, at least not consciously, but what if the animal part of me thinks it’s the right thing to do!? I think deep down inside there’s some sort of monster inside of me, Mother. That monster is waiting to break free. She might be a fake trying to take hold of my mind, finding the invulnerabilities that exist in the brain of a young child or someone so sure of the world around her, or at least until recently, I was! Now that leaves my mind even more vulnerable!”
She began to hold her head. “Or maybe…maybe she’s not a fake trying to take hold of my mind. Maybe she’s the real and true Vampiris Ai-Reia, simply trying to take hold of the body that is rightfully hers! She’s pissed off having to sit on the sidelines in my brain and is trying her damndest to break free before it’s too late! But I don’t want her to be the real Ai-Reia, Mother. I don’t believe in the bogus scale of good and evil. But whatever that thing is, she is a monstrosity that anyone who believes in the scale, no matter where they believe they fall on the scale, should want to oppose! She’ll stand in your way! She’ll cause destruction! She is completely and utterly morally reprehensible!”
“Ai-Reia–”
“And that’s why the scale is a crock of shit! Maybe everyone has this monster inside of them!” She hiccuped. “B-but, their monsters, they’re probably ten times better than what I have. Monsters who lust, monsters who are greedy, they’re all better than the monster inside of me. Or maybe she’s not even a monster, like I said. Maybe, just maybe, she is the real and true Vampiris Ai-Reia. The manifestation of the stresses put upon me from being a Pureblood Vampire prodigy with the personality I was set with. Whatever she is, she’s lurking inside of me, waiting to come out, and there is absolutely nothing I can do about her.”
Ai-Reia flopped back down onto the bed. “Please go, mother. Nothing I say will make sense to you any longer. Evidently you are scared and horrified of all I have said, and I am scared and horrified that I was able to say it. So let us separate from each other while our sanities are still somewhat intact.”
Her mother choked on her words. She was completely unsure of what to say. She left Ai-Reia’s room, then began to wander the house aimlessly. When she spotted her husband walking around the house, she ran over to him, buried her face in his shoulder, and began to cry loudly, not caring who might have heard.

—–
“My resistance is futile.”
Ai-Reia stared at her hand.
“Now I know that. Monster or no, there is something inside of me. Something hiding away that decides she needs to come out at just the perfect times to keep ruining my life. Making it worse than it already is…you’re a more horrendous creature than La-Iin, and that is seriously saying something!”
She sat up. “But maybe that’s it. Maybe that’s what you want. You want La-Iin dead, just as I do, don’t you? If I take her out, will you be quiet? Will you let me go back to the life I led?”
She grit her teeth. “Whatever the cost, I need my old life back. I can’t survive hundreds of years if I lose it now!”

1.425.A Story of San-Kyung

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 425
“A Story of San-Kyung”

“What is this place?”
“It looks like an ordinary village.”
San-Kyung stared wide-eyed at a small village that to Dosa-Mina, appeared to be abandoned. Despite how it looked, San-Kyung seemed enamored with it, and he began to walk ahead and examine the place.
“It doesn’t look like anyone lives here anymore,” Dosa-Mina said.
“That would be good!” San-Kyung said. “Then we could use this as our base.”
“Why would we need a base?”
“I want one.”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes.
“It’s just a silly village, San-Kyung. Although it is nice.”
“Even if you don’t like it, Dosa-Mina, I do,” San-Kyung said. “If this place is abandoned that makes it better than it already looks. It means I can do as I please here.”
“Like?”
“Burn it to the ground if I need to burn off steam,” he said. “And it’s been a while since my vines wrapped around everything.”
“Is someone there?”
Both boys were startled by an unfamiliar voice. Walking up to them was an elderly Skeletaltype woman.
“Hello there, boys,” she said. “Welcome to Hledshess Street. It’s not often we get visitors here. Are you friends with someone who lives here?”
Dosa-Mina could see San-Kyung’s reluctance to talk to the woman in his expression, so he decided to handle the situation himself.
“No, we’re just on a walk and happened to pass by,” he said.
“Oh, that’s nice,” she said. “Well, I hope you enjoy your stay. We don’t have much to show here in Hledshess, but I have heard there’s a nice camping site in those nearby trees. You two may want to take a look at it.”
“Maybe,” he said.
“Take care!” The Skeletaltype woman walked off.
“Camping site?”
“Why don’t we go check it out? It might have more to show than the rest of this place.”
As they walked over to the trees, San-Kyung sighed. “I really thought this place was abandoned. There go some of my plans…”
“Now that we talked to that lady, I think I know what this place is,” Dosa-Mina said. “I’ve heard of a Hledshess before. Apparently this is the poorest district in Bledger. You won’t get any poorer than here! That’s why it looks so abandoned because everyone here is super-poor. Even the people in charge are poor.”
“I’m surprised it’s not filled with sleeping homeless people then.”
“Maybe you’re not looking hard enough,” Dosa-Mina said. “Oh, wow, San-Kyung! Look at that!”
A small stream ran through the camping site area, the sun visible through trees glinting off it. San-Kyung stared at it curiously.
“Are you gonna drink it?” Dosa-Mina said playfully.
“It looks pretty clean. Maybe I should.”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s pretty clean by people standards, but to things that live in there that’s their toilet.”
“How do you know anything lives in here!?” San-Kyung snapped. “And are you daring me? Because you’re on.”
He walked over to the stream. “I wasn’t daring you, you know. But whatever!”
San-Kyung drank from the water. “This tastes pretty crisp!”
“How can you tell the difference? It’s just water.”
“My whole diet is basically ‘just water’,” San-Kyung said. “Now come on. Even if this place isn’t abandoned, I want to see if any of the houses are.”
The houses all looked abandoned on the outside. Dosa-Mina glanced inside the window of one to see if he could see anything. “Hm. This one looks clear, San-Kyung.”
San-Kyung nodded and head for the front of the house. He opened the door.
The house seemed to be comprised of only one room at first glance, though a second one revealed a door that nearly blended in with the wall. A small table and a few pictures, along with a shoddy bookshelf, were the rest of what was inside the room.
That and two Skeletaltypes.
‘It’s the lady from earlier,’ Dosa-Mina thought.
“Um…hi! Sorry to intrude!”
“What do you think you’re doing!?” She hissed. “I should have known an outsider would try something like this! Out! Out or I’ll attack!”
Dosa-Mina raised his hands instinctively. San-Kyung, however, began to strike his.
“No no no no no! We’re so sorry, miss! See you!”
The lady gave one last hiss before the door closed.
“Wow, how two-faced,” Dosa-Mina said. “I get not wanting someone in your house, but what a rapid change. I wonder if they have problems with outsiders invading here.”
“If they do, I can contribute to that.”
“Huh?”
“The people of Hledshess are just like everyone else on this planet,” he said. “All the same. You know what, Dosa-Mina, I know what this place would be great as. Not as a secret base or a place to walk through. No, this will be the place where I let off steam.”
“…you don’t mean kill people, do you?”
“No, I don’t,” he said. “I mean destroying things to the point Hledshess will feel they were rich before!”

***

Vines wrapped around the houses on Hledshess Street, covering the windows and the doors. The vines began to extend past the houses and twist into various different shapes. Gradually, it began to look more as a work of art than vines blocking entryways.
Dosa-Mina watched in silence as San-Kyung constructed the vines. He smiled as he used them to cover the whole area.
“Do you plan on leaving the vines up forever, or are you going to kill them when you’re done?” He asked.
“Probably kill them,” he said. “They’ll just die on their own if I don’t.”
“This looks pretty,” he said. “I wish I had brought a camera with me.”
“Mm…”
San-Kyung’s smile dropped as he formed the rest of the vines. Finally, his work seemed to be done.
“Nice.”
“I know,” he said. “I’ve always liked my vine power. It hurts using fire power, and seed bombs are pretty useless bombs….also they make me hurt too. A lot of my other powers are worth shit when it comes to effectiveness, but my vines, when they work, they work well. When I rule the world, I’ll make sure to twist lots of vines all over it.”
“Are you going to do as artistic a display as you did just now? Because that actually might be nice to look at. In the middle of the miserable people and constant crying and smell, there’s always these pretty vines to look at. Might make people feel a little bit better about living in your world.”
“I don’t want that!” He snapped. Dosa-Mina flinched. “Well, maybe it’ll just be the nature-lovers…”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “Even if that was the case, people loving my vines, I’d still put them up. They’re for my benefit and they serve no one else. Not the people, not nature, just me…”
The expression San-Kyung made as he stared out at the expanse of vines was one Dosa-Mina could not read.

“Watch where you’re driving this thing!” Dosa-Mina yelled.
San-Kyung was behind the wheel of a run-down car, Dosa-Mina in the passenger’s seat. He was absolutely horrified as San-Kyung ran over fields. His heart thud so hard in his chest he felt he was about to have a heart attack.
And, being honest to himself, he might have preferred it if he had.
San-Kyung’s driving was far from good, even far from bad in his opinion. It was much worse than that. Constantly he felt they were going to crash into something hard, and he tried several times to convince San-Kyung to slow down or stop turning so much.
He never listened.
“Give me this rush, Dosa-Mina,” he said. “I don’t think you understand. Causing a ruckus in Hledshess? That’s petty evil compared to this thing!”
He made a sudden stop. Dosa-Mina began to breathe heavily, holding on to his chest instinctively.
“This car is the ultimate chaos machine,” he said. Dosa-Mina wanted to retort, but he couldn’t catch his breath enough to do so. “With it just think of how much havoc I can wreak!”
“Haven’t you done enough!?” He panted. “You’ve wreaked havoc on my nerves, that’s for sure!”
San-Kyung grinned. “Didn’t mean to scare you. But if I can scare you, imagine how other people would feel. You’re the most fearless person I care about. If you’re scared by my driving, imagine how it’ll everyone else feel!”
San-Kyung’s smile was not a confident nor evil one, not even a sly one as he would do sometimes. It was one of the most innocent smiles he had seen his best friend make, and yet he couldn’t help but feel it was also the most evil one he had made.

Hledshess was in a panic, with most people staying inside to avoid the onslaught of San-Kyung’s power usage. Before arriving there that day, San-Kyung had stated that he intended on causing the most havoc he had caused for Hledshess thus far, and Dosa-Mina followed along as he always did, choosing not to partake.
What was different about this time were the fact that people had been outside this time, and seemingly ready to pounce the boys. San-Kyung had not noticed them before going on his onslaught, and some people had been caught up in the flurry and badly injured.
San-Kyung stood over one such person now, a Normal man whose breathing was shallow. He had many burns and was bleeding from injuries on his arms and chest. Dosa-Mina hadn’t noticed the man until San-Kyung walked over to him, but once he did he checked San-Kyung’s expression to see what sort of reaction he had to this sight.
His face was unreadable.
“…should we do something?” Dosa-Mina said. “Do you think Hledshess will help this guy?”
“How am I supposed to know?” He spat. “Hledshess is full of the absolute worst among people. This guy probably included.”
“So you…” Dosa-Mina bit his lip, unsure of what to say.
“….do you think he’ll die, San-Kyung?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just know he’s injured. He’s still alive for now.”
“…”
“I…” San-Kyung scratched his head. “We should just go. If the people of Hledshess leave him behind, then you can’t blame me. I didn’t know he was there. How do I know someone didn’t use him as a shield?”
Dosa-Mina just gave him a glance. He wasn’t sure what his expression looked like at that moment, but whatever it was, it made San-Kyung flinch. He grit his teeth as the two head off to leave Hledshess.

—–
‘What’s been on his mind lately?’
Dosa-Mina couldn’t help but wonder. San-Kyung lay on his bed, fast asleep. The way he lookd now, had Dosa-Mina not known him, he would have never believed he was capable of some of the things he had done in the past.
‘What did he really think back then….maybe I don’t know as much about San-Kyung as I thought.’
He sighed and buried his face into his knees. The thought depressed him.

After leaving with Dosa-Mina that day, San-Kyung returned to Hledshess Street and checked around to see if the man was still outside.
He was lying in the same place as earlier, his breathing still shallow and blood covering a decent amount of his clothes by now. San-Kyung felt no uncertainty that the man was close to death, nor could he find it much in him to care.
It was the idea of how Dosa-Mina would feel if someone died because of him that made him hesitate to leave again.
With a sigh, he gently moved the man closer to the houses, then walked away. ‘If he dies, now it’s definitely not my fault,’ he thought.

18.414.Attempts to Fix the Flawed

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 414
“Attempts to Fix the Flawed”

Recently, La-Iin had found that the subject of Ai-Reia was nagging at her mind.
‘Ai-Reia will be a good asset. She has the anger and the power to take people out if need be. I could even give her the treat of bloodsucking when she’s done. She would be perfect.’
But she could remember quite strongly all the negative interactions the two had had. And though she felt it had been necessary to treat Ai-Reia the way she had to reach this point, she was wondering if she hadn’t gone too far.
‘Her going against me could potentially be bad,’ she thought. ‘Depending on how much support she’d be able to rally, my ruling the world could be stopped before it’s started….I definitely need her on my side.’
That day after class, instead of heading home with Fer-Shi, La-Iin waved to her and walked up to Ai-Reia’s desk. Ai-Reia had been putting away her supplies, but she quickly noticed La-Iin and glared. She started to put away her supplies quicker.
“Ai-Reia.”
“What do you want!?” She snapped. “I guess it was too much of me to hope you’d leave me alone, huh?”
“It was stupid of you to think that,” she said coolly. “I want to talk to you about something.”
“I’m not going to listen, La-Iin. I’ve been much happier without you bothering me and constantly getting in my way. Make it easy for both of us and leave me alone.”
“No. I really want to talk to you about something.”
“I don’t have to listen.”
“How about I make a deal, then. You listen to me, and I’ll leave you alone…for now.”
“Wow, that’s a great deal,” Ai-Reia said sarcastically. She put on her backpack. “No.”
La-Iin’s wings flapped in frustration. She followed after Ai-Reia as she made her way into the crowd of students from other classes who were leaving Malicerie.
“Stop following me! I thought your days of stalking me were over!”
“Never underestimate my stalking skills,” La-Iin said as she caught up to her. “Listen, Ai-Reia. I know you don’t like me, but I’ve been thinking. I think the two of us would do better as friends than as enemies.”
“Ha! You say that only because you’re scared of what I might do to you. Don’t worry about it. Leave me alone and you should be fine.”
“I think you should be more scared of me,” La-Iin hissed. “I’m not scared of you at all. I just think the two of us would do better as friends.”
“Why? What is so wrong with you that you think harassing a girl for so long makes her better off friends with you?”
Before La-Iin responded, Ai-Reia’s brow furrowed, and she said, “….well, I can see why you’d think that when an idiot is gullible enough to give into you, but I happen to be a child prodigy. I’m not stupid.”
“San-Kyung isn’t stupid either!” La-Iin was trying to keep her cool, but it had been obvious who Ai-Reia was referring to. “He’s got some of the best grades in class. Even better than you!”
“Someone can be an idiot in certain fields and smart in others,” she said. “Evidently that loner has no idea what constitutes a friend.”
“The only way I agree with you on that is when we’re talking about Dosa-Mina,” La-Iin said. “San-Kyung is not stupid.”
“Ignoring this subject before it gets repetitive, seriously, what is wrong with you? Was Fer-Shi a case of ‘stalk her into submission’ as well? Just because it worked on others does not mean it will work on me!”
“Fer-Shi approached me herself,” La-Iin retorted. “And Ai-Reia, I don’t think you understand just why I think we’re better off friends.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Then I guess I’d better explain,” she said. “I stalked you, so I could see what sort of reaction you had to it. I stalked you because I wanted to find out what sort of person you are. And I found out just what I wanted. You’re the type of person who would be immensely helpful to me.”
“What does that mean!?”
“I have big aspirations for the world in the future,” La-Iin said. “And I’m good at telling when someone fits in well with those plans. I’ve met people before who automatically struck me as someone I need for the future. You were one of those people. So I observed you. And I found out about your pent-up rage. You need someplace to release it. And I need someone with that level of anger.”
“Are you calling me an angry person!?”
“Exactly.”
La-Iin noticed that Ai-Reia’s wings were also starting to give flaps of irritation, though the extent of her anger was most obvious in her face. “That is one of the most insulting things I have ever been told in my life! This only reinforces what I thought about you. La-Iin, you are a truly reprehensible person. And unless you make reparations for it while you are young, this is only going to continue on into the future! That is no way to live life. You will die early on after being incarcerated more than half your life at this rate.”
“Now look who’s being reprehensi….whatever you said,” La-Iin said. “I don’t think you understand that I meant that as a compliment.”
“Obviously we don’t see things the same way, if you hadn’t noticed that earlier!”
“You’re pretty evil like me, Ai-Reia,” La-Iin said. “I like having evil people on my side. They understand my plans better. They might help me even if only for their own selfish reasons. That’s alright if they do. The more selfish they are, the better. Would you take it easier if I said I was trying to make a comrade out of you instead of a friend? I don’t care if you don’t want to be friends. But I think we would do well working together.”
“So you want me to aid you in ruling the world!? Why do you think I would help you with that!? I hate you! And I don’t want the world to be ruled by a tyrant! The world already has places like North Vaelyn. We do not need the whole planet to follow in its footsteps.”
“I’m not planning on following in North Vaelyn’s footsteps,” La-Iin said. “I want to do worse things to the world than that. If you were on my side, Ai-Reia, you’d be spared all that as long as you helped me.”
Ai-Reia scoffed. La-Iin was surprised to see a smile build on her face. Ai-Reia grabbed her by the collar of her dress and pulled her out of the crowd and into nearby foliage, still smiling but with eyes that reflected a deep anger.
“You’re an idiot, La-Iin.”
“No I’m not.”
“You don’t seem to understand. Didn’t you hear me say someone could be smart in one regard and idiotic in another? No, you made the biggest slip-up of your life–revealing why you want me to be your friend. All so you could rule the world. So you could make it a worse place than the likes of North Vaelyn. Telling me that, why did you think I would help you? Why not try brainwashing me first? Evidently you did not think ahead while planning to recruit me or when planning to reveal your plans to me. And now that I know, I have one thing to say to you, La-Iin.”
“I’m guessing that’s not let’s be friends…?”
“Of course not!” Ai-Reia snapped. “I oppose you, La-Iin, even if nobody else will. Now I know. And even if you’re not serious, even if you give up on your aspirations someday in the future, until that day and even past it I will oppose you. I will oppose you until you are stopped for good. And I will do whatever I need to stop you, even if that does mean becoming evil myself. Because my interest is not in preventing what you might do to the world. No, I don’t think you could ever succeed in that regard. My interest is in stopping you and that is all.”
“You’re making too much out of this,” La-Iin said.
“I don’t care! I can’t stand you, La-Iin. And now you know to what extent that is. Mind you, I still don’t believe in that bogus scale, but it was to get a point across. My life will improve that much more when you are gone, and that I can guarantee!”
Ai-Reia ran off after speaking. La-Iin wondered briefly if she should chase after her, but soon decided against it.
“Well, that didn’t go well,” La-Iin sighed. “Still…I definitely need her on my side now. She made a mistake too–admitting she was willing to become evil. And she’s stupid too. She’s already evil enough for me.”

—–
‘Why did I say all that to her? That could only motivate her more! That’s the last thing I want. She’s obviously a very deluded young girl. I think I almost hope she grows out of this stupid evil phase…’
Unconsciously, she narrowed her eyes. ‘I shouldn’t give her the chance. If she chooses to get in my way, what I do as a result of that is no responsibility of mine. She has shown that she can push me to the point where I transform unconsciously. I have no control over myself when that happens. And I am far too young to be charged with a crime. She’s still little, anyway–all those who know and care about her shouldn’t be too affected if she disappears from their lives while she’s still that young….’
As Ai-Reia drifted off into sleep, a shiver went up her spine.

27.392.True Glitch

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 392
“True Glitch”

“Hm…”
Sale-Dessu was sitting outside with a big red button in front of him and glitch blobs on all sides. He barely seemed to notice them however, instead squinting his eyes almost shut at the button as if contemplating something about it.
Still glaring, he pressed down on the button, and not long after he did, the world began to return to to its normal state. Once it had, he levitated Eul-Bok close to him, giving a sigh of relief when he noticed he was no longer a glitch blob.
“Father, far be it from me to judge you about any of your projects, but what exactly are you doing?”
“Oh, just looking at an old project,” he said. “Something reminded me of it recently and I’ve been trying to figure out why I made this button in the first place. And how did I get it to work the way it does? I can’t figure it out.”
“What does that button do again?”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “Didn’t you see?”
“Um, no? I was asleep just a little bit ago.”
Sale-Dessu was about to question him again when he remembered, ‘Oh…La-Iin said she pressed this button before. And I’m sure I would have remembered the world glitching out without me pressing the button first…is it possible that the only one who’s aware of what happens after you press the button and it glitches is the person who presses the button?’ He shook his head. ‘No, that doesn’t make any sense! When the world randomizes, everyone’s aware. So why would glitching be different?’
“Father, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t understand this button at all,” he sighed. “Why it does what it does, how it does what it does, why I made it…I’m not sure of any of that. And it’s bothering me. I want to know!”
“Maybe you should focus on something else for now, Father. Your texture project was going really well. And, um, I wouldn’t mind a little extra focus on the V-Puppetry project…I felt like last time, you were really close to a breakthrough!”
Normally Eul-Bok’s words would have made him smile, but at the moment they prompted no reaction from him. “Thank you, Eul-Bok. I’ll get back to my other projects tomorrow, I promise. I just want to work on this button for now.”
“Father…”
“I know you’re worried. But this button isn’t going to kill anybody, and stress won’t kill me either. If it would, you wouldn’t even be here today.”
“That’s not very reassuring.”
“Don’t worry about me for now, Eul-Bok. I just want to find out the reason why this button exists and does what it does. Once I find that out, I’ll do something else to take my mind off of it. But I’m sure as soon as I find out what it does, I’ll feel like there’s a weight off my shoulders already.”
“Well, what will I do while you’re working on that button?”
“I think you should sleep for now,” Sale-Dessu said. “If I decide to get back to work on the V-Puppetry project after this, you might be up for a while.”
“I suppose you’re right. Alright, I’ll try and get some sleep. It might help if you put me someplace comfortable, though?”
“All right, all right,” Sale-Dessu chuckled. He started to head for his back door until he remembered the bolts sitting in front of it. He sighed and went back around to the front.

***

“I can’t find anything on this stupid button,” Sale-Dessu huffed.
After sending Eul-Bok to sleep, Sale-Dessu had decided to pull out all the stops and look for anything that might lead him to understand why he had created the button. But there were so many things in his house to look through that he had quickly become frustrated, and by now he was contemplating opening up the button to see if there was anything noteworthy inside.
‘It probably wouldn’t be anything useful, though,’ he told himself. ‘I could always try, but…’
As he walked back outside, he tried to contemplate reasons he might have made the button. ‘I’m forgetting my curiosity. Pretty much everything I’ve done has been because of it. So I guess making a button so that I could alter the world in some way makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?’
The memory of the glitched world and randomized world flickered in his mind. ‘Although it could work better…’
He was tempted to press it again to see whether it would glitch the world or randomize it, but he fought the urge and began to use a spell to see inside it. The button was filled with just what he would have expected–wiring he barely understood and the signs of Warlock magic.
“That was probably it,” he sighed. “I guess this button did give me a lot of interesting information, though. Like how our world can turn those strange colors or randomize itself…I wonder why it can do that. Well, I guess I shouldn’t underestimate my own power.”
He stretched and stood up. ‘I bet my Apeta can make it so she knows how the world will be altered. Maybe I’ll stop by her house soon and ask her about. I wonder what she’d think of that button.’
Satisfied, Sale-Dessu head back into the house.

Sale-Dessu didn’t return to his V-Puppetry studies immediately after dealing with the button. Instead, he decided to work on minor, miscellaneous projects that he felt like doing at the time. He felt the desire to have his curiosity sated, and those small projects, he felt, did help to sate some of his smaller ones.
Besides, he thought, Eul-Bok could use the extra sleep if he was as close to his breakthrough as he thought he was.
‘I’m so happy with Eul-Bok,’ he started thinking to himself while waiting for fabric to boil. ‘It’s so hard to imagine life without him. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t really remember why I made the button. It came before Eul-Bok. Maybe someday I should tell him more about what I found out with that button.’
He gave the fabric a quick check. ‘Eul-Bok’s been good for me too. He definitely deserves to become autonomous. Even when I’ve gotten sad, it’s been so much better than before. Back then, I was just left to my thoughts…’
When his mind began to trail off back to when he was alone, something clicked in his mind. He remembered a piece of wood forming into a big red button. He recalled setting the button with all sorts of spells and changing the wiring several times. He remembered pushing the button and watching as the world around him randomized and set things any way it so desired.
But more than that, he could strongly remember his feelings almost each moment he dealt with that button.
‘If I can alter the world like my Apeta, that’s a way we’re connected,’ he had thought.
‘Maybe I’ll see the world in a better light if I change it,’ he had thought.
‘If I can alter the world, maybe I won’t have to deal with the bad things in it at all,’ he had thought.
Those feelings and thoughts came back to him, the feelings of no longer caring about the world. That point that had dipped so close to his lowest point, a time where he felt lonelier than usual. Those disgusting feelings that he had tried to bury were resurfacing, and now he understood completely why he had made the button.
In that instant, he forgot about the boiling fabric and let those feelings wash over him.

“Father, you’re being awfully quiet. Is something wrong?”
“I’m very grateful for you, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said absent-mindedly.
“You’ve said that before, Father. What’s wrong? Does it have something to do with that button?”
Sale-Dessu flinched. “There really is no hiding anything from you, is there…”
“Out with it, Father.”
“….I remembered why I made the button. I couldn’t really figure out why it does exactly what it does, but I remembered why I decided to make it. You know that button alters the world, right?”
“Of course I do. You’ve told me that before, too.”
“I made it because…” He paused. “Partially because I was curious and I wanted to see if I could alter the world, but also because I just didn’t care anymore.”
“What does that mean?”
“I’ve had a lot of low points in life, Eul-Bok. I was incredibly lonely when I made that button. I don’t know if I cared what happened to the world anymore by then. Warlocks alter the world mostly for their own curiosity, but I think in my mindset, I might’ve just left the world the way it was after pressing the button….that is, if it wasn’t for La-Iin.”
“What?”
“She came by when I had messed up the world because she couldn’t get home,” he explained. “And because of that, I told her I was only doing temporary research. And I know how things turned out, but I have to wonder, what would I have done if she hadn’t come over here?
“But I’m still even more grateful to you, Eul-Bok,” he said. “La-Iin helped pave the way for me to be happier. You’re the one who’s kept me happy since then. So thank you. And if you feel rested enough, I’ll gladly continue on with the V-Puppet project.”
“I feel rested enough. And I definitely want to continue on. When I’m autonomous, I bet I can help you even more than I do now. I don’t know what I’ll want to do with my life when I can move around, but first things first, I’m going to make it so you’re happy and you won’t get sad like this again. And you SHOULD be happy! Grepeta is alive, and you’ve been having a lot of project successes. So smile, okay?”
Sale-Dessu forced a small smile. “Okay.”

—–
A shudder went up La-Iin’s spine and she flinched.
‘Did I just glitch again?’ She thought. ‘No, probably not…’
Still, she glanced out her window at Sale-Dessu’s house, just to make sure.