16.593.The Sewmaster

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 593
“The Sewmaster”

“Ah huh…she’s coming out nicely.”
Mit-Sun pulled the needle through the fabric once more. Finally, the project she was working on was beginning to take shape. She still felt iffy about the eyes, but figured it was fitting enough for a simple doll for a baby.
Nearby her, La-Iin was still fast asleep in her crib. Even if she hadn’t been, Mit-Sun knew she wouldn’t have been able to see the work-in-progress doll even so.
“I wonder if I should give her a name, or let La-Iin give her one…” Mit-Sun shook her head. “That can wait. For now, I just need to focus on completing her.”
The doll was beginning to come to life, and Mit-Sun could only hope that La-Iin would take well to her.

***

“My last name is too complicated!”
“Why are you complaining about this now?”
“I was thinking about what I might do if I could get married in the future. Do I end up tacking another last name onto Haunsum-Cahongyun or do I just give it to the lucky lady? What kind of screwy last name is that anyway!?”
“Your last name, dummy. Besides, I mostly just call you Haunsum Bes-Isa. Haunsum-Cahongyun Bes-Isa is only your legal full name!”
“Who cares about legality!?”
“Why do you care so much about your last name all of a sudden!? You can’t even get married! First, you’re a doll, and second, same-sex marriage is ille…”
“La-Iin’s certainly energetic today,” Beht-Soh said.
“Yeah, she’s been arguing with Bes-Isa all morning. …um, anyway, let’s not focus on her for now. I don’t think we could get through to her if we tried.”
Beht-Soh chuckled. “You’re the La-Iin expert. Oh, so, I’m sorry it took me so long to finish these, but I don’t think they would fit her anymore anyway. I forgot to ask you for her measurements, and even then it looks like she’s grown since the last time I saw her.”
“Yeah, she’s been getting taller lately. That’s a good thing, though. For a little bit I was worried she was going to stay that small her whole life. Or at least for several years…”
“There’s nothing wrong with that. It would have made it possible for her to fit these dresses. Well, here they are.”
Beht-Soh laid his dresses on the coffee table. Mit-Sun’s eye twitched. Though the dresses were well-constructed, she could tell that they definitely wouldn’t fit La-Iin–in fact, she found it hard to see how they would fit anyone bigger than a small baby.
“Um, Papa…”
“Papa?” La-Iin questioned. Mit-Sun’s face flushed. “I meant, Father…
“You’re welcome to call me Papa, you know?”
“Can we just drop this? A-anyway, these are very nice dresses, but how did you even begin to think these would fit La-Iin?”
“I told you, I didn’t get her measurements. And even though I know what she looks like now, I still can’t forget those pictures you sent me of her when she was a little baby.”
“This one doesn’t even have wing holes!”
“I….sorry….”
“Father, it’s just constructive criticism. You don’t need to apologize for it.”
“I shouldn’t have wasted any time making these, though.” Beht-Soh’s eyes were clear, but to Mit-Sun, his expression looked as if he was about to cry. Before she could console him, however, his attention turned to La-Iin, or rather, her clothes.
“Are those store-bought or did you sew those yourself?”
“Those? I made them.”
“Wow…”
“Father, it isn’t that you’re bad at sewing. These are well-constructed and all, they’re just too small for what you wanted them to be used for. It’s not that big a deal. Lots of the clothes I made for La-Iin when she was younger don’t fit her anymore. I guess I should probably do something about them someday…”
“Can I see some of the other outfits you’ve made for La-Iin?”
“Um, sure, I guess.”
“Granddami, you shouldn’t take Mama’s criticisms sitting down! Stand up to her! Oh, that would be so satisfying…”
“No, your Mama is right, I did make them too small for you to fit them.”
The conversation continued, but Mit-Sun didn’t hear the rest of it. She head upstairs, into La-Iin’s closet, and pulled out various outfits she had made for her; then she head downstairs and laid them on the coffee table.
“You’re welcome to look at all of them as long as you like. And if you want, I can let you take one home.”
“That was in my closet!” La-Iin shrieked. “You went into my room!?”
“I do all the time,” Mit-Sun said, an edge to her tone.
“La-Iin certainly seems like a handful sometimes,” Beht-Soh said absently. He was staring closely at a dress that was purple, orange and black; Mit-Sun noticed that La-Iin was also staring closely at it.
“Wow, this is really well-made. Your sewing skills are amazing, Mit-Sun! How did you get them to be so good?”
Mit-Sun began to feel shy. “Well, I had a lot of spare time when La-Iin was a baby…after Asul-Zenza left, well, La-Iin was just a baby. So I was up a lot, and I didn’t have a job to go to, and of course she wasn’t awake all the time. I wanted to be cautious with funds, so I figured it would just be easier to make her clothes myself. Also, I had been sewing before that.”
“Wow.”
“I haven’t been sewing as much lately, but I was working on a new dress for La-Iin since she’s getting taller. In fact, that dress you’re wearing right now is getting a little short.”
“No it isn’t!”
‘Why is she so indignant about that?’ “I do enjoy sewing.”
“Some of these use different materials too.”
“I try to not try and make the same type of dress over and over again. If I buy enough, the overall cost of supplies usually ends up as less than the cost of buying her store bought dresses. Although I do still get her store bought ones sometimes.”
“So La-IIn, which dresses do you like better? Mit-Sun’s or the store bought ones?”
La-Iin blinked. “My favorite dress is one Mama made…”
Beht-Soh smiled. “Even La-Iin likes your sewing skills.”
“Come on…there are people better than me.”
“You made her little doll Bes-Isa too, didn’t you?”
Mit-Sun felt her face flush. “Now you’re just complimenting me for the sake of complimenting me.”
“No, I’m really impressed. Besides, we’re family, and you gave me criticisms, so why shouldn’t I? But I can’t find anything to criticize. You really are good at sewing, Mit-Sun. You might even be able to make a business of it if you wanted to!”
“Y–you think so?”
“No. Mama’s sewing skills are for me only.”
“Well, maybe she’d like to keep it that way. I’m just saying, if you ever wanted to, you probably could make a business of sewing. Your skills are very near professional.”
“Thank you…wait, near professional? What do you mean by that?”
Beht-Soh began to look flustered. “Well, there are a few parts where the fabric clashes a little on some of the dresses…but it isn’t anything all that bad. I’m sure it doesn’t bother La-Iin.”
“Actually this dress is a little itchy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Well, of course these things aren’t always going to end up perfect. Thanks, Papa. I never thought of it that way. It is something for me to think about, though. Maybe if I can, I can actually quit Eteibreit Data Storage!”
“No!”
“But I’d need to think on it more.”
“Oh, of course. But I’ll definitely be taking cues from you from now on. Maybe I can make La-Iin a dress the same quality of one of yours.”
“Granddami, except for a select few dresses you’d probably make better dresses than Mama.”
“Hey!”
“Nah, I doubt that’s the case. Mit-Sun’s good at this. And I’m very proud of that.”
“Thank you, Papa,” she said quietly.
“You should keep your sewing only for me,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Maybe if I do decide to start sewing professionally, I’ll do stuffed toys instead,” she said. “But don’t worry, La-Iin. For now, my sewing skills are still for you. I do have to think on this more, after all.”
“Yes, you do. And so do I…”
“Huh?”
‘I never did think of that part of Mama’s skills, did I?’ La-Iin realized. ‘I could use her for more than just a slave to torture. Even though she’s been mean to me, she does have good sewing skills. She could make something nice for me, San-Kyung and our children. Maybe even a wedding dress…’
“Are…are you smiling?”
“See, I told you, even La-Iin likes your skills.”
Mit-Sun’s face flushed a deep shade of red. “You two are flattering me too much.”

—–
“Now that the doormat’s left, I demand answers! Who the hell gave me this stupid name Haunsum-Cahongyun!? How come it isn’t just Cahongyun!?”
“Because it isn’t.”
“Who did call you Haunsum-Cahongyun? I honestly don’t remember. I feel like Bes-Isa was my idea…”
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
“Haunsum-Cahongyun sounds familiar to me, and not just because I know Bes-Isa.”
“I guess we’ll never know, unless we can find some proof from the past.”
“If I find out that woman named me, I want you to do one of two things, La-Iin. One, change my name, or two, burn me.”
La-Iin gave no response; to Bes-Isa, her quietness was unsettling.

10.587.Lucid Dreaming

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 587
“Lucid Dreaming”

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

***

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

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

9.586.Fightercise

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 586
“Fightercise”

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

***

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

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

3.580.Betrayed

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 580
“Betrayed”

“La-Iin? Are you doing anything right now? I want to head downtown soon so I can get a special spice for dinner tonight.”
La-Iin didn’t respond.
“La-Iin?”
‘Ai-Reia was a failure. That much I know. But I never thought of what would happen if some of my key players became failures, too….I wasn’t expecting her, but at least I got hints early on enough before she became too involved. And my children are speculation–besides, their betrayal probably won’t be all that bad, whatever it is if it happens. But what if I lose someone I really need?’
“La-Iin?”
“Mama?”
“What’s up with you now?”
“Ei-Tio’s visit yesterday has me thinking about something.”
“What’s that?”
La-Iin shook her head. “Nothing important.”
“It certainly sounds important.”
“Even if I wanted to tell you, Mama, I haven’t thought it through all the way yet. But it’s bothering me…”
Mit-Sun looked concerned. “Well, whenever you’re ready to go downtown, just tell me, but make sure to say something before it gets too late, otherwise I’ll come and get you myself.”
‘It’s fully possible. Just as Ei-Tio could potentially change, someone else I need could change too. What would I do if that happened? How could I handle losing some of my key players?’
She bit her lip. ‘I’m going to need to put some thought into this, no matter how painful it is.’

***

“La-Iin, I’ve forgiven a lot of what you’ve done. I’d have to in order to go along with the things you want me to, but I have to draw a line here!”
La-Iin stared down Shuu-Kena, whose eyes were brimming with tears. “I thought you didn’t like your family.”
“We might not get along, but they are my family nonetheless,” she said, standing her ground. “I’m not going to watch you make them into shells of their former selves!”
La-Iin grit her teeth. “So what do you want me to do with them!? You realize they were opposing me, right? I had to get rid of them somehow!”
“You couldn’t have just jailed them, though? Is that beyond the realm of what you can do? Besides, what you said to me, it proves something. You’re no better than my family. I don’t know why I thought you were different. I’m so stupid.”
“Shuu-Kena.”
“Go away, La-Iin. I don’t want to talk to you.”
“This isn’t a matter of wanting to or not wanting to. You realize you are my scout, yes? There are no options for you here. If you want so badly to oppose me, then you are welcome to join your family in the torture chamber.”
Shuu-Kena’s eyes widened in horror. “I–I–”
“You are a selfish person too, Shuu-Kena. Don’t think you’re better than me.”
“You really are no different from my family…”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “I give you one day to prove yourself. If by tomorrow you’re still acting this way, or if you have done anything to deliberately betray me, you’re going to join your family. Consider yourself lucky I’m giving you this leniency at all. And who knows, I might just take it away, good behavior or no…”

“Big sister…no, La-Iin….when we were little kids, I thought you were gonna do things differently.”
“What, did you think they were empty words? Did you think that ruling the world meant that I would make everyone happy? What did you think it was, Ei-Tio?”
“…different than this. I don’t know.” She lowered her head. “You know, big sister, I was flying over the cages yesterday, just stretching my wings. And I saw two familiar people shoved into the same cage.”
“Oh?”
“My Darseen and Floma,” she said bitterly. “I realized something, big sister. You’re different than how I knew you to be. I know you’re evil. I never cared about that, not at all. I knew you wanted to rule the world. And I know, maybe I thought a little more idealistically than I should have, but can you blame me? I’m still technically a kid Vampire! I don’t understand this, La-Iin. I don’t.”
“Then I’ll explain. I’ve wanted to rule the world since I was little. It’s the ultimate power. The best expression of one’s evil. I can do what I want when I’m in charge of the world, like I am now. But ruling the world is a precarious position. Even with San-Kyung and my other allies at my side, we’re a small group compared to the billions of people out there in the world. So I need to be careful as I spread my dominion.”
“What?”
“Does it still not make any sense?”
Ei-Tio shook her head. “No, it doesn’t. I’m sorry, big sister, but I can’t do this anymore. I love helping you, and I don’t hate you. But there’s something different about you. It feels like you care about yourself above everyone else. And I’m sure you always have, but this just isn’t right. It feels like this power has made you hate almost everyone else. You love your Mama, right? Then why is she rotting away in a cage?”
“I have my reasons.”
“And you can never give explanations to me. Not even your “sister” gets to hear it. Does San-Kyung? Or is he censored from this too?”
“Why are you questioning this now, Ei-Tio?”
Ei-Tio spread her wings. “I just needed to know if my decision was the right one. I’m sorry, big sister. I’m not going to oppose you. I’m not going to try and kill you, and I’m not going to hate you. But I can’t stay here like this. I’m going to go someplace else, someplace far away where life is happier and not horrible like this…someplace where even the most evil of people actually care about other people.”
She took off before La-Iin could get a word in edgewise. La-Iin was tempted to fly after her, but after Shuu-Kena’s opposition, she was starting to feel dejected.

“Mit-Sun…”
“She hasn’t been in the best of conditions lately. I’m dubious as to how much longer she’ll survive.”
“Do you even care that your own mother is dying?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “Do you know who else is dying? San-Kyung. Maybe not as quickly as Mama, but I’m going to lose him soon too. I’ll be sad if Mama dies, but it isn’t as if we’ve talked much lately anyway.”
Asul-Zenza shook his head. “This is ridiculous. I understand the three of us were never exactly a proper family, but not a one of us hated each other. Not even I and Mit-Sun hated each other. Has this changed in recent years, La-Iin?”
“I was getting back at Mama for what she did to me as a child. That’s all.”
“I saw you lots once you hit your sixth years, La-Iin. If Mit-Sun was doing something so drastic that it warranted years-long torture, I would have known. But as it stands her worst offense is that she was not quite ready for parenting. For someone in that situation, I would say she’s done quite well.”
“You and I think differently then, Dami. What, are you going to start taking her side now? I thought you liked me better than you liked her.”
“I do, that’s true, but…watching her waste away like this, it’s just too painful. And watching you turn into what you’ve become…nobody ever thought otherwise on the subject of your evil, La-Iin. But I don’t think any of us expected this level of coldness.”
“Then you were expecting me to be friendly when I have to rule the world? How deluded are you?”
Asul-Zenza flinched. “That’s it. I’m sorry, La-Iin, but I can’t put up with this. I don’t want to oppose you, but you’re not giving me much of an option.”
La-Iin grit her teeth. “So that’s how it will be, is it?”
“There’s still a chance to make up on this, of course,” he said quickly. “And besides, when I said oppose, I never meant with an army at my side. I simply met fighting you until you would help Mit-Sun–”
“One thing you should have learned from me, Dami–”
She walked over to him and gripped his shoulders tight.
“Don’t reveal your plans. That’s stupid.”
‘Not Dami. You can’t be considering this.’ La-Iin was trying her hardest not to show weakness, but it was difficult when the person opposing her was Asul-Zenza. She felt she couldn’t prepare to deal with his betrayal, but when she saw the look in his eyes, she had no doubt in her mind that he was serious.
“Sorry, Dami. No, I don’t owe you an apology. You’re the betrayar, after all.”
Her reluctance to act was strong, but La-Iin ignored it and bit into her arm. Behind Asul-Zenza, La-Iin caught sight of Mit-Sun, weakly staring up at her. Just from the look on her face, La-Iin felt that she would soon have to deal with Mit-Sun as well.

“Hello, La-Iin. It’s good you woke me up for the first time in I’m not sure how long, because we need to talk.”
“Indeed we do. A lot has happened between the last time we talked and this time…”
“When I said ‘we need to talk’, I more meant that I need to talk to you about a certain subject matter.”
La-Iin levitated Bes-Isa close to her. “What?”
“Well, it HAS been years. I know from what you’ve told me that you’re working Sale-Dessu quite hard. And I know from what you’ve shown me that the majority of the population is inside cages, and those who aren’t are not exactly people I have to worry about.”
“What are you getting at?”
“I want to be made autonomous, La-Iin. I think it’s been long enough. If you’ve really been working Sale-Dessu as hard as you make it sound, and after all those years he took care of Eul-Bok I’m sure that making me autonomous would be no trouble for him. Then I can help you more directly, that and actually have the freedom to walk around. In your world I don’t need to worry about being spotted because nobody can do anything about me.”
“I can’t grant that, Bes-Isa.”
“I should’ve known. I knew I shouldn’t get my hopes up, but I did anyway. Years passing hasn’t changed that certain side of you.”
“It has nothing to do with not changing, Bes-Isa. It has to do with the fact that betrayal has been common in my dominion lately. Thankfully nothing large enough to pose a threat to my rule over the world, but it’s concerning. And especially with what you’ve just said to me, I have no reason to believe that you wouldn’t betray me if I made a move you disliked. You are as evil as I am, after all.”
“I haven’t even done anything to you! Do you just WANT me to betray you?”
“No.” La-Iin tried to imagine a future in which Bes-Isa gained the autonomy she so wanted. She could imagine someone, their suppressants having worn off just the right amount, lashing out at her. She could imagine something going horribly wrong and her turning her back on her.
Especially with how Bes-Isa could be sometimes, it was a risk she couldn’t take.
“La-Iin!? I’ve been by your side nearly your whole life and yet that still isn’t enough to have your trust!?”
“It’s hard to give trust when you’re the ruler of the world, Bes-Isa. You’d understand if you were in my position.” She lifted up her hand. “I can’t take any risks right now, Bes-Isa. I’m sure you understand.”
She levitated Bes-Isa over to a small case and closed it. Bes-Isa had yelled something on her way there, but La-Iin couldn’t understand it, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

La-Iin walked over to Sale-Dessu’s chamber and opened the door.
“Sale-Dessu.”
Sale-Dessu didn’t respond.
“Sale-Dessu! To attention!”
Sale-Dessu glared at her.
“Sale-Dessu! Why aren’t you saying anything!?”
“For years now I’ve been at your beck and call. And I didn’t mind, La-Iin.” His voice was barely a whisper; La-Iin could barely hear it even as she walked closer to him. “I always loved studying powers and practicing. And not everything you used of mine was for ruling the world, I appreciated that. But you took Eul-Bok away from me for no reason other than Bes-Isa didn’t like him. And only now I’ve started to realize how stupid I’ve been all these years…”
“What are you talking about?”
Sale-Dessu lifted up his wand and fired off at her. La-Iin dodged. Sale-Dessu’s expression was one of rage. Stuck in a claustrophobic room with an angry Warlock, La-IIn felt that if it wasn’t for one key element, she would be terrifed for her life, and that was the reluctance she sensed in Sale-Dessu’s moves. He was slightly lethargic and did not choose spells that would badly harm her. Still, as it went on his spells became ones intended to trap her. She couldn’t keep doding him forever–and there was no reason she should be scared of him.
She flew behind him, grabbed his wand, and bit into his shoulder. Sale-Dessu gave a pained gasp. La-Iin sucked blood from him until he was seeming lightheaded.
“I was wondering when you might turn on me,” La-Iin sighed. “I figured keeping a Warlock off of power suppressants would end up being dangerous sooner or later. But I did need your powers at the time. Now you’ve proven to me that I don’t.”
Sale-Dessu’s eyelids fluttered and he didn’t respond. La-Iin dragged him off, only struggling slightly.

When La-Iin head to the front of the castle, she was surprised to find Fer-Shi crying.
“What’s wrong?”
Fer-Shi sniffled. “Oh, La-Iin…I just don’t understand what you’re doing anymore. I never did, but turning on people who love you? I really thought that no matter what, you’d never do that…”
“What are you talking about?”
“I heard about what happened with Mr. Ghneckdo. And with Sale-Dessu. And I heard that what happened with Mr. Ghneckdo happened because of the way you were treating your mom…” She sniffled again. “Why are you doing this?”
“I have to show those who betray me that they’ll regret what they’ve done. I already was unable to show this to Ei-Tio, so I have to be extra strict with further offenders.” She glared at Fer-Shi. “Don’t tell me you’re next.”
“La-Iin, it’s just…it’s getting to the point where I don’t see you anymore. I don’t like what you’ve done, not at all, but I’ve put up with it anyway because I could still tell that no matter how horrible what you were doing was, it was still you, you know? But now I don’t see that anymore. I just don’t understand what changed!”
La-Iin sighed. “La-Iin?”
“Ruling the world has never been an easy job…and I realize when I have to make sacrifices. Do you want to join your parents in a cage!?”
Fer-Shi’s expression looked stricken. “La-Iin, please! I know I can’t ask you to change, but please, don’t let this hateful part of you overtake you completely! I don’t want to have to stop you!”
La-Iin sighed. “That’s enough for me.” She bit into her arm. Fer-Shi seemed to notice what she was doing and ran off, but the strength from her ability made it easy for her to catch up. She slammed her to the floor and pinned her down.
“It doesn’t matter if you betray me, Fer-Shi. At the very least, I still have San-Kyung.”

“…what?”
San-Kyung glared at her. “Listen closely this time. Dosa-Mina died. I found him in his cage this morning, rotting away. He looked awful.” San-Kyung’s expression became one of hurt. “I’m going to bet this has nothing to do with sickness and everything to do with neglect. Or rather, a sickness caused by neglect.”
“I’ve had a lot on my mind lately, San-Kyung. Too much has been going on for me to pay attention to all of the slaves.”
“So you couldn’t even pay attention to the one “slave” I always wanted you to keep an eye on. Even being aware of how close we were before all this happened.”
“San-Kyung, you’re not the only one who lost a friend recently.”
San-Kyung growled. “La-Iin, now that the timing seems perfect, there’s something I need to tell you. Do you remember how I approached you and said I loved you, just when the world was on the cusp of being in your grasp?”
“How could I forget?”
“Did you notice anything strange about the timing?”
La-Iin’s confusion only lasted a moment. “No…”
“Exactly. You were only a means to an end for me.” San-Kyung struck his hands. “In your vulnerable state, I don’t see where the problem in taking you down is. You’ve been able to put away everyone else, but I know how you feel towards me. You’re in shock. You weren’t expecting this. So now’s my time to strike.”
He walked closer, and La-Iin could feel the heat from his flames. She felt at a standstill, and still deeply in shock, but she knew what she need to do. She came to her feet and flew at San-Kyung, knocking him to the ground and biting hard into his neck. She sucked his blood, then continued biting, all the while in a red haze and unaware of what was going on around her.
By the time she came to her senses, San-Kyung was unconscious, his breathing shallow. She let out a mournful wail and finally allowed herself to cry.

—–
La-Iin flinched.
“La-Iin! Why are you crying?”
La-Iin wiped at her eyes, but she still couldn’t forget what she had imagined. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t see a way to effectively prepare for betrayal–she could barely imagine how some of her allies would betray her in the first place.
But the thought of San-Kyung’s betrayal….it was something she wouldn’t put past him.
She clung to Mit-Sun and tried to stifle her tears, but instead Mit-Sun stroked her head and kept her crying for far longer than she intended to.

2.579.Sister Evil

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 579
“Sister Evil”

The Cahongyun house was fairly quiet that day. Mit-Sun watched La-Iin play with Choungetsu, who made the occasional playful growl but otherwise, the house remained consistently quiet, and so far it had been a peaceful Sunday.
Until someone banged hard on the door.
“Huh?”
“I wonder who that is.” Mit-Sun stood up and answered the door. She was surprised to see Shi-Bara and Jul-Ense, both holding Ei-Tio and seemingly on the verge of tears.
“We need your help, Miss Cahongyun!” Shi-Bara said. “Something’s gone wrong with Ei-Tio!”
“Huh?” Mit-Sun glanced at Ei-Tio. She seemed happy enough despite her parents’ frantic moods, and she could see no injuries or signs she was sick. “Um…wrong where?”
They let themselves in and closed the door. Mit-Sun huffed. They sat on the couch, Ei-Tio between them.
“Big sister!” She squealed.
“Ei-Tio? Why are you over?”
“We’ll get to that,” Shi-Bara said before Ei-Tio could even open her mouth. “You see, we both try to make time in every day to play with Ei-Tio. And sometimes we even let Ei-Tio decide the game. But recently things went a little strange when playtime rolled around, and our little Ei-Tio…well, she…”
“She said she wanted to become the Evil Queen of All Vampire Societies,” Jul-Ense said.
“…so?” Mit-Sun didn’t see the problem, though evidently even La-Iin saw this as something to take seriously, for she was staring at Ei-Tio with wide eyes and a grin.
“Well, it was a weird choice for a game, but we went along with it anyway. Maybe it doesn’t mean anything, that’s what we thought, but she’s obsessed with the idea now and I think she sees it as more than just a game!”
Mit-Sun sighed.
“We wanted to come to you since you’re La-Iin’s primary caretaker and you deal with a….difference in morality with her every day.”
“So, you want to be evil,” La-Iin said. The joy in her tone was so evident it made Mit-Sun cringe. Ei-Tio hopped off the couch and bared her fangs.
“Yes! I’m gonna become the Evil Queen of All Vampire Societies! ‘Cause queens are cooler than princesses,” she said.
“Striving so low? Only all Vampire societies? There are all sorts of species societies around the world! And here where I live, all the species live together.”
Ei-Tio watched her with admiration.
“La-Iin, please. Ei-Tio’s parents are worried about this. You’re just goading her on.”
“You two are being ridiculous! If you’re so worried about her turning out evil, why do you let her around me?”
“Please, La-Iin!” Mit-Sun snapped. “I’m sorry about that. But I’m not completely sure how to help you. I hate to say this, but with La-Iin it’s seeming near impossible that she’ll have a change of morality anytime soon, if ever. She started acting this way before she was Ei-Tio’s age, so I don’t know about turning her around…”
Tears seemed to be brimming in her parents’ eyes, and for a moment Mit-Sun felt as though she had said the wrong thing. “We–we understand that’s a possibility. We saw that with you and La-Iin. We just want to hear how to handle it if things do end up that way…”
“O-oh?”
“We’re prepared,” Shi-Bara said with a smile. “I….promise….oh, Jul-Ense, we tried so hard to raise her to be good! Where did we go wrong!?”
“Maybe she was just born that way. Or it might have been La-Iin….no offense, Miss Cahongyun.”
“Absolutely none taken. I know better than anyone else how La-Iin can be…”
“I know better than anyone else how I can be, and I was preparing her for this.” She turned back to Ei-Tio. “As for your plans, I have a better idea. You’re striving too low, but I have plans as well. Perhaps we can combine these plans and make something better out of it!”
“Yeah?”
“In fact, I had the perfect idea. My plan involves ruling the world, but the specific intricacies–”
“Intri…cacies?”
La-Iin blinked. “The specific details about it are difficult to go on with on my own. Naturally, I’m going to have help in the future, but I’ve been wondering if you would like to help me, too.”
“Can I be a evil queen still?”
“You can be an evil combat queen.”
Ei-Tio beamed. “Cool!”
“In fact, I can see it all in my head. You and I, taking on the world together, at each other’s side through all the years we’ll live! It’ll be a large-scale disaster that will last nine-hundred–”
La-Iin’s sudden pause startled Ei-Tio. “Big sister?”
Ei-Tio’s words didn’t reach her. ‘Wait a second. Now that I think about it, isn’t this plan exactly what I had for Ai-Reia!?’
La-Iin had never given her plan about Ei-Tio much thought in the past–she assumed that Ei-Tio would be helping her in some way or another, but had never thought of her exact role like she had with the other people she intended on involving. Now that she had some semblance of an idea, she realized it greatly resembled her plan for Ai-Reia, just with Ei-Tio having more power than the former girl.
All it made her think on was her failure with Ai-Reia, and whether or not it was exactly a good idea to use that plan which had failed with Ei-Tio. Ei-Tio did seem to be on the path towards evil of her own volition contrary to Ai-Reia, but would it still end up with such a great rift between the two that she had to consider her an enemy?
It was difficult to think about.
“Actually, Ei-Tio…” Ei-Tio was watching her intently, as if waiting for her next words. “I don’t think we should have an exact plan just yet.”
“Huh? Why not?”
“You need to think about what you want to do if you’re going to pursue the path of evil. Evil isn’t like good or neutral. You have to put a lot of thought into it, and you have to be careful. Nearly everyone thinks that people should be good. That’s why evil’s so much harder, but it’s a lot more worth it. If you still want to be an evil queen vampire society ruler, then I will help you plan for it. But some of my ideas from when I was four have changed. Did I tell you one of my ideas from six has even changed?”
“Really?”
La-Iin nodded. “Especially if you want to do something large-scale. So first, you need to think. But you have plenty of time.” She gave Ei-Tio a rough pat on the head. Ei-Tio flinched, then giggled.
“You know, she almost sounded like a big sister there. If only she hadn’t been encouraging her to be evil.” Mit-Sun sighed.
“She helped us figure something out though,” Jul-Ense said. “Ei-Tio is still a young child. And so is La-Iin. There is always room for change.”
“Huh…” Mit-Sun watched the two begin to play. “You know, I’m not completely sure about how I’d feel about a good La-Iin.”
“That’s also a good point. As long as Ei-Tio doesn’t do anything drastic, we can handle it, maybe. It’ll be hard at first, but if she turns to just writing violent books or whatever, I think that’ll be okay! And she is still little, like Jul-Ense said. We can’t get all worked up about this right now.”
“That’s true. But if she does end up staying that way…well, I’d say now’s the prime time to start turning her to a hobby she might be able to filter that evil into.”
“Good idea.” Jul-Ense and Shi-Bara hugged Mit-Sun. “Thanks, Miss Cahongyun.”
“Thank you!”
“Big sister?”
“Hm?”
“Do my parents want me not evil?”
La-Iin shook her head. “Of course they do. They’re goody-goodies. Goody-goodies want goody-goody kids. But I’ll tell you one thing that might make that better.”
“What’s that?”
“Sometimes they take it better than you might think.” She pointed out their parents, sitting on the couch in their messy hug.

—–
“Thank you, Miss Cahongyun. It was nice to have someone to turn to for advice. We thought of contacting Asul-Zenza, but since we heard he sees La-Iin on an infrequent basis….”
“It’s not a problem. You two and Ei-Tio are welcome whenever, although some advance notice next time would be appreciated.”
“Thank you again, Miss Cahongyun.” Jul-Ense said.
Ei-Tio waved to La-Iin. “Make sure to think about your role!”
“I will!”
“Well, we’ll see you soon! Bye, Cahongyuns!”
“Bye bye, Cahongyuns! Bye, big sister!”
The trio took off into the sky. “By the way, I heard part of that little conversation with Ei-Tio. What made you pause like that?”
“I was just remembering failed plans. That’s all you need to know. But no matter what happens with Ei-Tio, I think it will be all right. The important part is our bond. From that I can make anything.”
“I’m not sure if that sounds sweet or suspicious.”
“See it as you will.” La-Iin glanced over her shoulder at Choungetsu. “Want to go on a walk?”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Sure, why not!”

25.571.The Daylight Journey

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 571
“The Daylight Journey”

“We’re rooting for you, Asul-Zenza!”
“Yeah, we’re looking forward to seeing your success!”
“Do your best, Asul-Zenza. Good luck.”
As Asul-Zenza flew through the sky, the words of his book club friends rang in his mind. Their words gave him a renewed determination, and he began to fly faster as his destination came into sight.

“It’s too hot outside,” La-Iin panted.
“It is pretty hot, but you’re acting like it’s a hundred degrees.”
“It feels like much more than that,” she gasped. “Maybe an evil heat ray really would be a good idea…”
“Huh?”
“Nothing.”
“I guess you know what they say, though: Vampires and the sun just aren’t friends.”
“We could be friends if I really can make an evil heat ray…ugh…”
Just as La-Iin was feeling she would pass out from the heat, a sudden gust of wind blew into her face and cooled her down. Sighing in relief, she looked up and was surprised to see Asul-Zenza smiling down at her.
“Dami!?”
“What are you doing here now?” Mit-Sun sighed. “Haven’t you intruded enough this month?”
Asul-Zenza opened his mouth to protest, but Mit-Sun spoke faster. “First you take her out for a Vampire tradition, then you come to chastise me about my treatment of her–and I’m grateful, but still! That’s not even counting the times you’ve called her!”
“There’s no sin in calling my daughter,” he said.
“You know, at least the first time you gave a warning and the second was for advice. What the hell–er, heck, is this for?”
“I know about hell already, Mama. I know how to say f@%k too, so why do you care?”
“La-Iin!!”
“Really, La-Iin, you shouldn’t curse so freely,” he said. “Mit-Sun, I apologize for not warning you in advance. I admit that this is my fault. However, I have a good reason for visiting. Do you know what day today is?”
“July the 25th.” Her eyes widened. “Wait a second, oh no…”
“Precisely! And now you see the reason I am here. My intentions are not to intrude upon you as I did last year, but instead to take La-Iin out with me while I have some fun. However, I only intend on keeping her out during daylight hours. I don’t intend on returning her home at midnight.”
He bowed. “I beg of you, Mit-Sun. I understand I’ve been taking advantage lately. I understand that I did not call you first. I am deeply sorry for this. But please, let me have this today. You’ve been far more amicable to me than you have been all the other years La-Iin’s been alive. So please, grant me this?”
Mit-Sun flinched. ‘I remember that expression from when we were dating. He’s trying to get to me!’ She wasn’t swayed, at least not until she caught the smile on La-Iin’s face. She seemed to be thrilled about the idea of going with Asul-Zenza to celebrate his birthday, and she knew that her and La-Iin’s relationship was already having trouble enough without her denying them something that was so important to them.
“Fine,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Thank you, Mit-Sun!” He hugged her close. Mit-Sun bit his shoulder and he drew back. “Sorry, I got slightly carried away there, heh heh.”
“Do it again and the answer is no.”
“You better be careful, Dami. She might kick you in the penis if she gets too mad!”
Asul-Zenza stared at Mit-Sun. “Just what are you teaching her!?”
“Take my word on this, Asul-Zenza: La-Iin teaches herself and does what she want.”
“You should know that by now, Dami.”
“I know, but–I just–I wasn’t expecting to hear you say that…” His face flushed.
“I’ve know that word for a long time, Dami. It’s nothing new to me.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well, let’s put that aside for now…thank you, Mit-Sun. You won’t be too lonely without La-Iin, will you?”
“Not any more than I already have been lately.”
“Oh, Mit-Sun.” He sighed. “You still have people on your side who aren’t Haner. Don’t you still have your Papa?”
“My father.
“Right, right, father. Anyway, you aren’t alone. I just wanted to say that. And loathe as I am to add this, especially with how much I resented Haner for a time–I hope all works out with him.”
“That’s unusually courteous of you.”
“I think you forget sometimes who played what role in our break-up.” Asul-Zenza spread his wings. “Well, La-Iin, is there anything you need before we go?”
“Only a little something.”
“Get it now, then. I’d like to get a move on as soon as possible.”
La-Iin nodded and ran inside the house.
“She’s so nice to you. I really don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.”
“Honestly, I don’t understand either. But who knows, maybe something will change soon enough.”
“You’re more hopeful about that than I am.”
When La-Iin came back outside, Asul-Zenza stretched his wings. “Right! Ready to go, La-Iin? Oh, and before we go, do you want me to carry you on the flight? This is another long one, after all.”
“Dami, please.” She spread her wings. “I can go at least most of the way, that I guarantee.”
“We’ll see about that one. Well, we’ll see you again soon, Mit-Sun! And, thank you.”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin took off.
“You’re welcome,” she mumbled to herself.

***

“Dami, where are we going today anyway?”
“We’re going to be in the society I live in.”
“But where are we going?”
“Oh, a few places. Although I warn you, they might not all be interesting to you. And a few of my friends will be there as well.”
“Friends…?”
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! You’re here!”
La-Iin startled and nearly fell out the sky. Asul-Zenza steadied her. Ahead of them were three Vampires.
“And it looks like you managed to bring La-Iin!”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, La-Iin…um…it isn’t Ghneckdo, is it?”
“No?”
“These are the members of my book club, La-Iin, and some of my friends.”
“My name is Haroudi Lise-Mara.”
“And I’m Nierdan Xelshy-MItter!”
“Aldesdrin Niser-Zanta. I’ve heard a lot about you, but judging by your expression, you haven’t heard a lot about me.”
“I don’t bring up my book club often around her,” Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I much prefer to focus on what’s happening when I’m with her. But, now that we’re all acquainted, I know what we can do first!”
“So you’re taking the lead?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Of course I am! Whose birthday is it?”
Lise-Mara rolled her eyes. “Just don’t act obnoxious, Asul-Zenza.”
The five Vampires took off, with Asul-Zenza keeping the lead. In the midst of their flight, Lise-Mara moved closer to La-Iin.
“La-Iin, was it? Considering your age and wingspan I’m surprised you’ve been able to keep yourself up this long. Or do you live closer than I thought?”
“Don’t underestimate my wingspan, Haroudi,” La-Iin said. “I am my Dami’s daughter!”
Lise-Mara giggled. “That you are! I guess large wings really are a Ghneckdo thing. Well, I hope you have fun.”
La-Iin was beginning to wonder whether or not she had made a mistake, that and what Asul-Zenza told the members of his book club she was like. The group continued onwards as Asul-Zenza picked up speed and La-Iin began to falter.
“Hey, Asul-Zenza! La-Iin’s falling behind!”
Asul-Zenza turned around and grabbed La-Iin out of the sky. Noticing that the members of his book club were watching her, she felt her face flush.
“You did better than you did last time,” Asul-Zenza said as he head back for the lead.
“Of course I did. All I do is improve…”
‘I’m starting to think this was a mistake.’

“What a nice little blood cafe! Do you come here often, Asul-Zenza?”
“Yeah, have you been holdin’ out on us!?”
“Now, now. Besides, I’ve come here before with Niser-Zanta.”
“Yeah, but it’s kind of creepy coming here with only one other person.”
“Well, I had a taste for blood, I had the vuyong, and I wanted to bring La-Iin here.”
La-Iin looked up. Asul-Zenza’s, and the members of his book club, had their eyes focused on La-Iin. She tried to ignore them and turn her attention back to the Goathoof blood in her cup.
“She’s kinda young for a bloodsucker, isn’t she?” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yes, she might be, but you have to remember she’s half-Normal. La-Iin’s aging pace is different than ours.”
“Interesting. I might have to look more into that tonight.”
“Tonight we’ll be busy,” Asul-Zenza said.
“You’re keeping us out that late?”
“I made a promise to Mit-Sun that I wouldn’t keep La-Iin out that late, so not all of us, but as for the rest of you, yes.”
‘There was no point to bringing me here, Dami. You seem perfectly fine with your stupid book club!’ La-Iin kept the retort to herself, but she couldn’t keep her wings from flapping just a bit. She began to suck down the rest of the Goathoof blood.
“Aw, her tiny fangs are so cute,” Lise-Mara sighed. “Maybe I should adopt a child of my own someday.”
“You, as a Floma?” Niser-Zanta said.
“What, do you think I’d be a bad Floma?”
“It’s not that, it just, well…you know what, never mind. If this guy can be a Dami, you can probably be a Floma.”
Lise-Mara beamed. “Thank you very much, Niser-Zanta.”
‘I can’t take this!’ “I want another cup of blood!”
“Certainly, La-Iin. What kind?”
“Vampire–” Asul-Zenza and the book club looked shocked. “I meant, Bearperson!”
“Ooh, a good choice. I’ll go order some!”
“Wow, he accepted that demand pretty easily,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Asul-Zenza’s always struck me as a passive Dami.”
‘I can’t take it!’ La-Iin was glad for her expressionless face at that moment. When Asul-Zenza brought back the cup of Bearperson blood, she sucked it down quickly, then tapped Asul-Zenza on the shoulder. He motioned to the book club, then took La-Iin aside.
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I–um–where else are we going, Dami?”
“Hm? Well, I had some plans to head off on a daylight journey. Just a quick trip around, that and I wanted to stop at a sports center. Why?”
“Just…curious.”
Asul-Zenza smiled. “Thank you so much for coming along, La-Iin. I know it might be strange to adjust to being around me while I’m with friends, but I am so happy for you to be here. I’ve been blessed.”
“Not a problem, Dami,” La-Iin said, nearly hissing. “I–I would go with you any time to get away from Mama at her worst times.”
“Has something happened at home?”
“No, nothing in particular…” La-Iin covered her mouth to stifle the hiss.
“Alright, that’s good. We’re probably going to head off soon, so get ready!”
‘Dammit! If I can’t even stand up to my own Dami, ruling the world’s going to take longer than I expect it to! But then it’s also Dami’s birthday…I’ve become soft since that stupid meth incident!’
La-Iin could imagine several things she would rather be doing, yet still she went along with Asul-Zenza. Her desire to spend time with her father outweighed her frustration, though as the day progressed it wasn’t by much.

After a short journey and a quick trip to the nearby Vampira, Asul-Zenza, La-Iin and the book club had stopped at the sports center and geared up in athletic clothes. Soon after they had, Asul-Zenza began to toss a ball around.
“What game is this?”
“No game in particular. I’m not good with specific sports. I just like tossing balls around!”
“Just like I’d expect,” Niser-Zanta sighed.
La-Iin’s wings began to flap. “As if you know my Dami better than I do.”
“Sorry, La-Iin, but I do have you beat there. I’ve known him since before you were born. I knew him when he was head-over-heels for your mother!”
La-Iin began to look nauseous. “Niser-Zanta, don’t gloat at La-Iin. Both of you know me well for different reasons.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Asul-Zenza flew up closer to the roof of the sports rec. ‘Today has been such a fun day! I see good things on the horizon for sixty-six!’
“Is it strange to live with only one parent, La-Iin?” Lise-Mara asked.
“Why?”
“I was simply curious.”
“…”
“It is more polite to answer, yanno,” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“I don’t do polite unless I feel like it.”
“Guys, you’ve gotta remember what Asul-Zenza said, his daughter’s part of the evil side!”
“The more you say only influences my opinions of you.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Uh…”
Asul-Zenza overheard the conversation and caught a glimpse of La-Iin’s back. Her wings were flapping rapidly as if she were agitated. He sighed. ‘Though I guess a birthday can’t be perfect, of course…’
Putting the thought aside, he tossed the ball with his full force. The ball slammed against the floor and hit Niser-Zanta in the face.
“Ow ow!”
“Are you alright, Niser-Zanta!?”
“It looks like he has a bit of a bloody nose,” Lise-Mara said.
“I feel like my teeth broke into my mouth,” he cried.
“Oh goodness, Niser-Zanta, I am so sorry. I did not mean to do that…”
Before Asul-Zenza could approach Niser-Zanta, he noticed La-Iin giggling to herself. It was quiet enough that it seemed none of his friends had heard her, but from his distance it was obvious.
“Now I know for certain that Asul-Zenza is dangerous,” he sighed. “Next time I’ll wear protective gear if we’re going somewhere that’s not the book club…”

***

“The sun’s starting to set,” Niser-Zanta said. “Hey, how far away does La-Iin live? Are you going to be able to get her back home soon enough?”
“I fly fast when I’m determined,” Asul-Zenza said. “Of course, if La-Iin would like to stay out for a little longer, I can always accommodate.”
“No, I don’t mind.” La-Iin broke free of Asul-Zenza’s grasp and flew in the opposite direction of his book club. “In fact, I bet I could fly home on my own with my determination!”
The book club giggled. “You must give her that she is a feisty girl,” Lise-Mara said. La-Iin’s face flushed.
“Well, um, given that, then, I suppose I should take her home now,” he said. “You three can meet me at the border to Vampira. So long as you stay there, I don’t mind where you go. I might be back soon, but it will most certainly be nightfall by that time.”
“Alright.”
“See you soon, Asul-Zenza! Bye, La-Iin!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“Yeah, see you two. And it was good to get to know you, La-Iin. You’re definitely Asul-Zenza’s kid, that’s for sure.”
“What does that mean?”
Asul-Zenza and La-Iin flew a distance away from his book club.
“So, I can guess by your reactions that you didn’t much care for my friends.”
“No, I didn’t.”
“I suppose that’s fine. I will admit I’m a little disappointed, but I expected this when I invited you out. I’m really sorry if you didn’t have a good time.”
“They see me as a little kid.”
“You are…ah, who am I to speak. I am still very grateful for you coming out in the first place.” He hugged La-Iin close. “Thank you, La-Iin.”
“I did try to hold it in for you, Dami. But they were annoying. …I guess Aldesdrin wasn’t as annoying as the other two, but I really couldn’t stand that Haroudi lady.”
“She can be a bit obnoxious sometimes,” Asul-Zenza giggled. “But thank you again, La-Iin.”
The two head back to Bledger, the setting sun behind them.
“This is the best part so far,” La-Iin said.
“Really? I’ve been having a lot of fun all day.”
“I guess that’s fine. Where are you going after you get rid of me, anyway?”
“Please, La-Iin, when you say it like that it sounds so harsh. That’s not what I’m doing at all. I just don’t want to be kicked by Mit-Sun and she gets angry when I keep you out too late. Also, where I’m going with the book club serves alcohol and they’re a bit rough on young Vampires.”
La-Iin smirked. “That will be hard for you, won’t it, Dami?”
Asul-Zenza gave a small smile. “Of course it won’t be! I’m a fully-grown Vampire, after all!”
“So you say!”

—–
“This place is fancy! How’d you afford it, Asul-Zenza!?”
“By saving up.”
“Really, Asul-Zenza, you shouldn’t be paying on your birthday. Let me foot the bill. I have enough vuyong.”
“Lise-Mara, I couldn’t let you do that!”
“I could.”
“Your blood alcohols.”
A waiter set down glasses of blood in front of the four.
“I heard the alcohol in this is diluted. I sure hope so!”
“Yeah, that’s one sign of how young a Vampire you are: whether or not you can handle your liquor!”
“Well, I’ll show you that I can.”
“Pardon me–” The waiter said. “But may I recommend our special? We have a special blend of blood alcohol today, the “Leukemia Stir”. Would any of you like it? It’s on the house when you buy two or more blood alcohols.”
“…”
“…”
“…”
“Maybe next time we should go someplace else.”
“Excuse me?” The waiter began to look indignant.

24.570.The Rivalry of Bes-Isa and Choungetsu

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

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

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

18.564.Plans for the People

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13.559.To Find Enjoyment

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 559
“To Find Enjoyment”

“La-Iin, why are you huffing like that?”
“Mama, I’ve realized something. You never did experience true love, did you?”
“What!? I don’t want to hear that coming from your mouth.”
“Why not?”
“Because I know who you’re talking about. Besides, you’re seven. It’s just weird.”
“Age doesn’t matter to me, Mama.”
Mit-Sun’s expression became one of concern.
“Fine, I won’t talk about it. But you asked why I was huffing like that, and that’s why! Also it’s too hot in here! Why’d you have to go and make something so hot for breakfast when it’s so hot outside?”
“I had a taste for it!” Mit-Sun groaned. She continued to grumble as she finished her breakfast.
“I have to go to work today.”
“I know. I certainly am lucky, having a school break.”
“You could bother doing your homework, I hope you know. Asking you to be good is like asking you to do something horrible, but don’t set the house on fire, alright?”
“I’m not an Animated Pumpkin, Mama. Besides, have I ever done anything like that?”
“No, not really, and you’ve been fairly good during Summer break–don’t look at me like that, you know what I mean. But having certain conversations with you makes me wary sometimes.”
“Don’t be wary. Of course I’ll be one-hundred-percent innocent. I’ll just talk with Bes-Isa and play with Choungetsu and his toys, maybe listen to some music and draw! Perfectly innocent.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “That tone you’re using makes me think you’re lying. But I’m gonna have to give you the benefit of the doubt, since I’ve gotta get going. Just don’t hurt yourself, alright?”
“Now you don’t have to worry about that, Mama. I’m powerful. I’ll be fine.”
“Uh-huh.” Mit-Sun slipped on her shoes. “See you later, La-Iin.” She head out the door.
La-Iin sat there, a mischievous grin on her face. Choungetsu walked over to her with a toy in his mouth.
“There’s no time to play, Choungetsu. But how would you like to accompany me on a little journey again?”
Choungetsu gave a confused whimper. “I know I saw him just yesterday, but San-Kyung’s been on my mind lately. After all, I had luck with Mama turning down Haner. Maybe soon enough, I’ll have luck with San-Kyung finally realizing my true charms!”

***

“Finished your homework early, huh, San-Kyung?”
“I finished most of it.”
“He’s been working hard since Summer started! Though he did play with Dosa-Mina a bit yesterday.”
“Huh. Good for you, balancing fun and work. Wish I knew how to do that better!” Salsh-Era tightened his tie. “Well, I suppose I should be going. I’ll see you two later!” He pat San-Kyung on the head and gave Del-Kyuus a kiss on the cheek.
“Do you have to do that, Dad?”
“The kiss or the pat?” He asked coyly. “Either way, yes. Well, I’ll see you two later!”
Del-Kyuus waved as Salsh-Era head out the door. “So, San-Kyung, what are you planning on doing today?”
“I don’t know yet.”
“I hope you don’t plan on just lying around doing nothing! Maybe you’d like to play with me?”
“I’m not really in the mood for playing…maybe I’ll just finish my homework and study a bit. School’s not all that hard for me but I think they were giving me Grade 12 sheets starting this year…they really overestimate me.”
“I don’t think they overestimate you, San-Kyung. You’re a self-made smart boy, and I’m sure you’ll put those smarts to use.”
‘If you only knew in what way,’ he wanted to say, but he bit his tongue and kept from saying it. ‘Not like that’s gonna help me with what I really want, anyway…’
“I think I will study a bit more,” he said. “Maybe we’ll do something later, Mom.”
“Alright! Maybe later we can go out and get something special to drink! Just me and you, San-Kyung.”
“Yeah right.”
Even having cheered up since that fateful day in May, it was often that San-Kyung would dwell back on the paper that seemed to mark his dream as impossible. As desperate as he was to search for some other method, he was scared that it would all be in vain just like his previous idea, that nothing would come of it. In his deepest moments of desperation he had considered using the power drugs he had heard about, but had been thoroughly turned away by the idea of finding dealers and the after-effects of weakness.
So he studied in silence, looking for something new to read over, when something slammed against his window.
“Agh!”
“Something wrong, San-Kyung?”
“Er–” Narrowing his eyes, he yelled, “No!”
“You sure?”
“Yes!” He stood up and head for the door. “I’m going to go and check something, Mom.”
“Are you sure nothing’s wrong? You seem frazzled.”
“I’m sure.” He head out the door and stomped over to his window.
“What the hell are you doing here!?”
“I wanted to see you again,” La-Iin said. San-Kyung noticed she seemed well-prepared for visiting him. Her dog’s leash tied tightly around her waist, she was holding a CD Player and the script for Isle of the Sirens was under her arm. Over her shoulder she was wearing a bag that seemed to be stuffed full of things he couldn’t see.
“What’d you bring all the stuff for!?”
“Well, yesterday your only option of something to do was to act in Isle of the Sirens. I wanted to give you more options and show you a good time!”
San-Kyung slapped his forehead. “Go away.”
“No. I lugged all of this all this way and I even brought Choungetsu because he seemed like he wanted to go. And this CD Player was heavy! I know you can dance well, so maybe you can show me again how well you can dance! After all, I’ve gotten taller since the Malicerie School Dance.”
“I’ve gotten taller as well, I hope you know.”
“Oh, I noticed~ But not as much as I would have if I hadn’t gained any height.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “I don’t have time for this.”
“Liar! You have plenty of time, I know it! You’re just trying to avoid me!”
“So what if I am? La-Iin, I get annoyed with Dosa-Mina at times. And you tend to be incredibly annoying when you’re trying to get my attention. Not to mention I know you have ulterior motives.”
“But–!”
“No.”
He walked back over to the door, but was only able to put his hand on the doorknob before La-Iin spoke.
“You know, I saw you inside and you looked sad. It reminded me of that time after I showed you that paper. I regret that, you know. You said it made you feel like all you did was a waste of time. I’m a master at finding things to do with my time!”
Choungetsu barked at her. “Stop trying to lie, Choungetsu! Anyway, all you were doing was sitting there and reading some study book! Maybe you don’t like me as much as Dosa-Mina, but I understand you well. And if you’re anything like me, breaks are a necessity. You never know how long it will take for you to accomplish your goal. So taking a break and not thinking about it is helpful.”
San-Kyung sighed. “You think this way because you have longer to live than me, La-Iin. So don’t act like you understand how it works for me.”
“Maybe I do, but San-Kyung, weren’t you doing more before? It seemed like before I gave you that paper, even though you didn’t like to do much, you still did more than you do now. I don’t plan on letting my mistake dominate your life!”
San-Kyung didn’t respond.
“San-Kyung–”
“Oh, shut up. Look, as I said I don’t have as much time as you do to what I need to do.” He gave another sigh. “But maybe you have a point. I’m not finding out anything the way I’m going. Dosa-Mina’s not finding out anything. I’m not doing anything worth my time.”
“See? I knew it! Accept my activities, San-Kyung!”
“Who said I was going to do that!?”
“You admitted I was right.”
“I said you have a point!”
La-Iin smiled. “San-Kyung, you shouldn’t be surprised that this is the case. Remember we had that talk before? Even though we’re evil, we still have our flaws. There’s evil things that we don’t like and we care about people. Compared to those two things, what’s wrong with wanting to do something fun once in a while? After all, with how well you can dance, you could do a great dance on the graves of your enemies!”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “How corny. But if it gets you to leave me alone, then fine.”
La-Iin beamed. She set down the CD Player and turned it on, then began to dance. San-Kyung groaned and began to dance as well.

I’m a downtown, downtown la-dy-girl
I’ve got you right where I want you!
I’m a downtown, downtown la-dy-girl
You have fallen into my trap!

—–
“I don’t know what it is,” said Salsh-Era, “but something’s making you look a bit happier today, San-Kyung. What’s up?”
“Nothing is!”
“Did you have a good conversation with Dosa-Mina? I heard you talking to him over the phone.”
“It was just a normal conversation.”
Salsh-Era chuckled. “Who’d have thought my son would be the easily embarrassed type?”
“I thought. Have you seen the way he reacts to certain things? Oh, but he was really cute earlier today when we went out to get drinks. I actually saw him smile for the first time in a while!”
“Oh, be quiet, Mom,” San-Kyung sighed.
“Oh, but you did look really cute, San-Kyung.”
“It’s good to see you happy though. You haven’t seemed yourself for almost two months and I’ve been getting worried. And I know, being happy like this isn’t necessarily acting like yourself. But it’s better than whatever was going on before.”
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s not too bad to have a distraction every now and then.”
“Definitely not!” Del-Kyuus said.
“I’d agree with you there.”
‘I hate feeling like she’s right!’ San-Kyung grit his teeth at the thought. ‘But apparently it’s not just me. Dosa-Mina’s always had good advice. Maybe they’re right…’
“I do agree with La-Iin in this case, San-Kyung. You’ve been depressed lately. There have been a few times when I’ve been depressed that I turn to you to distract myself.”
“Really?”
“Yup! So I think La-Iin has a good point. I told you yesterday anyway. If there’s something you enjoy, don’t just give it up. Take it as your hobby, and use it to your advantage.”

11.557.Ignited Confrontation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 557
“Ignited Confrontation”

La-Iin sat in the kitchen, staring blankly at the wall and listening for Mit-Sun. Bes-Isa sat on the table next to her, completely silent, while Choungetsu stared up at her in curiosity, his expression far more serious than it normally was.
The silence was only broken by Mit-Sun beckoning to Choungetsu. Choungetsu dashed out the kitchen, and La-Iin heard a short exchange before the two left the house.
“Good. I thought I’d have to wait until her next work day!” She fluttered over to the phone and began to dial Asul-Zenza’s number.
“Hello? Is this who I think it is?”
“Yes, it is. Hello, Dami.”
“Hello, La-Iin. Ah, you’ve blessed me so much. To what do I owe the phone call?”
“Mama, although not for any good reason,” La-Iin said, a growl in her tone. “Dami, I need your help. You know how Mama turned down Haner?”
“Yes? Don’t tell me she’s reconsidering!”
“No, it’s not that. She’s upset because Haner might not like her anymore. And she’s taking it out on me because I didn’t like Haner from the start! She’s been mean to me since yesterday and I can’t take it! So I figured, since you’ve had to deal with Mama at her worst before, maybe you can deal with her!”
“What? She isn’t abusing you, is she!?”
“I consider everything Mama does wrong abuse. But I guess by goody-goody standards, no. She’s just being really mean to me and I can’t stand it! Sooner or later I’m gonna bite her jugular!”
“Please don’t do that, La-Iin. You made the right call in calling me. I have certainly dealt with worse than Mit-Sun’s badmouthing, but I will not stand for her treating you poorly because her friendship might be ending. I’ll be over there as soon as I can manage.”
“Try and come over before Mama gets back. I don’t want her beating you up.”
“Don’t worry, La-Iin. Even if she tried to do such a thing, I wouldn’t let her. I will be there as soon as I can manage.”
Asul-Zenza hung up.
“Asul-Zenza might be a goody-goody, but having dealt with that woman in the past gives him some good experience. I’m kind of looking forward to this.”
“So am I. I just hope Mama doesn’t get more mad at me for this. After all, my other option was biting her jugular! Maybe Dami will help her realize how much of a jerk she’s being without me having to kill her.”
La-Iin and Bes-Isa waited patiently for Asul-Zenza, though it was Mit-Sun who arrived home first, panting and stroking Choungetsu.
“What a nice run!” She said. “I had a lot of fun, Choungetsu.”
‘La-Iin, you should take him out more like you used to!’ La-Iin could hear the words in her head, but Mit-Sun didn’t say them. She took off Choungetsu’s leash and head upstairs. Choungetsu stood at La-Iin’s side and stared up at her.
“Don’t look so happy. Mama’s being a jerk right now.”
He whimpered and stood on his hind legs to reach La-Iin, trying to lick her arm. La-Iin pushed him away and he sat, head bowed, next to La-Iin.
‘I hope Mama doesn’t come downstairs anytime soon.’
Her hope was fulfilled–Mit-Sun didn’t come down any time in the nearly an hour it took Asul-Zenza to arrive. When he did, he came inside with a steely and angered expression, though it softened somewhat when Choungetsu ran up to him and he bent down to stroke him. In that time Mit-Sun came downstairs and all at one Asul-Zenza’s face returned to the former steely expression.
“What are you doing here? Did she leave something behind on your little trip?”
“No, I’m not here to take advantage, for once. I’m here at La-Iin’s request. I could have discussed this with you over the phone, but I thought it warranted an in-person discussion.”
Mit-Sun scoffed. “What? If this is about you watching her on the Weekends, the answer’s no.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Mit-Sun, you can truly be a bitter woman sometimes…I’m here because La-Iin told me you’ve been cold towards her because of her attitude towards your friend Haner.”
“How do you know about Haner!?” She asked. “Did you tell him?”
“Who do you think told him!? After all you hung out with him I’m glad I had Dami as an outlet!”
“And if you’re going to blame La-Iin for disliking him or hoping you would reject him you should blame me as well. Ever since she told me about him I was hoping you wouldn’t feel the same. I don’t want another man acting as La-Iin’s father, I’ll tell you that much. But you cannot treat La-Iin poorly because she disliked Haner!”
“You never saw how she treated him! Haner’s already feeling bad enough because I rejected him. I didn’t reject him all that long after La-Iin treated him like crap.”
“Look, Mit-Sun, it isn’t La-Iin’s fault that your friendship is on the downswing. Things can go awry from a rejected love confession.”
“You sound just like Mrs. Eteibreit.”
“Mit-Sun, listen to reason! You are blaming La-Iin for something that is not even her fault! If La-Iin wasn’t here, if she liked Haner as much as you do, you rejecting him would likely have not changed a thing about your current relationship! Do you see how ridiculous it is to blame your child for your friendship failing when the reason is so clear?”
Mit-Sun didn’t respond, although she had begun to look remorseful.
“Be frustrated with La-Iin for treating Haner poorly. That’s perfectly fine. But when you start antagonizing her because she was harsh to him shortly before you rejected him that does not make any sense. If it had to do with her antagonizing him your friendship would have been strained before the confession, not after. The reason is obvious, so do not treat La-Iin differently because of what happened.”
“You don’t understand,” she said. “My issue isn’t with La-Iin disliking him or treating him badly. Well, it sort of is, but if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have defended him, and he wouldn’t have gotten the wrong idea…” Mit-Sun’s face flushed. “…geez, it really does sound ridiculous when you say it like that…”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Now do you see how silly you’ve been?”
Mit-Sun scratched the back of her neck. “I understand you are frustrated because you still want to be friends with this man, but taking out your frustrations on La-Iin is not the way to go about it. Vent to me for all I care, I’ll take listening to you over you treating La-Iin poorly. It’s not her fault, what happened with Haner. Nobody is at fault, not him for confessing, not you for rejecting, and not La-Iin for disliking him.”
Mit-Sun focused her gaze on La-Iin. “…I’m sorry, La-Iin.”
“I don’t do apologies. But the sentiment’s fine, I guess.”
“It’s just…he was one of my best friends. Now I might lose him. And I know it was unreasonable to take it out on La-Iin. It’s just hard…and I can’t believe I had to listen to advice from you…”
“Mit-Sun, we dated in the past. You might not like it, but I know a lot about you. I figured I knew the words to get through to you. If you need to, I don’t mind if you cry on my shoulder.”
“No way. I’m not even going to cry.”
“Your expression tells me otherwise. But you know, you are still learning how to be a mother just as La-Iin is learning about the world around her. And if you want her not to resent you, taking your frustrations out on her is the wrong way to go. I’ll leave soon, but first I want you two to talk this out.”
“You’re La-Iin’s father, not mine,” Mit-Sun grumbled, though she beckoned to La-Iin regardless.
“I really messed up here. You know, you won’t like hearing this much, but it was Haner who encouraged me when I felt like I was a bad mother earlier this year. Now months later I’m acting like a terrible mother because he’s keeping his distance from me, heh….”
“Don’t worry, Mama. You’re always terrible.”
“Cut that out. But I really am sorry. What a way to try and better myself.”
“I always knew you’d fail. But so long as you never treat me like that again, I might be able to start finding more positivities about your normal shoddy way of taking care of me.”
“You don’t have to insult me!”
“You insulted me constantly recently. I think I do have to insult you.” La-Iin looked up at Asul-Zenza. “Thank you, Dami. You are definitely the better parent.”
Mit-Sun gaped. Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Now, La-Iin, please. Mit-Sun isn’t a bad mother either, most of the time. She just has her flaws. But I will give her kudos for trying her hardest. As long as you keep up the good work and never stop caring for La-Iin, I believe you might just reach a day where she feels towards you as she does towards me.”
“You’re wrong, Dami. I will always believe you are the better parent. But whatever, I’ll give her a shot.”
“Thank you, La-Iin. Well, I should be off now. I have a book club meeting later in the day and they won’t appreciate me keeping them waiting. Farewell, you two, and keep doing your best, both of you.”
He walked out the door, spread his wings and took off. Choungetsu barked a farewell, before noticing the door was open and preparing to bolt. La-Iin caught him before he could leave.
“What do you say I make you mincemeat pie tonight? I think I have enough ingredients for it. It’ll be my better apology.”
La-Iin grinned. “Now that’s an apology I’ll accept.”

—–
“Wow, La-Iin, I can’t believe Miss Cahongyun was so mean to you!”
“I can. But I can see how it would be weird for you.”
“Still, I’m glad she made it all up with you. Was the mincemeat pie better than ever?”
“It was as good as it always is. Mincemeat pie is a greatness only enhanced by blood, after all.”