28.636.And We Run Again

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 636
“And We Run Again”

“Hey, look, it’s Dslellular!”
La-Iin turned around. To her surprise, her classmates were right. Dosa-Mina was walking along the path to school with his head bowed. When San-Kyung noticed him, he ran to his side and said something to him that La-Iin couldn’t make out.
“I’m glad he’s not sick anymore,” Fer-Shi said. “But I wonder if he’ll be okay?”
‘I bet being sick was just a lie,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Maybe I should try that sometime. Or I would if I could get around Mama…’
As San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina walked past La-Iin, she overheard what they were talking about.
“The 28th Running Event is today. They told us about it on Friday. I would have told you about it then, but there was a lot happening that day.”
“I understand. It doesn’t really matter anyway. I don’t think I can do it.” Glancing at the other students, he added, “I don’t think I’ve completely gotten over that fever.”
“I’m just telling you.”
“The 28th Running Event is today?” Fer-Shi said.
“They said that on Friday. Were you not paying attention?”
Fer-Shi blushed. “I might have been half asleep…”
The students head for the back of the building. They were surprised to see a slightly more elaborate set up than in prior years. Most of the faculty was back there, setting things up and chatting among each other.
“Heyyy, students! Looks like you all got here at the same time! I’m surprised to see you, Class A. I thought the event was offensive because you need to run.”
“It still is,” a Class A student said. “But I happened to overhear about the special prize.”
“Oh…that…ahaha….” Sharai began to sweat.
“What’s the special prize?” Rini-Futo asked.
“You want to know? Well, the prizes we’ve given out the last years have always been something the top winners could decide, but they’ve always been simple objects, little prizes like chocolate and paper, but we thought we’d make it a little special this year. So this year, the first place winner of the 28th Running Event gets to pick something of their own decision. Nothing unreasonable is allowed, although I’m sure Class A is looking for a loophole…”
“I heard that!”
“Heh heh.”
“What about the other places?”
“They still have to pick simple items. It’d be too complicated and not very special if the other places could pick anything too, wouldn’t it?”
“You get to pick anything as a prize!?” La-Iin gasped.
“Wow, that sounds really cool! I bet I wouldn’t be able to win that, though. I’ve never won the running event.”
‘Think of what I could demand of them! That idiot Sharai mentioned something about loopholes. I wonder if there’s something I can use there!’
“Last year Lirako won the event…” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“Yeah, that’s right…”
“I really don’t have it in me to do it this year, San-Kyung.”
“Tell them that, then. But don’t worry. The event’s in September this year. So that means I have some extra strength to use. And I know just what I would ask for if I do manage to win…”
“The students certainly seem excited by your prize, Mr. Sharai,” the Principal said.
“What can I say? It’s a good prize. I can already imagine what I would ask for. Let’s just hope that Class A is as out of shape as the nurses make them sound so we don’t have to add all sorts of bathrooms!”
“I HEARD THAT!”
“No seriously, we’re screwed if they win.”
“I’m aware. But I don’t think it will be much of a problem. After all, your only rule was that the prize couldn’t be unreasonable. And really, what’s unreasonable is our determination, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it is!”
The students began to prepare for the race.
‘Think of all the prizes I could win!’ La-Iin thought. ‘It would be amazing. But then, first I have to win the race! Maybe there’s a way I can assist myself.’
She spotted Shuera-Kaizima dressing into exercise clothes nearby. Desperate, she bit down into her arm and sucked a small amount of her blood, only as much as she could before Shuera-Kaizima noticed her. After she had finished, she ran up to Ai-Reia and smeared blood on her teeth.
“What the–!?”
“Who did that!?” Shuera-Kaizima asked, scanning the area frantically. “Someone sucked my blood!”
“I’m pretty sure La-Iin did!” Ai-Reia said. Shuera-Kaizima stared at her blood-stained teeth.
“Are you certain you’re not getting blood cravings, Ai-Reia?”
“I’m not! Listen, Kokohara, La-Iin just…”
La-Iin started to stretch. When she spotted San-Kyung doing the same, she ran to his side.
“So rival-boy’s not running?”
“No.”
“Good. We all know the prize he’d want would be a kiss from you or something.”
“He takes those if he wants to. Why would he need to ask for it as a prize?”
“Who knows?”
“I know. But he’s not racing.”
“Why not?”
“He was just sick.”
“He was sick earlier this month. I never get sick that close together. In fact, I haven’t been sick once this year! …I think.”
San-Kyung sighed. Then, he stopped stretching and glared at La-Iin.
“What do you mean, he was sick earlier this month? How would you know that?”
“Um…”
“Alright, students, the race is about to start!”
“You obviously have something you need to confess.”
“Now what kind of evil person would I be if I confessed about my evil deeds?”
San-Kyung sighed. “Well, at least I know I won’t have to worry about fighting you for ruling the world.”
“What!?”
La-Iin had wanted to continue the banter, but the race started almost immediately afterwards, and she was determined to win the race no matter what.
She propelled herself forward with her wings, gaining a quick burst of speed and passing many other students, including San-Kyung and Lirako. She felt confident, and not long after it felt as though something within her had changed. As if she had more stamina, more ability to move faster. She continued to press on, quickly outpacing the others.
“Since when was La-Iin so fast?” Dosa-Mina said.
“It does seem odd,” said Wei-Men. He was checking Dosa-Mina over. “You seem to have made a full recovery. I’m glad.”
“…”
‘But what to do about his mental state?’ Wei-Men wondered.
La-Iin continued on at top speed, but some other students began to catch up with her, namely Catori students–though La-Iin didn’t notice Shuera-Kaizima among them–avian students, and San-Kyung. San-Kyung glared down at her, then started to run ahead of her. La-Iin broke into a faster run.
Even with San-Kyung keeping pace with her, La-Iin felt confident that she could still win, even if just by a hair. The sudden burst of stamina in her legs kept her going, and the flapping of her wings propelled her forward nicely. She could see the end of the course up ahead.
“This is an outrage!” She heard Class A students yell from a distance. She chuckled to herself; when she did, she spotted Xhen-Bei, who had gained on them.
“You’re not the only two who can go really fast!” He panted. He started to keep pace with San-Kyung, and both boys overtook La-Iin.
“Not fair!”
The end of the course was steadily approaching, and with it La-Iin’s determination was increasing. She didn’t feel fatigued, but her legs were throbbing and sending her slightly off-balance. With flashes of all the things she wanted going through her head, she decided to give it her all and go for one last burst of speed.
“And the winner of the 28th Running Event is…”
La-Iin took a deep breath and collapsed.
“MOLSHEI SAN-KYUNG!”
San-Kyung gasped. La-Iin looked up at him. He looked genuinely surprised.
“Damn, I really thought I got it there. Good jo–ah, er…never mind…” Xhen-Bei backed away from San-Kyung.
“So, Mr. Molshei! As the winner of the 28th Running Event, what do you want as your prize?” Sharai asked. The faculty crowded around him–and soon too did the students who had finished the race. San-Kyung looked uncomfortable, that and angry.
“Expel Sanyaow Lirako.”
“Ah…ahaha…sorry, Mr. Molshei, but we can’t do that,” Sharai said. “Limitations, you know?”
San-Kyung huffed. “Fine then. …”
“…”
“Well!?”
“Allow me to….no….” His gaze went past the students. “Sanyaow Lirako is not allowed to have contact with Dosa-Mina until he says so. I don’t care how you enforce this. This is what I want.”
“Huh? Why?”
“Anyone in the school could tell you she’s been harassing him lately.” San-Kyung said, his tone scathing.
Sharai seemed slightly confused, but he gave a shrug and said, “Well, I guess we can give you that…it’s kind of inconvenient, but it is reasonable, especially if what you say is the truth. Well, then! Sorry, Miss Sanyaow, but looks like you’re going to have to keep your distance from Mr. Dslellular!”
“I’d say myself too but I bet you’re sticking to a stupid ‘one prize’ rule,” he hissed.
“San-Kyung won…” La-Iin smiled. “It’s a disappointment, but at least I’m in third place!”
“Actually, you’re in nothing place,” Sharai said.
“What!?”
“We heard you sucked Miss Kokohara’s blood and used her speed to make it as far as you did. Voluntary use of powers is against the rules.”
La-Iin began to shake. Then she let out a wild scream. The students and faculty members flinched.

—–
“I hate that stupid 28th Running Event!”
“Aw, it’s just for fun. And it is good exercise. But you really shouldn’t have sucked Kokohara’s blood. Then you could have gotten a cool piece of chocolate!”
“I wouldn’t have made it that far without that stupid blood,” she grumbled. “Oh, but they’ll see. Come 2016, the 28th Running Event will be no more…”
“What makes you say that?”
La-Iin flinched. “Just a hunch.”
‘But if it’s up to me, I’ll make it a certainty!’

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7.615.Once More to School

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 615
“Once More to School”

The path to Malicerie was filled with students, greeting each other and chatting on their ways to school.
“And they say we’re supposed to get a new teacher!” A student from Class A said. “How will we cope if this new teacher tries to change the doctrine?”
“Shh! You’ll give the other classes the wrong idea!”
“Same old Class A,” Lirako sighed. “This Summer doesn’t seem to have changed them either.”
“I, like, don’t get what’s Class A’s problem.”
“I dunno either. They were pretty much weirdos when I first came to Malicerie, though.”
But though the mood around the students of Classes A, B, and C was similar to what it had been when they left, the Class D students felt a significantly different mood–something seemed to have changed for some of the students.
“I can only imagine what kind of hell Hyungdarou will put us through,” La-Iin said.
“You really don’t like Hyungdarou’s class, do you?”
“As if that wasn’t obvious. But maybe I don’t need to worry. After all, someday she won’t be a concern anymore.”
“Um, are you okay, La-Iin?”
“Y’know, Llanni, I still haven’t figured out what to do with that ‘information’,” Lirako whispered.
“We’ll figure something out,” Airy-Aekok whispered back. “But for now, can’t we just, like, enjoy watching him, completely oblivious to what we know?”
“I guess. Hey, maybe we can keep it that way, if it’s fun enough!”
“Hello, Ai-Reia!” Im-Dei greeted. “How was Summer?”
“Oh, Im-Dei, you already have an idea of what my Summer was like. You don’t need to ask!”
“You certainly look happy, Ai-Reia!” Shuera-Kaizima said.
“And I am. I think this school year might be my best one yet. …well, this part of it, anyway.”

***

“Hello hello, Malicerie students! How goes all of you? Hope you had great Summers, and thanks kiddos for doing your Summer homework. Most of you anyway.”
“Why…why is he in drag?” Dosa-Mina said.
“I don’t even want to know…”
“Mr. Sharai, please refrain from taking the microphone while you’re dressed like that. That wouldn’t look good on you even if you were a female.”
“You’re mean, Principal. I think it looks fine on me.” He walked away from the microphone and sat with the teachers. A few students chuckled at the exchange.
“Welcome back, students of Malicerie. There aren’t really any announcements to make this year, except to welcome you all back. We’ve been working hard to improve Malicerie so that all of you can have an enjoyable school experience. We hope you’ll all continue to study hard, especially those of you who are in Grade 12.”
Lirako folded her ears to her head. “I always forget that includes me now…”
“Well, you remembered this time. That’s a start?” Deki-Tyunri said, uncertainty in his tone.
“So welcome back, dear students, and here’s to the rest of our year in Malicerie.”

“It’s good to see you again, Cahongyun,” Shuu-Kena said. “We should find some way to contact each other aside from school.”
“Maybe.”
“Me and La-Iin are able to call each other. Maybe you two can do that?” Fer-Shi suggested. Shuu-Kena began to look uneasy. “I’m not sure my family really likes it when people call them. I think our phone lines might be bugged.”
“…”
“…”
“Interesting,” La-Iin said.
“Are you tired, La-Iin? You seem kind of dreamy.”
“I’m thinking. If you want to talk to me more, it would probably be better to do at the recess area.”
“Alright,” Shuu-Kena said with a nod. “I’ll do that then!”
She took off back to her seat.
“Thinking about anything in particular? Does this have to do with San-Kyung again?”
“No. …well maybe a little…”
Fer-Shi’s comments had her focus her sights on San-Kyung. As usual, he was talking with Dosa-Mina. ‘Even as friends you never smile that way for me…’
“La-Iin?”
“What now?”
“You seem kind of angry now. Did I say something wrong?”
“No. I’m just thinking.”
‘It won’t matter much forever. Rival-boy has nothing to do with taking over the world. But San-Kyung is a different story. Soon enough things will start going my way…’
When she smirked to herself, a few nearby students found themselves unnerved.

Lirako and Airy-Aekok caught a glance of Dosa-Mina and began to giggle.
“There’s something that’s just, like, so fun about the secret itself!” Airy-Aekok said. “It was, like, pretty funny when we weren’t going to school, but it’s, like, even better now!”
“Yeah, you kind of have a point,” Lirako giggled. “Just seeing him there, all cheerful and oblivious to what we know…”
“What are you two talking about?” Deki-Tyunri asked. Both flinched.
“Nothing!” They said in unison. Deki-Tyunri gave them a suspicious glance before turning back to his notebook.
“But, like, also at the same time, it kind of feels like a shame not to tell anyone, you know?”
“Yeah. It’s so conflicting…”
“Sometimes I wonder if we should have even looked into it,” Airy-Aekok sighed.
“Hey, it was our little extra Summer homework. And you and I both know how much he hates us. We have a little something to use against him just in case.”
“I guess, but…”
Lirako glanced over her shoulder at Dosa-Mina. “But what?”
She had expected Airy-Aekok to answer, but Dosa-Mina instead looked away from San-Kyung and snapped, “Stop eavesdropping!”
“I wasn’t eavesdropping! I was talking to Llanni!”
Dosa-Mina narrowed his eyes. “Stop eavesdropping.” He turned back to San-Kyung.
“He makes it really hard not to just blurt it out right in the middle of class.”
“Yeah, he isn’t really all that nice to you, is he?”
“Now what are you two talking about?” Deki-Tyunri asked.
“Nothing! Nothing at all!”
“Yeah, like, stop eavesdropping!”

“You sure seem a lot happier, Vampiris,” Xhen-Bei said.
“Yeah. You were seeming pretty down recently,” Mi-Kou said.
“And then there was that incident…I’m glad to see you look a lot better,” Kim-Koou said. “But are you really okay?”
“I’m more than okay. After that incident I knew I had to resolve to prevent something like that from happening ever again. So I have. There were just some things going on at the time, and I let my stress get the better of me. But now I am definitely better. Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank us!” Xhen-Bei said. “We were just worried. That incident…sorry to bring it up again, but it was scary,” he said, folding his ears to his head.
“Don’t worry at all. I’m okay now. I promise.”
“Alright,” Mi-Kou said. “Well, we should get back to our seats.”
Once the trio had left, Ai-Reia sighed. “That’s the third group who bothered me today…”
“They’re just worried about you, Ai-Reia,” Shuera-Kaizima said. Ai-Reia nearly jumped out of her seat.
“Please don’t sneak up on me like that!”
“S-sorry. But yeah, people were just worried about you. Me and In-Dei were too.”
“I know. I just didn’t think it had attracted that much attention.”
“Well, it was pretty scary! But you really do seem a lot better, Ai-Reia, and that is most important.”
“Well, I feel a lot better, too.” She glanced behind her at La-Iin, who was staring at the wall with an absent look on her face. “Not even the face of my enemy is enough to bring me down…”
“Hm?”
“Ah, it’s nothing important. You should get back to your seat. The last class is about to start.”
“Oh, okay!”

“Hey, La-Iin, class is over!” Fer-Shi said. She snapped her fingers in front of La-Iin’s face, and she flinched.
“I really have figured out how to do this!” Fer-Shi said, staring at her fingers.
“Snapping your fingers is easy.”
“You only say that because you have Bes-Isa.”
“Maybe, but I think that stands for something. Non-Normals, who can use V-Puppetry, can snap perfectly well, while the Normal who was never able to is so excited to learn how.”
“…” Fer-Shi glared at her.
“Making Normal jokes is no fun with you anymore.”
“I’ve grown up, La-Iin. I kind of think you need to as well…”
La-Iin hissed. “I’ll still be making Normal jokes even at nine-hundred-and-fifty. I’ll be making them to your ghost! ….if there are ghosts…”
“Oh La-Iin…”
“It doesn’t matter. I have a good feeling about this school term…”
“Hm? Why?”
La-Iin smirked. “I just think something great is going to happen during it…”
“Ooo-kay? Well, I hope it does! I’m kinda looking forward to it to.”
The two girls continued to chat as they left the school building.

—–
“Did something seem….different to you about Class D’s atmosphere?”
“What do you mean, Milge?”
“I don’t know…something seemed odd to me. Maybe I’m overthinking it.”
“Yeah, you probably are, knowing you!”
“Hey!”

14.591.Situations Revisited

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 591
“Situations Revisited”

“Mr. Baelin, it’s been almost a year since that incident at Malicerie happened. Can you please tell us why you decided to cast a spell on a whole school?”
Baelin remained silent, his eyes closed.
“Mr. Baelin, please!”
“H-hey, Harliou, please don’t be so rough on him.”
“Llanni, you take these things too softly! This is a man with immense power, enough to make several people start acting out their fantasies and fears. Now come on, Mr. Baelin! If you ever want us to take you off of power suppressants, you’ll answer us! You’ll get nowhere if you don’t!”
“This whole situation is a mess…”
Baelin remained silent.
“Mr. Baelin, think of all the things you’ll be able to do once you give us the answer we want. You’re already in enough trouble for what you did. But you’ll never be out of trouble if you don’t give us a concrete answer. Come on, think about it: you’ll be free once more, free to use your powers not on unsuspecting and unaware students…and the longer you refuse to answer, the more of a blight it is on your reputation!”
“I have no reputation.”
The cops glanced among each other with wide grins on their faces.
“Come on, Mr. Baelin, we just want a concrete answer. And obviously you’re willing to talk, so tell us what it is.”
“What do I get from telling you guys? It’s not like it’s that important.”
“It’s plenty important!”
“Harliou, please!”
“Mr. Baelin?”
Baelin opened his right eye. He caught sight of a timid Birdmix, staring at him with a look of desperation. “Can you please tell us why you did what you did? It’ll actually be very helpful to you and to us. We need an answer, and you want to be free, right?”
Both of Baelin’s eyes opened, and he stared at the Birdmix woman in surprise. He cleared his throat and faced them all. “Fine. But only if I get a picture of this pretty gal to take home with me.”
“We can’t give you that! We don’t know what you’ll do with it!” Harliou complained.
“Oh, I don’t mind.”
“Vaniette, you should realize why we’re concerned…”
“The point must’ve flown right over her head.”
“Great.” Baelin cleared his throat once more. “The spell I used on those students is a high-grade Witch and Warlock spell called “Drugging Desire”. It makes the person the spell was cast on lose restraint, much like when you get drunk, and nine times out of ten presents to them a pleasurable situation. Of course, in the other one time, it brings up something neutral or horrifying.”
“Drugging Desire?”
“Why haven’t we looked into this already!?” Harliou growled.
“W-we did, we just couldn’t really find all that much on it…”
“Like I said, Drugging Desire is a high-grade Witch and Warlock spell. The only reason I was able to cast it is because I have natural talent, courtesy of my dear Mama and Papa who had so much power of their own. Anyway, now that you know how the power works, I’m supposing you want to know why I cast it on them, don’t you?”
“Yes! That’s what we’ve been begging you for the whole time!”
“Please, Mr. Baelin,” Vaniette said, her eyes sparkling. Baelin’s cheeks flushed. “Anything for the lovely Vaniette. I cast that spell on those students because I wanted to see what would happen.”
“WHAT!? YOU MEAN WE WAITED ALL THIS TIME FOR THIS BULLSHIT!?”
“He was characterized as a mischievous Warlock upon his arrest, Harliou,” Llanni told him.
“Come on, as if you guys didn’t know. You embody the stereotype of a dumb authority force. The answers are sitting in front of your nose. I’ll admit Drugging Desire is a fairly under-the-radar spell, but please. You guys have better means to learn about this kind of stuff than even I do. Vaelyn’s not exactly the Warlock hub of the world after all. I mean–”
“Please make him talk slower, Vaniette,” Harliou said. “I’m done dealing with him.”
“Mr. Baelin, can you please talk slower? And, um, explain yourself a little better?”
“Certainly. If you all should know anything, it’s that an extremely common personality trait in Witches and Warlocks is curiosity. We are the most powerful type of Pureblood naturally–that is, without drug assistance or assistance other species get from us. Of course we’re curious. We have the most power of any single species, and the species with the most power would involve us too, naturally.”
“Arrogant little…” Harliou grumbled. Llanni pat him on the back.
“When I learned Drugging Desire, I had to find someone to use it on. I live alone, you see, and my little sister would never forgive me if I used it on her. I’d be smacked up, down and all around and then some, and I don’t want that. So I used it on anyone I could find. The students at Malicerie Public just happened to be the ones you found.”
“Are you admitting to more crimes!?”
Baelin scoffed. “Puh-leeze. Crimes? You act like Drugging Desire is serious. Unless the person it’s used on has some sort of murderous desire, it really isn’t. And I had no way of knowing if any of the students there, or any of the other people I used it on, had any desires like that. But just so you know: I was observing the students at Malicerie. I did the same for the people I “drugsired” before them. I healed the other people when I was done.”
“That was nice of you,” Vaniette said.
“Ha, it was nice of me, wasn’t it? But even if I hadn’t, they would have snapped out of it naturally. In any event, I got the proof I needed, that if someone like me can use Drugging Desire, that I am an incredibly powerful Warlock. So I don’t give a damn that you guys have been using power suppressants on me. I’ll still be able to use my powers same as always when they wear off.”
“I can’t believe we’ve wasted almost a year on this bullshit…” Harliou sobbed.
“Thank you for telling us, Mr. Baelin.”
“Yeah, no problem, but you should have guessed it yourselves, dumbasses. Of course, that statement doesn’t apply to you, sweetie.”
Vaniette giggled. The others in the room groaned.
“I’m ready to leave whenever you guys give the a-okay. My life is being lived for enjoyment. And as fun as it’s been sticking around with you losers, I’m ready to get back to using my powers. Legally of course this time. I’d rather not deal with you guys again.”
All of them shook their heads. Baelin relaxed in his chair and closed his eyes once more.

***

“So I am not sure if any of you have heard this news already, but Baelin Eung-Al was released from holding a week ago today.”
“Wow, only a week ago? That seems like an awfully long time to be detained for what he did.”
“His bad behavior persuaded them to keep him longer out of spite. But in any event, when I heard of this news, I assembled you all because I want to talk on something. The event with Baelin was chaotic when it happened. School starts again in less than a month, and the future is unpredictable. Do any of you have ideas for something we might be able to do to prevent another Baelin incident?”
Everyone glanced among each other.
“We don’t really know that something like that will happen again. Why take measures against it?” Chensu asked.
“Why, Mr. Chensu? Why? Are you really choosing to ask that question?” The Principal sighed and squeezed the bridge of her nose. “Because it has already happened, proving that it’s fully possible. And we’ve had worse happen as well. I’m sure everyone here remembers the Malicerie Incident.”
The faculty fell silent. “We need something to protect Malicerie from potential attacks. They can and very well might happen again.”
“Should we hire security?” Theasis said. “That might help.”
“A good suggestion. Anyone else?”
“We could use the power of a Warlock against potential attackers,” Hyungdarou said.
“Hm…” The Principal directed to Sharai to start scrawling down notes.
“There’s plenty of ideas we can consider. Security systems, guards, et cetera….there’s plenty, but while I think this is a fine idea, I’m also worried about going overboard. Don’t want to stifle the students, after all.” Sharai said.
“By stifling them do you mean allowing them to misbehave?” Yushie asked.
“No, I’m not stupid, you know! I mean like making it so that the school is so heavily guarded that the students feel uncomfortable. If we incorporate all this stuff into Malicerie right as the students come back, they might think that something happened over the break to make us up our ante. Don’t you think that might have them on pins and needles?”
“Mr. Sharai, making a good point?” The Principal said, mock surprise in her tone.
“Very funny, Principal. You’ve admitted I can make good points before!”
“Your idea is a good one though, Principal,” Theasis said. “It does bear looking in to. We must protect Malicerie and our students.”
“Indeed. But we can’t just contemplate outside attacks as well. I’ve had concerns about inside attacks as well…”
The faculty fell silent.
“Now, anyone else: do you have an idea?”

—–
“Mr. Baelin.”
Eung-Al had been called to the park by a man he had never met before while on a walk around Bledger. Though he’d never met him before, he had a feeling he wouldn’t soon forget him–aside from his fluffy ponytail and sharp eyes, his most distinguishing feature was a strange marking on his left cheek. Eung-Al couldn’t help but stare at it the whole walk.
“So, you must come from a Warlock society. I don’t think many mark their people anymore, though. Just how old are you?”
“My age is not your concern. Besides, I am younger than you might expect for a marked Warlock. You seem to believe that all of us are old fogies…not that I’m surprised seeing your behavior.”
“Well, excuse me!”
“Now that we’re in peace…” The man stared him down. “I have a project I’m working on, you could say. Have you ever heard of the Witch Astineth Eir-Tyuj?”
“Yeah? She’s dead, isn’t she?”
“Quite the contrary, unfortunately. In regards to her I had an idea, a plan you could say…a Warlock of your ability could be quite helpful on my team. Oh, before you get that look on your face, it’s nothing to the degree of murdering her. I simply have some curiosities that need to be sated, but that lady is under high security and it’s incredibly difficult to approach her. I don’t normally approach people like this, but I was impressed by your ability to pull off Drugging Desire. That’s one I don’t know how to use yet, so to me that’s a sign of your strength.”
“I’m glad you know greatness when you see it. But I’m gonna have to decline. Sorry, but I’m interested in having fun in my own life. I don’t know about Eir-Tyuj being alive, but I’d rather do things myself. You understand, don’t you?”
“I do,” he sighed. “Fine. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me. Besides, I’m not completely sure how much I should trust someone I don’t know, in any event…”
“Good for you.” He winked at the man. “Well, I’m off. Best of luck, ah…”
“Spaeic.”
“Spaeic? Feel like I’ve heard that name before…” With a shrug, Eung-Al left the strange man behind.

11.588.To See the Future–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 588
“To See the Future–Part 3”

“Hey sis, is something wrong?”
“What’s up, sis? Why do you look so sad?”
“Hey sis, are you in heat?”
Lirako’s face clenched and she smacked Aeisho’s ear with her tail. “Ow! You didn’t need to hit me!”
“Lirako, don’t hit your brothers. But boys, maybe I should talk to Lirako instead. You can go and play with your toys, okay?”
“We’re just worried about big sis,” Haekshi said.
“I know you are, but I don’t think you’re helping.”
“Aw, mom,” Jiushi whined. Their mother flashed them a sympathetic look, and the boys left the room, most looking dejected–though Lirako noticed that Baekihg seemed ready to play and skipped alongside his brothers.
“What’s wrong, Lirako?”
“…I don’t know if I wanna tell you.”
“Come on, Lirako. Would you rather talk to Aekvi about it?”
“I feel the same way about telling Dad that I do about telling you.”
Her mother sighed. “What’s wrong?”
Lirako lowered her head. ‘She isn’t gonna stop badgering me, is she? Might as well humor her.’ “Well…I was thinking, I’m gonna graduate next year. And I really don’t have any plans for what I’m gonna do when I graduate. I don’t have a job, I have no idea what my goal is, and I just…I don’t know. I keep worrying about the fact that I haven’t kept in touch with some of my friends from school who graduated this year and last year. And I don’t think that would happen with Deki-Tyunri, but what about everyone else? Will I just lose touch with them?”
“Graduation can be a confusing time, Lirako. It’s one of the big changes in your life and pretty much the last one before you become an adult. It’s not something you should feel like you should keep a secret. I’m sure most of the other students who are close to graduating don’t have much of a plan either.”
“I know.” She flattened her ears. “I don’t think I’d be so upset if it wasn’t for the fact that I really like my life the way it is right now. I can’t imagine some major change happening.”
“Well, I’m not going to tell you that you have to have a whole bunch of ideas right away. But you should at least start to plan for things a little. Why don’t you focus on what you think you should do first? You have to get ready to live on your own and start your adult life. Do you want a family? Is there some sort of career you want to pursue? How much time are you going to devote to the things you want to do?”
Lirako held her head. “I don’t know, Mom…”
Her mother sighed. “You don’t need to have all the ideas for your future right away. But don’t just run into it without a single one. I’m afraid that’s all the advice I can give you, though.”
“Thanks, Mom. I guess it’s at least something.”
Lirako sat there for a moment longer, her ears still flattened to her head, when they suddenly shot right up and a look of surprise crossed her face. “Hey Mom, do you mind if I go somewhere for a little bit? I just got an idea.”
“Sure, where are you going?”
“I’m gonna stop by school. I think our teachers have a little bit of work to do over the Summer. Maybe I’ll be lucky and one of them will be there!”
“You can go to school, sure, but why do you–”
Before she could finish asking the question, Lirako dashed out the room. “Lirako sure is a girl who runs on the spur of the moment…”

Lirako dashed to Malicerie, hoping she was right–that and that the school’s doors weren’t locked. Luckily enough, the second one was at least right, and so Lirako opened them and wandered inside and began to take a look around.
Malicerie seemed empty at first glance, but up ahead she could hear the sound of voices. Cautiously, she slunk ahead and listened in to hear the conversation.
“You do realize the Malicerie budget would be shot if we did such a thing, Mr. Sharai?”
“I know it would be. That’s why we need to do a fundraiser! C’mon, other schools do it, don’t they!?”
“Your ideas are impossible, Mr. Sharai.”
“Says you! You’ve thought some of them were pretty good in the past!”
“That doesn’t change the majority of them being duds.”
“While you two discuss that, I’ll go get us something to eat.”
Just as she was beginning to get comfortable, the door opened and sent her reeling backwards. She met the eyes of Theasis, whose eyes widened in turn when she saw her.
“Miss Sanyaow?”
“Shh,” Lirako folded her ears back, hoping it would help garner her sympathy. Theasis closed the door behind her. “What are you doing at Malicerie? You know as well as most of the other students that Summer is school break.”
“Yeah, I know.”
“Are you here for a Weekend class? You do realize it’s Tuesday, right?”
“No, I don’t go to the Weekend classes.” She lowered her head. “I wanted someone to talk to. And since you’re here, I think you’d be perfect…but if you can’t, can you please promise me you won’t tell the rest of the faculty I was here? I don’t want to get in trouble because of something like this.”
Theasis sighed. “Come with me, Miss Sanyaow.” She took her paw and led her to one of the empty Weekend classrooms. Lirako took a seat and Theasis took her seat nearby her.
“What is it you wanted to talk about? By the way you worded what you wanted to say, I’m assuming that means anyone would go, so that must mean it isn’t about math.”
“No, it’s not. Y’see, I’m just having a bit of trouble deciding what to do after school. I wanted some advice, and maybe a little bit of perspective.”
Theasis gave another sigh. “There are plenty of things you’ll have to focus on first before you get down to what you want to do. Like where will you go for college? Most Vaelis people go to college, so there are plenty of options. What are you going to do to sustain yourself? Those sorts of things. Sometimes you can incorporate your goals too. I went to college to study mathematics and also took on a part-time job that dealt with math. I was trying to become a mathematics professor, but where I ended up isn’t too bad, I guess.”
Lirako’s eyes widened. “Miss Sanyaow? What is it?”
“What I want, huh…”

***

“Principal Sharai, I’ve got the greatest idea ever! You know how the students have seemed pretty lazy nowadays? Well I thought, remember back when we did the 28th Running Event?”
“Oh yeah, we haven’t done that in five years!”
“I was thinking, why don’t we make it a monthly thing!? No, maybe even biweekly! Although we’d have to change its name…oh! And it can count for extra credit! The students will get more exercise and they’ll have more fun doing it, especially if we offer prizes!”
Sharai slammed his hands down on the table. “You’re a genius, Sanyaow! Ah, it’s so nice to have someone working under me who understands my ideas. Your old Principal, bless her soul, just didn’t get it.”
“Well, I’m sure she’s somewhere watching us and silently disapproving. But hey, Malicerie’s never been better, if you ask me! Class A’s even become slightly less radical, though I still question what some of the teachers are teaching them.”
Sharai sighed. “Yeah, I should probably fire Neowang. Her name’s just so funny though!”
A bang sounded against the door. “Hey, careful, Deks. Don’t just slam your head against the door like that.”
“Come in!”
The door opened, and Deki-Tyunri peeked his head in. “Am I intruding?”
“Nope, Mr. Elyshen, you’re fine! But what are you here for? Weren’t you sent home for the day?”
“I was, but I wanted to see Lirako–er, Miss Sanyaow.”
“Hopefully someday Mrs.,” Lirako said with an empty laugh. “It’s beyond me how you ended up married before me, Deki-Tyunri.”
“Loopholes,” he said cheerfully. “I really am sorry to intrude, I just wanted to see you. We don’t see each other as often as we used to.”
“Are you kidding me? You’re Malicerie’s flight instructor and I’m its vice principal! You call that not seeing each other often?”
“Sanyaow has a point, you do see each other a lot,” Sharai said.
“I guess so. But usually only during work, when we can’t really talk…Shu-Taka is taking up a lot of my home time.”
“He’s a baby, what’d you expect?” Lirako’s face became blank. “I’ll never forget the day my little brothers were born. The days they were babies…I don’t think my parents have gotten over that trauma even years later.”
“How are they now, by the way?”
“They plan on buying a multi-family house so they and their girlfriends can all live in the same place! Most of their girlfriends are Pureblood Catori, so I’m kind of scared to see how many grandchildren our Mom and Dad end up with…” Lirako shook her head. “Ooh, that’s not the point here! It’s nice to see you, Deki-Tyunri. We should meet up more outside of school. But I have a little bit of work to do right now.”
“I understand. Maybe we’ll meet up this Saturday?”
“Sounds like a plan!”
“I’ll discuss it with Cea-Va, then.” He smiled. “I’ll see you soon, Lirako.”
“Me too! See ya soon!”
Lirako turned back to Sharai.
“A lot of your old friends came back to work at Malicerie, huh? Or were they all your old friends?”
“You’re right, most of the people who used to come here are my old friends. Though Miss Murana was Deki-Tyunri’s–I mean, Mr. Elyshen’s.”
Sharai giggled. “It’s okay. Back when I was the vice principal, it took my all not to call your old Principal Miss Priya or Miss Maa-Gu. I even sometimes just wanted to call her Maa-Gu without the miss…anyway, I don’t mind so long as you do it around me and not around the students.”
“I try not to.”
“Still, it’s been nice to have you around again. You’ve definitely mellowed out over the years.”
“That’s because I have a purpose now. I realized something while I was in school, Mr. Sharai. I really like going to school. And maybe I’m not here for the same reason I used to be, but I just…I like things staying the same as much as possible.” The insides of her ears turned bright red. “Of course I still wanted to grow up, of course I did! But I mean, um…you know what I mean?”
“I think I do! And I’m glad to have you here. Most of the students like you too.”
“Yeah, except for Dslellular’s little brat. He always tells me his dad says I harassed him so he doesn’t like me either. But that’s not the point here.”
“I wonder if you’d like it so much if your old friends didn’t work here, though?”
“I think I would have. You wanna know why? Because I’ve gotten to make new friends here too. I don’t mind making new friends at all. You used to be more of a weirdo who I sort of had to respect, but now you’re like my boss, so…” She chuckled.
“Yeah. Well, anyway, we should get back to ideas.”
“Yeah, we should. Hey, have you ever considered a multi-class competition of some sort?”
Sharai’s eyes widened. “Ooh, elaborate!”

—–
“Miss Sanyaow!”
Lirako flinched.
“Miss Sanyaow, please, don’t space out on me like that.”
“Sorry, Miss Theasis. But thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Huh?”
“I think I have a little bit of an idea of what I want to do now. I know I need to think about college, but you can’t really go to college unless you know what you want to study, can you?”
“Um…I suppose not.”
“Well, now I think I have a bit of an idea. And you know what? I think talking to you helped me a lot.” She hugged her. “Thank you, Miss Theasis!”
“Er, you’re welcome!”
Lirako dashed out the Weekend classroom. When she stopped by the faculty room, she spotted Sharai talking with the Principal.
“I look forward to maybe working with you in the future, Mr. Sharai!”
“Huh?” Lirako dashed off. “Was that Miss Sanyaow? What’s she doing here, and what was she talking about?”
The Principal sighed. Theasis returned to the room. “What took you so long?”
“Didn’t you say you were bringing snacks?” Yukhoe said, sounding dejected.
“I was going to, but I guess I forgot. Sorry.”
“Did you see Miss Sanyaow just now?” Sharai asked.
“I did, actually.”
“What was she doing here?”
Theasis smiled. “Oh, just trying to figure some things out. There are a lot of things to contemplate when you’re a teenager, after all…”

18.503.What a Wonderful World

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 503
“What a Wonderful World”

“Alright, that’s the end of history class for today. Oh! I almost forgot. Students, there’s a little something extra for you all to do.”
Some of the students groaned.
“Now what stupid thing do we have to do?” La-Iin complained.
“Shh. Let’s see what it is.”
“Considering current events in Bledger lately, the Principal requested each of you students write a report on what you think is good in the world. This isn’t just for Class D either–Classes A, B, and C also have to write these reports. You’re to have them here by tomorrow or the day after, or even today if you find the time to write it during class. Even if it’s just one thing, so long as there’s something you find good in the world, write it down. Alright, that’s it. See you tomorrow!”
“That sounds like a fun activity. And easy!”
“For you, maybe. You see lots of good things in the world. But for me, it’s very complicated.”
“Why?”
“I see a lot of bad in the world. But I like the bad in the world, so to me, the bad stuff is good stuff. But when they say the good in the world, they probably mean a goody-goody’s definition of good. It’s too confusing.”
“Didn’t Mr. Chensu say we have to write down what we think is good in the world? So doesn’t that mean you could write down bad things? I guess if you saw it as good, it counts…”
“I could,” she said. “You’ve given me a perfect idea. Thanks, Fer-Shi.”
“Um, you’re welcome?”

***

“Principal, look at all these reports! The students sure got to work between yesterday and today, huh?” Sharai said as he set down a box of reports on the table.
“They most certainly did, although I’ve already seen all of Class A’s and they basically amount to the same thing. The Class C students were a lot more creative. Artistic students, those.”
“What do you expect from Class A? Everything’s samey with them. Someday you need to nuke that class.”
“Er, no. So that box of reports–which class is that coming from? B?”
“No, they seem to be having a lot of trouble with their reports. A lot of them were asking for extra time, or at least, that’s what Mrs. Yunkok told me. Although…” He picked up Ai-Reia’s report. “The, uh, Class D students have a pretty creative definition of good in the world, heh.”
“What do you mean?”
“Maybe you’d like to see for yourself.” He slid the box over to the Principal, who began to read the reports.

Vampiris Ai-Reia, Grade 2, Class D
“Good in the world” is a fairly arbitrary concept born from that bogus scale of good and evil most likely. It’s a definition that changes between people and has no real defined meaning. Is good in the world people being at peace with each other? Is it people getting enough to eat? Is it an abundance of people who consider themselves “good”? I recall that the purpose of this report was to write down what we thought was good in the world, and though I find the concept to be dubious at best, I will tell you what I think: there is no good in the world that is genuine and will last. No matter what I could write down here of something that I like and see as a “good” thing in this world, it will always come to an end. That is inevitable and likely the same with the bad in the world. So therefore, I cannot give you a proper report.

“Miss Vampiris seems to have a pretty unique definition, huh?”
“Is she alright?” The Principal asked.
“I think she’s fine. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason.” She picked up the report that was under Ai-Reia’s.

Sanhuun Fer-Shi, Grade 4, Class D
What do I think is good in the world? Friendship and family and people caring about each other, I think those are all very good things but there’s a lot more. If you take a good look around you you could probbably find good ina lot of places. Sometimes there are a lot of bad things in the world, but so long as people care about each other and take care of each other there’s always a little bit of good. You just have to keep looking if you can’t find it right away!

“Miss Sanhuun’s isn’t all that bad,” the Principal said. “You acted as if all the Class D students had given reports like Miss Vampiris.”
“Miss Sanhuun’s a sweetheart, so I’m not surprised hers is nice and flowery. But you haven’t seen some of the other students….remember, Class D does have some troublemaker students.”
The Principal reached for the next reports.

Llanni Airy-Aekok, Grade 9, Class D
It’s easy to say what kind of stuff is good in the world if you haven’t seen the stuff my Dad has seen! I can tell you a lot of good in the world comes from the police, and that’s for sure! Police deal with people who kill and rape and steal and sometimes all three at once! Of course, there are police officers who do the same thing. But when you meet a police officer like my Dad, that’s when you find out for sure that everything’s not as bad as it seems. That’s what I think, but with all the stuff my Dad’s seen, I’m not sure he’d feel the same way! Anyway, whenever there’s bad in the world, good police officers are there to save the day and replace it with good! And that is what I think is good in the world!

Melongie Zae-Mia, Grade 7, Class D
What’s good in the world? I think one of the greatest things in the world is individuality. Because even though there are bad people that result from individuality, without it we would not have good people. We wouldn’t have these creative societies full of so many interesting things to do. Without individuality the world would be a very boring place. I think it’s good to start at the bases and move on from there, and that is why I think individuality is one of the best things in the world.

“These two don’t seem so bad. Although I do wonder what Miss Llanni has had to see because of her father’s job.”
“You haven’t seen Mr. Molshei’s, apparently,” Sharai said. The Principal began to sort through the reports until she found San-Kyung’s.

Molshei San-Kyung, Grade 11, Class D
What was the point of doing this report? If you want my honest opinion I don’t think there’s ANY good in the world. And this is me looking at the world through as neutral lens as I can manage. All the good in the world is destroyed as it should be. There’s nothing that can be done to prevent this. The people of the world don’t try to stop it, and the world certainly doesn’t either.

“What?”
“I’m wondering if he’s more of a pessimist than evil,” Sharai said. “After all, if you look at Miss Cahongyun’s, it’s a lot different.”

Cahongyun La-Iin, Grade 2 Class D
We were SUPPOSED to put the good in the world as goodie-goodie stuff but I don’t think that stuff is good. What I like is destruction and fire! i like the beauty of watching the world be destoryed! There’s something very comforting about the idea of watching the world burn from a tower. If you were me you’d understand. I don’t like the goodie-goodie stuff in the world and I don’t like all the bad. But I like the bad in the world for the most part! (Also the powers)

“What?”
“What else do you expect from her?”
The Principal sighed. “I’ll give the Class D students kudos at least for being more creative than Class A, but their morals are fairly skewed.”
“That’s for sure. But don’t give up hope yet. You’ve seen the worst they have to offer, so now look at some of the others.”

Sanyaow Lirako, Grade 12, Class D
There’s good in the world because the world is interesting, funny, sometimes embarrassing. There’s good in the world because people can meet strangers just by going to the same place and trust these people with all sorts of details about each other! There’s good in the world because we can all be ourselves(in most places) and because the world has come past the points where the species were segregated. Bad people exist to take advantage of the good. Some people might say that means we should get rid of the good. But without the bad, the good wouldn’t exist. I think it makes for an interesting existence, don’t you think?

Yuuldang Xhen-Bei, Grade 11, Class D
I’d have to say some of the best stuff in life is two things: simple pleasures, and repair. Simple pleasures because they’re just tiny things that can make you happy. But you can build them up and make them massive! (Can you tell I love these things?) Why do I think repair is a good thing? Think about it, if there wasn’t any repair, what would have happened to the world after the first World War? Without repair, we’d never progress past those horrible points in history! We learn from our mistakes, repair and move on. I do that all the time!

Dslellular Dosa-Mina, Grade 11, Class D
There are plenty of things other people would see as good in the world, but I like the fact that there are so many species. Someone else might have said so already, but it makes life so interesting that we’re all so different. We can come together and we can make things even more interesting. Building on from that point, the fact that the unknown exists. There are so many things left for us to discover in the world, and I’m glad we have that. If we lived in a world where we knew everything for certain I think I’d absolutely hate it!

Sara Shuu-Kena, Grade 3, Class D
When people change it’s a really good thing. Bad people learn from their mistakes and become good people. They realize what they did wrong, and they usually end up being very nice people. When you give people a chance you might find some very good things.

Elyshen Deki-Tyunri, Grade 10. Class D
I think it’s great that there is so much creativity in the world. Creativity inspires and changes minds. It moves people and helps them learn and grow. There are plenty of new ways to be creative. It’s great because there are so many things it can do at once for so many different people, and it gives people a way to express themselves and let out emotions that needed to be released. I love creativity.

“Hm…”
“They are good kids, Principal. Their moral compasses might not always be in the right places, but they are good kids. At least give them that they’re interesting.”
“I agree with that sentiment, Mr. Sharai,” the Principal said, relaxing in her chair. “But while we’re speaking on that, do you think you could get Mr. Molshei and Miss Vampiris to give more hopeful reports?”

—–
“Hey, Principal, here you go.”
“What is this?”
“You asked Mr. Molshei and Miss Vampiris to give more hopeful reports. Miss Vampiris wouldn’t budge and said hers is fine as it is, but Mr. Molshei made an addendum after Mr. Dslellular suggested he might lose points in his grade. Here’s the addendum.”

The only thing I will give to the world is that if it’s because of this world that I met my best friend, then I am immensely grateful.

“Even someone like him has a little hope in him, don’t you think?”

8.404.Malicerie Entrance Exam

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 404
“Malicerie Entrance Exam”

“So, you want to send your daughter to Malicerie Public School, huh?”
When Mit-Sun and La-Iin had arrived at Malicerie that day, a strange man had stared them down and asked them that question. Mit-Sun was a little irritated by it. ‘I thought we could just sign up and be done with this. Let me guess, there’s more…’
“Yes, I do,” she said calmly. The man didn’t seem to catch on to her irritaton, or if he had, he didn’t care, for he had stopped staring her down at her response and gave an easygoing smile.
“Okay then! My name is Sharai Teik-Kao and I suppose you could call me Malicerie’s vice-principal. Most people just call me the Principal’s right-hand man. I don’t mind either title, personally! Though, it’d be nice if you called me vice-principal.”
La-Iin didn’t seem too amused by Sharai’s attitude, and Mit-Sun could see it in her eyes. “Well, um, Mr. Sharai–”
“Going the boring route, huh?” He muttered under his breath. Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “Anyway, Mr. Sharai, does this mean there’s something else I needed to do? I thought all you needed for Malicerie was to send in an application for your child…”
“Yeah, that’s how it used to be, but then things got complicated,” he said. “You see, Malicerie has a maximum of twenty-five students per class, and we have four classes–Classes A, B, C, and D. Now, Malicerie is far from what I’d call a popular school, but you’ve gotta remember we’re multi-grade. We accept any grade from 0 to 12 and sometimes even adults. Once we filled up all the classes and it was problematic…”
“I don’t see what that has to do with now though,” she said. “I heard the number of students wasn’t that high right now. Or have you gotten a lot of applicants this year?”
“It has nothing to do with the number of applicants,” Sharai said, shaking his head. “Just a little something the Principal enstated. She decided that she wanted every student to take an exam just so we could get to know a little bit about them. That’s for two reasons. The first is, she wants to learn more about the students so she can see who seems like they deserve to attend Malicerie Public School most! The Principal’s all about learning, so if she sees someone who looks like they need it more than someone else, she’s going to want to pick that applicant over the other one.”
“What’s the second reason?” Mit-Sun asked aftrer Sharai paused.
“The second one is, well, our classes kinda have their own personalities, courtesy of the teachers and students,” he said. “So she likes to put students in classes that fit their personalities. Although, we’ve been trying to avoid putting children in Class A lately, heh…”
“Why?”
“No reason,” Sharai said quickly. Mit-Sun blinked. “Anyway, it’s just a short exam. And there aren’t that many questions on it that are problems your daughter would learn in school. Just a few. Most of it is asking questions so the Principal can get a feel for her and figure out if Malicerie’s right.”
Sharai pulled out a piece of paper from underneath his desk and handed it to La-Iin along with a pen. “Here. Just write down all you need to.”
La-Iin stared at the paper, wrote down her name and age then checked off her gender, then stared up at Mit-Sun with wide eyes.
“What’s wrong? Do you need help?”
“No.”
“Then what are you looking at me for? You know, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help.”
“I don’t need help! I require your assistance!” She said. “I haven’t gotten to see how all of Vaelis is written yet. So I don’t know how to write all the words I want to put down. I know them all, though.”
Mit-Sun rolled her eyes. “Fine, fine…just tell me what you need help with and I’ll help.”
“Assistance!”
“Riiiight, assistance.”
Sharai smiled as he watched the two work together on La-Iin’s exam paper. Once they had finished, Mit-Sun handed the paper back to Sharai.
“Thank you! You know, I kinda hope your kid gets in.”
“Any school that denies me is a fool.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Come on, La-Iin, we’re done here.”
“Take caaaaare!” Sharai called after them.

“Malicerie had better accept me and Fer-Shi,” La-Iin said.
“I heard they already accepted Fer-Shi.”
“What!?”
“Mrs. Sanhuun told me about it at the start of the month. I thought I told you.” Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “Just how short-term is your memory, La-Iin? I could have sworn you were half-Vampire…”
“I might as well be fully Vampire with how useless my Normal traits are,” she hissed. “And Malicerie had better not mess up or they’ll pay. They could accept me and then put me in a different class. …I guess I’m already kind of used to that, but still.”
“Why are you in such a bad mood today?”
“I just want to get into Malicerie. That’s all.”
“I know you do. And I hope you do! The school schedule at Malicerie is a good one. It works well with my part-time job. And I can keep you there for as long as you need.”
“That guy said the classes all have their own different personalities, so I hope one of them is evil,” she said. “And I hope Fer-Shi and I get into that class. Then not only do I get to be with Fer-Shi in school, but I get to see her squirm.”
Mit-Sun huffed. “Well, I guess you really do care about her, at least…”
“I think Fer-Shi is really integral to my future, Mama. You’ll hear more about it later, but I don’t have many evil companions. Fer-Shi might not be an evil companion, but she is necessary when it comes to my future as a Maniac of Evil.”
“You know, you could just say you want to be friends with her for a long time…”

***

“Come on, San-Kyung. The Dslellullars are going to send Dosa-Mina to this school too. Just put up with it.”
“Do you two really think I won’t fill this out?” San-Kyung said.
“You made a face when Mr. Sharai gave it to you.”
“That’s just because it’s making this more trouble than it’s worth,” he said. “But I’ll do anything to get out of Deatrou.”
“Just curious, are you worried about putting down personal details?” Del-Kyuus asked. San-Kyung gave her an indignant look before getting to work on the exam.
‘This doesn’t matter. Nothing on this is too personal anyway. The sooner I’m out of Deatrou and into Malicerie, the better. So long as this school doesn’t end up the same way as that one did…’

***

“La-Iin! I just got a call from Malicerie!”
“What is it!?”
“They’ve accepted! Starting March, you’re going to be in Class D in Grade 0.”
“Is that the class Fer-Shi’s gonna be in!?”
“I think so!”
La-Iin was tempted to jump into the air and give a screech of joy; already her wings were flapping rapidly. But she tried to calm herself and appear more compose as she said,
“This is going to be good. I’m glad Malicerie didn’t mess up.”

“I got the call today! Apparently, come March I’ll be a Class D student at Malicerie.”
“So we’re in the same class again, huh?”
“Ooh, someone sounds excited!”
“I need someone to take my mind off of school…even if I can take the classes, the other students are going to get on my nerves.”
“Aw, you don’t need to hide it, San-Kyung. I’m glad we can be in the same class too.”
“I’d say same here, but I guess there’s no point in it now…here’s hoping Malicerie is a better school than Deatrou.”
“Well, we don’t have to wear uniforms there! That’s a good start!”

—–
“You look like you’re daydreaming, Mama. Now you have no right to get on my case for doing it.”
“Huh? I wasn’t daydreaming. I was just thinking about when you got into Malicerie.” She sighed. “Back then you were in Grade 0. Now you’re going to be in Grade 2 soon…”
“That’s not that much higher.”
“If you have children, even the littlest things might surprise you. Remember, La-Iin, I really expected you to still be staying at home all the time. Though…I guess I’m grateful you aren’t.”
“I’m grateful too. And by the way, my children are going to be homeschooled. There won’t be room for anything else when they’re growing up.”
Mit-Sun chuckled. “Is that so?”

‘I wonder if I was wrong to get so excited about Malicerie,’ San-Kyung wondered that night. ‘After all, here we have to deal with Lirako…
‘But we’re going to be in Grade 11 soon. That’s not much time left at school, and she graduates before we do. I’m sure Dosa-Mina and I can manage. We’ve managed through a lot of bad situations before. So long as we’re careful and don’t talk to anyone, Lirako might be the worst thing we have to deal with. And I am prepared for a worst-case scenario with her….’
His eyelids began to droop. ‘Once school is over…then what will I do? Hopefully by then I’ll at least be in my true form at all times…’

2.367.Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 5

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 367
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 5”

“It’s a new year, and I have a feeling it’s gonna be a good one!” Sharai said to himself as he walked through the corridors of the solo school. “Who knows, maybe it’ll be the year I finally see some success…”
The people who knew Sharai knew quite well about his cheerfulness, but he felt he was most cheerful whenever he went to the solo school. There was something he liked about the solo school’s atmosphere, and he wasn’t sure whether it came from the one-on-one classrooms or something else.
Sharai head for one of those classrooms now and sat down on one side of the table, then started to unload his backpack.
“Some day, Teik-Kao, you’re gonna take the world by storm. Just gotta build those smarts so people will take your ideas seriously….”
He picked up one of the books and started to read it, humming and kicking his legs back-and-forth under the table. He glanced up when the door opened.
“Hell–oh? I don’t know you, ma’am. Are you new?”
Sharai prided himself on remembering each and every one of his teachers, but he didn’t recognize the young woman who had just walked in. Her face expressionless but her eyes cold, she sat across from him and began to speak.
“I am no member of faculty for this management, whether new or long-time. I simply came by for an inspection and research. The teachers here all talked about an enthusiastic student called Sharai. You wouldn’t happen to be him, would you?”
“I am him! Sharai Teik-Kao, ma’am! What about you?”
“I am Priya Maa-Gu,” she said. “I work in the field of education but with no arrangement of my own. I am trying to learn more about the way education organizations work. I opted to visit solo schools all around Vaelyn for this purpose. I had intended only on doing a general research session while here, but the teachers around me assured that a Mr. Sharai would be one to talk to, what with his enthusiasm.”
“Yeah, I can be pretty enthusiastic,” he said. “But I have my reasons for wanting to learn as much as I do.”
“If that is the case, I suppose you wouldn’t mind talking with me about this enthusiasm? Anything I can use to further my research is a good thing in my eyes. How old are you, boy?”
“Seventeen, Miss Priya. Or is it Mrs.?”
“It’s miss only, though I must admit I prefer ma’am,” Maa-Gu said. “Tell me then, Mr. Sharai, why is it that you are so enthusiastic about learning all sorts of things?”
“I’m glad you asked. You see, since I was a wee munchkin I’ve had all sorts of ideas, ideas that stretch far and wide, ideas that would benefit this world with both progress and fun!” He slammed his hands on the table. His excitement was building at the chance to talk of his passion. “But ever since I was young, nobody took me seriously! They always thought my ideas were dumb and wouldn’t do anything for anybody! And I thought, who do they think they are!? They don’t know that! So what if a lot of them would be really fun? Hey, people need a break from being serious all the time!
“Anyway, I realized that smart people are more likely to be taken seriously. That and mature people, but I’m not completely sure I can manage that, so, you know….heh heh heh! Anyway, I figured if I became smart people would take me seriously and also, it would make my ideas smarter and therefore my ideas would be taken more seriously even if people didn’t think I was smart! Basically becoming smart would just make a whole bunch of great things happen for me and my ideas would spread far and wide around the world, even past Vaelyn hell, maybe my ideas would even bring cheer to North Vaelyn and Dasdoria and such places and so I decided I was going to become really smart and theeeeee end!”
Maa-Gu blinked at Sharai. Her expression had not changed. He froze and sat back down in his seat. “O-of course, ma’am, the short version of it is that becoming smart will help my ideas gain traction and will make them better ideas just in general. Don’t you think?”
“Perhaps,” Maa-Gu said tentatively. “I see you have enthusiasm, boy, which is a good thing. Goodness knows it can seriously lack among school students. But the tirade was not exactly appreciated. I consider myself a master of the Vaelis language but quite frankly I couldn’t make out a good half of what you were saying. …or rather I heard it, but it made such little sense that it might as well have been gibberish or another language.”
“Don’t you think it’s a good reason for studying so much, though?” Sharai chuckled. ‘Ooh, this lady’s definitely one of those overly-serious ones….looks like she needs to cut loose. She can’t possibly be out of her twenties yet, thirty at best, and I already see a wrinkle on her face. Comes from being so straight-laced I’m sure….’
“I suppose it has merits, depending on what these ideas of yours might be,” she continue. “Though seeing you attitude I’m not sure I believe they’re anything good. Still, someone of your knowledge and enthusiasm I believe could be helpful working in a school system….”
Sharai’s nose wrinkled. “A….school system? I don’t really know about that….you mean like being a teacher? My ideas stretch far past teaching other people, ma’am.”
“But you have a true passion for learning, do you not? Even fueled by another desire, you care about learning and it is fun for you, right?”
“Yeah, I guess some of it. It’s like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, when you finally get it it’s so refreshing! Or when you find out a juicy tidbit and you’re just all excited! Kinda like that.”
“…I see. Perhaps I simply don’t understand modern-day seventeen year olds….”
“You barely look a decade older than me, ma’am. Seriously, are you fifty or something? Because you sound like–”
“You were right when you stated I am barely a decade older than you. A few years on that does not make fifty.” She snapped. Sharai flinched. “Sorry, ma’am.”
“Anyway,” she said. “I have come prepared with a test…no, I did not intend to find a student and test them when I came here today. But I had intended on testing some people I took interest in. You are one of those people, Mr. Sharai, what with your enthusiasm. And you speak of said enthusiasm being fueled by ideas. Therein lies my interest in you.”
“Ma’am, I’m still just a kid….”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Maa-Gu asked, her tone becoming cold. She slid a piece of paper towards Sharai.
‘I guess she’s pure, then….’ He looked over the test. “Oh, this doesn’t look so bad. Give me a little, I’ll finish this for you.”
He took out his pencil and began the test. Nothing on it seemed too hard to him until he flipped the page over, but even those weren’t nearly as bad as he had been expecting from such a cold woman. Maa-Gu watched him closesly the whole time, her expression not changing even when he finished.
“I’m done! Here, how’d I do?”
Maa-Gu pulled a marker out from her hair. “I give it a score of ninety-seven. ….very good, Mr. Sharai. Even some smarter children have had trouble with this test. They usually need to think on things a little longer.”
“It was all stuff I learned recently, so it wasn’t a big deal.” Sharai almost felt embarrassed by Maa-Gu’s praise. ‘I want to be smart, not seem like I have a superiority complex….’ “Wait a second, have you given this test to other kids?”
“I have indeed, though they were only test subjects to see how difficult the test would be on average,” she said. “You are the first I gave it to solely based on my intrigue in you. Now that you have done that, I would like to explain to you a plan I have, Mr. Sharai.”
“What’s that?”
“Throughout my life I have always been interested in the education of others. I was born in a time education wasn’t all that easy to come by. Education is one of the greatest things any person can have. Whether you come by it early in life, or later, whether it comes to you naturally or you struggle, whether you handle your education yourself or you have help…it doesn’t matter. Each and every person, I believe, should have the chance to seek an education. I learned that especially after receiving my own. What I have learned I believe will benefit me. When you have education on your side, more possibilities become available to you. I believe it can help you pursue your passions better than you would without it.”
“…..I know this might seem a little off-topic, but are you a wartime survivor?” He asked. Maa-Gu nodded.
“Yes. My memories of it may not be as strong as those of my elders, but I do remember the war. And after a war, interests are not particularly in education. Anyway, what I decided to do with my life when I got older was to help people seeking that education. I cannot help every person in the world with their educations, and I wouldn’t want to. Some people do better in a classroom setting, some people do better on their own. Others still learn like you, with a one-on-one teacher, a tutor of sorts.”
“Yeah, I do better the less people there are around me, I noticed. That’s why my parents sent me to this solo school….”
“My dream is to start a school. Schools, perhaps, if I can. I want it to be a school where anyone who wants to learn can. I don’t want it to be corrupt or spreading propaganda under the guise of learning, only genuine learning taught by people who know the subject well. And I want no restrictions on that learning based on age, save for perhaps the likes of sex education and such…but yes, that is my dream. And that is why I am interested in a person like you, enthusiastic about education and boasting several ideas. Do you understand?”
“I guess?”
“Well….it’s only a pipe dream for now…I have nowhere near the amount of money to start such a thing and I believe reliance on others would only lead to the school somehow becoming corrupt. But someday I wish to start that school.” Maa-Gu stood up from the chair.
“My interest in you ends here, Mr. Sharai, for I cannot exactly ask the help of a seventeen year old with his own goals. But perhaps someday, you’ll hear the name Priya Maa-Gu again, and you’ll remember me. Should you ever decide you’d like to help any within a school setting, and you see my name connected to a school….you are welcome to come by and help me. Perhaps you could be the vice-principal or some such.”
She opened the door. “Farewell, Mr. Sharai. Continue learning. And I apologize for wasting time you could have spent doing just that.”
Maa-Gu left before Sharai could say anything else. But he couldn’t help but be enamored.
“That Miss Priya was wonderful,” he said to himself. “But I just can’t be bogged down by school. My ideas go too far.”
He stared at the door. “I hope she realizes her dream, though.”

—–
Sharai chuckled to himself.
“What’s so funny? The mound of work you have to do?” The Principal sighed. “I was hoping you’d actually do work over the holidays, but I suppose I shouldn’t have gotten said hopes up.”
“No, it’s not that,” he said. “I was just remembering something…do you remember back when I was seventeen, Principal?”
The Principal fell silent. Sharai sighed.
“….of course I do, why wouldn’t I?” She said quietly.
Sharai grinned. “Glad to hear it! Hey, just now I was thinking about some of my ideas and I was wondering if something we could implement before the students come back could be…”
The Principal sighed.

23.296.School Days in Horito

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 296
“School Days in Horito”

San-Kyung stared at the calendar blankly.
“So much for doing anything when there’s school today…”

***

La-Iin flew as fast as she could go to school. She knew she wasn’t late, but she wanted to catch up with the crowd of students that would be currently entering the school. Or, more than that, she wanted to catch up with San-Kyung before he disappeared into the school.
‘Today’s the day,’ she thought to herself. ‘I’m going to ask him about Halloween. Even if he won’t go somewhere with me, maybe I can at least find out his plans and follow him…’
La-Iin’s fastest was slower than normal. She had ended up staying awake longer than usual and she was exhausted. She tried to push it down with the excitement of talking to San-Kyung especially as they hadn’t talked much that month. But though she tried to ignore it, her body still felt the fatigue.
The crowd of students was still large when she arrived. La-Iin searched around the crowd, but all the orange faces she saw were of normal Animated Pumpkins–none of them were Aesthetically Normal. With a gasp, she opted to look above herself.
Floating higher than the door to school was San-Kyung, Dosa-Mina close at his side. And the door was not all they were higher than–La-Iin was also one of those. She began to flap her wings rapidly and try and push herself closer to the boys.
But it seemed that they were out of reach. Once La-Iin had gotten close, her flying became strained, as if she was back in the days where she couldn’t fly. She was able to keep herself above the ground, but inching closer to San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina was a struggle and in the time it took her to get closer they had already levitated off.
La-Iin shook her head and started to take off in their direction, only for fatigue to catch up with her. She started to fall to the ground, exhaustion swamping her and sending her to sleep.
“Ah! La-Iin!” Fer-Shi squeaked. But before La-Iin could fall to the ground, a boy zipped by and caught her.
“Close call!” He said. “We should get her to the nurse’s office.”
“Right!”

“Thank you for bringing her here,” Satou said. “I will watch over her until I can prove she is alright. If I can wake her, tell her to attend another class to make up for the one….or ones, she may miss.”
“Okay, Miss Satou. Thank you.” She turned to the boy. “And thank you! You’re really fast!”
“Well, being a Catori-Birdmix helps with that lots…” He said, giving a sheepish chuckle. “But thank you. I hope your friend wakes up soon, and I hope you have a good school day!”
“You too!”
The two left the nurse’s office and walked to their respective classrooms. As Fer-Shi walked into the classroom, she noticed that Dosa-Mina and Lirako were facing each other.
“Stay away from San-Kyung! I know you’re just trying to pick on him!” Dosa-Mina yelled.
“So? If he’s supposed to be so tough, he should be able to handle a little teasing. Unless the reason why he’s only got one friend is because he’s so insecure that he can’t handle the smallest insult….”
“I really can’t stand you!” Dosa-Mina growled.
Fer-Shi walked past the scene, but she kept her eyes on the duo as they continued to yell at each other. It made her think.
‘There’s someone who hates everyone in this school, isn’t there? There’s even people who don’t like Lirako. And I know there are people who don’t like La-Iin, and La-Iin doesn’t like Dosa-Mina or Shan-Zetsu…San-Kyung doesn’t like anybody, so that does make it count, doesn’t it?’
She sat in her seat. ‘I wonder if there’s anyone who doesn’t like me except San-Kyung….I try to be nice to everyone, so maybe….’
Instantly Class A came to mind. ‘No. Everyone is hated at Malicerie. The students and the teachers and everyone.’ It made her sigh aloud. ‘Why, though?’
“Shan-Zetsu?”
“What?”
“Don’t you think it’s kind of sad that everyone in Malicerie is hated?”
“What do you mean?” Shan-Zetsu said. “You’re just being silly, Fer-Shi.”
‘He doesn’t get it.’ Fer-Shi realized. She slumped in her seat. ‘I wish it wasn’t like that here…if only we didn’t have Class A or San-Kyung…’

“Mr. Molshei, thank you for taking the time to see us.”
“You just forced me to!” San-Kyung yelled. He felt frustrated. The last thing he wanted today was to be randomly summoned to the Principal’s room–at least, at the current moment, it felt that way to him. He levitated above the chair prepared for him, glaring down at the Principal and Sharai.
“Chill out, Molshei,” Sharai said. “We just wanna talk to you about somethin’.”
“Make it quick. I have history in a few minutes.”
“We know. In fact, it was your history teacher who brought this issue to light…Mr. Molshei, could you please cease levitating over your chair?”
“….is that it? Why? I bet you let other Animated Pumpkins levitate above their chairs.”
“Do you see us allowing any avians to fly above their chairs? This is essentially the same thing. You are blocking the way for smaller students who may be seated behind you and generally being a distraction. We ask that you sit in your seat normally.”
“Not my fault if you put all the shorties in the back,” he scoffed.
“Miiiight not want to disrespect your Principal there, boy,” Sharai said, an edge to his tone. “You could get yourself in trouble.”
“As if this doesn’t already count…”
“Under general circumstances we do not allow students to use their powers at Malicerie Public School,” the Principal began. “It is both for the convenience of all our students and faculty, and also as a partial safety measure. Your levitation counts as a power, so it is outlawed inside the school.”
“…you know, I haven’t been doing anything wrong in school. I’ve been taking care of my grades and doing what I’ve been asked to do. If you knew me better, you’d know I hate doing all that. I’ll lose levitation after a while. Give me the time I have with it now. It’s not even like I’m going to have it for a month.”
San-Kyung was too frustrated to continue listening, and he didn’t want to get in trouble at that moment. Still, a feeling was building in him, a desire to burn the Principal where she sat or tie her up.
He daydreamed on these thoughts as he returned to his classroom.

Dosa-Mina kept his glare on Lirako as she took her seat. ‘Why do we have to sit so close together? I wish Deki-Tyunri would change his seat. He’s probably the reason Lirako sits there. Ugh, guess it’s better than sitting right next to her…’
He was in a bad mood, but he tried to shake it off when he noticed the time. History class would be starting soon. ‘Where’s San-Kyung? Is that Principal meeting more serious than I thought? Speaking of, where’s La-Iin?’
“Dslellullar?”
Caught off-guard, Dosa-Mina was a little surprised to see Kim-Koou standing in front of his desk. “….yes, did you want something?”
“Do you dislike Sanyaow?”
“It’s obvious, isn’t it?” He sighed. “She insulted San-Kyung. If you’re mean to San-Kyung you shouldn’t expect to get to be friends with me afterward. I won’t accept that.”
“You like San-Kyung a lot, don’t you?”
“He’s my best friend, of course I do.”
“Mm-hm, because I’ve heard rumors that you like him more than that…I was curious, that is, if you’re willing to tell me…”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes. ‘This again? I thought we were done with this…’ “If you’re so curious, why not ask Kerushao? I told him once.”
“You did? Alright. Thank you.” Kim-Koou walked off.
“….well, I guess getting pestered about it is better than getting bullied off of speculation….” He mumbled. Still, the random talk did nothing to calm his irritation.
‘Stupid Lirako. Is she going to be the new La-Iin, only she hates him instead?’
San-Kyung levitated into the classroom. Once he sat in his seat, Dosa-Mina began to rub his head roughly.
“What’s this for!?”
“I’m angry and I feel like it,” he growled.

“Geez! Talk about overprotective!” Lirako sighed. “I mean, I can sort of get the whole pumpkin-eating thing, but really, my teasing San-Kyung has nothing to do with him! Why he keeps deciding to butt into everything before it can even start is beyond me!”
“Oh, Lirako…” Deki-Tyunri sighed. Lirako’s tail began to twitch with irritation.
‘Not like Deki-Tyunri would care. He doesn’t want me to tease San-Kyung in the first place. I wonder who else might take my side though…’
She relaxed in her chair. ‘Probably most of the students. They like me better than Dslellullar, anyway…geez, we probably could’ve been good friends if he only wasn’t so overprotective.’
Noticing Dosa-Mina ruffling San-Kyung’s hair got her out of her seat. She walked over to the first student she saw.
“Fheyundaer!”
“Uh? Oh, hey Lirako! What’s up?”
“I wanna ask your opinion on something.”
“Sure.”
“You know I’ve been teasing San-Kyung lately, but it’s all playful. I know, I know, the whole pumpkin-eating thing touches a nerve for him and I probably shouldn’t say anything about it….but I think everything else has been pretty innocent, right? But Dslellullar’s mad at me. I mean like really mad at me. And I want to ask, do you think that anger is founded or not?”
“….well, whether or not it’s founded I can see why,” she said. “I’d probably be mad if someone started picking on my best friend too. No offense, Lirako, just giving you my opinion like you asked. Really though, if he’s getting mad about the teasing, you should probably stop…”
Lirako’s ear and tail twitched. Irritation surged through her. “Thanks, Fheyundaer,” she said sarcastically.
“What did I do?”
She sighed. “Nothing, nothing, I’m just antsy. Talk to you later.”
“You too!”
She walked dejectedly back to her seat. ‘Maybe not everyone will take my side,’ she realized. ‘…I’m sure there’s someone who would, though!’
Determined, she stood up from her seat again and head for another student, only to notice the teacher entering the classroom and abruptly returning to her seat before he could notice.

Deki-Tyunri was distracted that day during class.
When it came to his crush, Deki-Tyunri’s attention span with it varied–some days, despite noticing San-Kyung, he would ignore the fact that he had a crush at all and instead talk with Lirako–and sometimes Shin-Rei, if he could manage stopping by Class C–and all would be fine. Somedays, it would bother him, but only when he noticed San-Kyung. So long as he focused his attention on something else, it wouldn’t matter.
Today was neither of those days. Instead, today was a day where Deki-Tyunri longed for him. So during history, instead of paying attention to the teacher’s lesson, his eyes were focused on San-Kyung as he stared ahead. He was sitting down in his seat as opposed to levitating as he had been the past few days, and he seemed agitated because of it–his body twitched and his tail jerked, slamming Tenha-Gumo in the head.
But even focused on San-Kyung, he wasn’t really paying attention to him. Deki-Tyunri was mostly lost in a daydream, a daydream of what would happen if he ever did get his wish of being with San-Kyung.
In his daydreams San-Kyung was much kinder to him than in reality. He even came off as nicer than he was to even Dosa-Mina. Most of his imaginations happened when he became lost in thought, so on occasion he would catch himself daydreaming about something embarrassing and become flustered.
But he did enjoy the daydreams to a degree. Still, each time he was reminded they were wishful thinking made him sad.
‘I wish I had a crush on someone else…’
The San-Kyung in his daydreams gave him a hug, but that only served to make him feel worse.

Morbid curiosity struck Ilhe-Anra a class before biology, and she was spurred to leave her seat and look for Hyungdarou.
It wasn’t too hard to find her–Hyungdarou was setting up Class D’s secondary classroom for biology. She quickly noticed Ilhe-Anra.
“Miss Konkaeho? What are you doing here? It’s math next, you know.”
“I was curious about something, and since you know lots about species and stuff, I wanted to ask what you thought.”
“Well, alright…I’m not the best in the world though, so I might not be able to answer all the questions you have…”
“That’s okay. So, Miss Hyungdarou, do you think someone could get surgery so they could become sort of like another species? I know you said that even with surgery there are some things you could never genetically change, but do you think in the future for example I could get some wings and be able to fly with them?”
Hyungdarou blinked at her. “….Miss Konkaeho–”
“I think the future is full of possibilities personally,” she said. “So I really do think that someday I might be able to fly with prosthetics. But I really wanted your opinion because you do work on biology and stuff.”
Hyungdarou sighed. “Unless there’s some incredible advance that does something nobody’s ever heard of, no. Not even the closest things to that can make someone able to fly.”
“…?”
“If a Siren with amputated wings transformed into, say, a Vampire, everybody would be able to tell that she wasn’t actually a Vampire, because if she tried to fly she wouldn’t be able to. And for all the things that Witches and Warlocks can do, completely transforming someone into another species is not one of them. So there’d have to be some big advancement in those fields for that to work….”
“Well I’m sure there will be,” Ilhe-Anra said cheerfully. “I trust in the future. Thank you, Miss Hyungdarou. I’ll get back to class now.”
She ran out the classroom. Hyungdarou was left scratching her head.

Nemi-Hikla stared down at her claws. ‘Geez, I could use some claw polish right now. But class is about to start….I’d definitely get caught. Oh, if only I’d thought of this earlier in break time…’
Nemi-Hikla kicked her feet back and forth, feeling antsy. “Ugh…”
She glanced up. Theasis hadn’t entered the classroom yet, and the students around her seemed to be absorbed in their own doings. Keeping an eye on them, she reached for her schoolbag and pulled out a dark red-orange claw polish vial.
She cautiously started to paint her claws, hoping that the scent wouldn’t drift over to a classmate and give what she was doing away. With that in mind she sought to work quickly, though when she made a mistake she went back to gently fix it.
‘….aah, that’s better.’ As she continued to apply the polish, she started to feel more at-ease. To her, Birdmix claws looked better painted than plain. ‘Such a boring shade without any polish.’ Now she felt better as she applied the rest, and as she continued on, she stopped trying to hurry the application and instead went at her leisure.
Unfortunately for her, some students had already noticed, namely Lirako, Shuera-Kaizima, and Xhen-Bei, who could smell it even despite not being the closest to her seat. When Theasis walked into the classroom, she could smell it as well. She set down her books and turned to the class.
“Is that nail polish? What student is using nail polish?”
Hearing that, Nemi-Hikla began to rush the application again, only to spill some of the polish onto her desk. “Damn it!” She muttered under her breath.
“Miss Fheyundaer?”
Nemi-Hikla froze.
“You will attend this class,” she said, taking the claw polish from her, “and then you’ll be paying the Principal a visit.”
Nemi-Hikla sighed. She could have sworn she heard a few students giggle at her, but she wasn’t sure if she was imagining it or not.
Still, even being in trouble, one thing brought her satisfaction.
She had managed to paint her claws, and to her they looked better now.

“Mali-Ana, mind listening to me gush for a little bit?”
“….gush about what? That depends on what it is.”
“I want to talk about Xhen-Wu,” he said. Mali-Ana rolled her eyes.
“I almost never get to talk about Xhen-Wu to anyone, because when I try to talk about her at home, Mi-Yagi always gets mad at me. And everyone else, Cou-Riette just says ‘that’s nice’, Lishe-Ashyo tells me he knows Xhen-Wu already so there’s no point, and of course I can’t talk to her about herself…well, I can, but we’re not really the type of people to spend all day complimenting each other. That’s stupid.
“But you know, I like being with her anyway. One thing I like is that she’s not overly romantic, because I never really was either. Our dates are more like just fun times out instead of, I dunno, making out in every public spot we can find. I like that.
“I mean, of course I don’t see her as just a friend, otherwise I wouldn’t have thought about our future together or anything like that…but it’s nice, you know? A lot of the girls I’ve met in my life have been romantics. Not all, of course. I mean, Cou-Riette and Xhen-Wu, you know that for a fact. You…er, don’t look at me like that! Anyway, I always thought that when I got into a relationship, you know, of course it would end up being romantic like that, but I guess I was wrong.”
He smiled. “I’m glad I was. Things are more fun this way for me. I’m not saying I don’t have romantic thoughts….I mean of course I do, but I just, I like the way our relationship is. Sorry about rambling to you like that, Mali-Ana. It’s just something I wanted to talk about. I bet everyone else I tried to talk to thought I was going to talk about something else…”
“Why do I even bother with you somedays, Gen-Reiya?” Mali-Ana sighed. “I just hope poor Xhen-Wu feels the same way you do…”
“Of course she does. I’m sure of it.”

“Mr. Sharai?”
“Miss Bustaen?” Sharai said. He looked up from the papers he was staring at. “Well, this is random. Don’t you have biology soon? What did you need?”
“I wanna talk to you ’bout somethin’, and I don’t think I can really talk to the teaches about it…”
“What?” Sharai began to smile. “Of course you can, Miss Bustaen! Always happy to help. So what is it?”
“My grades aren’t really that good. You prolly already know that, though…my parents sey they don’t matter, but I think they’re worried. I dunno, Mr. Sharai. I guess I just wanned some advice.”
“Well, your grades aren’t the worst, Miss Bustaen,” he said, then dropped his voice to a whisper as he continued, “Let me let you in on a secret. Your grades, even being not the best, are still better than a majority of Class A students.”
“Really!?”
“Yes, really!” Sharai said. “But don’t tell anyone I told you.”
“Mm-hm.”
“You’ve gotta get to class now and I bet the Principal will be back soon, but here are some Sharai Teik-Kao approved tips. One is to jot down everything the teacher says for reference, and the other is to think about the class in a different way.”
“Like what way?”
“Using biology as an example, when Miss Hyungdarou talks about what lets the species use their powers, think about it like, hm…like for example, Sirens have poison in their vocal chords!”
“What!?”
“That’s what kills everyone when they sing,” he said. “Think about it like that at first, study up on it, and eventually it’ll click correctly. Or at least I hope. That’s what worked for me when I was a student, anyway, but what do I know, I haven’t been a student for years…”
He pat Yefu-Shenhao on the shoulder. “Good luck, Miss Bustaen.”
“Thanks, Mr. Sharai!”

It had been over a week since Tenha-Gumo had seen what was inside his parent’s closet, but it hadn’t stopped bothering him lately.
At first it bothered him a little bit, but it died down and he was sure he could forget about it so long as he focused on other things, so he tried to focus as much as possible on school and Aeness lessons with Taechen to push it away. Anything else he could use as an excuse to focus on something else he would take, and though it made him lonely for them he tried to spend as little time as possible with his parents.
But it was only the other day after his mother made him a snack after school that it returned. She had seemed so innocent at that moment to him.
“So, what word did you learn last in Aeness?”
“Learn last…?” Thinking back on it made his ears warm. “…”
“…?”
“… rǔfánxi.”
“That sounds so pretty…” His mother had gushed.
When that had happened, it only brought back the same horror of the idea that his parents were less innocent than he had thought. Once he had learned of how babies were conceived he was already aware that his parents must have done the same.
That didn’t bother him nearly as much as the items in the closet.
With horrible thoughts flooding his head, he found himself groaning in the middle of class and trying to force his ears down in an attempt to forget all about the closet and what lie inside of it.

While awaiting science class to start, Rini-Futo read a history book she had brought along with her. The book was more interesting than she had expected, so she checked occasionally to make sure the teacher hadn’t arrived yet.
“Why are you reading that?” Shan-Zetsu asked. Rini-Futo looked up from the book.
“I like history,” she said, then turned back to the book.
“Are you gonna become a history teacher like Mr. Chensu?” He asked.
Rini-Futo put down the book. “I…I don’t know…”
“You really like Mr. Chensu, don’t you?”
Rini-Futo became flustered. “…I, um…I respect him a lot…”
“You’re weird sometimes, Shaejaein,” Shan-Zetsu said. “See you!” He walked back to his seat.
Rini-Futo had actually been trying to avoid thinking about her history teacher, because by now she was aware that the two of them could only ever be friends–and in any event, it embarrassed her whenever she thought of being a child with him, whether she imagined being a child during his childhood, or vice-versa.
She was satisfied with being friends but it didn’t keep her from wondering what would have happened if the two were at similiar ages.
Would they have been together?
Shaking her head to clear the thoughts, she went back to reading the history book. ‘I’d like history without liking Mr. Chensu too, stupid Shan-Zetsu…’

“Can I tell you a secret, Vampiris?” Im-Dei asked.
“That depends. What kind of secret?”
“The kind of secret that if somebody else found out, she’d be upset…”
“Does it have to do with Kokohara, by any chance?”
“Yes,” he sighed. “I like Shuera-Kaizima a lot…she’s probably my best friend in all of Malicerie now. But I’m sick of being seen as her translation boy! She’s gotten a lot better at Vaelis. Her vocabulary is much larger than it was back when she first came here. And yet people still see me as her translator. They see us as mostly inseparable….I say mostly because people acknowledge her on her own but not really me.”
“I see…”
“She’s not innocent of doing something similar,” he said. “Sometimes it feels like she relies on me for things she already knows, and it makes me upset. I have more to me than just helping her learn Vaelis. I’ve been here for longer than her. …but I guess nobody really noticed me before you and her came here, so it’s not like it matters…I don’t know, Vampiris. I guess I’m guilty of something too, just not the same thing.”
“What?”
“You said you didn’t want to be relied on for your smarts….I think the only reason I asked you was because I know how smart you are. I just don’t know what to do…”
“Well, we’re friends, aren’t we Fyuori?” She said. “And obviously you can’t go to Kokohara about this. But if you want my advice…even though you can’t vent to Kokohara, you should talk to her about this anyway.”
“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He sighed.
“She’ll never know unless you do. Remember, you’re a grade higher than her–do you want to graduate being only known as her translator?”
“No!”
“You have to talk to her about it soon, alright?” Ai-Reia said. “But of course, you’re allowed to do whatever you want. That’s just my advice.”
“And it’s good advice…thank you, Vampiris. I’ll try to talk to her about it soon….”

‘I wish other Sirens were in Class D,’ Zae-Mia thought to herself during science. ‘And not a Dualbreed, another Pureblood. I wish there was someone else who could understand.’
Zae-Mia often found herself wanting to share her singing voice with her friends, but reminding herself each time that she would only end up murdering them disturbed her.
‘Actually, it might be nice to be only half-Siren,’ she thought to herself. ‘Then even though they’d fall asleep, they’d get to hear me. That would be so nice. But I do like being a Pureblood…’
Most of the time when it came to thinking about what her voice would do to her friends, she was only agitated. She wished she had a friend who understood, or just stayed irritated about being unable to let them hear her voice. Singing wasn’t Zae-Mia’s passion, which was one benefit, but she loved her singing voice and wanted to share it with others.
This bothered her more at night, whenever it crossed her mind. It kept her awake to think of a day where she would sing for her friends, only to see their faces contort and watch them drop to the ground abruptly.
Just by singing one song, she could end their lives. That horrified her. People she cared about could be murdered only because she had wanted to let them hear her singing voice.
Those thoughts didn’t usually cross her mind during class, but today was an exception. She couldn’t stand the idea, and began to break down in tears.
“Melongie, are you alright!?” The teacher asked.
Zae-Mia shook her head. Not even the teachers could understand that feeling, she knew. That knowledge that with one melody, she could make her friends breathe their last.

“Fer-Shi, I might not be able to read minds, but I think I can tell who has a crush on who!”
“Crushes are silly,” Fer-Shi said. “And I already know one.”
“La-Iin towards San-Kyung?”
Fer-Shi nodded.
“Well, that one’s super-obvious. I think almost everyone in Class D knows it. Maybe even everyone in Malicerie. She’s not subtle at all.”
“Isn’t that an understatement…”
“So anyway, I was talking to Shaejaein, and when I mentioned Mr. Chensu, she got all blushy,” he said. “I think she maybe has a crush on him.”
“Ew!”
Shan-Zetsu nodded. “And Elyshen keeps staring at someone…”
“I know the answer to that one.”
“Hm?”
“He has a crush on San-Kyung too,” she said.
“No way! Does everyone have a crush on San-Kyung?”
“I don’t! Do you?”
“Nope.” Shan-Zetsu glanced around the class.
“Crushes are so gross.”
“Yep!”

‘I wonders if there’s a ways to stops my tics,’ Voi-Ehst wondered. ‘Though, thinkings in my tics prolly means that’ll be harders than I thoughts…’
Voi-Ehst didn’t mind her vocal tic, but she had recently thought of her life after Malicerie. She was in Grade 12 now; come March, she would be one of the graduates. It had made her think on getting a job, and she began to wonder if her vocal tic would impede progress with that.
‘Wells, there’s no times like the presents to practice.’ She decided to take break time to do just that. She walked out the classroom and head into one of the Weekend classrooms, pulled out a book, and began to read from it.
“‘But no matters where he wents, the lands was desolates, no life all arounds him, not person nor animal nor plants. His hopes drained as he continueds onwards, the only reasons for his doing sos was the empty states of his mind, which kepts him from makings any sort of decisions whatsoevers.'”
Voi-Ehst wrinkled her nose. “That didn’t goes so good. I need to tries with something else…”
She picked up another book.
“‘And the parties was the bests parties they ever hads. It made them discards all the fears and worries they hads before. All the sadnesses, all the strife–it was all forgottens because of that parties, and they danced and dranks wells into the early mornings, all negative emotions becomings replaced with joys, instillings in them a joys strongers than any joys they hads ever felt befores.'”
Voi-Ehst sighed. “There’s got to be ones I can manages…” She picked up another book.
“‘I refuses to accept my existences as a Catoris. I am a cats. That is alls.'”
Voi-Ehst grimaced. “Maybes I’ll just put on my resumes that I have a vocal tics…”

During that break time, Fei-Zhust found herself stewing over something that hadn’t started bothering her until recently.
‘My classmates must think I’m boring. I don’t play as much as the younger students, or the older students, for that matter. I don’t have the child prodigy status of Vampiris, and I’m not the only Wingyrm in class.’
She tried to remind herself that people talked to her. ‘But only because they need to, probably. I might have friends, but they probably have more interesting friends than me…’
With the subject weighing on her head, she only just noticed the teacher walking into the classroom. She hopped out her seat and walked over to him.
“Um…”
“Miss Auedarna, what are you doing out of your seat? We’re about to start psychological studies.”
“Mr. Denbek….do you think I’m boring?”
The students started to glance among each other.
“No, of course not,” he said. “All my students have interesting things about them. And remember, Miss Auedarna, two things. One, the person you should be most interesting to, is you. And second, everyone’s opinion is different–you may be interesting to some, and boring to others. I’m sure all your opinion me differs too. Now get back to your seat so we can start class.”
“Thank you,” she said. Fei-Zhust returned to her seat with a smile on her face.

‘Geez, Gen-Reiya gets a girlfriend and all he does is gush about how their relationship isn’t romantic at all. Then what’s the point!? Did Xhen-Wu do her overdramatic confession for nothing?
‘Is the only reason why he’s in a relationship with her because he wants a girlfriend? Because he wants kids? I’m sure he could find a way to get kids without having a girlfriend. I swear, it just frustrates me.
‘I wish I could show him. Maybe I should call Xhen-Wu today, ask her what she thinks about him prefering their relationship to be more like their friendship.
‘Oh, if only I could be with someone too. Like maybe Lishe-Ashyo….I’d show him. We’d be an actual romantic couple. Even though admitting it is annoying, he’s more romantic than Gen-Reiya ever could be.
‘Aah….I bet he’d take me on great dates…we’d have great times together, I know it. If I only got the chance to–
NO! What are you doing, Mali-Ana!? Thinking about Lishe-Ashyo like that…but still, poor Xhen-Wu! Maybe she wants to be romantic with Gen-Reiya sometimes. I’d tell her she should dump him, but I don’t want to get into fights with them…
‘Well, never mind! One day I’ll show him. Whether I get a boyfriend of my own or I tell Xhen-Wu about what he said, I’ll show him. Someday….
‘…I wonder if I’ll be able to spend more time with Lishe-Ashyo once I graduate. That’d be nice….though, I guess I should start looking into college…maybe I’ll go to the same one as him…that’d be nice, maybe Gen-Reiya and Xhen-Wu could come too….though, Cou-Riette….’

“Pinyon, is it true that Ferreniaos can really stink sometimes?”
Shan-Zetsu stared up eagerly at Song-Jpinne. His eyes grew wide and he backed away from the desk. “I’m not saying you are, of course!”
“Any species can. …where did the stinky Ferreniao thing come from anyway?”
“How am I supposed to know?” Shan-Zetsu said. “Anyway, I was curious ’cause some kids at the recess area said a Ferreniao girl from Class B was stinky. Alright, thanks!”
‘I don’t stink…’ Song-Jpinne gave a mental sigh. Just to make sure, he sniffed himself. ‘I smell fine…’
He rested his head on his desk. ‘Nobody ever pays attention to me except for Ferreniao rumors…nobody likes me…’
Sadness washed over him. ‘….what a first year at Malicerie. All the other new students have people who like them. Kokohara has Fyuori helping her learn Vaelis, and Vampiris is a child prodigy. Sherry’s a Tribreed and I’ve seen her with Ferister and Xhephekuda and Yuuldang are friends, and Hangdul’s friends with Oulng…but I don’t really have any friends, do I?’
He thought back on Nemi-Hikla, who treated him kindly each time they saw each other. ‘But she probably has other friends, better friends,’ he thought. ‘Even someone like Molshei has a best friend, but I don’t…I guess I don’t need one at school, but it would be nice to have one…’
He tried to shake his sadness, but it wouldn’t leave him alone. So he instead tried to mask it and think about happier things. ‘Well, there’s always next year, right…?’

After Im-Dei had talked to her earlier, Shuera-Kaizima made up her mind to write him a letter written entirely in Vaelis to show her progress.
Shuera-Kaizima found that that for her, writing Vaelis was harder than speaking it or understanding it when other people spoke it. So she had decided it would be the best way to show him her progress, and that maybe he wouldn’t feel like he was only her translator any more.
She set to work quickly.
Dear In-Dei,
Thank you for helping me teache Vaelis. I’m sorry if I’ve relyed on you too much. Sometimes it’s really hard for me, figyuring out things, but you’ve made it a lot better, so thank you.
I think now I can really get the hang of it and be able to live in VaelisVaelyn. I’m able to live lyfe here without strugling through it. My parents and teacheers helped too, of course, but I think you’d been the biggest help because you have been so patient.
I wrote this letter so that you could see I’ve made lots of porgess. I know it’s still not the best, but it’s thanks to you that I can write this much.
I’m singing my name in Nyapponese, though.
Friend,
シュエラーカイジマ

With a confident twitch of her whiskers, she handed the paper to Im-Dei, who read it over and chuckled. Shuera-Kaizima put her ears back, but when she noticed the smile on Im-Dei’s face, she couldn’t help but smile as well.

‘I wonder what my grades would be like if I went to school somewhere else,’ Ai-Reia couldn’t help but wonder. ‘Would my grades be as good if I went to school someplace where they speak Enlash? Or maybe where they speak Narbic?’
Languages were not something Ai-Reia studied often, so she was curious. ‘I wonder if it would be hard for me to learn languages or if I could easily become a polyglot. I may be smart but I’m sure I have a weak field….and if I went somewhere without knowing the language of course my grades would be bad.
‘If I went to Nyappon, though, I bet Kokohara could help me. She’d probably want to come along just to be back home…hm, I wonder where in Nyappon she comes from? I’ll have to ask.
‘Speaking of…I wonder if La-Iin can speak any other languages. I mean, I may not know Enlash or Narbic or Nyapponese or…well, whatever, but I have a forte in the Language of Vampires…I bet La-Iin doesn’t even have that. If I become a polyglot, I could say anything I want about her in whatever language and she’d be none the wiser so long as I didn’t switch to Vaelis…’
She chuckled to herself. ‘There would be a lot of benefits to learning another language! I should try that sometime. I think they have Weekend classes which focus on other languages. Maybe I should take one of those. Still, what language would I learn? There’s all sorts of them. Enlash is a common one. Narbic looks hard. Nyapponese, well, then I could talk with Kokohara in her stronger field…ooh, but Aeness might be a good one. And Dasdorian…..though, what’s the point of knowing that? It’s not like I could go to Dasdoria…’
She sighed. ‘Ah, I want to learn another language….’

“Sherry, since you’re a Tribreed with two avian species, can you fly better than a Pureblood Birdmix like me?” Nemi-Hikla asked.
“I don’t know if there’s any difference….though I can say I love flying a lot.”
“Hm…”
‘I wonder if I can.’ The idea of racing against the other avians in Class D excited her. Flying was a fun enough pastime for Mi-Kou–she wouldn’t mind doing it for the sake of someone else learning something new.
“Maybe you should ask Dslellullar. I’ve heard he’s training to be a species studier.”
“Yeah, but he can’t fly, so he doesn’t have any personal experience.”
“Well, I can only fly as Mi-Kou, not as Fheyundaer,” she said. “So it’s not like I’d be much help either. I’m sure there’s someone out there who can fly better than me…’
“One other question, then.”
“Yes?”
“How come you didn’t get wing-arms? Isn’t that a really dominant trait?”
“I don’t know. Maybe having two species with arms cancelled it out?”
“Hm….”
‘Now I really want to know,’ Mi-Kou thought. Her curiosity was piqued. ‘They say Dslellullar knows a lot about the species…maybe I should test that knowledge…’

“Mr. Xhephekuda?”
“Yes?”
“Could you do me a favor?”
“What?”
“Clean up your sand, please,” the janitor sighed. “I always have to do it…”
“But…you’re the janitor. Of course you have to do it.”
“Yes, but it’s tiny grains of sand all over the place!”
“The shield isn’t really sand, I hope you know,” he said, an edge to his tone. “Also, I need to shed that sand. …even if I didn’t need to, I would.”
“I can never get all that sand up, though….you get it in the hallways, in both your classrooms, the bathroom, if you use it…and the Principal can be pretty picky…”
“Not like it would help if I went to go and clean it up though, would it!?” He snapped. “I’d be shedding sand all over the place, wouldn’t I? So wouldn’t that technically make everything a moot point!?”
The janitor backed away. “….I guess….”
“Exactly! Just do your job. Don’t try and pass it off on anyone else either. I do what I come here for. You should do that too.”
And with that and a scoff, Kaersh-Cogyp walked off. The janitor watched in fear as he shed his shield the entire time, scattering small grains all over the place.

“Hows yous doings?” Kim-Koou said.
“….yous pickin’ on mes, ain’tchas. Don’t dos its. You makes it worse.”
“I just wanted to try mimicking it,” she said. “Don’t worry, I’d never try to copy you. I think it would be annoying to add s’s to words….I’d forget.”
“You needs to finds something else,” she said.
“I know. But I love listening to your tic. I don’t know, there’s something nice about it. And I like your voice too. You know, sometimes I mix up other people’s voices, but with yours, I can always tell, ‘That’s Oulng, for sure.'”
“You sure that’s not just because of the tics?”
“No, you have an interesting voice. It’s the Oulng voice definitely.”
“Well, I guess I can says it’s a voice I likes.”
“That’s good, because I like your voice and your tic. ….sorry, there I go again, getting fixated….but I like it a lot. Say, would you mind if I recorded your voice once, just so I could listen to it? Maybe I should write a book and have you do an audiobook version of it! Then I’d always have an excuse to listen to your voice. Or do you like singing? You could sing too!”
“I thinks it’d be kindas annoying to hear my tics attached to lyrics or a books,” she said. “…and you’re justs weirdin’ mes out, Hangduls…”
“Sorry. I just like it. You know me, getting fixated…”
“Maybes your special things is your fixations, Hangduls…that, or you chats a lots…”

“I have fleas, Xhephe,” Xhen-Bei said.
“That’s important to me why…?”
“WHY DO I HAVE FLEAS IN FALL!?” He screeched.
Behind him, other students started to yell as well.
“Fleas!?” Lirako yelled.
“Noooo!” Shuera-Kaizima screeched.
“That’s not good!” Song-Jpinne exclaimed.
“You’re going to cause a panic,” Kaersh-Cogyp sighed. “Just be quiet about it!”
“IT ITCHES!”
Kaersh-Cogyp gave him a harsh nudge.
“…I think you killed one…I felt something smash in my fur….”
Kaersh-Cogyp backed away from him. Xhen-Bei ran out Class D’s classroom, out of Malicerie, and began to roll on the grass.
‘Nobody will like me if I don’t get rid of my fleas…’
Normally rolling in the grass would have been fun for him, but with the fleas and the cold weather turning the grass brittle, all it did was make Xhen-Bei sob.

—–
“I hope all the students had good days today,” Sharai mused to himself.
“I always hope for that, but it’s wishful thinking,” the Principal sighed. “Especially with Class A being one of our classes…”
“Well, I hope it was mostly happy, anyway,” he said. Then, he went back to sorting papers.

15.288.Faculty Party

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 288
“Faculty Party”

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!” San-Kyung yelled. Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus sat up abruptly, taking deep breaths to calm themselves.
They glanced at the clock.
“Thank you, San-Kyung,” Salsh-Era started, “but can it please wait until morning…?”
“I have to go to school in the morning!” San-Kyung said. He gave a quiet scoff. “Happy birthday anyways.” He then levitated out the room.
“He’s just excited, honey,” Del-Kyuus said.
“I know, but he’s not the only one who has somewhere to be tomorrow….er, today, I guess.”

“Teachers, nurses, other faculty members–” Sharai started.
“So I’m just an other?” Yukhoe sighed.
“Today is quite a special day, for today is one of the few days that our lovely Principal of Malicerie actually let me decide on something we could do here at school!”
“Oh dear,” a teacher from Class C sighed.
“So, here’s the skinny. I was talking to the Principal, crying at first and asking ‘why don’t you ever let any of MY ideas go through!?’ but I eventually managed to calm down. When I did, I figured a more normal suggestion was needed. Though you might not realize it, I do sometimes realize that my suggestions are not always….high-quality. So I said, ‘what about a faculty party after school? Everyone could use a break.’ To my surprise, she agreed!”
Most of the faculty gaped and stared wide-eyed at the Principal, who sat with her eyes closed behind Sharai.
“Is this true?” Class D’s history teacher asked.
“Yes, it is,” the Principal said. “Mr. Sharai actually made a good case for once. You teachers work quite hard…most of you, anyway….and some of you have to deal with rebellious or lacking students on a regular basis. And I didn’t figure it would be fair to only allow some teachers to attend the party, no matter how much I desired to have it go that way. It will only be a simple party, held after all your classes are over, but I hope that you all will attend and enjoy.”
“I intend to enjoy!” Sharai said.
“You’re not a teacher.” The Principal said.
“Yes, but it was my idea, so I should still be invited.”
“Thank you so much,” Theasis said. “Both of you.”
“It isn’t a problem. Just make sure you don’t do something to get yourself suspended before the party.” The Principal checked the clock. “Classes will be beginning soon. Every teacher should ger prepared now. Meet back here after the last class. But not before. Sharai and I will be setting up in the hours leading to the party.”
“I have to set up?” Sharai muttered under his breath. He turned away from the Principal when he noticed her side-glare.
The teachers were in good moods as they left the meeting room. Most were excited about the party, while others still were curious.
Now they were awaiting the end of their classes for a much different reason than usual.

***

Throughout school that day it was easy for the students to notice the much brighter moods of their teachers. The history teacher of Class D usually delivered lessons with a dry tone and even one pre-class conversation would make him shout.
Today, however, he delivered the lesson with enthusiasm. Though the students knew he liked history, it was unusual.
“He likes history but he’s always sad anyway…” Fer-Shi said. “Maybe things are looking up for him today?”
But it wasn’t only him. Theasis, though as to-the-point as she normally was, seemed in a cheery mood, and her tail swished anxiously at all times as if she was impatient for something. As she left the class she seemed slightly jittery.
“I wonder if there’s an announcement to be made…the teachers seem on-edge,” Ai-Reia commented to herself.
Although the students wondered, none pursued their curiosities.
After class, the last teachers for each class seemed more cheerful than usual. Class A’s walked out with a smile as opposed to her normal hard glare. Class B’s gave a screech of joy and ran out the classroom. Class C’s gave his students a kind comment, something he didn’t usually do. And Class D’s looked at the clock and started to say something the students couldn’t hear, though it almost sounded like a prayer.
And as expected the teachers head for the meeting room after school. The students would have gotten ready to leave as usual, and some did, though some were still curious.
“The teachers were sure acting strange today, weren’t they?” Nemi-Hikla said.
“Mm-hm…” Song-Jpinne said.
“Wasn’t it so nice to see Mr. Chensu happy though?” Rini-Futo asked.
“It did seem pretty strange that all the teachers were so happy,” Ai-Reia said. “If it was only one, maybe even two of them, it might make sense. I’m beginning to think there’s something going on.”
“Like anyone cares,” San-Kyung scoffed from a short distance away.
“Think we should try and figure out what it is?” Lirako said.
“Couldn’t that get us in trouble!?” Im-Dei said.
“You don’t have to follow along if you’re nervous,” Lirako said.
“Yes, In-Dei. I am sure everything wi….it…it’s not strange,” Shuera-Kaizima said with a sigh.
“I for one wanna find out.” Lirako said. “Who’s with me!?”
“I wanna know if the teachers’re holdin’ out on us!” Yefu-Shenhao bellowed.
“Morbid curiosity spurs me on…” Nemi-Hikla said.
“I wanna know too!” Xhen-Bei said cheerfully.
“I’m building quite the posse,” Lirako said. “Let’s do this, guys! But first, we need a plan.”

As promised, the Principal and Sharai had set up the meeting room for a party. The decorations and refreshments were simple, but it was still exciting for the faculty.
“Is that alcohol!?” A teacher from Class B exclaimed.
“A genuine,” Sharai said, lowering his voice.
“….a genuine what?” Theasis asked.
“Alcohol.”
“Don’t over-indulge,” the Principal said. “Wouldn’t do for you all to have hangovers tomorrow. There is still school to attend. But….have fun.”
The Principal’s sudden smile was all the incentive they needed. With that, the party got started.
“Why should we partake in this party?” A teacher from Class A scoffed. The other teachers of Class A stood behind her. “You teachers are all idiotic anyway. Partying while there is still such injustice in the world! A party of a more diverse crowd would be one thing. But–”
“Don’t sour the party,” the Principal hissed. “Partake if you want. But do not bring down the moods of the rest of us!”
“Woo!” Class D’s history teacher shrieked. Nearby, Sharai started to rapidly eat beondegi. Others nearby him started to back away.
“I will make sure you do not drink too much,” the primary health advisor, Wei-Men Xhuzsha, said. “Lightweights, please inform me of your lightweightiness before partaking.”
“Light….weightiness?” Hyungdarou questioned. A few teachers from Class B broke out into giggles. Wei-Men’s face flushed. The Satous gave him a comforting pat on the back.
“Oh no….” Vikei groaned.
“What’s wrong?” Yukhoe asked.
“Mr. Yukhoe….you ain’t plannin’ on usin’ any vomit powder here, are ya?”
“I brought it along just in case,” he said casually. “I never know when I’ll need help….”
“Can you imagine how much of a mess that would make?” Theasis groaned. “You’re a Skeletaltype! Why do you eat at all?”
“Well firstly, I’m a lunch gentleman,” Yukhoe started, his tone slightly irritated, “and secondly, Skeletaltypes do need to eat. We may have our skeletons on the outside, but other species do too, and they need to eat of course. You should know that by now.”
Theasis looked slightly indignant, but her ears were folded back to her head. “….I’m sorry. I just don’t want you to spew vomit everywhere…”
“I won’t,” he sighed. “If I need to vomit, I’ll head to the–”
“PRINCIPAL THEASIS IS DISCRIMINATING AGAINST YUKHOE! Not that he didn’t deserve it,” Neowang said, partially in a whisper. “How dare you say such a thing!”
“Shut up!” The Principal yelled.
“I have a partner fighting with me to dimish noise pollution,” Class D’s history teacher gave a blissful sigh. Other teachers gave him a side-glance. “Hey, Mr. Xhuzsha, I’ve never had alcohol before, so I don’t know if I’m a lightweight or not. Do you think you’d know?”
Wei-Men blinked at him. Teachers nearby giggled.
“You’ve never had alcohol before, Mr. Chensu? But you’re one of the oldest among us!” Theasis exclaimed.
“Yeah, even I’ve had alcohol before!” Sharai yelled.
“Well, I can say I doubt you’d be a lightweight…” A teacher from Class C sighed.
“PRINCIPAL GSUYEO IS DISCRIMINATING BASED ON WEIGHT!” Neowang yelled. Sharai promptly popped a hard candy into her mouth. Neowang started to shriek, then curled up into a ball on the floor.
“God I can’t stand her!” Sharai sighed. “I wish she was nice. Anyway, Mr. Xhuzsha, you give him a good drink. In fact, pour drinks for us all! We’re all adults here. Alcohol is basically a rite of passage! I refuse to let you all miss out on the glory I have experienced!”
The Principal sighed.
“Alright,” Wei-Men said. “You will have to allow me to point out whose glass belongs to who, however….I will pay close attention.”
“Thanks!”
The teachers relaxed in chairs. Some laughed at conversations or the Class A teachers, who silently fumed in a corner. Others felt they had more important things to talk about.
“So, ladies…” A teacher from Class B said. “Any of these guys lookin’ particularly attractive to ya? Ever had your eye set on one? You’re so stoic, Theasis–you strike me as the type to have a crush on a fellow coworker.”
“Why?” Theasis asked. Her tail twitched with irritation.
“Dunno why, you just do. Well, do you at least think anyone you work with is attractive? I have to admit, for as boring as I find him, Mr. Xhuzsha is one of the best-looking guys we have. Mr. Yukhoe’s not too bad either. Kinda cute, actually.”
Yukhoe looked up from the Beondegi he was staring at, as if he realized someone had said his name, but quickly turned back to it. “Come on! Someone else has to feel the same way I do!”
“I sort of like Mr. Sharai,” Hyungdarou said.
The faculty members sitting nearby her widened their eyes and backed away slightly. Hyungdarou fidgeted.
“Did someone call my name?” Sharai asked.
“Miss Hyungdarou just told us she has a cru–” The Class B teacher was interrupted by Hyungdarou slapping a hand over her mouth.
“A cruh…?” Sharai questioned, then shrugged. He walked back over to Wei-Men, who had almost finished pouring all the alcohol.
“It’s not a crush,” Hyungdarou said. “I just think he’s a fun person.”
The Class B teacher smiled at her. “Say what you will, Miss Hyungdarou.”
“I have poured all the alcohol!” Wei-Men announced. Most teachers cheered.
“This one is for you, Mr. Sharai,” Wei-Men said. “While I have no records of your past experiences with alcohol, I presumed this would be a good amount to give you based on your physiology–”
“I get it,” Sharai chuckled. “Thanks, Mr. Xhuzsha.”
“Not a problem.”
“Which one is mine?” Class D’s history teacher asked.
“Um….this one. I also based this on your physiology–”
“Thanks!” He said, taking the glass.
“How about for me?” The Principal said.
“Ah, er….j-just give me a moment, Miss Principal….” Wei-Men flustered.
“It smells good,” the teacher said.
“It is good!” Sharai exclaimed. “Once Mr. Xhuzsha’s passed out all the glasses, I say we have a toast!”
Wei-Men looked up at Sharai with wide eyes, sighed, then went back to passing out glasses. Teachers eagerly awaited their turn to receive a glass, save for a few who sat on the sidelines who either accepted a glass from Wei-Men or politely declined. When offered a glass, Neowang turned away.
“Is that everyone?” Sharai asked.
“….well, it’s all the glasses….” Wei-Men said.
“Good enough for me!” He held his glass out.
“CHEERS!”

Where other students had long since left the school, small groups from each class had stayed behind, their curiosity about what had made the teachers so happy that day keeping them behind. Lirako in particular could not sate hers; the small group with her from Class D was always quite a ways away from her due to how fast she strode across the school.
There had been several missteps along the way for each group as they opened doors to rooms that would almost certainly be unoccupied that day, or doors to closets or bathrooms. Still, even through their mistakes, the groups had time to notice that the school was eerily quiet save for them–not even the janitor was around.
Though, some in each group felt they could hear something more. Lirako always kept her ears alert. There was some noise in the distance, some noise she couldn’t figure out the origin of–a noise she wanted to figure out what it was to. She reminded herself of the possibility that it was just the Principal, a possibility that made her shudder, but she had to know for sure.
She stalked toward the noise, which was finally starting to grow louder, and as it did, she was finally able to make out voices.
“This is great! Hey, is there any more?”
“Mr. Sharai, don’t be sad! You have fans, don’t worry!”
“It’s gonna stink in here in some time….”
“Mr. Chensu, are you okay!?”
‘They’re holding out on us!’ Lirako’s tail began to twitch with irritation.
“Come on guys, I think I have a lead!” She yelled. Her group picked up speed and kept after her.
As the faculty members drank and were merry, only a few heard the incoming footsteps. Theasis chalked it up to her imagination and started to eat beondegi.
And only a few moments later, the door opened.
“What–!” Sharai exclaimed.
“HOW DARE YOU HOLD OUT ON US!” Lirako yelled at the top of her lungs. Yefu-Shenhao, Nemi-Hikla, Xhen-Bei, Song-Jpinne and Rini-Futo appeared behind her. The members of the faculty stared at her blankly, all except for the Principal and their history teacher, who was instead giggling and teetering around. When he almost fell over, Theasis rushed to his side to prop him up.
At that sight, Rini-Futo began to tear up.
“Aaaaaah!” She cried, then ran out the room.
“What is the meaning of this?” The Principal demanded, her gaze focused on Lirako.
“You were holding out on us! Don’t think we didn’t notice how happy the teachers were. And all you were doing is getting drunk!? You upset little Shaejaein! I can’t forgive you!”
“Shae….jaein?” Their history teacher questioned. Lirako gave him a look of disgust. “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.”
“….Miss Sanyaow.”
“Yes?”
“Did you have any right to intrude? What would you have done if there was no party going on, if I was simply discussing matters with Mr. Sharai? You understand what sort of position you would be in in that scenario, don’t you?”
“Yeah?”
“The Students of Malicerie get many events to themselves. Special days and the like that could make the experience of school more fun. I don’t even require that some younger students attend every class, and during the Summer and in Winter you are granted breaks from school. My faculty works during the beginning of Summer and barely any events are done for them. And I know not every student they have to deal with is a model one–if I hadn’t believed it before, I would believe it now, seeing how you have acted here.”
“Hey, I get good grades, at least” Lirako snapped.
“Mr. Sharai came up with an idea to give the teachers a reprieve from their normal thankless jobs and you believed you had the right to intrude on that!?”
Lirako gave the Principal an indignant glare.
“Know your place, student! Had you merely intruded I may have given you a pardon, but this will not go unpunished.”
“What about us? We didn’t say anything.” Song-Jpinne asked.
“….clear out the room,” she said.
“Certainly!” Lirako huffed. She turned around.
“Not you. The faculty.”
“But Principal–” Sharai started.
“I need to have a word with these students,” she said. “And I’m sure something needs to be done of Mr. Chensu. It’s highly abnormal for someone to get drunk off a glass that small. …..I’m sorry, all.”
The faculty members walked out the room. The Principal gave the students a cold glare and beckoned them to seats. When Song-Jpinne reached for the beondegi, she slapped his paw.

—–
“Sorry about that, guys,” Sharai said.
“It’s fine. I’m only upset that it was students of mine who ruined it all…..I hope the Principal gives them a stern talking-to,” Theasis sighed.
“Perhaps if we had a party elsewhere, we would have more luck?” Wei-Men said.
“Maybe. I can discuss it with the Principal.” Sharai said. “But even if we have another party, I don’t think we should bring alcohol. Evidently Mr. Chensu can’t handle it.”
“Agreed.” Most of the faculty members said.

“Dad?”
“Yeah, San-Kyung?”
“….I’ll let you call Mom Kyuusie for today,” he mumbled.
Salsh-Era beamed. “Kyuusie, I have good news!”
San-Kyung groaned and slammed his head on the table.

23.266.Theories of Malicerie

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 266
“Theories of Malicerie”

“It’s hate mail day,” Theasis called.
“I hate hate mail day,” the history teacher said.
“There is no such thing as hate mail day, Miss Theasis,” the Principal said, exasperated.
“Well, there should be!” Sharai said. “That way we know what to expect when we come into work that day!”
“Shut up, Mr. Sharai,” the Principal snapped. Sharai heaved a sigh and sat down in a chair.
“Just when I think Malicerie’s reputation is going up this happens,” Theasis said.
“We have been trying as hard as possible to keep up the reputation of the school….you and I anyway, Miss Theasis, along with a few other teachers. Sharai, heaven forgive me for saying this, at least stays out of the public eye. We have Mr. Chensu with his crazy ideas–word of Shipping Day mark two got around to me eventually, I hope you know.”
“I’m sorry,” he sighed.
“I suppose I can at least give you credit for trying to do your job on occasion, though I suspect you’re one of the primary reasons we have as bad a reputation as we do. Though it can’t be nearly as bad as the reputation we’ve garnered thanks to our ‘lovely’ Class A teachers,” the Principal scoffed.
“I swear, you must have internalized sexism,” the Class A teacher scoffed back.
“Quiet, you. Theasis, what are the recent controversies?”
“There’s the normal complaints from people who didn’t realize Malicerie was multi-grade, and also some scattered complaints from people who apparently didn’t realize it was unisex or multispecies,” she said.
The Principal rolled her eyes.
“Don’t you mean multigendered? We have students who aren’t male or female, you–”
“No, we do not. Be quiet.”
“Yeah, be quiet, Miss Neowang!” Sharai said, then started to giggle. Neowang glared at him.
“There’s also a few bits of mail from people who want to see or talk to Miss Vampiris,” Theasis said. “Some of these border into worship territory…”
“Dispose of them before word of their existence gets to Miss Vampiris,” the Principal said.
“Yes, of course. But you know, another thing I thought was weird was that most of these worship-mails came from out of Bledger….though there’s still a lot of it that did come from Bledger…”
“Well, Miss Vampiris has quite the reputation. She’s a six-year-old Vampire child prodigy…you know, I really think she’s safest here. I’ve never seen any of the students make a fuss about her,” the history teacher said.
“That’s only Class D, though! In Class B there are a few students who talk about her,” a teacher from Class B said.
“What’s there to accomplish from being a child prodigy?” Neowang scoffed. “It only enforces that society wants us all to be smart. What about our students who don’t care for those sorts of things or who can’t be smart!?”
“You sound more confused than ever,” Sharai sighed. Neowang glared at him.
“Anything else, Miss Theasis?”
“Plenty,” she sighed. “There are some letters from parents. Some commend us. Others are more critical….actually, Principal, instead of going over all the mail, I think I should probably tell you about something that’s worrying me.”
“You should,” the Principal agreed. “What’s the problem, Miss Theasis?”
“A lot of the mail was asking us about certain rumors. Apparently there’s some floating around that Malicerie sabotages the children…”
“What!?”
“They think we’re like Class A all over–”
“How’s that a bad thing?” Neowang asked. Sharai glared at her. Neowang glared back.
“–or that we don’t take things seriously. Some think we’re too strict and turning our students into carbon copies of each other. …I think these rumors came from the parents of some students, Principal.”
“Explain?”
“Looking over the mail from parents leads me to that conclusion. Of course the students from Class A act the same as their teachers in most cases. We got mail from the Kerushaos asking about the differences in Class A classes and Class D classes since their children believe and know two different things…which, actually isn’t completely wrong.”
“…”
“Parents of students from Class B and Class D ask us if we’re taking anything seriously,” Theasis said. “Their complaints are different, though. Class B parents are asking us if we’re just letting students do what they want. Class D’s parents don’t have as many complaints, and they lack the complaints about grades like Class B’s does in most cases, but they’re asking us if we’re teaching children that they can coast through life or do whatever they want without working for it.”
“Go on.”
“Class C parents are asking us if we’re biased against their students or if we treat them too harshly…some claim their children are acting almost robotic.”
“…”
“Then we’ve got letters from other people asking us if those rumors are true….I don’t think this could bode well for the future, Principal. We have more students between all four classes than we’ve ever had, but that only means there’s more families for rumors to spread to. From here we could end up going down to a number lower than even the number of students we had in our earliest years…”
“That might not be too bad,” the history teacher said. “Then there’s less students to teach, less students to pick on you and ridicule you…”
“Don’t be selfish, Mr. Chensu. It’ll reflect badly on all of our reputations, not to mention that of the school’s,” the Principal said. “Eventually if people grow to believe these rumors are truth only a select few will send their children to Malicerie. You could all be out of jobs. ….except for maybe Class A’s teachers, of course…”
“Because we’re the only ones where there weren’t any major complaints!” Neowang said. “You all try to teach the same things over and over again and don’t bond with your students as I do.”
“If all other classes in Malicerie go down, I will take Class A with them!” The Principal yelled. “Remember that Malicerie Public School is a place of my ideals. I will not accept these sorts of rumors being perpetuated about it. Already I fear our reputation is worse than it could be, but I had hope because of the number of students now in our school. I don’t dream of Malicerie Public School being like every other school out there. I dream of it being a place where children regardless of grade or any other factor–”
“So grade is the most important, huh!?” Neowang exclaimed. The Principal glared at her. Neowang scoffed.
“…as I was saying….I want it to be a place where the students can learn and prosper without stress. But I also want to succeed. I want Malicerie not to be a famous school, but to be a school where a parent not intending to cause undue stress on their child could send them. That doesn’t mean I don’t want them to learn. I only want the students to enjoy their time at Malicerie as they learn. So I don’t need teachers teaching whatever the hell they want, teaching essentially nothing, being hard on students when they mess up or doing things that could lead to them getting fired.” She focused on the history teacher, who flinched.
“In the end, it’s not the students whom the rumors stop with….alright, that’s not entirely accurate. We have some troublemaker students who need to be dealt with. Perhaps we should organize a meeting with some of those troublemaker student’s parents soon.”
“That sounds like a good idea,” Theasis said.
“Thank you, Miss Theasis. I swear, you seem sometimes as one of the few sane teachers here….ahem, but that isn’t all. Our reputation can also be helped by the work of our teachers. If our teachers are giving it their all and doing the best they can, not only will they have happy paychecks, but then all we need do is find the problem children and find a way to keep them from souring our reputation further.”
“Yeah…”
“Promise me you will all do your best,” the Principal said. “I will contact the parents of notably problematic students, if Mr. Sharai would help me by going through student files to find out exactly who those students are…”
“Sure,” he said.
“Work your best to make sure that hate mail day is destroyed.”
Sharai giggled. “You said hate mail day.”
The Principal sighed. “Shut up, Mr….ah, I suppose if I’m telling you all to try, I should try as well….”

—–
“Are you all going to listen to her?” The history teacher asked.
“Of course,” Theasis said.
“Why not.” Hyungdarou said with a shrug.
“I wonder if I am a little hard on the kiddies…” Yushie sighed.
“No way in hell,” Neowang said.
The other teachers walked away from Neowang and the other Class A teachers.