12.528.The Days of Makeshire–Part 3

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

11.527.The Days of Makeshire–Part 2

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

10.526.The Days of Makeshire–Part 1

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

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

7.523.Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 523
“Reminiscing on Childhood–Part 7”

“Yong-Hin, take a look at this. I managed to recover some details about this ‘Startimatum’. I even nabbed a picture. Take a look at this face. I have no doubt in my mind that this is Mr. Hyusen. Our science teacher is a part-time pornographer.”
Yong-Hin giggled. “How devastating it would be if such information was leaked to the world!”
Yul-Hiis relaxed in his seat. “‘Twould be, but I think it will be all the more satisfying to watch him out himself. It’s not like we’re kids, exactly. I wouldn’t call adolescents children. We’ll understand what he’s done.”
“We’re only barely adolescents, though.”
“We’re adolescents nonetheless,” Yul-Hiis said. “Whatever the occasion, I look forward to seeing the look on his face when they all learn that Startimatum and Mr. Hyusen are the same person. Heh!”
Yong-Hin giggled. “My oh my do people love to hide the parts of themselves they’re ashamed of.”
“That can be said without a doubt!”

***

Yong-Hin had found herself with an insatiable curiosity for all things in the world ever since she was young. Her parents interchangeably described her as a treasure hunter, investigator and just a nosy young girl. In her early life, many of the facts she sought after were subjects that would help her in school or taught her tidbits she personally found quite interesting.
However, as she grew older and after having met the equally-curious Yul-Hiis, Yong-Hin’s curiosity extended past that and she focused most of her energy on finding out far darker things about the world–and the tidbit she and Yul-Hiis had found on their science teacher being a pornographer made her want to laugh each time she remembered it during class.
“Ah, I hope the discovery of information becomes even easier in the future,” Yong-Hin said. “Already you almost had to pay for a bimbo in order to find out that tidbit about ‘Startimatum’.”
“What did you say?” Mr. Hyusen asked. Yong-Hin and Yul-Hiis giggled. “Absolutely nothing, Mr. Hyusen!”
Mr. Hyusen gaved them a concerned expression. He pushed his glasses up and stared down at a book.
“Oh, he’s so blatant it can’t be long now.”
“The risk was far higher than paying for a bimbo, fair Yong-Hin,” Yul-Hiis sighed. “Had I gone any farther it would have been more of a man-bo I was paying for. That district is truly curious. I might have to visit it again someday.”
“The idea of you getting with a man-bo isn’t all that unappealing,” Yong-Hin giggled. Yul-Hiis gave her a wry look. “Your idea of entertainment confuses me, Yong-Hin. Now, what say we go looking for another piece of information today?” Yul-Hiis blinked. “Damn it!”
“What’s wrong?”
“I’d love to go searching the murky depths of downtown with you today, but I just remembered I and my parents have an obligation to some stupid butcher Narwhaltae family. We promised them we would go fishing and talk on something or another. My parents truly want me to befriend their young son, but he is simply so boring!”
“Oh, what a shame,” Yong-Hin sighed. “Well, I have plenty of time, so I’ll make sure to go and look for plenty of juicy tidbits to share with you when you come back from your boring obligations.” She kissed him on the cheek.
“You always find the best ones,” Yul-Hiis sighed.
“Well then, tomorrow we’ll meet again?”
Yul-Hiis squeezed her hand. “Tomorrow for certain, Yong-Hin. Find something delicious, alright?”
“I’ll never find anything half as delicious as your Startimatum,” Yong-Hin giggled. Glancing over her shoulder, she noticed that Hyusen was staring in their direction, again looking perturbed as if he had overheard what she had said.

Downtown was fairly sparse that day, but to Yong-Hin it felt as though people were everywhere. She spotted a man rustling through garbage. A woman handing out pastries, dark circles under her eyes. A Normal walking by wearing a bulky shirt through which she could see the bulge of wings. Everywhere she looked seemed to be a treasure-trove of people with new stories for her to learn, but she had no idea where to start, nor knew which people she could approach and successfully learn the stories of.
‘Yul-Hiis has a better way of going about this. He actually goes to the place these sorts of people inhabit. Meanwhile I have no idea how I might learn about these people in any way, nor any guarantee that they are actually anyone interesting.’
She strained to listen for any sort of conversation that might be going on nearby her. Only a minute passed before she heard a voice off to her left.
“…and they act like, ‘Oh, because you’re a celebrity, you must be infallible!’ but the truth is, most celebrities have a dark secret to hide. It pretty much goes hand-in-hand with being a celebrity, having some dark disgusting part of you that you want to lock away.”
“Do you have one, then?”
“No way! I’m open about myself because this kind of behavior pisses me off! But you wanna know what? Don’t go blabbing it to the public just yet, but I found out that Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And they say that Bes-Kaal beats on her family behind the scenes for dragging down her fame!”
“Whoa!”
“No duh. You might hear a lot of things as fans, but we hear even more within the industry–dark secrets they want to be kept secret…”
Yong-Hin smirked. The story interested her, not just because of the tidbits being exchanged but the mere fact of the celebrities gossiping about each other to fans. She jot down the notes, then sighed.
‘But this isn’t enough. Maybe Yul-Hiis would think it’s a tasty tidbit, but he always lets me off easy because he likes me. This isn’t enough. After Startimatum, I need to outdo him. And in order to outdo him, I’ll have to head off to a darker side of the world and do some serious investigation.’
She stood behind to listen to the rest of the conversation, then clapped her hands and flew off in search of a story.
‘One of these places has got to be less bright than the others.’ She checked around for any sign of someone familiar or someone interesting for her to watch. Flying over an alleyway, she caught scent of a strange smell that made her retch, and at the same time enticed her. Curious, she landed and folded her wings, taking a check around.
The alleyway was filled with dumpsters and strange powders lying on the ground, but the scent got stronger the more she walked on. Yong-Hin took her chances and walked out of the alleyway, only to be greeted by the sight of many more. She wanted to remark aloud, but reminded herself she had no idea what was awaiting her in this strange place.
She checked down each of the alleyways, and each one held a surprise–down one was a group of people who appeared to be doing drugs, while down another a Vampire man chewed from an Animated Pumpkin’s arm. Down one even further along, she spotted two people in what appeared to be just prior to intercourse–and it took a lot of resistance for her to look away.
Each alleyway held a curious secret and seemed to have its own tale, and the people down one seemed to be oblivious to what went down the other, even when a group of children chatting casually was right across from a Goathoof man being beaten by a furious Minomix yelling curses. Yong-Hin made sure to jot down a note on each alleyway, though even she felt a little off-put by the strange place and made sure not to stay close to one for two long.
The alleyway strip seemed to come to its end, a small stone path leading into a slightly forested area. Yong-Hin followed the path and found herself in a small neighborhood, the houses fairly symmetrical yet all showing some significant sign of damage that differentiated each one from the other.
Yelling sounded from one of the houses, and Yong-Hin peeked in through a murky window. A Minomix man was yelling at his wife and children, looking just as furious as the one she had spotted earlier. In another house she could hear faint sounds of nervous mumbling, but in yet another despite the poor condition of their house a small family was eating dinner and laughing.
The sight of it all was fascinating to Yong-Hin, who made sure to write down every bit of what she saw. ‘Anyone who says this world doesn’t have more to offer is lying. This neighborhood is proof of it!’

***

When Yong-Hin arrived home, she was surprised to see Yul-Hiis sitting on her bed.
“Hello there, Yongie,” he said. “You look even fairer now than at school.”
“What are you doing here, Yul-Hiis? I thought you had obligations. And who said you could come into my room?”
“That is something you’ll have to take up with your mother,” he sighed. “But the obligations ended faster than expected because my father decided to pick a bit of a….fight would sound better, admittedly, but it was more of a disagreement. So I figured I’d come here and wait for you.” He laid down on his stomach. “So, do you have juicy tidbits for me to hear? I’m curious about what’s in that notebook of yours.”
Yong-Hin hopped onto her bed. “I did find quite a bit. I felt adventurous today. I think I worried my parents a bit with how late I came home. But, not much. Now, take a look.” She opened the notebook.
“Celebrities are apparently gossiping about how one or the other has a dark secret they prefer to keep from the world. Apparently Banta Veu-Nil keeps a fetish diary. And when I went a little further into a dark area near downtown, I found a whole little alleyway strip that held all sorts of nefarious doings. Go past that alleyway strip, and you find a small neighborhood. In this neighborhood you’ll find the occasional nuclear family, but most of the families here are abusive drug-addicts. My curiosity made me wonder if that was a connection to the fact that most there were Dualbreeds, but, being one myself and my best friend being one I should be the last to judge. Either way, it’s a true showing of the dark underbelly of the world, don’t you think?”
“The dark underbelly of the world has existed for a long time, Yong-Hin, long as good and neutral have been around. We on the more neutral side of the spectrum are lucky. We benefit from the good and avoid arrest in this good-dominated society, and yet we are open to the evil and are able to see it without becoming disgusted or sick. Merely, curious. But what prompted you to head off to such a dangerous part of town anyway? Weren’t you scared?”
“Not at all. A Demon’s powers, even a half-Demon’s, are made for combat, for the most part. And I’m a succubus-type Demon–I could always use my virginity to my advantage.”
“I suppose you could,” chuckled Yul-Hiis.
“Seeing all this made me wonder. Do you think someday when I’m older, I should open a business dedicated to collecting information?”
“They have something like that already. It’s called the government.”
“I don’t mean like that. I mean for my personal use, and there would be nothing the government could do about it.”
“Sounds like a fairly far-fetched dream, my dear Yong-Hin. But if anyone could do it, it would be you. Just make sure you have your head screwed on straight if you do pursue it.”
“You should know better by now that it just doesn’t do to underestimate me, Yul-Hiis,” Yong-Hin said with a wink.

—–
Eteibreit relaxed in her chair at her office, dwelling back on her earliest discoveries. Her business had flourished since its opening and now she had access to several bits of information. She couldn’t suppress her smirk at the memory of the small investigations she had used to do.
‘Now I have far more power,’ she thought. ‘The old me would have been overwhelmed if she knew her musing had become a reality!’

29.514.Suicidal Pact

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 514
“Suicidal Pact”

“Take this, San-Kyung!” Dosa-Mina yelled. He ran at him.
“Ha! You think that’s enough to stop me? It’s not even enough to dissuade me! When you’re going against someone with as much power as me, you should know your place!”
“Says you! But I know your one true weakness!”
“I have no weaknesses!”
“You might say that, but I know that’s a lie!”
“Try proving this theory of yours, then!” San-Kyung began to run off.
“I think I will!” Dosa-Mina chased after him, and while at first he could barely keep up, soon enough he was keeping pace with San-Kyung and almost running faster than him. Once he was close, he leaped onto San-Kyung and knocked him to the ground.
“Oof! Are you saying my weakness is being knocked down!? Because I can recover from such a thing!”
Dosa-Mina nuzzled his neck. “No, I’m saying your weakness is your embarrassment! And I know just how to cause that!”
San-Kyung’s cheeks turned pink. “All right, all right, Dosa-Mina, I get it! You don’t have to keep doing that.”
“I like doing it, though.”
San-Kyung gave him a quizzical look before pushing him off to stand up and stretch.
“Boy, am I glad we’re closer in height again! Being taller than you really made playing like this difficult.”
“Yeah, well, we might be the same height now, but my Mom and Dad say I’m going to tower above you someday.”
“We’ll see. Us Dslellulars can be pretty tall!”
San-Kyung glanced around the area. “This place is boring. And the teenagers are going to be out soon.”
“Why does that matter? We’re teenagers too!”
“It doesn’t matter that they’re teenagers, it matters that they’re people who are going to get in our way,” he said. “Why don’t we play over by there? Then we’ll be out of their line of sight.”
“Won’t your parents be worried?”
“No. They say they’re less worried about what I do now that I play with you all the time.”
“Aw, they really trust me, don’t they?” Dosa-Mina said sheepishly. “Okay, let’s head over there! Say, what are we gonna play when we get over there, San-Kyung?”
“I don’t know yet. It’s hard to think about what to play sometimes. I want to do some of these things for real, not just pretend. It’s frustrating.”
“Well, maybe over there there’ll be a nice little pond you can set on fire.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “My fire goes out in water.”
“If you boil the water, it won’t go out!” He chirped.
San-Kyung made a noise Dosa-Mina wasn’t sure if it was a huff or a chuckle. The two of them continued onwards towards the forestry, Dosa-Mina thinking on what they might play and San-Kyung on what they could do to make their play-sessions more enjoyable.
“Alright, I’ve got an idea,” San-Kyung said as they entered the forestry. “The two of us are going to have a test of stamina.”
“A test of stamina? Are you trying to lose, San-Kyung?”
“What makes you think I’ll lose?”
Dosa-Mina stretched. “I have lots of stamina! What makes you think you’ll win?”
“I have plenty of stamina as well, especially since I don’t use mine up as much! And even if I lose, that’s a good thing for me. I want to test the limits of my stamina. The more stamina I have, the better it is for the future.”
“I guess having lots of stamina is a good thing for anyone,” he said. “Okay, how about we start with a race? A race is a good way to test your stamina! We’ll race all around this forest and whoever keeps running when the other one stops is the winner!”
“You’re on!”
The two boys readied themselves, then both took off across the forestry, running as fast as they could go. San-Kyung felt full of energy, especially with the sun still shining down on him through breaks in the trees. He couldn’t see Dosa-Mina after only a short time running, and wondered if he had made it ahead of him.
‘It won’t stay that way for long!’ San-Kyung pushed himself to run faster and turned around a bend in the trees. He kept going, shutting his eyes against the force of the wind and dust blowing in his face, and only came to a stop when he heard a shriek from a familiar voice.
“Dosa-Mina!?”
Dosa-Mina was lying nearby a patch of rocks and water, holding tight to his shoulder. San-Kyung quickly noticed blood welling between his fingers.
“Dosa-Mina!”
Dosa-Mina didn’t respond, instead grit his teeth and stood up on unsteady legs. San-Kyung felt unsure of what to do. Just as he was contemplating piggybacking Dosa-Mina, he noticed him give him a smile.
“Don’t worry, San-Kyung,” he breathed. “I’m okay. But we should head back, right now…”
His eyes looked glazed over with pain, but Dosa-Mina walked forward, slowly but steady. San-Kyung followed after him and kept a close eye on the wound. Blood still welled between his fingers, but it seemed to be slowing.
It didn’t matter that that was the case, however–San-Kyung was still terrified, and he knew the exact reason why.

***

“It doesn’t look like you broke your shoulder,” started Salsh-Era as he pressed down on the injury. Dosa-Mina yelped.
“Sorry, sorry! Anyway, it’s a good thing it stopped bleeding when it did. If it kept bleeding like that, we’d have had to take you to the hospital.”
“That doesn’t make it any better, though!” Del-Kyuus asked. “Dosa-Mina, do you want to head home? If you’d like, we can take you home ourselves.”
“Thanks, Mr. and Mrs. Molshei,” he said. “It’s fine. I kind of want to wait for the pain to die down a bit first. Being in pain and having Mom and Dad worried about me sounds like even more of a pain….”
“We should contact them anyway,” Salsh-Era told Del-Kyuus. “You boys hang tight. We’re going to call the Dslellulars.”
San-Kyung’s parents head out the room. As soon as they were gone, Dosa-Mina glanced at San-Kyung.
“Don’t worry about it, San-Kyung, it’s not like it’s your fault. I don’t know what I was thinking, running into that patch of rocks. It was stupid. And besides, I didn’t break my shoulder!” He lifted up his right arm, only to wince soon after. “Although I must’ve hit it pretty hard…”
“You were losing a lot of blood at first,” San-Kyung said. “I really thought you weren’t going to be able to stand and I was going to have to take you home. And I don’t know if I have the stamina to do that.”
“Well, if you’re worried about that, then we should totally do another test of stamina, just next time, in a safer area. But I’ll be fine, San-Kyung. It was a hard fall, and sure, I broke the skin, but I’m sure that by tomorrow, I’ll be all right.”
“It just made me think. What if you had hit your head then? With how much you bled, that would have been bad.”
“Let’s not talk about worse situations than what actually happened, alright?” Dosa-Mina said, a chuckle in his voice.
“…you know, I’ve actually been thinking about something lately. Before I had you, all I had were my parents. I hate everyone else. You’re the first person who I met and liked who has the chance to outlive me. My parents will probably go before me. Maybe we haven’t known each other for all our life, but you’re really important to me anyway, Dosa-Mina.”
“Aw, thanks, San-Kyung. You’re really important to me, too. I think of all my friends, you’re my best friend.”
“…thanks. But yeah, that and this had me thinking…even though I think that’s how things are probably going to go, what if that’s not how they end up? What if something happens to you before I go? I’ve never had a friend as good as you. I’ve never even had a friend before. The thought of living without you, it…”
Dosa-Mina noticed San-Kyung’s face tighten. “Are you alright, San-Kyung? I’ll be fine. I eat plenty of meat and I’m half-Werewolf! You might not be able to tell if you don’t know me, but I’m pretty sturdy.”
“What about you, Dosa-Mina? What would you do if something happened to me way before my time? I mean, if I got into an accident or something?”
Dosa-Mina’s expression became somber. “I’d be devastated.”
“You never know what might happen in life. I didn’t even think that you might fall on those rocks, or that those rocks even existed. Worse things could happen to us. And so I was thinking. My parents are a different story entirely. They’re definitely good, and they’re a lot older than me. They’d never listen to me if I said something like this, and I came to terms with the thought of losing them a long time ago. But you’re a different story. You’re not like them. You’re closer in age to me and you consider yourself neutral, right? So maybe you’ll hear me out on this.”
“I’ll always hear you out, San-Kyung. If I can listen to you go on and on about world domination, I can listen to this.”
“I don’t go on and on about it!” He snapped, then sighed.
“I was thinking that…well, if we died together, we wouldn’t even have to think about living life without each other. We’d both be going out at the same time.”
“What?”
“Have you ever heard of a suicide pact, Dosa-Mina?”
“I have,” he said. “…you really mean this, San-Kyung? You want to avoid losing me this much? Isn’t that kind of drastic?”
“Maybe it sounds drastic to you, but I don’t care. Besides, I prefer to take hold of things than let people take it away from me. Dying by my own hand, I don’t leave it in time’s hands or in someone else’s. It’s all up to me. And then, I don’t have to lose you, either. I’m not saying we do this tomorrow or anything. That would be ridiculous and…and I don’t really want to upset my parents. I’m sure you don’t want to upset yours, either.”
Dosa-Mina shook his head.
“But maybe someday in the future, when life has nothing left to offer us, we’ll do it. Whatever way we do it, we’ll go out together. And we’ll have no regrets.”
He sighed. “That’s up to you, though.”
“I thought you liked taking hold of things?”
“I do, but you have to make this decision as well. Your life is a part of it, after all.”
Dosa-Mina closed his eyes. “It does sound pretty drastic, San-Kyung. But you’re right, someday life might not have anything else to offer us. I’ve thought about losing you before, and I…well, if I’m not hurting any of my loved ones, then what’s wrong with preventing a little extra pain for myself?”
“So what do you say?”
“Let’s do it. Someday far in the future, when life has nothing left to offer us. Wherever we go, that doesn’t matter. I’ll be dying alongside my best friend in the whole world.”
San-Kyung pat his hand. “Thanks, Dosa-Mina.”
“Hey, don’t thank me. I just agreed to do it. But I’ll prepare myself for whenever that day comes. It’s better than preparing myself for you to take out yoursel….”
“What?”
“Er, nothing.”
San-Kyung gave him a quizzical look. “When that day comes, we’ll be ready. I know we will. Just stay safe before that day comes.”
“I’ll do my best, San-Kyung.”

—–
In the middle of school that day, San-Kyung found himself thinking back on that day that the two of them had made their promise. He glanced at Dosa-Mina, who was focused on Hyungdarou’s teachings.
‘That day isn’t here yet. And it won’t be, for a while. At least, it shouldn’t be. Either way, our promise was for both of us. Not just for me.’

16.501.The Warlock’s Decision

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 501
“The Warlock’s Decision”

Since coming to his decision to move far away from his Warlock society, Sale-Dessu had been doing as much research as he could manage. He tried to figure out the average price of houses in Vaelyn, and brushed up on his Vaelis so he could communicate with anyone he might need to in order to get his house–though the idea of doing such a thing made him incredibly nervous.
Along with those things, Sale-Dessu realized how necessary it would be for him to have enough vuyong to buy both a house and enough necessities to tide him over. He made a checklist of the things he thought he might need.
‘But how would I get vuyong?’ He wondered. ‘I’m still in Warlock society. We don’t use vuyong here. Maybe closer by to Vaelyn they use vuyong. I wonder. I guess I could convert it once I get there.’
There were many things to think about, and Sale-Dessu was sure he would still need Warlock society currency for the time being, and he also was sure he would need to fill out many forms in the process of heading over to Vaelyn.
So he prepared. Along with creating his own necessities, Sale-Dessu took time out of his day to make products he was sure would help Witches, Warlocks, and those of other species. He made helpful potions, testing out the ones he was uncertain about on himself–sometimes with negative results–and made various trinkets. He was incredibly tempted to simply make himself both Warlock society currency and vuyong, but he knew he would never be able to pull it off.
Whenever he would go out and sell his potions and trinkets, he would cover himself with a large black robe. People had been suspicious of him at first, but soon enough he found himself earning quite a devoted customer base. He tried not to communicate with his customers aside from what was necessary. No matter how good he had gotten at spells over the years, he still hadn’t perfected voice modification.
And through this time, as Sale-Dessu planned and saved up, seasons passed and so did his birthdays. On his eighteenth he refrained from selling his products, too sad that Maie-Jussa and his Apeta were not there to celebrate with him.
‘My life from here on out is all on my own,’ he reminded myself. ‘I will never forget my Mamun and my Apeta, but they are gone now and there is nothing I can do about it. Eventually this pain will subside.’
The next day he had resumed his work. Once he felt he had enough in Warlock society currency, he did one last sale the next day, then packed up and left the society, trudging across the lands and checking a map for Vaelyn.
“Vaelyn is the closest place to here…things will be easier for me there, right?”
Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted his old neighborhood and turned away. “This place has too many memories…”

***

“Mr. Astineth, you are quite lucky. When it comes to people from Wicaria, you guys are so close to Vaelyn the process is a lot easier than if you’re coming from, say, Manemica or something.”
“I–I don’t understand,” he mumbled. “Why?”
“Wicaria is our neighbor of sorts. So while there’s still a ton of paperwork for you to sign–” She gestured to a pile of paper, though Sale-Dessu doubted it was all the paperwork he had to sign. “–because you’re our neighbor, the process is just a smidge easier.”
‘It doesn’t seem any easier,’ he thought. But nevertheless, he prepared himself for a long slog through paperwork and waiting.
“Hey, don’t give me that face, Mr. Astineth. At least it’s a bit easier to get in here than it is in Manemica. They have these giant wait lines for getting in!”
Sale-Dessu blinked at her.
“No, that isn’t why you’re making that face. You know why I said it was easier to go from Wicaria to Vaelyn? Because we can get some background on you all that easier. So–”
“Background?”
“Yeah, we kinda need it?”
Sale-Dessu took a deep breath. ‘Calm down. I never got arrested, and they wouldn’t ban me just because I’m my Apeta’s grandson. I have nothing to worry about.’
Despite those thoughts, he still felt as though the future was going to be uncertain for a while longer.

As soon as Sale-Dessu was officially a Vaelyn citizen, he went right back to selling the potions and trinkets he had sold before, though he modified some of them for more common usage. ‘Vaelyn and Wicaria are two different places. What they like in Wicaria might not be what they like in Vaelyn.’
Sales were not nearly as good in Vaelyn as in Wicaria, but they still weren’t bad–and Sale-Dessu had realized there were areas the sales were better. When he had reached Bledger, downtown Bledger proved to be a hot-spot for many kinds of sales, and Sale-Dessu managed to make himself quite a bit of vuyong.
Nights during this time were difficult due to Sale-Dessu having left behind the temporary place he was staying at back in Eirjyun, but whenever he felt down about sleeping out in the open, he always reminded himself it was a necessity if he was ever going to find the house he would stay in for the rest of his life.

“In this neighborhood there are plenty of empty residences, but it’s filling up quick. We call it the family district because many people who live here live with one or another member of their family. People sure like to build family here, and we love that! They’ve said it’s affordable for a family to live here, so unless your budget is really tight, you should be able to find a good place to live as well, Mr. Astineth. Would you like to look inside any of the houses?”
“Yes,” he said quietly. To him, the worst part of this whole ordeal was having to talk to people. Even now Sale-Dessu didn’t feel used to it, and memories of the Witches and Warlocks who pursued him made it harder. Still, when he stared closely at the saleslady’s Birdmix wings, he felt a little bit better.
“What are you looking at?” The saleslady asked.
“Um, just your…wings,” he said, hoping she believed him. Her huff made it hard for him to tell if she did.
The saleslady showed him the many vacant houses in the neighborhood. Sale-Dessu liked the general set-up of each one, and kept in mind which ones might be more conducive to keeping spellbooks and trinkets. Now he and the saleslady had reached a house that was painted various shades of green, and when he walked inside and checked the house he couldn’t help but think it looked perfect.
“Does…does the furniture come with the house?” He asked.
“Some of it does. Why?”
“I like this one,” he said.
“So you’ll take it? The base price on this is–”
Sale-Dessu reached for his vuyong pouch. “Will this be enough?”
“Whoa-ho! Just how loaded are you? This isn’t enough to pay off the house, but it’s a lot closer than most other people here! Yeah, that’ll be enough. We just have to go through a little bit of boring stuff and congratulations! This house will be yours.”
‘That was easier than I thought it would be. But that’s a good thing. Soon enough, I can settle down and practice my powers. They’re probably rusty after all the things I’ve had to do to get my foot in here.’

The day he became the official owner of the house was a day that changed his life.
He had begun setting it up for himself almost immediately, filling the bookshelves–which had come with the house–with spellbooks, putting all his various trinkets in the house and filling it with furniture he had bought. He still had to keep up his sales downtown in order to afford payments on the house and buying furniture, but he was starting to feel good about the future, and he spent his free time making new things for his little shop and practicing spells just as he had wanted to.
He felt happier now than he had in a long time, and being in Vaelyn seemed to have helped. Here, nobody seemed to care if he was an Astineth–they only cared that he was selling things that interested them. So he kept up the work.
In those first few years spent in the neighborhood, he left his house frequently. But luck was on his side throughout the years. He had filled his house with all the furniture he would need, had bought all the various items he felt he would need–as long as he had the books he needed, he could make almost anything else. And after a successful day downtown, he realized he had enough vuyong to pay off the house.
From that point on, Sale-Dessu’s life had changed. He spent almost all his time inside now except with a few projects that were too big to be inside or which needed to be outside, and even then he kept them in the backyard. He spent all his time practicing the things he had wanted to know and felt he needed to know before he died. And he felt elated.
This was exactly what he wanted. To leave behind his past, to be able to study his powers at all times, and to be isolated from other people. And after nine years, he had finally achieved that.

—–
Sale-Dessu found his memories of that time coming back one day as he cleaned up a mess Eul-Bok had caused.
‘Back then was such a nice and relaxed time. I thought I didn’t need people. Who would have known that meeting La-Iin would make me so lonely that Eul-Bok would come into my life…now I don’t think I could do what I did back then.”
“What’s on your mind, Father? You look distracted.”
“Something pleasant, for once,” he said. Eul-Bok looked confused.
He could remember that peace he had felt back then, but things were different now. Now he had to focus on protecting him and Eul-Bok from anything else the assailants might be planning.

29.484.The Child Warlock–Part 7

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 484
“The Child Warlock–Part 7”

Sale-Dessu had believed his life was difficult in the days after his mother had died. At the point he was at now, thinking back on that made him want to slap his past self in the face.
His Apeta had never returned, and though he scoured the area as thoroughly as possible, he could find no sign of her. And staying in the area much longer hadn’t been feasible–the people there knew he was her grandson now and held the same grudge against him.
Before he left the area, he searched for any signs from the people who hated him that might clue him in as to where his Apeta had gone. But he found no signs, and had since come to the conclusion that she was most likely dead.
More than a year had passed since that day she left him and he didn’t feel that his life had gotten any better. He tried to keep her words in mind, tried to think positively and look towards the future, but never having a permanent place to stay and always having time to think by himself got to him. No matter how much time he had to think for himself, he could never formulate a plan for his future. Instead he always found himself either becoming frustrated or giving into despair at the reality that lay in front of him: the two women he had spent most of his life with were dead.
“Hello there, sir. Staying another night at our hotel?”
Sale-Dessu only nodded in response.
“Alright then. I hope you have a good night here!”
‘If she only knew,’ he thought as he stumbled off towards his hotel room. He unpacked his spellbooks and study materials and stared at them blankly.
Now that he had lost his mother and grandmother, and had no way of contacting the rest of his family, this was all he had. It was all that brought him any feeling other than despair.
‘What should I make today…I should treat myself. I’ve been managing my funds better lately. Maybe I should have something sweet. No, Apeta would say it would rot my teeth. I need something healthier, like a salad…’
He got to work on a tissue, focusing on changing it into a salad. He felt a massive strain on his body, but the tissue eventually changed shape. He cautiously started to eat it, checking to see if it still tasted like tissue. Once he found it didn’t, he nearly scarfed down the rest of it.
‘I need a plan,’ he thought after finishing the salad. ‘Something, some plan. I can’t keep going on like this. But what choice do I have? I have no experience with this sort of situation.’
He had tried to think on what he might do with his future, but all he had really decided on was to keep on practicing his powers. When it came to where he might live and what he might do, he was at a loss. He was so adjusted to living life with other people he could barely imagine it any other way, yet at the same time the idea of living with anyone who was not his mother or grandmother made him feel immensely uncomfortable.
‘Maybe I could find a way to make myself a house. My powers are strong. I might be able to do it. But where would I go from there?’
He thought back on his Apeta’s recollections of her power studies. ‘Without anyone else to bother me, I have all the time in the world to study. I can really devote my life to my powers. Their potential is endless, so it wouldn’t be a boring life. I’d always be learning something new, always following my dream, without ever having to worry about how someone close to me might feel….but where would I go? How far away can I manage before people stop recognizing me as Astineth Eir-Tyuj’s grandson?’
His thoughts always went in the same direction, and he came to his usual conclusion that thinking on this was pointless for the night. He packed away his supplies and laid down in bed, instead trying to think over what he might want to try power-wise tomorrow instead of what he might do with his future.
Just as he had begun to drift off, the hotel door opened, and he glanced at the door to see who it was.
“Apeta…?”
“No, I’m not your Apeta. Just a concerned stranger.” Sale-Dessu blinked. Once his eyesight had steadied, he recognized the girl as the one who always greeted him when he came to this hotel. Even though he had seen her many times before, he still found himself shying away.
“Aw, don’t be scared, I won’t harm you. I just wanted to talk. I see you coming by here a lot and I worry about what’s going on in your life. Are you okay? Why do you keep coming to this hotel? You look awfully young. Are you just young-looking or are you an adolescent?”
“I’m okay,” he mumbled. “Please leave me alone.”
“I’m not trying to scare you, sir. I just want to make sure you’re okay. I know I can’t expect you to tell a complete stranger about what’s going on in your life, but I can’t help but worry. You always look so upset.”
Sale-Dessu didn’t respond. He was utterly confused as to why the woman would even bother talking to him, but he didn’t have it in him to ask her to leave again.
“Look, maybe things aren’t as bad in your life as I think. Maybe you just like this hotel and you naturally look sad. But if things aren’t alright, then try to make them better to the best of your ability, okay? Fulfill yourself, give yourself a purpose. Don’t just live because you have to, live because you want to, that sort of thing. And if you’re in need of a house, remember: we live close by Bledger, Vaelyn, one of the cheapest places to live in Vaelyn. If you work hard you could probably afford to live there.”
He peeked at the woman, who was now smiling. “I can’t claim to know what’s going on in your life. I just want you to know that there are people out there who will care if you let them. People who will help you. And there’s always something worth it in the world. So if you’re stuck at a point in life where you’re wondering whether or not there’s anything to look forward to, remember this–there always is. And anyway, our species is full of endless possibilities. There’s always something new waiting out there for you, so don’t let the bad in life get you down, okay? Sorry to bother you. Have a good night!”
Sale-Dessu didn’t uncover his head until he heard the woman close the door. ‘What was that all about? Why did she even bother coming in here to talk? Do I look that upset?’
Still, he found himself mulling over some of what she said, particularly the bit about the cost of living in Bledger. ‘Vaelyn is close, but far away. And it’s not a Witch and Warlock society, it’s a mixed one, isn’t it? That could be beneficial.’
Perhaps the woman’s intrusion and words hadn’t exactly reached him, but they had given him the idea he was searching for.
‘I’ll live far away from this place, and make a new life for myself. A life where nobody has to care about me and I don’t have to care about anyone else. I can study my powers all day and night and never have to worry about a thing. Because there, nobody will care that I’m the grandson of Astineth Eir-Tyuj. It won’t matter at all. Because nobody will care about me.’
To him it sounded like the most ideal future, especially after the past year and having to deal with the people who saw him as only his Apeta’s grandson. He could put his painful past behind him and focus only on finding out the true extent of his powers.
Satisfied for now, Sale-Dessu fell back into sleep, this time without an interruption.

—–
The part of his life where he had to fend for himself at the end of his childhood barely ever came back to him nowadays, but whenever it did he tried to push the thoughts away. Something about that period of time bothered him to relive, and he wasn’t sure quite what it was. All he knew was that he wanted to ignore the memories until they went away.
“Father, is something wrong? You look disturbed.”
“It’s nothing, Eul-Bok. I was just thinking on a…peculiar spell.”
“Are you sure? A lot of times you’ve told me you weren’t exactly being truthful when you say things like that. I’m always willing to listen to you, Father, so you can go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind.”
“Trust me when I say it’s nothing, Eul-Bok. Let’s just get back to work instead of overthinking things, alright?”
“Um, okay…”
‘Back then I was so sure I could make it without anyone else in my life. I thought that since I had adjusted to losing those important to me, I could survive on my own with only my powers. I wonder what I would have thought back then if I told myself that I would be more lonely trying to manage that way. Something tells me I would have believed myself no matter how skewed my reasoning was back then…”
“Father? You’re making that face again.”
Sale-Dessu shook his head. “Sorry about that, Eul-Bok. It’s just nagging at me.”
Sale-Dessu could tell by the look on Eul-Bok’s face that he didn’t believe what he had told him, but after that point he didn’t bring it up any longer–though it was evident that it was as much on his mind as that point of his past was on Sale-Dessu’s.

26.481.Days at Deatrou

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 481
“Days at Deatrou”

Deatrou Junior High stood tall in the distance, its construction making the place appear as a regal private school. Students on their way to Deatrou wore neat uniforms which only served to further that impression
“This place sure is full of stuffy people, don’t you think?” Dosa-Mina commented as he glanced at the crowd.
“I don’t care. All I know about the students of Deatrou is that they think more highly of themselves than they deserve. Not like other people don’t do that either, but they have it particularly bad.”
“I agree, somewhat.”
The crowd seemed to be focused on themselves that day, San-Kyung noticed with relief. A few students talked with friends but most walked ahead with their eyes on school. Only one glanced in his direction, but when he noticed it was Kai-Rin, he scoffed and focused on his thoughts instead.
He was abruptly snapped out of them by Dosa-Mina.
“Do you have to do this now?”
“It’s instinct, San-Kyung. You’re very comforting.” He glanced around at the crowd. Some of them had begun to look in their direction. “….although, maybe you’re right when you say now’s not exactly the time to do this.”
He let go of San-Kyung’s arm and the two walked to school in silence, shooting occasional glances at the crowd that still watched them closely.

***

“Molshei, the next class is coming up and I’ve noticed by your test scores that subject’s not exactly your strong suit,” Kai-Rin said. “What do you say I help you study for it?”
“Leave me alone, Yukkini,” he said. Kai-Rin sighed. “Fine, I will. But the offer is always on the table in case you change your mind!” With those words she head back to her seat, still looking pleased despite San-Kyung’s rejection.
“You have some of the worst taste in men, Yukkini,” a girl sitting next to Kai-Rin said.
“I do not.”
“Yeah, you do. I mean, aside from Dslellular, who else likes Molshei? Besides, haven’t you seen those two? You’d never have a chance.”
“That’s okay. I’m happy to see my beloved happy, and besides, speaking of Dslellular, I approve.”
“You’re almost as weird as they are,” the girl snorted.
“Why can’t they talk about other people?” Dosa-Mina sighed.
“They have nothing better to do. We owe the students of Deatrou nothing.”
“I know you’re always trying to help me ignore it, but I can always hear what they’re saying. And it’s my fault, San-Kyung. I’m the one who’s being affectionate. Now they’ve got the wrong idea about us.”
“They can be idiots if they want. Soon enough we’ll be in high school and away from them.”
“High school might not be much better,” he sighed.
San-Kyung felt he was close to a tipping point. The stares and comments from other students annoyed him–and the sight of it all bothering Dosa-Mina only made it worse. Imaginations of burning down the classroom with the other students inside came to him on occasion during classes, and he only ignored them to focus on the lesson.
‘They think they’re so superior, just like everyone else. Except they’re even more idiotic than some of the others. Dosa-Mina and I have better grades than a lot of them. So stupid.’
“What draws you to him anyway, Yukkini?”
“Haven’t you noticed his appeal? I love that coldness. That feeling that there’s something inside him, something he’s hiding that I want to see…I love him for his personality, but don’t get me wrong, I do think he’s pretty cute.”
“Sure the whole guy-loving thing isn’t a part of it?” The girl asked with a nudge. Kai-Rin backed away from her. “We all know you like seeing their affection.”
“It has nothing to do with that,” Kai-Rin said.
“Yeah, right.”
‘I have to keep my cool. They’ll only feel more reason to call themselves better than me if I lash out. Besides, someday they’ll all pay, whether at my hands or someone else’s….’

Dosa-Mina tried not to let the words from the students of Deatrou get him down, but he always felt they affected him more than they affected San-Kyung–and he felt that his feelings affected San-Kyung more than the words of their classmates ever could.
‘Is it even worth it to try talking to them? Are they just going to shut me down on the basis of their beliefs? If I told them the real reason why I’m so affectionate, would they believe me?’
He sighed. ‘They probably wouldn’t. It would sound so ridiculous to them. Even San-Kyung wouldn’t believe that. Or maybe I underestimate how much he trusts me. I don’t know…’
“Molshei, I know, you don’t like me all that much. But I really do want to help you improve your grades. You’re doing great as it stands, but you can do even better. And I am fully willing to help you!”
“No!” He snapped. “You’re only offering because you need some sort of excuse. Well, you’re never getting it!”
“Aw, come now. I want to see my beloved excell. Besides, I think I have a pretty good idea, judging from your test scores, as to why they’re not at their highest.”
“Why do you look at my test scores!?”
“They’re public information in Deatrou. Besides, there are bigger things I know about you aside from your test scores and you don’t yell at me about those, do you?” She said with a wink.
“What the–!?”
“But if you really don’t want me to, I won’t force it. Arrivaderci, Molshei!” She head back to her desk.
“So, you know a lot about Molshei, huh?”
“When one develops feelings for another, one usually wants to know if those feelings are worth having,” she said. “Of course I do.”
“So, what do you know about the sordid relationship between those two?”
Kai-Rin blinked. “I don’t think there’s a sordid relationship going on between those two. Though I’m not completely sure about their feelings. They shouldn’t hold back if that’s the case.” She sighed. “Though the treatment of our fellow classmates could be holding them back. You’re included in this too, Naimeger.”
“Well, how am I supposed to treat them? They’re so abnormal.”
“And you sound super cliché,” Kai-Rin said. “Let’s drop the subject at ‘I love Molshei’ and leave it there.”
“I just don’t get it, though! What could you like so much about an antisocial weirdo who’s obviously got serious issues somewhere inside there? Are you hoping you can cure him, or are you just obsessed with the idea of being with someone who’s so odd?”
Out the corner of his eye, San-Kyung noticed the look on Dosa-Mina’s face. He seemed dejected, as if he had just decided to accept the girl’s words despite how much they hurt him. San-Kyung tried to keep his cool.
‘But why should I hold back from someone like that!?’
He stood up from his desk and stomped over to Naimeger’s.
“What do you want?” She scoffed.
“You think you’re so superior. I can’t stand listening to you act like you’re so great when I’m sure you’ve got worse ‘secrets’ than anything I or Dosa-Mina could ever have. I’m at the point where losing my cool seems like a good idea.”
Naimeger seemed off-put, but she glared at San-Kyung regardless. “You’re just bluffing.”
“You don’t know what kind of power I have. And the thing about my power is, every day it’s growing. Yours goes absolutely nowhere, while mine only gets stronger, until I’m at the point where no morals matter to me anymore. You’re on my shit list, Naimeger, and I swear–”
San-Kyung heard footsteps. “This isn’t over,” he spat, then sat back down in his seat.
“Why’d you go up to Naimeger? She was just saying the same thing everyone else says.”
“I’m getting sick of this,” he said through grit teeth. “We need to talk to our parents about leaving Deatrou. Otherwise I’m going to end up in jail.”
“…” Dosa-Mina glanced down at his hands. “I agree,” he said.
‘I owe her nothing! I should’ve just burned her down right where she sat! She didn’t think I was going to do anything! I could’ve taken her out then and there!’
Those thoughts nagged at San-Kyung, and he tried to calm them. ‘There I would have been overwhelmed. I don’t have the power to deal with her right now. If it was September, maybe. But there’s nothing I can do. For now I need to keep my cool and keep these people from thinking I’m too much of a threat. Then I’ll show them. And Naimeger should be one of the first ones I make pay…’

—–
“Hey, San-Kyung, the last class is up next,” Dosa-Mina said. “We need to switch classrooms.”
“Huh? Oh.”
“What are you thinking about that has you so distracted?”
“Just the past,” he said. “And I realized La-Iin’s right about something, much as I hate to admit it.”
“What’s she right about?”
“I’ll tell you later,” he said.
‘Why did I spare Naimeger? There were probably ways I could have disposed of her without anyone realizing it was me. That stupid confrontation in front of Yukkini just ruined my chances. La-Iin’s right, I do hide my evil too often. But I need to be careful. If I mess up too badly before I have my true form, November could hit and there might be nothing I can do to keep myself from the police. I’m not risking that possibility.’

13.468.When Visiting a Family–Part 3

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 468
“When Visiting a Family–Part 3”

“You know, I’ve come over to your house before, but you’ve never come over to mine,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Yeah? Is this an invitation?”
Dosa-Mina nodded. “If my parents say it’s okay, and your parents say it’s okay, I’d like for you to come over. Maybe we could have a sleepover! Or maybe not. Whatever you prefer.”
“What brought this on?”
“I was thinking, you seem like you need more things to do. A visit to your best friend’s house seems like just the thing to break up the monotony of everyday life! Also, I felt like it. Hanging out with you is fun. So, is it a yes or a no?”
“Sure, I guess,” San-Kyung said. “But I’m not gonna have to talk to your parents, am I?”
“Maybe a little bit, but probably not much. Don’t worry, they shouldn’t ask you many questions. Unlike your parents.”
San-Kyung scoffed.
“Anyway, if you get permission, I’d love for you to come over. And whether or not you get permission, I’m still looking forward to your visit!”

***

Dosa-Mina wasn’t surprised when his parents told him that San-Kyung had gotten permission to come over. ‘I’m surprised he asked them at all. I guess he really does care about his parents.’
“Excited for the visit, Dosa-Mina?” Orlin-Aesth asked. “When was the last time you had a friend over?”
“I don’t remember. Probably when I was little.”
Orlin-Aesth grinned. “Geez, that reminds me, you’re almost thirteen. Where does the time go? Although I can at least take solace in the fact that if you take after us, you’ll never be old.”
“Oh, Dad,” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Anyway, I hope he gets here soon.”
“Me too. I think it’s gonna rain tonight. Isn’t it bad for Animated Pumpkins to be out in the rain?”
“Mm-hm.”
“See, that’s something you taught me,” Orlin-Aesth said. “You’re gonna go places, kid.”
“Thanks, Dad, but you don’t have to compliment me like that. I’m just happy to be doing species study at all!”
Someone knocked at the door. “That must be him!”
“Or maybe it’s Elai-Riya?”
Both Dosa-Mina and Orlin-Aesth head for the door. Standing there was San-Kyung, holding something tight to his chest, with Elai-Riya behind him.
“I found this little runt waiting outside,” Elai-Riya said playfully. “He was getting frustrated about nobody answering.”
“Hey, Dosa-Mina,” he said.
“Hi! And hi, Mom. Hey, San-Kyung, mind telling me what that is?”
“Yes,” he said as he walked inside. “You’ll figure it out later.”
“If you say so!”
“Welcome to the Dslellular house, San-Kyung!” Orlin-Aesth said.
“Sure.”
“Now that you’re here, the options for what we can do are almost unlimited! So, what do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. What’s in your room?”
Dosa-Mina beckoned to him and head off. San-Kyung followed after him, but not before catching Orlin-Aesth and Elai-Riya waving out the corner of his eye. He nodded, then followed after Dosa-Mina.
“I don’t want to spend all day in my bedroom, so try not to drag things out, okay?”
“If you say so.”
Dosa-Mina’s bedroom was laid out much differently than his own, something San-Kyung immediately noticed. He had a tall bookshelf in his room filled with many books, though the higher shelves were empty.
“What kind of books do you have?”
“Species study books, some novels, and that’s about it,” he said. “Do you like to read, San-Kyung? What sort of stuff do you read?”
“I don’t read much.” He said. “Unless you count studying as reading.”
“Maybe I should loan you some books sometimes. You really could use something else to do with your time. Actually, I wanted to talk to you about that today. How can I help you figure something out that you want to do on your spare time?”
“You don’t have to.”
“But I want to, so–” Dosa-Mina blinked, then walked up close to San-Kyung. “Am I taller than you?”
“No.”
“I’m pretty sure I am. Here, let me see.” He compared their heights with his hand. “Yep, I’m pretty sure I’m taller!”
“You won’t be for long.”
“We’ll see about that! Oh, but you’re an Animated Pumpkin. You’re probably right.” Dosa-Mina sat on the floor.
“Anyway, back to the subject at hand. I want to have fun with you that’s not just me taking the lead. And I want you to go home with something that you like to do.”
“You keep bringing this up.”
“Because I want you to have something fun to do with your time, San-Kyung. Doing nothing but study and play with me? Aren’t you bored a lot?”
“Yeah, I am sometimes. But all that time with nothing to do gives me a lot of time to think. And I value that time. I have a lot of things I need to plan out. The better my plans are, the better my execution will be. Don’t you think?”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “I guess so. That is fairly sound logic.”
“Besides, I like doing the things you want to do, most of the time. It’s just, I’m not interested in all that much. Does it bore you?”
“No, I was actually just worried about you being bored. Like I said, you’re broody and you always let me take the lead.”
“Well, stop worrying about it. That’s annoying. Sooner or later I’m sure we’ll get to do the things I like.”
“If you say so. Well, if you’re letting me take the lead again, I’ve got something I wanna do.”
“Yeah?”
“Find out what’s in that package of yours.”
San-Kyung hid the package.
“I’m kidding, San-Kyung. Come on, let’s play!”
Dosa-Mina grabbed San-Kyung’s hand and brought him to his feet, then ran away and hid under his bed.
“Reporting to database, reporting to database. No signs of the marauder yet. He has to be around somewhere, though. I hear the crackling of his flames…”
San-Kyung looked confused, and Dosa-Mina wondered if he had made the wrong move by suddenly jumping into a game. But soon, San-Kyung began to smirk, and struck both hands. Flames spurt forth from both.
“Hey, no actual flames!”
San-Kyung killed the flames. Then, he stomped over to Dosa-Mina and tried to drag him out from under the bed.
“Resistance–is–futile!” He said.
“What are you, a policeman?”
San-Kyung tugged harder, but Dosa-Mina was able to keep a firm grasp on the floor. San-Kyung’s expression became one of frustration, and he let go of Dosa-Mina, who scrambled back under the bed. He glanced around for San-Kyung, but found no sign of him.
But he was pretty sure he knew where he was when someone started to jump on the bed.
“Your only option after this is a smoking!” San-Kyung said. His tone sounded much more cheerful. Dosa-Mina smiled to himself.
“And how do you intend on doing that?”
“You’ll see, because I’ll make you watch every single moment of it,” San-Kyung said. “Every single moment of your own death as you choke on fumes!”
‘He sure is violent sometimes,’ Dosa-Mina thought.
“Nothing you do will ever stop me! I’m more powerful than you!”
“So you say!”
Dosa-Mina began to feel uncomfortable under the bed, so he started to crawl out. At that moment, his door opened.
“Enjoying yourselves?” Orlin-Aesth said with a grin. San-Kyung gasped and sat down on the bed.
“Hey, no need to stop on my account. I did much more silly things when I was your age. I still do!” He chuckled.
“Dad, you could at least knock first,” Dosa-Mina said. Orlin-Aesth rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, I guess so. I just wanted to say hi. Everything going alright?”
“Yes,” San-Kyung said.
“Good to hear it. Alright, you two keep having fun. I’ll come get you boys around dinner time!” He slammed the door behind him.
“That totally ruined the momentum of the game,” Dosa-Mina sighed, pulling himself out from underneath the bed. San-Kyung got off his bed and sat on the floor.
“I’m sure we could still do something about it,” San-Kyung said.
“Do you like acting out violent scenarios, San-Kyung?”
“I dunno, maybe. I was getting pretty into that game.”
“Well, if you ever feel like it, you’re welcome to do that, so long as they don’t get too violent.”
San-Kyung began to look more excited. “That reminds me, there’s something I’d been wanting to try lately. But there’s no way I could do that actually. I wouldn’t mind acting that out with you.”
“Well, so long as you don’t strike your hands like you did just there.”
Seeing San-Kyung now, Dosa-Mina couldn’t even begin to imagine why he had had that nightmare. San-Kyung now looked nothing like the man in his dreams. He looked full of excitement at the idea of acting out violent fantasies with his best friend.
Even knowing that, the memory of the dream still made Dosa-Mina uncomfortable.
“What are you doing?” San-Kyung asked.
“It doesn’t really matter if I sit next to you, right?” He said.
“I didn’t expect you to…”
Dosa-Mina laid his head on San-Kyung’s shoulder and sighed. “It’s nice to see you happy about something, San-Kyung.”
“You act like I’m unhappy around you.”
“You should be happy more often.”
“Why are you being so clingy?”
“I…didn’t notice,” he said.
Lost in his thoughts, it took Dosa-Mina a while to notice San-Kyung had thrust something into his face. “Here.”
“What’s this for?”
“The other day there was this guy who kept dropping his vuyong all over the place. I thought he was being clumsy, but it gave me an idea.”
“You took the guy’s vuyong?”
“Only when he stopped paying attention. He left it on the ground. It’s not like I stole it. …I so would have, though.”
“What is this?”
“A little gift.”
Dosa-Mina unwrapped the present. Inside was a locker diary.
“You mentioned how you have a lot of species study books. I wanted to get you one of those, but they’re expensive and big. So I got you this instead. I figured you could use it to keep notes on species study things.”
“Thank you, San-Kyung. You know, I feel kind of spoiled.”
“It’s not going to happen often. I don’t make any vuyong myself. And I don’t have the courage to shoplift, either.”
Dosa-Mina chuckled. “Thanks again, San-Kyung.”

***

San-Kyung was pleased that at dinner time, Orlin-Aesth and Elai-Riya stayed fairly quiet. The couple mostly talked to each other, while both San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina remained silent.
Even the questions that they did ask him weren’t too painful.
“Do you like species study too, San-Kyung?” Orlin-Aesth said.
“It’s fine.”
“Would you like to go to the same Junior High as Dosa-Mina? We’d be glad to discuss it with your parents.”
“Yeah, I’d like to.”
‘Such a polite boy,’ they thought.
“Not used to actually eating, San-Kyung?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“I can eat. It’s just not my preference.”
“Do you like dinner? Orlin-Aesth made it.”
“It’s fine.”
Glancing up at Elai-Riya, he couldn’t help but be reminded of the wasabi cake. Despite his temptation to say something, he decided to bite his tongue for now and keep silent.
“Th-thank you for the dinner,” he said.
“Not a problem. If you feel like coming over again, you’re welcome here anytime. Well, of course, unless we say no,” Orlin-Aesth chuckled.
“I’ll take you up on that offer,” San-Kyung said. Dosa-Mina was surprised to notice him crack a small smile.

—–
“You know, it feels like we’ve known each other for longer than we actually have sometimes. I feel like I missed out on your early childhood.”
“Well, there’s always the future.”
“Of course there is. And speaking of the future, hopefully in the near one…”
“What?”
“Never mind.”

12.467.When Visiting a Family–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 467
“When Visiting a Family–Part 2”

“San-Kyung, you’ve told us a lot about your new friend, but you’ve never introduced us,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Do you want to come to school and meet him? Why do you care?”
“You might not understand it, San-Kyung, but it’s a big deal to us that you made a friend. We’d love to meet him. How’d you like to invite him over for dinner one night?”
“Why do you want me to do this?”
“We want to meet him. We just said.”
San-Kyung thought on their proposition.
“I’ll ask him tomorrow,” he said. Del-Kyuus and Salsh-Era smiled at each other.
“Glad to hear it, son.”

***

“Your parents want me to come over for dinner?”
“Yeah, they really want to meet you because you’re the first friend I’ve made. They’re acting so annoying about it. But do you want to come over anyway?”
“I’d love to! But I’d have to ask my parents first,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll say yes. After all, even though you beat me up before they know how much I like you.”
“If you say so.”
“Why? Would you rather have me sneak over there? My parents say they’re always worried about me. I don’t want to worry them more. Are you trying to show off a bad-boy image, San-Kyung?”
“No! I thought we talked about this before. All of this is in my nature.”
“I remember. Well, I’ll ask my parents tonight and then we’ll see.”
“Alright.”

San-Kyung sat at the table, his head bobbing. Around him, his parents were tidying the house, setting it up as if a respected guest was coming over.
Dosa-Mina’s parents had contacted his and given him the okay to come over. San-Kyung was excited to see him, but the way his parents were treating the situation frustrated him.
“I don’t think Dosa-Mina’s gonna care all that much if things aren’t perfect,” he said.
“We know. We just want to look presentable. You’ll understand when you’re older.” Del-Kyuus said.
“Really?” San-Kyung scoffed.
“I think he already understands, in a way,” Salsh-Era said. “After all, he always tries to make himself look presentable!”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes as his parents went back to tidying the house. The minutes felt as if they were dragging on to him, but soon enough, he heard a knock at the door. Both Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus immediately came to attention, but San-Kyung made it to the door first.
“Hello!” Dosa-Mina said. In his hands was a container.
“Hey.” He glanced at the container. “What’s that?”
“My parents wanted me to bring a little something to share with you. They insisted.” Dosa-Mina walked inside. “I like your house.”
“Thanks.”
“Hello there, Dosa-Mina!” Salsh-Era called. Dosa-Mina looked startled.
“I’m sorry, do you want us to call you Dslellu…Dslell…Dslellula….”
“Dslellular,” Dosa-Mina said. “And it’s fine. You look bored, San-Kyung. Got anything to do around here?”
“Not really. Wanna go to my bedroom? Mom and Dad are gonna be in the way for a little while. They’re concerned about impressing you.”
“Geez, that makes me feel like your first lover and not your first friend,” he said. He put the container on the table and followed San-Kyung to his bedroom.
“Do you do anything around the house?”
“The house is tidy most of the time, why bother?”
“No, I meant, do you do anything fun? You used to seem really broody at school before we talked that day. You still do, actually.”
“I would, but my parents won’t let me.” San-Kyung clenched a fist. “What about you?”
“I do lots of fun things at home. Well, they’re fun to me, anyway. Do you like species study, San-Kyung? I love species study.”
“It’s fine, I guess,” he said. “Definitely one of the less painful subjects in school.”
“Yeah. Too bad it’s optional. All the boring ones are the ones you have to take. But at least you learn what you need to.”
As soon as they reached his room, San-Kyung sat down on his bed, and Dosa-Mina joined him. “Nice room. It’s moody, like you.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?”
“Come on. You’re a kid who spends most of his time alone with an angry expression on his face. How isn’t that moody?”
“Hmph. Hey, I want to ask you a question, now that we’re alone.”
“Sure!”
“When you’re at home, do you turn to your true form, or are you always like this?”
Dosa-Mina began to look uncomfortable. “I’m always like this,” he said.
“Why?”
“Why don’t we talk about something else? Um…well, I wanted to talk to you about what kinds of things you do when you’re not with me, but it seems like that’s nothing! What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing’s wrong with me!”
“Is it a moody phase, or is it really that deeply ingrained into your personality?” Dosa-Mina said to himself. “I’ve heard of evil people who are cheerful and outgoing. You’re a lot different than those people.”
“So?”
“That makes me want to ask, what do you really want to do, San-Kyung? When we get time to play, you usually let me take the lead. Not that I mind, but I’d like to know what you like.”
“You wouldn’t like that,” San-Kyung said.
“Are you worried, San-Kyung? Don’t be! I’m not judgmental. Much, anyway.”
San-Kyung sighed. “You’d better be telling the truth. Fine then. What I really want to do is cause trouble. I want to make people suffer. I wish I could wrap houses in vines and stuff like that. But I know my parents would never go for that. I want to do it. I’m going to do it, someday. I just feel…reluctant.”
“You care about people too much,” Dosa-Mina said. “…well, I guess only certain people.”
“I know. It bogs me down.”
“Maybe it keeps you from being too reckless too,” he said. “But maybe someday we’ll make a little mischief. Not at school though. I don’t wanna be expelled.”
“Me either. I’d rather just keep going every day so that my parents don’t get on my case.”
“You really care about your parents, huh?”
“I do. They were the only people that mattered. But you matter to me now, too. Someday, if I get what I really want, I want you to be there with me. Mom and Dad too, but if I at least had you, I’d feel a little better.”
“Thanks, San-Kyung. Though I wonder what that is now that you said it.”
“Dinner’s not going to take long!” Del-Kyuus yelled.
“I’m looking forward to dinner, by the way.”
“You’re not an Animated Pumpkin. You won’t like it.”
“Really? There’s no meat, is there.”
“No.”
He sighed. “I can deal. It’s not just water though, right?”
“No.”
“Good!”

At dinner that night, San-Kyung had gotten a bad feeling the moment he sat down at the table.
“So, Dosa-Mina, have you been having fun?” Del-Kyuus asked.
“Sure.”
“San-Kyung hasn’t been beating on you?” Salsh-Era asked. San-Kyung sighed and shook his head.
“Nope. Though, I don’t really care. If we had a fight now, there’d be holds barred. That actually sounds pretty fun.”
“Huh. Well, um, do you like dinner?”
“It’s fine.”
“What sort of things do you like to do?”
“I like to read. And I loooove species study! I spend a lot of my time studying that. My Dad also makes up a lot of random games, and those are kind of fun.”
“You know, you don’t have to humor them,” San-Kyung said.
“I’m not humoring them, though.”
“Oh, I almost forgot my most important question! Are you happy to be San-Kyung’s friend, Dosa-Mina?”
Dosa-Mina nodded. “San-Kyung is very interesting. And I want to find out more about how I could make him happy. He’s too broody at school.”
“Stop calling me broody!”
“He’s broody at home, too,” Salsh-Era chuckled.
San-Kyung hid his face as soon as he felt it warm. ‘They’re just trying to embarrass me, aren’t they?’
“Another thing, Dosa-Mina. What’s in the container?”
“Dessert! I made it with my Mom.”
“Ooh, dessert?” Del-Kyuus got up from the table, pulled the container out the fridge, and opened it.
“Sorry it looks so smashed. It fell in the first container and broke. So we just smashed the rest of it into that one!”
“It looks good,” Salsh-Era said. San-Kyung peeked inside. The contents seemed to be a mashed-up cake.
“Wanna try it?”
Del-Kyuus and Salsh-Era nodded. They and San-Kyung stuck their fingers in and licked it off.
“It’s got an…interesting kick,” Del-Kyuus said.
“Is that wasabi?”
“You know what wasabi tastes like?” Dosa-Mina said. “I’m surprised.”
San-Kyung covered his mouth. “You didn’t like it, San-Kyung?”
“Dosa-Mina, either you, your Mom, or both of you have a lot to work on.”
“The wasabi was my idea.”
San-Kyung sighed. “I guessed that one.”
“You’re not gonna throw up, are you?”
“No.” He uncovered his mouth. “But seriously, that was disgusting!”
Dosa-Mina looked surprised for all of a moment before laughing.
“What?”
“It’s nothing,” he said. “Sorry about that.”
“Oh no, it’s fine!” Del-Kyuus said.
“San-Kyung has the right idea, though. You can still improve.”
“You can just say it sucks,” Dosa-Mina said. Del-Kyuus and Salsh-Era glanced at each other.
“Thanks for inviting me over,” Dosa-Mina said. “Not much happened today, but I had a lot of fun. I hope me and San-Kyung can stay close.”
“We hope so too,” Del-Kyuus said.
“So long as you don’t get annoying, we’re cool.”
“Thanks, San-Kyung. I’ll try not to become an annoying teenager then. You try not to become too broody. If you go through a goth phase, I’ll kill you.”
San-Kyung blinked at Dosa-Mina. “What’s a goth phase?”
“I’ll tell you someday. But for now, we can only wait and see!”

—–
“You haven’t gotten any effects?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Not one. And it’s been two days. I don’t think they worked.”
“I guess I still have a ways to go research-wise. I really thought that blood-drinking thing would work.”
San-Kyung shuddered. “La-Iin’s blood made me miss your wasabi cake.”
“What? …oh! Oh, that’s so embarrassing. Don’t worry, I can cook a lot better now so long as I focus on the recipe.”
“So you say!”
“Wanna test me someday?”
“No.”