17.594.Operation Reboot in Action

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 594
“Operation Reboot in Action”

A woman set up her stall near the plaza of Bledger. ‘I wonder if I’ll get any attention?’ She did her best to make the stall look neat and tidy.
Out the corner of her eye she spotted two hooded figures walking up to the stall. “Why, hello there! What can I get for–eek!”
“Something wrong, ma’am?”
“Ah, er, no, not particularly….is he…glaring at me?”
“Don’t worry about it. That’s his natural look.”
Two boys had approached her stall. Both were wearing hoodies that made it slightly hard for her to see their faces, but she could see their eyes, and noticed that one of them was slightly smaller than the other. Nevertheless they both seemed to be taller than her. She felt a little nervous as the smaller once glanced through her inventory.
“Ma’am, can you tell us a little bit about the potions you’re selling? We’re not all that well-versed in potions, you see.”
“Oh…certainly.” She swallowed hard. “I sell potions that mostly help people. They’re like medicine, but I’d like to hope they’re more effective than even the best medicine.”
“Mm-hm…” The smaller one had started to jot down notes in a notepad. “Tell me, would you compare potions to drugs? After all, you did just compare them to medicine.”
“Heavens no! Well, I guess some potions, but not mine! Potions should be designed to do good for you, that’s what I think! And their effects do wear off!”
“Hm.” The smaller one turned to his companion. “I’m not sure this is a good idea. I don’t care what you say, I’m still wary about potions!”
“I’m surprised, considering this seems more like something I’d be wary about,” his companion hissed. “I don’t care what you say. I don’t think this is anything like that drug.”
“What…what are you two talking about?”
“Oh, nothing. Pretend you didn’t hear that.” The smaller one glanced around her inventory. “You said your potions are for helping people, right? What would you give to someone who’s feeling weak?”
“Well, I made this potion,” she said, showing them a bottle of purple liquid. “This is designed to give you a bit of stamina. It might work.”
“How much?”
“Um, well, 2000.000 vuyong…”
The shorter one rummaged through his pocket and handed her exact change. “Thanks!”
The two walked away. She gave a nervous smile. ‘What weird people…’

Once they were a decent distance away from the Witch woman, San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina pulled down their hoods. Dosa-Mina stared at the purple liquid with a concerned look.
“I don’t see why you’re so worried about it. You’re okay with medicine, aren’t you? Vaccines? You’re a species studier. How is this worse than drugs if those other things aren’t?”
“It’s not potions in general that worry me, really. I just heard that some Witches are less than honest about the contents of their potions.” He sighed. “Besides, giving you a potion to temporarily heighten your powers? I don’t know if such a thing exists, but it sounds exactly like that drug.”
“But there’s a difference, isn’t there? You said that potions can be washed out of the system anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Dosa-Mina sighed. “Can you blame me for being worried about you, though? You’ve been pretty desperate about getting what you want. But we’re here now, so do you want to try it, or not?”
“I’ll try it.” He took the liquid from him. “Any chance is a chance I’ll take. And it’ll be better than the dead-ends we’ve hit recently. If this stuff really works, and we can find a potion that does what I need….”
Dosa-Mina had mixed feelings about the ordeal. ‘Look at him. He’s so happy. If this all works out, it would really be great. He’d just have to take a potion and he could look like he wants…you need to stop feeling so wary! This is for his sake…’
San-Kyung drank the liquid. “He–hey, if you’re going to drink that now, can I try some, too?”
“Why?”
“Oh, no reason. Just curious. We’re in this together, after all.”
San-Kyung opened his mouth as if about to protest, but sighed and handed the rest of the potion to Dosa-Mina. There was only a small amount left on the bottom, and Dosa-Mina downed it in one go.
“Phew! What a bad aftertaste…”
“If only we hadn’t been so focused on La-Iin all that time. Witches and Warlocks might just be what I need. Damn it, why can’t I be half-Warlock?”
“I’ve never heard you lamenting your species before,” Dosa-Mina said playfully.
“Animated Pumpkin is fine. Aesthetically Normal is not. That’s how I feel. And if I was half-Warlock, we wouldn’t need to buy potions.”
“Mm-hm.” Dosa-Mina lowered his head. “Well, as long as you’re happy, that’s good enough for me. But maybe next time, we’ll look into potions some more before we go to creepy stalls. That lady did seem trustworthy, though.”
“If you say so…”
The two stood around in silence for a short while, waiting for the effects to kick in.
“I’m getting bored.”
“Me too. But what can we do while we wait for this to kick in?”
“Run? Running sounds like a good idea.”
“Yeah, it does. We could run to Hledshess and back to here. That’s not exactly close, after all.”
“Yeah.” Right after saying that, San-Kyung took off ahead of Dosa-Mina. Dosa-Mina quickly caught up with him, and the two kept an even pace as they dashed across Bledger. The competition itself didn’t matter; they were enjoying running for running’s sake. As they passed by areas with more people, they caught a bit of attention, but at their speeds, it barely mattered. They were soon out of their line of sight.
The two kept running until they neared Hledshess, not once feeling slightly drained. Even when they made it to their stop, San-Kyung began to pace as if restless.
“Now what?”
“I have no idea.” He pulled up his hood. “Just be careful. Hey, there’s a stream near here, isn’t there? We can run past that and see what’s there.”
“Yeah. But only quickly, and then we get the hell out of here. Hledshess isn’t really the best place for us to be anymore…”
The two ran over to the stream, then bolted off past it. A path of stones was ahead of them, and they were able to hear voices. Looking around, they noticed a small Fairy society to their left.
“I didn’t even know any Fairies lived in Bledger,” Dosa-Mina said. “Wow!”
“Do you want to get caught!?”
“No. But I bet you want to wreak havoc on their little peace, don’t you?”
“I’m more concerned with getting this energy out of my system!”
The two continued to run. All sorts of winding paths were ahead of that small stream, along with some forest fixtures that Dosa-Mina was convinced were put there by the Fairy society. Once they had reached the top of a small hill, only then did they start to feel tired.
“I think we’ve run enough,” San-Kyung breathed.
“Yeah. Hey, you think that energy…you think that was the potion?”
“I bet you it was.”
“She said it was supposed to give you stamina, right? She must not have diluted it any, because I only drank a little and that was powerful!”
San-Kyung grinned. “If that’s the case, maybe I have a trump card for November…” He began to gasp and wheeze, but despite his labored breathing, he looked happy. “You should’ve looked into this earlier!”
“Sorry, there’s just a lot on Witches and Warlocks. I always get overwhelmed.” Dosa-Mina took deep breaths. “Alright, we should probably head back before we get lost here.”
“Yeah…”
“Got enough energy to keep going, or do I have to jump you there?”
“I can go on my own!” Despite San-Kyung’s protest, Dosa-Mina wrapped his arms around him and then jumped up. The jump was weak, so Dosa-Mina went into a second jump, this time holding San-Kyung in a way that was much more convenient for him. They jumped until they reached the stream, at which point San-Kyung pushed him away and continued on without him.
As soon as they peeked their heads out, they were greeted by the wild faces of a Catori and a Bearperson.
“Looks like what they say in copper school is true,” the Catori giggled. “Criminals really do come back to the scene of the crime!”
Dosa-Mina felt petrified, but noticed that San-Kyung seemed unusually confident. The duo in front of them looked ready to pounce, and yet he looked collected. When the two of them did make their leap, San-Kyung tied them up with vines, pulling them tight enough that they began to gasp and wheeze for breath.
“That should do it,” he said. “Come on! Let’s run!” He grabbed Dosa-Mina’s hand and the two ran out of Hledshess.
“You know, I’m fully capable of taking care of myself!”
“I know, I just wanted to get out of there faster! Didn’t think we’d run into those hacky “authority” people again. Think they saw our faces?”
The two came to a stop. “I wonder…”
“Hledshess is probably a bad idea. The people there already hate us enough to set bombs and traps. We have the power to fend them off, but if they riot again…”
“You have to wonder why we kept trying in the first place.”
“That place is significant, that’s why.”
San-Kyung began to walk off. “By the way, why were you so calm dealing with that duo back then? I know they’re not exactly police, but they’re still kind of authority. And they are pretty brawny…”
“I could predict their moves from miles away. Besides,” he flashed Dosa-Mina a smile. “I’m feeling confident after that potion. When I was younger, I wouldn’t have even thought about this. But this is a way I can get what I want without having to rely on someone else.”
“You do, though. The Witches and Warlocks who make them.”
“I don’t need to pretend to befriend them though, do I?”
“Yeah, guess not.”
“Lately I’ve just been a little happier,” he said. “…things started looking up for me in July, mostly anyway.”
“That’s good!”
“I’ll find my way. I’m still determined to give the world its comeuppance. Are you holding in there?”
“Huh?”
“Are you alright. You don’t talk about yourself, you know.”
“Oh, I–I know.” Dosa-Mina smiled. “Don’t worry, San-Kyung, I’m fine. And I’m even better seeing you happy. Trust me, the best thing for me is to see you act like you did back there!”

—–
“I know the real reason you’ve been happier lately, San-Kyung.”
“You know the real reason why already.”
“Nope, that’s not it. You’re happier because you’ve finally embraced your natural talent for dancing! Think about it: the best way to mock the people you’re damning to life in hell is to dance in front of them.”
“…”
“You don’t agree, huh.”
“No, I don’t. That just sounds stupid.”
“Ah well. It sounded like a good idea in my head.”

6.583.Eul-Bok’s Potential

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 583
“Eul-Bok’s Potential”

Baal-Mist watched Eir-Tyuj’s house closely. A sudden flash of light illuminated the windows. He smirked.

Sale-Dessu opened his eyes. He was in Eir-Tyuj’s house. Eir-Tyuj herself was sitting nearby, and she seemed a bit startled by his sudden appearance.
“Why hello, Sale-Dessu,” she said. “Hello to you too, Eul-Bok.”
“Hello, Grepeta! You sound awfully cheerful today.”
“Ah, old age can do that to ya. Don’t go thinking I’ve lost my vigor, though, or you’ll be sorely disappointed!” She let out a cackle. “What brings you here today?”
“Yeah Father, you never did tell me why we were coming here.”
“It’s something I’d like to discuss with Apeta alone,” he said. “Apeta, would you mind if Eul-Bok went off to do something else while we speak?”
“Why?”
“I have my reasons.”
Eir-Tyuj huffed. “Well, I know your boy has more sense than to go around messing things up. Go on and do what you will, Eul-Bok. We’ll call you back later.”
“How come I can’t be involved in this discussion?” He huffed.
“There’s a reason for it, Eul-Bok. Please, go off and do your own thing for now.”
“Listen to your father, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok pouted slightly, but soon head off, though Sale-Dessu could tell by his gait that he wasn’t happy.
“What is it you want to talk to me about? Your expression and tone tell me it’s serious, and considering you sent Eul-Bok away, I’m assuming it has something to do with him?”
“It does,” he said. “Apeta, both you and me know of Eul-Bok’s potential. He has the same innate potential other Warlocks have, and he seems to have a natural talent for these sorts of powers. But something’s concerning me. You and I are skilled in our powers too, but we struggled a bit, didn’t we?”
“I’ve always told you that I was one who had to work for her ability,” Eir-Tyuj said. “You likely could have been more skilled earlier on, had you not gone through the trauma you had. Eul-Bok having a natural talent for it does mean that he might be able to pull off more skilled spells earlier, especially if that’s what you’ve been teaching him.”
“But that’s the problem. Not everything he’s been able to do I’ve been teaching him. Apeta, have you ever heard of Subconscious Shift?”
“Yes, I have. There were plans to bring back the initial experiments when I was a young girl, but it was still deemed too intrusive to toy with. I would agree–such a power is really beyond what we should be using.” Eir-Tyuj scoffed. “Sale-Dessu, you’re not going to tell me Eul-Bok was able to pull off such a spell.”
“I have reason to believe that he was. I had a strange, rapidly changing dream recently, and I found Eul-Bok collapsed outside my bedroom door with a spellbook open to that page when I woke up. All the signs point to him having successfully completed the Subconscious Shift spell. I had never told him about this spell prior to him using it.”
Eir-Tyuj gave him an uncertain look. “Are you certain?”
“Apeta, would I lie to you? I already know how you can get when I do. Would I risk that?”
Eir-Tyuj sighed. “Fair enough. But if that is true, that really is beyond what I was expecting of him. I knew he was talented, that much is obvious, but that’s going above and beyond for such a young and inexperienced Warlock. Still, I may have a theory as to why he has this ability.”
“What’s that?”
Sale-Dessu gave Eir-Tyuj a curious look, but it soon became obvious it was not her who had spoken. Eul-Bok was standing a short distance away from them, watching intently.
“Weren’t you told to listen to your father?” Eir-Tyuj scolded. “Goodness.”
“How much did you hear, Eul-Bok?”
“I heard a little,” he admitted. “Well, actually, everything except the beginning of the conversation. Father, I can tell when you want to talk about me. No matter how hard you try, you’re not all that good at hiding your emotions.”
“I used to be good at that,” he sighed. “Becoming a father has made me softer…”
“That’s strange. It was fairly contrary with my husband and your father,” she said coyly. Sale-Dessu glared at her. “In any event, it was not your place to listen in.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. But I really want to know, you two think I’m really talented because I pulled off that spell?”
“Research on it was cancelled, so it counts as an incomplete spell. Performing an incomplete spell or finding your own is indicative of talent. …Apeta told me that, anyway.”
“And it’s certainly true.”
“Geez, you two are too nice.”
“We aren’t saying all this to be nice, Eul-Bok. After all, I don’t believe it’s because you were naturally blessed with such talent. I think there’s an explanation for it.”
“What’s that?”
“You, Eul-Bok, came into this world as the result of a power. You were reliant on a power to move around for a long time. You became autonomous because of powers. Well, putting aside your other exposures, you are a V-Puppet! V-Puppetry is a power. Owing your existence to power, that is likely the reason why you have such skill. Aside from being somewhat related to people such as Sale-Dessu and myself, of course.”
“I guess that makes sense,” Eul-Bok said. “If that’s the case, that’s pretty cool!”
“You have a troublemaker on your hands, Sale-Dessu,” Eir-Tyuj sighed. “In any event, of course you’ll still have to hone such power–you can’t just expect everything to work perfectly the first time. Even assuming you have such a talent for power thanks to the means of your birth, even those whose power is immense need to practice.”
“I know that.”
“And please, don’t try unfinished spells like that again,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Why not?”
“They still pose a risk,” Eir-Tyuj said. “And seeing as Sale-Dessu here has become far more nervous in the years I’ve been gone–”
“Apeta, please!”
“Don’t I know that,” Eul-Bok giggled. “But that is really cool. It has me wondering though, are you sure it’s ’cause I’m a V-Puppet and not just because of how Father gave me powers? He’s powerful, so couldn’t that be why I am, too?”
“It could be both. But remember, your case is currently one-of-a-kind, and your other case rare. Who knows? I do sincerely doubt that it’s just natural talent, however. There is a cause for this.”
Eul-Bok nodded.
“Perhaps you should teleport us back this time, Eul-Bok,” Sale-Dessu said.
“I guess I could try. Though the teleportation spell is so easy to trip up on!”
“It certainly is, isn’t it? But it’s one every Astineth should know.”
“Why’s that?”
“…” Sale-Dessu fell silent. “Oh.”
“Ah, it was meant to be humorous, Sale-Dessu.”
“Sorry, Apeta, I know. It just reminded me of those Witches and Warlocks who nearly found out where we lived. It still unsettles me.”
“Well, don’t worry about it! You haven’t had trouble with them in a while, have you? And with Eul-Bok on your side, there’s nothing to worry about.”
“She’s right, Father!”
Sale-Dessu cracked a small smile. “I suppose she is. Just as she is oftentimes…”
Still, Sale-Dessu couldn’t shake his unsettled feeling.

—–
“Baal-Mist, what did you call us here for?”
“No particular reason. Aside from sharing my message of hope with you all. I really do think we’ll have a breakthrough. We were just too hasty the first time we tried things. Timing is still everything, though. Too early and we risk sabotaging the mission; too late and we might not have a chance to do everything as intended. I need to plan things carefully, however…I do think things might be working in my favor.”
“What makes you say that?”
He smirked. “Oh, nothing in particular. Maybe wishful thinking. I suppose you could say I’ve been living in the past lately. Thinking on how much I want this goal to come true…”
“I honestly don’t understand you sometimes, Baal-Mist. You’re a handsome Warlock and your ability isn’t half bad. Why waste your time on this project?”
“True, it might seem useless to you. But to me it’s more than a mere ‘project’. I need closure. Without it, good looks and powers are useless to me. So quiet down and let me handle this. Trust in me. I give you my guarantee that now, I know what I’m doing.”

28.574.Life Unto Another World

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 575
“Life Unto Another World”

Sale-Dessu yawned.
“Father, it’s still light outside! Why are you so tired?”
“Sometimes I have a bit of trouble getting to sleep,” he said, rubbing his eye. “But don’t worry about me, Eul-Bok. I’ve had worse nights.”
“You haven’t been having nightmares again, have you? If you want, I can go back to sleeping in your room.”
“No, Eul-Bok, you deserve your own room. Please don’t worry about me. I have all the time in the world to sleep, and sooner or later the exhaustion will give way to a full nine or so hours of sleep…”
“Wow, that’s long!”
“After restless nights, it feels short.”
“I guess it would. I never really feel all that exhausted anymore, though. I used to feel more exhausted when I was a normal V-Puppet–” Eul-Bok sighed. “Really, Father, if there’s anything I can do for you…”
“Don’t worry. That will make things a lot better. If you’re worried it will only worry me. And it will pass, it always does. It’s only that it’s coming to August and I have an unpleasant memory from that month…”
“So it is nightmares.”
“No, not particularly.” He yawned. “Anyway, let’s get back to work. Want to take the lead, Eul-Bok?”
“Oh, um, I guess so.”

***

Eul-Bok searched through several books looking for some sort of answer to Sale-Dessu’s plight. ‘Think, think! There’s got to be something I can use to help him sleep and prevent nightmares.’
Looking in more modern books had already failed to give him an answer, so Eul-Bok turned to looking at older books written in the Warlock language. Managing through it was difficult, but he could still make out that so far, none of the spells, potions or items were things that would help Sale-Dessu–either they were entirely useless or were only good for putting him to sleep, and Eul-Bok saw no use in doing that if Sale-Dessu was only going to have a nightmare.
‘So after all these years of Warlocks doing amazing things, not a single one has found something to prevent nightmares!? It sounds so simple! So we can reality warp but no, nightmares are out of our league? Why don’t we have something to stop nightmares!?’
He continued to flip through the book, becoming progressively more frustrated at the lack of spells that would help Sale-Dessu with his nightmares. When finally he was about ready to shut the book, one of the pages tore slightly.
“Oh no! If Father sees this, he’ll be upset!”
Already he could imagine Sale-Dessu trying to suppress his sadness as he examined the tear. Eul-Bok looked at it closely. “….w-well, it isn’t actually that big…hm?”
When he caught sight of the words on the page, Eul-Bok’s attention was piqued. Curious, he read on.
…the theory of a power to enter another’s dreams: the power of “Subconscious Shift” or “Scenarial Change”. In this theory the power would grant access to an individual’s dreams or thoughts and grant them henceforth the ability to modify such things. Due to the invasive nature of the idea, research on the potential spell or ability was canceled, though the following was retrieved from experiments, it is not recommended for attempt by a Witch or Warlock not only due to the invasive nature but due to the possibility of irreversible injury to the Witch or Warlock’s body if attempted, assuming the effects would not be much worse.
Eul-Bok read over the spell. ‘Wow, it sounds dangerous…but it talked about modifying dreams! Maybe it’s worth a shot for Father’s sake. I survived switching bodies and assuming physical harm is the worst-case scenario, I don’t need to worry about that too much! But is it really worth it in the end?’
Eul-Bok thought it over. ‘Maybe, just maybe it is.’
He was concerned, but also immensely curious, and when he thought back on the things Sale-Dessu had done, or told him he’d done that could have harmed him, entering his dreams seemed harmless in comparison.
He decided to try it, whatever the cost.

Eul-Bok began to perform the spell as outlined in the book. He wasn’t sure whether he needed to be close by Sale-Dessu or not, and decided to be as cautious as possible. He stood right outside Sale-Dessu’s bedroom as he performed the spell as quietly as he could manage.
As he got further into the spell, he felt almost light-headed and his vision was blurring over. Still, he saw the spell through to the end–he was far more concerned about what might happen to him if he didn’t finish it than the potential side-effects he might face from finishing it.
Once he had completed the last part, his vision steadily went black, and he briefly felt himself drop to the floor.
When he opened his eyes, Eul-Bok was in a place he didn’t recognize. “Did I make it?”
“Eir-Tyuj is only concerned with her own curiosity. And that’s how you are too, isn’t it? You only care about learning how you could rule the world. That’s all it is with you Astineths. You disgust me.”
The voice came as a surprise to him, and Eul-Bok looked in its direction. A Warlock man was cornering a teenager to his right. When he got closer to the two, he realized that the cowering teenager was Sale-Dessu.
“I–I don’t want…rule the world…I just…practice my powers.”
Eul-Bok was both confused and terrified, but he realized his priorities were getting Sale-Dessu out of the situation. He ran past the Warlock man and pulled Sale-Dessu away from him. He tried to think back on the words in the book as he teleported himself and Sale-Dessu away.
Sale-Dessu looked terrified. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to save you.”
“Save me?”
“You don’t have to believe me off of my words. I’ll let you see it for yourself.”
“Would Father even recognize me right now? He doesn’t seem to. Probably not while he’s in a teenage mindset. But if I’m here, that means my spell succeeded, right? So maybe…”
“What are you talking about?”
Eul-Bok startled. “Er, nothing important! Um, hey, how’d you like to go someplace better than this? Geez, are my thoughts not my own anymore?”
“Why do you keep saying this stuff out loud?”
Eul-Bok sighed. “Just be patient with me, alright?”
Sale-Dessu gasped. “My Apeta! That man is still nearby our house! He might be going for my Apeta!”
“Father, wait!” Eul-Bok grit his teeth. He shut his eyes and imagined a different scenario. When he opened his eyes, he was inside Eir-Tyuj’s house, and Sale-Dessu was gradually becoming bigger. His eyes had teared up.
“Father!”
“Eul-Bok? What’s going on?”
“Um, we’re just visiting Grepeta! Isn’t it nice to visit her? I’m sure she’s got something great to show us today, heh heh. So we should probably go and see her!”
“Eul-Bok–”
“La la la la la~”
“Eul-Bok, just a moment ago, something seemed off…”
“Hey, Father, did I tell you I could reality-warp now? Yeahh, that’s probably it. I’ve been practicing, after all!”
“Something’s wrong, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok shut his eyes. When he opened them, the scenario around them had changed once more.
“What!?”
Now the two were in the center they had been in during Magica Cavintus, except this time it was devoid of any people.
“What is this…”
“Why, I thought it might be nice to visit this place after all that reality-warping!”
“You didn’t use a teleportation spell.”
“Yeah, well–” Eul-Bok tried to look cocky. “I am getting better.”
“You don’t have that much practice!”
“So it’s possible? Er, I mean, geez Father, stop being so nervous!”
He went over to hug Sale-Dessu, but tripped on his robe on the way there. When he looked up, an unfamiliar Witch woman, half-translucent, was staring at Sale-Dessu with a smile.
“Mamun…”
Eul-Bok began to feel guilty. “All I wanted to do was prevent that nightmare, but I’m just making it worse…”
Sale-Dessu turned around as if to remark, but he never got to. The scene around Eul-Bok became blurry, all save for a strange tube. Eul-Bok felt he had to go through the tube, and so followed his instincts.

—–
Sale-Dessu woke with a start.
“Mamun…”
The dream was soon no longer his top priority, as he quickly noticed that his bedroom door was open, and saw part of Eul-Bok slumped against it. He ran for the door and tapped Eul-Bok.
“Eul-Bok? Eul-Bok, are you alright!?”
Eul-Bok didn’t respond at first, and Sale-Dessu felt cold. But soon enough, Eul-Bok opened his eyes, glanced at Sale-Dessu, and startled.
“Whoa!”
“What’s wrong? Did something happen?”
“Uh, I don’t know.” Eul-Bok looked up at Sale-Dessu. His expression seemed almost ashamed. “Hey, um, Father, what kind of dream did you have last night?”
“Last night?” The sight of his mother came to mind. “Mamun…”
“Was I in it?”
“You were. Why do you ask?”
Eul-Bok sighed. “There’s no point in keeping this secret from you. I wanted to try and keep you from getting a nightmare, so I tried a spell in this book. I guess I made it into your dreams, but I still messed them up. Sorry.”
“You what?”
“Geez, I feel fatigued.”
Sale-Dessu checked the book lying nearby Eul-Bok. It detailed a spell whose research had been cut after worries about invasions of privacy caused by its usage. Sale-Dessu gasped.
“Something wrong?”
“No, not particularly,” he said. “Um–Eul-Bok, you seem tired. Why don’t you go and rest?”
“Are you up to something, Father?”
“…” Sale-Dessu shook his head. “Never mind. Why don’t we start the day?”
“You sure? It’s a little early for that.”
“It’s never too early when you’re passionate. Besides, I got a better sleep last night than I have most nights recently. Thank you, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok beamed. “You’re welcome!”
‘He managed to pull off a spell that was never officially pulled off. It could be an easy one, granted, but it doesn’t look that way…maybe Apeta really did pass on her potential to Eul-Bok too. But how? He isn’t her biological Apegrenneson.’
Sale-Dessu wasn’t sure if he should be proud or concerned as Eul-Bok returned with a different spell book.

15.561.A Little Something

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 561
“A Little Something”

Eul-Bok took a deep breath. Focusing as intensely as he could, he set to work on changing the scrap of cloth in front of him into a present for Sale-Dessu.
He tried to clear his mind of all distracting thoughts, and though he focused solely on the image of what he was trying to change, he was gradually becoming more excited as if the thought nudging him at the corners of his mind was all that was on it.
Just as he could see the results of his efforts, a knock sounded at his door.
“Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok startled. The cloth, half-changed into fluff, fell back down onto his night desk limply, and Eul-Bok recoiled at a shooting pain in his head.
“Is everything alright?”
Eul-Bok turned around. “Everything’s fine, Father! Just practicing my powers a bit before bed! Wh-what are you doing up? It’s pretty late isn’t it?”
“I could say the same to you. I was just making myself a little warm milk. I’ve been having a taste for milk lately.”
Eul-Bok’s eyes widened. “I could tell…”
“We should both get some sleep. There’s a few things I want to do tomorrow. After all, well, I think you know what tomorrow is, right?”
“Of course I do. How could I forget? Heh heh, last year at the Cahongyun’s house…”
Sale-Dessu’s face flushed. “This year we’re not going there. I felt so ashamed, falling asleep on them like that. This year we’re spending the day at our house. I’m looking forward to it.”
“Well, I’ll make sure it’s a great day! We’ll do whatever you want to do, Father, so just say the word and we’ll be doing it!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok.” He yawned. “Well, I should head off to bed now…good night…”
“Good night, Father. And sweet dreams.”
‘And of course we’ll do the things you want to. But where’s the harm in a little bit of surprise?’
Recently Eul-Bok had been listening closely to all Sale-Dessu said. Even the smallest thing he had implied an interest in Eul-Bok had considered. He wanted to go along with what Sale-Dessu wanted to do, but he also wanted to surprise him with the things he would like.
He turned back to the half-cloth half-fluff and set to work on finishing it, before that keeping in mind Sale-Dessu’s taste for milk. Once he had successfully transformed the cloth-fluff, he set to work on finishing the rest of the tasks he had set for himself.

***

When Sale-Dessu opened his eyes that morning, the first thing he caught sight of was Eul-Bok sitting on a stool in his room, watching him with a smile. He startled for only a moment before taking a breath and calming down.
“You scared me, Eul-Bok.”
“Sorry, Father. But I was just so excited! I can’t wait to see how you–I mean, what you want to do!”
Sale-Dessu chuckled. “I wonder if you’re more excited for my birthday than I am. I’ll get ready and then we’ll get to work.”
“Don’t call it work! It’s your birthday! You want to do these things because you enjoy them, right?”
“Of course.”
‘He really is excited today. I wonder why?’ In recent years Sale-Dessu hadn’t seen his birthday as anything special, even forgetting it some years, and though last year had been more than the usual it had still been fairly relaxed.
‘I was excited for my birthdays when I was young. I guess with a child in the house I should expect this kind of thing.’
Sale-Dessu head off to take a shower and put on his clothes.
“Eul-Bok! I’m ready!” He called.
“Alright!”
Eul-Bok ran out from Sale-Dessu’s room and stopped next to him. “Why were you still in my room?”
“Nowhere else to go. Now what’s first!?”
“Well, I haven’t used my water-powered train much recently, and there was something interesting I was pursuing there…”
Sale-Dessu noticed Eul-Bok’s face drop. “That’s outside, isn’t it? Isn’t there anything you want to do inside?”
“The rest of it is inside. Don’t worry, Eul-Bok. I’ll take care of the train later. I can see you’re eager to do something right now.”
“That’s an understatement!”
“Well, then, why don’t we start with potion making? Have I ever helped you make a potion?”
Eul-Bok shrugged. The two head to the main area. On their way there, something smacked Sale-Dessu in the face.
“Ow…”
“You alright, Father?”
“I’m fine. Something hanging off the wall hit me in the face…”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s nothing big. Here, I can lead the way!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok. But I’ll be fine.”
After uncovering his eye, Sale-Dessu caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a colorful setup right at the entrance to his home. In front of him he could see that Eul-Bok looked anxious.
‘So that’s why he’s so eager. I should have known…’ “Actually, if you want to lead the way, you can. We are doing this for me, but this is a good chance for me to teach you a few more things.”
“Yeah! Hey, anything you have planned for today wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with those more complicated procedures you know, right? I’m so curious about how you learned to do some of the things you can do!”
“Like what?”
“Oh, hex change operation?”
Sale-Dessu flinched. “Maybe one of those more complicated procedures is in my plans, but hex change operation is not one of them…”

Eul-Bok’s eagerness made Sale-Dessu’s day fairly enjoyable. As they mixed potions together Eul-Bok did so with such a force and glee that it made Sale-Dessu chuckle just to watch. In general he seemed fairly cheerful, and it was a bit infectious. Sale-Dessu couldn’t help but wonder what he had done that had him so excited and eager to finish what he wanted to do.
“You seem to be having a lot of fun mixing potions,” Sale-Dessu said. “Maybe I should have you do it for me more often.”
“Aw, come on, Father, you barely make potions for any good reason. Although it would be a good arm exercise.”
“You don’t need arm exercise, Eul-Bok.”
“I know, I know, but it’s fun to pretend I do. But you know what, I’m wrong. Even though you make a lot of pretty worthless potions, these ones we’re making now are all for medicinal reasons, right?”
“Yes. Just in case something happens to you or me, that’s why I’m making these potions. I just felt like making potions today, so I figured that I might as well make some that are helpful in nature.”
“It’s a good idea!”
Eul-Bok continued to stir vigorously. Sale-Dessu couldn’t stifle another chuckle.
Potion-making wasn’t all they did either. Sale-Dessu did eventually set to work on his water-powered train after Eul-Bok had strained his mind during a joint transformation spell.
“I had a feeling that wouldn’t work,” Sale-Dessu had sighed. “Eul-Bok, are you alright?”
“Yeah, probably….but I need to lay down for a little bit…”
Most of their activities were simple things however, such as making small treats or performing simple and ridiculous spells, such as an ‘instant hair dye’ spell that both Sale-Dessu and Eul-Bok had used to change the color of Sale-Dessu’s hair into a multitude of colors; once, Eul-Bok even turned it rainbow.
“How did you manage that!?” Sale-Dessu asked. Eul-Bok giggled. “Oh, just with the strength of wanting to see something totally ridiculous.”
Even though it was simple, Sale-Dessu was happy. He was excited to see what it was that Eul-Bok was planning, and Eul-Bok’s own excitement made the day quite enjoyable. But it wasn’t until the sun started to set that they reached the end of all Sale-Dessu had wanted to do.
“That was pretty fun, Father. I realized something from today, you can do a lot of the stuff that I can do at incredible speeds!”
“That’s because I’ve been practicing for years. You know that. But I’m certain that soon enough you and I will have a similar level of ability.”
“Yeah, if by soon enough you mean years!”
“Well, we have more than some other species. And it won’t be so long that I’m an old man by that point.”
“Geez, it feels like both you and Grepeta are trying too hard to flatter me.”
“We can’t help but be proud of you, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok smiled. “Hey, Father? Now that we’re done with all you wanted to do, can you do me a favor?”
‘Here it comes.’ “What’s that?”
“I want you to cover your eyes. Both of them, and not with your hair! With this.” He handed him a blindfold. Sale-Dessu put it on. “I’ll lead the way, so don’t worry about bumping into anything.”
“Ow!”
“Oops, sorry.”
Sale-Dessu was excited as Eul-Bok led the way through some part of the house he wasn’t sure of–though he had a good feeling he knew where he was going.
“Now sit down, and don’t peek!”
He could hear Eul-Bok crashing around the house and various things opening and closing. From behind him he thought he heard the refrigerator open. ‘Am I in the kitchen? I thought for sure he’d take me to the main area.’
“You can look now!”
Sale-Dessu reached for the blindfold and pulled it off. Eul-Bok stood in front of him, and behind him the table was decorated in a fancy style. A plate of dinner sat behind him as well as a large white cake behind the plate. Eul-Bok appeared to be holding something, and he soon draped it over him.
“Happy Birthday, Father!”
“Eul-Bok…”
“Don’t look so surprised, Father. It’s just a little something.”
“How can you say that? You went above and beyond!”
Eul-Bok grinned. “Thanks for the compliments, Father. I’ve been planning this for a while now. Last year all I could do was get the Cahongyun’s help, but this year I was able to do it all on my own! I had a lot of trouble with the blanket, though.” He lowered his head. “I hope you like it.”
“I love it, Eul-Bok. This is the most comfortable blanket I’ve felt in a while. I wonder why I never thought to make more comfortable ones for my bed. I think I’ll sleep quite well with this.”
Eul-Bok’s grin widened. “Well, you can start dinner now, then! But I have to clean up. I made a bit of a mess in the main area.”
He ran off. ‘So that’s what that was. I’d better not say anything, though.’ Even having expected it, it was still a pleasant surprise. Sale-Dessu started to eat, and was surprised by how good the gravy tasted.

—–
Night had fallen, and after a long and cheerful celebration with the milk cake Eul-Bok had made, Sale-Dessu tidied a few things around the house before deciding to retire for the night. Already Eul-Bok seemed exhausted, but he still stayed by Sale-Dessu’s side, smiling wide.
Just as he had changed into pajamas and was almost ready to retire, something slammed against his window. When he opened it, he spotted Bes-Isa, a piece of paper taped to her. He took the paper off and took a look at it. It was a crude picture of him and Eul-Bok around a cake that was set on fire.
Good job allie, not freelowding this year. Have a happy birthday not! -La-Iin
Sale-Dessu stifled a chuckle as Bes-Isa went flying backwards through the air with a screech.
“Geez, she really can’t draw all that well.”
“She can’t,” he admitted. “But that’s alright. It’s a nice picture.”
He hung it up in his room.

9.555.Revolution in Dasdoria

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 555
“Revolution in Dasdoria”

“Mama, do you think there’ll be an evil revolution soon?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I don’t know, La-Iin. I know you’d love for something like that to happen, but you realize other evil people are typically against their own, right? Evil people disagree on what’s the right way to be evil more than any other group I’ve seen.”
“Of course we do. Some of them are just closeted goody-goodies. Others are just stupid and do things that would obviously get them caught or dead. And a lot of the ones who aren’t don’t strive high enough.”
She grinned. “That’s why I love San-Kyung so much! He might have a few questionable opinions, but he’s striving high and has the means to do some serious damage! Other evil people can be questionable. I met some just recently who are incredibly stupid.”
“Well, I hope there aren’t any revolutions. But if there is, I hope it’s a revolution against the evil. I know you don’t like good, La-Iin, but it does keep you safer. Which version of Bledger would you prefer?”
“A neutral one because then I don’t have to deal with goody-goodies and I won’t be killed by an evil failure. Other evil people think it’s honorable to die at the hands of someone evil, I disagree! I go at my own hands or death comes and takes me! Nobody else will steal my life.”
“You’re feeling pretty passionate about this.”
“Evil people might be evil, but we are all different, Mama. The biggest difference being that some of us are wrong and some of us are right.”
Mit-Sun gave another sigh. “Well, I guess at least you aren’t falling in with a gang….even if I wonder about San-Kyung sometimes. Are you sure he’s evil?”
La-Iin opened her mouth to respond but opted to keep it shut. ‘Maybe San-Kyung would rather keep up appearances around Mama…’

***

La-Iin was startled awake by loud noises and screaming. She didn’t even have time to open her eyes–nearly as soon as she woke up she was pulled aside by Mit-Sun.
As soon as her eyes were wide-open, La-Iin caught sight of an explosion and heard the screaming of people as they ran off in the direction opposite of them. Fire split the air and La-Iin heard someone caterwaul.
“We have to get out of here.” Mit-Sun stood up, shaky on her legs, and began to run along with the rest of the crowd. La-Iin spotted Dasdorian officials facing off against the source of the fire and the explosions, but still, from her view, she could not catch sight of the perpetrators.
“Stop what you’re doing unless you want to face the full might of Dasdoria!”
“You idiots! Using your full might against me!? Do you know how much room that opens up for escapees? By the time you finish me off, Dasdoria will be an empty hellhole as opposed to a full one!”
“You’re being awfully corny, you know.”
“Shut up,” the first voice hissed. “I don’t need them knowing who I am.”
“Then why talk to them?”
“I’m disguising my voice the best I can! Besides–well, I’ll tell you when it’s safer!”
Hidden under the shadows of night and beneath trees was San-Kyung, covered from head-to-toe in mud and stolen clothes. He was so thoroughly covered that he felt certain that even if the officials caught sight of him, they wouldn’t recognize him if he needed to repeat the spectacle. Still, he wanted to be cautious about coming into the moonlight. Dosa-Mina stood at his side similarly covered.
“He won’t listen to reason! The leader didn’t tell us we needed to wait for him to be violent either! Go!”
Before anything was shot in his direction, he shot seed bombs in their direction and began to lift vines. Hiding under shade gave him the significant disadvantage of being unable to see the exact location of his opposition, but he saw it as a small price to pay.
‘How fitting that you bastards are the first one who pay.’ While giving himself a chance to recover, he recalled a scene of his mother, lying on the ground and screaming as black-clad men advanced upon her. Sedated with power suppressants, there was nothing he could do to stop the sight.
San-Kyung grit his teeth and increased the intensity of his attack. ‘Sorry, Dosa-Mina, but the promise of keeping them alive might be off. These assholes need to fry!’
The residents of Dasdoria huddled into a crowd, watching as bursts of fire and explosions bombarded the stunned authorities who backed away for one moment and attempted to attack the next, always overwhelmed by the suddenness of the attack.
“Why is this happening?” Fer-Shi cried.
La-Iin had no response. She watched on in awe. Each time the authorities were exploded or had fire shot at them, La-Iin found herself cheering on whoever was opposing them. They were doing what she had always wanted to do.
She found herself hoping they were successful, whoever they were.
“You guys!” Hissed a Catori. “Look at the situation! This is a perfect time to make a break for it! Instead of panicking, why don’t we leave this hellhole!?”
“We might not be able to!” A Llamaki said. “They’re in, like, kill mode! If they catch us tryin’ to leave, we’re gonna die for sure!”
“Mama, what are we gonna do?” La-Iin asked. Mit-Sun didn’t respond. Her gaze was kept squarely on the sight ahead of her, her facial expression revealing nothing.
“San-Kyung, they could overpower you at any moment!” Dosa-Mina hissed. “What are we gonna do!?”
San-Kyung fired off a flamethrower at them and gasped. His hands stung with the many injuries he had caused them, but he still didn’t feel deterred. “If I keep going like this, they might break through, but if I make a break for it, we’ll be pursued and killed for sure…shit. This situation doesn’t leave many outs.”
“What do we do!?”
“You can leave! I’m not going to risk your life. As for me, I’ll keep going. If I run away I’ll definitely be killed. But if I keep going, I might get them first.”
“I thought you promised you wouldn’t kill anyone!”
“I only said that because I wanted to torture these f@%kers,” San-Kyung said through grit teeth. “But the situation doesn’t really allow for that anymore.”
A waterball head for him. He rose vines as fast as he could manage and was ultimately only splashed with a small amount of the water. He retaliated immediately by swirling vines around his assailants and wrapping them tightly, followed by another seed bomb.
“San-Kyung, your hands!” Dosa-Mina gasped.
“This is a small price,” he grunted. “I’m fine! Dosa-Mina, how far out would I need to go in order to scout their current situation?”
“I can do that for you.”
“No, you can–!” Dosa-Mina peeked his head out before San-Kyung could finish, and he bit his tongue to keep from yelling too loud. Dosa-Mina retreated back into the shade not long after.
“They’re tied up good, San-Kyung. I don’t think they’ll be getting down anytime soon.”
“Good. Then that leaves me with one more thing to do.” He walked out of the shadows, seed bombs in his hands. He placed them inside the vines, then lit the vines and stood back with Dosa-Mina as they exploded and engulfed their assailants in fire.
“DAD!” The Llamaki yelled.
“What…what does this mean? Didn’t they say they were using the full force of the Dasdorian authorities? Are we free?”
“Certainly not.” The crowd was startled by a voice from nearby, and spotted a stern-looking Catori-Werewolf glaring at them. “Dasdorians do not leave Dasdoria. We might be hampered, but these revolutionaries will not stop us from carrying on as usual.”
“They’ll never stop me!” Yelled a Cicadin. He began to try and take off, only to be shot down by the Catori.
“The same fate awaits the rest of you who try to leave!”
“I guess not,” Fer-Shi whimpered quietly.
La-Iin glanced up at Mit-Sun. She looked disappointed. La-Iin couldn’t deny she felt similar–but at the same time, watching as so many guards and authority members went up in flame, remembering all that had happened, she felt as if there was just a bit of hope.
And she certainly wanted to meet the perpetrator behind the crime.

—–
La-Iin wandered through Dasdoria, checking the outskirts. New guards now stood post, most seeming to be of strong species such as Minomix, though La-Iin noticed that some of them seemed malnourished and dazed, same as many of the Dasdorian residents. ‘Did they take residents for the new guards?’
On her walk, she spotted another interesting sight among the underfed guards–San-Kyung lying on the ground, covered in mud and hands scabbed over and scarlet red. Dosa-Mina sat nearby him, putting a hand on his forehead.
La-Iin thought back to the display of powers during the earlier incident: fire, seed bombs, and vines. She felt as though someplace she had heard something about Animated Pumpkins, fire and vines.
“Were you the perpetrator!?”
Dosa-Mina shused her. La-Iin walked closer and got down on her knees.
“Molshei, did you do all of that?”
“I can’t say,” he panted.
“Please, we’re busy right now. You should head back to wherever you stay.”
La-Iin noticed fear in Dosa-Mina’s eyes, and felt certain that she had the right people. Still, keeping her voice low, she asked, “That display earlier certainly was something, wasn’t it?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah…guess it kinda was.”
‘How amazing,’ La-Iin thought. ‘Molshei had the strength to do something I could never do. I think I like him even more now…’
“Do you want my help with his hands?”
Dosa-Mina looked confused for a moment, but then gave a slight nod. “I’d appreciate it.”
La-Iin assisted Dosa-Mina in patching up San-Kyung’s wounds. She watched as San-Kyung fell into an uneasy sleep, twitching and groaning as if he was having a nightmare. Dosa-Mina seemed grateful for her help, but she payed no attention to him.
“I hope he’s alright,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Me too.”

8.554.Vampiric Visitation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 554
“Vampiric Visitation”

Ever since hearing that Mit-Sun had rejected Uil-Cur’s affections, Asul-Zenza had set to work on a celebratory plan.
‘Now, at least for the time being, I don’t have to worry about another man getting to take my place in La-Iin’s upbringing. I should take this chance! Who knows if it might change in the future–it’s fully likely. I should show that I too am going to play a part in La-Iin’s upbringing!’
That was the thought he worked off of through the end of June and into July. Initially he had no idea for what he could do save for flying around Bledger with La-Iin, but he quickly axed the idea, figuring he could find something far more interesting. And come the first of July, he had an idea.
‘Around Mit-Sun I’m sure La-Iin hasn’t gotten to do anything that is traditional for Vampires. No events, no holidays or anything of the sort. July might be here now but it’s still Summer. And that reminds me of a specific event some societies do…’
He went to work as soon as all the pieces fell into place, calling his parents and Shi-Bara and inviting them to help along.
“If it means seeing our granddaughter again we’ll gladly participate! Your Floma’s been saying things about participating in that event anyway this year. And we’d deserve it after all the work we’ve been doing!”
“Oh, you want us to participate in that event? Sure! And you said La-Iin will be there? Ei-Tio will be happy to hear that! O-of course, even if she wasn’t there we’d still be fully willing to help you with this!”

Asul-Zenza felt accomplished as he set to work on the project. He planned with his parents, Shi-Bara and Jul-Ense, and asked his book club for advice on how to go about his plans. He felt as if everything was falling into place neatly: it was the perfect celebration of the fact that for now, he was still La-Iin’s only fatherly figure even if he lived far away from her.
“This plan sounds real nice, Asul-Zenza. There’s just one question I have for you.”
“What’s that, Niser-Zanta?”
“Have you actually asked La-Iin if she wants to do this yet?”
It was the last step in his plan, but Asul-Zenza knew it should have been one of the first. Even Mit-Sun was less of a concern to him. If La-Iin didn’t want to participate, all of his preparations would be almost useless.
‘Certainly I’d still be able to do this all with my family aside from her. It would be nice and I’m sure we’d have a great time. But damn it, this is for La-Iin’s sake, and if I can’t get her I’ll feel as if I wasted an awful lot of time!’
He dialed the number, waited for one of them to pick up and hoped for the best.

***

“Are you sure about this, La-Iin?”
“Mama, Dami’s going to be there. I’ll get to meet his Mama and Dami in person. I only talked to them over the phone once before. And Ei-Tio will be there. And it has to do with being a Vampire! Why wouldn’t I?”
“It has nothing to do with that. I know you’ll be surrounded by people you like and I know how conceited you are when it comes to your Vampire heritage. Sheesh, I don’t understand you, being so conceited about being a Vampire that you forget you’re a Dualbreed, which you’re equally as proud of.”
“I’d show my pride in being a Dualbreed more often if I wasn’t ashamed of that useless Normal half,” La-Iin said. Mit-Sun huffed. “The power of a Vampire is massive. Compared to that my Normal half has only made me mature faster. It’s helpful for having met some people, but it’s nothing compared to what my Vampire half has done.”
“I wasn’t finished, you know. My thing was, as far as I know the Ghneckdo family is mostly good-aligned. Asul-Zenza is. His parents are. Ei-Tio’s mother certainly struck me as good-aligned. You’ll be surrounded by people who are good, even if you love them, doing an event that has nothing at all to do with evil.”
La-Iin sighed. “Mama, I don’t plan to be torturing people all the time in my future. That would be fun, eh heh heh….but I am still fully evil even if I’m not harming or torturing or loitering. Besides, I’m not doing anything goody-goody. I’m not going to donate to a charity or something like that. You think I’m so one-track.”
“You act like it sometimes. Besides, you’ve been very focused on your evil pursuits lately.”
“I have been. Thank you for noticing.” La-Iin checked her backpack. “I think I’m ready, so I hope Dami arrives soon. We might even be out late. Maybe even so late I won’t be able to come back until tomorrow!”
“That would be taking advantage on his part,” she growled.
“No it wouldn’t be. It would be taking advantage on my part.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Just enjoy yourself, alright?”
“I will. As for you you’ll probably be bored.”
Mit-Sun opened her mouth as if to complain, then gave another sigh. “Yeah. You’re probably right. I might’ve hung out with Uil-Cur, but things are awkward between us…maybe I’ll talk to my Pa–I mean, father. We haven’t talked in a little bit.”
“Maybe I should talk to him soon too.”
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened in surprise, but before she could speak again a knock sounded at the door.
“That is my cue.” La-Iin waved to Mit-Sun and head for the door. Choungetsu was on her heels and she shooed him away, but when she opened the door he was sitting next to her and staring up at Asul-Zenza.
“Dami!”
“Hello, La-Iin. Looks like someone’s a lot more ready than I expected her to be! Or did I just take a long while? The weather near my home was a little turbulent, I suppose.”
“Well, it doesn’t matter. I had Mama to talk to while I was waiting for you anyway.” La-Iin spread her wings. “But now I’m ready to go!”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “Alright, if you say so.” He began to close the door, and Choungetsu whimpered. “I’m sorry, Choungetsu, but I don’t think you’d have the patience to accompany us all the way. I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun with Mit-Sun at home.”
Choungetsu gave another whimper. Asul-Zenza pet him on the head and closed the door.
“I’m ready to fly!” La-Iin spread her wings.
“I’m not so sure you should. La-Iin, your wingspan is impressive, don’t get me wrong. I’m certain you could fly a long way without much issue, but you don’t have as much experience flying as I do, you don’t know the path, and when you’re young heights can be a bit of an issue.”
“Heights aren’t an issue.” She flew a distance above him. “I’ve had experience with flying since before I could fly. I’ve always used my wings. And I’ll just stay behind you.”
“You also don’t have as much stamina as someone who’s been flying for as long as I have, or someone with my build. Your body also puts you at a disadvantage, I hope you know.”
La-Iin snorted. “I’ll show you, Dami! I can fly there, you just watch me!”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Fine. I’ll let you fly. But the moment you start losing altitude I will fly you there. It’s for your own safety.”
“Come on, Dami, you’re better than that.”
“I’m still your father, La-Iin. I have a right to worry about you.” He spread his wings. “Let’s go!”

La-Iin kept a steady flight behind Asul-Zenza for much more of the trip than Asul-Zenza had expected. But also as he expected, she began to lose altitude once they entered the Vampire society, and Asul-Zenza began to fly her the rest of the way.
“Why were you so indignant about flying there yourself, anyway? It wasn’t all that long ago that I would fly you around when I got the chance to visit and you’ve let me even considering you can fly now. You aren’t all that old a Vampire, La-Iin. I was older than you when I learned to fly, both years-wise and in Vampire aging terms.”
“I’ll need the stamina when I’m older,” La-Iin said. “And I am good at flying. You just knew me when my wings weren’t big enough for me to show this. I don’t want you to think I always need help just because you know I used to not be able to fly.”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “I don’t think lesser of your flying ability, La-Iin. More or less, I know you don’t have the experience I have. That, and I miss having to fly you all over the place…oh, we’re almost there. Hold tight, La-Iin!”
Asul-Zenza picked up speed as he head for a small cave off the edge of the main part of the society’s civilization. Looking down at it, La-Iin found herself surprised that this species society was so advanced: she was used to seeing the ones that lived among the trees and were more in-tune with nature, whereas this society looked traditional but not nearly as connected to nature.
Asul-Zenza landed inside the cave and set La-Iin down. The duo was almost immediately greeted by a group of Vampires who head their way.
“Big sister!” Ei-Tio said, running up to La-Iin and hugging her close. “It’s too long!”
“I’m here now, so it’s not so long anymore,” she said.
“It still felt long,” she said. “It’s been…um…a long time since I told you the story!”
“Not really.”
“Ei-Tio sees a lot of things as taking a long time,” Shi-Bara said. “She’s going to see her life as a lot longer than some of us might!”
“That’s harsh, Shi-Bara,” Asul-Zenza said, though La-Iin could tell he was being slightly playful. “And Darseen, Floma. It’s so nice to see you.”
“Yes, it’s nice to see you too, Asul-Zenza. Last time we saw you in person wasn’t exactly the most pleasant of circumstances.”
Verde-Nenda’s words piqued her interest. “What happened?”
“Oh, a…an old mentor, you could say, lost her husband,” he said. “It was a rough time.”
“But let’s not dwell on that for now. We’re here to have a good time as a family! And now that you’re here, things can get started.”
“What are we doing, anyway?”
“The Summerbat Venture,” Asul-Zenza said. “It’s a Vampiric tradition that originated several years ago, further back than a Vampire’s lifespan. In the earliest days Vampires were far more vulnerable to the sun than we are now. We could barely take it without sustaining injuries. In the Summer this was obviously worse. Not only were the days long and brutally hot but this was usually when fatalities from sun exposure would usually occur. We were susceptible to heat stroke. Being nocturnal through the Summer was difficult, so the Summerbat Venture was created.”
“I see….what are we doing, anyway?”
“During the Summerbat Venture, Vampires venture into a dark place to retreat away from the sunlight. Since it could be difficult for the Vampires of olden times when daylight hours stretched into what was usually night, they decided to keep awake with merrymaking. When night would arrive a final celebration was made with blood. Now that Vampires are more resistant to the sun as a whole, not many Vampires do the Summerbat Venture. But it’s a part of Vampire history, and I wanted you to be involved.”
La-Iin smiled.
“Further down the cave is where the celebration starts!” Asul-Zenza said. “Come on, all!”
The group, headed by Asul-Zenza, head down into the darker portion of the cave.
“It’s really dark,” Ei-Tio said. “I like it! It’s too light lately.”
“Even though the days are longer now, they’re only going to get shorter from here. So soon enough you’ll have the darkness you like so much for most of the day, Ei-Tio!”
Ei-Tio giggled.
Asul-Zenza stopped. “Here we are! Even reading those books I wasn’t as in-tune as to what celebrations Vampires did during the Summerbat Venture. But what I did figure out I turned into something that I think all of us will like. So come on!”
The setup was a simple one that seemed to take advantage of the powers each of them could use, such as a noise-hearing game for those of them who could transform into bats or a monkey bar-like fixture which hung off the ceiling of the cave. La-Iin went for that one first and began to show off.
“Well done, La-Iin!” Verde-Nenda said.
“Well done indeed, though she’s using her wings to keep from falling after the flip,” Anil-Kosha whispered to him. La-Iin growled and attempted to make a flip from one to the other without keeping herself steady. It resulted in her nearly falling to the ground and she had to make a quick swoop to save herself.
Nearby the noise-hearing game stood Ei-Tio and her parents, who had transformed into bats and had their eyes closed in concentration.
“I think I can hear water.”
“I feel like I can hear a bit of civilization. But maybe that’s not what it is?”
“I hear animals!”
The group flinched.
Another game involved simulating bloodsucking with various drinks. “The goal here is to find which one tastes the most like blood. Of course, none of them are blood. That’s for the final celebration!”
La-Iin and Verde-Nenda tried the game first. The first drink La-Iin drank from made her recoil in horror. Verde-Nenda smacked his lips. “Definitely not blood. But tasty!”
Feeling competitive, La-Iin decided to try each of the drinks as fast as she could so as to win out over Verde-Nenda, who was trying only the darkest red of the drinks. “Tomato. Is this the one, Asul-Zenza?”
“No, it isn’t,” he said. “Keep looking!”
La-Iin reached for the drink Verde-Nenda glanced at and drank a good half of it. “This is it! Isn’t it?”
Asul-Zenza sniffed the drink. “Good job, La-Iin!”
“That first one didn’t even taste like blood.”
Asul-Zenza giggled. “I know. But looking like blood’s close enough, huh?”
A festive mood was inside the cave as the family played together and, as the events Asul-Zenza set up became repetitive, made some of their own such as a flying race, of which Asul-Zenza managed to win.
“It’s not fair! ‘Twould have been more balanced if you haven’t been flying with us!”
“My wings have a lot of training from all the flying I do,” Asul-Zenza said cheerfully. “…please don’t be mad at me, Darseen.”
Verde-Nenda broke out in laughter. “Nah, I’m not such a grouchy old man as to get on you for that!”
“You aren’t an old man at all, dear.”
“Hard to remember that when I already have a granddaughter!” Verde-Nenda said, petting La-Iin’s head. “Especially a granddaughter who’s acting far more mature than Asul-Zenza did at seven years old.”
La-Iin puffed out her chest with pride.
“Hey, big sister, I wanna show you something!” Ei-Tio said. She spread her wings, bared her fangs and narrowed her eyes.
“I’ve been trying to make a villainy look!” Ei-Tio said. La-Iin gaped. “What’s wrong?”
La-Iin shook her head. “Nothing. It needs work, but keep on working on it!”
Anil-Kosha sighed. “Looking at her now you can barely tell she’s evil. She just seems like a normal little girl.”
“If you hit her sweet spot it doesn’t matter that she’s evil. La-Iin might have that in her heart, but she also has a genuine love for others. Someday I hope that will be the thing that turns her away from her goal…”
La-Iin shot a glance in Asul-Zenza’s direction, curious as to what he had said, but she soon turned back to Ei-Tio, who was smiling wide.
“I think nightfall is coming,” Asul-Zenza said.
“How can you tell?”
“I brought a watch with me. Around these parts sunset is typically at seven-forty. It’s seven-fifty-two now.”
“I see! So does that mean we finally get blood?”
Asul-Zenza nodded. “Well, except Ei-Tio, who gets a blood substitute.”
The family head for the mouth of the cave, and Asul-Zenza passed to each of them a large bloodbox, and to Ei-Tio tomato juice. They began to drink as the sun set far enough to be barely visible.
“Have you had a good time today, La-Iin?”
“Good?”
Asul-Zenza chuckled. “You know what I mean.”
She nodded and continued to suck from her bloodbox. “Good, good…I had a great time with you all as well. It’s been a while since I’ve been around so much of the family.”
“It’s been a while since Verde-Nenda and I have done something this fun,” Anil-Kosha said. “Thank you, Asul-Zenza.”
“Not a problem. I did it mostly for La-Iin, admittedly, but I also did it for you. I’m glad you had an enjoyable time.”
“Can we play a little more?” Ei-Tio asked. Asul-Zenza nodded. “Sure, why not! But let’s finish our blood first. After all, the sunset won’t be going on forever!”

—–
Asul-Zenza arrived in Bledger when it was completely dark and the lights in other houses had gone out. He knocked gently on the door to the Cahongyun house, hoping Mit-Sun would respond.
When she opened the door, he let out a sigh of relief. “What is it? Why’d you take so long?”
“Sorry. La-Iin and Ei-Tio were having a lot of fun playing some strange game near the end.” He handed a sleeping La-Iin over to Mit-Sun. “Here. And when she wakes up, would you give her this?”
He handed her a book. “Why?”
“Oh, I figured it would be something nice for her to read, either that or you can read it to her.” He waved and spread his wings. “She’s exhausted, but don’t worry, I made her brush her teeth before bringing her here.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “Farewell, Mit-Sun! Until we meet again!”
“Yeah, knowing you, that won’t be too far off in the future.”
Though La-Iin didn’t wake during their exchange, she twitched slightly and cuddled up close to Mit-Sun.

7.553.Moments with Grepeta

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 553
“Moments with Grepeta”

“Eul-Bok, before we go, do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“I don’t mind. Fire away, Father!”
“What made you want to visit Apeta today? Is it because we’ve had to stay so down-low recently?”
“Well, you could say that’s part of it. We’ve spent most of our time around each other lately and the only other people who came here recently were La-Iin and Bes-Isa, and I don’t know about you but I can’t stand them!”
“They’re my allies, Eul-Bok. I’m fond of them. You know this.”
“Anyway, Grepeta is someone I actually like who we can go and see. And besides, maybe it hasn’t been the longest time, but it’s been a good amount of time since those people were by the neighborhood. I think we’ll be safe.”
Sale-Dessu seemed uncertain. “Well, hopefully Apeta will be willing to see us,” he said with a sigh. “Hold on tight, Eul-Bok.”
Eul-Bok listened closely as Sale-Dessu canted the teleportation spell. ‘Father really is so powerful. It’s almost a shame that he’s so shy. If he wanted to, he could do great things for the scientific world, figuring out all sorts of things…even how to make me autonomous. But at the same time, it wouldn’t have been very smart to reveal that, would it have been? And anyway, I like my life the way it is!’
While lost in thought he hadn’t noticed that they had already made it to Eir-Tyuj’s house. He only snapped out of his thoughts when he heard her voice.
“–Eul-Bok seems awfully lost in thought.”
“I wonder what he’s thinking about?” Sale-Dessu said, glancing at Eul-Bok. “We’re here, Eul-Bok.”
“Oh! Hello, Grepeta!”
“Hello, Eul-Bok. How have you been?”
“Fine, mostly. I got a little injury the other day, but it was nothing big! Father patched it up quickly!”
“And I’m sure he used his powers for this?” Questioned Eir-Tyuj with a mischievous glance in his direction. Sale-Dessu scratched the back of his neck.
“Hey, Father, what are you going to do now that we’re here, anyway?”
“Oh, actually since we’re here, I wanted to ask if I could take a look at some of your books, Apeta. You have some that I don’t own.”
“Certainly, Sale-Dessu. I myself barely have any use for them anymore. In my old age my sight’s started to fail me as well. So if you feel so inclined as to take one, do not hesitate to do so.”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “Thank you, Apeta. But I don’t think I’ll be taking any of your books. Just looking around.”
He wandered off towards her bookshelf, and as he did Eir-Tyuj turned her attention to Eul-Bok.
“So, my great-grandson,” Eir-Tyuj started, before wrinkling her nose. “No, that’s too much of a mouthful. Eul-Bok! What is it you wanted to visit me for?”
“Well, um, first off I just wanted to see you,” he said shyly. “I don’t have many people to talk to aside from Father. And it’s been fine staying inside all the time. But maybe because we’ve had to stay inside, I feel a bit antsy lately.”
“A feeling I can understand,” she sighed.
“That and, well…don’t tell Father, and you probably knew this already, but it’s going to be his birthday soon. Last year I couldn’t do anything for him because I was still just a normal V-Puppet. But this year, things are going to be different. Father is very powerful, and as his son I think I might be able to achieve a similar level of power. If I can do that then I can do anything I want for him.”
Eir-Tyuj smiled. “A noble goal. I really do love your fire, Eul-Bok. I wish Sale-Dessu had shared in your enthusiasm when he was a boy.”
“I know you taught me a few things before in the past, but I want to learn more. I don’t care how hard you push me. I’m aiming to do my best, and I could use a hard nudge or two!”
“I imagine you don’t get many of those from my grandson!” She cackled. “Very well then. I’ll teach you some more. Come with me, away from Sale-Dessu. He’ll only get nosy and inquire about what we’re doing.”
Eul-Bok smiled. ‘Grepeta’s the best!’

***

“Eul-Bok, if you’re looking to transform an item of this size, the best thing to do is to make sure it functions like the item you’re transforming,” Eir-Tyuj chided. “A pear is no good if it tastes like wood, and a blanket is useless if it’s completely hard. What need would Sale-Dessu have for a blanket anyway? The boy’s much more interested in spell books at least as far as our last interactions have shown me.”
Eul-Bok sighed. ‘Grepeta’s great, but she really is harsh when she gets down to it.’ Eir-Tyuj’s criticisms hadn’t gotten him down, however–instead they only prompted him to try harder and show her otherwise. He focused on the stiff blanket and attempted to change it further. The blanket began to flop. Eir-Tyuj felt it.
“Hm…it’s gained some softness but it still isn’t perfect. But this is definitely better than this board blanket.”
“You know, you’re so critical but I bet you had trouble using your powers at first.”
“That I did. It isn’t many a Witch or Warlock who is born with a natural talent for their powers; most need to learn the proper skills. That being said I don’t appreciate your little snide comment. That might be the case but it was several decades ago.”
“I know. I’m just saying.” He felt the blanket himself. ‘Definitely too hard…’ “Hey, Grepeta, I know we have to get back to practice and all, but I want to hear a little bit about you. Especially since you’ve lived for so long.”
“Hm? Such as what? Are you wanting to hear embarrassing childhood stories about your father? Tsk, how shameful.”
“No, nothing like that! I meant more about you. You’re the only relative I have aside from Father, so I want to know more. Also, I’d like to concentrate without worrying about your criticism for once.”
“You asked for it, Eul-Bok, and I deliver criticism without cutting corners. But if you want to hear about me first, then I will tell you. I was part of a family of four. I had one younger sister who went on to have her own family in some Witch society far off in Wiencei or someplace. I haven’t seen her in years, and I can’t exactly do so now. I am mother to three daughters, one deceased–that’s your father’s mother–and the others whereabouts unknown. Except for you and Sale-Dessu, I’m not exactly inclined to the location of my non-deceased relatives. I know my parents and my daughter Maie-Jussa are one with the earth now but I’m not sure of many others.”
“That must be hard, losing your family like that. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost Father.”
“Move on, of course. Easier said than done, but it will occur naturally. I am of the belief that the spirits of my loved ones watch over me even today. I’m certain they would love to speak with me once again, and I feel likewise…”
A far-off look entered Eir-Tyuj’s eyes, but when she blinked it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. “In any event, it isn’t anything you’ll have to deal with anytime soon hopefully, and with Sale-Dessu taking so many precautions I’m not worried about it in the slightest.”
“Yeah, I think we’ll be fine for now.” Listening closely for what Eir-Tyuj might say next, Eul-Bok returned his focus to the blanket and tried to imagine its texture better. ‘I know I’ve felt a nice, soft, knitted texture like this before…hm….’
“I was an avid studier of powers and somewhat distanced myself from my family at times. Mostly my family of origin rather than the family I built with my late husband. Because I studied so strictly and so often I became rather skilled. My skills earned me ire not just because of jealousy but also in the way I practiced some of those skills. I regret some of what I did, though certain people make me feel as though I shouldn’t. And I helped raise Sale-Dessu during his childhood because Maie-Jussa fell into a difficult situation and had not the experience to deal with all that was going on.”
“Mmnh…”
Eul-Bok opened his eyes. Eir-Tyuj was heading over to the blanket to feel it. “That’s amazing of you, Grepeta. That you could deal with all of this…is that why you ended up so strict?”
“Certainly not! If my sister still lives out there, should you ever encounter her she knew me before I had any brushes with death. She could tell you, I have been strict my entire life. It’s necessary for success in my opinion. A lackadaisical attitude will lead you to not take your work seriously. Even if you enjoy it, you do need a modicum of seriousness in my opinion.”
Eul-Bok felt like his head was spinning. ‘Listening to Grepeta talk can be like looking through a wordy book…’
Eir-Tyuj stroked the blanket. “Very good, Eul-Bok. This is some quick improvement. You’re fast to overcome mistakes, hm?”
“Am I?”
She nodded. “I think you have a talent for it. You can recover from mistakes easier, perhaps because you’re stubborn like I am,” she said playfully. “It’s a good skill, and the stubbornness helps as well. Stubbornness can be an impediment, but I’d certainly say otherwise when it comes to the study of powers. It does keep you working, though you’ll need breaks.”
“My body’s artificial, Grepeta! I won’t get strained like you and Father.”
“I’m sure you’ll become strained another way,” Eir-Tyuj said with a roll of her eyes. “You have a mind, don’t you?”
Eul-bok felt the blanket. It had exactly the texture he was looking for. “It’s good that I can recover, but I really need to find something Father would like. I’m sure he’d appreciate the blanket, but…”
“Sale-Dessu’s simple to please, Eul-Bok. He’s happy when people show him a gesture of kindness. Anything you do for him will likely please him even if you present him with a wooden blanket.”
Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. “I wouldn’t do that!”
“Sure you wouldn’t. But you must understand how people have treated him. When I knew him as a young child beforehand he was timid, but this level of shyness and caution is new. He might be used to your displays of kindness but it will touch him all the same.”
“I guess so…”
“Still, if you want to show him that you’ve improved or to give him a quality item, you need improvement. And I have the perfect idea to deal with this, and that is to practice as hard as you can manage. I have plenty of stray items for you to try out if you’d like to continue on.”
“Of course I want to!”
“Then now is the time to set to work!”

Eul-Bok transformed after that item after item, changing wood into wordless books and useless baubles, or tissue into clothing or accessories. Eir-Tyuj graded him harshly, but each time she had a severe criticism it only served to make him want to try harder. When she would give him a kind compliment, he would work harder as well so that the compliments would become consistent.
He tripped up a few times as he worked, however, lost in thought about his conversation with Eir-Tyuj.
‘Grepeta and Father really are strong people to have dealt with all they’ve gone through. This whole thing with those mysterious people is the worst thing I’ve had to do. They might as well barely trust people with how they’ve been treated. And yet they’re still so strong. I have to work harder!’
Glimpsing at Eir-Tyuj out the corner of his eye, he smiled. ‘Grepeta really is great. She’s so smart. I’m glad she’s a part of my life.’
Eul-Bok didn’t stop transforming items until he was thoroughly exhausted. But that would prove not to be the end of his practice, for once he had recovered, Eir-Tyuj immediately set to having him practice spell recitations.
‘She really is overly strict, though.’ But it only pushed him to want to try harder.

—–
“I’m sorry if we overstayed our welcome, Apeta.”
“Not at all. I got in some valuable bonding time with Eul-Bok.” She stroked him on the head. “You have a great boy with a lot of potential, Sale-Dessu. He might as well have had potential since the moment he became autonomous. Eul-Bok will be an amazing Warlock.”
“Geez, that’s pretty contrary to everything you said while I was practicing.”
“I am like that. Ask Sale-Dessu. But yes, keep him at your side, Sale-Dessu. I think he is good for you. He will give you more confidence. He can inspire a change in you, I feel it. Bringing him to life was a great decision as was making him autonomous. So remain close, you two. You’ll need it especially when I’m…”
Eir-Tyuj’s expression became far-off once again.
“When you’re what?” Eul-Bok asked.
“Never mind.”
“I know all that, Apeta. Eul-Bok’s already inspired me in so many ways. Besides, he is my son, even if we’re not related by blood. And I wouldn’t just turn away my son. I’ll keep working hard for my sake and his. After all…I’m a father now, I suppose.”
“Strange to hear that from your lips,” Eir-Tyuj said quietly. “Well, I look forward to seeing you boys again. And keep up the good work, both of you. But especially you, Eul-Bok. I expect to see some significant improvement next time we meet!”
“Oh, I won’t disappoint you,” he said. “Goodbye for now, Grepeta!”
“Be seeing you, my dear boys.”

13.529.The Blood Tests

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 529
“The Blood Tests”

“Today is the day. Mama can’t stop me now! I will discover the extent of my blood powers!”
“That’s nice and all, but I just have one question: where are you going to get any worthwhile blood? The ones most likely to give you blood are both Normals. And that isn’t going to get you any results. Not to mention, would anyone else who cares about you want to? Sale-Dessu might be squeamish, San-Kyung would probably say no–“
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. “It may sound difficult to you, Bes-Isa, but I have the perfect idea. You and Mama might think my memory is bad for a Vampire, but I don’t forget everything. I know exactly what I should do.”
“And what might that be? Mind cluing me in?”
“You’ll see, don’t worry.”

***

Mit-Sun rushed to the store, La-Iin in her hands. Her daughter was twitching and grey, her mouth wide open. She looked in terrible condition, and Mit-Sun cursed herself for not noticing earlier. ‘She developed that blood power not long ago. Of course she might start craving more blood!’
Once at the store, Mit-Sun picked up a few packs of blood boxes and took them to checkout. The woman behind the counter seemed surprised to see La-Iin, but she scanned the blood boxes regardless. Mit-Sun thanked her, walked a short distance from the store, then opened a package of Birdmix blood and gave it to her. La-Iin snatched the blood box away, drank it down with a speed that surprised Mit-Sun, then gave a wicked cackle.
“Huh?”
“Oh, Mama, you poor fool. The blood box run was pretty fun though.”
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened. “I–what?” Her shocked expression soon turned to a glare. “YOU MEAN TO TELL ME THAT WAS COMPLETELY USELESS!? YOU DUPED ME!?”
“Mama, there are people inside the store who can hear you,” she said, pointing at the building. Mit-Sun picked up La-Iin and the blood boxes and they returned home, Mit-Sun remaining silent the entire time. La-Iin had a bad feeling about what would happen once they arrived home.

Needless to say, Mit-Sun was none too pleased.
“Don’t ever dupe me like that again, La-Iin! What if someday you actually do get another bad blood craving!? Do you think I’ll believe you knowing you did something like this!? You could have just asked! We have a little extra vuyong!”
“It was more fun that way.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “Well, your fun’s come to an end. Get in your room and don’t come out until I say so. You hardly face any punishment for the things you do, well, not today!”
This had left La-Iin locked in her room, with Choungetsu sitting guard at her door. He seemed as happy as ever, and completely oblivious to what he was helping with.
“Mama is a fool. She thinks she’s trapped me in here. Well, I’m more powerful than I usually am. The lock is on the inside of my room. And I have my window! There’s nothing she can do to truly stop me.”
“I don’t care about how you got yourself in trouble. I want to hear about these blood tests. Did you succeed?”
“Yes, I got in trouble because it was a success.”
“Wha–so you didn’t let me see!?”
La-Iin sighed. “You don’t get it. I made Mama think I was having a bad blood craving and she rushed me to the store. Then she found out I was faking it when I finally got some blood. But I saw what type of blood it was–it was Birdmix! I only drank a small blood box’s worth instead of however much I drank from San-Kyung, but that’s good enough for me!”
“All of that made you miss the first part of the test: how long does it take for the power to kick in?”
“I think I know the answer to that already. When I drank San-Kyung’s blood it kicked in really fast. Therefore it must always kick in really fast! As in less than a minute fast, or maybe a minute…”
“Wow, I guess you really are taking this seriously. You know, this is the sort of thing Sale-Dessu might be all over.”
“Yeah, we should visit him again, but I want to do my own experiments first.” La-Iin began to write down on a piece of paper the few details of the power that she understood so far. Then she stood up and stared at her closet.
“What happens now?”
“You’ll see.”
La-Iin drew back on her memories of the powers she knew Birdmixes learned–the feather tornado, the speedbursters, the branch-balls. She focused and attempted to use a feather tornado, but instead ended up in a speedburster which sent her closet doors flying open.
“Oops. Well, it works!”
“What’s oops for? That looked pretty intentional.”
“Birdmixes have a power with feathers, but I guess I can’t use that.” La-Iin stared at her wings and sighed. “Oh well! I’ve seen that their power of speedbursting is one I can use to my advantage! So if I don’t have the means to use a feather tornado or a branch-ball, I’ll just keep speedbursting!”
“Would that really be such a good idea!?”
La-Iin didn’t listen. She began to speedburst around her bedroom, knocking over much of her furniture and sending papers flying. Bes-Isa was certain that if she could move on her own, she would have left the room at that moment.
La-Iin was in the midst of a rush, and was unable to notice the damage she was causing. ‘This power! It’s amazing! Who might have thought that a Vampire could use a Birdmix’s power with such ability!?’
Just as she was ready to stop speedbursting, the door opened and Mit-Sun stared on in horror as she watched La-Iin flip up her table and send papers flying all around the room, including into her face. La-Iin crashed into the wall, stood up, checked behind her and gasped at the sight.
“Where’s my research paper!?”
“La-Iin….”
Mit-Sun’s voice almost sounded like a growl. La-Iin was tempted to speedburst again, but she saw no way to escape even if she did.

“Mama wanted me to give her a chaaaance,” La-Iin grumbled. “She wanted to try and become a better mother, so she read me all that Makeshire stuff. But she’s just as shitty a mother as she’s always been!”
“Seriously, La-Iin, why did you expect anything better from her? Oh right–that Normal side of yours.”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes. She set a stray piece of paper on the table. “Oh, here’s the research paper!”
Grabbing a nearby pen, she began to scrawl down her newest findings. “My power kicks in quickly and seems to be fairly powerful even on just a blood box’s worth of blood. But I don’t know yet if that’s because the powers are supposed to be powerful.”
“Well, there’s some food for thought.”
“And there’s one other important thing I need to know–how long it lasts…I’ve been on the effects of the blood for two hours. I’m not going to speedburst inside the house again, but I should find out if it still works. I only know that it lasts for a little bit based on when I drank San-Kyung’s blood, but that was a lot of blood…”
“You’re putting an awful lot of thought into this, huh? Makes me almost want to take back all those times I called you stupid.”
“You know, I do think about things that matter to me. You think I’m a brainless little kid, well, I’ll show you!”
“Sheesh, La-Iin.”
La-Iin continued to tidy her room until she felt it was tidy enough. Then she opened the window and flew outside, heading for the backyard. Checking quickly to see if Sale-Dessu was in his, she took a deep breath, then began to speedburst.
She still was going incredibly fast and had trouble keeping herself stable, but she felt much slower than she had earlier. Grinding to a halt, she flew back up to her bedroom and jotted down the notes.
“There’s still so much more I need to learn about this power,” sighed La-Iin. “It would probably be good to find out how I do with all the species blood.”
“Now that sounds utterly impossible. Aren’t some species not so common here in Vaelyn? I’ve barely heard you talk about Bearpeople and I think I can count Goathoofs you’ve mentioned on two hands.”
“It might be difficult, but I’ll manage. And not all the rare species are going to be hard! At Malicerie there’s a stupid new girl who’s a Llamaki, and I barely saw any of them before her. I can suck that bitch and get revenge for her inconveniencing San-Kyung!”
“If San-Kyung actually accepted your feelings, I’d be scared for any girl who came within a five-inch radius of him.”
“Soon I’ll know all I need to. But for today, I have enough information. Now, I can go back to formulating my plans. That, and drawing.”
“Yeah, once you clean your room more.”
La-Iin snapped her fingers.

—–
The sun was beginning to set, and La-Iin had stepped outside once again to practice speedbursting. This time it had barely any effect and more or less propelled her forward a short distance before causing her to plummet to the ground.
‘Five hours. Not too bad. I wonder if drinking more blood counts as an extension. I bet it does.’
Even with the small amount of research she was allowed to do, La-Iin was immensely pleased. She had good feelings for the power’s potential off of what little she had learned and already ideas of how to apply it were building in her head.
La-Iin was barely able to keep her mind from wandering off in a daydream during dinner.
“…La-Iin? Hello? La-Iin?”

6.522.Life in Solitude and Silence

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 522
“Life in Solitude and Silence”

“Father, is all this really necessary? Is there something wrong with me you’re not telling me about?”
“No, there’s nothing wrong with you that I see, Eul-Bok. But it pays to be extra diligent. Remember, as far as I know you’re the only V-Puppet on the whole planet to achieve autonomy. Something going wrong is very likely. And we’ve done this several times before.”
Sale-Dessu set down his gear. “But, I’m done for the day.”
Eul-Bok sighed and let himself slump to the ground.
“So, what do you want to do today, Eul-Bok? Are you going to be practicing alone, or should we continue working on those mini engines that run off of so many random sources of power?”
“Ah…”
“Is something the matter, Eul-Bok?”
Eul-Bok narrowed his eyes. ‘Would it upset Father if I told him about this? It could, couldn’t it? Well, it couldn’t hurt to try…’
“Well, it’s just, I always saw autonomy as a good thing–and it is, don’t get me wrong! I’ll take these last few months over my first year any day. I love being able to wander around and use my powers and all, but being the first one to become autonomous has so many disadvantages.”
“I’m sorry, Eul-Bok.”
“Don’t be sorry, Father! It’s not even your fault! Before it didn’t matter to me that I couldn’t go outside or anything like that, because this was basically all I knew. I saw other places around Bledger and they were cool and all, but nothing’s quite as amazing as your house and all the stuff you have in it. And even then, we visit Grepeta sometimes, and I’m able to see more than just these walls, but…”
“But?”
“Ever since those Witches and Warlocks came by our neighborhood, I’ve been realizing just how little freedom I have. And even if I could walk down the sidewalk without fearing that someone would realize something’s wrong with me, I couldn’t now all because of those jerks. And being like this almost makes me miss La-Iin. She used to come by so often, but now it’s almost like she knows we’re trying to hide ourselves…hey, did you ever call the Cahongyuns, Father?”
“No, I never worked up the nerve to. But I can understand where you’re coming from, Eul-Bok. It’s easy to feel trapped when you know people out there dislike you for something you can’t control…but perhaps I can try and make it a little better, for now. Our situation isn’t perfect, but it’s a new month and we still haven’t met with those assailants again. I think our new identities might really work to throw them off. I hope so, in any event!”
“Do you really think they’ll work that well?”
“I want to think that they will.” Sale-Dessu rose to his feet. “I’m going to go and prepare something special for the two of us. You can practice on your own while I work on it!”
“If you say so,” Eul-Bok said half-heartedly. In truth, after saying all that was on his mind, he hardly felt like practicing his powers–nowadays it felt as if that was all he did, and though he didn’t mind it, he had to wonder how Sale-Dessu had survived all those years on his own only studying his powers.
‘WELL, there’s something else I could do.’ Curious, Eul-Bok took some books from Sale-Dessu’s bookshelves and began to read them. Sale-Dessu had numerous books on many subjects, it seemed: he had books covering sources of power, transformation in people, the various documented powers Witches and Warlocks possessed and even one on the mysteries of V-Puppetry, though Eul-Bok could tell it was clearly outdated.
‘I wonder how Father got all these books being as shy as he is? No matter how skilled he is, you can’t reproduce the exact text of a book you’ve never read. In fact, can you even reproduce the exact text of a book you have read? I’ll have to ask Father about that…I wonder if they’re hand-me-downs from Grepeta and his Mother? Hm, but this one says it’s from 2006…’
For the next few hours Eul-Bok spent his time reading the various books that Sale-Dessu owned. ‘I guess I can kind of understand how Father was okay with this. If he felt like he was always in danger, then having a lot of things to focus on even if they feel pretty samey was probably good. Maybe it’s because I’m so young that I’m getting restless like this. Hm, I wonder if Father has any fiction in here?’
Just as Eul-Bok had made it halfway through a book about a connection between potions, drugs and the powers some species possessed, he heard Sale-Dessu come up behind him.
“Reading?”
“Uh, yeah. Wow, you have a lot of books, Father. Where’d you get them all?”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Hand-me-downs and the occasional venture outside.”
“Were you still going outside in 2006?”
“I’m pretty sure I was,” Sale-Dessu said, sounding a bit irritated. “Anyway, you can read any of these books anytime. A lot of them are pretty interesting. But are you absorbed in that book, or would you mind if I showed you a something?”
“Well, it’s not the most interesting book,” Eul-Bok said. “I don’t get all of this stuff about potions and drugs yet anyway. What is it?”
“Close your eyes. And focus on yourself.”
“Huh?”
Sale-Dessu looked uncertain as he placed a hand on top of Eul-Bok’s head, and for a moment Eul-Bok feared that he was about to perform some horrifying spell on him. His eyes were squeezed shut for only a moment before Sale-Dessu asked him to open them.
“I feel so off-balance,” Eul-Bok groaned.
“Sorry, I’m not so good at reality-warping, as you know,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Whoa, this is a reality warp?”
“Yes. It’s to make the entire inside of this house look as if it were outside. I can do things more large-scale than this, but I don’t want to risk it. I’m not sure if I should take it as a sign that I’m getting better or worse that you’re able to recognize you’re in one, but that was my intention anyway.”
“Whoa!”
“I know it’s nothing like actually being outside, but I thought you might like it?”
“Wow! How did you create this place!? If it weren’t for this weird wall right here I wouldn’t even be able to tell we were inside! This is amazing, Father! Your powers truly deserve to be reckoned with if you can do something like this!”
Sale-Dessu’s cheeks flushed. “Please, Eul-Bok, all the praise is unnecessary…”
“But to create a space like this and limit it!? Wow, if you can do this, I might be able to do this someday too!”
“For someone who didn’t seem so interested in studying his powers another day, you certainly seem interested in the way reality-warping works.”
“How could I not be!?” Eul-Bok shrieked. “But, ah, eheh…if you went to the trouble of making this space so we could have fun, I guess that’s what we should be doing, huh?”
Giving a mischievous smirk, Eul-Bok took off across the created landscape. Sale-Dessu chased after him. Eul-Bok picked flowers along the way, marveling at how realistic they seemed, before reminding himself he was here to have fun. He began to move around wildly, only to crash into something strange along the way.
“Uh, what was that?”
Sale-Dessu cringed. “I’ve never really tried making a reality-warp that’s only confined to my house, actually.”
“What!? You’d think with all your years of practice, you would have!”
“I was a bit worried about pulling it off, mostly because of what just happened to you. And I don’t do reality warps much in the first place…”
Sale-Dessu heaved a sigh, and soon after the outside around him began to crumble. Eul-Bok looked behind him to notice an overturned table.
“Father, it’s alright. That was still really amazing that you’re able to do that in the first place!”
“It’s no substitute for really being outside, though,” he said. “I might like to stay inside most of the time, but there are some benefits to being outside that I feel like I miss nowadays. And I feel sorry that those extend to you.”
“Father…” Eul-Bok shook his head. “They don’t extend to me in the way you’re thinking of, though. I can’t go outside because I’m noticably a V-Puppet. You just don’t do it because you’re too shy to!”
Sale-Dessu began to toy with his mats. “Do you have to bring that up…?”
“But you know what I realized? I do really want to go outside, but while I can’t, I have all sorts of things I can do inside! With all the books and all the powers we can use, the possibilities are almost endless. So I can have plenty of fun inside while we’re hanging out, waiting for all this to pass and also for there to be more autonomous V-Puppets!”
He smiled. “If nothing else you’re definitely the master of making the best of your time in solitude and silence. If you could survive for years all on your own doing nothing but testing out your powers, then I’m sure that I can too.”
“Are you sure? We don’t exactly have the same personality.”
“I know that, but I’m your son! Why wouldn’t I be able to?”
Sale-Dessu gave him a curious look, then broke out in a smile. “Well, if you’re looking for something to do right now, I could show you a lot of projects I haven’t worked on in years. And there are even more books upstairs, though some of those are in the Warlock language.”
“I can read some of that!”
“Maybe today instead of testing your powers, we should be testing your knowledge of the language?”
“No way!”

—–
Next door to the Astineths, La-Iin shuddered.
“I feel like something important was disrupted.”
“Same here. I wonder if Sale-Dessu was just up to some reality-warping.”
“Huh!” She stared out the window at the Astineth house. “You know, it has been a while since I stopped by. Maybe I should go over there again soon. But definitely not until I’ve helped make San-Kyung get back to his old self!”
“You’re really serious about that, huh?”
“The San-Kyung I love best is the one with all that confidence. So of course I’m serious about this. I have to help him return to how he’s supposed to act. Evidently it won’t happen otherwise.”

22.507.Witness to Darkness

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 507
“Witness to Darkness”

“My new power is amazing, Dami. When you tried to use it the other day, it didn’t really look strong. But even if I haven’t mastered it yet, I have a ton of time to master it. It already seems really strong already. I have a good feeling about this power.”
“You just can’t shut up about your new power for two seconds, can you?” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Shut up, Mama!” La-Iin hissed. “Anyway, I’ve been thinking of ways to…incorporate it. No, Dami, I’m not gonna tell you how.”
Mit-Sun felt slightly concerned as she listened to La-Iin talk to Asul-Zenza over the phone. Ever since her blood power had developed, she had been talking about it nonstop, pestering Mit-Sun to go out and buy blood and attempting to use what remained of the effects San-Kyung’s blood had had on her. And though she was excited and happy for her, she felt concerned about its effects.
‘She’s developed her powers so early now. Are there even any other major powers she needs to develop? She had V-Puppetry before she was one year old! Okay, so it’s possible some of these are developing earlier because she’s half-Normal. I get that. So why are they still so early? Should she really have this power at seven even if she is progressing quickly?’
“I’ll talk to you again soon, Dami. And next time you see me, I’ll show you something really amazing!” She hung up the phone. “Mama, why’d you have to butt your way into the conversation? Nobody told you you could be a part of it!”
“I wasn’t trying to make myself a part of it,” she said. “I didn’t even say that to you.”
“Well, why were you watching me the whole time!?”
“I’m just out here.”
“Mama, you can be really annoying sometimes,” she hissed. “And besides, this is my biggest power yet. Flying is amazing, and so is bloodsucking, and I was too young to care about V-Puppetry. Think about what I can do with this power! Just by drinking the blood of another species I can wield their powers! Werewolves and Bearpeople are known for being strong, and I just love the powers of an Animated Pumpkin, it’s so thrilling to be able to use those powers. And that’s not to mention that there’s always the blood of a Witch I could drink.”
Mit-Sun flinched at the dark look in La-Iin’s eyes. “Sale-Dessu has shown me some amazing things while I’ve been over at his house. Witches can do a lot. With those powers, who knows what I might be able to do? I might be able to make some of these temporary powers permanent! But even if I can’t, the abilities that Witches have are so massive and so immensive that my plans for the future are going to have to be totally reworked.”
She grinned. “I knew this power was coming and I knew of its ability. I figured it would find its way into my future some way or another, and I would plan for it when it came. But I never imagined that I might need to totally rework my plans for the future just to accommodate this power. I need to plan my intakes carefully and what I do with the limited time. And I also need to check how long it takes the powers to wear off. But this might be just thing I was missing. The thing that fills in all those holes in my plans!”
‘She’s really determined to use this.’ Mit-Sun was startled. The tone in La-Iin’s voice, the look in her eyes–they all seemed much more serious and confident than usual. She was used to the confidence with which La-Iin would speak of her plans for the future, but the chill her certainty sent up her spine was new.
“You really are excited about this, aren’t you,” Mit-Sun said.
“If you hadn’t noticed that until now, you must be blind. I’m more than excited. And I’ll look for every last bit of vuyong so I can buy my own blood! Better yet, I’ll threaten them with my transformation and steal the blood! Although, San-Kyung trusts me. I’m sure he would get me blood if I begged enough. Or if not him, I could find someone else. Agh, why even bother about thinking things over in a goody-goody way? I have this power now! I’m unstoppable!”
“La-Iin, you’re letting this get to your head,” Mit-Sun snapped. “Even with that power, you’re not unstoppable. If you do something risky with that power, or if you use it on someone dangerous and it wears off, what are you going to do? Didn’t you mention something once about wanting to put thought into your plans? This isn’t thought–this is rushing into things.”
La-Iin’s eyes narrowed. “While you make a good point, Mama, my excitement comes from more than just the fact that I got this power, I hope you know. There’s also the fact that with this power, a lot of my limits have been removed. I may need blood to activate it, but after that it activates pretty much immediately. Lately what’s been on my mind is the fact that I have these limitations. It gets in my way! But now I have something to help me. And that excites me.”
“I understand that, but don’t you think you’re going a little overboard? That power’s only temporary, and you seem to need a lot of blood to actually get a good effect! There may be a lot of blood in the world, but it would cost a lot of vuyong to get it. Not to mention, if you really did steal it, you would be in a lot of trouble. You’re not all-powerful because of this, La-Iin.”
“You just want to find any reason to bring me down from my high. I know you don’t like the fact that I’m evil, but you’ll have to live with it. If it bothers you so much, I’ll go on about it to someone who will actually listen! But mark my words, Mama. I will show you once and for all that this power isn’t to be underestimated! If there’s something you doubt, tell me and I will show you this is the reason I’m proud I’m a Vampire!”
La-IIn flew off. Mit-Sun felt no need to call after her. “You mean half-Vampire,” she muttered.
‘This will all wear off though, right? Maybe I am being unfair. It would be pretty exciting to develop a power you thought you’d get later early, or at least I’d figure it would be. So I guess I can understand her excitement there. But then, what if that’s the wrong way to think about it? She’s still so young, and with the way her morals are skewed, what if she really does let this power go to her head? All I can think of is that it would be a bad thing for her, or a bad thing for other people!’
She held onto her head. ‘All the other problems I’ve had with La-Iin are ones I could talk to other people about. But would anyone understand the worries I have with this one?’

***

“Mama may not think this power is anything special, but I know it might just patch up the holes in some of my plans. Already I’m having to work on a brand-new one just to think of what I could do with these powers. After all, with what I can do with it, why wait to use it until after I’ve ruled the world?”
“Don’t you think if you applied this new power to your old plans, it might do a better job of patching up holes?”
“Like I said, why leave it alone that long? Besides, with all the changes I could envision, coming up with a brand-new plan was just the simpler idea. Now here’s the question I want to ask you–do you think Sale-Dessu would give me a can of his blood if I asked?”
“With the way he acts, I doubt it, and not just because you have nefarious plans in mind.”
“Damn it.”
“This power does sound pretty amazing, though. I’ve got to hand it to Vampires, they’ve got a really overpowered ability.”
“It’s the greatest power I can think of. Witches and Warlocks might think they’re great, but we can copy their powers too. The only thing is, it lasts for such a short time, and I drank a lot of San-Kyung’s blood yesterday. I can’t really come up with these plans until I know how long it lasts for, and how much blood I need. I need to start building a blood stock, but doing that sounds like it would be difficult.”
“Blood DOES sour after time…”
“And with Mama being the way she is right now, I can’t rely on her. I can’t rely on Fer-Shi ’cause she doesn’t have any powers. And as much as I’d like to suck San-Kyung again, I don’t want to suck him dry. He’s too delicious for me to want to stop at a little, but I’m not going to be his killer. Nobody is on my watch. Hm. I wonder if I could get rival-boy to help me, then? His powers sound pretty okay. Actually pretty good, but that stays between you and me.”
“How exactly could it get out?”
“And he does like species study. He considers me useless right now, but I could give him a good reason to use me for research. Only, I’m not sure how conscious he would be after how much I would suck from him, and it might be difficult to get him to agree. He’s really tall and powerful. He could push me off easily. And if San-Kyung got all light-headed like that when I sucked him, how much could I do to rival-boy before he becomes totally useless? He’s smaller than San-Kyung.”
“Just height-wise, or weight-wise too?”
“I’m not paying attention to his weight.”
“I suppose you wouldn’t. Just one little tip I wanted to give you, after listening to all this.”
“What’s that?”
“Plan carefully. Like you said, this power could very well be the thing that enables you to take over the world like you planned, but you have to plan for its shortcomings, and you sound ready to rush into things. If you handle things like that, then you’ll end up failing. I’m not telling you this to try and dissuade you, if that’s what you think. I would honestly rather see you succeed. Your world might be an interesting one and besides, with you so busy with your family life, maybe you’d finally let me become autonomous–after all, nobody would be able to care about the fact that a V-Puppet’s walking the streets.”
“We’ll see about that, Bes-Isa. After all, you can be pretty pushy about these sorts of things. But you are right. It will take time to figure out all the things I need to know about my blood power. I have to take it slowly and figure out these sorts of things one at a time. …it really sounds annoying to wait, though.”
“It will pay off. And I know you hate hearing this, but you DO have a ton of time to figure it all out. You’re just seven. If you take it one day at a time, hell, maybe even one week, you’d probably have it by the time you’re eight if not before that.”
“You’re right,” she sighed. “But now I need to plan what to figure out first.”
“The way you plan makes me wonder if you have OCD.”
‘Still….what Bes-Isa said, that was a lot like what Mama said, wasn’t it?’

—–
“I’m sorry to break into your day for this, Haner. I just needed to get it off my chest. I thought about talking to my Father or Leirhyn, but they don’t get how La-Iin is sometimes…I couldn’t even bring myself to tell you all of what’s going on, so I wouldn’t be able to tell them anything. I’m sure this is an inconvenience…”
“You’re never an inconvenience to me, Mit-Sun! You are my dearest friend, at least in my eyes. You could tell me anything and I’d listen to it all the way through. So never say that again.”
“I’ll try,” she sighed. “Haner, you really are a good person to talk to. I’m glad you were so pushy about becoming friends. I think your friendship has been a good thing for me this year.”
Uil-Cur looked away from her. “I’m glad to hear that. If I can do even the littlest thing for you, that makes me more happy than…well, it just makes me happy.”
Mit-Sun smiled. “Thanks.”