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.”

21.506.A Blood Revelation

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 506
“A Blood Revelation”

La-Iin sucked in a breath. She started to bite at her fingers. She felt impatient and frustrated, but more than that, she felt thirsty.
“Looks like someone’s having a nervous breakdown,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Shut up, rival-boy,” La-Iin said.
“I think she’s getting a blood craving,” Fer-Shi said. La-Iin was glad she had made it to school; nothing had been found wrong with her at the hospital, which had confused both her parents and the doctors there.
“If you really need to, you can suck my blood after school,” Fer-Shi whispered. “Just make sure to do it somewhere away from the students.”
“I appreciate the offer, Fer-Shi,” La-Iin said through grit teeth. “But I’m not sure if I can hold off that long…”
‘Damn it! Why did you have to come at school!? Who’s the idiot who banned bloodsucking in school? I’d like to find them and suck their blood!’

***

The classes felt like agony to La-Iin that day. She was constantly focused on her blood craving. On occasion the desperation was bad enough that she sucked her own blood, but it never helped–it simply wasn’t satisfying like the blood of other people.
In the recess area, keeping herself under control was difficult–the young children playing on the equipment, she knew, would most likely report to a teacher if she sucked one of them. As time went on, she wasn’t sure what was worse–the blood craving or the idea of getting in trouble with Mit-Sun. Both seemed equally as bad.
“Cahongyun, is something wrong?” Shuu-Kena asked.
“You’d never understand, you peon,” she muttered. “Never…”
“Can I help you?”
La-Iin glanced up. “You can….they can’t get me in that much trouble if you’re going to let me do it…”
“Let you do what?” Shuu-Kena asked, tipping her head to one side.
“Let me driiiink!” She grabbed onto Shuu-Kena, who shrieked and ran away, breaking free from La-Iin’s grasp with a strength that sent her falling to the ground. The other children began to hide away from La-Iin, cowering in a corner.
La-Iin was tempted to walk over to them and drink, but with the amount of children crowded in the corner she was sure that even in their fear they would be able to take her down. At the same time, she felt unsure of her own deduction. Unconsciously she began to bite into her arm again.

“Wow, La-Iin, you made it all the way through the classes! I’m surprised!”
“Not-as-surprised-as-I-am,” La-Iin said.
“Um, La-Iin? Are you gonna be okay?”
“No!” She snapped. “No, I’m not gonna be okay! I need blood and I need it now!” She flew above her seat and went zipping down the hallway.
“Wait, La-Iin! What about my offer!? La-Iin!”
By now she couldn’t even think clearly; she wasn’t aware of what exactly she was doing, save for seeking out blood. All around her there were people leaving the school, people who were filled with the blood she so desperately needed to drink. All the people were tempting her, but one in particular she was gravitating to. She wasn’t sure who it was anymore, just that she was certain this one had the most delicious blood.
She stuck her fangs in and began to drink.
La-Iin was oblivious to the sound of San-Kyung’s shriek, as well as Dosa-Mina’s attempts to pull her off of him. The more she drank, the more clear her mind felt. Once she had drunk a good amount, she let go and looked at the person she had been drinking from.
She recoiled in surprise when she saw San-Kyung, looking slightly unsteady. Dosa-Mina helped to support him.
“La-Iin!” The level of fury in Fer-Shi’s tone was startling. “I thought you did a good job, keeping yourself under control, but then you go and–San-Kyung!?”
Fer-Shi flinched away from him, but she blinked in surprise at the unsteady condition he was in. “Is something wrong with San-Kyung?”
“I guess I drank a lot from him,” she said simply. “He was delicious. I probably drank more than I should have.”
“What!?”
“Come on, San-Kyung, let me help you get home. Is your wound still bleeding?”
“It’s fine…” San-Kyung’s tone sounded dazed. Concerned, La-Iin followed after the two boys.
“San-Kyung, do you have enough blood in you?”
“No thanks to you,” he croaked, leaning on Dosa-Mina heavier.
“Do you need me to carry you, San-Kyung?”
“No, I’m fine.”
“You don’t look fine! We need to get you home, now.” Dosa-Mina checked the puncture wounds. “Well, at least it’s not bleeding much. If you need me to carry you, tell me.”
San-Kyung nodded. La-Iin’s concern only grew when she noticed how pale San-Kyung was.
“San-Kyung? If you want, you can drink some of my blood.”
“That isn’t going to help,” he snapped, though his tone was still weak.
“La-Iin, just back off. San-Kyung will be fine, but not because of you. So lay off.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, rival-boy! I almost wish I sucked your blood instead!” Desperate, La-Iin brought her fangs across her arm and thrust it in front of San-Kyung’s face.
“Here!”
“What!?”
La-Iin blinked. She hadn’t been expecting San-Kyung to exclaim that way. Curious, she checked her arm, wondering if she had opened too deep a wound–and was surprised to see that her arm was engulfed in flames. She took a step backwards.
“I didn’t know you could use the blood power yet,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Blood power?” La-Iin gasped. “I can use the blood power!?”
Dosa-Mina gave a small nod before picking up San-Kyung and glaring at her. He ran out the school.
La-Iin tried to put out the fire for fear of what would happen if the flames hit her sleeve, but her excitement kept her from noticing even Dosa-Mina’s agitation.
‘If I can use the blood power, then my potential is unlimited! If I could make that much fire with San-Kyung’s blood, then who knows what else I can do with this!’
“La-Iin!” Fer-Shi called. “What’s going on? Why’d you go after San-Kyung again? Why couldn’t you wait for me!? W-what’s with the scar?”
“Fer-Shi, I think I might know why I had that bad blood craving. My body was trying to tell me something incredibly important, and I owe it for doing that.”
Fer-Shi flinched. “Um, what was it trying to tell you?”
“Take a look.” La-Iin was reluctant to harm herself again, so instead she walked over to the grass nearby the school and lifted up her hand. ‘I wonder if this is how San-Kyung really does it.’ She tried to envision what she might make with the vines.
She glanced down at the grass. Small vines had begun to sprout up and wiggle, though they didn’t go any further.
“What!?”
“I think that’s proof enough,” La-Iin said. “Fer-Shi, I can use my blood power now. You know about the blood power, don’t you?”
Fer-Shi nodded.
“Now I’m glad I sucked San-Kyung! If I had sucked from you, I wouldn’t have known I could do this!” She flew above Fer-Shi. “I have to show Mama before it wears off. See you tomorrow, Fer-Shi!”
Fer-Shi didn’t respond. She stood there, frozen in place, watching La-Iin fly off.

***

La-Iin burst into her house as soon as she arrived home, her excitement still strong as well as her anxiousness. She could only hope the effects of San-Kyung’s blood hadn’t yet worn off.
Mit-Sun and Choungetsu, who had been sitting on the couch, startled when she bust open the door. “What happened to you that made you try and break down the door!?”
“Mama, first off, why are you always with Choungetsu now? And second, I have to show you something before it’s too late. I know you’ll want to see it.”
“I’ve been spending time with Choungetsu because we’re bonding and you’re off on your own a lot now,” she said. “And what is it you want to show me?”
“Watch closely, and don’t try and stop me. I know what I’m doing.” Baring her fangs, she slashed a small wound across her arm. Mit-Sun stood up abruptly and almost lunged for her, but froze in place when she noticed the flames starting from the wound.
“At school today, I got a bad blood craving and I ended up sucking from San-Kyung. And I found out I can do this. I have my blood power now.”
La-Iin couldn’t stop her grin. “Just think, Mama. With this power, and the right species to drink from, I will be unstoppable!”

—–
The cities laid to ruin were in a particularly bad condition today. Vines covered the abandoned buildings and flames licked the top of the sky. Feathers scattered about and added to the flames, and the impoverished people lying on the ground were fast asleep, for once free from the pain that plagued them in their everyday life.
It kept them from seeing the sight of several other people, lined up in a row in front of La-Iin. She sucked a decent amount from each one that approached her and tested out their powers. A ball of water fired off at the buildings, setting out a fire while also collapsing the top of the building. La-Iin smirked as she sucked from a Snowliv. The Snowliv flinched and tried to pull away, but La-Iin didn’t let her go until she had finished. She froze part of the chair she was sitting on, and her smirk widened.
“If before there was any hope of stopping me, I can see none of you have it anymore. And there’s good reason for that. This day belongs to me; this WORLD belongs to me!”

19.504.Nightmare Premonitions?

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 504
“Nightmare Premonitions?”

“San-Kyung, you’ve seemed pretty down lately. Is everything alright? Nothing wrong at the homebase?”
“Everything’s fine at home. Though, geez, I need to find my own place. Mom and Dad say it’s alright, but I’m about to be twenty! I like living with them, but I’m ready to go out on my own.”
“That’s good to hear. Nothing else wrong, then?”
“Not exactly.”
“What’s up?”
San-Kyung began to look slightly nervous. He rubbed the back of his neck. “…never mind. It isn’t anything big. Was there something you wanted to do today?”
“Not particularly. And don’t just brush off your problems with never mind, either. If there’s something up, tell me about it!”
“You sound like Mom and Dad,” he said. “And I said never mind. It’s not a problem you can do anything about, anyway.”
“Oh, come on! You don’t know that.”
“I do know that, and I wish I didn’t,” he said, his expression becoming dejected. “So just–ease off, alright?”
“San-Kyung?”
To him, at that moment, San-Kyung felt distant and withdrawn. The feeling was frustrating, but at the same time, he doubted continuing to press him would do either of them any favors. He decided to grant his friend’s request and stopped talking about the subject.

“There’s no place in this world for someone like me, Dosa-Mina. I know you hate hearing it, but it’s true. And it’s not because oh, I don’t want a place in this world or anything, but simply because I was born needing everything that’s impossible for me. True form? Yeah, screw that. Want to be evil? Jump through hoops and get arrested because you’re incompetent. I can’t even bring myself to talk to my parents about this, and I can’t stand telling you about it. But now that I’ve started, I can’t stop.”
“I’m glad you talk to me about it, San-Kyung. It worried me when you clammed up. I’m always here to lend an ear, and besides, you know I’m not judging you.”
“Yeah, you say that. But I don’t know that for sure. And it doesn’t matter anyway. This world is garbage. What’s here in it to bring me any pleasure? It’s set up for other people, not somebody like me. Somebody like me is the kind of person they want locked away. The more time that passes, the less I find joy in the world. Eventually it’s going to reach a point where even that is impossible for me.”
“You set yourself up for failure when you say things like that.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “Considering what I threw around in my head? It’s a wonder I haven’t failed already. Eventually I’m going to reach my tipping point, and once I do there’s no turning back.”
Dosa-Mina pat his hand. “Don’t do anything drastic, okay?”
San-Kyung sighed. “I’m not sure if you’re trying to help or trying to stop me.”
“Stop you from what? I was trying to help.”
San-Kyung smiled, though his expression was pained. “Just like you always are,” was all he said.

***

Dosa-Mina woke up. He took a deep breath. His throat didn’t feel rough, so he figured he hadn’t screamed. And he wasn’t surprised that he hadn’t–the dream wasn’t the suicide nightmare that usually plagued him whenever his nightmares were in full force.
But Dosa-Mina had a different problem with the nightmares that had recently been occuring. Ever since the discovery that San-Kyung’s intended method of achieving his true form was most likely impossible, his dreams had been filled with the same odd sight of an older San-Kyung in the throes of depression.
‘I told myself these nightmares can’t be premonitions. Even Kkumneok told me that. If they were then wouldn’t he bring up La-Iin? But why now? Is it because this has been on my mind, or is this just happening for no reason?’
Whatever the cause, while it wasn’t as terrifying as his most common nightmare, it left him feeling empty and sad. There had to be something he could do for San-Kyung–and even if that wasn’t right now, he knew his friend had a release. He would never reach the point that the San-Kyung in his dreams did.
At least, he hoped that was the case.

***

“Why did you suggest we go out to Hledshess?”
“Because we haven’t been out here in a while. Also, I had some stuff on my mind and we used to come here a lot when there were things going on.”
“Are you finally going to tell me more of what’s going on with you?”
“There’s nothing to tell right now. The issue at hand isn’t with me. It’s with you.” Dosa-Mina looked away from him. “I was thinking. You and I have put a lot of time and effort into seeing if we can figure out some way to use the power that La-Iin has. Is it something innate within you that you haven’t figured out yet? Can you use it by coming in close contact with her? Is there something we’re overlooking? And then it gets shot down by some paper written by someone we don’t even know. All the time we spent and the hope we put into this, all ruined because of some paper written by an anonymous. It was incredibly disheartening and frustrating for me to reach the end of the paper. I can imagine it was even worse for you.”
San-Kyung glared and crossed his arms. “So? Was the point of coming here just so you could mock me about what happened?”
“You know me better than that, San-Kyung. I’d never do something like that. I’ve had you on my mind a lot lately, as well as that subject. Is there still something we’re missing? Maybe the paper hasn’t detailed everything and we can still find a way, just not one that deals with La-Iin. Already, before she showed us that paper, we were entertaining the idea of her being completely useless to your plan. But that wasn’t the point. I was thinking about you, being sad about all that had happened….sad and angry. I wanted to help you. And so this is what I came up with.”
Dosa-Mina motioned towards Hledshess. “You and I used to wreak so much havoc in Hledshess that the people who live here were scared to come out of their houses for fear of what we might do. So I say, do that again! Let out all the anger in you in a messy explosion of emotions! Maybe that’s an overdramatic way to put it, but I don’t care. Destruction is your passion–if you can’t reach your goal, follow your passion.”
“…what?”
“Didn’t you understand any of that? I was saying you should cause destruction. Let out your feelings that way. It’s worth a shot, isn’t it?”
“Why’re you encouraging this? You never cared for it in the past.”
“I might not care for it, but behavior like that is distinctly San-Kyung.” He smiled. “So go ahead and do it.”
Dosa-Mina noticed San-Kyung’s hands begin to twitch. He walked forward a few steps, then rose vines from the ground. He began to weave an overhang above Hledshess and walk underneath it. Dosa-Mina followed after him, curious as to what he might do.
Caught somewhat in the overhang was a strange mesh that was still partway in the ground. Before Dosa-Mina could warn him, San-Kyung stepped into the mesh and fell over. Fury crossed his face and his hands burst into flames as he burned away the mesh and the vines in a whirlwind of fire. Dosa-Mina stood back as the vines collapsed and burned away into ash along with most of the mesh, which by now had been pulled from the ground and San-Kyung had freed himself from.
“It doesn’t even matter if I do this,” he said. “My powers are pathetic.”
“So? They give you the destructive ability you want. You’ve got seed bombs and fire on your side. And then you can create vines. I’m sure those have brought you a lot of comfort.”
San-Kyung rose a vine from the ground and stared at it as if it were foreign. “…everything we did was useless. I wasted your time. I wasted my time. That’s all any of this is, a waste of time. I don’t do anything that amounts to anything. And without the ability to transform at will, or permanently retain my true form, without that how can I rule the world?”
Dosa-Mina pat him on the back. “You’ll find a way. And if you think the things you do are a waste of time, find something to do that you don’t see as a waste of time. You’ll find a way to cope, San-Kyung. And maybe someday you’ll find what you’ve been looking for. But for now that seems out of reach. And I brought you here to grieve.”
“You are being so overdramatic,” San-Kyung said. Dosa-Mina noticed a waver in his voice.
“Maybe,” he sighed. “But I’ve been keeping in my own outburst. My own way of letting that all out was seeing you have one.”
San-Kyung wiped at his eyes. He repeated his earlier spectacle one last time before sitting down and covering his face.

—–
“Say, now that it looks like La-Iin won’t be any use, do you plan on ditching her as a friend?”
“Not yet. She might not be useful to me in terms of power, but I think there’s something else I can gleam from her.”
“Sure you’re not starting to see her as a friend?”
“No way! There’s no world I’d like that disgusting reverse pedo.”
“I don’t think reverse pedo is the right term, San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina giggled. “You’d think someone with your smarts would know that.”
“You shut up!” He said. “But thanks for taking me out here. I think I needed that.”
“Any time. Hledshess is good for emotional outbursts, I think. Maybe if I ever really do need to explode I’ll do it here. But not while you’re watching.”
“When you say it like that, it sounds kind of suspicious.”
“Maybe it is kind of suspicious. But I’d rather have it that way than out in the open.”

“…the adolescents destroyed our trap for them…”
“Don’t worry about this, my citizens,” Jwungeok said. “We’ll create another one. And perhaps our prior luck will continue. I think finally, those adolescents are beginning to see there’s more to the world than just decimating Hledshess.”
“For your own sake I hope you’re right.”
Jwungeok glared. “Is that a threat, Mr. Uun?”

15.500.The Power in Your Hand–Part 2

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 500
“The Power in Your Hand–Part 2”

“What’s got you so excited today, La-Iin? Happy that the school week’s over?”
“It’s always good to say good-bye to stupid Hyungdarou for another week, but no, that’s not it. Today my beloved comes over to my house.”
“Your beloved…?” Fer-Shi questioned. Then, she grimaced. “Why!?”
“I have a paper at my house he’s interested in. You could say he’s coming over purely on business matters, but the thing is, this time last year he never would have done this because he never would have believed me. Now he trusts in the fact that I have a paper he wants to see and he’s going to come over today to see it!”
“That’s creepy.”
“To you, maybe. But to me it only signifies that our relationship is going somewhere!”
“Better not get those romantic delusions up too high, La-Iin,” a familiar voice said. La-Iin glared at Dosa-Mina.
“You stop butting in on our conversation!”
“I find it hilarious that you say that after how many times you’ve butt in on one between me and San-Kyung,” Dosa-Mina said. “But, whatever. Enjoy your little conversation. See you, both of you!”
“Um, see you!” Fer-Shi said.
“What do you see in Dosa-Mina as a potential friend?”
“I pity him,” she whispered. “I know that’s mean, but I just feel like there’s something very sad about him. But I also think he’s kind of nice, when he’s not teasing you, anyway.”
La-Iin sighed. “All this just reminded me that he’s coming over today, too.”
“What!?”
“San-Kyung thought he might be able to make sense of my paper if he can’t.”
“Are they coming over so you can understand a paper? Couldn’t you just ask Miss Cahongyun to help you understand it?”
“I did ask Mama, but she didn’t understand it, either. I understand it better than she does, I think, even if I only understand it a little. I understand it enough to know that San-Kyung’s interested in it not just because I can’t understand it. Even though we’re friends he’s still pretty hard on me.”
“I’m not surprised. I’ve seen how he treats Dosa-Mina.” Fer-Shi twiddled her thumbs. “Tell me how it goes later on today, okay?”
“Do I ever not tell you how something goes?”
“There are a lot of things you’ve kept secret from me, La-Iin.”

“Today’s the day. If that is legit, then maybe–”
“Stop saying that.”
“Why? Aren’t you excited?”
“I don’t want to be. This could all be worthless. How do we know for sure it isn’t a prank she came up with to get me to come over to her house? I don’t want to get my hopes up, but already I am. I’m trying to avoid the disappointment from seeing that she fooled me.”
“I guess I understand. After all the time you’ve spent on this, you don’t want to just get excited and find out it was just a lie. Alright, I’m sorry about that, San-Kyung. I didn’t mean to upset you.”
“It’s fine, I guess. And it’s not all your fault. I was getting my hopes up last night too, wondering what it will be like if that paper has the information you and I need….whether it’s a prank or the truth, we’re going to find out today.”
“For sure!”

***

La-Iin couldn’t keep her smile from growing as she led San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina to her house. The idea of San-Kyung being in her house once more excited her in a way she couldn’t describe.
‘Maybe I should try and keep him here longer than just to see the paper,’ she thought. ‘If I hold off on showing him the papers, then I could keep him here for a long time!’
“You sure are smiley about this, La-Iin,” Dosa-Mina said, and all at once La-Iin’s smile dropped off her face. She turned around and hissed.
“Shut up, rival-boy! I was imagining a blissful visit from San-Kyung and the reminder that you’re here with him just ruined that.”
“If you two keep fighting, I’m going home.”
“Don’t you want to see the papers!?” La-Iin exclaimed.
“Don’t you want to find out if the papers are legit!?” Dosa-Mina exclaimed. The two glanced at each other.
“They are most certainly legit, rival-boy!”
“How are we supposed to know? It’s not like you haven’t led us astray in the past.”
“Oh shut up!”
San-Kyung grit his teeth and tried to escape the two’s fighting. He soon became lost in an imagination of what might happen if the papers provided Dosa-Mina with the answers he needed to help him permanently regain his true form–he would be able to wreak a constant havoc on the scale that he did on Halloween nights, decimate the houses in Hledshess and levitate about causing mischief, all with Dosa-Mina at his side. If he could do that at sixteen, he could only imagine the state of the world a decade later: the people of the world would be in fear at the tall vine prisons he would carefully wrap around them, with buildings and nature burning to the ground. He could see La-Iin in one of these cages now, along with Fer-Shi and her family, looking up at him with fear in her eyes. She would regret ever telling him his love would make him weak.
“San-Kyung?”
He could imagine Dosa-Mina calling his name now, ready to ask him a question.
“San-Kyung!”
The second time snapped him out of the imagination. “What is it, Dosa-Mina?”
“We’re here? Didn’t you notice?”
San-Kyung sighed. ‘Don’t get your hopes up. Don’t.’
La-Iin opened the door and led the two boys inside. San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina followed slowly behind her. Once La-Iin reached the kitchen, however, she startled.
“Mama? What are you doing!?”
“Wonder what’s going on,” Dosa-Mina said. San-Kyung shrugged.
“I made lunch. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you aren’t eating the school lunches anymore. I wanted to prepare. And anyway, you’re bringing those boys over today, aren’t you?”
“Ooh, lunch. I hope there’s meat in it.”
“Great.”
Dosa-Mina peeked his head into the kitchen. “Hello there, Miss Cahongyun!”
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened in surprise. “Um, yes.”
“What a pleasure to see you! My name is Dslellular Dosa-Mina. I think you know San-Kyung already.”
“I think I know you already, too. I’ve seen you at Malicerie before, Dslellular. You don’t need to introduce yourself.”
“I just wanted to make sure you knew my name was Dosa-Mina and not rival-boy. With La-Iin delivering stories about me I’m sure you wouldn’t be able to tell. Anyway, did you say lunch?”
Mit-Sun gave an amused chuckle. “I knew you two were coming, so there’s enough for all of you, don’t worry.”
“San-Kyung barely eats, Mama,” La-Iin said, before sidling up to San-Kyung. “But if you feel like changing that for the day, you always have me~”
“What.”
“If you just want to have a drink, there’s a few kinds in the house, so just tell me what you want. I put some water on the table.”
San-Kyung didn’t respond. “Be polite, San-Kyung!”
“This is so stupid,” La-Iin sighed. “But, at least you’ve finally recognized me and San-Kyung as girlfriend and boyfriend.”
Mit-Sun turned around abruptly, looking startled. It took all San-Kyung had not to strike his hands then and there. “I might be your friend, La-Iin, but I never had any sort of disgusting intentions towards you. Which is more than I can say about you.”
“Yeah, it’s so weird. You’d think if a sixteen-year-old and a seven-year-old were friends with a nasty agenda it would be the sixteen-year-old with the agenda!”
“Oh, you already had your birthday?”
“Yes. Unfortunately,” he muttered under his breath.

La-Iin felt a mixture of uncomfortable, embarrassed, and overjoyed that day at lunch. While Dosa-Mina went on about things she could only see as useless, Mit-Sun listening closely, La-Iin took her chance to talk to San-Kyung.
“Hello.”
“Don’t.”
“Don’t what? Talk to you?”
“Exactly.”
“Why not?”
“I’m thinking about something.”
“World domination?”
“If I was, it would still be none of your business.”
La-Iin tried to think of something to say to him. “You know, San-Kyung, I really do look up to you. I may say things about your opinions on love, but I take a lot of your advice to heart. You really do know how to be an evil person. You just have the same problem that I have.”
“That is?”
“You can’t make yourself not care about other people. Because we’re people. We evil people can try as hard as we want to, but we end up caring anyway. It’s really stupid. At least you can limit yourself. I can’t always. You’ve seen my best friend Fer-Shi. She’s 100% goody-goody. But I can’t let go of her anyway.”
San-Kyung gave her a curious glance. “I’m sure despite saying this you’ll still say things about me and Dosa-Mina.”
“I say those things because he makes me mad. I’m really jealous of how close you two are. You might think I have a stupid kiddie crush but I have a lot of plans for the future with you.”
“Well, stop it.”
“No. You think it’s hard to care about people now, but you can limit yourself. I can’t limit myself and I’m gonna live a long time, maybe even a thousand years if I make it that far. So even if you did give in to my wiles, I’d still lose you. …and it really hurts to think that.” She looked up at him. “Don’t you understand that feeling?”
San-Kyung blinked. He glanced at Dosa-Mina. “…yeah, I do. That’s the stupid part about evil people. They let themselves care because when they start caring, they’re too young and stupid to stop. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. I hate to say this, but I’ll give you one thing. You at least resigned yourself to your fate. If Dosa-Mina went before me, I…I don’t want to think about it. He’s too important to me.”
“Maybe think about that next time you call my crush a kiddie crush,” she said. “But I still admire you, San-Kyung. You have strengths that I lack. You don’t let goody-goodies infect parts of your morals, well, mostly.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Why won’t you eat a pumpkin, huh? Or forget that, why don’t you want to date a seven-year-old? But whatever. It doesn’t change that. So I hope you can get your true form back permanently. You were pretty cool on Halloween.”
‘What’s with all the compliments? She’s just trying to butter me up, isn’t she?’ Despite himself, San-Kyung still caught himself mumbling “Thanks.”

“Okay! Now Mama’s stupid lunch is over, and there’s nothing to talk about! So now, we charge!”
La-Iin ran ahead of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina, up the stairs and into her bedroom.
“Do you know where she went?” Dosa-Mina asked.
“Yeah. I’ve been in her bedroom before. Besides, even if I hadn’t, this house isn’t that big.”
“If I didn’t know you, I’d ask why you’d been in her bedroom,” Dosa-Mina said before walking ahead of him. San-Kyung shook his head.
La-Iin wanted to make sure the papers were prepared before San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina arrived, and she stacked them all on top of each other on her table, startled to notice the first page was missing. She noticed it on her bed, and had just placed the page on the top when the two boys arrived.
“Alright, let’s see what you’ve got. Whoa, that’s a lot of paper!”
Grinning, La-Iin moved aside.
“Let’s see…whoa.” Dosa-Mina’s eyes widened. “I think this is legit, San-Kyung! This is it!”
San-Kyung took a glance at the first page. It certainly seemed like something he would expect from an official paper.
‘Is the answer to my problem going to be in here?’
Both boys sat in front of the stack and began to read the papers. La-Iin sat nearby on her bed, watching them with a smirk.
“…mind telling me what’s going on?”
“Just take a look.”
“Whoa!” Dosa-Mina glanced over his shoulder at Bes-Isa’s exclamation, but quickly turned back to the paper, his eyes scanning it quickly.
“The paper’s so long that it’s probably going to take them forever to get through it all,” La-Iin sighed.
“That’s what your brain is for.”
La-Iin blinked.
“Oh, harling, remember the days in which you were an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin? Remember the desperate measures you would resort to?”
“Don’t remind me,” he scoffed. “That was a terrible time in my life.”
“Perhaps, but it’s a time to be remembered nonetheless. A time before you had truly improved. I used to imagine that we would spend our futures together with you as an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin. I imagined I would take care of you in November, then have you watch our children in December as I wreaked havoc alone. But this is much better, and balances our parenting time in a more efficient way.”
“For sure.”
“I’m glad you got this,” La-Iin said, cuddling up next to San-Kyung.
“I am, too. And I’m sure the children are as well. Good job, giving birth to them all in October.”
“Your memory must be fuzzy, harling. Only two of them were born in October. But with the methods Sale-Dessu described in his paper, well, they didn’t need to worry about that long, did they?”

The imagination soon faded away, and a drowsy La-Iin glanced back at the two teenage boys. She was surprised to see that their expressions were no longer ones of excitement, but instead ones of concern, as they neared the bottom of the paper.
“If only you hadn’t been off in daydreamland, La-Iin. You should’ve seen the looks on their faces. All optimistic one moment and then: dread!”
La-Iin walked over to them. “What did you find out?”
Dosa-Mina finished reading the last page; by now, San-Kyung wasn’t even looking at the papers. “I read all that was written on the papers. You’ll have to give kudos to the person who wrote this. He or she is definitely skilled in the field, and good at getting the point across.” He sighed. “Almost too good at that.”
“What is it?”
“There’s no way, La-Iin,” he said, shaking his head. “Of the ways we’ve been working towards and striving for, none of them are possible. All the time and effort we put into those methods for making San-Kyung use your power, it was useless. If there’s absolutely nothing fabricated about this paper, which I doubt there is, because with what I know about species study, this makes a lot of sense.”
San-Kyung stood up. “San-Kyung? Where are you going?”
“Leave me alone,” was all he said as he walked out of La-Iin’s bedroom.
“May I take these papers with me, La-Iin?” Dosa-Mina asked. “Maybe through these I can figure out some other method. Maybe, just maybe…and maybe, you could find a way to get your hands on another paper? Maybe one that’s a little more…hopeful?”
La-Iin nodded. Dosa-Mina held tight to the papers and left her room.
She had been expecting the two boys to leave her bedroom cheerful and prepared to change San-Kyung into his true form, or at least ready to try new methods. And now, she was watching them leave with their shoulders slumped and their heads bowed.
‘I should never have asked Sale-Dessu for that paper.’ The thought crossed her mind only once before it went blank.

—–
‘What was it for? What was any of it for? Was all of it a waste of time? Befriending La-Iin, drinking blood, doing all these ridiculous things–all just to find out it was nothing but pointless shit. And after all La-Iin had to say, I really had my hopes up. I tried, but I still got my hopes up. She made me think I would find the key to unlocking my true form. And now it’s just as out of reach as it’s always been.’
Tears rolled down his cheeks. ‘So what was the point of any of this?’

14.499.The Power in Your Hand–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 499
“The Power in Your Hand–Part 1”

Dosa-Mina watched San-Kyung closely as he spun in a circle, his hand lit with a flame. Moving quickly enough that Dosa-Mina was startled by his speed, he killed the flames, rose vines and began to weave them in a creative pattern. Once he was finished, he climbed onto the vines and stared down at Dosa-Mina.
“So?”
“Sorry, San-Kyung. I missed a little bit of note-taking watching you. It’s pretty incredible to see how you move.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “So you got that down–what do you think?”
“I’m going to have to apologize again. I don’t even know why I thought watching your powers would give me an idea for what you could do. Honestly, when it comes to you being able to use La-Iin’s transformation power, I’m stumped. I’ve looked at a ton of species study books, but the most I can find on a power similar to La-Iin’s is still being investigated, and it wasn’t found on a Vampire-Normal, it was found on a Werewolf-Catori. So even then, it might not even be anything near what she can do.”
“Damn it, I’m getting impatient! October’s still a long ways away, but it feels like it’s closing in rapidly. I’d really rather skip the whole November weakness thing if I can. Isn’t there anything I can do? What about those power drugs–”
“Absolutely not, San-Kyung! Would you take your true form for a day if it meant you would die the next one? Do the rest of your aspirations mean so little in the face of being able to keep that form?”
San-Kyung seemed put-off. “I wouldn’t do that if it meant I was going to die. And I have other things that matter to me as well. But this is one of the big ones. It makes ruling the world and you and my parents seem easier.”
“How am I and your parents aspirations?”
“You’re not. I’m talking about how important you are and keeping you that way.”
“Aw, thanks, San-Kyung. You’ll never get rid of me no matter how hard you try. Well, I don’t know about ruling the world being easier than obtaining your true form–that might be the case if obtaining your true form permanently the way you want to is impossible, though.”
“Don’t say that!”
“Sorry. I doubt it is, San-Kyung, I was just saying.”
“Yeah, well, if it ends up being impossible I’m going to feel like I wasted my time.”
“So am I. Not only that, but I’m…” He shook his head. “There’s got to be something out there. We live in a world where Witches and Warlocks can do amazing things with their powers, where species like Catori-Sirens, who used to die because of their unknown dietary requirements, live out their entire lifespan, and where people are working on making that possible for Wingyrm-Lizardfeet too, and they’ll probably succeed. So many things are possible, so why would an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin turning normal appearance be impossible?”
“It’s hard not to feel pessimistic when everything’s been a failure so far. If I didn’t trust in your species study knowledge, I’d call you a hack after the silly things you’ve tried. But the fact that you know that much in that field and still haven’t been able to find some method for me is what worries me.”
“I’ll keep looking, I promise. I’m not just going to give up on this because I can’t find something right now!” He grabbed onto San-Kyung’s shoulders. “So don’t you go seeking out drugs to help you with that, okay?”
“If you say so.”
“Besides,” he said, letting go of his shoulders, “even if drugs enhanced your power, it’s still possible they wouldn’t transform you. I’m not aware of how the drugs work entirely. That might bear some looking into, just for the knowledge. Animated Pumpkins transform when the power is too much for a Normalesque body to handle. So there has to be something I can work on from that, yet I haven’t found anything. Maybe the problem has been looking at La-Iin for information. Who knows?”
“If that’s the case, befriending that little shit was worthless.”
“I wouldn’t say that entirely. Thanks to her, I’ve learned some interesting things!”
“Thanks to who?
Both boys flinched. San-Kyung turned around first, and spotted La-Iin right behind him, Choungetsu close by and sniffing at plants.
“I didn’t expect to see you on my little walk, San-Kyung,” she said, a wide smile starting on her face. “Hello there.”
San-Kyung sighed and shut his eyes tight, trying to keep himself from yelling at her. “What did you come over here for? Can’t you see we’re busy?”
“San-Kyung, I’d drop everything to see you, so you should do the same for me.”
“You might be my friend, but I don’t drop everything for Dosa-Mina’s sake either. Besides, I know the only reason you say that is because of your stupid crush.”
“Call it stupid now, but when in the future that crush leads to our shared destruction of the world, you’ll cherish it.” She turned to Dosa-Mina. “Were you talking about me, or is there some other girl you happen to know?”
“You act like I don’t know any girls aside from you, but I know Sanhuun, and those bitch girls at school, not to mention a lot of my early childhood friends are girls.”
La-Iin snorted. “Surprising. I thought you preferred the company of boys.”
“I prefer the company of anyone worth my time, thank you very much. Ooh, that sounds a bit conceited, but it’s true. And yes, I was talking about you, but that doesn’t mean you need to butt in on our conversation. This is a private experiment between me and San-Kyung.”
“If there weren’t vines there you’d be dead right now, rival-boy,” La-Iin spat. “And anyway it can be my business, because I thought I was helping San-Kyung with some of these experiments.”
“Not everything involves you,” he said.
“And besides, we’re only now discovering that the case might be that you aren’t any help anyway. The powers that a Vampire-Normal can use are vastly different than what an Animated Pumpkin can use. Not to mention, your transformation seems to be triggered a lot like the bat transformation Purebloods have. Animated Pumpkin transformations are different. Thinking on it that way, all my experiments were pretty stupid.”
“You’re pretty stupid, so I’m not surprised,” La-Iin snorted.
“Hey, I know more about species study than you do, so can it! I probably know more about Vampire-Normal Dualbreeds than you, too.”
“Yeah, right! How much do you know about your own species?”
“I know enough. More than you, anyway. And besides, just because I’m not a certain species doesn’t mean I automatically know nothing about them. I’ve studied long and hard on certain species, just ask San-Kyung–I bet he’d tell you I know almost as much about Animated Pumpkins as he does!”
“Would you say that, San-Kyung?” La-Iin asked, turning away from Dosa-Mina to face him. San-Kyung gave another sigh. “I’m not even going to bother answering that. You two are getting on my nerves.”
“Sorry, San-Kyung. Sometimes La-Iin’s immaturity rubs off on me.”
“Hey!”
“It really does, you know.”
“What does that say about you if my rare immaturity rubs off on you!? A lot I think!” La-Iin took a deep breath. “Actually, when I heard you two were experimenting, I didn’t want to fight with rival-boy. I just can’t help myself.”
“Then you have some issues you need to work out,” Dosa-Mina said.
“What did you want? Shouldn’t you get back to walking your dog?” Choungetsu was sniffing San-Kyung, who resisted the urge to kick at him and instead climbed back onto his vines.
“I asked someone who knows a lot about a lot of things, including species study, to research transformations, and Animated Pumpkins, and those affecty things rival-boy had you and me try.”
“Affective Energies?” He asked. La-Iin nodded. “He gave me a long, boring paper telling all sorts of stuff about those three things, and I thought if anyone could make sense of it, it would be you, San-Kyung. …and I guess rival-boy. Even my own Mama was stumped by it, not that I’m surprised.”
“You should be nicer to your Mom, you know,” Dosa-Mina said. “But that sounds interesting. If she really has something legit, maybe that could provide the answers we’re looking for.”
“I have it over at my house,” La-Iin said. “You can come by after school if you want. You too, rival-boy, but you have to stay five feet away from San-Kyung.”
“Why?”
“Should we really even bother? How do we know this is legitimate?”
“How do we know it isn’t?” Dosa-Mina said. “We should take our chances, San-Kyung. If she really talked to an expert, this could have a lot of helpful information. We could be risking it all for nothing, but what are we losing by going? If it’s legit and we don’t go, we’re losing out on that information!”
“It’s disgusting that you would defend me, rival-boy. But that’s up to you, San-Kyung. If you want to see it, you can come over tomorrow and bring rival-boy if you think he would understand it better. Though I doubt he would.”
“You underestimate his skill at species study, then,” San-Kyung said. “We’ll consider it.”
“Good.” Choungetsu began to tug on his leash. “I should go now and make sure I have all the papers in order. See you soon, San-Kyung~”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “Just go.”
With a smile on her face, La-Iin walked off, Choungetsu a short distance ahead of her.
“If La-Iin has something legitimate, this could be the break we’re looking for,” Dosa-Mina said. “Don’t get your hopes up, but the day you’re in your true form all the time might be closer than we thought.”
“If it weren’t for La-Iin being the one with these papers, I’d kick you for getting my hopes up already.”

—–
“Mama, San-Kyung’s coming over tomorrow,” La-Iin said proudly at dinner. “And also his stupid best friend, but you can just ignore him.”
“Why’s he coming over?”
“I have something he wants to see. Sale-Dessu put together a little research for me and he wants to look into it. It concerns something he’s interested in.”
“Hm.”
“Oh, come on! You brought over Haner the other day, and I hate him!”
“Hey, Haner’s a nice man!”
“If you saw through him the way I do, you wouldn’t think the same way, and I know that, Mama.” La-Iin huffed. “Anyway, he’s coming over, so don’t get in the way.”
“Whatever. Are you sure you’re not tricking him into come over?”
La-Iin chewed a mouthful of food. “San-Kyung can see right through me, so it wouldn’t have worked.”
“Huh.”
‘This is exciting,’ she thought. ‘I’m going to be more help to his cause than stupid rival-boy ever could be!’

11.496.Attack on Astineth

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 496
“Attack on Astineth”

“So we enact the plan today, Baal-Mist?”
“I wanted to enact it as soon as possible, and waiting a day to enact a plan isn’t all that long to wait. Today we make our move.”
“Aren’t you at all worried about the possibility of retaliation? Let’s say that he really is Sale-Dessu, and that child is his son, created or naturally born. Astineth Eir-Tyuj is an incredibly powerful Witch. Don’t you think it stands to reason that her grandson and great-grandson would be the same?”
“I understand all of your concerns. But I’ve been thinking about our chances lately. We’re taking things fairly slow. I want to figure out what’s going on as soon as possible, even if it means being a little impulsive.”
“I think you’re getting a bit too rash about this though, Baal-Mist. You started off thinking things through more–what happened?”
“Is it really too rash when something that woman did caused me a personal tragedy? Perhaps I’m not thinking things through, but I need answers. If we break into his house, we may find out what we need to. Is he Astineth Sale-Dessu? Is that his son, a stolen child? Was the child perhaps somehow created? If so, how? We Witches and Warlocks possess the same power of V-Puppetry that other non-Normal species do, and we can create various moving things, but how did he make something than can move on its own, or at least, seems to be able to? Why is he meeting up with Astineth Eir-Tyuj regardless of relation?” Baal-Mist grit his teeth. “What are they planning?”
“Baal-Mist…”
“We will exercise utmost caution on this mission of ours. And even should something happen, we have numbers on our side. In the event that he does lash out at us, that is our advantage!”

***

The temperature outside was fairly neutral that day, though Sale-Dessu felt as though he was sweating all over. He glanced around at his neighbors–none of them seemed to be outside at the moment.
“Do I look like a normal kid to you, Father?”
Sale-Dessu was snapped out of his thoughts by Eul-Bok’s voice. As opposed to his usual lighter garb, today he was wearing one that covered all his ball joints. “Um, yes, covered up like that, you do. But we have to be careful. I don’t want to be out for too long just in case.”
“I know you don’t. But you’re the one who said I could use a little sunning, so don’t blame me!” Eul-Bok stretched. “Hey, did I tell you I turned a pile of rocks into crayons the other day? Actual crayons! It was so exciting!”
Sale-Dessu smiled. “Good job, Eul-Bok! You’re improving so fast, it’s startling.”
“Between you, my own practice, and the practice that Grepeta gave me the other day, there’s a lot I understand about using my powers now. I think I really will become better than you someday!”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “I’m glad you have that confidence, Eul-Bok.”
“Well, it’s not because I’m conceited or anything. It’s just, I’m related to two of the greatest powerhouses of the Astineth family! Well, technically, I’m just your V-Puppet, but I forget that sometimes nowadays, you know?”
“Do you remember that you’re only one year old? A one year old Warlock would still be in a crib. You can sleep in your own bed.”
“Yeah, I know. Hey, speaking of, do you think with my powers I could have my very own V-Puppet?”
Sale-Dessu’s eyes widened. “I don’t know.” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “I suppose hypothetically, but you’re still a V-Puppet even in that form. Would it really be possible? Now that’s something I might like to look into, actually.”
“I don’t think I’d want to even if I could. I’m curious to try, but I don’t want to take the risk. I mean, I remember what it was like before I could move my body on my own. And I definitely like now a lot better. If I had a V-Puppet, I’d want him or her to become just like me, but I don’t know if that would be so convenient for you. Besides, I like having this time with just you and me, Father!”
“Thank you, Eul-Bok. I know you said you don’t want to try, but I think you would make a very good–”
Sale-Dessu flinched at the sight of a group of people walking down the street.
“This is inconvenient,” one of them said. “If you hadn’t forgotten the exact location we wouldn’t be in this mess.”
“We were rushing that last time, though,” another said. “I was so scared I didn’t have time to think about where we were.”
Sale-Dessu froze in place. The group, two Witches and three Warlocks, were on the same sidewalk he and Eul-Bok were, and heading in the direction of his house. There didn’t seem to be any way he could make it back without being spotted by them.
‘Eul-Bok is covered, though. But they’re Witches and Warlocks too…’
Nervous about the possibility of being spotted, he grabbed Eul-Bok’s hand and walked slowly back towards his house, his eye on the newcomers ahead of him. He was grateful to Eul-Bok for staying silent.
He froze back in place when the group turned around. At the front of the group, a white-garbed Warlock began to smirk.
“Well, what do we have here,” he said quietly. “Be on guard. There’s no guarantees as to what he might do.”
Sale-Dessu’s mind drew a blank before spiraling into fearful imaginations. ‘Do they know me? Are these the same kinds of people who followed Apeta around!? No, they couldn’t be! There’s no way they could know where I live now!’
“What do we do? He’s making no move,” one whispered.
“Wait and see. There isn’t anything we can do right now.”
Beside him, Eul-Bok looked up, his expression one of confusion and concern.
“Father, what’s going on?”
“Quiet, Eul-Bok!” He snapped. Eul-Bok backed away.
“Oh, this seems like it’ll be even more of a lucky day than I thought!”
The assailants each reached for their wands. Sale-Dessu reacted before they could, grabbing his wand and blasting them with a dazzling light. He grabbed Eul-Bok and glanced around wildly, searching for someplace to hide him.
“Father, what’s–”
“Stay as quiet as possible and don’t move at all,” he whispered. “Prepare your wand just in case.”
“Father–”
Sale-Dessu covered his mouth. ‘I need to think calmly. I can’t take him back home or else they’ll know exactly where I live. And if I react wildly, they’ll overpower me. What would my Apeta do!? What did she do in the past? Think, Sale-Dessu!’
“Catch him while his guard’s down!” The white-garbed Warlock yelled, rubbing at his eyes. The other assailants still seemed stunned, but two of them had come to action. Sale-Dessu flashed the beam of light at them again just as an idea came to mind.
‘When that Witch assaulted my Mamun, Apeta put her under mind control. But I don’t have the time to do that! That group won’t stay stunned for long. I need a quicker solution!’
Sale-Dessu swallowed hard. He tried to think back to the offensive spells he had been taught by his grandmother and retaliated against the assailants with rapid beams of light and dizzying spells. Two fell to the ground, holding their heads, while the others staggered on their feet, looking disoriented. Sale-Dessu tried to think on another spell he could use, oblivious to the white-garbed Warlock’s recovery.
“That won’t work forever, Warlock!” The white-garbed Warlock yelled. He fired a stun shot at Sale-Dessu and sent him falling to the ground, his mind whirling and his thoughts in a panicked frenzy as he looked up at his assailant.
“This is perfect. Going better than I thought. But, no need to waste time with wasting breath.” He pointed his wand in Sale-Dessu’s direction, a confident smirk on his face.
Before he could fire his intended spell, Sale-Dessu finished his canting of a spell. The spell wasn’t having exactly his intended effect, but it was working well enough–the white-garbed Warlock had been brought to his knees, cringing in pain. It gave Sale-Dessu enough of a timeframe to recover and hit him with another dizzying spell. The Warlock gasped in pain and held tight to his knees.
Sale-Dessu gasped and began to look for Eul-Bok, fearing the worst, and was surprised to see him standing in front of the other assailants, who had collapsed to the ground and had begun to groan.
“Di–did you do that?”
“I did, Father! I wasn’t going to let you get taken down by these people ’cause you were panicking. Besides, I had to do something.”
Sale-Dessu bit his lip. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more help…”
“Don’t be. The only reason I was able to take care of those others is because I was studying an experiment you did last year. I had no guarantee it would work. I guess that was pretty reckless of me.”
Eul-Bok’s expression became serious. He pulled Sale-Dessu a distance away from the dazed assailants. “Father, this isn’t a permanent solution. Who knows what these people want? If they’re desperate enough and really powerful, they’re going to come back to this neighborhood sooner or later. So you and I need to figure out what to do about them.”
Sale-Dessu noticed the white-garbed Warlock reaching for his wand. “You’re right, Eul-Bok. We need to hurry and come up with a solution. But give me a moment.” Sale-Dessu grabbed the wand away from the white-garbed Warlock, then cast his spell again. The Warlock doubled over in pain, his eyes glazing.
“Is he going to be alright, Father?”
“He’ll be fine…” Sale-Dessu trailed off as he glanced back at the Warlock. Tears began to stream down his face.
“Father!?”
“We’re going to have to leave this place, aren’t we? They probably know we live in this neighborhood now. How much longer will it be until they figure out which house we live in?”
“But where would we live if we leave here? Father, there has to be something we can do!”
Sale-Dessu didn’t respond. Eul-Bok growled. “If you won’t handle the situation, then I will! We are powerful, Father. There has to be a memory loss spell we can use on them.”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “Eul-Bok, something on that scale would wipe someone’s entire memory!”
“Well, there has to be something we can do! You told me about mind control–do you know how to do it? If you do, we can keep them under control until we figure out how to handle this situation.”
“I–I do, but…”
“You have to, Father. It’s our best shot!”
Sale-Dessu nodded. ‘I have the chance to think things through now. If I can keep them under mind control, not only could I deal with them, but I could visit Apeta for help.’
“Hurry!”
Sale-Dessu nodded and walked over to each of the assailants, placing a hand on their heads. Eul-Bok watched on in awe as Sale-Dessu began to chant a spell under his breath for each one. Once the spell was finished, cautiously, he commanded one of the assailants to move.
The white-garbed Warlock moved his arm.
“As soon as we’re done with these five, we need to talk to Apeta,” Sale-Dessu said. Eul-Bok nodded.

—–
“I can’t believe this has happened to you, Sale-Dessu,” Eir-Tyuj sighed. “What did you do to get yourself in such a situation?”
“That’s just the issue, Apeta! If they weren’t Witches and Warlocks, I might think there was something else going on, but I can’t help but wonder if these are the same types of people. But I don’t know what to do! You said people know your identity in this neighborhood, didn’t you? I can’t stay here either!”
“It’s simply not feasible. And you are right in your assumption that memory erasure spells erase all of one’s memory. Not even I was able to find a way to perfect them to a point where they discarded of a particular one, partially because you cannot figure out exactly how a given person remembers a memory.”
“What do I do, Apeta? I barely have any vuyong on my person. I paid off my house! I’ve been living there for years! It was all so perfect!”
“There’s got to be something we can do to keep on living there!”
“You two sure are desperate, aren’t you? And I can understand why. But remember, they don’t know which house you live in, do they? I can provide you with a cover plan, but believe me when I say your best plan of action would be to eventually find a new residence if this keeps up.”
“I…I understand, Apeta.”
“There are security spells that exist, those of which that I used on my house. These will protect you from some of their attacks. I’d also advise that you begin living pseudonymously from here on out. If you change your appearance and assume new names, after a period of time they may believe you do not actually live in the neighborhood. But remember, they too are Witches and Warlocks–you will have to exercise utmost caution when it comes to doing this. The plan could fall through. Continue on like that until you dissuade them or you can find a new place to live–a safer place.”
“I…I understand, Apeta.”
“If you need my help, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“That will only prove our relation, Apeta.”
“You have a point. But Sale-Dessu, this is your only shot. Do what you can to avoid provoking these intruders any further. Who knows? Perhaps you will be lucky and your pseudonymous identity will help you keep that house. But never let down your guard.”
Eir-Tyuj went on about further details, but Sale-Dessu barely heard them. ‘This is all my fault. I had to pick today to go out with Eul-Bok, and now we’re in this situation. I had a decade and so of freedom. I thought I was finally free of everything that happened. But every time I think life is going right, something like this happens. There’s no escape for me, is there? So long as I’m an Astineth, they’ll always be after me.’
He glanced at Eul-Bok. ‘And if I keep him an Astineth, they’ll be after him, too.’

18.473.Treasures of the Astineth House

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 473
“Treasures of the Astineth House”

“Well, La-Iin, I did as much research as I possibly could,” Sale-Dessu said, presenting La-Iin with a stack of papers. La-Iin glanced up at him.
“I have a bit of difficulty figuring out things if I don’t have the ability to research them up close and personal, but I do have a lot of reference books. I looked in to most everything about Animated Pumpkins, transformations and…’affective energies’, well, most everything I could find anyway. All these papers detail it quite well I think, but I could go over it with you. I just figured you’d rather read it yourself.”
“This is good enough,” she said. “But I bet you wrote them boring.”
“What would you expect? They’re research papers.”
“Boring works,” she said. “It’s what I need, anyway.”
“Why did you want me to look into all of this, anyway? Is there some particular reason, or were you just curious?”
“I have my reasons, but I’m not telling you. And don’t get on my case. It has nothing to do with world domination, this time.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means what I said.”
“You know, La-Iin, you could be a bit more grateful,” Eul-Bok said. “Father worked day and night looking into all this for you. He was super-determined and he ended up skipping projects he planned on working on just so he could look into all this stuff you asked him to peek at.”
While Eul-Bok complained, La-Iin’s eye caught a potion sitting on a shelf nearby her. It was an interesting shade of green, and she couldn’t help but wonder about its contents.
“…not to mention that Father’s sleep-deprived enough without forcing himself to work for you!”
“That’s enough, Eul-Bok. My straining myself wasn’t La-Iin’s fault at all. It’s just my own stubbornness. I learned a few interesting things while looking into it. I don’t think it was a lost cause at all.” Sale-Dessu blinked. “What are you looking at, La-Iin?”
“That potion,” she said, pointing at it. “What does it do?”
“Oh, I haven’t used that one yet,” he said. “But it’s intended to be a growth potion. Issue is, I wasn’t paying attention to what I made it grow. So I don’t know what sort of effect it might have. That’s why I leave it up there.”
“Your house is just a treasure trove of completely useless junk, isn’t it?”
“It’s not useless!” Eul-Bok protested.
“Calm down, Eul-Bok. And I don’t think it’s all useless.”
“It does make your house an interesting place to look at, I will admit. Just by walking into your living room you can see all sorts of bookshelves. Around the house there are all sorts of gadgets and some potions. Not to mention the garbage you have in your backyard.”
Sale-Dessu gave her an uncertain look.
“I wonder what sort of treasures we could find if we looked around for a while? La-Iin, mind walking me around the house?”
“No,” she said, standing up. La-Iin walked away from the meeting room and into Sale-Dessu’s living room. Feeling slightly panicked, he stood up and chased after them, Eul-Bok on his heels.
“Tell me, Sale-Dessu, I’m curious. The books in these shelves–are all of them spell books, or are some of them books for some other purpose?”
“I keep my spell books upstairs,” he said. “All these books are for other purposes.”
“Say, do they make unusable books to teach Warlocks how to use their powers?”
Sale-Dessu panted, but did not respond.
“Ah well, it doesn’t matter. Why don’t we take a look around somewhere it’s a little more interesting?”
“Okay,” La-Iin said. “Sale-Dessu, you can be like a guide. Tell us what we want to know.”
“I didn’t agree to this!” He complained.
La-Iin walked into the kitchen. “Hey, you know how to make mincemeat pie. Can you make anything you want to make? What do you use?”
“If I tell you, will that make you stop this sooner?”
“Yes,” La-Iin said. “Why do you want me to stop, though? I love finding out the extent of your powers.”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “I just didn’t expect you to start running around my house, is all….well, I can’t make things I don’t know exist, but I can make most anything. I keep my supplies for making food inside of here…”
Sale-Dessu opened a cabinet and a drawer. Both were filled with what La-Iin and Bes-Isa could only consider junk.
“It may look weird to you, but this is what I persist off of,” he said.
“Yeah, he needs it being as shy as he is,” Eul-Bok said.
“Eul-Bok, please.”
“Sorry, Father. But I can’t help but pick on that part of you! It’s so funny!”
“That little brat snapped at me about not having respect for the person who brought me to life, and yet look at him! I think I have more respect for you than Eul-Bok does.”
“I’m not so sure I’d agree…”
“You didn’t make the mincemeat pie out of garbage, did you?”
“Not garbage, no. Just…random items. La-Iin, didn’t you know I did that already?”
“I forgot,” she said. “Okay, what about these potions? What do these potions do?”
“These five? This is also for food-related purposes. Helps with the flavoring when I get it a little off. The rest are liquid condiments.”
“Sounds disgusting.”
“I’m going somewhere else.” La-Iin dashed out the kitchen and head upstairs. Sale-Dessu followed close after her.
“Tell me about the garbage in your closet.”
“I don’t even know where to begin sorting through that stuff,” he said. “It’s all early stuff. Both from when I first moved here, and from…from my childhood, as well.”
“Not that again. Say, got any other neat potions for us to look at? Anything more substantial in its effects?”
“Can you show us some spell books?”
Sale-Dessu sighed. “I guess if you’re asking for that, there’s one room that has it all. But you’ve been in there before.”
“I haven’t been in there in a while. Show me!”
Sale-Dessu led the way into a room covered with shelves, all with books and potions and various items stacked neatly into every shelf. The floor was slightly dirty, but the room itself was well-organized.
“I suppose there’s such a thing as organized hoarding,” Bes-Isa said.
“If you want to see potions, then I’ll show you this one,” Sale-Dessu said, pulling from the shelf a potion that was a whitish pink. “This potion I’ve never used, but I just had to make it. It’s a potion that’s supposed to help with old age.”
“Did you make it for when you get old and grey?”
Sale-Dessu looked surprised for a moment, but then smiled. “I…guess so.”
“What about spell books?”
“Showing you spell books would be useless, La-Iin. You wouldn’t be able to read them, and even if you could it’s not like there would be any point in you doing that.”
“Why not?”
“Well, first off it’s written in the Warlock language. And second, Vampires don’t need spell books to activate their powers.”
“Can you show me what one does?”
“Spell books can do a lot of things, La-Iin. I could show you, but what would I show you?”
“Something.”
“While La-Iin thinks on that, mind telling me what those other potions do?”
“I don’t mind. This blue one here is supposed to be medicinal, but I made it when I was young and it’s been sitting on my shelf ever since. I don’t remember what it was supposed to help with. And these ones right here are supposed to induce certain emotions. This one is for happiness, if I remember correctly.”
“Now you’ve got Father going off on a tangent,” Eul-Bok sighed. “I hope you’re happy.”
“I’m happy every time you’re not. Hey, Sale-Dessu, how many of these potions have you actually used or intend on using? You seem to have a lot of ones that you made when you were younger that have been stagnating.”
“I mostly make potions for the fun of it, I will admit,” he said. “Though recently I’ve been making a lot of medicinal potions. Both for Eul-Bok, and for my Ap–”
“Your what? Who’s this other person, Sale-Dessu?”
“Ah–”
“I know!” La-Iin said. “Show me the most powerful thing you can do with a spell book without destroying your room.”
Sale-Dessu blinked. “Um…alright, then.” He grabbed a spell book from the shelf and began to chant, his eyes slowly closing. La-Iin watched closely as the light in the room began to brighten. Sale-Dessu’s face twitched and it began to flicker before going out altogether.
“Er, I suppose I should have told you what this might do to my house first,” he said.
“Father…”
“Well, I guess that puts an end to our little treasure hunt. The most interesting room in your house has gone dark!”
“Yes, it has…I power this room with that ability, you see. I messed up and now the light is out. I’ll have to fix that…”
“Your house is quite a veritable treasure trove.”
“And it proves you have a lot of power, too. Useless powers, but also interesting powers. You are certainly a great ally.”
“Thank you, La-Iin.”
“I think you’ll be very helpful in the future,” she said. “But I guess I should go home now. I wanna look over those papers before I use them for what I need them for.”
“Are you going to tell me what that is anytime soon?”
“There will be a day I’ll fill you in on everything, Sale-Dessu. But for now, we still have to keep secrets from each other.”
“I…suppose we do.”
“Like this ‘Ap’ person?”
“But I look forward to our continued assistance of our causes. I have great plans for you, Sale-Dessu.”
“You make me wonder with the things you say sometimes.”
“One day, Sale-Dessu. One day….now can you help me get out of this room?”

—–
“La-Iin, you seem to have taken quite a genuine liking to Sale-Dessu. I thought he was just a means to an end.”
“He is,” La-Iin said, her eyes scanning the papers Sale-Dessu had given her. “But after the disappointment of Ai-Reia, it’s nice to have someone who actually works with me. Even when he gets irritated, he still does what I ask like the spineless fool he is.”
“Heh, I like that nickname.”
“His goodness reminds me of Fer-Shi’s, too,” she said. “And I might have a bit of a weak spot for her brand of goodness.”
“Weakling.”
“I won’t let it bog me down. You’ll see.”

10.465.Affective Energy

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 465
“Affective Energy”

“Rival-boy, this had better be good. You’re wasting valuable time I could be using to do something better than hang out with you.”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes. “I thought it wasn’t wasting time if it was going to help San-Kyung out. Did you forget he’s here with us?”
“No. I just hate having to be led around by you.”
“So, what’s going on this time?” San-Kyung asked.
“Something that’s come up a lot when the three of us are hanging out. I think we all know very well now about my research into La-Iin’s power and how San-Kyung could find a way to use it himself. My research has yielded practically nothing ever since I started it, but I found out some interesting things recently that I wanted to look into.”
“Like what?” La-Iin asked.
“Well, there seem to be a few ways to influence someone’s power level. Some of these are things I’d never have him try, such as drugs that enhance power abilities. Others don’t seem very reliable, at least when it comes to San-Kyung. I doubt he’d be willing to put up with a Witch or Warlock long enough to see if they could do anything for him.”
“You underestimate how much I want this.”
“I know how much you want it, San-Kyung. I just also happen to know how much you dislike people. Anyway, one of the things I was looking into is something I like to call ‘affective energy’.”
“And?” San-Kyung asked.
“Affective Energy seems to be a strange phenomena that takes several different forms. Basically, someone with power rubs off on someone else, at least that’s the jist. I like to think of it in the contexts of a Vampire’s temporary blood powers, or Werewolves transforming people thanks to botched blood transfusions.”
“Are you trying to say me and San-Kyung should do something blood related?” La-Iin asked. “Because I can do that.”
San-Kyung glared at her.
“Not necessarily. Affective energy seems to work in many other ways as well. But a lot of it is blood related. So I thought maybe, we could look into that. I’m not suggesting you two get a blood transfusion or you let La-Iin suck your blood. I doubt those things would work. But perhaps there’s another way. I’ve been thinking up all sorts of different scenarios that might work with what I have. Care to try one?”
“So long as it’s not too stupid,” he said.
“Well, first off, I’m pretty sure La-Iin would have to be transformed for these. Second, I don’t know if the effects would be immediate or not. That’s my main concern. What if we try all these things and think they don’t work, then one kicks in later for like two seconds and we can’t figure out which one it is?”
“Then we try them again until we figure it out which one it is.”
“So what is it, rival-boy?”
“Well, I guess to start things off, you two could try this one. I doubt it’ll have any effect, but San-Kyung’s vines are connected to him, in a way. I wondered about the effectiveness of La-Iin’s blood splattering onto them. And no, La-Iin, this doesn’t have anything to do with wanting to see you hurt. It was a speculation. …it’s a stupid one, though, if I’m being honest.”
“I’m willing to try it,” San-Kyung said.
“I don’t believe you, rival-boy,” she hissed. “But fine. We can settle this dispute later.”
“What’s there to settle?” He asked. “Anyway, transform first. The chances of this working is probably better if you’re transformed.”
La-Iin nodded and bit into her arm. As if on-cue, San-Kyung rose vines from the ground and surrounded La-Iin with them. Dosa-Mina noticed frustration on San-Kyung’s face, as if he wanted to wrap her in the vines.
La-Iin bit back into the puncture holes in her arm. Blood welled up from the injury, and La-Iin put it on her fingers and spread it on the vines. Once the injury had stopped bleeding and she had no more blood to spread, La-Iin sat down on the ground.
“Well, when should I kill the vines?”
“I don’t know. Why not keep them up for my next suggestion?”
“And that is?”
“Why not try getting some of La-Iin’s blood on yourself? Who knows about vines? They’re connected to you, but they do die separately. Maybe blood on the vines won’t work, but blood on yourself will.”
San-Kyung began to look intrigued. La-Iin glared at Dosa-Mina. “Now I’m convinced. You do just want to see me hurt. This has nothing to do with helping San-Kyung, you’re just a sadist like I always knew you were!”
“Calling me a sadist is pretty disgusting, don’t you think? You act like I’d be turned on by seeing a little girl hurt. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but I thought you wanted to help him out.”
La-Iin rolled her eyes. “Fine.” She bit into her puncture wound once again, flew over to San-Kyung, and let the blood drip onto his skin. The blood rolled down his arm and onto his hand.
“Of course, those ideas involved putting blood on San-Kyung, but I also thought about what if we put your blood inside San-Kyung?”
“I’m losing my patience with you, rival-boy,” La-Iin said before drinking her blood a second time.
“You always are. Anyway, I thought, what about if San-Kyung drank your blood instead of getting it put on him?”
“Ooh.”
“Dosa-Mina, this is where I draw the line. Your suggestions have been dubious so far, but that’s just disgusting.”
“Don’t you want to try anything you can, San-Kyung? What if something works? You might say we can’t guarantee any of these things could work. You might drink some of La-Iin’s blood and nothing will happen. But what if something does?” He dropped his voice to a whisper. “And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a disgusting idea too.”
“What are you two whispering about?”
“Fine,” San-Kyung groaned. “Just get it over with.” He covered his eyes.
“Don’t tell me you’re scared, San-Kyung,” La-Iin said before biting into her fingers. She winced as the blood began to well up.
“No, I’m not. I’m just disgusted that I have to drink someone’s blood, especially considering that blood belongs to you.
“What’s so disgusting about that? Vampires may be natural bloodsuckers, but I wonder why other species don’t drink it sometimes too. You’d think that even if it’s uncommon, there would be more than just the odd person out.”
She stuck her fingers into his mouth. Dosa-Mina noticed her begin to smile and felt put-off. La-Iin giggled as soon as San-Kyung began to drink the blood, only to yelp in pain moments later.
“So that’s how you like things…”
“What the hell are you talking about? I just did that so you wouldn’t be giggling about this. Besides, it let me drink more blood.” He uncovered his eyes and glared at Dosa-Mina. “I hope your research didn’t call for me to drink a cup of her blood, because I’m not doing that.”
“No, I’m sure if her blood has any effect, you’ll see at least little increase in power. If you need to drink more, by then we’ll know you need to drink her blood.”
“And another thing, if one of these methods works, does that mean I’m going to be reliant on her blood? Because it’s starting to seem that way.”
“Maybe,” he said. “Some affective energies seem to be permanent. Others, not so much.”
“I’m not sure my true form is worth carrying her around as a blood dispenser.”
“You’re underestimating yourself, San-Kyung. And I would gladly be your blood dispenser if you paid me back in blood.”
San-Kyung grimaced.
“Besides, her blood’s not the only kind of blood I wanted you to try. I just figured you wouldn’t want to try the other one.”
“What, are you going to ask me to drink your blood now?”
“No way! That’s just disgusting. I was actually thinking about you drinking the blood of another Animated Pumpkin, like your Mom or Dad, or some store-bought stuff. Although I’m not sure if that makes the distinction between normal types and Aesthetically Normals. I don’t know if it would make a difference.”
“I couldn’t ask my parents for that,” he said.
“Coward. Squeamish!”
“You shut up! I’m not squeamish and I’m not a coward. I just don’t want my parents to think I’ve lost my mind.”
“That would be bad,” Dosa-Mina said.
“So, was there anything else we could try, or are you all dried up?”
“No, there is one more thing, but I was worried about having you two do that.”
“Now what?”
“I was wondering, what if you injure yourself and…” Dosa-Mina shook his head. “Never mind. I can’t.”
“So if it has to do with San-Kyung getting hurt, it’s off limits, isn’t it, rival-boy?”
“I worried about what it would do to you, too!”
“That makes me wonder what the rest of it is. But I’m fine with stopping here, especially considering I might have to try Animated Pumpkin blood…” La-Iin noticed San-Kyung shudder.
“Yeah, here might be a good place to stop. I don’t know if I could take seeing you hurt yourself like that.”
La-Iin noticed that Dosa-Mina had started to hold onto his arms, as if trying to cover them.
“Well, I’m heading home. I’ll call you if anything kicks in.”
“Alright then. And I’ll keep looking into affective energies.” Dosa-Mina called. “Hey, La-Iin, do you want me to take you home?”
“I can head home by myself, rival-boy,” La-Iin said. “We didn’t walk too far from school.”
“Alright then. Well, I’ll be seeing you.”
La-Iin scoffed. She began to walk off before breaking into a run. On her way she ran into San-Kyung.
“See you soon, San-Kyung.”
San-Kyung glanced at her, looking somewhat confused. “Sure,” he said, then continued to walk on. Satisfied, La-Iin went back to running before finally choosing to fly.
‘I need something to get back at rival-boy for what he made me do,’ she thought. ‘Still, it didn’t feel too bad having San-Kyung suck my blood…’

—–
San-Kyung felt more exhausted than usual that night. Long before he intended on going to bed, his eyelids started to droop and he himself began to nod off.
“San-Kyung, what’s got you so tired?” Salsh-Era asked. “Did you stay up too late last night?”
“No,” he said.
“Were you running around someplace with Dosa-Mina?” Del-Kyuus asked.
“No. I don’t know why I’m so tire…” He drifted off for a moment before snapping back.
“Maybe he really will grow more this year,” Salsh-Era said.
“If that’s the case, I hope that’s why he’s tired!”
‘Hopefully there’s some other way I can transform into my true form,’ he thought. ‘Dosa-Mina’s methods are going to be annoying if I always have to use them.’