14.591.Situations Revisited

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 591
“Situations Revisited”

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

***

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

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

9.586.Fightercise

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 586
“Fightercise”

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

***

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

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

4.581.Mr. Eteibreit’s Day at Home

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 581
“Mr. Eteibreit’s Day at Home”

“It’s time for me to head off, Yul-Hiis.”
“Really? Time already? I thought you had time for one session of intercourse.”
Eteibreit purred. “You know what time I leave, Yul-Hiis. I must get there before my workers.” She kissed him on the cheek. “So, what will you do while I’m gone?”
“You’ve asked me this question ever since I quit my job. The same things I always do. And not a one of those things will be kept secret from you. Ask away when you get home, or don’t. I don’t mind, I’ll tell you all the same.”
Eteibreit gave a contented nod. “Alright, then. I’ll be off. See you later, my darling Yul-Hiis.”
Eteibreit walked out and closed the door. Yul-Hiis relaxed on the couch. ‘Ah, I know I should start working right away. After all, that’s what Yong-Hin does when she arrives at the data storage. But ’tis no harm in a quick nap before I start the day….’

***

When Yul-Hiis woke up forty minutes later, he set to work immediately.
‘Oh, internet, for all your foibles you’re the place I find the most information. Why doesn’t Yong-Hin have many computers installed at Eteibreit Data Storage? It isn’t as if we don’t have the vuyong.’
Yul-Hiis had several things he was interested in pursuing on the internet, so many in fact as to have a file on his and Eteibreit’s computer that listed all the things he wanted to look in to. Particularly right now, he was interested in dark secrets hidden within video games–the one of which that caught his most attention being one that supposedly contained real-life murder images.
‘Of course there’s no hard proof though. Of course, when this is a game I don’t and never would want to own. Or even if I did, would Yong-Hin consider it worth the vuyong…ah well, we do have plenty, but still!’
His frustration grew the more he looked through the internet, and his patience went down with it. Just as he was about to give up and find something else to do, he was startled by the phone ringing.
“Yes? Eteibreit residence, Yul-Hiis at your service~”
“Hello, Yul-Hiis! Nice to talk to you again! It’s been a while!”
“Ah, hello there, Sher-Zhen.” Sher-Zhen was a good friend of Yul-Hiis’. The two often talked over the internet about their various data findings. Sher-Zhen in particular specialized in opening programs to find out more about them.
“You must introduce me to this Mr. Tielve sometime, Yul-Hiis,” Eteibreit had said once. “He sounds like an actually competent worker for my data storage.”
“Unfortunately, Sher-Zhen is a freelancer. He couldn’t keep down a stable job, not even a part-time one, if he tried. Those dreams will have to be put on the shelf, Yong-Hin.”
Refocusing on the present, Yul-Hiis continued, “and indeed it has been. What prompts the sudden call?”
“Remember how the last time you contacted me you were looking into that Sunset on the Valley game? You know, the visual novel with the murder images? I got a hold of a copy and did a datamine, and I found a few interesting things. Should I come over and show you them? A few of them are a bit violent as expected.”
“A few things, Sher-Zhen. First off, I am no stranger to even the strangest of things. Don’t worry about content warnings with me. Second off….no, actually, I can answer that question myself. Go on, come over, Yongie’s out right now so it won’t be much problem. She won’t be back for many hours, so there’s no worries about her scoping you out as a potential worker.”
“Ah, good. Alright then, I’ll be there in about an hour.”
“‘Til then, my friend.” He hung up the phone.
“Finally, all my searching comes to a breakthrough. Although I suppose it isn’t my breakthrough. Ah, methinks I’m overthinking things.”
Yul-Hiis wrinkled his nose. “I really need to work on my speech patterns. My parents had too much of an influence on me…”

While he waited for Sher-Zhen to arrive, Yul-Hiis began to set up various things around the house. He tidied the main room for his friend’s arrival, and set up the bedroom for a plan he had for that night. He had only just started a book on data retrieval when the doorbell rang.
“Did I make perfect timing?” Sher-Zhen asked.
“Imperfect timing, unfortunately, Sher-Zhen. I was in the midst of reading a data retrieval book.”
Sher-Zhen looked slightly startled. “I’m sorry…”
Yul-Hiis smirked. “Don’t be. And by the by, I’m sensitive to people who show their vulnerabilities so easily, so cut that out.”
Sher-Zhen closed the door behind him. “It’s just you, Yul-Hiis. Although, the comment wasn’t totally unappreciated…”
His friend’s whispered extra comment went unheard, as he had head immediately for the computer. Sher-Zhen pulled out a small USB stick and stuck it into the computer.
“What, I don’t get the computer chair? Whose house is this?”
“Sorry, it’s hard for me to focus standing up.” Sher-Zhen opened the folder. “There we go.”
“Ah!” Yul-Hiis was pleasantly surprised. The folder was filled at first with images from the game itself, but a separate folder contained much more surprising images. Some were violent images from the game itself, while others seemed to be legitimate murder photos along with strange ones of a young child and a sad looking man.
“Tell me, where did you find these?”
“Inside the game?” Sher-Zhen replied, confused.
“No, no. I mean in what context.”
“Oh. Well, the violent game photos are from a secret ending in the game, while the real-life photos are from an unused secret ending.” Sher-Zhen sighed. “I should have brought you the transcript of that unused ending. I think you would have liked it.”
“No problem, I don’t know the game and anyways there’s always the future for such things. Go on.”
“As for these photos, I found them in a folder that has incomplete data. I can’t really work with anything that’s in there, but I assume it also had something to do with things that were scrapped from the game.”
“Ah. This seems like the type of thing one might report to the police.”
“I’m sure someone else is going to, sooner or later. Everyone’s looking to buy the game because of these pictures, but unfortunately the people who think this stuff is already in the game are the ones buying the most copies instead of the people who know where to look.”
“I see.” Yul-Hiis relaxed. “Thank you so much, Sher-Zhen. I’ve been curious about this for quite a while. I thought my searches would never come to fruition.”
Yul-Hiis was surprised to see Sher-Zhen’s face flush slightly. “You’re welcome, Yul-Hiis. Anything game-related you’re interested in, I can help. I’ve been able to get into even the games with the highest security to protect their product. I guess the skill’s not exactly the rarest one, though.”
“It’s a skill I lack, so it’s good enough for me,” Yul-Hiis said nonchalantly. “Well, since you’re here and our work is done, I might as well give you a prize as well for showing me such an interesting piece of media.”
“Prize?”
“Yes. That and lunch. Say, could I keep the USB stick? I’m sure Yong-Hin will be interested in seeing these contents too.”
Sher-Zhen sighed. “Sure, you can. Keep it forever if you like. I can always open up the game again if I want to see these things.”
Yul-Hiis flashed him a smile. He then head for the library room in the house. Along with a small set-up for reading, the library room’s main attraction was the several bookshelves that were stacked from top to bottom with all sorts of books, though a few shelves to the right were fairly bare, the last being entirely so. Yul-Hiis clapped and flew to check the shelves, looking for something that he was certain Sher-Zhen wouldn’t have seen.
‘Ah!’ His eye caught an old file he and Yong-Hin had put together as teenagers. The file documented various people they had recognized in a shady district much like the one he had discovered Startimatum in. He took the file and landed, but before he could leave the room, Sher-Zhen approached him himself.
“Anxious to see your prize, or anxious to pick one yourself? Sher-Zhen, I might think you’re taking this a little too seriously. Most of our data is actually relatively silly.”
“I know that’s not all the case, Yul-Hiis. And I wasn’t exactly here because of the prize.”
“Oh?”
Sher-Zhen looked away from him. “I was just thinking about something.”
“What about? Typically I’m good at picking up on emotions, but I’m still no mind reader. I can see that you’re tense, though.”
“Of course I am…I want to say something I don’t think I should say.”
Yul-Hiis smirked. “Say it, then. The unsaid just makes me antsy and Yong-Hin always complains about it the next morning.”
“Yong-Hin, huh…” Sher-Zhen sighed. “Yul-Hiis, once in the past, did you say that you and your wife have a bit of an…open relationship?”
“Slightly so. The terms are more on a case-by-case basis but in essentiality we either do it together…heh heh…or are present or otherwise witnesses of what goes on with someone else. Why do you ask?” Yul-Hiis blinked. “Oh, I see how this is. Sher-Zhen, you are absolutely the last man I expected to approach me for this.”
“So you figured it out…”
“Nobody asks me or Yongie that question without either one, wanting to sleep with us or two, being disturbed by it. Since you sounded apprehensive, I naturally assumed it was the former.”
“You’d be right, except it’s a little more complicated than just that. I mean…I just…”
“I can see what path this is going down,” Yul-Hiis sighed. “Fine, tell me what it is you want, Sher-Zhen, and I will talk with Yong-Hin about it later.”
Sher-Zhen looked uncertain, and instead of responding with words, responded by giving Yul-Hiis a kiss.
“There’s a reason I didn’t want to say anything, Yul-Hiis,” he said. “I don’t want Yong-Hin to be a part of it.”
“Is that so…” Yul-Hiis touched his lips. “I’m afraid I’ll have to turn you down, then.”
Sher-Zhen looked dejected. “I’m sorry, my friend. Whether all you want is a night with me, or if you want something more–well, I certainly can’t give you that second one. Even having been with other people during my marriage, Yong-Hin has always been involved in the situation, and I could never give myself emotionally to anyone aside from her. And I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“I see.”
“Still, color me surprised when it comes to you feeling that way. I wouldn’t have expected that.”
“Well, I’m not surprised, though maybe it’s because it’s me. Yong-Hin is a lucky woman, Yul-Hiis.”
“I’m the lucky one.”
“Yes, I suppose you are…”
“Don’t look so dejected, Sher-Zhen. I’m not the type of person who is too fazed by people having feelings for me. Other people say it won’t change a thing when really it will. Well, I give you my guarantee that it won’t change a thing.” He winked at Sher-Zhen, who chuckled. “Now, instead of dwelling on this topic, why don’t we focus instead on your prize?”
“I’d be glad to. I don’t want to be the only one doing any data sharing today, after all.”

—–
“Interesting files you have here, Yul-Hiis,” Yong-Hin said later that night. “Interesting indeed.”
“I’ll give credit where credit is due. Sher-Zhen is skilled in his trade. He could make a steady living if he could commit to a job.”
“A shame. I really would like him as a worker at the data storage.” She glanced at Yul-Hiis. “Now, about the part involving him wanting to have sex with you…”
“Oh, that? I turned him down, I told you already.”
“No, I heard that part. But if the boy’s so eager, why not give him what he wants?”
“I fear that’s what might change an unchanged friendship into a changed one, at least on his side. Unfortunately, Normals take sex far more seriously than we do, for the most part.”
“No, that isn’t what I meant. I was going to ask, do you think he is the type for a threesome? You could always accept his offer if he would be up for that.”
Yul-Hiis shrugged. “I wouldn’t know on that front, but one thing I can tell you, girls are not his type.”
“Ah, I see. What a shame.”
“Don’t worry about it, Yong-Hin. And if you’re feeling so antsy, that reminds me of a surprise I have for you in the bedroom…”
Yong-Hin giggled. “Oh, Yul-Hiis, you pervert.”
“You more than me, Yongie. Admit that.”
“Oh, I do. Have you ever heard me deny it?”

30.576.Harem Master San-Kyung

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 576
“Harem Master San-Kyung”

“Gee, it feels like it’s been a long time since we just hung out casually like this. Speaking of, when’s the last time you drank something that wasn’t water?”
“How am I supposed to know?”
Dosa-Mina relaxed. “Yeah, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Still, I think you should try a milkshake someday, San-Kyung. I know you’re no fan of sweets, but I think you might like it despite that.”
“I heard some milkshakes have things in them I can’t drink.”
“That’s true.” Dosa-Mina took a sip of his milkshake. “You know, San-Kyung, going out like this again made me think of something. Even though you only like me and your parents, there are more people that like you than you might expect!”
“Huh?”
“Well, to list off the most extreme examples, there’s La-Iin, and Yukkini, and Ely–er–”
“I think I know who you’re talking about,” San-Kyung said with a grimace.
“Those three all like you, and quite a bit too. It’s weird considering their personalities. …well, actually, it’s not all that weird with La-Iin. And it’s not all that weird with Yukkini either, at least it doesn’t seem that way on the outside. I never did know her all that well.”
“I don’t want to think about this. I’m aware other people like me aside from you and my parents. But that doesn’t mean I like them back.”
“Yeah, that’s obvious. And even if you did like one of them the other two would still be left in the dust. Say, San-Kyung, do you think you’ll ever want to enter a relationship?”
“No.”
“That was pretty blunt. Ah well, let’s get our minds off of this silly subject and just enjoy our day out!”

That night, as he prepared for bed, Dosa-Mina’s words from earlier were on San-Kyung’s mind.
‘He’s right, it doesn’t make much sense. Most other people dislike me, and that’s the way things should be. I don’t understand. Well, it doesn’t matter anyway, but still, why?’
The question was still on his mind as he laid down for the night.
‘It just doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it’s because of my grades. Or my looks. But I definitely wouldn’t understand why they would like that…’

***

“Look at the sky, San-Kyung! It’s so nice and blue today! Ah, I think today will be another one of the same school days!”
“…what?”
Dosa-Mina cleared his throat. “You know, more of the same. I’m surprised you haven’t dropped out of school yet, speaking of. After all, do you even learn anything here anymore? It seems like our recent lessons are always below your level.”
“Ask yourself the same question first.”
“Yeah, I suppose you have a point. Well, it’s just a year and so left, so I suppose it’s not worth it to just drop out now.” Dosa-Mina trotted ahead of him. “I’m gonna head in early so I can get some stuff done before class. See you soon, San-Kyung!”
“See you,” he said with a sigh. In that school Dosa-Mina was the only saving grace. Everyone else annoyed him, and it didn’t help that he had ended up becoming arguably the most popular student in his class. Be it for his grades, his attitude, or just because he was an Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkin, he had a lot of fans, and the fact that Dosa-Mina could not be in the same class as him frustrated him to no end.
Moreso than the students who speculated about him or the students who begged him to help them study, there were three specific students in his class that angered him more than all the others.
“Ah! M-M-Molshei? I…I didn’t mean to bump into you…”
Deki-Tyunri fidgeted in front of San-Kyung, hiding his mouth with his wing. San-Kyung ignored him and walked right past him.
“O-oh! Molshei? Actually, it’s good that I ran into you….I, um, made something for you to eat during lunch today…”
“I don’t eat.”
“I know you don’t usually, but I thought you might like it.” He lowered his head, visibly blushing. “I heard about how much you liked the animal organ platter they served at the school dance last year, so I was inspired by that…”
“I don’t eat.”
“Please, give it a try. I did my best to recreate it just for you!” Deki-Tyunri ran ahead of San-Kyung, holding the lunch he had made in his mouth. “Pweef?”
“No.”
“How disrespectful of you, Molshei!” San-Kyung flinched. “That boy put his heart and soul into that lunch and you’re just rejecting it?”
Deki-Tyunri peeked past San-Kyung, and both spotted a half-Goathoof girl who was standing a distance behind them, Yukkini Kai-Rin.
“You shut up, hypocrite!”
“Tsk tsk, Molshei, don’t turn to insults, it makes you look petty. And I know how I feel, but I also fully approve of your love for Elyshen!”
“I don’t love Elyshen!”
Deki-Tyunri put the lunch down. “I don’t mind that you don’t, but you should at least give yourself some nutrition. Otherwise you’ll start to look emaciated…”
San-Kyung huffed. “I eat enough to prevent that!”
“Oh, Molshei, you should give him a shot. I’ve given you my blessing.” She grabbed onto her arm and pressed her chest against it. San-Kyung began to rapidly strike his hand.
“I don’t need your blessing!”
“Oh, Molshei…” Deki-Tyunri’s eyes began to sparkle. “Does that mean what I think it means?”
“It means the opposite of what you think it means!”
“At least eat his lunch, Molshei. Why let it go to waste? And besides, he’s right, do you want to look emaciated?”
“YOU!”
San-Kyung let out a loud groan. Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin turned around.
“How dare you! You two-timing shitface!”
“Great. Just great. If you had let me go to the classroom, I could’ve avoided this, but no…
“Cahongyun, please. Molshei is not your boyfriend, and besides, all we were trying to do was get him to eat Elyshen’s lunch.”
La-Iin huffed. “I don’t buy it! Why are your boobies pressed against his arm, then!?”
San-Kyung broke free of Kai-Rin’s grasp. “That’s it, San-Kyung! You need to learn your place! And I know the perfect way to teach you.”
She flew towards him, but he rose vines quick enough to block her off. He wrapped the vines around her and trapped her in place. Her face flushed bright pink.
“Oh, San-Kyung, I can’t believe you’d show your vines in public!”
“Now it’s worse.” San-Kyung turned away from them. “I’m going to class.”
Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin, and La-Iin–they were the bane of his existence, and he had to deal with that same situation nearly every day.

During classes, San-Kyung tried to ignore the trio to keep from causing any noise in front of other students. It worked, for the most part: Deki-Tyunri had stopped trying to give him the lunch, and Kai-Rin only stopped by to tell him he had made a mistake. It was La-Iin who was problematic–she had started watching him like a hawk.
“I won’t let you cheat on me again!” Her words caught the attention of nearby students, and San-Kyung was uncertain of whether he should retaliate with violence or ignore her. Luckily for him, when the teacher arrived, she was forced to go back to her seat, and though she tried again that time too she was forced to go back to her seat.
When school came to an end for the day, San-Kyung immediately set to head home. After the earlier incident with Deki-Tyunri, Kai-Rin and La-Iin, he was looking forward to just spending time with Dosa-Mina and testing out his driving skills before relaxing at home with one of his favorite violent books.
Unfortunately, it soon became obvious that the situation would not be that simple.
“Molshei! I, um, know you don’t like me…that way and all…but you still shouldn’t let the food go to waste.”
“You eat it.”
“Please, Molshei, he made it just for you. And it’s animal organs~”
“I don’t care.”
“San-Kyung, stop hanging out with these fools. I don’t trust you around them. The two of us should head home alone. I know a secret path.”
“Shut up. You’re not my girlfriend. Look, all three of you just leave me alone, or I’ll disfigure your bodies so badly you’ll never be positively identified.”
“You wouldn’t take me down that easily!” La-Iin yelled.
“You couldn’t do that. Love me or hate me you’ve known me for a while.” Kai-Rin said.
“P-please….my grandmother would never mistake even my badly burned corpse.”
San-Kyung huffed. “Just leave me alone!”
“Molshei…” Kai-Rin’s tone became serious and she stopped in place, causing Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin to do the same. San-Kyung continued to walk on, at least until he was pulled backwards by Kai-Rin. “You can’t just walk away from this situation. Here you have three people who love you and would do anything for you.”
“So you say!” La-Iin complained.
“Object as much as you like, but you are an only child. It might do to continue on the Molshei family name with one of us. Granted, we’re all only children too, but the point is that our lineages will continue on. So–”
“SHUT UP!” San-Kyung rose vines from the ground and wrapped all three of them in them.
“M-M-M-Molshei–!” Deki-Tyunri’s face turned bright red and he seemed to nearly faint.
“Oh, Molshei, I don’t–I–” Kai-Rin’s face had also become red. San-Kyung glared at them.
“San-Kyung, you pervert,” La-Iin said slyly, smiling, at least until she noticed that Deki-Tyunri and Kai-Rin were in the same situation; then, she began to squirm.
The trio began to make strange noises, so unsettled, San-Kyung decided to let them down.
“San-Kyung! Sorry I’m late. A little student called Vampiris was asking for my help…” Dosa-Mina stared at them. “What’s going on?”
“You’re the one who said today’s going to be another of the same school days. What do you think!?”
“Oh no. It’s the option we all forgot about.” Kai-Rin covered her mouth. “Molshei, you get one more option, now that we think about it.”
“What are you talking about?”
Kai-Rin walked up to Dosa-Mina. “Dslellular, we need you to tell us.” She, Deki-Tyunri and La-Iin watched him with a serious glare. “Do you love Molshei romantically?”
“Huh?” Dosa-Mina backed away from her, then smiled. “Well, the truth to that is that I…”

—–
San-Kyung sat up and gasped. He got out of bed and wandered around the house, trying to ease his urge to strike his hands and set the house on fire. In the midst of his wandering, he failed to notice that he had walked into his parents’ room.
“San-Kyung?” Del-Kyuus yawned. “What are you doing in here?”
“Mom?”
“Did you have a nightmare?” Salsh-Era asked. “It’s alright, San-Kyung…”
The both of them tiredly levitated out of bed. San-Kyung felt immensely embarrassed. After the both of them had given him a pat on the head, he head back to his room, flustered and humiliated.

27.573.Good and Evil Debate

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 573
“Good and Evil Debate”

La-Iin sighed.
“I can’t tell if you’ve been busy or lazy this Summer. Some days you’ll go out and you won’t be back for hours, and yet others you’re just drawing the same crappy pictures and relaxing in bed.”
“Summer is for doing both. So don’t judge me.”
“I wasn’t.”
“Yes you were. Otherwise you wouldn’t have said anything about ‘crappy’ drawings.”
“Have you looked at those things past the first time you see the completed picture?”
“Are you any better? Unless I’m doing something with you you’re either listening to the radio or laying in bed.”
“You realize I’m not autonomous, right? And are you much better!? You’re listening to the radio right now!”
“Yeah, and there’s nothing good on. How do you put up with listening to this crap?”
“There’s just nothing good on right now. The radio’s had plenty of good things on in the past. Remember the Usl-Thaehey music marathon? Remember when that guy got murdered and it was all over the news? There are good things on the radio, you just need to find the right station, that and hope that the day isn’t a weak one.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, the radio does have weak days.”
“It’s probably a weak day then,” La-Iin grumbled.
“Try changing the station. There might be something good on another station.”
La-Iin changed the station.
“…so today’s topic will be about good and evil and what things are assigned as good or evil in society.”
“Ah, an interesting topic! I’ve been questioning some of the things assigned as one or the other…”
“Ooh, wonder what this is about?”

“Good and evil?” La-Iin said. “This sounds like it will be boring.”
“What makes you say that?”
“It’s probably just going to be done in a boring way. And from a goody-goody perspective. What would be interesting about that?”
“Do you have a better idea?”
La-Iin pouted. “No.”
“So in society, there are lots of things that are considered ‘good’, lots of things that are considered ‘neutral’, and lots of things that are considered ‘evil’. But when you think about it, the situation’s really a lot more complex than most moralists would make it seem.”
“I think I know what you mean. Donating to a charity is seen as a good act, but it would be perfectly possible to donate to an evil charity, yes? And murder is seen as evil, but it does occasionally happen in self-defense, which would make it more neutral.”
“Exactly! It’s very hard to just call something ‘good’ or ‘evil’ and leave it at that. Certainly, there are some things that fall squarely on one part of the morality scale. Obviously, if you torture someone that is pretty evil, even if they do deserve it. While to sacrifice yourself for someone else would be seen as a good act.”
“Yes, but when you put more thought into it, even those things could be done with a good or evil mindset.”
“How can you say that!?”
“Well, perhaps someone sacrificing themselves for someone else is in the midst of committing a terrorist attack! They might be sacrificing their lives under the words of someone else. That’s not exactly good.”
“But how is torture good under any circumstances?”
“Well, perhaps the torture isn’t harmful and is instead being done to pleasure the victim.”

“What?”
“He’s full of shit, La-Iin. Don’t listen to him.”
“So basically most things in the world can have multiple morality meanings. It’s hard to call something good or evil and leave it at that.”
“While I do agree with you, it is possible this is done because, the majority of the time, the specific action IS being done for good or evil purposes. Most people sacrificing themselves for someone else are probably doing it because they love that person, for example. And murder is not usually committed in self-defense. Mostly it is done intentionally.”
“True, so I suppose it does make sense to consider those actions good or evil. Most people would not put much thought into the different potentials that actions have. With that portion of our talk over with, I’d like to instead focus on a new subject.”
“And what might that be?”
“Actions speaking for people. Some people claim that actions speak louder than words, then, say, what do we make of good people committing evil deeds or evil people committing good deeds? Truly a conundrum.”
“Well, that I can answer. Like with good and evil actions, there are all sorts of reasons why someone might do something contrary to their morality. Someone good might be committing evil actions for the sake of a loved one, while evil people might prefer to disguise their evil by acting good to the face of the public. Truly, that does confuse people when a good person ends up being evil.”
“That’s true.”
“It can also be speaking to their true morality, however. Someone from an evil family might claim they are evil despite their good acts so as not to earn their family’s shame. But in truth they are good, so they do good things and claim it is to disguise their evil while that is not the case. While a good person may claim they NEED to do these evil things or hide them, such as serial killers who hide their crimes and claim to be good so they can claim more victims.”
“Hm, true.”
“And many actions are considered neutral. There’s really nothing good or evil about eating unless you are, say, committing cannibalism, and even so I’ve heard that over in North Vaelyn, cannibalism occurs for the sake of survival as opposed to an evil person who is simply just that sick.”
“Hm!”
“For neutral people it is a lot easier, since as you are neutral, good and evil actions you are mostly indifferent towards.”
“I wouldn’t exactly put it like that, rather that neutral people see some good things as right and some evil things as right. Many good people do not think killing is justified, but a neutral person may believe it is justifiable under certain circumstances, such as killing a criminal or in self-defense. Though even some good people believe murder in self-defense is justifiable. The majority believe disabling your attacker is preferable, however.”
“Ah.”
“If I can give one thing to our hoax of a president, it is that she is neutral, at least at last check. Neutrals tend to be slightly less swayed by their emotions, or so said a recent study, and more rational than their good and evil counterparts.”
“How about the subject of what makes a person good or evil? What about that?”
“Well, I would put it in a simple category, I guess. If you are good, you believe in things that are mostly considered ‘good’ and you care about the people around you more. You want better for people. If you are neutral, you have beliefs from both sides or take a truly neutral approach to situations. If you are evil, you believe in things that are mostly considered ‘evil’ and your goals focus on something detrimental to society.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s a simple way of putting it.”
“All three types can be quite complex.”
“Truly. The subject of good and evil does seem simple on the outside, but it is far more complex than we might think from first glance!”
“It is, it is. After all, to use evil people as an example as they are the most common to feel this way, sometimes despite being evil you do not wish to detriment society with your goals and turn to artistic pursuits instead. Or you are good, but think that evil actions are better for the world. Of course, I would say at least in the hypothetical good person’s case, they fall more neutral.”
“Hm. People do like to define their morality for themselves, though.”
“…La-Iin? Are you alright?”

“I can’t take it anymore,” she groaned. “It’s too confusing.”
“Yeah, I guess they were getting kind of detailed. Let’s see if there’s anything else on.”
La-Iin began to change the station. “You know, I can see how it would be beneficial to pretend you’re good when you’re actually evil. But I could never do that.”
“Yeah, you’re too stereotypically evil for that.”
“Besides, I’m past the point of no return. Everyone knows I’m evil!”
“Hm, that does build up more resistance against you, though.”
La-Iin groaned. “Don’t talk using that tone!”

—–
“Mama, do you see good and evil as complicated or simple?”
Mit-Sun blinked. “I think it depends on the person. It’s mostly simple but some people make it complicated. Why?”
La-Iin sighed. “Talk shows…”
“Huh?”

17.563.Nothing But a Child

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 563
“Nothing But a Child”

“Gee, you know, it sure feels like we read a lot of more modern books lately,” Xelshy-Mitter said. “Maybe next time we meet, we should read one of the classics.”
“What’s wrong with modern books?” Asul-Zenza said.
“Yeah, they are what’s been coming out recently.”
“The classics were once modern themselves. And there is such a thing as a modern classic, you know.” Lise-Mara said. “The classics are a good place to look. You can find many a good story there, or at least, you can understand how some trope or another became so popularized.”
“You guys haven’t read science fiction until you’ve read classic science fiction. It’s some weird stuff!” Xelshy-Mitter said.
“You guys act like I have something against the classics! You know I don’t, right?”
“I’ve read plenty of the classics myself. How can we guarantee it’s not something one of us has already read?”
“We always go over this, Asul-Zenza.”
“Lise-Mara, I’m starting to think there’s a reason they’re more interested in modern books.”
“Oh?”
“They’re the younger Vampires in this book club, remember? They’re not even one-hundred yet!”
“You aren’t either, you know.”
“Yeah, but I’m ninety-nine. Close enough. Still technically an adult Vampire. Here, anyway. Meanwhile they’re still technically kid Vampires!”
“Xelshy-Mitter, you traitor! Now you’re siding with Lise-Mara when it comes to age? She’s still tons older than you, you know!”
Lise-Mara huffed. “No offense, of course.”
“Yeah, I guess all of us can at least get along in the fact that we’re older than Asul-Zenza.”
“Why are you turning against me now!?”
“‘Cause you’re the youngest,” Niser-Zanta said, flashing a grin. Lise-Mara sighed.
“I’m sure it has nothing to do with age in actuality. But it is true that a lot of more modern works tend to be more popular among younger Vampires. After all, you like Killy Shell.”
Niser-Zanta and Xelshy-Mitter shuddered.
“Ironically enough, even though he’s the youngest of us all, he’s still the only one with a kid!”
“I don’t appreciate you all ganging up on me.”
“Aw, don’t be upset, Asul-Zenza. We’re just having a little fun at your expense.”
“How would you like it if I had fun at your expense?”
“Er–”
“Don’t be hypocritical. How many times have you three made fun of my age?”
“Yeah, but we’re making fun of it for the reverse reason,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and besides Niser-Zanta’s basically the only one who calls you old.”
Lise-Mara narrowed her eyes at him, and he flinched.
“I know I’m a young Vampire, but Vampires are young for a long while. And I’ve finished puberty, not to mention I’m technically an adult by Vaelyn’s standards!”
“Vaelyn’s standards are nineteen, Asul-Zenza. And when all four of us were nineteen, we were kind of, you know, kids.”
Asul-Zenza’s face flushed.
“Now, let’s make the decision on what we read next week.”
“Ooh, how about SoPo Wars with Nothing to Do?” Xelshy-Mitter suggested.
“NO!”

***

“Asul-Zenza, I really don’t understand why you don’t visit more often! You do do a lot with your life, but most of it is choice. How come I and your Floma don’t come up often in that choice?”
“Well, I know I can see you and Floma nearly any time I want, Darseen. That and, well, you two are often busy.”
“I understand. And, sorry Anil-Kosha isn’t here to see you.”
“It’s not a problem. I understand. Besides, I didn’t exactly come here for a leisurely visit either.”
“What’s the problem? Still having trouble with the situation with Blooudine? I’m worried about her as well. She seemed to have her heart set on passing alongside him.”
“No, it isn’t that, and you reminding me of that issue makes me think my current problem is worth nothing…”
“It most certainly isn’t worth nothing, Asul-Zenza! Tell me what’s on your mind, son, and I’ll do all I can to help you.”
“…am I really like a child, Darseen?”
“Wha?”
“Earlier today I had a meeting with my book club. Not a book club meeting, just a general meeting, and while we did decide what book to read next….ergh, that’s not the point! The others there started picking fun at the fact that I’m the youngest of them. And I understand that I am still a fairly young Vampire, but damn it, I’m almost sixty-six! They seem to think it’s hilarious that this child-like Vampire already has a child of his own! It frustrates me!”
“That’s all?”
“See, I knew it! You think it’s ridiculous! And I know it is, but–”
Verde-Nenda chuckled. “Asul-Zenza, when you act like that you do seem exactly like a petulant child.”
“What!?”
“Oh, Asul-Zenza, there is a fact you need to face. Vampires and those of other species are different. Even Groundisers are different than us. Do you know why we consider Vampires of, say, twenty-two to be children even though by nearly every other species’ standard that’s adulthood? Even Groundisers who live about as long as us see that as adulthood, and do you know why?”
“Why?”
“Groundisers are typically finished with puberty by twenty-two! Not to mention, it’s also a maturity issue. A Vampire’s maturity isn’t really adult-ready until the hundreds, sometimes not even at the hundreds. While granted this is a debateable issue given nineteen isn’t exactly adult-maturity age for other species but still the legal age of majority in Vaelyn, it still doesn’t change the fact that, really, you are a lot younger than others.”
“…”
“Yes, you have finished puberty, but you’re much shorter out of it than some other people your age–save for other Vampires, of course. And we Vampires do live long. Normals of elderly ages will sometimes call twenty-year-old Normals children, it’s sort of like that.”
“I don’t understand. How come I’m not considered an adult? I have finished puberty, and even if I have immature parts to my personality, doesn’t everyone? I’d consider myself fairly responsible.”
“I would too. And you aren’t really a child anymore. Most Vampires at age sixty-five aren’t running around in diapers still, that perception of us is stupid. But you know what it’s like–just as some of other species consider themselves to be adults at eighteen or twenty or so depending on where they live, Vampires vary as to whether it’s about fifty, sixty or seventy that qualifies as a Normal’s nineteen, for example, if they’re even thinking that young.”
“I see…”
“Don’t get so overworked about it. If you do people will only pick on you more.”
“I understand. I just wish they’d at least call me like an adolescent rather than a child. That’s technically what I am, isn’t it?”
“If you’re going by Vampire standards. But it’s all a matter of maturing. We take longer, so we accommodate in terms of consideration. Besides, at least in my case, it’s hard to see you as an adult when most of my memories are of you as a child.”
“Oh, Darseen, that’s silly.”
“Bah, why should I care? But I can understand your position, Asul-Zenza. I’m practically two-hundred, quite young for a Vampire, and I feel like an old man, heh! It’s easy to feel grown up early when you’re stuck as young for a while. And I’m sure your Floma would agree with me. Now if there’s someone we can actually call old, that would be Blooudine!”
“She’s lived quite the life,” Asul-Zenza sighed.
“Say, since you’re here and this conversation seems just about done, what do you say we go for a quick fly across Vampira? My best time around each part of it is about two hours.”
“Two hours? That sounds ridiculously long. Or are you including stopping?”
“I’d never include stopping!” He said. “So, want to fly?”
Asul-Zenza grinned. “Certainly, Darseen!”

—–
“All of you in the book club might call me young. And I acknowledge that I am fairly young, still. But I will give myself this. La-Iin was not born in the midst of my puberty. I am responsible for myself. I’m more like a Normal who has not reached twenty-five yet. If Normals can be considered adults at nineteen, then I think I should at least be considered a major. But no matter if you all consider me a minor. I know what I am.”
“….um, Asul-Zenza? That was obnoxious,” Niser-Zanta said.
“Yeah, and totally unnecessary. Nobody made fun of your age today.”
“Although someone already made fun of mine,” Lise-Mara said, glaring at Niser-Zanta.
“I know, I just had to say it to someone. I guess in short terms, I’m not going to get upset when you call me young any longer.”
“Let’s see how long you stick to that,” Niser-Zanta said.
“You’ll see, Niser-Zanta. I shall hold to my word.”

“Dami, what did you call for? You never told me.”
“Oh, just something ridiculous. I thought you might get upset if I said what it was.”
“You aren’t going through a Haner situation, are you!?”
“No, of course not! I think I was too burned by Mit-Sun to do that. No, it’s just one silly little thing, one of those Dami things I never thought I’d say. But since you seem to be maturing at the pace of a Normal, I might as well say it. Grow up at your own pace if you want, but don’t grow up too fast, alright?”
“Huh?”
“It’s alright, La-Iin. It’s nothing important. I’ll talk to you again soon.”

29.545.The Adventure in Bledger–Part 1

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 545
“The Adventure in Bledger–Part 1”

“Hey, La-Iin. Whatcha up to? Not hanging out with Sara for once?”
La-Iin and Fer-Shi’s longest period of break time had arrived, and La-Iin had soon found she had nothing to do. She wasn’t unhappy, however. The memory of her mother’s rejection of Uil-Cur kept her from becoming unhappy, though she was immensely bored as she observed students utilizing their weak powers in the recess area. When Fer-Shi approached her, she felt as though she had been snapped out of something.
“Huh?”
“I said, not hanging out with Sara for once? In fact, you look pretty bored, so I asked, what’s up?”
“Does it look like anything’s up? Nothing’s up. I’m just happy about something that happened recently.”
“Really? What?”
“You wouldn’t understand. There’s too much background I’d have to give you so you don’t get the wrong idea.”
Fer-Shi sighed. “It feels like you say that a ton recently.”
“Getting jealous again?”
“No, just sad. You see, well, maybe this will sound petty to you, but I remember the times we always hung out together. Not only that, but we are a friendship between good and evil, and you have other friends who understand you better now. I guess I just feel inadequate compared to back then.”
“Do you think our friendship is so weak that it will break because we haven’t talked as much recently? I still talk to you every week. When was the last week I didn’t?”
“I know, I know,” Fer-Shi sighed. “It’s just me being petty. You used to be concerned about our friendship. Now it’s my turn.”
“Well, don’t be. Lately I’ve been concerned with my goals and other people are helping me discover more about my goals than you are. If I had nobody I would be talking to nobody. It’s just a matter of that. So stop feeling inadequate.”
“Easier said than done,” she siad, then gasped. “Hey, wait a second, I’ve got an idea.”
“What?”
“Didn’t we talk about going on an adventure earlier this year? Like an adventure throughout all of Bledger!”
“Maybe that came up once. We talk about a lot of things, Fer-Shi.”
“Well, do you have anything to do with your time?”
“No, not particularly. Though you never know when something will come up. Why? Did you want to go on an adventure now? Fer-Shi, you’re a goody-goody. Aren’t you worried about missing school?”
Fer-Shi shook her head. “School ends on Wednesday, and anyway if we just stay within Bledger we should be alright. Maybe we should test ourselves to see how much ground we can cover in one day! We’ve been lots of places in Bledger, but I want to see if we can find a new place all by ourselves! So what do you say?”
“It sounds like a good idea. Although I’m not going unless blood and snacks are part of the deal.”
“Ooh, all right…but if you have to suck my blood, can you do it in my arm or something like that and not my shoulder? It hurts there…”
“I didn’t mean your blood, I meant like blood packs, and I can get those from home. Though I’ll accept your blood too,” she said with a wink.
“Why do I never try and predict what you’re going to say…” Fer-Shi sighed. “Well, whatever. Alright, I’ll get some snacks from home and you can get some snacks from home, bring whatever else you might need for a day, and we’ll go on an adventure! Boy, I sure hope I don’t worry my Mom and Dad too much.”
“They know what to expect from me.”
Fer-Shi giggled. “Yeah, I guess you’re right!”

***

“What are you packing for, La-Iin?”
“Me and Fer-Shi are going to walk around…the park area near Bledger because there’s something she wanted to show me. I don’t know how far it is so I wanted snacks.”
“Do I get to go on this little escapade of yours?”
“Maybe. I’m still tossing the idea around.”
“I see. Well, don’t stay out too late because I’m making a dinner you like. Also it worries me when you’re out too late.”
“It should.”
“It doesn’t worry me because of how you act, you know. A lot of the times you’ve been out too late something happened to you. Granted, some of the time it has been just that you’ve been acting up, but I know that’s not always the case. I want to play it safe.”
“If you say so, Mama.”
Choungetsu stood on his hind legs and sniffed at La-Iin’s backpack. She snatched the backpack away from him.
“I hope you’re not still thinking about Haner.”
“I wasn’t, not right now anyway. Just about you. Maybe sometime soon you and I should go somewhere. It’s hard to feel close to you when you’re so antagonistic.”
“Antagonism is in my nature. But don’t worry, Mama. Now that you turned down Haner, a lot of my anger towards you has dissipated. I need to get over the rest and then you can read me silly books again if you want.” She fastened her backpack. “I’m going to go now.”
“Be safe. See you soon.”
La-Iin gave no response. She head out the door and began to fly almost as soon as she was outside, heading for the meeting place she and Fer-Shi had decided on–the park area she had told Mit-Sun about.
Once she reached the park area, she spotted Fer-Shi sitting on a bench. She waved to La-Iin, and La-Iin landed next to her.
“Hi there, La-Iin.”
“Hello.”
Fer-Shi glanced around the park. A few families were out playing with their children. “Let’s go over to the bushes,” she whispered. La-Iin nodded and followed her.
“Which direction should we head in first?”
“The most foresty, the better. The most foresty areas I’ve been to is the one nearby the school and a few other places I don’t remember as well.”
“Well, that works! We’re already in a foresty area!” Fer-Shi giggled. “Come on, let’s go!”
Fer-Shi led the way through the bushes and the trees. La-Iin followed behind her and found herself becoming quickly bored by the same repetitive sight of trees and bushes. Soon enough, however, Fer-Shi pushed her way through a tall bush and the two found themselves in a dilapidated area that seemed almost abandoned. Fer-Shi gave a squeal and walked closer to La-Iin’s side.
“This kind of reminds me of the place we meet up with Imagination at,” La-Iin said.
“Yeah, it kinda does…still, it seems different somehow…”
“Maybe it’s the same place and just the main part.”
Fer-Shi swallowed hard. “Well, wherever we are, we should try and find our way out soon! Who knew going through the park could lead you here….maybe we should go back the way we came.”
“No way. We might find something interesting here. I’ve explored nearby that park, but I’ve never gone too far in this neighborhood. And that’s if this is even the same neighborhood with the graveyard!”
Fer-Shi took a deep breath. “Guess you’re right,” she said. “I can’t always be such a scaredy-catori, especially when I’ve got a friend who’s way too overconfident. But I’m sure you’re scared of something!”
“False bravery.”
“See!? I got–” Fer-Shi blinked. “Hey!”
La-Iin took the lead as they walked through the area. Though the blue sky shone above them, the area itself seemed relatively dark. Houses around them were in bad condition and some were boarded up, but none seemed to be inhabited except by a few animals.
“Wow, look at all the Vampire animals.”
“I’ve never seen this many in one area,” Fer-Shi said. “I guess with all the people gone, the animals must have taken control of this area.”
“I wonder if they like sucking people blood. Animals are so lucky. If they’re evil other animals don’t get on their case for it unless they’re trying to eat them. It’s people who end up hurting the evil animals in the end.”
“I guess you like animals, huh, La-Iin?”
“Not anymore than I like people, but I have more respect for the goody-goody animals than I do for goody-goody people.”
Fer-Shi chuckled, though she sounded nervous. La-Iin smirked. She ran ahead of Fer-Shi.
“Hey, wait! Don’t leave me behind!”
“Don’t worry! Look up ahead!”
Fer-Shi tilted her head to see past La-Iin. Up ahead was a field of dead grass intermixed with living grass. Curious, she picked up speed and stopped by La-Iin’s side to examine the grass.
“Wow.”
“This place is amazing,” La-Iin squealed, sitting down on the ground. “Nobody’s here to bother you, and it’s got a perfect feeling. It makes me happy!”
“I guess it is pretty nice once you get past the scary part.”
“I’ve been to other dirty neighborhoods before, but they always have evil failures lurking about. Like that stupid druggy neighborhood!”
“Um, maybe we shouldn’t talk about things like that right now.”
“Speaking of, I wonder where we would end up if we traveled past there?”
“Er–”
“I’m hungry.” La-Iin opened up her backpack and took out a package of beondegi. Nearby, Fer-Shi spotted a Vampire ferret watching her from afar.
“Looks like someone’s curious about your food,” Fer-Shi giggled.
“It’s like the predecessor of the Vampire-Ferreniao. I wonder if Vampire ferrets live as long as Vampire-anyings live.”
“I heard Vampire animals do live longer, but most of them rely on blood unlike Vampires.”
“What are you talking about? We people Vampires need blood to retain our sanity.”
“In your case that sounds about accurate…”
Once La-Iin had her fill of beondegi, the two pushed on and head into a dark forest. Fer-Shi held tight to La-Iin’s sleeve, glancing around for some other source of light aside from the small amounts of sunlight that made their ways through the trees.
“Scared?”
“Y-yes.”
“Hm.”
“Animals are nice, but who knows when one will want to eat you…”
“If you wouldn’t be scared of a Bearperson you shouldn’t be scared of a bear.”
“Mmn…what about Siren animals?”
“I thought I heard they only paralyze people. But with their voices instead of song!”
“Eep! Don’t use that kind of tone here!”
“You screeching is more dangerous than me growling!”
Throughout the forest the girls could hear many chirping noises. La-Iin felt slightly off-put, but she could tell Fer-Shi was in a worse position–her friend’s hands were shaking as she held tight to La-Iin’s sleeve. In response, La-Iin picked up the pace to make it quickly through the forest.
The further the girls made it through the forest, the more light they could spot up ahead. They entered a brighter area with a few small huts all around. Fer-Shi glanced around the area curiously.
“Where are we now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ooh, precious snake,” a woman cooed. The two girls glanced in her direction. “You are so gorgeous with your scales. No Lizardfoot could compare.”
“Are we in a species society?”
La-Iin walked ahead of Fer-Shi and peered into the huts. Fer-Shi froze. Inside the huts La-Iin could spot a Lizardfoot, in another a Bunety, and in yet another a Warlock. La-Iin felt as though she recognized the Warlock from somewhere. ‘Was he the one at–‘
“Who are you?” La-Iin nearly jumped up in surprise, until she realized that the woman was speaking to Fer-Shi.
“Um, I’m just passing by with my friend…we wanted to know where we were.”
“The nature society is where you would be. We believe in returning to our roots. Look around you at the diversity of animals! We evolved from such beings. Lizardfeet from lizards, Catori from cats, it’s beautiful. So we intend on returning to that period of time by living in harmony with our animal friends.”
“Yet you set up people tents,” La-Iin said. The woman’s eyes widened. “Come on, Fer-Shi, let’s go.”
“Um, okay. Good luck with your society!” Fer-Shi called as La-Iin dragged her away.
“…I can’t believe we’ve been such hypocrites. People, there needs to be a change made to our means of operation!”

Since leaving the nature society, La-Iin and Fer-Shi had mostly trudged through abandoned neighborhoods and forests. La-Iin couldn’t help but feel that the part of Bledger they were currently in was badly-cared for–that and that it would be a perfect place to set up a base if she ever felt inclined to. Fer-Shi, meanwhile, was enjoying the sights and spending time with La-Iin, but she felt nervous almost every step, and as the sky grew darker she began to miss her family.
At one point the sky grew too dark for the two to navigate well enough, and though La-Iin didn’t see it as an impediment she stopped for Fer-Shi’s sake inside a house. The two girls began to eat snacks.
“How do you think we can head home from here?” Fer-Shi asked.
“I don’t think we can. But don’t worry. I have experience with this type of situation.”
“What!?”
“We’re going to have to stay here,” La-Iin said simply. “You can’t navigate in the dark like I can, and without two people navigating in the dark we will get lost. Would you rather camp our or never see your Mama and Dami again?”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “Are you sure that’s the case, La-Iin? I’m sure we can make it back…”
“I don’t have as much trouble navigating in the dark as some other people and I have no idea where we are. So take my advice for once. We’ll be safer this way. And isn’t that what you want?”
“I guess…”
“Can I ask a favor before we sleep?”
Fer-Shi blinked. “I’m surprised you would…but go ahead.”
“I’d like a drink of your blood now.”
Fer-Shi whimpered. “Can you see well enough?”
“I can see you just fine.”
“Your night eyesight must be really good…okay, La-Iin, I’ll let you…”
Fer-Shi outstretched her arm. La-Iin pulled it toward her and took a drink of blood, letting go before she got carried away. She dabbed at Fer-Shi’s arm with her dress.
“That was good. Your blood has a nice taste.”
“Mm…”
Both girls laid down.
“Do you think we’ll make it back to our parents tomorrow, La-Iin?”
“Maybe. But don’t you see what a perfect advantage this is? Maybe we’re close to Malicerie, but if we aren’t we aren’t going to change anything by looking for it. We can take more of this time to adventure.”
“What about heading home!?”
“Oh, we can look for a way home, too, but we can also adventure. That’s my point. It’s been a lot of fun adventuring with you, Fer-Shi. A nice break for me. So the longer this goes on, the better.”
“…yeah, I guess it has been pretty fun even though it’s been scary,” Fer-Shi said. “Let’s do it, then.”
“Alright…but once we get some sleep,” La-Iin yawned.
“That’s for sure…good night, La-Iin…”
“Bad night,” La-Iin giggled. Noticing Fer-Shi’s glare, she said, “Oh, whatever. Good night.”

—–
Mit-Sun and the Sanhuuns were concerned.
“Our daughters aren’t back yet, and it’s almost time for school. They’ve been gone since the afternoon. They said they were just going down to the park!”
“As much as I don’t trust La-Iin, I don’t think she would keep Fer-Shi out this late…”
“Do you think something’s happened?” Tei-Sheu asked.
“I don’t know, but I’m worried that’s the case. Why else would they be gone for so long when they were just going to the park? I think we need to take actions into our own hands!”
“You want to look for our daughters ourselves? But they could be anywhere in Bledger!”
“I do want to do that, but I actually meant contact the authorities.”
“Oh. Right.”
Den-Matsu sighed. ‘Fer-Shi, I hope you’re alright, wherever you are…’ A worst-case scenario crossed his mind, but he pushed it away as he dialed the number for the police.

26.542.Leader of the Trio

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 542
“Leader of the Trio”

“Boys, I have called you out here after classes today not to deliver a speech of confidence, but instead to confront a matter I’ve been wondering about for a while now.
“Do we spend time together because I get to be with San-Kyung, and you get to be with San-Kyung, and because you get to be with both of us, or do we have a specific purpose?”
Both San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina gave La-Iin no immediate response.
After school that day she had summoned both boys and walked a short distance from Malicerie, and almost instantly went into the topic she had just brought up.
La-Iin herself had summoned the two boys with different intentions–she had wanted to spend time with San-Kyung to take her mind off the current situation between Mit-Sun and Uil-Cur. When Dosa-Mina had tagged along, La-Iin searched for a different topic, not wanting to involve Dosa-Mina in something she meant to be private between her and San-Kyung.
“I thought we just spent time together because we’re friends with San-Kyung and because we both wanted to help him find his true form.”
La-Iin noticed San-Kyung flinch. “Yes, well, that’s good and all, but the trio of us together is not one where everyone likes each other.”
Dosa-Mina rolled his eyes. “I’m well aware of that.”
“What’s the point of this again? If there’s something specific you want to do, then just say something instead of beating around the bush.”
“What I wanted to do was foiled by rival-boy,” La-Iin growled under her breath. Dosa-Mina gave her a curious glance. “But anyway, this all came up from a lot of thoughts I’ve had lately. If not all of us like each other, then when we spend time together it’s just me and Dosa-Mina endlessly fighting for a chance to spend time with you. I’m sure that pisses you off.”
“I’m surprised you said something smart for once.”
“I might seem stupid to you but that’s just because of your intellect. I’m actually very smart for a seven-year-old half-Vampire.”
“I suppose she’s got you there,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Anyway, I think that’s a bad way to operate. It’s one thing if you and me are alone together, or if me and rival-boy are alone together, or if….ugh…you and rival-boy are alone together, but if we’re all together doing nothing, then it’s just going to be me and rival-boy fighting or monopolizing your attention while the other fumes silently.”
San-Kyung narrowed his eyes. “So I propose we make a purpose for ourselves when it is the three of us. The pursuit of San-Kyung’s true form is a noble goal, but I think it needs to be put on hold for now.”
You think, but I plan on continuing to help him. I have to.”
“Stop acting like it’s your destiny to help him,” La-Iin snapped. “And I want to help him too. But if we don’t have a purpose as a trio, all that will happen is what I said was gonna happen!”
“What makes you think that will?” San-Kyung asked.
“Because I know myself. And I know how much I hate rival-boy.”
“Well, if you want our trio to have a purpose so badly, then how about this: we’re together to help each other.”
San-Kyung grimaced. “That would probably mostly entail helping you, San-Kyung, seeing as you’re the only one who’s consistently liked in this group. Anyhoo, it could work. We’d put our efforts together for the goal of helping each other with our goal. For me that wouldn’t be so hard. I already know lots about Animated Pumpkins, I’m just mostly curious about some of your strange powers. Not all the Vampire powers are well-documented, especially not that one that makes you transform into a Pureblood rather than a bat.”
La-Iin smiled.
“Meanwhile, we could help San-Kyung find his true form and help him with things like his other goals and his…car, and I suppose we could help you do whatever it is you want to do that won’t get us killed or result in San-Kyung being considered a pedophile.”
“What kind of things do you think I’d ask help for!?”
“I might not be completely sure, but I’ve known you for a year and so. I have a pretty good idea of the things you’re into because you’re not exactly subtle about them.”
“I could say the same about you,” San-Kyung said.
“I’m proudly not subtle about my interests! And are you defending her against me!?”
“This only proves I’m more on the right path than you are, rival-boy,” La-Iin said. “But a group dedicated to fulfilling our individual interests does sound as if it could work out. I have my curiosities about my powers as well, and much as I hate to admit it you do know a lot about species study.”
“Why thank you!”
“I’m always happy to help San-Kyung, and of course I’d love to see my own interests fulfilled as well. I already have an idea, in fact, heh heh heh…”
“Now look what you’ve done,” San-Kyung sighed. “And I notice neither of you asked for my input on this trio of ours…”
“Well, what do you think, San-Kyung?”
“I think the idea of helping La-Iin with something she wants makes me sick. But I’ll give it a shot since I’m outnumbered.”
“You’re being awfully placating lately, San-Kyung. Show me more of your fire!”
San-Kyung struck his hand.
“I don’t think she meant it like that.”
“I know she didn’t.” He put out the fire. “I’m accepting of my own volition. If I didn’t agree with this idea I wouldn’t go along with it. I’m reluctant to help you because I know how you can be.”
“Well, you shouldn’t be. Not all my requests are going to inconvenience you. Besides, I’d prefer certain requests be done outside the prying eye of a certain Weresiren…”
“Don’t call me that in public.”
“And I think I’d prefer not to be around you when you act like that. Or alone with you at all.”
“But now that that’s settled, I have another problem. When in groups like these, it’s usually good to have a leader to decide most of our actions. You could say it should be San-Kyung, since he’s the one we both like. Or it could be rival-boy, because he suggested the idea of us all helping out. By that process of elimination, I think I should be the leader.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” San-Kyung said.
“Yeah, you just said we have more viable reasons to be the leader.”
“Exactly! I’m the only one who hasn’t contributed much yet. So I’m going to be the leader. We’ll do well under my guidance.”
“I’m not going along with that.”
La-Iin’s wings began to flap rapidly. “I bet if I said rival-boy should be the leader you would!”
“Even if you did I wouldn’t agree with that. I’d rather not be bossed around by someone. If the point of this stupid organization is to help each other with our goals then why does there need to be a leader? If there’s going to be a leader, I’m out of it. You and Dosa-Mina can enjoy your little duo from then on.”
“If you leave there won’t be any sort of organization. La-Iin can barely stand to be two seconds alone with me unless it has to do with you in some way.”
“He has a point, San-Kyung.” La-Iin sighed. “Fine, if it keeps you around then there will be no leader. Now that’s what I like to see from you, San-Kyung. We could use more of your suggestions!”
“I’m already not a big fan of this idea.”
“I know, but it’ll work out. Probably. At least you won’t have to worry about me and rival-boy arguing all the time.”
“I don’t believe for one second that you’ll stop arguing with Dosa-Mina. You take any chance you can get.”
La-IIn remained silent on that subject. “Should we give this trio a name?”
“Why are you putting so much thought into this, La-Iin? You know, we could just leave it at being a trio who works together to help each other achieve our own ends.”
“You wouldn’t understand, rival-boy.”
“Aw, come on, La-Iin, you’re so simple I doubt I couldn’t understand.”
La-Iin glared at him. “Er, well, of course, not like I’d want to.”
“You know, you and San-Kyung took a chance to be upset about his true form and whatever you’re upset about. I have my own problems that I don’t know if they’re going to end up going well or not, and I don’t want to act upset. My future is on the line. I’m the one who makes or breaks how this all goes.”
“Huh?”
“I just needed a distraction,” she said simply. “We don’t have to do this stupid trio. I don’t want to be in any sort of alliance with you anyway.”
“So you’re just going to turn your back on a chance to do something with me. That’s surprising.”
“Don’t put it like that, San-Kyung. I’m not turning my back on that chance. If you two still want to do the trio, that’s fine. But I’m saying we don’t have to.”
“I think it sounds fine,” Dosa-Mina said.
“I don’t care.”
La-Iin huffed. “Well, we’ll see what happens. But if this trio does happen, I propose we call ourselves “Dark Queen, Husband and Servant”. I’m going home now. See you soon.”
La-Iin walked off. Once she was out of earshot, the two began to speak again.
“If this trio really does happen, we’re not calling ourselves that.”
“That’s for certain.”

—–
“I almost forgot about San-Kyung’s car, now that I think about it,” La-Iin mused to herself.
“San-Kyung’s….what, now?”
“If this trio really does happen that should be one of the first things we do. See his car again. I’d love to ride in it…”

14.530.A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 530
“A Dark Sadness in a Young Heart”

“This stinks.”
“What now? I know you got in trouble for all the damage you caused yesterday, but is it worse than I thought?”
“It actually has nothing to do with my blood tests. Those are perfect. It’s something else entirely.” She growled. “Why is everyone else in such a stupid place!?”
“What?”
“Mama keeps hanging out with that Haner guy and she was feeling bad about her parenting, and it’s just so annoying and I have a bad feeling about what it could mean. Fer-Shi’s getting more irritated with my evil than she used to and she’s down about not having a dream! San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina are still looking sad even though I gave them an inspirational speech! I haven’t even seen Dami, Ai-Reia always hates me, and I haven’t seen Sale-Dessu either. I hate it. Every time it seems like something’s going right lately, something else goes wrong.”
“My, that’s a lot of pent-up frustration.”
“I may complain about you a lot, but you’re a saving grace, Bes-Isa. You’re not as annoying as the others are being right now. There’s even a girl at school who I agreed to be somewhat-friends with called Sara, but she doesn’t have any confidence at all.”
“I’m flattered that I’m the saving grace in this whole situation.”
“I need to see someone who isn’t like all those others. I need some advice, but you can’t give me the advice I need.”
“I’d protest, but point taken. I’m not the biggest fan of all those people you mentioned. Hey, wait a second. I’ve got an idea. If you need to talk to someone who’s not me and who’s not being a total idiot or depressia, what about that girl–you know, the one who claims she’s a ghost?”
“Imagination?”
“Yeah, her. That woman wouldn’t mind because you’d be taking Choungetsu off on a walk. That’d give you time to cool off. And after that you could always stop by the Astineth house. Complain about Sale-Dessu all you like, but he’s just been locked in his house recently. He might not be as depressed or annoying as all the others.”
“Maybe, but he has Eul-Bok there, too. I think Imagination is my best bet. Good idea, Bes-Isa.”
“Why, thank you, La-Iin. And since I’m such a genius as to have suggested that idea, may I come along? I haven’t gotten to see much of this little ghost-girl as you, the furball and Fer-Shi. And I have my own curiosities about her.”
La-Iin nodded. She head downstairs, put Choungetsu on a leash and head out.

***

“This part of town is pretty spooky. You know, you should come by here more often. It’d make for a perfect base or home away from home.”
“Maybe. You know, it’s times like these I wonder how I could ever get irritated with you, Bes-Isa. Then I remember the irritating things you can say.”
“Huh!”
“But you’re still not as irritating as Choungetsu can be,” she said. Choungetsu turned around and cocked his head. “And even he’s still not as irritating as everyone else is being.”
La-Iin turned into the graveyard and was surprised to see that there was no sign of Imagination.
“Maybe she was smart enough to leave for once.”
“Aw, damn. I was really betting on meeting up with her.”
“Why? You barely know her.”
“I have my reasons.”
“Well, I’d like to know–”
Choungetsu stiffened, his eyes widening. La-Iin turned in the direction he was staring.
“La-Iin!” Imagination called out. “I didn’t expect to see you here! Why’d you come to the graveyard? Did you bring Fer-Shi?”
“No, I didn’t. But I didn’t come here to play.”
“We never play, though, so why would you? That makes sense. Why’d you come here, then?”
“I want to talk.”
“What about? If it’s about me being a ghost, that’s boring me. I already told you several times I’m a ghost, and even if you don’t believe me I know it’s true and that’s all that matters.”
La-Iin shook her head. “It’s not about you being a ghost, it’s a stupid problem I have.”
“Aw, your problems probably aren’t stupid,” Imagination said. “What’s wrong, La-Iin?”
“Bes-Isa wanted to talk to you first.” She levitated Bes-Isa up to Imagination’s face. Imagination flinched away slightly.
“Hi, Bes-Isa. You’re a V-Puppet. I remember you a little. I never had a V-Puppet. What’s it like being a V-Puppet?”
“Can you focus on one subject?”
“I am. V-Puppetry.”
“It’s all I know, so how am I supposed to explain it? What’s it like being autonomous?”
“It’s a little different depending on whether you’re dead or alive. Is that what you wanted to talk about?”
“Nope. It was just a little morbid curiosity about what your life was like before you claim to have died. Was the world a darker place back then?”
“I guess a little. Back when I was alive there were a lot of things different. When I left the graveyard today I wandered around Bledger and I saw a lot of Dualbreeds. It’s weird because back when I was alive, if you saw a Dualbreed they probably had Normal in them just like me. But I saw a Minomix-Birdmix and a Lizardfoot-Snowliv! Sheesh, how can you be a Snowliv when it’s getting so hot outside?”
“I wonder that too.”
“But yeah, there are some things different. Though if we lived in Manemica, I could probably tell you even more things that were different. Manemica and Vaelyn are pretty different places. Though I saw a few Manemican influences here in the modern-day, heh heh.” Imagination smiled. “Well, I can tell you more, Bes-Isa, but I’m worried about La-Iin. What’s wrong, my friend?”
La-Iin glanced over her shoulder. “Except for Bes-Isa, everyone in my life is being annoying. I wanted to come to you because I figured you wouldn’t be annoying me, or at least not as much as they are..”
“…thank you,” Imagination said. “But I don’t know how I can help…”
“Recently I got something that’s really great for me. An amazing power I wasn’t supposed to get until I was older.”
Imagination clapped. “Good for you, La-Iin!”
“But then everything went to shit!” Imagination flinched. “Everyone either started being depressing or annoying. And I can’t stand it! This power is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I’m sick of everyone ruining it!”
“Why are they so sad? Is it because of the power?”
“No.”
“Have you tried making them happy?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Hm…” Imagination paced around the graveyard. “That sounds pretty annoying, La-Iin. I don’t think it would make me angry, but I can see why it makes you angry. And you can’t solve it, hm…”
“It’s not fair,” La-Iin huffed. “I’m evil. Sometimes I wish I was more like San-Kyung and I didn’t care about people as much. But I don’t want to be like he is now.”
“Aw, that’s okay, La-Iin. Caring about people is a good thing. It makes you feel better if nothing else. At least it did for me. You’re lucky because you have friends. I didn’t really. But now I have you and Fer-Shi and Choungetsu, and maybe Bes-Isa?”
“We’ll see about that, ghosty girl.”
Choungetsu looked up at her with a smile.
“Well, whatever happens, don’t let them get you down. You should enjoy your brand-new power to the fullest. And don’t feel sad about liking people. I think everyone likes someone!”
“Huh.”
“You like me and Bes-Isa and Choungetsu. And you have me, and Bes-Isa, and Choungetsu! So while these people are being all sad, I say you focus on the people who aren’t, and then also focus on yourself. You don’t always have to focus on other people, you know?”
“I know that.”
“I knew you did. You’re pretty smart for a little kid.”
“It was good to get that off my chest,” La-Iin breathed.
“Yeah, you look a lot more relieved now.”
“You really do. That’s good.”
“Maybe I should show you my new power. After all, you don’t talk to anyone else.” La-Iin grinned.
“GIVE ME YOUR BLOOOOD!”
“Eek! La-Iin, I don’t have any blood!” Imagination said, dashing away. La-Iin chased after her in the air. Soon enough, Imagination’s shrieks turned into giggles, and La-Iin found herself having genuine fun for what felt like the first time in a while.

—–
“Let’s see if he’s being a depressio.” La-Iin knocked on Sale-Dessu’s door. No response.
“Maybe he’s asleep.”
“We’ll see about that!” La-Iin banged herself against the door. “SALE-DESSU! OPEN UP!”
As she did that, memories of her time in the graveyard flashed in her mind–she was certain her fangs had met Imagination’s skin, but they had sunk into nowhere. Perhaps she imagined it in the speed of the moment, but it made her feel a mixture of unease and excitement.
La-Iin waited there so long she was ready to leave, but soon enough the door opened and out peeked a familiar face, though now wearing casual clothes, glasses and with maroon-colored hair, La-Iin could still recognize it as Sale-Dessu.
“La-Iin,” he said quietly. “It’s good to see you again.”
“Why do you look like that?”
“An experiment,” he said. “What brings you here?”
“You know what does.”
“Just give me a moment and you can come on in, alright?”
La-Iin narrowed her eyes, but to her surprise it took shorter for Sale-Dessu to set up than it did for him to open the door. “Come on in, then.”
La-Iin smiled to herself as she and Bes-Isa went inside.

5.521.Pumpkin Psychology

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 521
“Pumpkin Psychology”

“Hm…”
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“I’m not sure how much longer I can stand this,” she said, her eyes narrowing.
“How much longer you can stand what? You’ve been acting kind of weird lately, La-Iin.”
“You say that about me, but there’s someone in this class who has been acting even weirder.”
“Um…San-Kyung? Oh no. Never mind!”
“This behavior of his is nothing like the fire he normally has,” La-Iin said. “And I’m fine with San-Kyung almost all of the time, but this is irritating. At this rate he’ll randomly give up just because of what, being sad?”
“Huh?”
“I understand the place San-Kyung is in because I was just in there. But now I know the truth. It’s time I got through to him, once and for all.”
“Good for you?”
“You don’t need to understand any of it, Fer-Shi. Just know that I know that San-Kyung isn’t acting right and I’m gonna do whatever it takes to get his fire back! For that is the San-Kyung I love the most!”
“Miss Cahongyun, SHUT UP!!!”
La-Iin slumped in her seat, but not before raising her middle finger at Mr. Chensu, who failed to notice it.
“La-Iin!”
“What? It’s not like he saw it.”

***

“As soon as San-Kyung gets home, we’ll try everything we can to get through to him,” Salsh-Era said.
“I’ve seen San-Kyung through a lot of points in time, but he seems really bad at this one,” Del-Kyuus sighed. “Even in November he hasn’t seem this sad…”
Salsh-Era grabbed his wife’s hands. “Don’t worry, Kyuusie. We’ve thought long and hard on this. Obviously a professional would never get through to San-Kyung. He’d just try to incinerate them. But even when he hated everyone else in the world, he still loved us. And with that said, what makes you think he won’t hear us out at all? We just have to appeal to what he likes in the world. And that may not be much, but I do know a few things he likes.”
“This has nothing to do with those, um, well…”
“That depends on how desperate the situation gets. But it’s a last resort only, okay!?”
“Okay, Salsh-Era, you don’t need to yell. And you don’t need to keep holding onto my hands, either.”
“Well, I want to take my chances while he’s gone, too…ever since he turned thirteen he’s been getting mad at any little display of affection we show for each other. I want to be able to call you Kyuusie again without getting screamed at.”
“You have right now to be able to do that,” Del-Kyuus said with a smile. Salsh-Era smiled back. “I know I do. And I’m going to take advantage of that as best as possible. But our focus is still on our son. If we can’t break him out of this, who knows what might happen in a few days, a few weeks? We need to keep trying until we succeed.”
“I know. And we will!”
The door opened and Salsh-Era let go of Del-Kyuus’ hands. “Hello there, San-Kyung. How was school today?”
“Why do you care?” He asked. “It was the same as always.”
“I wonder sometimes if we should have sent you to a different school. It feels like a lot of your potential is being wasted at Malicerie.”
“Yeah, San-Kyung. You know, we’re really proud of you for getting the grades you have.”
San-Kyung scratched at his head. “I just study so I won’t get yelled at.”
“Well, it’s definitely paid off.”
“I think you might even be smarter than me!” Del-Kyuus giggled.
“What’s with all the sudden compliments?”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus froze. “U-uh, we had nothing to do while you were gone, so our minds just went to the first thing there was to think about, ha ha…”
“Speaking of, San-Kyung, is there anything you’d like to do today? We could go levitating around downtown, and have lots of tasty–”
Del-Kyuus stopped herself when she noticed the dark expression on San-Kyung’s face. “You two can do whatever you want. I won’t get in your way.”
He head off to his bedroom and closed the door.
“Well, that didn’t work,” Salsh-Era sighed.
“I had a bad feeling it wouldn’t be that easy. But that’s alright! We promised we would find a way to cheer him up, and we’re not going to stop here.”
“Yeah, I guess when he’s feeling down, mentioning levitation wasn’t the best idea.”
Del-Kyuus lowered her head. “B-but it’s alright! You were just trying to be kind, and your intentions mean more than what you said. We’ll get through to him, we have to!”
“You’re right, we have to, but I think we’d be best off bringing out the big guns.”
“Aren’t you the one who was worried about doing that!?”
“I was, but what you said made me think. San-Kyung seems to be in a bad place right now because something’s bothering him mentally. So perhaps if we have him do the things that make him feel in a good place mentally, we’ll get through to him that way!”
“Or distract him from the thoughts in his mind…you’re right, Del-Kyuus! That might just work. And I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to carry it through!”

San-Kyung laid down in his bed, his mood still stuck in the negative. He felt as though he should be getting up, at least heading off to Hledshess to wreak some havoc, before he remembered the recent incident and the dangers he might face if he did so. He contemplated calling Dosa-Mina, but figured he would be better off dealing with a problem he had away from the company of someone in as bad a mood as he was. He considered practicing his powers outside his house, but all he remembered was just how limited they were.
‘Just like my thoughts. Stupid and limited…’
“San-Kyung, dear?” Del-Kyuus’ voice and the creak of his bedroom door snapped him out of his self-deprecating thoughts.
“Sorry to bother you, San-Kyung, but we wanted to show you a little something.”
“What?”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus glanced at each other. “We think that you aren’t doing enough with your time! So we want to give you a special task to distract you!”
“…”
“See this book? We picked it up from the bookstore and when we noticed there was a warning for violence on the cover, we thought it might suit you. We want for you to read this book, then act out for us the violent scenes in it.”
“We’re going to go and buy some fake blood packs and a plush body so you can show it to us in all its gory detail!”
“And that’s not all. We want you to message Dosa-Mina with your blunt opinion on him and his affection. Blunt, and honest. See how he responds, then maybe let him show you a little more affection, alright?”
“And one other thing, San-Kyung? We want you to think long and hard on the things that are important to you, and the things that don’t matter. We want you to write them down, look them over and think even more. Don’t think too long, or you’ll burn yourself out, but think as long and hard as you can manage. Then when you’ve finished doing that, do something else like build up some muscle outside!”
“Why are you making me do all this?”
“Just figured you need something to do, and we’ve been pretty passive lately in letting you do what you want. But if you aren’t going to do what you want, then we’re going to give you something to do. We’re off now, but make sure to read that book, send that message and think, think, think!”
Salsh-Era and Del-Kyuus left the room, and San-Kyung heard Del-Kyuus giggle. He stared at the book, its cover adorned with a female Narwhaltae running away from a Demon-winged shadow, blood spatter behind them both. It looked utterly ridiculous, but he felt he recognized the title from somewhere.
“This isn’t…” He shook his head. “No, they don’t know about that, do they?”
He was reluctant to follow through on what his parents asked of him, especially since some of it sounded so ridiculous. But they were right: he truly did have nothing better to do. San-Kyung opened the book and relaxed in his bed, scoffing at the cheesy opening line.

***

I was asked to write this message to you by my parents. Don’t get on my case if it sounds stupid.
As far as I what I think of you: you are my only best friend, and I trust you probably even more than I trust my parents. Don’t tell them that, though. But you’re too secretive. You can be annoying sometimes, but it’s forgivable. And it’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like now if I had continued hating you back in Elementary school.
They also asked me to write about this as well. Your affection can be f@%king annoying sometimes! Especially when you do stupid stuff like kiss me or squeeze me so hard I feel like I’m going to die. But I don’t mind all of it, I suppose. If you stopped being affectionate I think it would seem weird. So don’t stop doing it, but for the love of specites don’t do stuff that makes us seem like we’re a couple!
Sorry to send you the random message, but my parents insisted and I had nothing better to do. So there you go. They want you to respond, but respond if you want to.

San-Kyung sighed. ‘That’s two things down. It’s been two hours and they aren’t back yet. Probably got sidetracked by Dad calling Mom Kyuusie…’
The last project they had asked him to do he was dreading, and he chided himself for not getting it out of the way first. Regardless he pulled a piece of paper out of an empty notebook and began to write his thoughts down.

My parents and Dosa-Mina: because they are the only people who matter in this world.
World domination: because paying back the world and its people will be so satisfying.
My true form: because that is who I truly am, with all my powers and my true appearance.
My powers: because without them I would lack a lot of capability.

After those four he felt stuck at a halt, but eventually more came to him.

La-Iin: necessary for my plans.
Hledshess Street: see above.
Certain books: reason not specified here.
Studying: learning more about the world and such gives me a better understanding of things, which I need.
Freedom: without it I would go mad from having nothing of worth in this world.
Smarts: without them I would be at a loss and unable to plan in the way I do. These have served me well.
Love: mostly worthless but helped me garner more strength. Also helped me to develop:
Ability of detachment: because you never know when someone will betray you.
October: without it I would never have true power or my true form at any point in time.

Once he turned over the paper, he began to write furiously.

The world: does nothing to protect itself.
People: two-faced assholes.
Sanyaow Lirako: major obstacle and annoyance.
Goodness: empty goal that nobody seems to truthfully pursue. (Exception: parents.)
Police: terrifying to someone like me. (Immature, I realize.)
November: torture device masquerading as a month.

San-Kyung took a breath and looked at the paper. He stashed it away inside a book, then glanced back at the small shelf of books.
‘It’s out of place! They couldn’t have…could they?’ Glancing back at the book he just read, he wasn’t sure.
He decided to take his mind off of it and see if Dosa-Mina had responded.

I owe your parents a favor if they made you write this! Thanks, San-Kyung. I haven’t been in a good mood lately so it was nice to see this! No guarantees I’ll stop being ‘annoyingly affectionate’ as you put it, though~

San-Kyung chuckled to himself. ‘Maybe my parents didn’t have too bad of an idea. I guess it’s better than laying in bed all day.’

***

When his parents arrived home with the body plush and the fake blood packets, San-Kyung instantly went to work recreating the book’s violence as best as he could, though he faced some limitations due to his species his parents still seemed impressed, that and shocked. San-Kyung felt slightly exhilarated once the whole ordeal was over.
“Now, we know you don’t eat often, but we also remember that one time you did eat, you liked this,” Del-Kyuus said. She set on the table a platter of animal organs.
“…you guys are trying too hard.”
“Maybe we are, but hey, seeing you destroy that body plush is a lot better than seeing you lie in bed all day.”
“I guess.” He started to eat the animal organ platter. Seeing his parents’ smiles, he was almost tempted to smile himself.

***

Darkness had covered the small neighborhood, and most houses had all their lights out for the night. In the midst of all this, a small shadow walked over to the Molshei house and opened one of the windows.
She moved quietly through the house, over to San-Kyung’s bedroom, and took a close look at him.
“San-Kyung?”
San-Kyung grumbled in his sleep.
“It’s a shame I missed seeing you awake. But I bet if you were awake, you’d appreciate what I did to get here. Sooner or later, I’ll make you feel a lot better than you have been recently.”
La-Iin’s heart thud hard in her chest at the idea that San-Kyung might wake, but when he didn’t, she continued on. “Someday I know you’ll achieve world domination, San-Kyung. And if you still can’t be in your true form, you can still help me out.”
“Stupid…” He mumbled. La-Iin blinked. She couldn’t tell if she was imagining things but it almost looked as if San-Kyung was smiling.
With a smile of her own, she kissed him on the forehead before leaving the house.

—–
“Why is this window open? Didn’t we close it?”
“Did you open a window last night, San-Kyung?”
“I didn’t…” His face paled. “No, that was just a dream, right? I didn’t actually hear her…”
“San-Kyung?”
San-Kyung’s eyes rolled into his head. His parents gasped and reached out to catch him.