8.646.October Reboot

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 646
“October Reboot”

“It’s finally come to that time again, San-Kyung.”
“Yeah, it has, hasn’t it?”
“Mm-hm. Finally, after all these months, October is here again.”
San-Kyung breathed in. “…it was here a week ago.”
“Aw, come on, San-Kyung! You know what I mean. October can properly begin now that I’m feeling a bit better about myself. But it won’t unless you cheer up, too.”
“Hm…” San-Kyung looked uncertain. Dosa-Mina sighed. “Come on. Take a cue from me and smile!”
San-Kyung’s mouth didn’t twitch, although to Dosa-Mina’s relief he didn’t seem angry. “Good enough!”
“I didn’t do anything.”
“Still, good enough!” He growled. “Oh, come on, San-Kyung! October is your month! The month where you are most powerful, the month where you make Bledger pay and you still haven’t gotten arrested for it! And besides, this November might be a crapshoot in terms of true forms, but there’s still Operation Reboot~”
San-Kyung blinked. “Yeah, speaking of that. I’ve been looking through that notebook you gave me. Geez, I wish you were a Warlock sometimes.”
“Aha. I don’t need another species to keep track of, thank you very much. I already tend to mistake myself for a Pureblood Normal. And sometimes I forget part of my species!”
“What’s wrong with you?”
Dosa-Mina shrugged. “But anyway, point stands. October is the month where you gain power and start planning for what dastardly way you’re going to scar Bledger next. And it’s also what I want to see.”
San-Kyung smiled. “Finally!”
“Yeah, you’re right. It just hasn’t crossed my mind enough recently. What with the whole species debacle…by the way, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that.”
“About what?”
“Why you keep coming to school like that. I thought you didn’t like your true form.”
“I don’t. I’m just trying to. And I admit, there’s something a little liberating about not having to hide it anymore. Also I figured it was better than coming to school all depressed. I’d rather people know me as “Dslellular Dosa-Mina, Werewolf-Siren and clingy best friend” than “Dslellular Dosa-Mina, Werewolf-Siren and depressing eleventh-grader”. And it hides my left arm cuts. It was pretty spur of the moment, but I have lots of reasons for doing it.”
“Well, that’s fine. I don’t have any objections. I’m the one who kept asking you to just reveal it already.”
“Yup, you were. Oh, and also, if I’m open about it, people probably won’t think I’m like…Dereni, was it? From Class B. I’d rather not have that sort of reputation, either. Not to mention, people started getting on Lirako’s case after I did this! …okay, I’ll shut up about reasons why. There are just a lot.”
San-Kyung chuckled. Dosa-Mina lowered his head.
“It feels like it’s been so long since I last got this feeling…”
“Is something wrong?”
“No. Actually, it’s great.” Dosa-Mina looked up with a wide smile and leaped at San-Kyung, pulling him close. With a giggle, he said, “I’m definitely cheering up now!”
“Good for you,” San-Kyung grunted. “Now could you let go of me!?”
Dosa-Mina pulled San-Kyung backwards, but let go of him soon after. San-Kyung flailed his arms in an attempt to keep from falling on Dosa-Mina; in his desperation he lifted himself above the bed.
San-Kyung gasped.
“Cool! Looks like your levitation just came in!”
San-Kyung laughed and began to levitate around Dosa-Mina’s room.
“Hey! Don’t break anything!”
San-Kyung continued his levitation for a short while longer before landing on Dosa-Mina’s bed.
“This is how October should be.”
“It’s how it’s gonna be, from here on out. No species bullies, no, um…whatever your problem is–nothing’s gonna stand in the way of our October!”
San-Kyung huffed. “Well, it’s not going to stand in my way, but it’s definitely something I need to think about. As much as I’d like to pretend this October is like all the others, there are some things that changed this year. Namely, you usually accompany me in your true form. This year, that won’t be so easy.”
“Oh…”
“But still! October is my month! I don’t want to waste this one even if things get in my way. There’s always time to think on these things later. I mean my problem, of course. I’ll have to come up with some sort of excuse for you. Guess I should start thinking…”
“How about I wear my hoodie on Halloween? That covers my face pretty good.”
“Yeah, I guess that could work. And then once October’s done, maybe we can finally make some more headway in Operation Reboot.”
“Yeah, um, speaking of that. What did you think about the notes I gave you? Aside from wishing I was a Warlock, I mean?”
“It definitely made me think that I’m going to have to swallow my pride in a worst-case scenario. But then again, it’s not that surprising. After all, I’ve heard what they say about Animated Pumpkins coming about because of Witches.”
“Yeah. …actually, I don’t know if I should say this, but–”
“Did you say something?”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “N-no, it’s nothing. Hey, San-Kyung, since your levitation came in, why don’t we go for a…would you call something like that a stroll? Well, anyway, we could levitate all over Bledger and you could make some cool vine art along the way. That’s what I was thinking.”
“Sounds fine. I would like to do something else with my time aside from talking.” He stood up, stretched, and levitated Dosa-Mina into the air. The two boys head out the house and above Dosa-Mina’s neighborhood. He couldn’t suppress an amused giggle as his neighborhood grew smaller and smaller.
He also couldn’t suppress his uncertainty.
‘That’s really what San-Kyung took away from that, huh? Well, I hope he’s right. I really don’t understand this transformation after all, it seems…but if my assumptions are right, and the power surge needs to be simulated to cause the transformation outside of October…how could you make that permanent? Or, forget that–if drugs don’t seem likely to successfully simulate the transformation, then are we sure that anything will?’
Dosa-Mina sighed. ‘Maybe I’m just looking at this too pessimistic. I hope my impression’s wrong. I don’t want San-Kyung to be sad again…’

—–
“You know what, Riya?”
“What am I supposed to know?”
“Look.”
Orlin-Aesth pointed in the direction of San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina. Dosa-Mina was holding tight to a protesting San-Kyung, still in his Werewolf-Siren form.
“Huh?”
“I’m happy. Our son is cheering up, and he’s in his true form!” Orlin-Aesth grinned. “This is too much. I’m too happy!”
He hugged Elai-Riya close. Elai-Riya was tempted to protest herself, but instead, she giggled.
“Stop teasing me!” Dosa-Mina yelled, and in their surprise, they let go of each other.

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7.645.Think Positive

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 645
“Think Positive”

As soon as she woke up, La-Iin could smell food cooking. Without getting dressed or even checking the time, she got out of bed and head downstairs, yawning. Choungetsu, who was sitting in front of her door, followed her downstairs with his tongue lolling.
When she arrived downstairs, Mit-Sun was setting down plates, a wide smile on her face. She continued to smile when she noticed La-Iin, though her tone sounded contrary to her expression.
“How come you’re still in pajamas? Don’t you usually get dressed before you come downstairs?”
“What time is it?” La-Iin yawned.
“It’s pretty early. Earlier than we normally get up. I felt energetic, so I decided to make breakfast now. We’ll probably have plenty of time before we have to leave, but I’m sure even if we stay home a little later than we should you’ll still make it to school on time. You have the benefit of wings and legs on your side. So I don’t think it matters.”
Mit-Sun’s smile deeply unsettled La-Iin. “Why are you so happy?”
“Oh, just things that have happened.”
“Like what things?
“Hey, you’ve been happy lately too. Why am I getting interrogated about my happiness?”
“Because mine makes clear sense. Yours doesn’t.”
Mit-Sun rolled her eyes, but her smile persisted. It only made the unsettled feeling in La-Iin stronger. “Well, my Papa–I mean Father–Father got out of the hospital recently. And also I’ve just been feeling pretty happy lately. Things have been going good for me, it seems. And that’s good. I really thought I was going to become one of those ‘dedicate your life to your kid’-type parents. I’m glad to see I can enjoy my own life as well as take care of you.”
La-Iin gagged. “Your happiness is astoundingly sickening, Mama. Somehow it’s even more intolerable than your half-assed goody-goodyness…”
“Oh, be quiet. I’ve been trying to think positive. Things have been great for me. You’re happy, even though you’ve been acting up, our life at home is fine, my Father is fine, even Asul-Zenza’s been less annoying lately.”
“You, complimenting Dami!?”
“Well, he’s trying his best, and he does love you, so I’ll give him that. But not to mention, Mrs. Eteibreit gave me a raise! It isn’t much, but it just seems really weird, because she’s been so grouchy lately! But you know what, I’ll take any goodness I can get. If even Mrs. Eteibreit is being nicer to me, then I’ve got to have some sort of luck on my side. That’s definitely reason to think positive in my book. And if I do, maybe if things start going downhill again, I’ll know how to handle them better.”
La-Iin nearly vomited. ‘It’s intolerable! A happy Mama is one thing. This is a whole nother! I need to knock her down soon. I don’t know how long I can take this!’
The two finished their breakfast, Mit-Sun quicker than La-Iin, who continued to gag throughout the meal.
“What, you don’t like it? Am I really that bad a cook?”
“No, this is one of your better meals. Unfortunately you brought something to the table that destroyed my appetite…”
Mit-Sun checked all of what was on the table and the floor. The only thing she could assume La-Iin was talking about was Choungetsu, who stared at her intently. She beckoned to Choungetsu and he ran over to her, though La-Iin continued to gag even after he had left.
The two got ready for school and work. They were ready long before they had to leave, as Mit-Sun had said.
“Now what?”
“I don’t know about you, but I have a little something to do.”
As if on cue, someone knocked at the door. Mit-Sun ran to answer it.
“Papa!” She hugged him close.
“Hi, Mit-Sun.” He hugged her back.
“I’m so glad to see you. Are you sure you’re feeling okay, though? I know it wasn’t that bad, but–”
“Don’t worry about me, Mit-Sun. I know I’m older now, but I’m not that old. I’m not even seventy yet. And I was able to walk all this way, see?”
“I see,” she chuckled, relief evident in her tone. “Still, it’s good to see you. I’m glad you came over. I’ll have to go to work soon, though.”
“That’s alright. Remember what you said?”
“Yes. It’ll be good for La-Iin if someone else is home when she gets back from school. Who gets home first isn’t consistent.”
“Speaking of, hi, La-Iin!” Beht-Soh waved at her. La-Iin blinked up at him.
“Hello, Granddami. Tell Mama to stop being so cheerful for me, okay?”
“Huh?”
“I think she’s a little annoyed by me being in such a good mood. I’ve been trying to tell her it’s not fair, but well, that’s La-Iin for you.”
“You do look pretty happy. You’ve been smiling almost nonstop since I got here.”
“You just got here,” La-Iin said. “I’ve had to see her doofy smile for longer.”
“What has you so happy? Did something good happen?”
“Oh, not particularly, I’m just trying to think positive like I told La-Iin. And there’s a lot for me to be grateful for. I may not have many friends, but the friends I do have are good friends. I may not like Asul-Zenza, but as annoying as he is he’s not a bad man, and he does love La-Iin. I have things to look forward to, my boss gave me a raise, I’m able to take care of La-Iin and she’s been happy…I have a lot to be grateful for, and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do with my life from here on out. I still haven’t decided.”
Mit-Sun glanced at La-Iin. “It’s weird. I used to think life would work better with your plans. And now I’m having to replan what I expected. It might be weird, but it is an interesting experience. I guess you could just say I’ve enjoyed the past few months and the future seems bright.”
La-Iin gagged.
“Oh, cut that out.”
“Not until you cut out your obnoxious cheerfulness. And you obviously know nothing of planning and replanning judging by your talk!”
Mit-Sun’s face twitched in agitation. “You just don’t want me to be happy, do you?” The words were said with an odd cheer, and they sent a shiver up Beht-Soh’s spine.
“Not like this, I don’t.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “I guess I’m not going to change your mind. Well, we’ll have to leave soon, Father, but would you like some breakfast?”
“Alright. Thank you, Mit-Sun!”
“It’s no problem.”

***

At work, Mit-Sun’s cheerful mood was still obvious. Her coworkers noticed her carry out work she normally hated with a smile, greeting some of them as she went along her way. It stirred up quite a bit of confusion.
At least, among the coworkers that didn’t know her as well.
“I still can’t believe Mrs. Eteibreit gave you a raise! I wish she’d do that for me,” Leirhyn sighed.
“It’s something that probably only happens once in a decade,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Well, I think you deserved it. As much as I would have liked that raise, you’re the one with a child to think about.” Uil-Cur said.
“I don’t know why she gave me a raise, but I’m glad for it. I have been in a good mood recently. Maybe all that rubbed off on my work.”
“Maybe!” Leirhyn said.
Focused on talking to her two friends, Mit-Sun was oblivious to Eteibreit’s presence behind her until her boss stroked her with her tail.
“Eek!”
“Cahongyun,” she said, her tone taciturn. “It looks like you’ve completed work for the day. How perfect that you haven’t gone home yet.”
“It is?”
“Yes. I was going to ask you if you’d come to my office.” She glared at Leirhyn and Uil-Cur, though her gaze lingered on the latter as she said, “Don’t you still have work to do?”
“I actually finished that and then some, Mrs. Eteibreit. Mit-Sun has been here for a while.”
Eteibreit huffed. Mit-Sun waved to her two friends, then followed Eteibreit to her office. Despite her resolution to think positively, she couldn’t help but get a bad feeling.
‘Mrs. Eteibreit calling me to her office is never anything good…I just wonder if it’s the disturbing kind of bad or the detrimental kind of bad.’
Eteibreit sat down.
“I’ve noticed you’ve been in a good mood lately, Cahongyun. Care to explain?”
Mit-Sun was confused.
“Well, yes. There’s been a lot for me to enjoy lately. A lot I’m grateful for.”
Eteibreit’s nose wrinkled. “I see.”
“Is something wrong, Mrs. Eteibreit? You don’t look all that happy.”
Eteibreit closed her eyes for a short while; then, she said, “Of course I’m not.”
“Hm?”
“The person I just gave a raise made a grave mistake, after all.”
“What!?”
“Yes, you messed up something important while doing your job yesterday, Cahongyun. How disappointing.”
“B–but I was paying close attention! What did I mess up!?”
“Tsk tsk. You don’t even know the fatal mistake you made.”
“What is that!?”
“Go and find it yourself, Cahongyun. Prove your competence to me.” By now Eteibreit was smiling. To Mit-Sun, it seemed a sadistic smile. “Prove you are worthy of your raise by finding out what your mistake is by yourself!”
Mit-Sun had a bad feeling. She rushed out Eteibreit’s office and passed by Leirhyn and Uil-Cur.
“Cahongyun?”
“Sorry, something urgent came up!”
She checked the records of all she had done yesterday. Then, she checked the papers on her desk, the papers for tomorrow, and even went to the extent of checking all the papers she had sorted, all she had gone over and certified. Nothing seemed out of order, and she was starting to feel frazzled.
She returned to Eteibreit’s office.
“Mrs. Eteibreit? I looked through everything I did yesterday and I couldn’t find the mistake you were talking about. I don’t think I made a mistake, but if there’s something I messed up, you have to tell me! You can’t just threaten me and not even give me a hint as to…wait a second…”
Eteibreit was smiling. Her shoulders were shaking slightly, as if she was holding back laughter.
“You tricked me, didn’t you!?”
“Ah, I said it would prove your competency. I should have said your incompetency. You never fail to disappoint me, Cahongyun. At least in how disappointing you are, that is.”
“What!?”
“Just for that display of stupidity, I’m docking your pay.”
Mit-Sun gaped.
“Try thinking positively about that.”
“Is this what this is all about? Why is that making you so angry? In fact, why have you been so angry lately, Mrs. Eteibreit?”
“This is how I always am, Cahongyun. Say what you will, but you already know that.”
“I–”
From the look in Eteibreit’s eyes, Mit-Sun could see there was no further room for complaint. Frustrated, she left Eteibreit’s office and stomped back to her friends.
“What happened, Mit-Sun? You seem frazzled.”
She sighed. “It’s nothing. Nothing bad enough to get me down, anyway. I just really need to look for another job. But no matter what Eteibreit tries to do, or what La-Iin says, I’m not going to stop trying to think positively. Things have been looking up for me. And if I keep thinking positively, I’m sure there will be a better payoff than if I stopped!”
“She’s certainly fired up about this whole positive thinking thing,” Leirhyn said.
“She is. I should take her advice. I could have used it some months back…”
“Still, makes you wonder what happened with Mrs. Eteibreit to get her more fired up like this!”

—–
“Hi, Mit-Sun.”
“Oh. Mama.”
“Hello, La-Iin. Father.” Mit-Sun stretched. “Would you two like to go out somewhere?”
“Why are you asking?”
“Because my pay got docked for Thursday and Friday and it’ll throw a bone into my shopping budget,” she sighed. “We might as well do something fun while I still have the extra vuyong.”
“What are you planning?” La-Iin asked, her tone almost accusatory.
“Nothing, really. I was hoping you two had suggestions.”
Beht-Soh raised his hand. “Well, how about we go to the enigmatic part of town? I’ve heard there are whole parts of Bledger that are on the border of other cities that have some really interesting places to go.”
“Hm….as long as it’s not near Iecation.”
“Why not that one?” Mit-Sun asked. “But sure, that sounds like fun. But let’s plan it out a little more first, alright?”

21.629.Betrayal and Desire

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 629
“Betrayal and Desire”

“I’m glad that it’s getting cooler. Summer is always too hot!”
“I agree, but Winter is still waiting,” La-Iin said. “In Summer the sun beats down on me and in Winter my wings freeze down to the bone. Extreme weather is not my ally…”
“Is it anyone’s?”
“Snowlivs, maybe.” A Snowliv child from Class A looked up at her words.
“Yeah, but even they don’t do very well with extremely hot weather.”
“Yes. I’ve always wondered how Snowlivs survived to this day with the way their species works.”
The two girls sat there in silence after that, both trying to think up a game they could play.
‘We’ve done so many things at the recess area!’ Fer-Shi thought. ‘How can we do something new?’
‘I wonder if that would even be a good idea for a game…’
After a while of thinking, longer than it normally took for the two to start playing, Fer-Shi finally had an idea. But before she could voice it, a group of small children walked up to her.
“Hello!” The child at the front said.
“Hi!”
La-Iin stared at the children indignantly.
“Um, are you Sanhuun from Class D? The one who Dereni tried to eat?”
Fer-Shi looked slightly disturbed. “Y-yes, that’s me. Although he didn’t really try to eat me.”
“He was tryna basically tenderize you! That’s eaty enough!”
“Can you tell us about what happened? The grown-ups and the more grown-up kids won’t tell us because Dereni keeps glaring at them.”
La-Iin noticed Daal-Dan sitting a short distance away, glaring. ‘If he’s so mad, why doesn’t he just sing and knock out the whole school?’
“Weren’t you there?”
“Dereni is scary!” One of them said.
“Besides, we’re not as brave as most of the boys were.”
“So we mostly tried to hide from him.”
“Can you pleeease tell us?”
Fer-Shi sighed.
“You really want me to, don’t you?”
The children nodded.
“What about our recess area game?”
“It can wait. What happened with Dereni isn’t a long story. Besides, I’ve got the perfect idea for a game we can play! So once I tell them, we can start right away!”
La-Iin was astounded. She watched Fer-Shi go off with the children and start to tell them the story of what had happened with her and Daal-Dan. She gave a huff of anger.
“Jealous?”
La-Iin hadn’t noticed that Shuu-Kena was sitting nearby. She startled, but quickly recovered.
“What does it seem like?”
“Don’t worry. While she talks to the littler kids, you can always talk to me.”
“Those kids are probably my age,” she grumbled.
“You’re probably even younger since you’re half-Vampire.”
“I am the age I am. If I concede defeat to my species, then a certain….situation could become more of a problem for me.”
“What does that mean?”
“It’s not important.”
“Hm.” Shuu-Kena looked away from her briefly; then she turned back to her. “So, how was your Summer?”
La-Iin thought back on all that had happened. “I suppose it was okay,” she said. When she recalled one particular event, however, she began to smirk. “No, more than that. I almost forgot that something amazing happened last month.”
“I see. Well, um, my Summer wasn’t the greatest. My family’s been a little more active lately. Once they all went out together on a raid. It was my little sisters’ first raid. But they left me home. I guess that’s a good thing, but I just feel so confused about it.”
“Raid? Raid for what?”
Shuu-Kena shook her head. “I have no idea.”
“Whatever the raid was for, it sounds idiotic.”
“Would you do a raid if you could, La-Iin? I know you and my family do things differently, but I was curious.”
“There are better things to be doing than a raid. If I could, I’d do one of those instead!” La-Iin said. “Sara, your family is all evil failures in my eyes. They have potential, but they fail to use it. Also they have the notable handicap of being Pureblood Normals. And I’m sure they plan almost nothing through before they carry it out. Not like I do, heh heh heh…”
La-Iin balled a hand into a fist. Shuu-Kena gave her an uncertain glance. “You do seem to be thinking a lot.”
“Always. My plans require a lot of thought, after all. Without it they would fall apart. And I’m no fool.”
“I guess it is good to plan things in advance. So, um, what’s the good thing that happened over the Summer?”
“It isn’t your business, Sara, though I suppose I could give you a hint. We were just talking about something related to it, after all. …you know, Sara, I truly think my plans will succeed. Unlike those of your family. I have the power and the means; I just need some things to bring it all to fruition…”
When La-Iin snapped out of her mini daydream, she noticed that Shuu-Kena’s expression was uncertain. “Why are you making that face?” ‘I shouldn’t go into too much detail. Sara shouldn’t know about this.’
Shuu-Kena sighed. “No reason, really. Well, I don’t know. What you said just there though, the way you said it reminded me a lot of my family…sorry, I guess sometimes I forget you’re evil because you act so differently from them. They try to ingrain it into every aspect of their life.”
“I might do that too. Unfortunately I have other things to focus on right now.”
La-Iin focused on Shuu-Kena’s expression as she spoke. It only became more uncertain, and somewhat upset. It seemed obvious to her now–she was upset by her behavior.
‘Damn it. It’s too obvious.’ Shuu-Kena seemed to be a somewhat helpful ally–she would rather have her on her side than against her. There had to be something she could say to wipe the uncertain expression off her face.
‘Got it.’
“But those other things are important. I am evil, and it is a big part of me. But I’m not going to be doing evil sitting because that sounds silly.”
In actuality it brought to La-Iin’s mind images of sitting atop a stack of people, but she kept the imagination to herself. Shuu-Kena’s expression seemed to ease a bit.
“Oh, I wasn’t trying to say anything about your evil, Cahongyun.”
“I didn’t say that because of what you said.”
“Hehe, I guess I read too much into it, then.”
“I was just saying it randomly. Your family astounds me with how stupid their evilness seems. Evil people don’t often agree, after all. They seem to not plan and to do the most petty things. And they’re ignoring one important thing.”
“Are they?”
“You can have bonds with non-evil people and still be evil. In fact, people say friendships are good, but they’re actually a helpful evil asset and for a different reason than you might think.”
“Really?”
La-Iin was reminded of San-Kyung’s words. “Yes. Your family may be close to the rest of each other, but there’s something that seems off. I don’t know, they annoy me.”
Shuu-Kena smiled. “You know, La-Iin, I’m really glad you actually became friends with me.”
La-Iin was going to respond, but just then Fer-Shi walked up to her. “Sorry, they kept me a little long. But now I can tell you about that perfect idea!” Her eyes dritfted to Shuu-Kena. “Well, if you still want to play…”
“I do.” La-Iin stood up. “Tell me what it is. But Sara.”
“Hm?”
“Even by the most petty evil standard, your family is made up of idiots.”
Shuu-Kena giggled. “They really are, aren’t they?”
She almost sounded sad, but the smile on her face seemed to be one of genuine happiness. After that, La-Iin turned back to Fer-Shi, who began to explain her game of Witches and their powers. As she listened to her describe it, only one more thought about Shuu-Kena crossed her mind.
‘How could I be betrayed when I know the perfect way to prevent it?’

—–
That night, as the Saras ate dinner, Shuu-Kena was reminded of La-Iin’s earlier words.
“Even by the most petty evil standard, your family is made up of idiots.”
Against her better judgment she began to laugh wildly.
“Why are you laughing?” Ther-Aoughin asked.
“Perhaps she’s finally gone off the deep end,” Kyu-Aseri said.
“Come, sister, come join the dark side!” Kyu-Nhogo said.
“I have an inkling it’s not as great as all that,” Hei-Yhunni sighed.

20.628.Friendship from a Year Ago

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 628
“Friendship from a Year Ago”

“You know who you haven’t seen in a while?”
“Who? And do I care?”
“You will. It seems like it’s been a while since you last saw Sale-Dessu.” La-Iin’s eyes widened. “Have you even seen him this month?”
“I ate the mincemeat pie I made for him myself.”
“Yes, I thought I remembered you asking him for something.”
La-Iin smirked. “That’s right, I did!”
“Are you talking to me?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Why would I ever talk to you, wench?”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Talking to me or not, that reminds me. La-Iin brought up Sale-Dessu the other day. And even though we bonded, we never really kept up a friendship.”
“So?”
“Maybe I should go and see him.”
Hearing that made La-Iin almost toss herself out of her chair.
“What’s with the big reaction?”
“Nothing,” she said through grit teeth. “But who says Sale-Dessu will want to see you after all this time?”
“Well, it’s worth a try to see, isn’t it? I don’t dislike him.”
“It seems her Normal stupidity gene is kicking into full force.”
“You must have a little of it too if you hadn’t noticed it’s been active all this time. It’s the only part of her brain that’s been active, speaking of.”
“You shut up!”
Mit-Sun huffed. “Never mind.”
She walked out of the room. “Was that never mind for seeing Sale-Dessu, or never mind for dealing with me?”
“Perhaps yours isn’t active right now like I initially thought. Anyway. I hate to ask the same thing as that woman, but what was the big reaction for anyway? I’m aware we don’t want Sale-Dessu being dumbed down by an idiot, but I didn’t expect a reaction so strong.”
“Eul-Bok is autonomous. Mama doesn’t know this. And even if she doesn’t tell everyone all over Bledger about Eul-Bok, her seeing Eul-Bok might make Sale-Dessu more nervous than he already is. Which disadvantages me.”
“Is that so? How?”
“If he’s nervous, he might lock himself up and he’ll never complete the research I need,” she said. “And if he doesn’t, my plan–”
“What plan?”
“That’s not any of your business!”

***

When La-Iin took Choungetsu on a walk, Mit-Sun decided that it was a perfect time to visit Sale-Dessu.
‘Things have been going well for me recently. And he is a friend of La-Iin’s as well, at least it seems that way…I wonder if he’s been doing alright.’
Meanwhile, in the Astineth house, experiments were underway.
“So you’re telling me you don’t name your experiments?”
“I just use the names that they already have.”
“What if you’re coming up with something brand-new, though?”
“Do you mean like mixing a water-powered engine with an air conditioner or something like that?”
“Well, yeah, I guess, but–”
Eul-Bok was interrupted by a knock at the door. He groaned. “I bet I know who that is.”
Sale-Dessu answered the door, and immediately he recoiled in shock.
“Ca–Ca–Cahongyun elder? I mean, Mit-Sun?”
“Hi, Astineth. Er, Sale-Dessu. It’s certainly been a while, hasn’t it? …er, Sale-Dessu? Are you okay?”
“Ah, i-it’s just been a while since I last saw you, is all!”
‘Damn it!’ Sale-Dessu shot one quick glance back at Eul-Bok, who now looked startled. ‘She can’t come inside! La-Iin hasn’t told her about Eul-Bok being autonomous! …or has she? Either way, I can’t risk it! She wasn’t in on the plan.’
“O-oh, I’d love to, but I’m busy with an experiment right now,” he said quietly. “If I take my attention off of it it could explode…”
“Er, I guess you’d better get back to that, then!”
“D-don’t worry, even if it does explode it will only explode inside my…living room….okay, good-bye, Mit-Sun!”
He closed the door and sighed.
“What just happened, Father?”
“Cahongyun elder–er, Mit-Sun–she was at the door!”
“La-Iin’s mother?” Eul-Bok stared down at his hands. “I had a bad feeling about that.”
“But I was able to turn her away, thankfully. I mean no offense to La-Iin but unlike her, she’s at least somewhat reasonable. Now, let’s get back to our experiment…”
“You should mean offense to La-Iin.”
He turned back to the door. When he had first seen Mit-Sun she had been smiling and looked happy to see him.
‘We did bond, back when La-Iin drunk that potion, or no, after that…’ He could remember a conversation he had had with her about being a parent.
‘Maybe she misses me.’
“Father, what are you smiling like that for?”
“It’s just nice to be loved, Eul-Bok…”

“I’m so glad I took Choungetsu on a walk,” La-Iin said, tone deadpan, after she had returned home. “There was so much poop…if all that was in the house…”
Mit-Sun sighed.
“You didn’t have to deal with it, so why do you look upset?”
“Oh, it’s nothing. I’m not really upset, La-Iin. Just thinking.”
“Your face gives away more than mine does.”
“Even if that’s the case I’m sure my face gives away less than you being super-obvious.”
“What does that mean?”
“Normal stupidity gene.”
Mit-Sun glared at Bes-Isa. “You were created to be a Normal, you….oh, forget it.”
“I’m a V-Puppet though. Not a Normal. Gotcha.”
“So ridiculous…”
A knock sounded at the door. “Huh?”
“I don’t remember inviting anyone over,” Mit-Sun said. “La-Iin, did you invite someone over?”
“As much as I’d like to, no.”
“Hm…” She walked over to the door and opened it. Nobody was standing there, not at first–Sale-Dessu peeked his head in moments later.
“Hello, Mit-Sun.”
“Hello,” she said. “I thought you were busy with an exploding experiment?”
“Sale-Dessu?” La-Iin called. “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I was thinking after I finished the spell, I might visit you. You seemed like you had something to say to me before you left earlier. And it didn’t explode, so don’t worry.”
“So you did visit him,” La-Iin said, her tone accusatory. Mit-Sun rolled her eyes.
“Not really. Actually, it’s just been a while since I last saw you. I know we were never really close, but I was just thinking back on it.”
“I see….well, I shouldn’t stay too long. Eul-Bok will be lonely without me. But I wanted to share a little something with you first.”
He handed her a box. “What is this?”
“La-Iin, why are you glaring at me like that?”
“You’re my ally, not Mama’s.”
“What I gave her just now has nothing to do with being an ally,” Sale-Dessu said, his tone strangely playful. Now even more curious, Mit-Sun pried open the box.
Out from it came a bright burst of colorful lights that changed the color of everything it exploded around. La-Iin was quick to notice that once it died down, Sale-Dessu was almost entirely violet, from his skin to his clothes and his eyes, except for his hair which had turned a dark silver. She was also quick to notice that her hands were now the same green that Sale-Dessu usually was. She recoiled.
Sale-Dessu began to laugh. “You two always were the most interesting for my experiments to affect,” he said between giggles. “I’m sorry if I ever inconvenienced you with them.”
Mit-Sun didn’t respond. She just seemed to be trying to hold back a giggle.
Sale-Dessu remained at the door a while longer, still laughing hard, and Mit-Sun stayed put as well, suppressing giggles.
La-Iin, on the other hand, was horrified. When she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror, she realized that her color scheme was now that of Sale-Dessu’s.

—–
Sale-Dessu had left not long after he stopped laughing, but before that, he gave them some instructions.
“That “Colorburst Palette Swap”….” His cheeks flushed red. “That name was Eul-Bok’s idea. Anyway, it naturally wears off after about forty-five hours. Your colors will start reverting at about thirty-two hours, and after forty-five they’ll be almost back to normal. But if you really want it to revert early, you’ll have to take a bath in hot water for about two hours.”
“This is true evil…perhaps I should consider it for the future.”
“Thanks, Sale-Dessu. I’m sure La-Iin would like to go back to her normal colors now.”
Sale-Dessu nodded. “Alright, then, I’ll be seeing you two.”
“Oh, wait, Sale-Dessu! One thing I wanted to ask you!”
“Huh?”
“How’s Eul-Bok doing?”
It took Sale-Dessu’s all not to break out into a cold sweat. “Er…better than ever, thanks for asking. Well, see you!”

“Father! You used Colorburst Palette Swap on yourself!?”
“It was an accident. But don’t worry, it’ll wear off soon enough.”
“If by soon enough you mean forty-five hours…”

10.618.Cooking for You!

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 618
“Cooking for You!”

La-Iin watched Mit-Sun intently as she cooked dinner that night. Her eyes were narrowed and followed her hands at all times. Mit-Sun couldn’t help but feel unnerved by it.
“What’s got you so interested in dinner all of a sudden?”
“It isn’t what you’re making, Mama. Milkfeed isn’t my favorite. I was watching you cook and I–”
“Oh no, I’m not letting you near the stove.”
“You misunderstand, Mama. I have a reason to be interested in cooking.” She balled her hand into a fist. “I was thinking and I realized the precarious position I’d be in if I allowed someone to cook for me when I am ruler of the world. Everyone would want me dead. So I realized, I need to be able to cook for my plan of ruling the world to come to fruition!”
“…uh-huh. Are you sure this isn’t just because of what I told you about having other talents? It is good to know how to cook for yourself.”
“It is a helpful skill. If I rely on other people to cook for me, they’ll make shit like you do.”
“La-Iin!!”
“So once you’re done with dinner, I have the perfect plan.”
“Oh no.”
“I want to use the stove so I can make meals for certain people. I’m going to be too full after dinner, so why not give away my experiments? It’ll be practice for the future when I experiment on people with other things, heh heh…”
“Are you sure that isn’t your Normal side speaking?”
“Can it, Bes-Isa.”
“It does sound a little weird, for you.”
“You misunderstand my reasoning for this. Anyway, I demand to use the stove after dinner!”
“…” Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes.
“I’m not going to set the house on fire.”
“…”
“And I won’t intentionally make anything bad. I’m trying to learn to cook for myself, after all.”
“…”
“And you can watch me.”
“…”
“What do I need to do for you to say yes!?”
“Why do you care about me saying yes?”
“If you don’t I know you’ll just stop me.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “We’ll see. But I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on you if I agree.”
“As I suspected. But that’s fine. I can deal with that.”

La-Iin scarfed down dinner as fast as she could manage–the texture of milkfeed always gave her a gag reflex, so it was slower than she would have liked–so that she could set to work on making food as soon as possible.
‘The easiest people to use would be Fer-Shi, Shuu-Kena and San-Kyung. Ai-Reia would never eat something I made, so she’s worthless. Hm, maybe I could sneak something in there for Sale-Dessu. I could make lots, but maybe I should narrow it somehow….’
The idea that gave her was to cook based on what she could imagine the people she was going to give food to might eat. ‘If it’s something they might eat, they’re more likely to actually go along with the experiment!’
She could imagine something to make for Fer-Shi, and had a feeling that Shuu-Kena would be grateful for anything she made, but San-Kyung utterly stumped her. ‘Have I ever seen him eat? Animated Pumpkins don’t even really need to eat. Oh, he’ll be a challenge. I like a challenge…’
While Mit-Sun finished what was left of her dinner, La-Iin looked through a cookbook she had found in the kitchen. “Hey! How’d you get that!?”
“So this is why you make these dinners,” La-Iin sighed. “I noticed you also have a Shitosh one with mincemeat pie in it.”
Mit-Sun sighed. “You really are serious about this, aren’t you?”
“I take my profession of future ‘Queen Maniac of Evil’ very seriously.”
“And the name changes once more…”
La-Iin set down the cookbook. “I have some ideas. Watch me closely if you want, Mama, but know that you will not stop me from making what I will!”
“Yeah, sure. Just tell me if you need any help.”
“What a terrible good mother, letting her seven-year-old use a stove and potentially a knife with little supervision when she KNOWS she’s evil…”
“You be quiet.”
La-Iin retrieved all the supplies she felt she’d need from the fridge, freezer and the cabinets in the kitchen and put them on the table.
“Do you really need this much for simple meals?” Mit-Sun asked.
“Yes, probably.” ‘I guess I should start with Fer-Shi.’
She grabbed some vanilla extract and some vegetables, head over to the stove and retrieved a frying pan. She covered the bottom with vanilla extract and put it on a low heat. Then, she started to cut up the vegetables. As she head back to the stove, Mit-Sun sniffed at the air.
“Wait a second, what are you doing!?”
“Considering what Fer-Shi likes, I had a perfect idea for a new recipe she might eat. But, hm, it doesn’t look edible so far…”
She retrieved some seasonings and a can of whipped topping. Mit-Sun’s eyes widened and she tried to dissuade La-Iin, but by the time her voice came to her, it was too late.
Though even La-Iin seemed horrified by the mess she had made.
“It’s under cooked, it’s covered in expired whipped topping from who knows when, all sorts of seasonings that don’t go with vanilla extract…”
“It makes me glad I can’t eat just looking at it.”
“So the first attempt was a failure! I’ve successfully cooked before, so this was just a road bump.”
“Since when?”
“Think this month last year.”
This time she decided she should be more reasonable. She looked through the cookbook and found a recipe that sounded interesting, and set to work on making it.
“What do you need sardines for?”
“I saw a recipe in your book called a ‘sweet sardine sandwich’. I thought I would make it.”
“I’m not sure that would be a good idea. I’ve never made it but I’ve heard it’s an acquired taste.”
“Well, I’m making it, so if I don’t do what I did before it’ll be fine.”
She began to make the sweet topping for the sandwich and put together the sardines, bread and lettuce. She tasted the topping before putting it on the sandwich, then wrapping it up in plastic wrap.
“There.”
“That came out looking good. But like I said, I’ve heard it’s an acquired taste…”
“That doesn’t matter. I made it taste fine, so she’ll like it anyway. Now let’s see…”
She flipped to the desserts section. Thinking back on the Sara family, she couldn’t imagine Shuu-Kena got anything sweet to eat there. ‘I’ve always wanted to experiment with Demon paste.’
“Do we have Demon paste, Mama?”
“Only a little. Why? Are you going to make a Fairydevil cake?”
La-Iin nodded and set to work, preparing Fairy frosting and Demon paste and starting work on the cake itself. Mit-Sun had to help her part the way through, as she soon found some of the words she couldn’t read. But she tasted things along the way, and was quite intrigued by the spice of the Demon paste on its own.
“Fairydevil cakes are the epitome of evil dessert,” she said.
“What does that even mean?”
“You think you’ll get an overly-sweet Fairy frosting cake, then the Demon paste kicks in and overwhelms the senses! Just like how evil triumphs over good, always!”
“…you realize there are good Demons and evil Fairies, right? And that that metaphor makes no sense?”
She made the Fairydevil cake small, partially because of Shuu-Kena’s small frame but also because of the lack of Demon paste. ‘I don’t want it to be just a Fairy frosting cake with a little demon paste.’
When the cake was done, she wrapped it too in plastic wrap.
“Knowing this recipe will be good knowledge for the future…”
“You’d think you’d want to learn how to make mincemeat pie before anything else.”
“I do. In fact, I’ll make it now!”
“What!? But I barely have any supplies!”
“That didn’t faze me with the Fairydevil cake. You’re the one who suggested it too. Your lack of supplies is not my fault.”
“Actually, it is. If you wouldn’t act up at the store, I’d be able to focus better on what I need!”
La-Iin ignored Mit-Sun’s complaints and set to making a mincemeat pie. ‘I can eat some with Sale-Dessu. I wonder if San-Kyung would like it, too…’
She lowered her head.
“What is it, La-Iin?”
“Mama, if you were going to make food for someone who never eats, what would you make?”
“I’d think anything would be good for someone who doesn’t eat!”
“No, but I mean someone who doesn’t need to eat.”
“Huh?”
Mit-Sun caught a glimpse of her daughter’s expression. By that alone it was evident that she was thinking quite seriously about this–perhaps more so than her entire cooking venture thus far.
“Well, I guess I’d make something that tastes like a drink.”
“Hm.”
La-Iin’s face steeled and she continued to make the mincemeat pie. She ended up with a small one, and cut it into three pieces, which she wrapped separately. She then grabbed some fruits and sweet seasonings.
“Help me blend these!”
“Um, okay!”
After the fruits and seasonings were blended, she began to prepare a cake and mixed the two together. Then, she put it in the oven, and from then on was constantly checking it.
“What are you trying to make?”
“Shh.” She took the cake out of the oven. “I thought that sometimes people make fruit drinks, like fruit milkshakes. So I thought I’d make a fruit milkshake cake.”
“I see. Well, it looks like you did a pretty good job, just going by the seat of your pants.”
“I’m not wearing pants.”
“I know, it’s an expression.”
As La-Iin set to work wrapping the milkshake cake, Mit-Sun caught sight of the look in her eyes.
“You know, it creeps me out sometimes.”
“What?”
“You’re too young to act like a girl in love. That’s all.”
“…I have nothing to say to that.”

“Soooo, what are you going to do about this monstrosity?”
La-Iin stared at the strange lump of food that made up her first attempt. A malicious grin crossed her face. She began to douse it in all the seasonings she could find.
“Ahahahahahahaha!”

—–
La-Iin came to school the next day with a basket slung over her shoulder.
“Hi, La-Iin! Whoa! What’s that?”
“I have something for you.” She took out the sweet sardine sandwich. “Eat the labors of my experiments!”
“Um…thank you?”
“I don’t need or want thanks. This was only to help build up my own skill.”
She then ran up to Shuu-Kena and handed her the Fairydevil cake.
“Huh?”
“This is for you. From my experiment. And what a helpful experiment it was…”
“This is for me?” She beamed. “Thank you, Cahongyun!”
La-Iin nodded and ran up to San-Kyung.
“And for you–”
“What do you want?”
She handed him the mincemeat pie slice and the milkshake cake. “I heard Aesthetically Normal Animated Pumpkins start to look malnourished if they only drink.”
“Looks like someone’s been doing her research!” Dosa-Mina chirped.
“Don’t misunderstand, this isn’t because of that. I wanted to try my hand at cooking. I recently discovered it’s a necessary skill for me.”
“…”
“I can always hold onto it until after class, though.”
“Hmph.” San-Kyung didn’t seem fazed in the slightest.
“What spurred the sudden kindness?”
La-Iin’s eyes went blank. “Oh, it isn’t kindness. But speaking of my attempts, I did make one for you too, rival-boy…”
She pulled out of the basket a large, unidentifiable blob wrapped shoddily in plastic wrap. “Here you go….heh heh heh…”
Dosa-Mina stared at the “food” for only a few seconds before running off.

9.617.The Flaws in His Evil

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 617
“The Flaws in His Evil”

“You know, October’s right around the corner!” Lirako said cheerfully.
“It’ll be great to have cooler weather again,” Deki-Tyunri replied.
“Yup! But not only that, it’ll be great to eat specialized, imported pumpkin product again!” San-Kyung glanced in her direction. “Ah, the Manemicans were smart when they came up with fall pumpkin goodies. I’m glad they came to Vaelyn.”
“Lirako…are you saying this because you’re looking forward to eating pumpkin, or are you just saying it to pick on San-Kyung?”
“Can’t it be both?” She said cheerfully. San-Kyung groaned.
“But seriously. The kid calls himself evil and he can’t even stand the idea of eating a pumpkin from the ground. It doesn’t make sense to me.” Noticing the expression on Deki-Tyunri’s face, she added, “Well, um, not that it needs to!”
“La-Iin, is something wrong? You look kind of distracted.”
“Nothing’s wrong. Not for me anyway. But I was getting an idea.”
“What kind of idea?”
“A San-Kyung idea,” she said. Fer-Shi paled. “O-oh…well, um, good luck with that, then.”

***

Since San-Kyung had to attend every class–and from prior experience, La-Iin knew he didn’t like to break that–La-Iin decided that the best time for her plan would have to be after school had ended. Still, she couldn’t help from dropping hints to San-Kyung in between classes, even during the break times before classes she didn’t attend. Then, she would always run off just before the teacher entered the classroom.
“San-Kyung, why put up with what stupid Sanyaow says? I would burn her to crisp if I were you.”
“As much as I’d love to, I’d rather not get in trouble bad enough that people would call the police.”
“Hm…”
“What are you looking at me like that for?”
“Oh, no particular reason,” she said nonchalantly. “Anyway, I was going to ask you if you would hear me out on something after school today.”
“Is that why you keep coming by?”
“Yes. It’s incredibly important and if you don’t listen to it I’ll follow you to your house, drink your blood and roast Sanyaow myself.”
“You’re only going to tempt me not to go.”
“Then I’ll do it if you do go,” she said with a smirk. San-Kyung’s expression was unreadable after that and he did not respond, so she decided to leave before the teacher arrived.

La-Iin was prepared to leave her seat as soon as classes finished, but Fer-Shi grabbed her before she could.
“Did you do your San-Kyung thing?” She asked.
“No. Why?”
“Oh, I just thought it would be nice if we could go and play after school. But if you have to do something, then I guess it can wait…”
“This is of the utmost importance, Fer-Shi. The longer I wait to do this, the worse my future will be. Maybe we’ll play later.”
“Okay. It looks like it means a lot to you…good luck! Unless you’re confessing to him. I don’t think any luck would work for that…”
“I’ve already done that, Fer-Shi. But I won’t want to be with him if things go wrong here.”
Fer-Shi was confused, but La-Iin did not answer her question and flew off. She grabbed San-Kyung by the shirt.
“Huh?”
“You’ve got a bat on your back. A half-Normal bat,” Dosa-Mina said.
“Quiet, rival-boy! I have something of utmost importance to discuss with San-Kyung.”
“I doubt it.”
“Do I get to be a part of this important discussion?”
“It has nothing to do with you, so I don’t see why you’d want to be part of it,” she said. She dropped off of San-Kyung’s back and grabbed his hand. “Come on. Let’s go.”
San-Kyung pulled his hand away from her, but he followed her anyway as she darted ahead of the crowd and out of the school.
“By the way, San-Kyung, what made you decide to humor me?”
“Humor you?”
“Yes, humor me. This is a serious discussion, but I can’t help but feel that’s what you were thinking.”
“Because I know how you are. And if you really are willing to burn that bitchy Catori to a crisp with your power, I’ll gladly let you suck my blood.”
La-Iin smirked, but only for a moment. “You should be doing that sort of thing yourself, though.”
“Huh?”
La-Iin fell silent and continued to lead the way. San-Kyung had almost failed to realize that the path she was leading him down was quite familiar.
“What are we doing over here?”
“I need to get something from home, but you don’t have to go inside. Just wait for me in our backyard.”
“And if I don’t…?”
“No crispy Catoris for you, obviously.”
When they reached her home, La-Iin flew inside and upstairs.
“How many times am I going to have to ask you before you stop flying in the house?”
“I don’t listen to requests like that, Mama. Besides, I placate you enough. I only fly twenty percent of the time.”
“Hm…”
She continued to fly upstairs. She retrieved some crayons and flew out of her window and into the backyard.
“I’m glad to see you waited,” La-Iin said. “But that’s part of the problem!”
“What?”
La-Iin took her notebook out of her backpack and began to scrawl furiously in it. “This is something best explained with pictures as well as words,” she grunted. “I have a problem, San-Kyung. I acknowledge and accept that you are not the sort of evil person who will participate in cannibalism. Bats don’t sound very good to me either. I don’t respect your reluctance to be with me, but I understand you are afraid of the police. And as ridiculous as it sounds to me, considering your November situation, I can see why. But there is having some reservations, having a reason for them, and just downright treading into neutral territory!”
“What are you talking about?”
“The idea of eating a pumpkin isn’t just gross to you, it makes you sick. You always make sure to attend school on time and you seem to be upset if you miss it! You have some flaws, San-Kyung, and I am here to remedy them! You need a better explanation for some of your issues or I’ll have to consider you a neutral!”
“You’re calling me a neutral because of my reservations, but I’ve done far worse damage than you ever could. And I can go against the police in my true form.”
“I don’t have a problem with your silly police fear. I think it’s stupid, but it’s not stopping you from being evil. I have a problem with your reasoning and the way you act. You’re far too concerned about other people’s impressions of you for someone who’s openly evil.”
She lifted up her notebook to him. On the page was a crude drawing of a mashed-up pumpkin. “I’m not asking you to become a cannibal, I’m asking for you to look for a better explanation. I want the San-Kyung who is evil to his core! And if you are evil to your core you can’t just dislike cannibalism. You need an explanation!”
“…”
“Well!?”
“You realize eating pumpkins makes me physically ill, right?” San-Kyung said. “In case you haven’t noticed, just the idea makes me sick to my stomach.”
“But that’s not good enough, San-Kyung.”
“I just told you it makes me physically ill. I have eaten pumpkin product before. I can’t stomach it. So it makes me sick to my stomach because I know what it does to me. Happy? Can we be done with this?”
“No. Because that’s only one problem. You need to have a reason for being against being with me.”
“Because I don’t like you that way, and even if I did that’s something that can get you arrested?”
“Hm.” La-Iin began to scribble furiously in the notebook once again. “Even with those excuses, why do you care about missing school? It’s not going to get you arrested to miss school.”
“Missing school for me isn’t as much of a concern as you seem to think it is,” he said. “I prefer to go because of my parents. But I don’t actually care about missing it or not.”
“Well there’s that, but then–”
“Stop right there. I don’t care for what you’re doing right now. I have reservations, but that doesn’t change me from being evil. So what if I don’t do everything considered evil?”
“I wasn’t saying that’s the problem. I’m saying that the problem was your reasons.”
“Well, I gave you better reasons. And besides, you should realize the actual reason I have problems with some of these things…”
“What’s this excuse for?”
“I’m not a psychopath,” he said. “Unfortunately I’m suspect to some of the stupid problems people get. You should know this by now. I do my best to keep stupid weaknesses like not wanting to eat pumpkin at bay. But things like that are irrational.”
“…”
“And at my core, I am evil. So stop questioning me.”
“…” La-Iin sighed. “I was just concerned, that’s all. You haven’t been acting as evil as you used to.”
“Are good people constantly donating to charities? No, they aren’t. Just because I’m not wreaking havoc doesn’t mean I suddenly want to apologize for everything I’ve done in the past. This was a wasted trip.”
“Strange that that’s what I walk in on.”
La-Iin flinched.
“Dosa-Mina?”
“Who’s the stalker now, rival-boy!?”
“I wasn’t trying to stalk. I was concerned. I heard San-Kyung saying something about letting you suck his blood so you could set Lirako on fire. As much as I’d like to see that too, I remember what happened the last time you sucked his blood. At least Miss Cahongyun was nice, though! She perfectly understood my concerns of leaving San-Kyung alone with you.”
“Yeah, well, she brought me over here for no reason. Just to question whether I’m evil or not.”
“If you’re going to question him, why don’t you question yourself? You’ve got a few less-than-evil attributes too.”
La-Iin glared. “Fine then, San-Kyung. Side with rival-boy. Go. But you aren’t getting any crispy Catoris.”
“If I’m being honest, I never trusted you would do that in the first place.”
La-Iin smiled. She handed him the notebook. “Well, before you go, take this. You might as well not have wasted my time either.”
San-Kyung glared at her, but he held onto the notebook as he walked off with Dosa-Mina. Once he was out of sight, La-Iin couldn’t help but giggle.
“Oh, don’t worry, San-Kyung, I know you’re evil alright. And I also know that I’m one of the people who makes you act more like you ought to.”

—–
San-Kyung flipped through the notebook when he got home.
“What’s that, San-Kyung?”
“Someone gave me her notebook.”
“Huh? Who’s this someone?”
“Just a little girl at school.”
Salsh-Era glanced at the notebook. “Ah, I can tell.”
The notebook was filled with several crude drawings that, in San-Kyung’s opinion, were far cruder than the one La-Iin had given him for his fifteenth birthday. They seemed to be drawn in a frenzy and while they would have seemed completely random to anyone else, he could tell they all had to do with the concerns La-Iin had had about his evil.
“So ridiculous,” he sighed.
‘There’s no need to placate her any more. I should drop her as a friend and go back to the way things were, otherwise she’ll just keep bothering me like this. But I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something else I need from her…’

8.616.Fer-Shi’s Puberty

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 618
“Fer-Shi’s Puberty”

La-Iin flew as fast as she could along the path to Malicerie. Her heart was beating fast and her wings felt strained from the force she was putting on them, but as soon as Malicerie came into sight, she began to ease up.
When she landed, she was surprised to see Fer-Shi, staggering behind the rest of the crowd. There were few people left on the path to Malicerie, and Fer-Shi was far behind everyone else. She ran up to her.
“Looks like I’m not the only late one.”
“You…you’re late? I thought you already went in.”
“No. Stupid Mama sometimes makes a large breakfast. And every time Summer comes around it’s hard to want to leave the house…”
La-Iin could see that Fer-Shi was trying to smile at her, but her hunched back and arms clutching her chest were obvious. “What’s wrong with you?”
“Huh?”
“Why are you doing that? If you’re sick don’t come to school.”
“No….no, I’m not sick.” She stood up straight, though her arms were still held tight to her chest. “My chest hurts. And it doesn’t really hurt all that bad, but it was really surprising so I’m having a hard time dealing with it.”
“If you’re sick, don’t come to school,” La-Iin repeated.
“I’m not sick. I know what that feels like. It’s something else….er, let’s talk about this when we have our big break time, okay?”
“Sure…”

***

“I’m sure many of you have had a lesson on puberty. I recall that Mr. Chensu once delivered a class on puberty….when that’s not his field and I should have been the one doing that…ahem, in any event, there are many differences in puberty between the species, but some things remain the same throughout most or all species.”
“Surprising that she’s not focusing on one organ,” San-Kyung muttered. Dosa-Mina giggled.
“No talking, Mr. Molshei! Ahem, in any event, some things remain the same throughout most or all species even when there are differences. Most species grow more body hair. Males in particular may grow facial hair. Females will begin breast development…”
Fer-Shi clutched her chest and blushed.
“Puberty is boring.”
“Says the girl who wanted to go through puberty at five.”
“Oh, I still do. I know all about how it could be beneficial for me. But lessons on it are boring and gross.”
“Yeah…I agree.”
“No talking, Miss Cahongyun,” Hyungdarou called. “Now if people would stop interrupting me, I could continue my lesson! At the root of all puberty is hormones, which every species of course has, but they are different for males and females and the species in general in certain ways….”

“You always look so bored without Sanhuun.”
“I am bored without Fer-Shi. The other kids are boring. You’re fine I guess, but Fer-Shi’s more fun.”
“That’s okay. I don’t think I’d be much fun to play with. I’m not so good at playing the games most of the other kids like.”
The door to the recess area opened, and Fer-Shi, Shan-Zetsu, and Cae-Bougen ran outside.
“Hi, La-Iin!”
“Hello.”
“Um….now that it’s recess time, I guess I can show you what’s up with me,” she said.
“It’s something to see?”
“Well, not really, but I’m not sure you’ll believe me if you don’t see it for yourself. But, um, let’s get away from the other kids first, okay?”
La-Iin nodded and stood up. Shuu-Kena waved to her, then stood up to talk to Cae-Bougen.
Fer-Shi continued onward until she reached an area shaded by trees and further away from the other students. She looked away from La-Iin, who couldn’t help but feel that she looked incredibly embarrassed.
“When I woke up today, my chest hurt pretty bad,” she said. “So I showed Mom, since Dad got embarrassed…at first I thought I had a rash or I was getting sick or something, but then Mom told me it wasn’t that. And I already had a feeling it wasn’t…”
“Did you rip open your chest in the middle of the night?”
“No! If that happened I wouldn’t have even been able to come to school! It’s just, well…you know how Miss Hyungdarou was talking about puberty today?”
“Yes? Didn’t you say there was something to see?”
“I…I don’t really want to show you anymore.”
“Then what is it?”
Fer-Shi’s face flushed dark pink, and she glanced around the area, her eyes lingering for a long while on the children at the recess area. Then, she gently lifted up her shirt.
La-Iin caught sight of a small pink bra.
“I think I started puberty,” Fer-Shi said. “I know nine’s not super young, but it feels kind of young to me…Mom gave me a training bra to try on. It’s itchy and my chest still hurts, so it all feels really weird.”
“…”
“La-Iin?”
“You have to wear that?”
“Well, not really yet, but Mom said I should ’cause when they get bigger I’m going to have to,” she said. “Why?”
“That looks annoying!”
“It’s really itchy. But I think it’s an old one that was hanging around the house, so maybe that’s why…”
“Is there other puberty stuff that’s happening to you?”
“No, just this, but it’s only the start. It won’t be long before I get all hairy and start bleeding!” Fer-Shi shuddered. “…hey, don’t make that face! Do you know where that blood comes from!?”
“No. I didn’t look into puberty like you did. Except for Vampire puberty.”
“Yeah, I guess you’ll have more to go through than I will.”
“Poor Fer-Shi, still so tiny and already going through puberty.”
Fer-Shi glared at her. “I’m sure puberty will make me taller,” she said indignantly. “Anyway, yeah, that’s what’s wrong with me. Promise you won’t tell anyone?”
“Why would I? Do you think San-Kyung or Sara would care? But it sounds gross and now I hope I never have it. Although bleeding sounds interesting…”
“Now I hope you don’t go through puberty too,” Fer-Shi whimpered. “Let’s get back to the recess area! I don’t want to think about this and the other kids might think it’s weird that we’ve been gone so long.”
The two girls head back, though for La-Iin what Fer-Shi had told her lingered on her mind for a while past that point.

—–
On their way out of school, Fer-Shi seemed to be in a much happier mood.
“You know, my Dad said there’s going to be an event at one of the places he works where they set up all sorts of fun things to play on and there’ll be food! I hope he can bring me and Mom along too.”
“Mama never gets things like that.”
“Well, all jobs are different!”
Above them, avian students flew by. One in particular flew fast enough to stir up a bit of a breeze. Fer-Shi gasped when she realized her shirt had flown up in the breeze.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Erm, nothing!”
She began to walk faster on the path back, hoping nobody had noticed.
“…was Sanhuun wearing a bra!?”

6.614.The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 614
“The Predicament and Melancholy of Blooudine”

Asul-Zenza flew through the night sky, checking around him for any other fliers and for his destination. He didn’t spot any fellow Vampires, but the light of his destination was soon visible on the horizon, and he picked up speed towards it.
He made his landing and head inside.
The hospital didn’t seem to be all that busy even though it was the time of night most Vampires would usually be out. ‘I suppose that’s a good thing…’ The only Vampires he saw in there was a mother and her child, and the Vampire sitting at the reception desk.
“Hello, sir,” she said.
“Hello. I’m here to see–”
“Mrs. Blooudine Sae-Ah, correct? I’ve seen you around enough lately. Go ahead.”
“Thank you.” He turned away from her and head for Blooudine’s room. He found himself shivering more than once on his way there. “It feels like Winter in here. They could at least take care to adjust the temperature properly…”
“Asul-Zenza?”
It seemed he had been heard before even going in. He opened the door to her room and tried to give her his most reassuring smile.
“H-hello, Mrs. Blooudine.”
Blooudine was facing him, but she looked a lot different than he was used to. Though she wasn’t in any immediate danger from her infection–and indeed the Vampires at the hospital had already mostly eradicated it from her body–it was evident she was feeling the effects, and there was a dark look in her eyes.
That, he felt, was not because of her sickness.
He pulled up a chair and sat down next to her. “I know I’ve been visiting a lot lately, but I can’t help but be concerned.”
“Don’t be,” she muttered.
“You understand why. …has your family been by recently?”
“Asul-Zenza, dear, I understand you have the best of intentions, but don’t talk to me about my family.”
He gave an empty chuckle. “Not in the best of moods, I can tell. Anything I can do to bring your mood up?”
“No.”
Asul-Zenza sighed. “Well–um–damn, I suppose I didn’t do all that many noteworthy things over August–”
“Don’t bother, Asul-Zenza. You don’t have to waste your time in this cold place. Just go home and enjoy the night.”
“Mrs. Blooudine…”
Blooudine didn’t respond.
“Please, Mrs. Blooudine, there has to be something I can do for you. Anything. I can’t leave in good conscience knowing this was the mood I left you in, so if there’s just one thing–”
Blooudine took a deep breath. “That’s right, I did tell you about that, didn’t I…”
“Tell me about what, Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Asul-Zenza, would you be willing to hear an old lady out? For in hindsight, I realize my problem is one that you know about.”
“I’d be more than willing to,” he said. “Please, then, tell me what is wrong.”
Blooudine sniffled. “Mrs. Blooudine?”
“Ever since Rei-Fourse died, I’ve had too much time to think to myself,” she said. The dark look in her eyes only intensified. “And I’ve been thinking about him, him and Vertuo-Nenda…”
“Vertuo-Nenda?”
“Please don’t make me go into more explanation than I need to, Asul-Zenza,” Blooudine sighed. “That Vertuo-Nenda. As in the one I had my affair with…the one I never mustered up the courage to talk to Rei-Fourse about. And now he is dead. And most would tell me to just leave it in my past now that my husband is gone, but there is still a relic remaining.”
Her words clicked in his mind. “Ta-Mane.”
“Yes, her. But do you know how horrid that would be of me!? If I called Ta-Mane just to tell her that the man who died wasn’t really her father? You realize, until I told you about this last year this secret was all mine. Rei-Fourse, Ta-Mane, Vertuo-Nenda, not even an outside party–I never told them any of this. Vertuo-Nenda I left and he believed nothing came out of our time together. In all these years since he’s never contacted me even once. And Rei-Fourse and Ta-Mane have never doubted that they were father and daughter. Even what I can see of him in Ta-Mane’s children, she chalked up to her husband’s side of the family.”
Asul-Zenza felt slightly unsettled. “So if everyone is happy, and they have no reason to doubt me, why, then, should I bother resurrecting this? Because I’m guilty! I never told my husband about what I did! I never told Vertuo-Nenda he had a child! I’ve never told Ta-Mane her father is someone else!”
A passing nurse peeked into Blooudine’s room. Blooudine settled.
“Mrs. Blooudine…sorry to interrupt you, but how do you know for sure that Ta-Mane is not Rei-Fourse’s?”
“Timing, Asul-Zenza. There is no way Ta-Mane could be Rei-Fourse’s. And if you saw Vertuo-Nenda, and compared him to Ta-Mane, you would be able to tell. I only wish Rei-Fourse had been able to. His divorcing me would have been well deserved. I’m sorry to speak with you about all this again, Asul-Zenza. But the guilt has been gnawing away at me.” She relaxed in her bed. “Maybe I’ll get lucky and nature will make the decision for me soon enough…”
Asul-Zenza scoffed.
“Asul-Zenza?”
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Blooudine, but I’m not going to stand for your attitude.”
“Wha?”
“An affair is a serious matter! When you first told me of it, I didn’t know what to say, but after this discussion my feelings are clear. It’s bad enough already that you did what you did, and that it went as far as it did, but you have a child who is not your husband’s and not from before your marriage. She deserves to know, even if the truth is painful. You already feel guilty enough for not telling Rei-Fourse, and there is no way of knowing if Vertuo-Nenda is even still alive. Besides, with the advances in technology nowadays, there is no guarantee she will not find out herself, and what would be worse for you?”
“Asul-Zenza…it’s a losing situation. Either I let the guilt eat away at me until the day I die, or I risk losing Ta-Mane’s love. Of all our children Ta-Mane was the one I would say was closest to Rei-Fourse. It will hurt her, even moreso now that Rei-Fourse is gone!”
“Mrs. Blooudine, you’re thinking mostly of yourself here. Otherwise I’m certain that Rei-Fourse would have known before he died. Let me give you my take on the situation. I am going to imagine if Mit-Sun and I were in the same situation you were in. If I found out that she had had an affair, I would be upset regardless. But if she came to me right away and was honest, I would find it more in my heart to forgive her than if I found out later on by myself. Especially if she was still continuing it…
“And as for children…if I found out that La-Iin was not my child…” Asul-Zenza shook his head. Just the idea was painful to him. “It’s one thing if you never knew that. It’s completely different if you believed that for years on end only to find out much later….the pain is worse now because you didn’t say anything right away. Mr. Blooudine was a very kind man. If you had told him about your affair, if you were honest, I’m certain he would have tried to work it out with you instead of divorce you. And you would have been lucky considering that an affair is incredibly reasonable grounds for divorce.”
Blooudine’s expression was pained, and for a moment Asul-Zenza wondered if he should have spoken at all. “I…I don’t mean to hurt you with this, Mrs. Blooudine. But you always gave me advice, and I could just imagine how I would feel if I was in Mr. Blooudine’s shoes–”
“No, don’t sound apologetic, Asul-Zenza. You’re right. I’ve made a big mistake. My own guilt is evidence of this…but…I already feel horrible enough that I did not tell Rei-Fourse! Even if I tell Ta-Mane, I don’t think that guilt will go away! And what of Vertuo-Nenda? Is he still alive, unaware of his daughter and grandchildren and great-grandchildren? I’ve caused such a mess…”
“The choice is in your hands as to whether or not you want to speak up, Mrs. Blooudine. But my advice to you is that you do. If you feel this much guilt over never telling Rei-Fourse, then it’s best you remedy the one person you can talk to. And…I can’t be nice about this, I’m sorry. But if she grows to resent you, that is your own fault.”
Blooudine sighed. “I…I’m really sorry, Mrs–”
“Don’t. I understand.” Blooudine smiled. “It’s not easy for me to consider doing this. But your advice is definitely good. You’ve come a long way, Asul-Zenza. I had believed, with your personality, that you would tell me that it would all work out so long as I was gentle about it or something. But I underestimated you. You understand the weight of this situation. …you haven’t been in it yourself, have you?”
“Heavens no. But if I was, I am almost certain I am right on how I would feel. Honestly, the thought of it is enough to put me off dating moreso than I already am…”
“Alright.” Blooudine sighed. “I’ll see if I can at least work up the muster to write Ta-Mane a letter about it. And perhaps, who knows, Rei-Fourse has been watching me the whole time. But I can’t expect everything to turn out happy after what I’ve done.”
“…”
“…”
“…w-well, I should probably get going right about now,” Asul-Zenza said. “I have a job in the afternoon, so I’ll have to get to sleep earlier than normal.”
“Take care, Asul-Zenza. And…thank you.” Blooudine gave him another smile. “Young Vampire or not, you have the maturity of one who is fully grown. And you’ve proven you have more maturity than I do. Continue on this way, and never let your feelings cloud you from telling people the truth.”

—–
Before he went to sleep that night, Asul-Zenza found that his mind was swarming with thoughts.
‘I can only imagine what it would feel like for Mr. Blooudine and Ta-Mane to learn the truth. It would probably hurt…’
Even now he felt as if he shouldn’t have had the conversation he did with Blooudine. But one thought eased those concerns, at least slightly.
‘But it’s for the better. If she tells Ta-Mane now, then she won’t have to learn through some other external source. And I think that would hurt even more than her mother telling her.’
He sighed. ‘Mit-Sun, for all your foibles, I’m glad that you were at least faithful to me.’

4.612.Sirlie and San

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 612
“Sirlie and San”

“It’s great to have you over again, San-Kyung!” Dosa-Mina chirped.
“You visited me when I was sick. I don’t mind doing the same. Especially since you have an avian sickness.”
“Yeah. But don’t worry! I don’t feel as sick as I have the past few days. My chest feels a lot better and I’m not coughing nearly as much! You could have just called, but I do appreciate the visit lots.”
“It is good that you came over, San-Kyung. I had to work recently and Elai-Riya’s been a little…germaphobic since he has an avian sickness.”
“She’s been watching me plenty though. Say, San-Kyung? Are you wanting to do something while you’re over, or are you just going to stare at me until I get better?”
“I wasn’t sure what to do. I’m not sure what I came over for aside from ‘You’re sick’. I don’t usually come over for these sorts of things.”
“That’s a perfectly valid reason, you know.”
A knock sounded at the door.
“I’ll get it!” Orlin-Aesth said. He walked over to the door. Dosa-Mina’s eyes began to glance around the room.
“Soooo….any chance you had ulterior motives?”
“Huh?”
“I mean, you wanted to know anything about Operation Reboot. I’ve been bedridden after all, so I’ve had a lot of time to sit down with a book. And of course I’ve been looking into our main field of study.”
“Actually, no. But if you were looking into it–”
“Aw!” Dosa-Mina pulled San-Kyung close. “That’s so nice of you, San-Kyung.”
“I–”
San-Kyung’s response was cut short by a sudden blur zipping a short distance past the two. The blur turned back and stopped in front of them.
“Hey, Dosa-Mina! Why didn’t you tell me you had feather flu!? My family’s basically got the perfect remedy for that, I thought you knew!”
“Sirlie-Baecho?”
“You could’ve come to us and–” Sirlie-Baecho’s eyes fell on San-Kyung. “Oh. I see.”
San-Kyung grit his teeth.
“Sorry to interrupt! I’ll be out of here purr-onto.”
“Hey, wait a second, Sirlie!”
Sirlie-Baecho turned around. “What, I’m needed in your little tizzy?”
“No, it’s just nice to see you! How’d you know I have feather flu?”
“Yer Mom told me on her way to work today. And so I came here! We Xartas have the perfect family remedy for feather flu. Clears it up in ten hours! Most ‘a the time, anyway.”
“I wish I had known. I would’ve gone to you right away. It was really bad two days ago, but now I feel a lot better!”
“Well, at least you’re recoverin’.” Sirlie-Baecho narrowed her eyes at San-Kyung. “What’s with the glare, pumpkin-boy?”
“Oh, I thought I told you, San-Kyung’s not all that friendly with people.”
“Hypocrite. Stop glaring at me, then.”
Sirlie-Baecho scoffed. “No kidding. And I remember, you told me that. But hey, we’re both here for the same reason, right? At least I was assuming up until I saw that display…”
“You’re here for the same reason,” Dosa-Mina giggled.
“Hey, is she staying?” San-Kyung asked, his tone one of disbelief.
“Well, me and Sirlie don’t see each other all that often any more. And besides, since you two both have simple reasons for visiting me, I’m sure it won’t be that much of a problem if you’re both in here at the same time!”
“I wouldn’t think so!” Sirlie-Baecho said. “Although I think pumpkin-boy might think otherwise.”
San-Kyung huffed and turned his glare on Dosa-Mina. “Aw, come on, just give it a shot. I’m not asking you to make friends with her. And besides, you put up with my parents.”
San-Kyung sighed. “Fine. But don’t expect me to stay long.”
‘Ah…in hindsight, this was probably a terrible idea.’ He could already see it from the contrasting expressions on his friends’ faces–a happy one on Sirlie-Baecho’s and one of agitation on San-Kyung’s.

***

Even knowing it hadn’t been the best idea to welcome both of his close friends to stay, Dosa-Mina had already decided he wasn’t going to back down from it. ‘If either Sirlie or San-Kyung wants to leave, they’re welcome to! I can’t stop them!’
So after the initial surprise of Sirlie-Baecho’s invitation to stay had worn off, Dosa-Mina turned instead to making drinks. From the kitchen, he could hear Sirlie-Baecho and San-Kyung talking. Curiosity stayed his hand and he stopped making the drinks to listen.
“So, pumpkin-boy. I get that you aren’t the biggest fan of people–”
“If you get that much, then you should be able to get that that also includes you.”
Sirlie-Baecho sighed. “You didn’t let me finish. I get that you aren’t the biggest fan of people, but you seem to really care about Dosa-Mina.”
“And that’s important because?”
“Well, it’s sweet,” she chuckled, “and also, you’d think you wouldn’t mind so much if he had another friend over. It’s not like he invited me over to your house or anything.”
“I don’t know your aim, demon, but I don’t want to talk to you.”
Sirlie-Baecho huffed. “You could at least have the deceny to call me Xarta.”
“This, coming from the girl who’s been calling me pumpkin-boy all day?”
“You’ve got me there. Fine then, I won’t bother you! But now that I’ve met you I can definitely say I don’t understand how Dosa-Mina and you became friends.”
“I could say the same.”
“At least I understand him better. I’ve been there for him for more years than you have.”
“So you say, but I heard him say that you don’t see each other all that often anymore.”
“That might be true, but whose fault is that!?”
The expression that showed on San-Kyung’s face after that looked almost smug. Sirlie-Baecho was becoming quickly agitated.
“I’ve seen sides to Dosa-Mina I doubt you’ve ever seen.”
“You’re still going on about this? I could say the same. Just be quiet, demon.”
“Not when you’re the one saying that to me. Dosa-Mina is one of my best friends! I’d jump right to his aid if I could, whenever he needed the help. You, on the other hand? You look like you’re just taking advantage of him.”
San-Kyung’s face twitched.
“All I wanted to do was ask you a stupid little question and you’re getting all huffy.”
“I could’ve been a lot harsher towards you. Consider yourself lucky we’re in the Dslellular house. And look at yourself! You’re pissed off because you’re jealous.”
“How!? So Dosa-Mina showers you in affection, I know him well! It’s not jealousy at all. It’s frustration. He always talks about you so fondly, but if all you’re doing is taking advantage of him, then it just–!”
San-Kyung struck his hands. “I’ve heard enough from you!”
“I think that’s one thing I’d have to agree with you on.”
Dosa-Mina gasped. He ran over, drinks in arm.
“Stop!”
San-Kyung put out his hand fire, and Sirlie-Baecho’s expression eased. “Geez, I’m gone for a little bit and you two can’t keep from fighting.”
“You can blame her. I told her a few times I didn’t want to talk. …I went easy on you, by the way.”
“You didn’t have to be so rude about it! You know, you’re the San-Kyung. The boy Dosa-Mina talks about so fondly. You’re his best friend, better than I could ever be. I was curious, that’s all.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “Well, at least it didn’t escalate as far as it could have. My parents would have been pissed if they came back to a scorched and cursed house.”
“…curse?” San-Kyung asked cautiously.
“That’s right, pumpkin-boy. Better call yourself lucky that he stopped me before I could do anything.”
“Don’t fight, please. Don’t force yourself to talk to each other. I can interact with you both individually and give you an equal amount of time.”
“I know…” Sirlie-Baecho sighed.
“Besides, you’re just going to aggravate my flu. I’m not expecting my friends to get along. Just expecting you two not to kill each other.” He handed them drinks. “Why don’t we enjoy ourselves? I’ll go get my drink and we can sit down together! And you two don’t have to talk to each other.”
Dosa-Mina ran back to the kitchen.
“…he’s too nice for his own good.”
“I’d agree with you on that one.”
“You’ve never seen him when he’s really pissed at someone, though.”
Sirlie-Baecho huffed. “Guess not. You’ve never seen him act shy, though.”
“That sounds impossible.”
“…I don’t like you, pumpkin-boy.”
“Ditto.”
“But you know what? Because I love Dosa-Mina so much, I’m not gonna fight with you about it!”
“Just don’t provoke me.”
“Pretty tame for evil, ain’t you?”
“If we weren’t around Dosa-Mina, you wouldn’t be saying the same thing.”
Dosa-Mina returned with his drink, and beckoned the two to sit at the table with him. Somehow, to Dosa-Mina, the tension in the air felt just a bit easier than it had a few moments ago.

—–
“You know, pumpkin-boy, I’ll give you one thing.”
“What?”
“I guess you care about Dosa-Mina well enough…you were pretty nice to him today.”
“I don’t need your kudos.”
“Why’d you ask what, then? You know, I think you and I could maybe get along, if you’d just open–”
“Can it, demon girl. I put up with you for Dosa-Mina’s sake. I thought you knew that already.”
“You want a face-ful of curse, pumpkin boy?”
“I’d get you with fire first!”
“They certainly seem to have a….how do I put this…”
“They seem like they’d make perfect rivals, if they weren’t so violent,” Dosa-Mina giggled.
“How’d you put up with it?”
“Drinks. Alcoholic.”
“What!?”
“Just kidding.”
“What was with the surprise, Orlin-Aesth?” Elai-Riya asked.
“You used to drink alcohol. I was scared you had some left over.”
“Don’t worry, those days are over after the drunk disaster of 2009…”
Elai-Riya’s eyes wandered to Dosa-Mina’s wrist.
“Dosa-Mina? Do you have a scar or something on your wrist?” She asked. “Where did you get it?”
Dosa-Mina covered his wrist. “Ah–um–just an accident a while ago. Cut myself on a branch while you guys were gone, heh heh!”
“How come we never knew about it?”
Dosa-Mina began to look uneasy. “Well, it was better by the time you got back, so I didn’t think to mention it…”
“Buh-bye, Dosa-Mina! Hopefully I’ll see you again soon! Without pumpkin-boy, that is.”
“You’re going already, Sirlie?”
“Yeah, I’d better before the urge to curse him overtakes me. We Demons are pretty sensitive to our urges. Anyhow, see ya!”
She ran over to Dosa-Mina, hugged him, then took off. “And feel better, okay!?”
“I’m feeling a lot better already! Thank you!”
“Good riddance.”
“You really found her annoying, San-Kyung?”
“What do you think?”
“I guess that’s to be expected. I’ll try not to have you both over at the same time anymore. Although it might be fun to see what happens!”
“Sadist.”
“Aw, don’t be mean.”

2.610.One Siren’s Illness

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 610
“One Siren’s Illness”

“How’s your chest feel, Dosa-Mina?”
“Feels like you’re running a bit of a fever. What happened? At the end of August you were fine.”
Dosa-Mina coughed. “I don’t know,” he rasped. “I just started feeling kind of wheezy on Monday. Then it just got worse and worse…”
“Riya, do you know what he’s sick with? I can’t figure it out…” Orlin-Aesth’s ears folded to his head.
“I’m not sure. Bronchitis, maybe? Or he could have feather flu. That’s something only us avians can get. Your chest feels all scratchy and your body aches where your feathers are. I’ve had it before.”
“It does kind of feel like that,” he said with a cough, then sighed. “Heh, funny to think that not even disguising myself as a Normal keeps me from getting species-specific diseases…”
“You should have known that already,” Elai-Riya said. “Anyway, it’s likely you caught it from some passerby. What you need is rest and a little medicine to clear out your chest. I think we might have a little blockade breaker medicine in the house…”
“Are you sure you’re not just thinking of the stuff for the drains?”
“I’m pretty sure I’m not,” Elai-Riya said indignantly. “But anyway. Sorry about this, Dosa-Mina. Hey, at least it happened before school started again, right?”
“I guess,” he coughed. “It’s bad timing though. The end of Summer break and I get to waste it sick in bed, woop-de-doo…!”
“Aw, look at this through positive lens and stop being so sarcastic. We’re going to see if we can’t find you any medicine. In the meantime, lay down for now. It’s not going to do you any good if you’re up so late while sick.”
“Okay, Mom.”

***

After giving him some medicine, Orlin-Aesth and Elai-Riya had retired to bed, and Dosa-Mina fell into a somewhat fitful sleep, his chest bothering him but his exhaustion winning out.
Some time after he fell asleep, someone flew over the neighborhood, breathing hard.
“The path to his house…is too far…!”
“How’d you even know how to find his place? I can understand San-Kyung but this just seems stalkerish on different levels.”
“I remember it because something significant happened here.”
“What? What significant thing happened here? How come I haven’t heard of it?”
“If it makes you sleep better, nobody knows about it. Not you, not Fer-Shi, not Mama or San-Kyung or Dami either, not even Sale-Dessu. Well, definitely not him. Nobody knows about it except me.”
‘And rival-boy…’ She grit her teeth. ‘We never were able to have a proper conversation about that nightmare he mentioned. Maybe once I capture him, my opportunity to question him about it will be in plain sight!’
She flew around the neighborhood until she found a house she recognized. She checked all the windows until through one she was able to spot a familiar room, and from what little she could see of the bed, a familiar face.
“There he is.”
“I still think this is a terrible plan.”
“Of course you do. And that’s why you need to sleep.” La-Iin snapped her fingers and stuffed Bes-Isa back into her dress. She rubbed her hands together and tried to open the window. At first it didn’t budge, but to her surprise it came up, though at the same time a strange, loud noise sounded, and Dosa-Mina’s eyes fluttered open.
“Uh-oh.” She tried to fly into his room before he could notice her, but when she made it inside, he sat up abruptly as if startled and crashed his head into her side. La-Iin fell onto his bed.
“Huh…? Wha–La-Iin? What the heck are you–” He began to cough.
“You’re dreaming,” she said sarcastically. Strangely enough, Dosa-Mina’s expression barely changed.
“Are….are you Kkumneok? I thought you said you weren’t coming back for a while.”
“What are you–” La-Iin covered her mouth. “Yeeees, I am Kkumneok. And I need to do a little something dreamy, you know.”
Dosa-Mina narrowed his eyes. La-Iin broke into a cold sweat as he pinched his arm tight. He looked thoroughly annoyed.
“La-Iin, there’s being a follower, there’s being a stalker, and then there’s this. No, wait a moment, this is just like being a stalker at their worst possible form,” he coughed. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“You see nothing!”
“If you’re gonna try and make yourself disappear, you’d better take some lessons from professionals,” he coughed. “Never mind. I don’t need an explanation. Just get out of here so I can get back to sleep…”
“That sounds stupid. Most people would wonder why someone’s in their house this late at night. Especially a weak little girl.”
“I know better than to underestimate you when you’re desperate,” he wheezed. “But then again, why pick my house? If you were going to intrude anyone’s….arrgh, just cut me some slack, okay!? You should be in bed by now too.”
“Vampires work on different times!” She yelled. Dosa-Mina looked startled for a moment, but then his face went back to the same glare. “Uh-huh. I’m gonna go get my parents.”
“No!”
La-Iin leaped at Dosa-Mina and grabbed onto his back, covering his mouth with one hand and securing her ear plugs with the other. She could feel Dosa-Mina’s mouth moving, but wasn’t able to tell if he was singing or not. She tried to reach her teeth to his flesh, but to no avail; instead she kicked him down to the ground.
Dosa-Mina had lapsed into a fit of coughing by now, and La-Iin decided to try and take her chance. She held him down as best as possible and smirked.
“Cry if you want. My plan will not be foiled now.”
“He–hey, you don’t want to suck me!” He coughed. “I have feather flu! You don’t want to get sick too, do you?”
“Feather flu?”
“It’s an avian sickness,” he coughed. “You couldn’t tell?”
La-Iin sat there in a bit of shock, contemplating the new information. Now that she realized it, Dosa-Mina’s skin did feel abnormally warm.
‘Taking care of rival-boy so he’s not discovered is one thing, but nursing him back from feather flu is another. And he said it’s an avian sickness!?’ La-Iin flapped her wings. ‘I’m not sure I want to take that risk…’
“Get off of me!” Dosa-Mina tried to shake La-Iin off, but she held tight to him. “Never! If your blood is no good, it doesn’t matter because that’s not what I came here for anyway.”
She bit her lip. ‘I’d better stop saying these things out loud…’ She pinned down Dosa-Mina once more, then tried to lift him up herself. Dosa-Mina squeaked and screamed and tried to fight, but to no avail–the position La-Iin had him in put him at a severe disadvantage.
Dosa-Mina was beginning to come off the ground, and his flailing intensified. La-Iin was beginning to feel satisfied. ‘His sickness will wear off eventually. All I need to do is wash off once I bring him home! I’m not leaving without him. My plan will come to fruition!’
“Give up! If you don’t stop, I have means of–” La-Iin gasped. ‘Never mind, threats can wait!’
Dosa-Mina was lifting higher off the ground, and though La-Iin was struggling greatly, he was now high enough that the sound of his feet hitting the ground in his attempts to flee could no longer be heard.
Or rather, that’s how it should have been. La-Iin still heard something similar. With a jolt, she realized it must be his parents.
La-Iin didn’t have time to think about what she should do. She dropped Dosa-Mina and flew out the window as fast as she could. She kept flying until her wings gave out from the strain, then she stopped on the grass, caught her breath and began to run home.

“Dosa-Mina, what’s the matter!?”
“Did you have a nightmare? Eek! What are you doing on the floor!?”
Dosa-Mina propped himself up. “I’m fine…don’t worry.”
“What are you doing on the floor, son!?”
“I…” The memory of La-Iin lifting him above the floor was still strong in his mind. It all seemed so real, and yet it was just so unbelievable. Even knowing her stubbornness he could hardly buy into her being able to lift him above the ground–that much seemed certain.
So what he felt: was it real, or was he dreaming it?
“…I don’t know.”
“He might have had a fever nightmare,” Elai-Riya said. “You are pretty warm…let’s get you back in bed. You can’t stay on the floor like this at all.”
“Yeah, you definitely need your bed rest!”
“Yeah,” he coughed. “I really do…”
‘But I don’t remember having a nightmare! Just what happened?’
Either way, even if what he remembered was the truth, how could he tell that to his parents? ‘If it makes no sense to me, it’ll make even less to them!’
“Hey, son?”
“What, Dad?” He coughed.
“Why’s your window open?”
‘It happened, didn’t it,’ he thought bitterly.

—–
Later on in the day, Dosa-Mina’s cough still persisted.
“You haven’t shaken that cough yet?” Elai-Riya asked.
“I don’t think I’ve shook the flu either…”
“That’s probably because you were on the floor,” Orlin-Aesth said. Dosa-Mina grit his teeth. “Damn that La-Iin. I’d really rather not be sick right now!”
“Huh?”
“Did you say something…weird, Dosa-Mina?”
“Huh? N-no, it’s nothing.”
‘What did she want from me?’ Now that it seemed likely that his memory hadn’t failed him, it was one of the questions he wanted an answer to most.

“I can’t believe it failed!”
“I can.”
“Damn his parents! Next time I have to plan for them.”
“If there is a next time.”
La-Iin gnashed her teeth. “There’s a difference between ‘realistic’ and ‘jerkass’, you know!”