2.640.History Lesson for Evil

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 640
“History Lesson for Evil”

“La-Iin!”
La-Iin sat in silence on her bed. Plans were running through her head, and she had achieved perfect concentration on the image in her mind.
Even when her door was opened, she barely noticed the sound. Still she focused on the image in her mind.
At least, until that person let a dog in.
“Arf!”
“Choungetsu, what are you doing on my bed!?” La-Iin hissed. “Get off!” She pushed him off the bed. Choungetsu landed hard on the floor and whimpered, cowering away from La-Iin who glared down at him as if he were an enemy.
“Mama, what’s wrong with you!? I was concentrating!”
“Well, sorry,” Mit-Sun said. She sounded agitated.
“What do you want?”
“I was figuring, since you seemed to be so interested in studying whatever was in Sale-Dessu’s files, maybe I could help you study something else too.”
“Your studies becomes boring the moment you’re the one doing it.”
Mit-Sun’s face twitched. “Uh huh. Anyway, if there’s anything you’re curious about learning, I can help you with it. Well, almost anything. I was thinking of leading you through a history of dictators, but I wasn’t sure about that.”
‘Wait a second.’ Mit-Sun’s words brought new plans to La-Iin’s mind. ‘I’ve always looked into the history of evil people to help my own ideas. But it’s been a while. Maybe now’s the time to brush up on it. I do have that new information and Hypotheory, after all.’
Mit-Sun had turned to leave the room. La-Iin flew up behind her and tapped her back. “Maybe I’ll let you help me study after all.”
“What a sudden change of mind.”
“I never said no, did I?” La-Iin hissed. To her surprise, Mit-Sun smiled in response.
“No, I guess you didn’t. Alright then, what would you like me to teach you about?”
“I want to know about the history of evil. As much of it as you can tell me without it getting too long.”
“I guess I should have expected that. But geez, that’s gonna be a lot even if I do cut it short.”
“I’d also like you to tell me some history of the world. Like what the world was like when that evil thing happened.”
“You’re making high demands for someone who apparently doesn’t like my study style,” Mit-Sun said. “But that’s fine with me, though it might take a while. Let me get the books I need and then we’ll get started.”
“Alright. And anyway, I have something to finish concentrating on and a certain dog to deal with.”
When Choungetsu noticed her gaze was on him, he gave a loud whimper and ran past Mit-Sun and down the stairs. La-Iin chuckled to herself and returned to her bed to concentrate as she waited for Mit-Sun.

***

“You should count yourself lucky, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said. She had called La-Iin downstairs and was waiting for her in the kitchen, surrounded by several books. “What you asked for is a high order, and even though I have lots of books I didn’t know if I’d be able to cover it all for you. But I should have just enough to give you a good outline. I’ve read through these books and even though I think I might need them for reference, I think I can give you what you want.”
“Alright. It was a surprise, you having a good idea for once. But I can use anything people will give me. I’m that thorough, after all.”
Mit-Sun gave La-Iin a questioning look. “Anyway–hey, what’s the crayon and paper for?”
“Writing down notes. You never know when research might give you ideas.”
“Turn into a dictator and I’m disowning you.”
“We might have to put that to the test.” La-Iin straightened herself out. “Okay, I’m ready.”
“As you know, evil has of course existed for as long as our planet’s been around. Before there were proper languages, even. People have always been capable of evil deeds. Back then people were still learning about the world and there wasn’t a defined morality system like there is nowadays. It was only as time went on that the world evil came to be associated with the horrible deeds and mindset it is today.”
La-Iin fake-wrote onto the paper. She did actually want to keep notes, but nothing she had said yet felt noteworthy. Still, she wanted to show Mit-Sun she was listening, if for nothing else so that she wouldn’t call her out on not doing so.
‘After all, it’s not like I’m not listening!’
“Evil was considered a detriment back then too. Of course, many notable “good” people did evil things back in the day. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say most historical figures you come across in positions of power, and even some who weren’t, did something evil no matter how noble they tried to come off as. I’m not talking about killing to survive a war, mind you. I mean things like torture.”
“I see.”
“For an example, you could look into the royalty of ancient Grougyp and Shitosh’s royalty. Royalty in particular is a good place to look, as royalty often tried to establish complete dominion over its people, and kings and queens could be vicious people. They had people executed for silly things sometimes. Once in Shitosh’s history, they had someone executed because it was not immediately obvious that the person executed was a Dualbreed. When they found out the other species was Vampire, well, that was that.”
La-Iin nodded.
“But even though there are those historical evil actions, most people tried to present themselves as neutral and eventually, good. Evil was seen as, well, evil. Even those who committed heinous actions usually cared at least about their family and didn’t want them hurt, and evil often hurts other people, as I’m sure you know. The first world war only further established this standpoint because while most people fought for what they believed in evil people sought to take advantage of what was going on for their own gains. They say evil Sirens often tried to provide “comfort” to those fighting in the war…I can’t tell you all about it as it’s a mature subject, but you know how historical Sirens operated.”
“Hm.”
“Things did change in due time. There are a lot of heinous actions that happened all over history. Several mass and serial murders, crimes against the people, several wars…evil people are involved in the majority of those. Even those who didn’t call themselves evil often actually were. There are very few heinous incidents in history which were genuinely done by someone who believed they were doing the right thing through and through, or even by people who have a neutral view on things. For that you might want to look into the Dementia Cult. But as time passed, the world leaders such as the presidents and heads of the countries came together to prevent more world wars by talking among each other–though this happened after World War III, I think, and as you know, World War IV did end up happening. Though it might have happened after World War II…I’m not completely sure. But I can tell you not every place in the world participates. I know Dasdoria doesn’t. In fact, they’re another case of good intentions gone wrong, although nowadays the country’s run by evil people.”
La-Iin nodded.
“One of the things they were thinking about was how to combat evil. Places like Dasdoria and North Vaelyn exist, not to mention even your developed country like Manemica has high crime rates in some areas. Usually, no matter where you go, at least one area does. When a good amount of the population is capable of evil acts, and the majority of said population possesses powers, what do you do? This is how things such as power suppressants came to be, as a consideration of these things. But suppressing powers won’t stop Normals, and it won’t stop someone with powers who’s determined. They say power suppressants make you weak, but I’ve heard that on species with not many powers it doesn’t make them quite as weak as it would if you, for example, used them on Sale-Dessu.”
‘Sale-Dessu without powers would be a weird Sale-Dessu,’ La-Iin thought.
“None of their solutions worked in the long run, but one of their solutions was to recognize evil people. This happened after they looked into the instigator of World War II and after a man, along with his cult, killed thousands of people. Both of those people had started off with artistic pursuits, and so the leaders wondered if they recognized evil people, penalizing evil actions still but allowing them to express their viewpoints–if just possibly, that might work. Because before evil was not tolerated, at least not among civilians, anyway.”
“Hm.”
“Well, it hasn’t worked overall, but they left it intact because it didn’t harm their intentions either. It has prevented some evil people from acting on their desires most likely. And that’s why you’re welcome to say you want to rule the world. In the past that would have gotten you in more trouble, probably me and Asul-Zenza too. But yes, our history is filled with heinous deeds. Because it is detrimental and negatively affects people, we search for ways to reduce these evil actions. But in a world like this, I don’t think it’s possible. Witches and Warlocks have so many abilities the total number is higher than one-hundred and we have species like Sirens who can kill people by singing and Vampires who need blood for physical and mental stability. And people tend to be selfish. Even people who mean well probably don’t want evil in the world because it could harm them, or someone important to them. And of course evil people are almost unanimously motivated by selfish desires. So…”
Mit-Sun sighed. “Well, if you’re curious about all sorts of evil events that have gone on over history, here are some books on them. These are books about all four World Wars, about serial and mass killings, about crime in general and civil wars…all sorts of things that have happened over history. As much as I would have loved to go over them with you right now, there’s just so much to cover and more often than not there’s a lot to read related to it. So for now you can read up on it on your own. By the way, here are some books which talk more about the incidents I mentioned to you.”
“Okay.” La-Iin tried to take some of the books, but struggled under their weight. Mit-Sun gave an amused huff and helped her carry the books to her room.

—–
“You’ve certainly been reading a lot lately.”
“Hm.”
“It’s kind of annoying. But I seriously wonder how a seven-year-old could be such a voracious reader, especially of such complicated-looking books. I understand you read well because you were taught on Makeshire plays, but I don’t understand it. Especially considering you can barely write Vaelis from what I’ve heard.”
“Shut up, Bes-Isa. And besides, I’ve been struggling plenty. By the way.”
“What?”
“Do you know what this word is?”
“…I guess I have no place to speak. After all, even though your reading isn’t great, it might be better than mine.”
“Just admit you can’t read,” La-Iin hissed. “Fine then. I’ll ask Mama.”

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29.637.Research Results

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 637
“Research Results”

After La-Iin arrived home from school on Tuesday, she heard something tapping against her window.
“What’s that annoying noise?” Bes-Isa moaned. Curious herself, La-Iin peeked out the window. She opened it up once she noticed Eul-Bok, covered from head-to-toe in thick clothing, holding a wand out of a window.
“What do you want?” La-Iin called out.
“Not so loud!” He said, his voice hushed but not in a whisper. “Father wants you for something. He says it’s important. He asked me to tell you about it. He’s really exhausted.”
La-Iin’s eyes widened and she gasped.
“What is it?”
“Sale-Dessu has something for me.” She levitated Bes-Isa to her side. ‘Could it be…?’
She smiled to herself, a wicked smile.
“Someone’s looking evil.”
“I feel evil,” La-Iin said. She dashed down the stairs, flying only briefly to keep herself from falling when she tripped. She caught Choungetsu’s attention on her way down, and he barked at her.
“Quiet, Choungetsu!” She hissed. Choungetsu whimpered and cowered. She ignored him and dashed past the kitchen.
“What’s the hurry, La-Iin?” Mit-Sun asked. But La-Iin didn’t pay attention to her either. She continued onward until she was outside, and then until she was in front of the door to the Astineth house. She tried to open the door, and when it didn’t budge she started to bang wildly on it, catching the attention of one of her neighbors.
“Not so loud!” Eul-Bok hissed. La-Iin was surprised to see him answer the door. “Father’s really exhausted right now. Have a little decency!”
“Decency and I are not on speaking terms,” she said. “Where is Sale-Dessu?” She let herself in, and Eul-Bok closed the door behind them.
“He’s where you two always meet. He might be napping, so please be quiet.”
“Geez, something’s got you all riled up.”
“You don’t understand why yet, Bes-Isa. But depending on what happens here today, you might soon…”
La-Iin wasn’t subtle in her excitement, and Eul-Bok found himself cringing quite a few times as she crashed through his and Sale-Dessu’s house on her way to their normal meeting area. Any reservation she normally had while visiting them was obviously gone.
She plopped herself down once she reached the meeting area. Sale-Dessu was fast asleep, resting his head on the table.
“WAKE UP!”
“Ah!” Sale-Dessu lifted his head abruptly and began to pant wildly. His visible eye darted around until it landed on La-Iin.
“Oh….please don’t scare me like that!” He sounded angry.
“I told her you didn’t get much sleep, Father. She wouldn’t listen! She’s really excited about this.”
“Did you tell her what I called her here for?”
“No, but something tells me she guessed.”
“Have you finished your research into that thing I asked you about!?”
Sale-Dessu looked confused, though only briefly. “Y-yes. In fact, some of the things I found out near the end were startling. That and having to compile all I learned is why I’m not running on much sleep…” He yawned. “So please, let’s make this quick. I could use some rest.”
He pushed the files La-Iin’s way. “Here you are, the results of my research. I may have written things a little bit confusingly. I was tired when I finished this.”
“Confusingly isn’t much of a word, Father,” Eul-Bok whispered. Sale-Dessu sighed. “I’m sorry. I’m really exhausted…”
La-Iin began to check over the files. “It would be better if you did that at your own house. I’m really exhausted, La-Iin. Unless there’s something else you actually need–”
“Father, no! She’ll just ask you to do more pointless research!”
“Eul-Bok, please. Even if she asked that, I wouldn’t do it right now. And in any event, I just meant if she has any queries. Questions. …whatever word will make you understand.”
“This isn’t pointless,” La-Iin hissed. “Oh….ooh…”
“La-Iin?”
La-Iin’s mouth turned up once again in a wicked smirk. “Amazing, Sale-Dessu. I’ll have to read the rest of this at home, but it looks like my hope was right.”
“Mind letting me in on it? Right now I don’t understand why I was dragged out here!”
“Oh, you’ll learn soon enough. It’s the proper result.” La-Iin organized the files. “I’ll let you sleep for now, my ally. You deserve it after what you’ve done for me. This is amazing. Do you want to know just how amazing?”
“How amazing?” Sale-Dessu asked, feeling a little uncertain. ‘I’m glad she likes it. She seems really enamored. Did she want to know about this that badly? I suppose it does have to do with a part of her species.’
“Amazing enough that even someone evil like me is considering calling it justice!” She cackled. “Thank you for the help, Sale-Dessu. I might even say I owe you.”
“How big is that stuff that you of all people are talking about owing!?”
“For now, I’m just happy that you’re happy,” Sale-Dessu said. “But maybe I’ll ask Eul-Bok if there’s something he wants from you.”
La-Iin stared at Eul-Bok. Aside from her wicked smile, she looked as emotionless as always, and to Eul-Bok it felt incredibly unnerving at that moment.
“I have to read the rest of this over. Sleep well, Sale-Dessu…”
With those words, La-Iin left the Astineth house.
“She certainly seemed quite happy,” Sale-Dessu said.
“Just what was in that research that she reacted that way to it?”
“Well, there was a lot, and I have to admit some of what I found out was quite interesting. I’m not a genius so I don’t know if there were a few details I got wrong, but from what I saw…” Sale-Dessu’s expression changed to one of concern.
“Father?”
“I’m sorry, Eul-Bok, the fatigue is coming back to me…” He yawned. “Would you be willing to wait for your answer until morning?”
“I’m willing to wait, Father. But just how long do you plan on sleeping?”

***

Mit-Sun was used to receiving assignments from Eteibreit that necessitated her to look over or sort papers. She knew she spent much more time than she would like going over papers in the kitchen, and she also knew that on more than one occasion that had caused La-Iin to become mad at her.
So it greatly surprised her to spot La-Iin in the kitchen, looking over several papers.
“Where did you get all that from?”
“Sale-Dessu,” she said.
“What is it?”
“Research.”
“Research? I didn’t think you liked to do research all that much.”
“I love research when it comes to the things I like,” La-Iin said. “Heh heh heh…”
“Huh.”
“I’d really like to know what the research is too, La-Iin.”
“You have to let me finish going over it, Bes-Isa. It’s a lot to read, but as I go on it only becomes better and better. I’m loving this!”
“Just how great is this? You thanked Sale-Dessu, talked about owing him…and that is the most wicked smile I’ve seen on your face in a while. I love it, I just wish I knew what was causing it!”
“It’s these papers, obviously,” La-Iin said simply. “But now I know. Now that I have these, Hypotheory will be perfect.”
“Hypotheory? What the hell is that?”
“What’s a Hypotheory?”
La-Iin hissed. Both Mit-Sun and Bes-Isa assumed that meant they weren’t getting an answer, though in Bes-Isa’s case it didn’t stop her from pestering La-Iin, at least until La-Iin put her to sleep.
Frustrated, La-Iin carried the papers with her upstairs and began to read them in her room. Her smirk only grew wider.
‘Amazing. Simply amazing. Now that I have this, I can move on with Hypotheory!’

—–
Bes-Isa woke to the sight of La-Iin staring out her bedroom window. It was open and a cold breeze had blown into the bedroom, soaking into Bes-Isa’s fabric.
“What are you still doing up?”
“I can’t sleep. I keep feeling that something amazing is going to happen. No, I know something amazing is going to happen. I can feel it. I’m so happy right now…”
“Does this have to do with that research, or “Hypotheory” or whatever it was you were going on about?”
“That doesn’t matter right now, Bes-Isa. I’ll tell you about it later. …you know, there are a lot of reasons I do what I do. Many, many reasons, so many that even if you took one away I’d still want to do it.”
“Huh?”
“But one of the primary reasons is that it makes me happy.” La-Iin backed away from the window and glanced at Bes-Isa. “And if goody-goodies are allowed to do what makes them happy, then I see no reason why I shouldn’t be allowed to, either.”

13.590.Hiding in the Records

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 590
“Hiding in the Records”

“Dad, do you think I’m, like, worthless?”
Her father’s eyes widened. “What made you think you’re worthless, Airy-Aekok!? Has everything been okay over the Summer? I’m really sorry I haven’t been able to spend as much time with you as we wanted to, it’s just that there’s a lot of things going on at work–”
“I know, Dad,” she said, smiling at him. It didn’t seem to ease his concern. “It’s not your fault. I just feel bad. Remember that pet project I wanted to do with you?”
“Yeah?”
“Well, it didn’t have, like, the results I was lookin’ for, you know? Just made me think…you’re so good at your job and I can’t even do something I want to do for fun right.”
“Don’t say that about yourself, Airy-Aekok. So what if you don’t get something done the right way the first time? I wasn’t always good at being a cop. There were times nobody wanted to rely on Llanni for a job…but I kept going and I improved, and if I could do that, you can too.”
“You’re just saying that because you’re my Dad.”
“No, I’m just saying it because you’re Airy-Aekok and even if you weren’t my daughter, I’d still like you,” he said. “Besides, I really do believe that. So I don’t want to hear you saying anything bad about yourself. Gush about teenage boys instead!”
“I wasn’t really, like, saying anything bad about myself, though…but I’m always willing to gush about teenage boys! I haven’t, like, seen any good ones in a while, though.”
Her father smiled. “Oh! Airy-Aekok, there was some information you wanted to look into, right? Did you ever find out what it was?”
“Not exactly? I mean like I have a pretty good idea, but I don’t have any definitive proof.”
“Proof can mean a lot,” he told her. “So I’ve got an idea. Why don’t you stop by the library? I do have a library card, and you’re welcome to use it.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, really!”
“I’m not sure how I’d find what I’m lookin’ for at a library…”
“You’d be surprised by what you can find at the library.” He handed her a small green card. “Just use that whenever you decide to go. But since I’m home, I figure we can do something to pass the time for now, right?”
“Yeah, I guess so. Maybe we can see if any of the boy bands have come out with a cool new song!”
Her father began to look uncertain. “That’s not exactly what I meant…but if you want to sweetie, then we’ll look.”

***

Airy-Aekok had always greatly admired her father, ever since she was little. She saw him as an ideal of strength and fortitude that everyone should strive for–that and a smart man who searched for true justice and the facts about a situation. She found it hard to doubt him with his display of honesty, something he had proven conclusively she could trust him on, time and time again. So she head to the library after he left for his shift to see if he was right, and if there was a resource in the library she could look to.
‘Yeah, like a birth certificate book,’ she thought. ‘My Dad’s honest, but he doesn’t always have the right idea about things. I doubt I’d find information specifically on Dslellular Dosa-Mina here.’
But school was scheduled to start in less than a month. What did she have to lose?
When she entered the local library, she was astounded by its size. Just by walking in she saw shelves upon shelves of books that stretched up high. Tall bookshelves stood even higher than that, on floors only avians could reach without assistance.
It was an amazing sight. “Who knew that this close library was like, this grandiose?”
“Please be a little quieter in the library,” a librarian said. Airy-Aekok nodded and went running through the library. Other patrons gave her quizzical looks, but Airy-Aekok payed them no mind and instead went looking through the many shelves to see what each one held. The shelves nearby mostly had informative books, all on an array of different subjects. A sudden desire stirred in her, and Airy-Aekok couldn’t help but start scanning the shelves closely, looking for books focusing on a subject near and dear to her heart.

“Dad made a good point. You really can find a lotta stuff in the library!”
Someone shushed her, but the sound barely registered. Airy-Aekok walked, arms full of books focusing on boys, to the back of the library. A sign had stated that in the back there was a reading nook, and while Airy-Aekok felt it would be easier to simply take the books back home with her, she was too curious not to see what the nook looked like.
On her way there, she spotted an area that was filled with desks. Distracted, she head that way instead and spotted row upon row of computers, many with people staring intently at them but still a fair amount of ones that were unoccupied.
“I wonder.” Setting the books down on one of the desks, Airy-Aekok sat down and opened up a search engine.
‘Like I’ll get many results, hah.’ She typed in ‘Dslellular Dosa-Mina’. As she had expected, not many results came up, and what results did mostly surrounded other people who were also called Dosa-Mina, though by what she could see, not a one of the results had to do with someone who had Dslellular as their last name.
Upon scrolling further down the results, however, she spotted a curious link: “Dslellular Dosa-Mina–list of Vaelyn Residents”
“Huh.” Curious, she clicked on it, and up came a website with several names on it. Airy-Aekok was startled to see that her’s, her father’s and even Lirako’s name was on the list, although it seemed to be an older list as Airy-Aekok noted that when she clicked Dosa-Mina’s name, the age it listed there was thirteen as opposed to sixteen.
That only caught her mind for a short amount of time, however–what caught her eye after that was the rest of the details. The page was skimpy, but what was written in the species section clearly did not read “Normal”.
Airy-Aekok gasped. Nearby people stared in her direction.
‘This is it! This is the proof me and Lirako need, isn’t it!?’ Airy-Aekok began to check her pockets. On occasion she would bring along a small digital camera–a habit she had picked up from her father–and she was pleased to see that it was in her pocket. She took a picture of the page, closed it out, then ran off to the front of the library with the books about boys in her arms.
But she could barely think about teenage boys right now, save for one: Dosa-Mina.
‘I really need to thank my dad,’ she thought. ‘Without him I’d have never found this out!’

***

“WHAT!?”
“Yeah, look! I think the page was, like, illegal but still! That only proves it even more if it’s illegal!”
“So I suppose we were half right…”
“Now that we have this though, we really need to think about what we’re gonna do. School’s gonna start in September again. Should we, like, keep it to ourselves, or tease him with it? Think’a all the things we could blackmail him into!”
“I’m not so sure we have the same idea here, Llanni,” Lirako said.
“What makes ya say that?”
“I’ve got something else in mind,” she said. “I just don’t know if it would be safe for us to do. I mean after all, he’s a Dualbreed with Siren powers on his side…nullified ones, but Siren powers nonetheless.”
“What is it?”
Lirako shook her head. “I’m not sure I should say…”
“Aw, c’mon!”
“Airy-Aekok, I’m home! Where are you?”
“Oh, hi Dad!” Airy-Aekok called. Her father walked into the room and smiled; then, his eyes fell on Lirako. “So you invited a friend over, huh?”
“Uh, yeah,” Lirako said, covering up Airy-Aekok’s camera.
“Did you go to the library?”
“I sure did,” Airy-Aekok said. She flashed her father a wide grin. “By the way, Dad–thanks.”
“Not a problem. Feel free to check out books on my card whenever, but make sure you return them on time, okay?”
“I will!” Airy-Aekok said.
“I’m going to make dinner now. Unless you’ve already eaten?”
“Nah, I’m too excited to eat!”
“I guess you got out a good book, then!” He chuckled. “And miss, you’re welcome to stay for dinner with us.”
“Oh, uh, sure!”
He walked out of the room. Airy-Aekok dropped her volume before speaking.
“Whatever we do, there’s this I know. We have the information now, and that’s a success. It means we succeeded, and even if we never do anything about it, that’s something to be happy about!”
Lirako giggled. “I guess you’re right. After all, even if we do keep it a secret, it’s our dirty little secret, and there’s something kind of fun about the idea of never telling him we know!”
She stared out the window. “Still, I’m not sure I want to keep it a secret…”

—–
Dosa-Mina shuddered.
“You alright, son? You’re not catching a cold or anything, are you?”
“No, I think I’m fine. Just a shiver.”
Dosa-Mina shuddered again. “Ugh, I feel uncomfortable…”

13.529.The Blood Tests

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

20.475.Llanni’s Research

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 475
“Llanni’s Research”

Airy-Aekok arrived at school on Monday with a plan in mind.
‘This is the best plan ever. Dad’s so great. He gives the greatest inspiration.’
She stared at the back of Dosa-Mina’s head, a grin on her face. ‘You, pretty boy, are the ticket to my future. I should, like, thank him after I’m done with all this!’

***

“Hey, Yuuldang!”
Xhen-Bei flinched. “H-hi, Llanni! Wh-what’s up?”
“Nothin’ much. I just wanted to ask you a question. Promise it’s innocent. Also…” Airy-Aekok forced her best innocent expression. “Sorry about what happened earlier this month. That was, like, so uncalled for. You didn’t deserve it at all. Thanks for not being as mad at me as the others.”
Xhen-Bei’s ears twitched. “Uh…sure. What did you want?”
“You’re gonna think this is crazy again, but, like, you know how I like teenage boys and all that?” Xhen-Bei backed away from her. “Well, I thought about a healthier way to go about it after talking with my Dad. And I realized, I really love the sound of a boy’s singing voice. Would you be okay with singing for me? Please?”
“Is that all you want?” Xhen-Bei chuckled. “I’m not much of a singer, Llanni. I don’t think you’d get exactly what you want.”
“Aw, come on, I wanna hear you!”
Xhen-Bei sighed. “Okay. But not in the classroom, alright? Let’s ditch real quick and get this over with.”
Even reminding herself that what she was doing was in the name of research, Airy-Aekok couldn’t help but feel excited as Xhen-Bei led her outside. Once they were outside, he took a deep breath, looked away from her, and started to sing.

I’m not going by a rule that’s not my own!
I’ll play the nice-boy act, then break from the mold
I’m content to live by what I deem right
Even outside the public eye
Oh, the privacy of my desire, the secrecy of my situation–

‘He really isn’t anything special,’ Airy-Aekok thought. Still, she let him finish out the song.
“Hey, if you want someone good to sing for you, you should ask Elyshen. I hear he goes to the Music Weekend class. He’s probably a lot better than I am. Though you’ve gotta be careful. The boys don’t exactly trust you after what you did to them, not to mention Elyshen’s shy.”
“I know they don’t. And I’m gonna, like, try and regain their trust. Little by little I’ll make reparations. I mean, I did it at the beginning of my school year. I’ve got time.”
“Yeah, guess so,” he said. “Anyway, good luck, Llanni! We should get back to class now.”
“Yeah, sure!”

As the students switched classes, Airy-Aekok weaved her way through the crowd to reach Deki-Tyunri. She tapped him on the back and he startled.
“Llanni!?”
“Who else is a Llamaki in this school?”
“Please, Llanni, I’m just–”
“I’m not gonna do anything indecent, promise,” she said. “I want something really innocent, actually. See, I wanna try and act better about liking teenage boys. So instead of trapping guys in a room, I decided I wanna hear you guys sing. And I heard you happen to be part of a Music class.”
“Um…”
“Hey, I don’t think a little singing is gonna hurt you,” Lirako told him.
“I’m not–not as good as some of the others in my class, though…you might want to ask Mr. Vurinen for that…and Llanni, I know what you want is innocent, but I don’t exactly trust you yet…”
“I understand,” she sighed. “And it makes lots of sense. I just really wanted to hear one of you guys sing, and I didn’t want to, like, ask Molshei or something. But I guess I could always give him a try…”
“Llanni, no!” He yelled. “I’ll sing for you, okay? But only a short song.”
“Thanks, Elyshen. You’re the best.”
Deki-Tyunri seemed flustered as he ran into the next classroom. ‘Two boys should be enough to detract suspicion, right? I don’t wanna go around asking all the boys. That’d take up all my time. Let’s hear how Elyshen sounds and then head off to Dslellular.’

Deki-Tyunri’s voice was pleasant to Airy-Aekok, and she regretted saving her recorder for Dosa-Mina. After he finished his song, however, he took off and head back to his seat, his face beet red.
“He’s such a cutie. Too bad he, like, doesn’t seem interested in girls at all. I’d date him in a heartbeat.” She sighed. “Guess that leaves the big guns next…”
Airy-Aekok had been reluctant to approach Dosa-Mina–he always sat next to San-Kyung, and she didn’t like the looks he gave her. She saw an out when he head off for the bathroom during one break time, and she dashed into the bathroom nearby it, hoping to detract any potential suspicion he might have about her motives.
Once she heard the bathroom door open, she walked out of the other one.
“Hey, like, what a coincidence! You’re just the guy I wanted to see, Dslellular.”
“Me?” He pointed to himself. “Why? You’re not planning anything, are you?”
“No way! I just wanted to ask you an innocent question.”
“Sorry, Llanni, but class starts up again soon. And you can’t expect people to recover from being tied up so easily.”
“C’mon, it’s just a silly little question.”
Dosa-Mina sighed. “What?”
Airy-Aekok turned on her recorder. “You’re right that I made, like, a big mistake tying you boys up. I dunno if you heard me talking to some of the others, but I thought I should try and make the way I do things a little healthier. My Dad told me it’d probably be for the best.”
“Well, good on you for trying to change,” he said. “What’s this got to do with me, though?”
“I thought the better way I could get my teenage boy fix without going crazy is by listening to singing,” she said, checking Dosa-Mina’s expression. ‘Nothing yet.’ “So I wanted to ask, could you sing for me? It can just be a little something, but I’d love to hear your singing voice. I think you’d have a real pretty one.”
Dosa-Mina began to look shocked, though Airy-Aekok couldn’t tell if it was because of her request or her compliment. “Sorry, Llanni, but I’m going to have to say no. I don’t sing well, and anyway it’s a waste of time. We really should be getting back to class.”
“C’mon, not even a short little ditty?”
“No, Llanni.”
Airy-Aekok pouted. “Yuuldang and Elyshen sang for me.”
“Yuuldang and Elyshen are themselves. I’m me, and I don’t want to sing for you.”
‘Do I pull out the really big guns?’ Airy-Aekok was caught between a decision to keep pressing or to outright confront him about her suspicions, though she feared his response in either situation.
‘He’s the only one who turned me down, but then again, Molshei’d probably turn me down too, and he’s pretty obviously an Animated Pumpkin. But you never know…I could be totally off about Dslellular, but proven right or proven wrong, I’d rather make some progress in this case!’
“Alright, Dslellular. Sorry about asking you to sing like that.”
“You don’t have to apologize. You weren’t…too forcible, I guess. Now I really need to get back to class.”
“I just think it’s kind of a shame. You know, Sirens can’t sing without killing people. We’re lucky we can, even if it’s just for a silly ditty.”
Dosa-Mina seemed to stiffen. “Well, not every non-Siren is a natural singer, and not everyone wants to be. I’m one of those who doesn’t want to be.”
Airy-Aekok walked closer to Dosa-Mina. “Say, Dslellular? If you were born a Siren, and I asked you to sing for me, would you think I had a death wish?”
Dosa-Mina’s expression seemed to answer Airy-Aekok’s questions. “Why are you asking these things? I said no already!”
“Sorry, sorry, just random thinking!” She chuckled. “But really, it’s a shame. You ever change your mind, let me know so I can hear that wonderful singing voice! I bet you have the kind that would really soothe people.”
Dosa-Mina had stomped off by now. Airy-Aekok grinned. “Well, that may not be conclusive evidence, but it’s certainly enough to keep the Siren theory going. I think I’ve got him in a rut!”
Airy-Aekok smiled. ‘The sooner I find out what he really is, the better. And I bet Sanyaow’s right about him being a non-Normal–he does act like he’s got something to hide.’
Content for now, Airy-Aekok head for the classroom.

***

During the last class, Airy-Aekok had formulated one more idea–one last plan for her research towards Dosa-Mina’s species.
“Hey, Dslellular, mind if I bother you one more time before you go home?”
“Leave us alone,” San-Kyung snapped. Dosa-Mina held up a hand, and San-Kyung snorted. “If this has to do with singing again, the answer’s still no. I’m not a natural singer.”
Airy-Aekok almost couldn’t suppress her grin at the sight of San-Kyung’s surprised expression. ‘He’s his best friend. Of course he’d know his true species. Now that definitely makes me wonder.’
“I’d heard you were a species study buff. Tell me, is it true that Sirens can transform into other species with a song?”
Dosa-Mina looked put off. “Um, yes, that’s true. But it’s only aesthetic.”
“Oh, really? I thought it wasn’t! So, like, their song still kills you and everything even if they look just like a Normal?”
“…yes.”
“Sorry for the rando question. My Dad’s a cop, like I told you. He’s told me about some pretty scary cases before. Kinda freaky, to think someone could be disguising as a Normal under my nose and I’d never know they were a Siren until I was dead! Makes you wonder about people like Sanhuun and Hangdul,” she said.
“I’m pretty sure you’re required to put your species down on the school submission form,” he said. “I think we’d know if they weren’t Normals.”
“Makes you wonder why someone’d put down no species. I didn’t think that was a valid answer.”
Students had begun to stare at Dosa-Mina. He glanced around at them. “If there’s anything else you want to know about this, there’s library books on the subject. But I should really get home now. My parents worry about me when I’m out late.”
“I see,” she said. “Take care, then!”
Dosa-Mina did not acknowledge her words, and instead head out the school with San-Kyung close behind him.
‘Oh, this is great stuff,’ she thought. ‘If I were my Dad and he was a criminal, I could really go off of stuff like this. All I need is some hard proof. But then, who knows?’ She glanced at the students, their expressions curious. ‘They might give me what I need. Wonder if Sanyaow could work with that.’
Content for now, Airy-Aekok left the classroom.

—–
“Did something happen to make that girl suspicious, Dosa-Mina?”
“No, nothing happened! Aside from that incident earlier this month, we’ve never even interacted! I don’t know why she was getting on my case today.”
His shoulders slumped. “Maybe it was just a coincidence she asked about it all. I mean, she did say her Dad’s a cop, and that he’s told her about some cases. Maybe she was curious because of that. But what if everyone else in the school starts getting suspicious? I’ve already got Lirako stalking me. What’ll I do if the whole classroom starts to wonder about it?”
“If you panic like that, you’ll give yourself away,” San-Kyung told him. “I’ll find a way to help you deal with her if she bothers you again.”
“I just need to pull through for a little longer,” he said. “We’re in Grade 12 next year. If I can make it past there, I never need to worry about this again.”

10.465.Affective Energy

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 465
“Affective Energy”

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

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

12.346.Potentially Imaginary Mysteries

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 346
“Potentially Imaginary Mysteries”

“I don’t know if anyone else can see me, La-Iin. I went out a few times since our last meeting and nobody noticed me even when I did really annoying things.”
Imagination sighed. She stared down at Choungetsu. “At least you can see me.”
Choungetsu yipped.
“But it doesn’t really matter to you at all I guess. You never even really believed I was a ghost, not since the day we met…”
Both girls fell silent. Choungetsu gave a whimper.

***

“Thinking about something, La-Iin?”
La-Iin laid on her bed, lost in thought. Her meeting with Imagination was on her mind, along with the last meeting the two had had with Fer-Shi. She recalled all the things she and Fer-Shi had asked her about that she didn’t know.
Was she isolated from the world or a ghost? La-Iin wasn’t sure which one to believe anymore.
‘Maybe I shouldn’t try and find out through Imagination. Maybe I can find out some other way.’
Skeptic as she was about Imagination’s claims, she half hoped it was the truth. She couldn’t help but wonder if that would make living out a thousand years easier on her.
‘And maybe I could still commit atrocities from the grave…’
La-Iin hopped off her bed and snapped her fingers. She walked downstairs and into the kitchen, but Mit-Sun wasn’t there. She decided to try her room instead.
Mit-Sun was sitting at the computer. La-Iin sighed.
“Hello, La-Iin. Are you ready for school?”
“Are you ready for work?” La-Iin said sarcastically.
“Don’t be that way with me. You got up early today but just because you’ve had more time to yourself before school doesn’t mean you don’t have to go today. What did you want, anyway?”
“Not to say that I wasn’t ready for school, even though I really don’t want to go,” she huffed. “I wanted to use your computer.”
Mit-Sun narrowed her eyes. “What for?”
“Research.”
Mit-Sun blinked. “Research on what?”
“…someone mentioned in history class. Not anyone evil. Although I would like to look at that…I could–what I said before!”
“You don’t need to snap at me,” Mit-Sun said, standing up from the computer chair. “I’m happy to hear that you want to do research. I don’t even care if you research evil people, because you can learn a lot from them. And I don’t mean get ideas,” she added dryly.
“I’m not going to get ideas from old evil people. I’m just going to figure out what made them fail so I can do better.” When she noticed Mit-Sun’s agitated expression, she added, “But the main person I want to look up is a goody-goody.”
“I’m not sure I completely trust you with my computer,” she said. “If you don’t act out I might let you on after school. We’ll see. I don’t want you intentionally installing a virus on there, after all…”
She pushed La-Iin forward. “Come on, we have to get going.”

The students from Class D began to migrate to their next classroom, all except for La-Iin, who stayed in the hallway scouring the crowd. She ran into it when she noticed familiar chestnut hair and pulled on his shirt.
“Hm?” Dosa-Mina turned around. He walked out the crowd, La-Iin following him. San-Kyung’s rapid glancing around the crowd went unnoticed by both of them.
“What’s the shirt pulling for?” Dosa-Mina said, his tone playful. La-Iin wanted to sigh. ‘He’s just going to mess with me. Maybe this was a bad idea.’
“I wanted to talk to you.”
“What about? San-Kyung? He’s been fine lately, don’t worry. You’ve seen it yourself. He’s still pretty weak in December, but he’s a lot better than he is in November! You could have asked him that yourself.”
“Hearing you go on about San-Kyung is annoying,” she spat. “I wanted to talk about something else.”
Dosa-Mina’s expression became more serious. “If this has to do with anything private, then no.”
“You know, you’re not making it any easier to ask you this, but I thought you might know best, so listen up.”
Dosa-Mina smiled. “Does it have to do with species study?”
“Not exactly.”
His smile dropped. “Then what’s it about?”
“I know you do lots of research on species study because you don’t shut up about it sometimes.”
“San-Kyung’s told me the same. I’ve tried to cut down on my tangents a bit.”
“I wanted to know how you do research and find out things that are actually true. Do you watch people like you watch me?”
“No, not really. The only reason why I watch you is because what you can do is something that’s not really documented. You probably don’t remember if you’re asking me this, but I told you a few things about that in the past. For starters, as tempting as it might be, the internet isn’t exactly the best place for research. It’s fast, mostly, but it also has a lot of misinformation you’d have to sift through…it depends on what you’re looking up how much there is, but I definitely recommend books. Especially the older your subject is. Books can be wrong too, but at least they’re more trustworthy.”
“I don’t know how old it is,” she said. “Do you know how I could find somebody by name?”
“Well, I’m sure there are records on those sorts of things somewhere.”
“How about information on locations?”
“How big of a location are we talking about? La-Iin, I do do a lot of research, but whatever you’re looking in to sounds a bit out of my main field of expertise. Also…” He glanced up at the clock. “Biology class starts soon, so make it quick.”
“A small location.”
“You probably won’t find a very good source.”
“How about names of fatalities!?”
Dosa-Mina blinked. “…are you looking into a murder case or something?”
“Maybe.”
“I had to ask,” he chuckled. “It all seems pretty weird put together. Well then, that depends. If it’s local you might be able to find it in the news records at the library. Otherwise that might be a bit more problematic, and could require using the internet to find possibly fake stuff…” Dosa-Mina glanced up at the clock again.
“I have to go. Hope I can still get my seat. Good luck on your murder case, La-Iin!” He said before dashing off.
La-Iin started to think on his words as she walked outside. ‘Rival-boy wasn’t very helpful. But I guess thinking about the internet was a bad idea. Well, Imagination says she’s buried in Bledger, right? Maybe it was a local story. If she had a funeral, then maybe it actually happened….’

When La-Iin got home, Mit-Sun was scoffing at Choungetsu.
“I know we weren’t home, but you didn’t have to go upstairs to do that!” She snapped. Choungetsu’s ears were folded to his head and he was looking up at her with wide eyes. When the door creaked, both turned to see La-Iin.
“Hello, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun said.
“Mama, I changed my mind about using your computer. Can we go to the library to see something?”
Mit-Sun’s eyes widened. “Okay,” she said. “You must feel pretty strongly about finding out about this person…” Mit-Sun turned back to Choungetsu. “We’re going out again. I took you out, so if I find anything fresh, you’re going to be in serious trouble.”
Choungetsu gave a whimper.
Mit-Sun and La-Iin left the house and head for the library. “I’m surprised to see you so into this research. If it was about someone evil like one of the Rynghs, I might be able to understand. And you seemed pretty into species study too. I’ve seen you read my books before. And I’ve seen you struggle.”
“That’s not important,” La-Iin said. “I know how to read at least.”
“Well, if you need me to read anything, you just tell me,” she said. “But anyway, you said this research was on someone good. Were they connected to someone evil, by any chance?”
“Not really.”
“Did they discover something that interests you?”
“No.”
“Were they some sort of rare species combination?”
“She’s a Dualbreed, but no,” La-Iin said, then covered her mouth.
“Is that why? I know one of the reasons you said you liked Usl-Thaehey was because she’s a Dualbreed like you…I know you get conceited about that sometimes.”
The two walked into the library. “I have my reasons for being interested in this girl. Where’s the news records?”
“They’re near the back,” a bespectacled Minomix said. “And don’t talk so loud in here.”
Mit-Sun and La-Iin head to the back of the library. La-Iin couldn’t help but look up at the high shelves that avians browsed. The shelves low to the ground were already quite tall and she wondered how many books were in them.
‘How many of these books are garbage?’
“There’s the news records,” Mit-Sun whispered. La-Iin walked over to them. The news records were split into sections by years and the type of news being reported. La-Iin started to look through the crime reports and tried to think back on all she had learned from Imagination.
‘She said she was strangled. And the newspaper would probably say her species. She lives in Bledger. She seemed to be alive when Makeshire was alive. She was surprised by all the hyphenated names.’
La-Iin glanced through several news records, all the while being tempted to stop at particularly interesting sounding ones. She didn’t stop until one headline caught her eye.
At this point in time where crimes against the people are high all around the world, one particular case has people wondering just how low some people can sink. The decaying corpse of a young girl, a Normal-Catori Half-Breed, aged around ten to twelve, was discovered on the sidewalk of a neighborhood earlier this week. From the marks on her neck it appeared that she was strangled.
The family of the girl, who wish to remain anonymous, state that they had begun to panic about the whereabouts of their daughter especially in times like these. They state that they had been fearing the worst, but prayed they were wrong. Today they’re not sure whether to be grateful they at least found her or to give into their despairs.
Suspicion initially arose around the girl’s father, who had reportedly been out of the house around the time the girl was killed. However, his location was confirmed by his workplace, who was able to provide witness reports on his presence there on recent days. It is not known exactly when the girl died, but it is assumed it was the same day she went missing, a day for which both parents have alibis.

“Did you find it?” Mit-Sun asked.
“…yes. Mama, you can go and look at something else for now,” she said. She stared back at the newspaper.
‘I have to show this to Imagination.’

***

“I want to show you this,” La-Iin said. “Read it before it gets too dark.”
Imagination stared at the paper, squinting her eyes slightly. “That sounds like me,” she said. “But I don’t really know because they didn’t say much….but I remember my dad was at work when I died.”
Imagination looked La-Iin in the eyes. “Is this why you came back the same day? Do you believe me now, with this?”
“I don’t know,” La-Iin admitted.
“Well, even if you still don’t believe me, thank you for bringing this to me,” Imagination said, a smile starting on her lips. “I feel like maybe now I can somehow get a little closure…La-Iin, if you find anything else that sounds like it’s maybe about me please let me see it. I’d like to know about all the things I didn’t know about between the time I died and the time I became a ghost.”
She reached for the paper. “Can I keep it?”
“I don’t care.”
Imagination took the paper from La-Iin. “Thank you, La-Iin. See you again soon maybe?”
“Maybe with Fer-Shi next time,” she said. “See you, Imagination.”
The last thing she saw was Imagination’s smile. After she left the graveyard, when she peeked back in, Imagination wasn’t there.
‘I wonder if she’s going to put it someplace safe. She probably knew I took it from somewhere.’ La-Iin thought. ‘Well, the library had more than one of that newspaper anyway, so they won’t miss that one.’

—–
La-Iin lay in her bed that night, thinking on her discovery.
“She probably IS a ghost, La-Iin!” When she had told Fer-Shi about her discovery, she had sounded a mixture of excited and terrified. She wondered if it was still on Fer-Shi’s mind as it was on her’s.
La-Iin wondered if it was because of her lifespan that she felt skeptic about ghosts. But she still hoped Imagination really was a ghost. She would never admit that to her.
But at least it would mean that all the people she loved would still stay with her.
‘Maybe I could even meet Makeshire someday…’

3.246.Deathmare

The La-Iin Series
Chapter 246
“Deathmare”

“Mama, I was wondering.”
“…wondering what?”
“Wondering about a theory I heard.” She looked up at Mit-Sun, trying to force an intense expression. Mit-Sun did not react. “Have you ever heard of the theory that if you die in a dream, you die in real life?”
“I’ve heard of it before. I don’t think it’s true. Wouldn’t you just wake up before you could die in the dream?”
“Have you ever died in a dream, Mama?”
“Well, no, but–”
“Then you can’t give me the answers I seek!” La-Iin yelled.
“What!? Why are you suddenly so interested in this anyway!? This is stupid even for you!”
“I can see advantages and things to avoid with it,” she said.
“…what advantages could possibly come from dying in a dream and in real life? And you can’t avoid sleep, if that’s what you mean by things to avoid.”
“Let’s just call it curiosity,” La-Iin sighed. “You know, Mama, I don’t think you’re a good person to ask about it. And I don’t think Bes-Isa dreams the same way we do.”
“Why don’t you ask her?”
“‘Cause she’s sleeping. Also if I’m right, she couldn’t help me anyway. So instead I’m going to ask people I can trust on the subject.”
“Liiiike….?”
“Dami. Fer-Shi. San-Kyung. I bet I could ask Sale-Dessu too.”
“Sale-Dessu….? Oh, Astineth?”
“Yes. In fact, they’re the people I should consult on this issue. I don’t know San-Kyung’s phone number, but where are Dami’s and Fer-Shi’s again?”
“The phonebook is right next to the phone,” Mit-Sun sighed. “Go ahead and call them if you want. They’ll probably humor you, knowing them.”
“…you have no faith in my research, do you, Mama? This is why I’ll trust others before I trust you!”
La-Iin stalked off towards the phone. Mit-Sun sighed and rolled her eyes. ‘Remember, she’s still little…you did stupid things when you were little too. All the stupid things she’s done might just be because of her age….’
“Hello? Is this Mit-Sun or La-Iin?”
“La-Iin.”
“Oh, hello, La-Iin! I never get calls from you! How are you?”
“I’m fine, Dami.”
“….you sound awfully serious. Is something the matter?”
“I’m doing research on a subject and I need you to answer a question for me.”
“Research? Of course I’ll help. Is this for school or not?”
“It’s not. But I figure you’ll be more helpful than Mama. She dismissed my research right away. Have you heard of the theory of dying in a dream, what do you think about it, and have you ever died in a dream?”
Asul-Zenza was silent on the other side for a short while, and La-Iin worried that he was going to treat her as Mit-Sun had. “I’ve heard of that theory before. I never really believed in it. People dream of being other species and don’t become those species, or dream of friends dying and they’re still alive. So why would dying in a dream equal death in real life? As for me, no, I’ve never had a dream where I died, at least not to my memory. But I certainly wouldn’t remember every dream I’ve had in over sixty years.”
“Thank you, Dami. ….you don’t think this is silly, do you?”
Mit-Sun had to suppress a chuckle at La-Iin’s sudden change of attitude.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say a little. Still, I can tell you’re serious, so it can’t all be silly. I probably just think that because I don’t think dreams can kill you. But then, what do I know? It would be terrifying if they could. So if your research turns up with the facts being that dying in a dream really DOES kill you in real life, make sure to tell me, alright?”
“Yes, Dami. I’d love to keep talking, but now I must continue my research.”
“That’s fine. I have a job to do today anyway in a few hours. It was nice to talk to you, though, La-Iin. Call more often, alright?”
“I will, Dami. Bye.”
“Good-bye for now, La-Iin. I love you.”
La-Iin hung up the phone and dialed the Sanhuun family number.
“So, what did he say?”
“He said he didn’t believe it was true like you. But he also hasn’t had a dying dream. So there’s no proof yet. In fact, if people who believe it isn’t true keep not having dying dreams, then maybe it is true…”
“Sometimes I feel like I really don’t understand you, La-Iin,” Mit-Sun sighed.
“Hello?”
“Fer-Shi. Good to speak to you.”
“Oh, hello La-Iin! I didn’t expect you to call! I thought this was your Mom asking for something. …er, why are you calling, anyway? I don’t mind! I just didn’t expect it is all.”
“I’m doing research and I wanted to ask you a question.”
“Really? What kind of research?”
“You’ll see.”
“Okay. Ask away, then! Oh–one second. Yes, Mom? ….it’s La-Iin on the phone! ….no, she doesn’t want me to come over! ….no, she doesn’t want to come over either! She just wants to talk, okay!? Sorry about that. Now, what did you want to ask?”
“Have you heard of the theory of dying in a dream killing you in real life? What’s your thoughts and have you ever died in a dream?”
“….um, I’ve heard about it a little on a superstition show. I don’t know what to think because I’ve never met anybody who had a dream about dying, or at least I don’t think I do. I’d like to think it’s not real since Mom and Dad say so and it’s a scary concept, but then again there’s lots of scary stuff that’s real and around us in daily life, like Siren Songs…what do you think, La-Iin? Do you think it’s real?”
“I’m torn. There would be advantages and disadvantages to its existence. Or nonexistence.”
“Well, I hope your research turns up with conclusive evidence then! Especially if that evidence is it’s not true. Because it would be really scary if so. I mean, you can’t control your dreams. So you might just go to sleep one night and die….but then again, that can happen if you’re sick, can’t it? Ooh, now I’m all scared! Darn it, La-Iin!”
La-Iin tried to stifle a giggle at Fer-Shi’s wavering tone, and judging by the growl on the other side, Fer-Shi was not amused. “Is there anything else you wanna talk about, or can I hang up?”
“Go ahead and hang up. I don’t need you anymore.”
“…you could have said that nicer….anyway, talk to you again soon, La-Iin. Hopefully before school opens again….you know, I’m kind of excited for school to open again!”
“Me too. Then it’ll be easier to do things with San-Kyung. ….and you, of course. Also I want to see if the history teacher is still as stupid as usual.”
“He’ll probably still be the same as always. He always has been. This Summer has been fun, but I’m almost getting kind of bored of having all this time for fun! Maybe that sounds stupid. I dunno. Anyway, bye, La-Iin!”
“Bye.” She hung up the phone.
“So how’d that go? Did you just ask Fer-Shi, or did you talk to her parents as well?”
“I think it’s obvious. Obvious that you weren’t listening enough to me while I talked to Fer-Shi. Judging by what she said they’d probably just give responses like you and Dami, which I don’t need. Fer-Shi said she doesn’t know whether to believe it or not. She’s never had a deathmare.”
“….deathmare?”
“It needs a term.”
“Okay….so, who are you going to ask next? I don’t have many phone numbers and I don’t think my boss would like you calling her randomly. I don’t think that would reflect well on me either…”
“Can I go over to Sale-Dessu’s house? There will be no potion-drinking this time, promise. …for once. …maybe.”
“You’re only going to ask the question, right?”
La-Iin nodded.
“Alright, you can go. But if he doesn’t come to the door, don’t bother him. And take Choungetsu with you. He could use a walk, and then you’ll at least have someone with you just in case.”
“If I take long, it’s probably because I ended up taking Choungetsu for a walk. You’re setting yourself up for this.”
La-Iin was slightly reluctant to admit that she wanted to visit San-Kyung as well. She was interested in getting his input, though she expected that his response would be similar to that of her parents.
She put Choungetsu’s leash on and walked out the house, waving to Mit-Sun even though she was sure she couldn’t see the gesture. Then she walked the short distance over to Sale-Dessu’s house and knocked on the door.
She heard grunting on the other side of the door, then, it opened.
“Is that you, La-Iin?” A familiar voice groaned.
“Why are you answering the door, Eul-Bok? Don’t tell me Sale-Dessu succeeded in the project without me.”
“He hasn’t. He just said it would be good practice and that he can’t tear himself away from what he’s doing. He’s still holding me here, mind you, and I’m sure it’d be much easier for him to do what he’s doing with both hands. What are you here for?”
“I want to ask him a question for some research I’m doing.”
“He’s sort of busy right now…”
“Then you deliver the question for me. Then he doesn’t have to get up and you don’t have to worry about him getting distracted. Happy?”
“That would be difficult to ascertain. But fine, I’ll see if he’s okay with it. Take me back, Father!”
Eul-Bok disappeared for a short while. La-Iin tugged on Choungetsu’s leash when he tried to chase after Eul-Bok into the house. Soon enough, Eul-Bok returned.
“Father says it’s okay so long as I deliver the question. So what is it?”
“I wanted to know if he’s ever heard of the theory of dying in a dream killing you in real life, what does he think about it, and has he ever had a dream where he’s died.”
“…that is so stupid. Take me back, Father!”
Eul-Bok disappeared. Again Choungetsu tried to chase after him. He whimpered when she tugged on the leash. Smirking, La-Iin tugged on the leash repeatedly, and Choungetsu’s whimper became a whine.
Eul-Bok took slightly longer to return, but he started to talk to her as soon as he did.
“Father said he’s only barely heard of the theory before. No, he’s never had a dream where he died in it, but he thinks there might be a grain of truth. If the dream replicates how you’re dying, maybe it’s a sign from the brain or something, or maybe the shock from the dream could kill hospitalized patients. In any event, he says that if the rumor started in the first place, it could be true.”
“I wish somebody would have definitive proof for me. Either way, he’s one of the more helpful ones. Those are good points.”
“What do you expect from my Father? He may have terrible social skills but thanks to that he’s learned a lot. Aside from social skills. Anyway, I think it’s ridiculous, except for the maybe dying from shock when you wake up too scared. Now you asked your question. Anything else?”
“No.”
“Alright. I’d just say good-bye, but I’m sure I’ll end up seeing you again someday. Alright. Take me back, Father! Oh, and close the door too?”
Eul-Bok slammed into the door and groaned. The door closed gently.
Choungetsu seemed excited and continued to stare up at the door. La-Iin had to tug on his leash to get him to move.
Now she had a different goal in mind.
She had only been to San-Kyung’s house a few times, but she was certain she could remember the directions. She hoped she did, in any event. ‘San-Kyung knows the way to my house. If I can’t remember, he can help.’
Although La-Iin controlled the directions they went in, it was mostly Choungetsu leading the way as he stopped to sniff at several things. He sniffed at the sidewalk frequently and even while walking; La-Iin wondered what he might smell along the ground. She could only assume the scents were something that, if anyone would consider them pleasant, it would only be Choungetsu.
Eventually while on the walk to San-Kyung’s house, the sights started to look unfamiliar. La-Iin began to worry that she might be on the wrong path. She glanced around for any sign that she was somewhere she had been before, but it was hard to find one. She felt slightly nostalgic, but as far as she was concerned, that might have only been because she had been here when she was littler. She was sure she’d remember what she’d seen on the way to San-Kyung’s house.
‘Unless, of course, you were only staring at San-Kyung’s butt.’ She could hear Bes-Isa saying the words in her head. La-Iin shook the thought away, though it made her feel slightly more at ease. Perhaps she was on the right track and simply hadn’t been paying attention, which made the sights seem unfamiliar.
She eventually reached a small neighborhood with a few scattered houses about. The location of the houses didn’t seem nearly as organized as in her neighborhood, but something about it seemed familiar. When she noticed a cream orange and white house near the center of the neighborhood, she had a feeling she was in the right place.
She dashed over to the house and peeked in a window. Through the window she could see San-Kyung and Dosa-Mina, staring down at something she couldn’t see. They appeared to be talking, but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Before she realized it, San-Kyung looked up at her, his eyes going wide, hopped out his bed, and soon the front door opened.
“La-Iin!”
“San-Kyung. How pleasant to see you.” She tried to keep her tone normal. Choungetsu began to get excited and ran up to San-Kyung, looking ready to lick him. San-Kyung lit his hand and Choungetsu backed away.
“What the hell do you want? Unless this has to do with your power, it’s a wasted visit. I like people to tell me before they’re dropping by.”
“So you say, but there are only two people you like who don’t live with you. I won’t waste much of your time. I just wanted to ask you a question for research purposes.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “Don’t you know that books exist?”
“A person would be the best bet on this research. Ahem. San-Kyung, have you heard of the theory of dying in a dream killing you in real life, what do you think about it, and have you ever had a dream where you died?”
San-Kyung’s expression became a puzzled one.
“Hey, San-Kyung, you didn’t tell me what you saw outside. I don’t think it’s fair to….oh, hello, La-Iin. How are you?”
“Go away, rival-boy,” La-Iin said, glaring.
“She just asked me about dying in a dream,” San-Kyung said. La-Iin was surprised to see Dosa-Mina pale.
“…what?”
“She asked me if I thought dying in a dream killed you in real life.”
Dosa-Mina turned to La-Iin and stared down at her with an expression much more serious than she expected from him.
“There’s no way that kills you.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve had a dream where I died before.”
La-Iin was taken aback. “Liar!”
“I have. I told San-Kyung about it too.”
“…you did?”
“Um…drinking my guts, remember? I think that counts as dying in a dream in some way. And I didn’t wake up dead, thank goodness. So I think that’s pretty solid evidence that if you die in a dream, you won’t be dead.”
“….rival-boy, you just hate me, don’t you?” La-Iin snapped. Her eyes began to water. Dosa-Mina’s expression softened.
“…sorry. I shouldn’t have gotten so mad.”
La-Iin noticed that San-Kyung was looking at Dosa-Mina with an expression about as puzzled as the one he had given La-Iin.
“Sometimes I don’t get you, Dosa-Mina…” He whispered.
“Can you take me back home?” La-Iin said.
“What?”
“I don’t know how to get back home.”
San-Kyung rolled his eyes. “Fine…I’ll show you that message later, okay, Dosa-Mina? Or do you want to take her home?”
“I’d….rather not.”
San-Kyung scoffed. “Come on.”
He walked ahead of La-Iin. La-Iin kept her head bowed as she followed after him. By doing this, she failed to notice when Choungetsu dashed ahead of her and bit into San-Kyung’s ankle.

—–
“I’m sorry, San-Kyung. Will you be alright?”
“Yeah, I’ll be fine. He didn’t rip anything out, if that’s what you’re worried about…” San-Kyung glared at La-Iin. “But as for her.”
La-Iin froze.
“School starts soon enough. And you haven’t exactly been the nicest to me over this Summer.”
“I’ve treated you with love–”
“But you’ve treated Dosa-Mina like crap. Make sure she doesn’t come near me until school starts again, Miss Cahongyun. Even friends need breaks from each other sometimes.”
San-Kyung walked away.
“When does school start, Mama?”
“The eighth, I think.”
La-Iin grinned. “Alright then, San-Kyung, that will be doable.”

‘I’m worried about Dosa-Mina…’