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…’